In the North American market, Ghost Bikes are a relative newcomer. Despite having a significant presence in Europe for a number of years, Ghost has only recently become available in the U.S. through a distribution deal with REI. In fact, this is the first model from the German manufacturer that we've tested in The Bible.
At first glance, the Ghost SL AMR X 9 LC has a lot going for it. Ergon grips and an 800-millimeter Race Face Atlas bar and 35-millimeter stem offered familiar comfort in the cockpit, while the new Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline Coil CS shock had us frothing to get the AMR onto our long-travel test loop.
For as many things that looked spot-on on paper, testers questioned the geometry. With a relatively short reach of 444 millimeters on our size large and some of the longest stays in the test at 438 millimeters, it didn't seem like it would be able to hold its own alongside the longer-reach, shorter rear-end bikes. Surprisingly, on the trail these numbers didn't make the bike feel unusual or unpredictable, and testers were amazed by its stability–the Ghost was among the best-performing in some of the worst sections. The performance of the shock also stood out. A supple and progressive stroke ate up everything we could throw at it on the descents, but it was the climbing performance that had riders excited. Rather than having different modes for climbing support, Cane Creek's Climb Switch lever is infinitely adjustable, so riders can fine-tune the firmness of the pedaling platform. We fully closed the lever on smoother sections, and opened it up a touch for climbing traction.
We also thought weight would be an issue, given the burly spec, but our size large came in at an impressive 30.3 pounds. With smart component spec and confident handling, the Ghost would be a top contender for riders having a hard time getting along with the new wave of long-and-low bikes.
Q&A with Drew Axt, U.S. Brand Manager – Ghost Bikes
This bike goes against the current trend of longer reach and slacker angles. Was this a conscious decision to stick with geometry numbers that you feel work best rather than following an industry trend?
The geometry for the SL AMR X 9 LC is a combination of forethought and practicality. The bike is the longest travel 29er that Ghost has ever made, and they went with a pretty traditional (and European-ish) geometry for their first go at it. Additionally, from a manufacturing standpoint, Ghost was making its best effort at dialing in geometry while still utilizing the same AMR main frame and swing arm that are used on every other level of travel in the AMR platform. By flipping the lower shock mount, using shocks with different eye to eye/stroke lengths, and varying travel forks, Ghost is able to use the same main frame and swing arm on AMR platform bikes ranging in travel from 130-160mm. This utilization of common main frames and swing arms on different travel bikes allows for reduced manufacturing costs, increased quality control and an overall great deal for the end rider. This manufacturing process isn't something we talk much to consumers about since the idea isn't to have a bike that you can easily change travel on (while possible this wouldn't be cost effective for the average rider due to the high cost of aftermarket shocks and forks) but it does allow the use and reuse of many similar molds and the aforementioned cost savings and QC benefits.
This was the only bike in our long travel category with a coil shock. It also had the shortest rear wheel travel of any bike in the category. Was the coil shock a choice to help give a relatively short travel platform comparable ride characteristics to some of the longer travel bikes in this category?
The shock featured on this bike, the Cane Creek DB Inline Coil CS, is an exclusive to Ghost for 2017 for OE spec. Ghost and Cane Creek established an exclusive partnership and coordinated a lot to both help dial in the final shock design and tweak the existing AMR suspension platform to perform even better. You'll actually find the same shock on several 2017 Ghost models with varying degrees of travel. The DB Inline Coil shock does indeed help to give the bike comparable characteristics to some longer travel compadres, makes the travel more linear and park/big hit friendly. Add to that the basically infinite level of compression and rebound adjustability and a climb switch that can be platformed at different levels, and you have a very capable machine with a wide range of adjustability that is very tunable to individuals.
If I wanted to buy this bike but my local REI doesn't stock it, can they special order it for me, and would the REI 100% satisfaction guarantee return policy apply?
Yes and yes. If a rider's local REI store doesn't stock the model or size of Ghost they are after, it can be easily ordered online, shipped and assembled free of charge, to the REI location of their choice. REI's 10% dividend for co-op members and their 100% satisfaction guarantee also apply.