As a staff gear tester at MEC and a rider who gets in 100+ days a year, I’ve had a chance to try out many different Ghost models over the past few years, and I was incredibly eager to get my hands on one of the new 2016 arrivals, the Ghost SL AMR X 8 LC.
The frames for the new AMR bikes (short for All Mountain Ride) are redesigned to use a classic FSR suspension platform – a tried-and-true success story in the mountain biking industry. The SL AMR X 8 LC is built with a carbon fibre front triangle and aluminum rear triangle, both of which are updated and improved.
Its Fox 34 Performance Series suspension fork is adjustable and can be set at 150mm or 120mm of travel depending on the changes happening on the trail. The fork is paired nicely with the new 150mm Fox Float X Performance rear shock, which uses Fox’s new Open-Medium-Firm 3-position adjustment platform.
2016 marks the debut of Shimano’s 11-speed XT group, and the 2×11 XT drivetrain is spec’d on this tier of AMR. The bike uses a full XT level drivetrain including medium-caged clutch derailleur, shift levers, 36-26 double crankset, and 11-42T wide range cassette. It also comes stock with Shimano XT 2-piston brakes and uses 180mm rotors in both the front and rear for aggressive all mountain riding. All of the cables for the drivetrain, seatpost, and rear hose for the hydraulic brake are routed internally through the frame with clean and stylish exit points.
The changes to the AMR series make these more robust and versatile mountain bikes. A 67-degree head tube angle is slack enough for descending aggressive terrain, without compromising climbing or maneuverability, and the Torsion X chainstay combined with oversized linkage bearings vastly improves the rear-end stiffness when compared to the previous standard chainstay bridge.
The most interesting change to the AMR design involves the ability to change the rear travel of the bike. The design basically allows you to build three different bikes simply by changing the lower shock mount. To do it, you need to have a second/spare shock with a longer (or shorter) stroke length, but by flipping the lower shock mount and installing the spare shock, you can obtain more (or less) rear wheel travel depending on what you need.
As an example, if you’re interested in using the SL AMR (150mm of rear travel) as your everyday bike, but you’re also interested in doing a few XC or marathon-style races through the year, all you’d need is a shorter travel fork and shock to swap in, and your bike would be better suited to that riding discipline. You could switch from having 150mm front and 150mm rear, to 130mm front and 130mm rear in a matter of minutes.
All in all, the SL AMR X LC 8 is truly a do-it-all, lightweight carbon mountain bike. It feels nimble and snappy on the climbs, and descends confidently even when the trails get aggressive. The design, the thought and care that have gone into the new AMR platform have produced a very versatile and incredibly fun ride!