GHOST RIOT LC 650B Trail Bike – Test
Ghost Bicycles are located in Waldsassen in Bavaria Germany, close to the Czech Republic border, with more than 20 years of precision German design and technology behind them and a huge 175 model range, this is a serious company with serious design and engineering going into their products and an immaculate presentation of their new 2015 range. We were there to try their Riot range of trail bikes, that emphasise fun and performance.
The Ghost Riot LC 650B Trail Bike
We came blind into this test, having never tested or ridden a Ghost bike before, we knew very little about the product or ride style that Ghost produce. Our visual impressions alone of the Riot LC before we rode it, were that it was probably the type of bike that is probably suited to the Punta Ala trails. After a brief explanation from Ghost about what to expect and a look at the Ghost website we worked out roughly what should happen with this type of bike as it features a very distinctive rear suspension link design, but as usual we preferred just to get out on the trails and test so that’s what we did. We were pleasantly surprised by a tight feeling package and design that seemed to work very well.
When stepping onboard the new bike, the first thing we noticed is the bar setup and component choices, including brakes and gears. These are all the contact points that make a rider either feel at home or wishing for something different. There is no doubt that the choice of Shimano as the main mechanical parts is always a good one, especially the brakes and gears. We experienced faultless braking and shifting and the smoothness that one would expect from Shimano systems. The bar was wide enough to make us feel in control, but not too wide to feel too extreme.
Our contact points were nice with a good grip choice and comfortable saddle. The riding position was one that is ideal for pedal performance but allows the rider to hang off the back when it comes to descents. At this point it started to seem like we had an ideal Punta Ala bike.
Essentially the idea of the Riot LC suspension system is to give a multitude of different suspension curve performances integrated into the range of travel. Without showing too many graphs (in fact none) we can say the idea of the Riot’s LC system is to allow a soft feeling at the start, a linear middle stroke and a ramping end stroke. In simple English it means, it’s comfortable, pedals well and you can try and bottom it out with large hits, (the point here is try).
From our time on the bike we can honestly say we just rode and didn’t think about the suspension too much, which in our opinion is how it should be. Too much time spent on set up and thinking means something is complicated, in this case it was easy, adjust the shock pressure and go, we didn’t even fiddle with rebound settings etc, as all felt good out of the box in the middle setup point.
Look – A distinctive design that has one quite a few design awards, influenced by other designs from well known German brands including Audi. The bottom bracket area where all the magic happens is definitely well thought out, and clearly aimed at balancing stiffness with weight and a certain design look, in our opinion a successful outcome had been achieved.
Looking at the different colour options available we would opt for the more conservative colours, which fitted extremely well with the distinctive angular stealth frame design. The frame has had thought applied to all parts of it’s structure with the notable method of attaching the rear brake to a floating axle mount, allowing brake forces to be better utilised in the four bar suspension system with a smoother feeling under braking being possible, as the suspension system remains fully active at all times.
Pedalling – The Riot LC is an ideal bike to pedal over varied surfaces up and down hill, technical and smooth. The suspension design we found kept the rear wheel in constant contact with the ground with a direct energy transfer that is characteristic of the four bar linkage and the sensitivity of the Riot LC’s link at the start of it’s stroke. When we pushed hard the bike felt like it did it not want to misbehave and stayed true on the trail, responding to all the rider inputs we made. A fairly lightweight package with a Fox 32 fork, meant that at no point did we feel we were hauling around a heavy bike, despite what might appear to be a solid frame design. The use of carbon definitely emphasises energy transfer and a direct feeling of control across the different elements one can find out on the trail.
Descending – This is where we were pleasantly surprised, our trails in Punta Ala are known for their flow and also their technical difficulty at certain points, therefore a bike which can respond to all these elements is needed. The Riot LC is exactly that type of bike, especially when descending, with the link giving a solid feel that allows the rider to react and remain composed on smooth trail conditions, yet when at speed or in unexpected difficulty the link it seems just soaks up the big bumps. As Ghost proclaimed, “It’s almost impossible to bottom out.” We were definitely left with the feeling that you are on a much longer travel bike. Trails like 301 which are smooth and about flow are perfect for this bike. If however a rider feels the need, it’s certainly possible to ride technical more demanding trails like Rock Oh, that mix the need to pedal with the need for a bike that is comfortable when descending over rougher ground.
Ghost have taken an award winning design and applied the fun element well to this model in their Riot range. The idea was for a fun trail bike that reacted well to pedalling but could handle descents. The version we tried had a 32mm Fox fork which showed that this model was aimed at trail riding not heavy descending, we would agree with this aim, although we would say that if the bike is pointed downhill the unique and distinctive link actually allows a bit of extreme handling and is forgiving should the bike be pushed to the limit.
Component choice was well thought out and the use of a telescopic seat post in our opinion is essential, as it allows the rider to be able to change their body position more easily as the bike is pointed up and down hill and this allowed us to get the most out of the characteristics of the bike which is a trail bike not an Enduro race machine. With this in mind we would say if as a rider you are looking for an efficient trail bike that pedals well, is reactive In the corners, and at the same time should their be unforeseen trail elements that are bigger than expected can react without making the rider feel uncomfortable, the Riot LC is an ideal bike.
There is no doubt that the bike appeals to the type of rider that likes a well thought out distinctive design and pedals well, yet is also pretty good value for money, considering you are getting a carbon frame and good component package based around XT and a 130 mm fork. We found it hard to find points that we could improve as the overall package was ideal in our opinion, for trail riding. If though you are the type of rider that only likes harder technical trails we would probably say have a look at the longer travel version for an even more forgiving and flexible ride.
Punta Ala is the ideal location for this type of bike with mixed trails and some technical elements in a race proven location, any rider is likely to feel at home on this bike and riding on the Punta Ala trails. There is no doubt that the Riot LC will help riders climb to the top and at the same time allow them to descend safely and have fun.