Bike Check: Barbara Benko's Custom Ghost Lector SF Pro Softail

Apr 20, 2020 at 6:57
by James Smurthwaite  


The Tankwha Trek is a stage race in South Africa, and the Ghost Factory Racing team were using it this year as a warm-up for the Cape Epic later in the month. In 2019, Hungarian champion Barbara Benko and her teammate Anne Terpstra won the first two stages of the Tankwha as the only competitors on hardtails, but slipped to third as Benko got ill halfway through the race. This year they were back looking for revenge and to help them get back to the top spot, Ghost commissioned these two custom painted Ghost Lector SF Pro bikes.

Unfortunately, bad luck struck the pair again. Firstly, these custom painted bikes (ironically) got stuck in customs so weren't ready for the race start and Barbara also got sick again. Anne was able to race for the rest of the stages, but she had to start 15 minutes behind the rest of the field each day. She still got the fastest time of the race but it did not count as a winning result as she was not racing with the main field.
Rider Name // Barbara Benko
Age: 30
Hometown: Budapest
Height: 174cm, 5'8"
Weight: 64kg, 141 lbs
Instagram: @benkobarbi

In short, these two hardtails will never really get to show us what they could have done, so rather than let them go to waste we thought we'd take a look a bit closer at the key features of these sweet looking rides.

Here's an interesting fact before we get into the details - Ghost Factory Racing weren't actually planning on using these two bikes for the Cape Epic, despite them already having South African livery. Instead, they had another surprise up their sleeve that they now can't show us. We'll make sure to have a good look around their pits when racing resumes to work out exactly what they meant by that.


Ghost Lector Name Details
Frame: Ghost Lector SF Pro
Fork: RockShox SID Ultimate - 100mm travel, 87psi.
Wheels: Bikeahead The Wheels, Tune Prince & Princess Skyline hubs (Ceramicspeed bearings)
Tires: Maxxis Aspen 2.25
Drivetrain: SRAM XX1 AXS
Brakes: SRAM Level Ultimate (160mm rotors)
Cockpit: Tune Geiles Teil 4.0 stem (65mm), Bikeahead the Flatbar (740mm).
Size: Medium
More info: ghost-bikes.com

The bikes arrived so fresh into South Africa that the masking tape protecting the bottom bracket area had to be cut away before they could be built up.

The thin, curved rear stays of the Lector hardtails are inspired by leaf springs and are designed to minimize vibrations to increase comfort and traction.

South African flag details celebrate this bike's debut race - the Tankwha Trek. The South African flag is one of only three national flags in the world to have six colours, the others being Portugal and Paraguay... yes, I've been doing a lot of Zoom quizzes in lockdown

Tire inserts aren't just for downhill and enduro riders anymore. Pepi's R-Evolution inserts have a claimed weight of under 80 grams and offer a more lightweight option to provide your rims with protection. Benko runs hers with 1.4 bar (20 psi) in the front and 1.6 (23 psi) in the rear.

This Selle Italia SLR Boost Superflow Pro Team has been designed with World Tour teams and is for athletes only at the moment. We don't have many details of it yet but it's probably safe to assume it's very, very light.

A TwistLoc allows for the 100mm travel RockShox SID to be locked out from the bars. The team still had the old SID on the Lector as the new fork hadn't yet been released as these were being built up.

The rear brake cable is hidden underneath this removable downtube protector, which should make life a bit easier for mechanics than full internal routing. Photos: Zoon Cronje

Crankbrothers' Eggbeater pedals are about as low-profile as you can get.

Benko and her teammate Anne Terpstra were trying to prove that the Tankwha Trek could be won on hardtails but bad luck and illness dented their chances this year.

Only 100mm of travel needed on this AXS dropper for Benko.



80 Comments

  • 232 1
 Huck to flat video please
  • 7 1
 I think Jason is still sore from the last huck to flat test! Even with all the fancy bright colours, this bike still looks stealthy, I almost thought I saw a ghost...
  • 42 0
 Really like the long running protection/cable guide idea. The nice looks of internal routing, most of the simplicity of external, and more downtube protection.
  • 11 0
 Agree here. Could definitely see this concept making it's way into other disciplines. I don't mind internal routing on most things but internal rear brake routing irks me.
  • 7 2
 Canyon does it as well and I think we all agree that it is an incredible idea to avoid internal cable routing.
  • 2 1
 @krashDH85: You will see DT cover on most of the other bikes from Ghost Wink
  • 6 0
 Totally agree. There's no real benefit of internal routing, when this idea is simply supreme in terms of simplicity and minimum of maintenance. I look forward to more companies revert to it and quitting problematic and troublesome internal routing.
  • 3 0
 Yeah. I'd like to see it used in other frame manufacturers. More protection and ease of maintenance.
  • 1 0
 Came here to say the same thing. Heck, I'd love to just see external routing in most cases. Ride, rinse, wrench. I'm over internal routing. This downtube thing is a phenomenal idea though. Replaceable DT cover that protects the frame and hides the cables for pretty IG photos. Run the dropper cable in there too and do external routing to the rear brake and derailleur!
  • 2 0
 Yep I have it on my spectral and recently changed my brakes... God knows how much time I have saved compared to a classic internal cable routing (deinstallation, installation + bleeds) !
  • 16 0
 Twist-Loc photo must have been from Full-Suspension, yet to be released. No need for dual cables to lock out the fork.
  • 1 0
 Noticed that too... I think its a photo from another bike. They probably forgot to take a picture but wanted one in the article. If you count the cables, there's one missing from the twistloc side.
  • 8 1
 What I find really interesting is how close male and female pro cyclists are in weight...at least XC. Maybe because there's so much cardio the body is fizzled down to just lean muscle, not alot of mass, so there's less difference in weight compared to "average Joe" and "average Jane" weights or even comparable pros in other sports. I see her weight above and I saw another article about the average body weight of pro male/female cyclists and they were very close. Why do I feel like this comment will get downvoted?
  • 1 0
 I think it is an interesting observation and would be curious to know if there are facts behind it.
  • 2 0
 @robwhynot: I read it on the internet, duhh. Everything here is factz.
  • 1 0
 @robwhynot: But in all seriousness. I see her listed at 5' 8" and 141lbs. The internet lists Nino at 5' 8" and 150lbs.
  • 1 0
 Males will likely have a little more muscle mass, females slightly more body fat. But I would be the weight difference ir probably pretty small at equal heights. As a reference, I am 5'8", currently have about the same body fat as an elite level woman would likely have, and have a similar level of power as an elite woman. If I bulked up a few more pounds and dropped a few pounds of fat (I am normally about 5 pounds lighter in race season), I would be closer to Nino in weight (which is only hypothetical, not saying I could).
  • 8 0
 I'd like to know more about those Pepi inserts. At 80g they're about half the weight of Cushcore XC inserts.
  • 9 0
 Don't let Hambini look at the bottom bracket lol,
  • 8 0
 First pic == Daft Punk vibe... or is it Daft Pink?
  • 5 0
 Harder, better, faster, stronger
  • 6 0
 have you ever just looked at a bike and thought "I bet I could pick that thing up and throw it 50 yards"?
  • 5 1
 I'm a bit lost here, could someone explain to me the difference in soft-tail vs hardtail? Does it just mean some sort of flexiness in the rear chain and seatstays?
  • 30 6
 it means the tail is soft
  • 4 1
 @Ajorda I'm pretty sure a hardtail is what most companies make today, eg Giant XTC, Specialized Epic Hardtail, etc with nothing besides carbon fiber layup providing comfort. A soft-tail is one with an elastomer providing some sort of shock absorption like the Trek Procaliber and a bunch of old bikes. Hopes this helps
  • 55 1
 Golden retrievers generally have a soft tail. Labs generally have a hard tail. You can tell the difference by the way they are.
  • 6 0
 @IamTheDogEzra: How neat is that?
  • 1 1
 @IamTheDogEzra:
Probably most excellent PB comment of all time.
  • 2 0
 This isnt a softail in the sense of TREK´s Supercaliber - they´re using the word incorrectly.
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: ...or hard depending on design.
  • 4 1
 @Bustacrimes: the Supercaliber is just a short travel full suspension bike.
  • 2 0
 Yes, the soft tail has a little flex in the chain stays to help absorb some vibration. No actual travel.
  • 1 0
 In all seriousness, what most people mean when they say "softail" is a bike with minimal pivots (no main pivot), but still rear suspension travel by relying on chainstay vertical flex. The Salsa Dos Niner is a perfect example:

salsacycles.com/bikes/archive/dos_niner_orange

Its not just a compliant rear triangle with no shock/damper. Another good example is the older Cannondale Scalpel that had no main pivot.

The BMC Teamelite kinda blurs this line, but I'd still consider it and this Ghost as hard tails, not true soft tails.
  • 6 0
 I really like the bark on those trees.
  • 2 1
 Gorgeous aren't they? Looks a lot like the Ironbark gum (Eucalyptus Sideroxylon) we have in Australia.
  • 2 0
 @Feideaux: they are in fact from Australia. They are invasive and considered a big threat to local species as well as the water supply.
  • 10 0
 *scrolls back up to check out some bark*
  • 2 0
 @Feideaux: Ironbarks have a dark coloured very rough bark, they look more like a forest red gum to me
  • 1 0
 @DeeWheelson: Looks like they've been planted in rows.
  • 2 0
 There's some seriously cool technology here. I love the concepts behind these bikes. I think carbon is the future for hardtails. We'll figure out how to engineer them to be light, stiff under pedalling, and soft/compliant on the bumps. I'd love to try a trail version of something like this. I love the removable downtube/cable cover idea as well. Bravo Ghost.
  • 1 0
 Probably my favorite bike I've owned so far was my 2009 Salsa 'El Kaboing' - 26in 125/140 trail bike with scandium-aluminum alloy and vertically-compliant seat stays. Needless to say, the geo is outdated, but I wish I hadn't sold that frame.
  • 1 0
 I demo'ed a BMC soft tail a while back. Just that hint of flex was amazing for traction in the rough, without any of the weight penalty. I prefer to race HT in XC still.
  • 1 0
 Surprised the tire pressures are that high. With the prior generation PTN raceline I dropped 4psi front and rear from my normal pressures. I'm over 180# kitted up these days and I'm at lower pressures with inserts than they list here, regardless of what gauge I'm using.
  • 1 0
 Agree. I think a lot of smaller XC riders are below 20 psi now even without inserts. I'm about 64 kilos and routinely run 18/20 front/rear if the conditions are loose.
  • 1 0
 They are running 2.25 wide tires. A person needs a bit more for skinny tires. But yeah, that sounded way too high to me considering inserts and xc racers tend to be really light. I’m about the same weight as Benko but I run 2.5 EXO or tougher casings and run 16 - 18 psi.
  • 2 0
 They are probably railing through turns much harder than you imagine, lower pressure just wallows through corners.
  • 1 0
 That's not high pressure on a hard tail at all.
  • 2 0
 @clink83, @JSTootell - 23 psi isn't crazy high, but it's definitely behind the cutting edge for XC. Here's the greatest rider in the world, who's heavier than them, saying he rides 17-20 psi (albeit on a 2.4 Aspen): www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=264&v=43ruZxBIi2w&feature=emb_logo
  • 4 0
 I'm quite the fan of how Barbara Benko races XC. Aggressive, attacking, backs herself. Also takes no shit in interviews.
  • 1 0
 It looks like her and Ann Terpstra have a ton of fun too. Definatly some of my favorite riders.
  • 3 0
 Nice to see a DT cover like my Amp B5 had 25 years ago. Funny how David Turner caught crap for external cables, and finally people realize they're a PITA.
  • 1 0
 DT is a guy who actually rides and works on bikes...

(He is local to me, I run into him a lot)
  • 7 2
 Beaver
  • 3 0
 The sram twinlock grip has 2cables, but for a softail wouldn't just have one cable? -.-'
  • 4 0
 Looks cool, but without geometry or weight this is just a tease.
  • 4 0
 Self-reply - Looks like the geometry is up on their website.Confusing that they have a Lector and Lector SF model. Super long and slack at 441 mm reach in a small and 68° headtube. XC bikes have come a long way!
  • 1 0
 This frame looks promising, an ultra compliant hardtail with pretty slack geo... from basically an REI brand. Would like to see more of it though.
  • 3 0
 Coming from a gravity guy - those bikes are sexy
  • 1 0
 Stellenbosch is one of those MTB gems waiting to be unlocked by the rest of the world... Primed for a Crankworx SA... One WC round wasn't enough
  • 6 3
 jesus those arms...
  • 4 1
 Looks like the right arm gets a little more worked out than the left...
  • 3 2
 Looks like the right arm see a lot more "action" Wink
  • 2 0
 Haibike covering all the bases
  • 1 0
 What's going on with the computer mount? They almost look like phones sticking off the front.
  • 2 0
 White kit...so clean, until it isn’t...
  • 3 1
 Looks like a session to me.
  • 2 0
 This looks like an XC rig I would ride
  • 2 0
 We have rider weight but not bike weight. Please, bike weight too.
  • 1 0
 I was for hoping for a proper side shot just so I could really look at it and continue saying in my head "what in the f*ck"
  • 3 1
 That mechanic sure has been jacking off a lot
  • 2 0
 no dust cap, but you run a tire insert??? okay
  • 3 3
 Makes me wonder how the paint job will hold up due to the flaking around the BB and the stem
  • 2 0
 Custom paint, meant for one or maybe a small number of races, pro only and most likely will be a wall hanger afterwards. Not meant for mass production /long life.
  • 1 0
 I used to say call it the "50/50 rule" with motorcycles. From at 50 foot, or 50 MPH, looks great!
  • 1 1
 The seatstays look kinda flimsy. If Levy hucked that to flat it would break.
  • 1 0
 Look at that frame, it has to be so compliant over rough-ish terrain!
  • 1 0
 Jó a gèped,hajrá Barbi!
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