Wishbone Recycled recalls balance bikes

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — Wishbone Design Studio is recalling about 400 balance bikes in the U.S. because the handlebar can pinch fingers at the frame

Six of the best mountain bike air shocks

A new shock can significantly alter the way your full suspension bike rides and the amount of control and confidence it delivers. Choosing the right shock for your bike, your riding style and your level of technical knowhow isn’t easy though. The fact that shocks are evolving so fast that the benchmarks are getting rewritten every few months doesn’t help either.

The first thing to check is whether the shock actually fits your bike. The extra damping chamber on piggyback shocks or larger volume air sleeves, or protruding adjusters, can definitely cause problems, particularly on smaller framed bikes. The top of the shock or even the eyelet knuckle can also contact the frame or linkage too. Even if the shock physically fits you need to make sure the valve and adjusters can be reached easily without the frame or the shock itself getting in the way.

Related: Mountain bike suspension forks – a buyer’s guide


You also need to work out what you need from a new shock, which means thinking about what’s lacking from your current damper. Sometimes it’s a simple aim such as saving weight or adding a straightforward adjustment like lockout or an intermediate ‘pedal’ damping setting you don’t currently have.

Perhaps you want the smoother initial movement and increased traction of a more sensitive shock or the more consistent heavy use performance of a higher oil volume piggyback shock.

Related: Trail Tech: what type of rear shock is right for you?

Best MTB shocks

Fox Racing Shox Float DPS EVOL Factory

  • Price: £380 /  US$450 / AU$679 (Sold by Sola Sport)
  • Weight: 298g
  • External adjustment: three-way adjustable open setting, low speed compression, lockout, rebound
  • Sizes: 190×50, 200×50, 200×57, 215×64mm

RockShox Monarch Plus DebonAir RC3

  • Price: £400 / US$TBC / AU$740 (Sold by Monza Imports)
  • Weight: 390g
  • External adjustment: Low speed compression, lockout, rebound.
  • Sizes: 190×50, 195×46*, 195×51*, 200×51, 200×57, 210×60**, 216×57*, 216×63*mm *Specialized mount, **Trek mount

BOS Kirk

  • Price: £599 / US$ TBC / AU$999 (Sold by NSDynamics)
  • Weight: 382g
  • External adjustment: Low and high speed compression, rebound, ‘pedal optimizer’ lever
  • Sizes: 200×51, 216×57, 222×63mm

DT Swiss X313

  • Price: £320 / US$539 / €399 / AU$ N/A
  • Weight: 212g
  • External adjustment: Low speed compression, lockout, rebound
  • Sizes: 165×37.5, 190×50, 200×50, 200×55mm

Cane Creek DBInline

  • Price: £385 / US$550 / AU$649 (Sold by DirtWorks)
  • Weight: 351g
  • External adjustment: Low and high speed compression, low and high speed rebound, ‘Climb Switch’
  • Sizes: 165×37.5, 184×44, 190×50, 200×50, 200×55, 200×57, 215×63mm

X-Fusion O2 RCX

  • Price: £340 / US$430 / AU$566 (Sold by DIY-MTB)
  • Weight: 275g
  • External adjustment: Low speed compression, lockout, rebound
  • Sizes: 165×38, 184×44, 190×51, 200×51, 200×57mm

Overall verdict

You can

How long can you go? Jon Woodhouse’s extreme geometry hardtail – video

Mountain bike geometry has evolved a fair bit in recent years. On the whole, trail bikes of today are considerably longer in the wheelbase and slacker at the head angle than they were just a few years back. Certain companies are pushing the boundaries more than others in this respect but slowly and surely we’re all starting to reap the benefits of this pursuit to create better handling bikes.

Related: Recent progressions in mountain bike geometry

To find the limits first you must reach them(!) and that’s why Jon Woodhouse, Editor of What Mountain Bike magazine,  took it upon himself to experiment outside of the boundaries depicted by the geometry sheets of current manufacturers. Jon commissioned frame builder BTR fabrications, based in Somerset, UK, to produce a one-off hardtail with geometry you simply cannot get anywhere else.


Jon combined all the current trends of geometry to produce a bike with a 63.5-degree head angle and a 656mm top tube length – that’s the size of a large forward geometry Mondraker frame. To counter those radical dimensions, the BTR’s seat tube angle is set at an equally extreme 75.5 degrees. The chainstays of the frame are long enough to squeeze in the 650b rear wheels with enough clearance for mud but that’s it, in fact the back end was set as short as it’s practical to do so. Similarly, the bottom bracket of the frame is slammed way below the axles.The BTR was then fitted with Mondraker own brand On-Off’s 10mm stem, allowing for steering geometry that can’t be achieved with conventional parts. The wheelbase is, well… just look at it!

Watch the video below as Jon puts his bizarre looking creation to the test and reports his findings. 

Video: The extreme geometry hardtail 

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Cube Stereo 140 Super HPC TM 27.5

Cube’s Stereo has been in the running for What Mountain Bike magazine’s Trail Bike of the Year honours every year since it was one of the first firms to introduce a 650b-wheeled chassis in 2013. This latest, shorter travel, lighter and better tuned chassis is the most responsive and potentially radical yet – if the frame and ride feel fit you.

  • Highs: Futureproofed carbon frame; quality enduro-ready kit; direct sell value with local shop support; Pike fork and progressively retuned rear suspension
  • Lows: Too short to let its full potential breathe; wooden tyres and tight compression tune mean chattery ride

Cube has a reputation for standout value without cutting corners and the HPC TM doesn’t disappoint. The full carbon frame gets internal dropper post and control cable routing plus Shimano XTR Di2 electric compatibility. Despite the frame quality it’s still rocking an exceptional – especially for this price – SRAM and Race Face-based kit package.

While most Stereo 140s get lighter 140mm travel 32mm legged forks, the TM (Trail Motion) version gets a 150mm travel fork. Even with a proper enduro-ready build that includes Stealth routed Reverb dropper post, E13 chainguide instead of a front derailleur and 2.35in treads, the Stereo is a kilo or so lighter than many of its peers.


The SRAM and Race Face-based kit list offers near-unbeatable value

The mix of low (12.14kg) complete bike weight, semi-slick rear tyre, frame stiffness and suspension that’s firm off the top equate to an explosive response to any power input. The 150mm Pike fork means it’s attentive and accurate when following any flick or nudge of the 750mm bars and 50mm stem cockpit.

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Whyte Saxon Cross Team

Whyte has been a serial mountain bike innovator since the mid-90s, and expanding into the world of drop bar bikes hasn’t stopped it trying new things – in this case playing with accepted cyclocross frame angles.

  • Highs: Composed handling, specification
  • Lows: Aluminium refinement can cost

The Cross Team’s 70-degree head tube angle is more relaxed than the 72 degrees used for many cyclocross bikes, and at first the frame looks stretched, the 80mm stem making us worry that we’d hit our knee on the bar.

But compared to our ideal ’cross setup, the Whyte’s extra 25mm top tube length and 30mm shorter stem give an almost identical position. What this means is a subtle repositioning of the rider’s weight within the 30mm longer wheelbase, the results of which are more intuitive than expected.


Easton’s beefy fork and that head angle ensure tracking accuracy, making the bike super stable on most terrain, while the wide 44cm bar and short stem give it fast, accurate steering.

There’s an undeniable mountain bike feel in the way it rapidly dispatches whatever it’s pointed at, but with the reactions and manners of a road bike. The front wheel stays planted on steep off-road climbs, but when descending, you feel less like you’re on top of the bar, improving confidence and control.

Aluminium still has a lot going for it, and the Whyte frame is exceptionally nimble, with good clearances and intricate dropouts. The underside of the hydroformed top tube isn’t flat, but shouldering isn’t uncomfortable, and the rear brake cable and mech hose are routed through the top and down tubes only, with weather-proofed grommets sealing the frame.

You can

NAHBS slugs one in Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BRAIN) — The foot of snow that fell in Louisville last week may have complicated exhibitor setup for the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, but it had little impact on show-goers, with many exhibitors saying Saturday’s attendance was the busiest they’ve ever seen.

How to thread internal brake and gear cables – video

Threading an internal cable through your road or mountain bike frame can appear to be a fiddly and time consuming job, but it’s easy when you know how.

We’ve covered the rest of the cable installation process – as well as gear and brake setup procedures – in other videos, as detailed below:

  • How to replace road bike gear cables
  • How to replace road bike brake cables
  • How to replace MTB gear cables
  • How to fix bike gears

How to thread internal brake and gear cables

Internal cables enter the frame in different ways. Some manufacturers use a small cable port, which barely has enough room for a cable outer.But more commonly, especially on newer bikes, there’ll be a fitment that houses the cable end, which can be removed.

The method in the video should work for either method.

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Video: BikeRadar’s James Tennant explains how to thread internally-routed cables. This video is part of?the Park Tool Maintenance Monday series. You can purchase the Park Tools used in the video at a number of dealers across the UK and internationally. For more maintenance videos, subscribe to the BikeRadar YouTube channel.

Tools for the job

  • Tape
  • Thin pipe
  • Hex or torx keys
  • Cable cutter
  • Small screwdriver
  • Chain lube
  • Paper cloth

We’re using some thin piping to help route the new cable through the frame. New frames often come equipped with this, and it’s removed during the building process, so it’s worth asking your local bike shop if they have any spare.

If not, it’s also found in cable outers, and with a bit of perseverance you might be able to very carefully remove a section, using a blade and some needlenose pliers.

Snip the cable from the derailleur using a cable cutter – it’s important to use the right tool as you need a clean cut. You’ll want to snip above the cable retention bolt to avoid the frayed area. Leave the cable inner in place for now.

Remove any plastic ports from the frame then remove the cable outers and cable ends from the open end of the cable.

Place the thin plastic pipe on to the gear cable and feed it along until it reaches the other exit in the frame. It’s vital that this pipe stays in place, so tape both ends to the frame.

You can now remove the inner cable from the housing and shifter.

Fit the new inner cable to the shifter and cut a new length of outer cable if required. Thread the inner cable into the first piece of outer making sure the plastic end caps are fitted. Feed the new inner into the plastic pipe that is taped through the frame.

When it’s clear of the other end, you can untape the pipe and pull it off the inner gear cable.

Refit the last piece of cable outer and your gears are ready to be set up and indexed.

Scott Spark 740 review

The Scott Spark is one of the few marathon cross-country bikes that’s available in a choice of either 29in or 650b wheel sizes. A ‘9’ in the name indicates a 29er model, and a ‘7’, as seen here, means the bike is equipped with 27.5in (650b) wheels.

Late last year we reviewed the Scott Spark 720, a 120mm dual suspension bike featuring a carbon front triangle. We found it to be far more capable on the trail than its marathon racing designation would lead you to believe.

The Spark 740, reviewed here, sits two models below the Spark 720, and uses the same suspension system and geometry. With a full aluminium frame and slightly downgraded components, on paper it looks like a good-value proposition. We hit the trails to find out.

Ride and handling: ‘suspension shifting’ for the ever-changing conditions

Despite its marathon racing intentions, the Spark 740 isn’t a twitchy or particularly racey feeling bike. Instead, it’s slack head angle and 120mm travel mean it behaves like a short travel trail bike, but has the turn of speed that’s needed for racing available at the flick of a switch.

It’s this switch, the TwinLoc suspension control, that defines the Spark’s split personality. It offers a three-position control of both front and rear shocks from a single shifter-type lever.

The base-model fox float evolution fork is a nice match with the rear shock. a tapered steerer and 15mm thru-axle help guide the spark : the base-model fox float evolution fork is a nice match with the rear shock. a tapered steerer and 15mm thru-axle help guide the spark

An open-bath FOX Float Evolution fork does a respectable job out front and is a well-suited match to the rear shock

Scott has traditionally used propriety rear shocks for its suspension designs and the new FOX Nude is a marked improvement on old offerings. It’s well-balanced with the front FOX Float fork.

With this, the suspension setup ensures the use of the TwinLoc is near mandatory, not just an option. In the 120mm descend mode, the shock is reactive and does a great job of keeping the wheels in touch with uneven ground, but also wallows under power. While you’ll want the traction provided from descend mode on technical and loose climbs, the slightest sight of a smooth incline would have us reaching for the middle 85mm trail setting – and not for wanting our fork stiffer, but just to feel our efforts rewarded out back.

Wile the suspension is a big part of the Spark, it’s not the whole story. Another special feature is adjustable geometry, done via a two-position chip that sits at the rear shock. The lower setting drops the bottom bracket 7mm and slackens the head angle by 0.5 degrees to 68.3 degrees, something that we quickly decided to leave on to get the most from the bike in technical terrain.

Frame: quality and modern features at every angle

A quick look at the frame and you’d be pardoned for assuming it’s carbon. Wild hydroformed tube shapes, angles and asymmetries feature at every curve and corner; we’d guess the frame was designed with carbon in mind, then Scott worked out how to imitate it in metal.

The frame is nearly flex-free when pushed, with a solid one-piece rocker link reinforcing the seatstay with the main frame and a changeable thru-axle out back – 142 x 12mm as stock.

Lower down are large, asymmetrical curved chainstays and a wide and curved downtube that uses a fair amount of the BB86 bottom bracket shell. At the other end of the frame is a stout, tapered heat tube.

The pivot hardware is large, easy to work on and looks clean :

The oversized pivot hardware is light, solid and easy to work on with large hex sizes and well-marked torque guidelines

Over the carbon front-end of the models above, the 740’s full aluminium frame adds approximately 250g. Without budget constraints, we’d choose carbon, but regardless, this frame won’t disappoint.?

A chip sits at the back of the rear shock that allows for a basic two-option adjustment in geometry :

Our brand new tester did develop a creak within the pivots during our testing – we traced this to the geometry-adjust chip at the rear shock. A bit of grease in this area and we were back riding in silence

The TwinLoc technology remote is solid and positive, and although we’re not fans of adding an extra two cables to a bike, the TwinLoc does it neatly, and should be resistant to general muck and corrosion.

The twinloc is one of scott's defining features. it's a well-refined setup and doubles as the grip lockring (can be used with other grips too) :

Doubling as a grip lockring, the Twinloc switch is a quality item and without doubt adds to the cost

The TwinLoc switch itself feels far more solid than previous generations, with a pronounced click and positive spring that should overcome a sticky or contaminated cable without too much fuss.?It works similarly to a trigger shifter – the up and down buttons are within easy reach of your left thumb.

Regardless of how well it works, we can’t overlook the fact it adds two more cables to the bike – this alone may be a no-go for minimalist riders.

An easily accessible bottle mount is a feature that’s easily overlooked, but arguably crucial on a bike designed for marathon racing. We managed to fit a standard sized bottle within our medium sample without the need for a side-access cage.

Aesthetically speaking, despite the birds’ nest of cables out front, the Spark 740 proved popular. Its modern lines are well complemented by its striking matt black and white paintscheme.

Equipment: high quality where it counts, although we’d prefer to ditch the inner tubes

A big argument for the full-aluminium model over the carbon is the better parts specification for the lower price.

Despite the 740 using a ‘cheaper’ aluminium frame than the 720, the proprietary suspension means the rest of the bike doesn’t scream value for money. Nevertheless, the parts gave no major cause for complaint.

The shimano xt dual-ring setup offers are a nice range for off-road riding, allowing you to stay in the big-ring for most of your riding. long road stretches may have you wishing for something taller though :

The 38/24T gearing is great for most trail conditions, but long road sections may have you wanting more

The drivetrain includes a mix of Shimano XT, SLX and Deore components. Scott has done a good job of putting the money where it counts, and the dual-ring XT cranks and clutch-equipped shadow rear derailleur performed flawlessly.

The slightly cheaper Shimano M615 brakes disc brakes and Deore hubs perform without issue, although they don’t have the prestige of upper-level options. The M615 brakes don’t have the same all-out power of upper models, but kudos to Scott for including a larger front rotor for greater braking leverage.

The twinloc remote is a big part of the spark's personality. the use of an i-spec clamp for the shifter and brake lever helps to clean up the handlebar :

The single-clamp I-spec brake and shifter is a nice touch and helps with cleaning up the otherwise busy bar setup

Sycros components was acquired by Scott in 2012, and its parts comprise all contact points, as well as the heasdset and rims. These components continue with Syncros’ long-standing history of producing quality off-road components. The handlebar and stem add a stiff and secure connection – just watch out for the Torx bolts used in the stem.

The schwalbe 2.25in rocket ron tyres are a decent choice for a variety of softer terrain, however, tubeless-ready wheels would be a massive bonus:

The Schwalbe 2.25in Rocket Ron tyres swell on the rather skinny rims

The rebadged Syncros rims (made by Alex rims) are quite narrow by modern standards, and neither the rim or supplied tyres claim tubeless compatibility. These rims can be turned tubeless with a conversion kit, but at this price other brands are offering setups with both tubeless-ready rims and tyres included.

There’s plenty to like about the Spark 740. It’s effectively a budget-conscience replica of the carbon models with a small weight penalty.

The 120mm travel is enough to offer plenty of fun and is well appreciated on more technical trails – this is a bike that you could easily race cross-country one day and then explore remote trails the next. While we’re more ‘set and forget’ type riders when it comes our suspension, riders who seeks instant control of their setup will be well rewarded by this ride.

Looking for a new mountain bike? Discuss it in our forum right now. Head here where you’ll find invaluable advice and stories from fellow riders.

Mondraker Foxy Carbon RR review

Mondraker has been taking the world by storm with its revolutionary geometry, but when it came to materials, it was yet to broach the world of composites. No more, for it’s gone and made the Trail Bike of the Year-winning Foxy with an all-new full carbon frame.

Frame and equipment: radical diet

While it shares exactly the same extra long Forward Geometry, short 30mm stem and 140mm of travel at either end with the alloy bike, this carbon option – which we first cast our eager eyes over in the spring – is a different very animal.

It’s a stunning looking thing, with a much more attractive profile than the slightly hunchbacked looking alloy frame. As that bike proved, looks are unimportant when it comes to performance and the real magic is under the skin, or rather, within the skin itself. Moving to the black stuff has shaved a claimed 400g off the frame weight alone, giving our middle of the range RR model an all-up weight of 12.5kg (27.6lb).

Carbon fibre construction drops weight and improves looks at the same time:

Carbon construction drops weight and improves looks at the same time

Despite being the middle child, the RR comes with some pretty top bits – the SRAM 11-speed drivetrain is made up of X01 shifters and carbon chainset with X01 elsewhere too. It’s pretty much flawless in operation, though we did find that the 30T ring was a little too low for a relatively lightweight bike.

Mondraker has also opted for linked, bar-mounted suspension remotes on both the top line Kashima-coated Fox 34 Float fork and the Float rear shock – a bit of a cross-country touch on a rough and tumble trail bike. That makes the own brand 740mm width carbon bars quite a busy place once you add in the internally routed RockShox Reverb dropper post remote. Trying to remember which button does what can be a struggle, and we were half surprised the mass of cabling didn’t strain insects from the air.

The kashima coated fox shocks are controlled by a bar mount lever:

The Kashima coated Fox shocks are controlled by a bar mount lever

Aesthetics aside, it means the front and rear shocks can’t have their low speed damping adjusted independently. Instead you get just the three picks of very stiff Climb, a middle Trail or fully open Descend mode, losing the extra fine tuning adjustments in the middle setting that non-remote Trail Adjust models get. This means that if you want to adjust the balance of the bike, say run some low speed Trail damping at the fork to prop it up on steeper sections while keeping the rear open for maximum compliance, you’re scuppered.

Ride and handling: too potent for its own good?

The CTD remote setup seems especially bizarre given that the Foxy pedals well without such interference, and we left it in Descend for the vast majority of our rides. On the plus side, the 2015 model Fox 34 is a vast improvement over last year’s kit. It’s not as stiff as the new 36 despite being the same weight – Mondraker wasn’t aware of that fork’s development when speccing this bike – but there’s much less friction and support is improved without the harsh dive-to-ramp up of previous years.

The Stealth Carbon frame is an equally satisfying step up – it went through a number of iterations before Mondraker was happy with the result, and it shows. The bike has a nicely muted but not dead feel and trail buzz is reduced over its alloy sibling, while there’s no hint of flex from the frame.

On mild to moderate trails, the foxy carbon is a ridiculous blast:

On mild to moderate trails, the Foxy Carbon is a ridiculous blast

That’s all to the good, because the Foxy Carbon is quick. Ridiculously quick. The Zero suspension system feels taut under power, cutting out pedal bob very effectively but still sucks up the bumps – with the aid of its flawless, subtle-yet-planted Float shock – in a hugely effective way. The low-slung, long geometry effectively keeps your weight central, allowing you to shift weight forwards or back for maximum grip. It can take a bit of getting used to, but once there your cornering speeds are significantly higher.

Even when we found the limits of traction from the Maxxis Ardents, the bike carves through turns in a way that’s more akin to powder skiing, the low frame weight aiding changes of direction further. While front wheel slides are usually terrifying on most bikes, on the Mondraker breaking traction at the front is a less death defying prospect. Simply shift your weight slightly further forwards and it’s utterly controllable.?

On our relatively mild test loop, this mix of low weight, speed-enhancing suspension and corner crushing ability meant we put in times that matched and sometimes exceeded our best. Considering we’ve wrestled short travel race rigs around in clips and this is a 140mm trail bike shod with flat pedals that’s not just impressive, it’s bloody amazing.

Maxxis ardent treads are top performers, skinny crank brothers wheels less so:

Maxxis Ardent treads are top performers, skinny Crank Brothers wheels less so

However, a true trail bike should be able to cope with much more than a blue loop in style – and once we hit some more rugged natural trails, some elements of the build kit started to intrude on the party. The Crank Brothers Cobalt wheels may look trick with their odd paired spokes, but the 19mm internal width means the rubber they’re shod in gets slightly pinched. That’s no deal breaker – the alloy Foxy R has the same issue and we still loved it – but these wheels are also insanely flexy, something highlighted by the stiffness elsewhere.

Given a big enough berm and enough cornering speed, we got the tread leaving marks on the chainstay – and the Foxy has plenty of clearance. If you give the bike some gas down a rocky section, things quickly get out of line as the wheel flex fires you in directions you’d rather not go.

We also managed to kink the rear hoop noticeably; possibly a function of the speeds the bike encourages, but it also highlights that the wheels are a pain to true thanks to the large unsupported sections between the paired spokes. In their defence, they are tubeless ready from the box and the freehub and bearing quality issues that plagued Crank Brothers seem to be over, but it’s a bit like having a prizefighter with the legs of a toddler; if you can point it in the right direction you’ll smash someone’s head off, but that’s easier said than done.

Unless you're loaded enough to afford the xr spec, we'd suggest going for the cheaper r model and spending the difference on some wheels that can take a bit more hammer:

We’d suggest going for the cheaper R model and spending the difference on some wheels that can take a bit more hammer

While we’re griping, we’re not keen on the Formula CR1 brakes. The tangential pull lever can’t be run close in to the bar without power tailing off, and we had issues with brake rub and excess drag when they got warm.

We put our thoughts to Mondraker over these spec oddities. The company pointed out that for riders who want to push hard, it specs the top-end XR model with the much beefier Iodine wheels as well as a 160mm travel fork. The company also said that it’s working with Fox to get a better balance between the front and rear shock tunes.

For the time being though, the Foxy Carbon RR is a bit like the smart kid in school who goes off the rails just before exams. It’s got a whole load of potential and promise but when serious pressure is applied, things start falling apart slightly.

This is partly because the Forward Geometry is so inspiring that it encourages you to behave like a lunatic all the time. Keep it to the milder stuff and the lightweight wheels and bar mount remote work to make it ridiculously rapid. It’ll have you grinning like a maniac as you pedal until you’re sick.

Get a bit rougher though, and while the heart of the frame and suspension is very much in for the fight, the flexy wheels will have you backing down when you know you shouldn’t have to. It’s addictive but infuriating – and we’d recommend buying the R model instead and using the cash saved on some new wheels, or moving up to the XR if you have the extra funds.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Ghost AMR Riot Lector 9 review

Chances are if someone told you that their new range of bikes was called Riot you would be expecting some beefy, big travel, borderline downhill hell raiser, which makes the first sight of Ghost’s Riot Lector 9 frame something of a shock.

Once you’ve established that the company’s idea of rioting is hammering old-school-style technical singletrack flat out along, down and (particularly) upwards rather than laying waste to a black run descent then this Ghost is a seriously playful and standout-fast poltergeist.

Frame and equipment: hex-citing stuff

While the super-skinny brace tube between the flattened, steeply sloped top tube and skinny seatstays might look freakishly fragile, a second glance will show that there’s serious strength where it really matters. The hexagonal down tube is big enough to work as a front fender even with 2.25in rubber. The bottom bracket basket it expands into covers the full width of the BB95 bearings and you have to really peer down to even see there’s a smaller chainring tucked in on the XTR crank.

The carbon frame and ingenious ‘Riot’ linkage buried in the belly of the bike are designed to be BabelFish efficient at translating your effort into blistering acceleration and effervescent, ego-boosting pace.

There is a riot brewing in that lot… namely a riot link: there is a riot brewing in that lot… namely a riot link

There is a riot brewing in that lot… namely a Riot Link

Reading the onsite hype it seems like a lot of effort to create a floating shock with significant bottom stroke ramp up. That’s reinforced when you’re staring down into the belly of the bike trying to work out exactly what’s happening in between the downturned chainstay extensions and the bottom end of the Fox shock. It’s not a bike that we would recommend to riders who routinely leave their bikes long enough between washes to grow a garden either.

The XTR stop/go equipment is as flawless as ever and if you can wait just a couple more months you will be getting the all-new XTR group. The Haven wheels haven’t got the best hub reliability record though, and you could easily find a lighter and/or better-equipped complete bike for the money.

Easton rims are paired with high volume hans dampf rubber: easton rims are paired with high volume hans dampf rubber

Easton rims are paired with high volume Hans Dampf rubber

We have never been big fans of Ritchey’s Rizer bar shapes and felt the Ghost’s WCS Carbon Rizer 710mm bars could do with some more width to put some torque into turns. They’re usefully stiff though and the WCS 60mm stem means you can play about right on the edge of the plentiful front traction. The X-12 thru-axle rear end and Riot setup can also handle a decent drop without stumbling sideways or obviously losing composure.

Ride and handling: speed demon heaven – where the fork can handle it

As soon as we clipped in and put some pressure through the pedals it was obvious that the Ghost’s 26-tooth ring was going to be largely forgotten. In fact we never used it once throughout testing, even on maybe-I-shouldn’t-have-done-that-last-descent cramping crawls back up to the trailhead.

Deflate and cycle the shock and you soon find that this isn’t a typical Pace or Trek-style shock setup where the bottom end of the shock is pulled down and away as the top gets compressed. There’s a fractional drop of the bottom as you move through the first 30 percent (which is mostly sag) but then the rear of the shock doesn’t move again until 80 percent through the stroke. At that point the Riot linkage drives the rear of the shock upwards against the compression loads and creates a super high rising rate ‘stopping track’ effect on the travel.

The fox shock is driven from both ends for a progressive bottom out: the fox shock is driven from both ends for a progressive bottom out

The Fox shock is driven from both ends for a progressive bottom out

While this sounds (and looks) frighteningly complicated, what it means in reality is that the bike pedals extremely well even with the compression damper wide open. There’s some stiction in the solid state bearing bushes (rather than conventional cartridge bearing pivots) and upper linkage angle that reinforces the firm ‘platform feel’. That gives a psychological advantage going hard on smoother surfaces but it does create a chattery, occasionally traction scattering character over small bumps.

Once the linkage flips through and the shock turns more linear it carries that speed through decent size rock and log stoppers. This can be a recipe for a saggy feel at the rear but the chainstay pivot four-bar rear architecture helps with a rapid return to sag level. This meant the Lector never felt like it was wallowing about when we wanted to get the wattage down.

The linkage also reduces maximum stress loads on the linkage and rear stays too, which is why Ghost can make them so thin. Our medium sample was 500g heavier than Ghost’s claimed weight, and it’s the pedal response not the poundage that makes it a naturally high velocity weapon.

The Strava trophies on your post-ride download aren’t just going to be restricted to the climbs either. While we never bothered using the front shifter to drop us out of the big ring, the Reverb button above it got as much use as a fighter plane joystick trigger. It’s great to see more German brands embracing progressive geometry, and while the Riot isn’t particularly slack the easy mid-stroke makes it hunker down and stretch out if you drive down through your feet into corners.

Precision and poise from the frame is impressive on technical singletrack or when you’re stamping the pedals and smashing the climbs: precision and poise from the frame is impressive on technical singletrack or when you’re stamping the pedals and smashing the climbs

Precision and poise from the frame is impressive on technical singletrack

The bike’s long anyway and at 335mm from bottom bracket axle to ground it’s really low slung. That gives it great natural stability through high-speed corners even when the treads start to go sideways.

The 32mm legged Fox fork is the only obvious limiting factor if you’re into more aggressive riding. It’s smooth and supple when you get to the climbs and you can get round the linear damping crushing down in hard corners by keeping it in Trail mode.

Throw in some bigger hits and more random roots and rocks though, and the rest of the bike soon starts to push harder than the fork can cope with structurally and you start to trip over it as it twangs back and twists around in your hands. You will generally be able to keep it together down most local woodsy descents, but show it an open rocky hillside and an open throttle and the rest of the bike definitely deserves a burlier fork and much broader bars.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.