Ghost SLAMR X8 review

German brand re-works suspension design for new all-mountain trail models

27.5 All Mountain Trail
The SLAMR X8 has a carbon front triangle, alloy rear, 145mm of rear travel and a price of $4599.

The SLAMR X8 has a carbon front triangle, alloy rear, 145mm of rear travel and a price of $4599 (click to enlarge).

The Lowdown: Ghost SLAMR X8

Ghost is a German bike brand that is still fairly new to the U.S. market. Outdoor sporting goods store REI is the sole distributor of Ghost here in America. Having reviewed the Ghost Riot7 LC trail bike early last year, I’m pretty familiar with their bikes and how they ride. It doesn’t hurt that one of my riding buddies is a long time REI employee so I get a bit of “intel” from the inside.

The new AMR platform is the basis for three different model lines. In the A.ll M.ountain R.ide series are the FRAMR, SLAMR X and the SLAMR. All three use the same carbon front triangle with an alloy rear triangle but have varying amounts of rear suspension. The FRAMR line has 160mm of rear travel, the SLAMR X has 145mm of rear travel and the SLAMR has 130mm of travel. Ghost is able to streamline production and reduce costs by using one frame across 3 lines. Key to the AMR series is a new, simplified rear suspension design that we will delve into deeper down below. Overall, the SLAMR X8 is an improvement over the old design with a plush and active suspension that will appeal to the all-mountain/trail rider looking for something different.

Stat Box
Intended Use: all mountain trail Wheel Size: 27.5-inches
Travel: 145mm rear, 150mm front Wheelset: Shimano XT hubs/Alex rims
Suspension: Fox 34 Talas fork, Fox Float X rear shock Frame Material: high-modulus carbon frame, hydroformed aluminum swingarm
Drivetrain: Shimano XT 2×11 MSRP: $4,599
Weight: 29.47 pounds (size MD, no pedals) Rating: 4 Flamin' Chili Peppers 4 Flamin’ Chilis-out-of-5

In the same league: Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Elite 650b, Santa Cruz Bronson C, Trek Remedy 9.8, Giant Reign Advanced 27.5

Pluses
Minuses
  • Plush, active suspension
  • A bit heavy for carbon
  • Smooth carbon ride
  • Needs bar mounted rear shock lockout remote
  • Shimano XT drivetrain is solid
  • Water bottle cage positioned poorly
  • Clean internal cable routing
  • Rear tire clearance not great
  • Cash Back on purchase for REI Members, Free First Tune-up
       

Full Review: Ghost SLAMR X8

During our long term test, we had the chance to ride the SLAMR X8 on a variety of trails and conditions and we really like the improvements and simplifications Ghost has made to the AMR series. The design is a four-bar linkage and the ride quality is improved over the more sophisticated system on the Riot tested last year. We ran the sag on the high side, between 25-30% in the front and about 30% in the rear. This provided just the right amount of cush and the SLAMR also popped off of jumps nicely (somewhat like a single pivot) and floated back down with a subtle smoothness that we attribute to the carbon main frame.

The SLAMR X8 is a solid handling descender that instills confidence and likes to rally.

The SLAMR X8 is a solid handling descender that instills confidence and likes to rally (click to enlarge).

With such an active rear end, you will definitely find yourself using the rear shock lockout which is not easy to engage. The absence of a bar-mounted lockout for the shock is an oversight, one we hope Ghost will fix for future versions. For tricky, rocky climbs the medium setting (previously called “Trail” mode) allowed seated climbing and plenty of traction. But for those stand and hammer hard efforts, you will want to be sure you have the shock set to firm (previously called “Climb” mode). The only other thing holding it back on the climbs was its not too light weight, although 29.5 lbs. is not completely unheard of for this price point.

The SLAMR is one of those bikes that works with either the point-and-shoot straight ahead style of descending or the pick-your-line finesse type of riding. Although some might appreciate the adjustable travel Fox TALAS fork, we found that we very rarely reduced the travel since the fork is a capable climber even in the longer travel setting. Ghost has produced a bike that is fun on the downhills and is easy to climb back to the top for your second run. The 2×11 Shimano drivetrain with 42 tooth big cog allowed us to climb everything our motor would allow us.

The 67 degree head angle and the 73.5 degree seat angle combined with the 430mm chainstays make for a slack and nimble handler and should feel immediately comfortable to most trail riders. The quality of the ride is much improved providing more comfort and confidence in a variety of trail conditions.

The rear brake caliper mounts directly to the X12 thru-axle in order to maintain better alignment and to distribute braking forces into the axle instead of the frame.

The rear brake caliper mounts directly to the X12 thru-axle in order to maintain better alignment and to distribute braking forces into the axle instead of the frame (click to enlarge).

Another unique feature that we first noticed on the Riot LC that we tested previously, Ghost likes to mount the rear brake caliper on the axle and not the frame. They claim that this makes the frame stronger and lighter by removing the stress of the brake caliper mount from the frame. On the SLAMR X8 is a new and second generation version of this that is lighter and stiffer than its predecessor. As on the previous version, we were unable to notice any discernible benefit or detriment to this mounting position.

Continue to page 2 for more on the Ghost SLAMR X8 and full photo gallery »

About the author: Gregg Kato

Gregg Kato studied journalism and broadcasting in college while working many different jobs including deejaying, driving a forklift and building web sites (not all at the same time). Kato enjoys riding local Santa Cruz trails. Besides being an avid mountain biker, he is also a motorcycle fanatic. Two wheels, one Passion.


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Comments:

  • Dave Victors says:

    FYI, REI is NOT the sole distributor in North America…Canada is in North America too. MEC was the first to bring Ghost to North America, a couple of years before REI picked them up.

  • Zoso says:

    Pay no attention to this review Ghost. No one wants a handlebar shock remote. Pfft.

  • GuyOnMTB says:

    “The rear brake caliper mounts directly to the X12 thru-axle in order to maintain better alignment and to distribute braking forces into the axle instead of the frame.”

    For awhile people have been wanting to know “why Boost”? Well, there ‘was’ the chainline issues people were having with 135mm & 142mm chainlines. Boost made the chainline better. Boost also made the rear of the FS and HT stiffer. Now there is direct-mount-to-axle-rear-brake-caliper that I can only see being used on the 148mm Boost standard because what other “standard” has room for a direct-mount-to-axle-rear-brake-caliper?

    I was on the fence about Boost because I just couldn’t see where it is headed. Now my doubts are cast aside, and I can accept this change of standards, as it is going to bring needed performance improvements. Some of which we have not seen or thought of yet.

    We tried to mitigate braking forces in the frame by adding a bridge to the left side rear stays. Which worked, but was still sending the braking forces through the frame. This, however, is going to change(or eliminate) rear FS brake rise in frames to have that issue.

    There is a gentleman on Youtube who does analysis of FS bike rear suspension kinetics. I would like to see an analysis from his channel on the differences between frame mount calipers, to direct-mount calipers and its performance regarding braking-rise.

    The future looks fun, and faster.

  • I'mright says:

    Why didn’t the engineer that work on the rear brake also do the water bottle bosses?

  • Chase says:

    This bike is doomed in my book.
    #1- I will never shop at REI who align themselves with groups actively working to outlaw bikes on trail systems that exist and fight every effort to construct new trails for MTB and other worthy stakeholders.
    #2) Needs to use climb switch? Just get a DW bike and you can ignore that. Having to flip switches completely sucks in real use. Ive done it and will not do it again. A well setup kinematic layout and suspension tune will negate this bandaid forever.

    • dan says:

      DW Link is arguably the best design, each variant, to transform mountainbiking. To use the overused cliche, “it’s a game changer.”
      As for REI and your #1, is that true? If so I may have to do some rearranging of my consumerism.

  • stiingya says:

    DW’s get better and better. But ride around on one for awhile and you’ll think it’s amazing because it climbs so well and is so cush. Then jump on any decent HL/LSP bike and flip the shock open… BUTTER! Linkage designs that build in a mechanical platform can never be as subtly smooth… Granted, you have to flip a switch to “control” that active rear end when your climbing on other bikes. But likely you’ve been using brakes, shifters and even a dropper post lever on your bars for a long time now. Adding a bar mounted switch to go from efficient to PLUSH isn’t that big of a deal. And even as good as DW/etc. are most reviews, most of the time still comment that their reaching down and flipping the lever to get the most efficient climbing mode…

    I’m not saying mechanical platforms are bad or that more active rear ends are better. But I think they all have their value!

  • Todd Plummer says:

    Thanks Gregg. I’m lookin at this on sale at $3448 plus the 10% cash back. I’m also looking at the 2015 Santa Cruz 5010 C S on sale for $3600. Can you provide me a recommendation between the 2? Also, does the Slamr x 8 lc come tubeless ready?

    Thank you for your help

    • Gregg Kato says:

      Hello Todd. My time on the 5010 has been very limited so I can’t give a direct comparison. However, I would check to see if the 5010 is lighter, I believe it is (depending on parts spec, of course). The SL AMR X8 is tubeless ready. I think the 5010 is the better climber of the two.

      • Todd Plummer says:

        Hi Greg. Thank you. The 5010 is slightly lighter but is SLX components compared to the XT components on the Ghost. The geometry on the Santa Cruz isn’t as aggressive but I do a lot of in between riding as well. But it seems to be lighter and maybe more versatile than the Ghost. My first decent Mountain bike purchase so just want to make the right decision.

        • Gregg Kato says:

          Hey Todd, I’d say that you can’t really go wrong with either of your two choices. The performance of SLX is really good, so it’s not like it’s a big step down from XT. I’d say that if you need the help on the climbs or do rides with a fair amount of climbing, go with the 5010. If you plan on getting more rowdy on the descents, go with the Ghost with more rear (and front) travel.

  • REIEmployee says:

    Just wanted to respond to Chase’s comments about REI, where I have been employed for almost 3 years. Like Dan, I too would like to hear some details from Chase. I can certainly tell you that the claim that REI “fight[s] every effort to construct new trails for MTB” is not at all true. The store where I work has donated over $40K to a local trail group specifically to fund the construction of a new mountain bike trail in a local state park. I myself have put countless hours into building this trail. In fact, when our store opened, every employee’s first day at “work” was spent on that trail, putting in some sweat equity. So again, I’m open to hearing where REI has gotten it wrong, but it’s definitely not fair to say they “fight every effort,” and my experience has been very different from what Chase puts out there. #REIemployee

  • Matt Wasilewski says:

    I’m comparing two used bikes: this bike (2016 SLAMR X8) to a 2019 Marin Hawk Hill 2. Would be my intro MTB looking for advice of which to buy that can last me as I progress! Perhaps GHOST has some better components, but if Marin Hawk Hill is better for geometry and I can upgrade in the future then that might be a better call?

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