After a perfect season in 2016, Trek worked hard with the Atherton's to develop a faster Session - and the new Session 9.9 is here. There's a hard-hitting 27.5" model, and a 29" frame and fork option for the speed obsessed.
Images: Matt DeLorme, Sven Martin
Trek's all-new session has come out of the start gate firing, with features common to Trek dual-suspension bikes like the Mino-Link for adjustable angles and bottom bracket height, and the bike benefits from a stiffer frame done with no increase in weight. With race-focused geometry, the enw Session has a livelier ride with an updated suspension design optimised for air shocks. While the complete bike sports ever-popular 27.5” wheels for all-around performance on any track, there's an option for something bigger too.
For all-out speed, Trek are also offering the Session with a 29er chassis. Only available in a limited quantity as a frame & fork package, the Session 29 brings faster-rolling big wheels to the downhill scene - a move the likes of Intense and Santa Cruz have been doing.
The Session gets agro
Got it any slacker? While the race-focused geometry on the Session 9.9 is hard to pick at a glance, it’s something that riders will feel immediately. This is where the Athertons and World Cup racing had the most influence. An increase in reach of about 20mm on each size puts the rider in a more aggressive position on the bike. The chain stays remain a little longer to counter the increased front-centre length and keep the bike stable at speed, and also allowing it to plow through the rough stuff without getting the rear end hung up.
With a slacker head angle and lower bottom bracket, the Session 9.9 remains super stable. It is now 10mm lower and sports a 63 degree head angle out of the box.
Find your geometry sweet spot
The Mino Link is a feature of Trek's dual-suspension bikes and the Session 9.9 is no exception. But adjustable geometry doesn't stop there. The Session features an easily adjustable head tube angle, but it’s not the creak-prone adjustable type. The bike ships with zero-offset cups installed, but it also includes a set of 1-degree-offset cups that can be installed with a forward or backward angle for an additional 1 degree of head angle adjustment in either direction. Along with the Mino Link offering another half degree of head angle adjustment, as well as about 8mm of BB height adjustment, riders can dial in their head tube angle to anywhere from 62 degrees to 64.5 degrees depending on the course or their own personal preference.
Fox get on for the ride
The Fox Float X2 shock is a key part of the new Session. The internals were developed on the same timeline as the Session. Trek’s Suspension R&D team worked closely with Fox Racing Shox to optimise the new bike and shock together in a high-performance package with more flexible tuning options than ever before. Updates to the new DH-focused Float X2 include progressive instead of digressive valves and enhanced spring characteristics, which complement the new Session’s lower leverage ratio and longer shock stroke. These changes to the frame accelerate the shock’s compression speed and introduce higher spring and damping forces for a given amount of wheel travel.
As a rider it means you get a livelier ride with more control and more support, especially in the midstroke, where the suspension works the hardest. With the damper doing more of the work and dissipating more energy through the midstroke, the shock gets much more predictable bottom-out resistance for better control on even the biggest hits. The suspension is also more responsive at the beginning of the stroke, allowing the bike to respond to smaller bumps, so it tracks the ground better and improves grip.
No floaters with the stiff Session
Gone is the Full Floater, as wiith the massive improvements in air shocks, including more tuning features like air pressure, spring rate, and spring volume, Trek can now trade that Full Floater tunability to gain more strength and stiffness in the frame while saving weight and maintaining plushness. So Session is still one of the lightest DH frames available, but now it’s even stiffer, so it’s more responsive in and out of corners, and it holds a precise line through even the roughest, gnarliest terrain.
The rest of the Session 9.9
All the new bits don't disregard the old bits, and Trek’s patented Active Braking Pivot keeps the suspension working freely under braking loads that can cause other designs to stiffen up and stop working. Its OCLV Mountain Carbon frame is light and strong and Carbon Armor adds an extra layer of protection to impact-prone areas like the downtube, chain stays, and seat stays. Fork bumpers are built into the Control Freak cable routing guides, which allows for versatile and easy-to-use internal control routing for added protection and slick aesthetics.
In all, the new Session is stiffer, more aggressive, more adjustable, and just plain faster with suspension that’s more plush and grippy off the top, more supportive and controlled in the middle, and better able to absorb big, bottom-out hits without losing its cool.
What wheelsize for me?
It's a fair question and Trek believe that the Session 9.9 with 27.5" wheels will suit about 90% of riders, for those who want a bike for the park and something nimble. But for all-out speed, and riders chasing success in big races - that's where the Session 29er comes into play.
Other details with the new Session
The Session will still work with coil shocks, and the headset isn't anything unique. The Float X2 is super-tuneable can can still take volume spacers, and the rear hub spacing is 157x12. The alloy Session is a carry over design from the current model.
Where can I get my Session
Any good Trek dealer! Expect to Pay $10999 for the Session 9.9 27.5" RSL, or $7499 for the Session 29 Carbon frame, fork, shock and headset.