Trek has continued to refine the Session range of downhill mountain bikes and has reintroduced them for 2012 with fresh frame geometry and the typical complement of high end components.
Here is an overview of what to expect from each bike in this family.
The introduction model in the Trek Session range may be comparatively affordable but this does not diminish its race-ready potential. It features an Alpha Platinum Aluminium frame that has full suspension at the front and rear for a total of 210mm of travel. While the frame is alloy you can still enjoy carbon-esque features like internal cable routing, which is a nice touch.
The front suspension comes in the form of a RockShox Boxxer fork while at the rear is a Fox Van RC shock. The full floater setup means that you get a good range of travel that seems to deliver a lot more leeway than is actually available, making it an adaptive ride.
SRAM X7 and X9 components combine to make up the Trek Session 8’s drivetrain, while the hydraulically controlled Avid Elixir 7 brakes keep you in a position of confidence on steep, tricky descents. Bontrager rims and tyres, along with a saddle, seatpost and handlebar setup from the same firm, pull in the same direction to deliver a cohesive feel to the bike in whichever type of situation you face.
The Trek Session 88 kicks things up a notch from the base model, adding a good selection of new components which justify the price increase.
The Alpha Platinum Aluminium frame remains the same, combining strength and stiffness with agility and suppleness thanks to the full-sus setup. The front suspension is this time provided by the Fox Factor Series 40 Fit RC2 shock which offers 203mm of travel and a 20mm thru axle for all-terrain performance and impact-damping reliability. At the rear is a Fox DHX RC-2 shock that has adjustable damping which is sensitive to the velocity of the hits that it takes, for tactile responsiveness under pressure.
Avid Elixir 9 brakes give you even more stopping power and ease of manipulation, while the SRAM X9 and X0 components on the gearing are also a welcome addition.
The peak of the Trek Session range in terms of price and performance can be found in the Session 9.9. The most noteworthy feature is its OCLV Mountain Carbon Frame, which has under-mounted Carbon Armour to minimise the damage that it accrues during use.
Swapping out alloy for carbon on this type of bike makes a notable difference to the weight, but it has been integrated in such a way that you do not lose anything in terms of strength or handling. This is in part assured thanks to the continued use of the Fox Factor Series 40 front suspension and the Fox DHX RC-4 rear shock, which help the bike to break up big hits with periods of successful power transfer so that you do not feel like you are wasting your energy.
A carbon SRAM X0 crank, a titanium Bontrager Evoke 4 saddle and a Rhythm Pro Carbon handlebar complement the lightweight design of this Trek Session. Meanwhile Avid Elixir XO hydraulic disc brakes at the front and rear show that there are plenty of ways in which weight can be saved, even on a downhill-oriented bike.
Trek builds each of the Trek Session bikes to make them easy to tune without too much technical tinkering, which is particularly useful if you want to get to grips and modify the suspension to suit your riding style. Downhill racers will certainly appreciate the work which has been done on these models.