One of the fun perks of working at MEC is gear testing. I’m not an official tester, but I have friends in high places (the Buying and Design Department) who let me try gear so I can tell members about it.
Although madly in love with my Xprezo Super-D (an all-mountain bike with 150mm front and 140mm rear travel), I wanted to try one of the sweet looking German-engineered Ghost bikes we carry. A couple of colleagues who rode them only had positive things to say. And I had to see for myself.
The bike I rode for a couple of weeks was the Ghost Miss AMR 5900 (an XC bike with 140mm front and rear travel). Although we don’t carry that exact model, we do offer the Ghost Miss AMR 5700. The differences are minute: the brake levers (Shimano 596 vs. 505), the shock (FOX Float RP23 vs. FOX Float RL), and 100g in weight.
I was hoping to ride the AMR 5900 on all sorts of trails, but given Mother Nature’s mood swings in March, the gnarlier trails I was hoping to hit were still buried deep in snow and my schedule didn’t allow heading to Squamish for a full day of riding. I did manage to ride the following trails:
- A night ride in Pacific Spirit Park: relatively flat terrain where the goal is to get the heart pumping and focus on cardio. More a training ride than a fun ride.
- Bridal Path/Sticks & Stones 1 and 2 on Lower Seymour: as close to an XC ride as you’ll find on the Shore. Some technical climbing (no major elevation gain), some man-made structures and tons of roots and rocks to test your manoeuvring skills.
- Lower Fromme Trilogy (Bobsled, Floppy Bunny and Griffen): a good mix of buffed pump track, technical features, man-made structures, and sweet loam.
- Delta Watershed Park: pretty flat playground offering trails with little jumps and some man-made structures. The perfect place to introduce someone to mountain biking.
Overall I was impressed, especially with the climbing. To the point where I actually uttered “I could get in to long climbs!” My riding mates made me repeat myself to be sure they heard right. As the Miss AMR 5900 weighs about the same as my bike, geometry was the key difference: a 1 or 2-degree difference in head tube angle and 30mm in fork travel can change things dramatically. It holds true for the down part of the ride too, where I didn’t feel as confident or comfortable on steeper sections as I normally do. Familiarity may have played a part. I rode the Ghost bike 5 or 6 times over 3 weeks, whereas I’ve been riding my Xprezo once or twice a week for the last 18 months.
I did find the Miss AMR handled beautifully. Manoeuvring over or around roots and rocks was a breeze (the 680mm handlebars give it good leverage), stability on skinnies was awesome, and landing small drops (1-2ft) was smooth. The fork’s adjustable lockout and the shock’s Pro-Pedal setting allowed me to minimize energy loss while retaining some dampening power in Pacific Spirit and on the Hyannis connector trail to Bridal Path.
The gearing was well tuned and allowed smooth shifting, which was appreciated on the uphill. If your riding is not entirely XC, I’d recommend removing the big chain ring and replacing it with a bash guard to avoid breaking teeth (yours when you get hooked on a fat log and go over the bars, and the chain ring’s when you go over rock ledges).
My demo bike was equipped with Shimano SLX brakes. The great advantage with these is that they use mineral oil, which is more eco-friendly, and the pads are easy to replace. The manufacturer claims they offer up to 25% more stopping power. Depending on your riding and braking style, this can be a good or bad thing. I personally tend to modulate my brakes as I’m not super comfortable with speed, and found the SLX to grab too quickly. These brakes were well reviewed on Pinkbike and I encourage you to read it to get the full picture.
Overall, I really liked the Ghost Miss AMR 5900. It’s a great XC bike. If it weren’t for the fact that I love my bike (it was hand-crafted in my native Québec) and the fact that half the friends I ride with now own a Ghost bike, I’d probably buy one too.