PINKBIKE FIELD TEST
Ghost Riot Trail Full Party
Words by Mike Kazimer / photography by Tom Richards
What exactly constitutes an 'aggressive trail bike'? There's obviously no exact definition, but the Ghost Riot Trail sure looks like it fits the bill. This aluminum-framed machine has 29” wheels, 140mm of coil-sprung rear travel, and plenty of purple highlights to go along with its 'Full Party' model name.
That 140mm of travel is delivered via Ghost's Traction Link suspension design, where a one-piece swingarm is connected to the front of the bike via two co-rotating links. Rearward axle paths may be all the rage, but Ghost went with a more vertical path that's claimed to help preserve the bike's geometry throughout the travel.
Ghost Riot Trail Details
• Travel: 140mm rear / 140mm fork
• Aluminum frame
• Wheel size: 29"
• Head angle: 66°
• Effective seat tube angle: 77°
• Reach: 467mm (size M)
• Chainstay length: 450mm (size M)
• Sizes: S, M (tested), L, XL
• Weight: 36 lb / 16.3 kg
• Price: 3,699 Euro (not available in USA)
There's plenty of room for a water bottle inside the front triangle, although our test bike showed up with with a magnetic Fidlok mounting system that ended up being more of a hassle rather than an actual improvement over a traditional cage. The cables are externally routed along the downtube, with a plastic cover that makes them appear to be internally routed at first glance.
When it came time to decide which size to request, we decided to go stick with what Ghost's 'Superfit' online calculator suggested. After all, Ghost says they “utilize a specially developed algorithm to holistically calculate our so-called 'from-rider-to-bike-geometries.' That meant we ended up with a size medium, which has a 467mm reach, 450mm chainstays, a 77-degree seat tube angle, and a 66-degree head angle. Those numbers give the Riot trail the longest chainstay length, the shortest reach, and the steepest head angle out of of the six bikes that were in for testing.
It's worth noting that the seat tube lengths are on the longer side of things, measuring 441mm for a size medium, and 465mm for a size large. Built Kit
The Full Party build kits highlights include Formula's Selva S fork, Mod coil shock, and Cura brakes. RockShox and Fox tend to show up on the vast majority of complete bikes these days, so it was nice to see something a little less common added into the mix. Both the fork and the shock have compression circuits that can be easily swapped out, part of Formula's CTS (Compression Tuning System).
There's also a Shimano XT 12-speed drivetrain, Syntace V30 wheelset, and an Eightpins integrated dropper post. The concept of an integrated post makes a lot of sense, but it was a little frustrating to realize that the amount of travel was limited to 160mm, despite the fact that Eightpins offers options with more drop. In addition, the ergonomics of the remote lever were lacking compared the shifter-style options that have become the norm.
The Ghost Riot Trail isn't currently available in the US, but in parts of the world where it is available the price is 3699 Euro. Climbing
With its chunky aluminum frame and coil shock I didn't expect the Ghost to be super light, but I also didn't think that it would weigh 36 pounds - that's a whole two pounds more than the steel Starling Murmur. Needless to say, that weight means the Riot Trail feels less energetic than the Propain Hugene or Scor 4060 ST, bikes that are almost five pounds lighter.
Weight aside, the Riot Trail is an active climber, with noticeable suspension movement, particularly during out of the saddle efforts. Yes, coil shocks typically bob a little more while pedaling compared to air shocks, but the Ghost had even more motion than expected. The Starling Murmur also had a coil shock, and it was a much more calm and composed than the Riot.
The Formula Mod shock does have a lockout lever that saw plenty of use on fire road grinds, although it takes a fair bit of effort to actually move the lever, and when it's locked out it's really locked out, which meant that position didn't work well for more techy climbs.
As far as the overall climbing position goes, the steep seat tube angle and short top tube length create a very upright position that felt a little cramped at times. It felt like I was perched above the bike, rather than being comfortably centered between the two wheels. The front end handling is quick, but the long chainstays keep the overall level of nimbleness in check.
The feeling of being perched above the bike persisted when the trail pointed downhill, which meant that descending on the Riot Trail was, umm, interesting, to put it nicely. There was plenty of traction from the Mod coil shock, and the Selva S was smooth and supportive, but the purple Italian suspension wasn't enough to hide the fact that the Riot Trail's geometry holds it back, especially on steeper, higher speed trails. The relatively long chainstays do help bring some stability to the table, but the low front end and steeper head angle make it hard to confidently charge in rough terrain.
It should be clear by now that the size medium wasn't the exactly the ideal fit. Would a large have been better? That's obviously tough to say without riding one, but I think bumping up a size would have brought in another set of potential fit issues.
The large has a very long 465mm seat tube length, which could make running a longer dropper post impossible for some riders. It also has a very tall 140mm head tube, 40mm more than the size medium. The 487mm reach isn't out of the ordinary, but when that's paired with those 450mm chainstays it does make for a pretty roomy bike, especially if you're looking for a more lively trail machine.
Excess weight aside, the bike's geometry just doesn't give it the level of goof-off-ability that I want from a bike like this. With a slacker head angle and shorter chainstays I think it would be a different story, but as it is the Full Party feels more like a blast from the past rather than a fully modern trail bike. I'm a huge fan of the concept behind the Riot Trail – the idea of a tough, shorter travel trail bike with a coil shock is good one, which made it all the more frustrating when it didn't live up to its promise out on the trail. It's like having someone burst into the room at a New Year's Eve party fully of energy and ready to rage like there's no tomorrow, only to fall asleep in the corner at 9pm.
Who's the ideal candidate? I'd say it's a rider whose trails are rough but not overly steep, someone who's looking for a bike to take the edge off of bigger hits rather than riding fully pinned at every opportunity. And they should also really like purple.