Dirt Rag Magazine

First Impression: Ghost Kato FS 7 and Riot 9 LC


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Despite more than 20 years of business in the Europe, Ghost isn’t a brand familiar to many folks in the United States. National outdoor retailer REI will certainly change that public awareness as they are now the exclusive distributor of Ghost bicycles in the United States. Ghost bikes are available both in REI stores and on its website. Some models will be sold exclusively online, while others will be stocked in stores and sold online.

Given Ghost’s recent entry into the market here in the U.S., we thought we’d to take a look two of its full suspension models at different price points.


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Ghost Kato FS 7 – $2,599

Kato FS models represent the entry level of Ghost’s full suspension offerings. The FS 7 is the second most expensive of the Kato line (the otherwise identical FS 7 E:i with electronically controlled RockShox Monarch rear shock sells for $3,299), while the Kato FS 2 rings in at just $1,399. For the price point, the Kato delivers a lot of bang for the buck in terms of components, sporting a full Shimano 10-speed XT group, including hubs, except for the Deore-level cassette. We’ve tested quite a few bikes around the $2,500 price point in our recent comparisons and none of them sported a nearly complete XT group. Read more about previous group tests here and here.

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The trade off for all those XT bits comes in the form of front and rear QR axles and Fox’s entry-level Evolution fork and shock offering 130 mm and 120 mm of travel respectively.

In stock trim the Kato does not include a dropper seatpost, either. I installed a Fox D.O.S.S. because I’m no longer capable of properly riding a bike without a dropper. It’s worth noting the Kato offers no cable guides for internal or external dropper post routing.


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Ghost Riot 9 LC – $7,999

The 9 LC sits atop the Riot LC offerings, sparing no expense with a full carbon frame, XTR Trail 11-speed drivetrain and brakes, Easton Haven wheels, RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper and Ritchey carbon handlebar. The Fox Factory fork and shock offer 130mm of travel front and rear. Front and rear thru axles are standard on Riot models. Certainly nothing less than you’d expect for the asking price.

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Similarities

Despite the massive difference in price, these bikes also have a lot in common. Both roll on 27.5-inch wheels shod with Schwalbe’s new Nobby Nic tires. Fox supplies all the suspension bits, which are similar in travel.

The Horst-link four-bar suspension system looks very similar on both bikes, but the Riot hides some additional suspension bits just above the bottom bracket.

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Differences

While these bikes are very similar at first glance, the closer you look the more differences you’ll find.

Though the geometry numbers are similar, the fit of the Riot is noticeably more new-school. The Riot’s wheelbase is 15 mm longer, but the chainstays are 5 mm shorter. Thus, the Riot’s front center is a full 20mm longer. Reach is similarly 22.5mm longer, so a 60mm stem is spec’d in place of the 80mm stem on the Kato. Even the bottom bracket height is 2 mm lower on the Riot.

Upcoming Review

With just a few rides on each bike it’s too early to weigh in with a verdict. Look for the full review in an upcoming issue of Dirt Rag.

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Ghost bikes coming to the US through REI


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REI has secured exclusive rights to Ghost bikes for 2015, with the high-end German line available in stores and at REI.com starting in January. The bikes are already distributed in more than 40 countries, and now include the US and Canada.

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In the exclusive agreement, REI will sell high-end models through its retail stores, including the 120mm 27.5 Kato FS 7 E:I, above, featuring Electronic Intelligence suspension, and the 130mm 27.5 Riot LC, below.

Starting in February, consumers will also have access to a variety of other models in the GHOST line directly via REI.com that can be shipped anywhere in the United States.

Ghost’s full-suspension line uses a four-bar Horst Link design, which until recently was under patent by Specialized in the US. No doubt the expiration of the patent helps Ghost expand into the US. We rode a Ghost AMR Riot a few years back at Crankworx in Canada and really enjoyed it.

Founded in 1993 in the Bavaria region of Germany, Ghost is part of Accell North America, which in turn is the North American business entity of Accell Group, NV, Europe’s leading bicycle company and incorporates brands including Raleigh, Redline, Lapierre, Diamondback and more.

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