Perhaps the biggest story of the weird and wacky 2020 race season was Reece Wilson's World Champs success in Leogang where he tamed the filthy conditions to take home the Rainbow Stripes for the very first time. The bike he took to the win that day is one that's not been shy of racing success over the years, a Trek Session, which was also given the mullet treatment by Reece and his mechanic last winter, something he says has offered up a lot of different benefits.
Reece stands at 178cm and runs an XL frame which he up-sized on towards the end of last season. Suspension duties are taken care of by a RockShox Boxxer and Super Deluxe Coil, Reece doesn't know the settings off the top of his head but mentioned "the number of clicks doesn’t matter it’s how it feels", he went onto say it's set up pretty balanced front and rear with fast rebound and the compression sat on the open side of things.
One of the most interesting aspects of Reece's approach to bike setup is his interest in weight, but not in the lighter is better argument. "Less weight is definitely not better," he says before going to add that "lighter is fantastic for acceleration but is awful at high speed and trying to brake"... Reece thinks there's an optimal weight balance to be found and wants to play around with it more in the future.
Being World Champ certainly comes with its perks... Reece has a shiny new frame fresh out of the Trek paint shop to commemorate that fateful day in Austria, take a closer look below:
Height 5’10 / 178cm
Model Trek Session
Frame Size Extra Large
Wheel Size 29/27.5"
Suspension RockShox Boxxer & Super Deluxe Coil
Drivetrain & Brakes SRAM Code
Wheels & Rubber Bontrager
Fresh out the Trek paintshop.
...Reece's Session gets some added World Champion sparkle.
When did you start playing around with the mullet setup?
It was as early as January this year. When I was at Charlie’s [Harrison] I tried the mullet for the first time, threw the wheel in and flipped the mino chips and hooned it and I liked it a lot. Then the guys worked on something a little bit more accurate. I want to say a headset cup which was 1.5 degrees steeper and with the mino chips flipped, that was kinda enough, that brought it pretty close. I’m pretty sure the bottom bracket was maybe 3mm lower, or maybe even less than that when we put the headset in, I’m not too sure.
Have you always been on an XL or is frame size something you’ve just gone bigger and bigger on over the years?
I think pretty much all this year I rode an XL to be honest. At the tail end of last year I went to an XL, I’ve been on one for a while anyway, it doesn’t feel like anything new.
You’ve spent all your race career minus 2 seasons on a Trek Session. Have you been able to follow the bike’s development? Is there any familiarity to the first version you got on when you started racing?
It does and it doesn’t. Their suspension hasn’t changed a whole lot, so that’s a key component on a bike and how it actually works and that hasn’t changed so yeah they’ve felt very familiar but at the same time there’s been a lot of changes too. I think you can definitely notice the development, I think I’ve been lucky enough to ride pretty much most bikes so the 26”, 27.5”, 29” and now the mullet which is pretty cool.
Reece doesn't know exactly the number of clicks he is running as it constantly changes, he goes for feel over looking at the number of clicks. He did say it feels pretty balanced front to rear and is on the stiff side of things, his rebound sits at the faster side of things with the compression fairly open.
What did you notice was the main difference with the mullet? Why did you prefer that?
Although I’m reasonably tall I’m really short in the legs so I’m almost the same height as my coach Chris Kilmurray but his legs are considerably longer than mine so basically most of my height is in my arms and torso, I don’t actually have that much space when the bike is fully compressed and my legs are fully compressed or the bike is fully extended and my legs are compressed. That's the main reason, I just felt I could attack faster because I’ve got more room to lean back or get my weight towards the back which is where I felt comfortable. That was the initial thought and now I’ve started riding it I’ve noticed loads of other benefits.
Do you think that helped you feel so comfortable coming into this weird end to the season?
Yes, that and having the confidence in what I was trying to make better and achieving it to make it better. So just knowing right, everything I wanted to get better at and do more of I’ve done, so I’ve done everything I wanted to do. It’s just mindset. I just put myself in the position to have a good mindset and that made all the difference.
Can you just run us through your suspension setup?
I don’t know if we’re allowed to say, what I’m using settings wise in the fork wise I have no idea because we’ve been playing around with it that much. I think if you’re tuning up a bike the clicks don’t really matter, the number of clicks doesn’t matter it’s how it feels. That’s just what and Joe my mechanic and I go on. It’s very well balanced, I’m trying to ride a bike quite balanced so the bike matches that. If you felt them both individually they both feel quite stiff so I wouldn’t say it sags particularly more on the front or the back. Naturally, a bike is always going to sit a little further back as that’s where you’re leaning. I’d say it’s pretty standard on how you should have it.
He runs his alloy Truvativ bars at 780mm paired to a 50mm stem. On steeper tracks where he'd like his front end to sit higher, he'd tend to put more pressure in the fork rather than play around with spacers below the stem.
SRAM Code brakes bite into 220mm rotors whilst his levers have a short throw and are positioned 15 degrees down from flat. Reece says he prefers the push on Odi grips as they seem to give his hands a little more cushion.
You’re running a coil on the back, do you go to air at all?
I wouldn’t go air now, although it’s harder to fine-tune for what we’re doing… a coil is just better. With air, you’ve only got a PSI or 2 here or there and it changes with temperature so it’s not exactly the most accurate. It’s a 500-575lbs spring, it’s quite chunky. That has stayed the same the whole year, we fiddled around a little bit with it but once we settled on that and that matched our numbers and matched the feeling I was chasing so we just went with it.
Have you got any more generic comments you can give us then on where the rebound and compression are sitting?
It’s definitely on the faster side and I think pretty open on the compression to be honest.
Moving onto cockpit, how’s that setup?
I used to know all of this stuff but when you start fine-tuning it doesn’t matter, you don’t keep changing things when it feels right. I have a 50mm stem, 780mm bars and I think a 25mm rise. I’m running glue on Odi grips as I feel there’s a little bit more cushion in them for rougher tracks and it’s the grip I’ve run the most. My lever position is not quite flat but I’d say they’re higher than most. I think we’ve got a 10mm spacer under the stem, I haven’t played around with that this year and have pretty much left it as is. If it’s a steeper track and you feel like you're falling in holes and getting tipped forward you’d probably raise it up a little or put a bit more air in your forks which is what I’d probably normally opt for.
A SRAM XO drivetrain is complemented by Crankbrothers Mallet pedals and an MRP chainguide. The Cassette is a 10-24t and the chainring is a 34t whilst the cranks are 165mm in length.
As you'd expect for a Trek rider, Bontrager takes care of wheel and tire duties. The alloy LineDH30 and G5s are Reece's go to, he doesn't run any inserts for the moment. His front pressure varies between 20-24 PSI whilst his rear goes between 23 and 28 PSI.
Is there anything you are particularly fussy about when it comes to bike setup?
I’d say I’m really fussy about everything although not knowing any of the numbers it might not seem like it but I’m an absolute fiddler.
Are you fussy about weight?
I am quite fussy about weight and I’m not done there either, still need to do some fiddling.
But you’re maybe not fussy about weight in the normal way that lighter is always better…
Definitely not no! I do not care about weight. Less weight is definitely not better...It’s just the e-bike I guess, if anyone had ridden an e-bike it’s heavier and it’s more planted and more stable. Lighter is fantastic for acceleration but is awful at high speed and trying to brake and all that kind of stuff. It’s just getting the balance between it and that kinda has to be fine-tuned for a track.