Ghost Bikes 2011: AMR and ASX

Ghost Bikes have been making a good impression since landing in the UK part way through last year. The German brand has make serious inroads to the British market with a range of decently specced and priced bikes that have been getting almost universally good reviews.

Ghost AMR 7500 is top level aluminium model at £2,399.99

We tested the full suspension, 120mm travel carbon fibre AMR Lector 7700 all the way back in June and it came away with our ‘Recommended’ seal of approval. We liked it enough to hang on to it as a Long Termer test bike and has proved itself a capable, tough, lightweight trail bike, offering good value for money with geometry just on the right side of lively – an excellent all-round package in other words. UK importer Hotlines invited us along to a rather chilly and icy Glentress to see what is happening in the world of Ghost Bikes for 2011.

All AMR bikes stick with tapered headtubes...

Building on the success of the AMR, Ghost are introducing the design cues and technologies that made it such a hit into other bikes in the range, particularly the 100mm travel RT cross country/marathon bike. As well as the redesigned bikes, importers Hotlines plan to bring in an even larger number of models from the Ghost catalogue to suit an even wider range of applications and wallets in 2011.

As you’d expect, the Teutonic attention to detail remains as high as ever on all the bike, even going down to size specific chain and seat stay lengths on their full suspension models. The bikes are a real showcase of different technologies – tapered headsets, post mount rear brakes, E-type mechs and they’re all rather amusingly acronymed – for example all the bikes use DRG in their design – that’s Dirt Rippin’ Geometry.

It's hard to tell the alloy frames from the carbon, but there's 600g of difference...

Ghost AMR Range

The 120mm full suspension AMR is largely unchanged for 2011, keeping the same four bar linkage design with low ratio shock and needle bearings. They have introduced a full carbon bike – while the old top of the range Lector (that’s Ghost-speak for bike with carbon fibre main frames) had an alloy rear triangle, the new AMR Lector 8700 and 9500 use  carbon fibre seat and chainstays, losing around 300g.

Tried and tested 2:1 shock leverage ratio driven by four bar linkage...

The full carbon Lector 8700 will cost £2999.99 and will come with tapered 15QR Fox Float RLs with the latest FIT damping cartridge, Fox RP23 Boost Valved shock and a full 10spd XT groupset, including the hubs. Interestingly Ghost spec a full, complete Shimano or SRAM group on their bikes, using the same level of cassette as they do for the more noticeable rear mech or chainset. It’s refreshing to see a manufacturer not trying to cut corners where end users might not notice.

If mere XT isn’t enough for you then the top line AMR Lector 9500 uses a full XTR group and will relieve you of £4,899.99. Not cheap but it compares favourably to other full carbon mid travel trail bikes we can think of.

Carbon front ended AMR Lector 7700 in action

For 2011 the carbon fibre front and alloy rear ended AMR Lector 7700 will cost £2,749.99, again with tapered Fox Float FIT RL forks, RP23 shocks and a full XT group – so a £250 upcharge for the full carbon bike. The 7700 is available in your choice of green, yellow or black finishes.

Shock mounts use needle roller bearings for maximum sensitivity

Stepping down from the carbon framed bikes we move to the AMR 7500, which uses an ‘Actinum’ aluminium alloy front triangle with all the same features and spec (10spd XT, Fox, etc) as the Lector 7700 but at a price of £2,399.99. There is a fairly significant 600g weight difference between the two bikes thanks to carbon , as you’d expect for the £350 saving over the Lector 7700.

Moving further down the range the AMR 5900 gets the same aluminium frame but comes with an SLX/XT mix, retains the RP23 shock but gets non-QR15 Fox Float FIT RL forks for £2,099.99.

The entry level AMR 5700 comes with a similar SLX/XT 10spd mix but uses a cheaper crankset and loses the FIT damping from the Fox Float fork and comes with an X-Fusion shock to come in well under the £2K mark at £1,899.99.

Having ridden the 2010 AMR Lector 7700 for some time, we rode the AMR 7500 on a quick loop at a rather icy Glentress. The 600g difference between two models isn’t immediately noticeable and the bike tracked and handled just as well, reminding us the the trail manners that made us like the more expensive version so much.

The suspension does an extremely good job of eating up the small bumps, giving plenty of traction through corners, the sharp handling being well suited to twisty trail centre thrashing. We found that leaving the suspension on the second setting of Pro Pedal worked nicely, balancing that supple feel with taut pedalling. We did switch the slightly long stem for a shorter one and in an ideal world we’d fit wider bars than the standard 670mm items to release the true potential of the frame, but these are small issues and the overall feeling is a very well balanced bike and it’s a joy to ride.

Ghost also offer the AMR in a longer travel ‘AMR Plus’ configuration. We didn’t get to see the newest versions, which are expected to be released at some point in the middle of 2011, but we were told that they will share the same layout and technology as the regular AMR but in a slacker, 150mm travel package, moving up from the 145mm of travel the range currently has.

Ghost ASX Range

ASX 4900 at £1,249.99

The ASX is the AMR’s more affordable brother. Still offering 120mm of travel front and rear, it uses a slightly cheaper tubeset and linkage setup than the AMR to hit some impressively low price points. The suspension design is still a 4 bar linkage but, as you’d expect from a cheaper model, the needle roller bearings are gone in favour of more affordable items, but the frame is still double butted and even the entry level bikes feature decent quality Schwalbe tyres and Ritchey finishing kit.

Frame is the older style design but still offers 120mm of four bar linkage travel

The entry model ASX 3700 is one of the few full suspension bikes from a well known manufacturer that comes in under the magic ‘Cycle To Work Scheme grand’ at £999.99. For your thousand pounds (and a penny change) you get a 9spd Alivio/Deore mix with X Fusion shock and non-tapered headtube frame with RST Titan air fork and hydraulic Tektro disc brakes.

Moving up to the £1,249.99 ASX 4900, you get a tapered headtube frame with tapered RST Titan SLR forks  and a X-Fusion rebound adjustable shock, both with lockout. Drivetrain is all 9spd Shimano Deore and stopping is through Tektro Draco discs.

The ASX 5100 moves up to a XT/SLX 10spd drivetrain and Shimano 505 discs  for £1,399.99 and the top ASX 5500 features a Fox Float RL fork withAvid Elixir brakes for £1,699.99.

In Part 2  we’ll cover the fully redesigned 100mm travel RT range, the women’s specific MISS and the Ghost hardtails…

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