Indepth and Personal with the Trek Session 10

Dec 10, 2006 at 16:01
Dec 10, 2006
by Tyler Maine  
 
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Two years in the making, [L=http://www2.trekbikes.com/bikes/bike.php?bikeid=1178600&f=14]Trek’s Session 10[/L] is designed as a “multi-use” downhill long travel bicycle: downhill race-worthy geometry and handling with ‘big mountain’ suspension capabilities. Countless days in the Park, run after run; World Cup level racing, heavy free-ride use, the Session 10 is meant to do it all with aplomb. Not quite the anorexic disposable “race bike”, definitely not an overly heavy, “hucking” machine, the Session 10 is a welcome “happy medium” in a market of highly specific long travel bicycles.

Here are the highlights and tribulations of a summer and fall of heavy use aboard a Manitou 8” TPC Travis/Revox equipped Trek Session 10.


ESTHETICS

Although technically advanced the Session 10’s overall appearance is simple, streamlined and uncluttered.

The cable routing is flawless: full length housing, no bends, very few rubbing spots, strategically placed housing guides, no chain contact or housing rub under compression. Nothing to say, best cable routing I’ve seen.

The rear non-drive side drop out is machined to accommodate an 8” rotor and a Post-mount caliper: no need for extra adapters; the brake caliper bolts right on to the drop out. Combined with the direct 8” Post-mount mount on the Travis fork, the whole brake set-up of the Session 10 is easy to use and esthetically pleasing.

The full front and rear triangles, rounded lines and proficient use of hydro forming make the Session 10 clearly stand-out from the crowd.

ERGONOMICS

-The roomy cockpit allows for even body weight distribution on both wheels. Combined with a low bar height, this contributes to the very balanced feel of the Session 10. The 1.5” head tube opens many front-end height/head-angle tuning possibilities. I opted for an integrated FSA Orbit Z headset top and bottom, as I would rather adjust head-angle/bar height by sliding the fork up and down in its crowns. The short head tube (5.5” with headset) allows for a wide range of fork height adjustment (the 8” Travis can go as low as 22.25” axle to crown). Finally settled on 22.75” axle to crown on the Travis with the integrated headset to have the head angle I was looking for.

-Pedaling clearance / body to frame contact has not been an issue thanks to the sleek and smooth lines of the Session’s rear end. The CTE is inboard the swing arm and does not interfere with one’s pedal stroke.

-All bolts on Trek’s Session are easily accessed with a 5mm Allen key. No need to remove the cranks or chain guide to access linkage bolts. Shock adjustments as well are easy to use.

-There is little clearance between the frame and the chain right before the chain enters the CTE. After only a few rides, the paint was scraped off and the aluminum scored. Although not a strength issue, esthetics are compromised. It seems like enough material in that area could be removed to allow for better clearance without compromising the integrity of the swing arm.


RELIABILITY

A whole summer has gone by: over 35 days of Whistler Park riding, 250+ runs, road trips and countless shore rides. The Session has seen its fair share of use and abuse.

-The main pivot pinch bolt design can be “infinitely” tightened. This characteristic enables the user to compensate for minute changes in tolerances and contributes to the bike staying tight and trouble free. Linkage bolts, CTE or shock mount bolts have not loosened either: a rare occurrence for any bike ridden in these conditions and at this frequency. Trek’s technology, manufacturing process and attention to detail speak for themselves.

-Trek used 5mm Allen head bolts on all the Session 10’s hardware: shock mount, swing arm, drop out, linkages. This bolt size allows the user to apply the proper amount of torque without risk of stripping bolts or rounding out heads. Long term, the Session 10’s hardware will retain its shape better than that of other bikes using 3 or 4mm hardware.

-The shock’s upper and lower spacing is of the 22mm variety. Short 8mm bolts highly decrease, if not eliminate the risk of bending or snapping these shock mount bolts.



-Geometry adjustments at the dropouts instead of at the shock mount translate into a very simple frame-to-shock interface. There is no sliding shock mount plate to crack or multiple, tightly spaced shock mount bolt holes to deform.

-The rear derailleur replaceable drop out is 1/3” thick and has withstood many “derailleur to immovable object” contacts. The hanger’s thickness would allow it to be bent back into place safely without risk of snapping, or worst case, the dropout itself is easily replaced by simply removing three Allen bolts.

-Wear on the CTE pulley has been very negligible. Most notable considering the numerous muddy rides the Session 10 has endured.

-Although loosening bolts have never been an issue, the pins in the lower linkage area are finally showing signs of wear. A slight amount of ‘up and down’ play is noticeable when the bike is static. The aluminum pins will obviously show wear faster than the steel bearing races they rest on. Replacement pins are available at a reasonable cost through Trek dealers worldwide.

-As the suspension goes through its travel, the gap in the lower “scissor” linkage widens. Roost from the rear wheel is projected between the two elements of the linkage: mud, dirt and small rocks get jammed in between the machined links. Within the time of a ride, the accumulated roost stops the suspension from returning to its full extension. As a result the bike’s geometry is altered and full travel is not available. Trek has addressed this issue for next year by specing the bike with a small fender ‘a la V10’ to stop debris from flying off the rear wheel into the linkage area. The handmade fender I have been running for a few weeks now has solved the problem so I assume that Trek’s own fender will do the job more than adequately.


Frame sizeTrek Session 10 Large-19"
Rear ShockManitou Revox and Swinger X6
• 11.5”x3.5” stroke
• 350lbs Ti spring
Fork2006 8" Manitou Travis Triple TPC+ w/ Firm Spring
HeadsetFSA Orbit Z Integrated Zero Stack 1.5" outer w/ 1 1/8" inner
Crankarms170mm Truvativ Holzfeller
Chain GuideE-13 SRS custom for the Session
ChainringFSA 36t / 38t Rings
Bottom BracketTruvativ Holzfeller 83mm
PedalsWellgo Mag
ChainConnex Wipperman
CassetteSRAM 11-32t / 12-23t
Rear DerailleurSRAM X.0 short-cage
Shifter Cable/HousingStock
Shifter PodSRAM X.0
HandlebarChromag 1.25” rise 28”
StemManitou integrated 31.8mm Clamp
GripsODI Lock On-Ruffian
BrakesAvid Juicy Carbon with 8” rotors
Front hubHadley 20mm TA GOLD
Rear hubHadley 150mm X 12mm TA GOLD
SpokesDT Competition
TiresMaxxis Minion FR/R UST
Front RimSun Rims S-Type MTX 26"
TubesStandard DH tubes / Shrader valves
RimsMavic X823 Disc UST 26"
SaddleFizik Nisene ti
SeatpostThomson Road setback
ExtraThis bike will win the next Rumble at Vedder!


SUSPENSION FEEL

Very deep. Smooth at all times. Hard to phase. Progressive.

First few words that come to mind when thinking of how confidence inspiring the Session 10 is. The Session excels in rough jagged terrain: the bike absorbs consecutive square edge impacts better than all other bikes I’ve ridden. I found it took a very poor line choice or a notably harsh impact to remotely slow the Session 10 down. Thanks to the CTE, the Trek’s suspension is barely affected by chain pull. (The CTE or the Chain Torque Eliminator eliminates chain growth issues and prevents pedal kick back.)
Pedaling through rough sections is a non-issue. The Session sits in its sag, with very little feedback from the chain, and allows the rider to sprint ‘down’ , or dare I say ‘up’, anything. Traction is always predictable, there is very little focus needed from the rider on where one can or can’t pedal. This ability to pedal and carry speed through rough terrain is a huge advantage while racing and makes the Trek very gratifying to ride in all situations.

The Session 10’s overall suspension capabilities were exponentially enhanced when a new 2007 shim stack Manitou Swinger X6 replaced the 2006 Manitou Revox SPV shock. The bike now feels deeper still, has a more controlled mid-range, highly improved small bump compliance, better range of rebound damping, better cornering, better braking traction and overall matches perfectly the 8” TPC Travis’ smoothness and feel.


RESPONSIVENESS

This very deep travel feel is not at the expense of responsiveness and pedaling efficiency; quite the opposite. The combination of forgiveness and surprising agility is what makes the Session 10 truly stand out. Out of corners, even on flatter ground, the Session 10 feels quick and positive. Aided by the short chain stays (17.1”) and Travis fork, the Trek’s front end feels light and easy to place. Although the Session 10 has the ability to “plow” through the trail when needed, its dynamic traits encourage the rider to play around.

As with many of today’s high-end long travel bikes, the rider feels “in” the bike rather than “on” the bike. The low BB height (14.25” in the mid setting), generous amount of sag, and sloping top tube all contribute to this effect. Although the term itself has been over used, this characteristic truly translates into a very balanced overall feel, where the rider only has small body language changes to make when riding as he/she is already in a very neutral riding position.

All around frame stiffness, extremely effective suspension and a highly perfected geometry make the Session 10 a “trail and race course dissecting” machine.


EVOLUTION OF THE SESSION 10?

For 2007, the only changes to the Session 10 will be a shim stack Manitou Revox shock stock, instead of the 2006 SPV version. The Revox has a lighter overall weight than the Swinger X6 (aluminum vs. steel shaft) and an even smoother stroke thanks to increased oil flow (larger shaft).
Come spring 07, Andrew Shandro will be aboard a prototype, lighter, 8” version of the Session. Information has not been disclosed as to whether the 8” Session will be based on the Session 10, or if it will be of an entirely new design: wait and see…
After my experience with the 10, I am highly anticipating the first sneak peaks of Trek’s new long travel 8”offering.


Luscious photographs by Stephen Wilde www.stephenwilde.com


If you are in the Vancouver area, be sure to stop by Obsession: Bikes (1-604-739-684Cool for more information on the Session 10 (Demo bikes available!), bikes of the Trek line-up, or the Travis, Revox shock and other Manitou products.

Obsession: Bikes stocks a wide selection of Trek bicycles (from kid’s, trail, road, XC to full-blown Freeride bikes) and Manitou suspension components.

If you are not anywhere close to the Lower Mainland log on to www.trekbikes.com or call OGC (604)324-6900 for a list of Trek or Manitou dealers near you.

Thank you to all that have generously supported me:


Stephen Wilde and the little Jet
James Downing and the boys at OGC
James Wilson, Crazy Lou and the Obsession: Bikes crew
Andrew Shandro
Murray and Theo @ Orange Sport Distribution
Deylan @ Trident Sports
Ralph Schopper
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18 Comments

  • + 1
 damn dude do you write tech manuals for a living?That is one awesome write up!Ive no intention of buying one but your insight and depth are a pleasure to read.And lay off Mac 92 I went through a bunch of shit with My Little Pony oops I mean Iron Horse!A good bike aint shit if the company doesnt care about you!
  • + 1
 It's not my fault trek doesn't honer there warantys werth shit when there frames snap. This has happened to me and everyone else i know who's owned one. All i'm saying is that i prefer to ride a small companie's bike, a company that can't aford to lose a customer, and because of that, they will honer there promises and be nice about it in the meantime.
  • + 2
 Props on the good review Arthur. Bring that beast to the next redneck rumble so I can get my ass beat by a big white trek! You made the woodlot your bitch in nsx 9, killer section. Mike.
  • + 1
 Has anyone else had much time on one of these bikes? I rode the old Diesel around the parking lot of Calgary Cycle back in the day, but I'd like to hear more on what Trek's big rig is like.
  • + 2
 Thank you. I am glad you guys found the review informative. Cheers Tyler, am looking forward to publishing more on Pinkbike in the future!
  • + 0
 While I realize I am 6 years late!!! I have wanted a Session 10 ever since I saw one in 2007 riding the DH trails at Crested Butte Mountain. I have both a Session 77 and Session 8...but this season I'm looking to do a Session 10 build just for kicks. This is probably the best review I have ever read! Let me just say WOW and THANK YOU for your in depth report, attention to details, and no fluff. Ride on!!
  • + 1
 Good work Arthur! Tons of information and great to see Wilde's pics in there too! Looking forward to reading more of your reviews in the future!
  • + 2
 ditto...great work Arthur! I just sent ya an e-mail - we need to catch up mate!
  • + 0
 Maybe they didn't know what you were talking about, since you cannot even spell "honor" properly.

Wink
  • + 1
 Dude! I'm going to buy one at the moment...BYE!
  • + 0
 Hey mister Gaillot nice to read about you please get in touch with me asap Coach
  • + 0
 HAHA Art...its Ty. Love how you actually thanked "Crazy Lou."

Might see ya tomorrow.
  • + 0
 haha yay Arthur! so THAT's what you have been up to!
  • + 0
 Excellent write up!
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