There are no changes to the AMR 5900 frame for 2012, other than the finish. So you still get what reads like a who’s who list of frame features, including all the usual suspects: tapered head tube, PressFit BB, One-Piece link, Post Mount Direct rear brake etc, etc.
But the AMR 5900 also has some unique features, like the size-specific chain stays that minimize the variation in weight distribution across the five frame sizes. Then there’s the needle bearing – instead of a bushing – in the upper shock mount, that dramatically reduces stiction and increases the small bump sensitivity of the rear suspension. The AMR is also the only frame in this test to offer a full range of saddle height adjustment.
The Fox Float RL Evo series fork looks almost identical to a more expensive FIT damped unit. Out on the trail, however, the basic open-bath damper pales in comparison, equating to a slightly harsher, less controlled ride. Still, it’s in good company, given the price point, as it’s exactly the same fork fitted to the Giant and Trek, albeit without the 15QR axle.
Our test bike arrived with a rather crude feeling Fox Float RL rear shock, robbing the Ghost of the incredible rear wheel grip we remembered from last year’s model. Thankfully this was a simple specing error, and the shock was promptly replaced with the correct Fox RP23 with three tuneable ProPedal settings. If you have already bought a 2012 AMR 5900 and it doesn’t have a RP23, your local Ghost dealer will happily swap it out.
More belt-tightening sees the quick release Shimano XT hubs downgraded to Deore for 2012. On the plus side Ghost has switched to slightly narrower rims, which save 40g per wheel. Fast rolling Nobby Nic tyres round out the package, but you’ll want to invest in some softer rubber to feel the full benefit of the Ghost’s rear suspension.
You can’t knock the quality of the cold-forged Hollowtech II XT chainset, but the difference in weight and stiffness over last year’s SLX unit is marginal. The new stubby Shimano Deore levers have a better profile than the SLX of old, but they’re sourced from a rung down the ladder. That said, with 180mm rotors front and rear, bringing the Ghost to a standstill is never going to be an issue.
Ghost has made some progress in the cockpit layout by reeling in the stem length by 10mm, to 80mm, and upping the handlebar width to 685mm. It’s still got some way to go, though, to match the layout on the Specialized.
The AMR 5900 may have the steepest head angle on test but it also has the lowest BB, which balances things out in the handling stakes. Surprisingly you don’t ground out the pedals any more than the other bikes in test, and this is because Ghost’s 2:1 leverage ratio suspension offers plenty of support when loaded it in a corner or while stomping on the pedals. Somehow the rear suspension doesn’t seem as effective without he FIT fork up front. Probably because the balance of the bike isn’t quite as dialled.
We also found it harder to sprint than last year’s bike, as the open bath fork doesn’t offer the same level of control under power. But the 2011 bike isn’t in this test, and the Ghost AMR 5900 can still hold its own on any trail.
While it’s easy to rattle off a list of downgrades on the 2012 AMR 5900, we shouldn’t forget that it’s still one of the best speced bikes in this test. Yet, even with some of the best parts, it’s also the heaviest bike on test: a good 0.5kg more than its closest rival, the Giant, and nearly 0.8kg heavier than the Specialized.
Fortunately, for Ghost, the AMR 5900 doesn’t ride heavy; its solid chassis and responsive, but supportive, rear suspension sees to that. So while the 2012 AMR5900 is still a competitive package, without the FIT damped Fox fork, it can’t quite match the 2011 vintage.
MBR rating: 9
- Love: getting an XT chainset on a £2k bike
- Hate: losing the fit FIT damped Fox fork
1: A needle bearing, instead of a bushing, in the upper shock mount reduces stiction and improves suspension tracking
2: With the highest shock spec in test, the Fox RP23 gives you the choice of three platform settings, to fine-tune the shock for general ride, while keeping the firmest stetting ready at the flick of a lever.
3: The Ghost is the only bike here to have regular QR dropouts front and rear
4: Don’t fancy the black/white/red finish? Well Ghost also offers the AMR 5900 in a black/grey/blue colour way.
Frame: Actinum DB SLC alloy, 120mm 4-bar design
Suspension: Fox RP23 shock, Float RL fork 120mm
Wheels: Shimano Deore QR hubs, Alex FD19 rims
Drivetrain: Shimano XT chainset and r-mech, SLX f-mech, Deore shifters
Brakes: Shimano 596 (Deore)