Trek Session 9.9 DH 27.5 - Review

Nov 20, 2017
by Mike Kazimer  



Trek debuted the new Session 27.5 and its bigger-wheeled sibling at the beginning of the 2017 World Cup race season, and it's now available for public consumption. The general frame profile remains the same – yes, it still 'looks like a Session' – but the geometry has been tweaked, and the Full Floater shock configuration is now a thing of the past. The changes aren't massive, but they do help to ensure that the Session maintains its place as a high caliber race machine, one that can handle everything from elite level racing to general bike park usage.

The price of the Session has also changed, and where last year's Session 9.9 checked in at an eye-watering $10,000, the new model, with a similar parts spec, comes in at $8,000 USD. That sizeable price reduction was made possible by Trek's decision to move production of the Session overseas – it had previously been made in their Waterloo, Wisconsin facility.

Trek Session Details

• Intended use: downhill
• Travel: 210mm
• Wheel size: 27.5"
• Full carbon frame, magnesium rocker link
• 63° head angle (low setting)
• 446mm chainstays
• 12 x 157mm rear spacing
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Weight: 32.75 pounds / 14.86 kg (size L)
• Price: $8,000 USD
www.trekbikes.com

Trek only offer two complete versions of the Session – the high end, full carbon version reviewed here, and the more budget-oriented aluminum Session 8 that retails for $3,799. The 9.9 still isn't what anyone would call inexpensive, but keep in mind that it's set up with nearly the same parts that the Trek Factory Racing team use on the World Cup circuit.

According to Trek, they found that their DH bike customers tend to fall into two main categories – racers looking for the best of the best, or park riders in search a more wallet-friendly ride. For everyone else, there's always the option of going the frame only route, and building up a dream bike with exactly the parts you want. That's also the only way to obtain a Session 29 – there currently aren't any complete big-wheeled DH bikes in Trek's catalog.



Trek Session
Resplendent in red, the Session is one good looking bike.
Trek Session
Trek's Mino Link design makes it possible to choose between two geometry settings.


Frame Details

The Session 9.9 is exceptionally light – our size large review bike weighed only 32.75 pounds – but Trek took measures to make sure that the frame remained stiff enough to handle all the punishment that a World Cup DH course can dish up, with large, squared-off carbon tubing, and an impressive looking head tube junction. According to Trek, the new frame is 11% stiffer overall, with the bottom bracket seeing a 19% jump in stiffness, and the head tube stiffness increasing by 10%.


Trek Session
The Full Floater design is no longer used, and the shock is now fixed to the downtube.


That search for stiffness and weight savings is also the reason the Session doesn't use the Full Floater rear suspension design, where the shock was attached to the rocker link and the swingarm, found on the previous version – the shock is now fixed to the down tube.

Other frame details include integrated fork bump stops, full internal cable routing, ISCG tabs, and a threaded bottom bracket shell. There are also downtube and chainstay protectors in place to keep the carbon frame safe from rock smacks and chain slap.


Session geometry

Geometry

As is the case with many of Trek's full suspension bikes, the Session's geometry can be altered via a small chip on the seatstays. The low position gives the bike a 63-degree head angle and a 349mm bottom bracket height, while the high position delivers a 63.5-degree head angle and a 356mm bottom bracket height. Looking for something even slacker? It's possible to install offset headset cups that allow for the head angle to be altered by a degree in either direction.

Compared to the previous iteration, the new Session's reach has grown by approximately 20mm, and it now measures 445mm for a size large. That's still not super long, but there is an XL size in the lineup with a 475mm reach for riders looking for more length.


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Suspension

The Session relies on Trek's ABP (Active Braking Pivot), where the rear pivot is situated so that it rotates around the rear axle. A Fox Float X2 takes care of the bike's 210mm of rear travel, although the frame is progressive enough that a coil-sprung shock would work as well.




Specifications
Specifications
Price $8000
Travel 210
Rear Shock Fox Factory Float X2
Fork Fox Factory 40 FIT RC2
Cassette Shimano Ultegra, 11-25, 10 speed
Crankarms Shimano Saint
Chainguide MRP G4
Chain Shimano XTR
Rear Derailleur Shimano Saint
Shifter Pods Shimano Saint, 11-spd
Handlebar Bontrager Line Pro, OCLV Carbon, 820mm
Stem Bontrager Line Pro Direct Mount, 50mm
Grips Bontrager Rhythm lock-on
Brakes Shimano Saint
Wheelset DT Swiss FR1950 Gravity Classic
Tires Bontrager G4 Team Issue, 27.5x2.35˝
Seat Bontrager Evoke 3, ti rails



Trek Session








Setup

The Whistler Bike Park is an ideal testing ground for a DH bike – fast lifts and a wide variety of terrain make it easy to quickly dial in a bike's suspension settings with minimal fuss, so that's where I headed for my initial rides on the Session.

The Fox Float X2 shock comes with four volume-reducing bands installed, but I still found myself looking for a little more end-stroke ramp up. Even with 30% sag it still felt like the shock was going through its travel too easily, so I added one more spacer, bringing the total up to five, the maximum number allowed. That did the trick, creating the extra support I wanted for pushing into the lip of jumps, and for taking the sting off accidental hucks to flat.

At 160 pounds, my settings were as follows (the numbers indicate clicks from fully closed): Pressure: 190psi. HSR: 10; LSR, 13; HSC:14; LSC:15. Those setting left me with plenty of room for adjustment in either direction, which is always a good sign. Up front, I ran 66 psi with two volume spacers installed in the Fox 40.


Trek Session


Handling

I started the test period with the bike in the High geometry setting – that's how the bike arrived – but I soon switched it to the low setting and never looked back. After all, it's rare that I find myself thinking “If only this bike had a steeper head angle and a higher bottom bracket,” especially with a DH rig. As far as the fit goes, at 5'11” I was comfortable on the size large, but if this were my personal bike I'd likely go with a size XL, especially if I was planning on doing any races. That extra length provides even more stability, which in turn makes it easier to feel confident opening it all the way up on rough straightaways.

The Session fits right into what I'd call the 'Goldilocks' category – its geometry number don't really push the envelope too far in any direction, but they do add up to very balanced ride, one that feels 'just right' in the vast majority of situations. It's an extremely easy bike to get along with, and it only took a few laps before I felt like I was up to speed.

It's hard to pick one ride characteristic of the Session that really stands out from the others, but that's more of a testament to just how well rounded this bike truly is. No matter if I was hitting big jump lines or rolling into steep trails choked with slippery roots and rocks, the Session kept its composure. Compared to the Pivot Phoenix that I'd been on earlier in the season, the Session wasn't nearly as demanding of a bike – I could ease off the pace a little bit and still have just as much fun.


Trek Session
bigquotesIt's an extremely easy bike to get along with, and it only took a few laps before I felt like I was up to speed.


One of my favorite laps at Whistler for bike testing includes the lower portion of In Deep. It's not the steepest trail, but it's full of off-camber sections, with tall roots spider-webbing in every direction that makes it ideal for seeing how well a bike maintains its pace. The Session passed with flying colors – the light weight meant that it took minimal effort to pop up and over particularly awkward sections, and there was plenty of stability to keep pushing through the roughest parts. It doesn't deliver the feeling that there's an invisible hand propelling you forward when the trail is really chewed up, à la the Commencal Supreme DH, but the Session performed very well even in the most blown up sections of trail, although a coil shock would likely unlock an even plusher ride.

I don't subscribe to the theory that a stiffer frame is always better – just like with carbon wheels, at a certain point the ride quality begins to suffer. The good news is that Trek haven't reached that point yet, and while the Session's frame is certainly very stiff, it never felt jarring or overly harsh. In keeping with the whole 'Goldilocks' theme, the Session straddles the line between being lively and playful like an Intense M16 or being more of a glued-to-the-ground plow bike like the Scott Gambler. Of course, how a bike feels can be altered to some degree with the shock settings, but the overall sensation that the Session delivers is very neutral, with handling that quickly becomes second nature.

The fact that it has fairly neutral feel doesn't mean that the Session delivers a boring ride -- far from it. Its intuitive handling meant that I could focus on more important things, like going faster, and taking the optional lines that required full commitment to make it to the bottom unscathed. I'd rather concentrate on my riding and the trail ahead rather than the bike I'm aboard, and with the Session it was extremely easy to do just that.


Trek Session
Bontrager's G4 tires may not be the first option that springs to mind for DH usage, but their performance is right up there with the best of the best.
Trek Session
They have plenty of power, but the Saint brake's lever throw had a tendency to change during extended periods of braking.


Component Check

• Fox Float X2: The Float X2 lost its rebound damping on my fifth ride, which meant that I had to send it back to get it swapped out for a version that didn't feel like a pogo stick. The replacement was trouble free, and I didn't run into any further issues for the remainder of the test period.

• Fox Factory 40 FIT RC2: While I ran into issues with the Float X2, the 40 was flawless, with a rock solid chassis and an excellent blend of support and suppleness; even after being coated in dust and mud that slippery smoothness is still present.

• DT Swiss 1950 wheels: These wheels have had a hard life, and the rear has a few sizable dents in it as a result. The dents aren't large enough to affect the interface between the tire's bead and the rim – it's still possible to run a tubeless setup without any issues. The good news is that if the rim did to be replaced the wheelset uses DT's 240 hubs, which have an excellent track record when it comes to long term reliability.

• Shimano Saint brakes: The Saint brakes delivered plenty of power, and for the most part I didn't need to give them a second thought. However, there were a few instances where the bite point seemed to change, typically during longer, sustained sections of hard braking. The fact that they use mineral oil and are easy to bleed is a plus, but I still would have liked a little more consistency when it comes to the feel at the lever.

Bontrager G4 tires: The G4 tires were ridden through everything from moon dust to mud, with very predictable cornering grip and wet weather traction. The Session's frame has plenty of room to run something wider than 2.4”, but I wouldn't rush to take these off – their performance makes them worth riding until the knobs have worn down to rounded, chewed off little nubbins.



Trek Session



Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesThe Session 9.9 sets a shining example of how a modern downhill bike should perform, and its build kit leaves little to be desired. Whether you harbor dreams of World Cup glory, or don't plan on ever leaving the bike park, the Session is an adaptable machine that can easily be set up to work well for a wide range of riding styles.  Mike Kazimer










About the Reviewer
Stats: Age: 35 • Height: 5'11" • Inseam: 33" • Weight: 160lb • Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
Twenty-two years deep into a mountain biking addiction that began as a way to escape the suburban sprawl of Connecticut, Mike Kazimer is most at home deep the woods, carving his way down steep, technical trails. The decade he spent as a bike mechanic helped create a solid technical background to draw from when reviewing products, and his current location in the Pacific Northwest allows for easy access to the wettest, muddiest conditions imaginable.



307 Comments

  • + 349
 Looks like a Session.
  • + 56
 Looks like a bike I want. At 32.75 pounds, maybe 2018 will be the year of DH bike comeback.
  • + 132
 Looks like PB is finally doing DH bike reviews again.
  • + 77
 @abzillah: at 8000, for me, it's more like the return of the MX bike...
  • + 6
 @Muckal: yeah but at least #27.5 ain't dead!!!'n
  • + 38
 If you plan to buy a new DH bike these days and you want value, you just buy a YT, for the price of the session you could buy a top end dh and a lower speced trail bike to go with it. Nice try out pinkbike, but I win!
  • + 20
 Looks like a baby wheel Slash
  • + 97
 @cliffdog: Totally, or, take your $8000, buy a Tues AL, then fly to Whistler and see how long the $5000 change will last you Smile
  • + 26
 I came here to see this comment Smile
  • + 13
 I knew that comment would be on top. It had to be.
  • + 7
 @deadmeat25: That's what I'll do! Oh wait. First I need 8k.
  • + 10
 Every one is focused on looks, but I look out for the noisseS
  • - 16
flag hamncheez (Nov 20, 2017 at 6:03) (Below Threshold)
 This dumb comment came out like 2011, didn't it? Older than some of the kids in that Grompage vieo!
  • + 16
 @abzillah:

The weight is more impressive when you realize it’s with proper 1300g tires and 2000g wheelset .

I’d have zero problems riding a 34lbs 29er version
  • + 5
 8000 and no electric motor assist? Maybe the extra bottle cage mount justify its price.
  • - 1
 @Muckal: yeah, I didn't even read the review. It costs more than two used cars, so it better be nice.
  • + 8
 @abzillah: that is impressive. My large, 160mm enduro bike weighs 32.5. Guess I shouldn't be too surprised though, only real difference is double crown fork and DH tires vs single crown and double down. Lack of a dropper saves a bit for the Session too.
  • + 4
 Anyone that had access to a Trek superstore in late 2015 was able to pick up these bikes for $3499. Yes full bike with Fox 40, Saint, DT SWISS etc.
So needless to say theres a bunch of Red Sessions at Angel Fire
  • + 2
 you beat us all to it sir
  • + 2
 @cliffdog: If you want real value, grab a slightly used bike for half the money.
Wait a year and we'll see that thing all over PB for cheap, from people that realize they bought way over their heads and abilities.
  • + 2
 @cliffdog:... But it still won't look like a Session
  • + 3
 @cliffdog: Just took delivery of my first YT today ... it's gonna be awesome!
  • + 1
 Minions are great
  • + 5
 @deadmeat25: The YT bikes I tried was awesome. Although, the costumer service in canada is utter shit. Tought about buying the jeffsy 29, but I doubt I'll give them money. Now I'll find some demo bike or something for next season. A real shame because YT bikes rides like a charm.
  • + 1
 This is what I came here for.
  • + 1
 Hahahahaha !! I can’t believe it !!! I was scrolling down just to see this comment and WDhell most voted comment !!! Epic!!!
  • + 1
 @cliffdog: but does it come with the latest flavor of Trek Koolaid??
  • + 1
 @Coolwinner05: Calling YT from France to Germany is top notch!
  • + 1
 @lenmerderdenfer: Good to hear some of the REP/CEO's offer good customer service elsewhere on this earth, but sadly it wasn't my experience with them Blank Stare Maybe when I'll buy my next bike, who knows.
  • + 4
 Another US made frame bites the dust and gets moved overseas......
  • + 0
 @driftmonster: my 2016 DH bike is 32.5 lbs with spank rims and butcher gripton tubeless tyres.
  • + 2
 @Coolwinner05: Yeah agreed, I've heard so many horror stories about their service reps here in Squamish. Wait months to receive a bike that is "in stock" and good luck getting any parts warrantied afterwards. Nothing but bad stories about from very close friends who ride their bikes and want nothing more than to be done with them.
  • + 1
 @Katakalism: Everytime I emailed/contacted the CEO, he seemed pissed/mad to answer my messages. The way he answered made me feel awkward to contact them everytime. The REP wasn't has bad though. Looking at other options for next season cause I already sold my little bike Blank Stare
  • + 2
 @mikeyb76: I guess if you only sell to dentists you dont have to worry about working class folk having jobs in your largest market to actually buy your bikes ...
  • + 3
 @Coolwinner05: : Why are you contacting the CEO if your trying to buy a bike? Maybe he is annoyed because you should be dealing with his sales team??
  • + 3
 @cliffdog: or a commencal.
  • + 2
 @Katakalism: Probably put too much money into that big truck to be able to warranty any parts Big Grin
  • + 1
 @cliffdog:

There's been some really shitty warranty issues here in Canada with YT
  • + 1
 @Bigernmcracken: Maybe because he once told me he's the only one in Canada that has access to data sales and anything related to sales. Inform yourself before speaking, it makes you sounds like an ignorant..
  • + 1
 @lenmerderdenfer: Do you still have the information of the YT rep in germany that I could contact to complain about the situation of the CEO and everything related? It might sounds like an a*shole move, but if they don't know what is happening in Canada they can't intervene. Also it hurts their sales numbers.
  • - 1
 If YT only choose to employ one person in Canada (pretty sure that's still correct unless there is a grom flattening boxes and chucking them in a skip), then it's hardly surprising that you get shitty service though. Despite my jib about the YT truck, I guess if the person concerned has been employed for a year or so then he's considered to do an OK job, at least as he's only one person. You literally get what you pay for.
  • + 0
 @Coolwinner05: my info comes from people who own and abuse YT bikes in whistler

Have you been to the store in squamish it's a total joke

I know the guy who runs YT Canada going on 20 years now

Not the first bone brand he's had issues with in Canada

I know my shit dude
  • + 0
 @mxmtb: I'm sure you know your stuff! And no I've never been to the store in squamish. Sadly, I guess I won't buy from them until they get their shit together. Blank Stare
  • + 1
 @fxfx As soon as I saw the article I went directly to find this comment.
Thank you, good sir, for not disappointing.
  • + 1
 @Coolwinner05: all good dude , it's sad
Comencial is down the street with a amazing shop and there always there to help you out
  • + 2
 @Bigernmcracken: Because he makes up 100% of YT Canada.
  • + 1
 @mikeyb76: But still kicks absolute ass!
  • + 1
 @schofell84: I buy em... And I'm a just a lowly Heavy equipment mechanic!
  • + 2
 @deadmeat25: Not long... BC is expensive
  • + 1
 I wonder if anyone actually read the review. For the record, I didn't. I did watch that video though, and noticed it looks like a session.
  • + 2
 @mxmtb: The nice thing about buying from Commencal is that what you see listed as "in stock" on their website is actually what they have in their squamish warehouse. You can order a bike and possibly get it the next day.
  • + 1
 @bohns1: you spend $10k on a DH rig? I want to know where you're working so I can put my resume in.
  • + 1
 @schofell84: No I spent on the fuel ex 9.9..Im an H. E. T apperatus tech at a Canadian fire dept... Get your red seal certification and come on down! Full pension, full benefits and damn good coin!
  • + 1
 @bohns1: is the red seal like a journeyman card? If I remember correctly my brothers up north have a blue seal or something like that
  • + 1
 @schofell84: it's similar but it allows you to work Canada wide.. Where as journeyman is only for the province where you reside..
  • + 1
 @abzillah: Probably lighter than my MOJO G16 lol
  • + 1
 Come on, someone had to write it
  • + 2
 @driftmonster: I have the 29er version on order with Light bike carbon 38mm wheels being shipped out. Should be in the 31lb range with Race Face Sixc cranks and bars on it.
  • + 1
 @Whistlerbike: less than that. I'd be surprised if it was over 30
  • + 1
 @makripper: My current bike is a session 9.9 26er with the same parts but Derby carbon wheels and a cane creek coil at 32lib. Interested to see how the new bike will weigh in.
  • + 1
 @deadmeat25: yessir!
  • + 1
 @bohns1:

no dude red seal certification ( journeyman ) is recognized in every province .

it a a national program , ran by the government through the ITA
  • + 2
 @mxmtb: nope. 2 different things. a red seal means national recognition and some commonwealth countries. a journeyman is just finishing your final year of an apprenticeship program. ITA is a BC only apprenticeship regulation authority. source: i've been a journeyman/red seal electrician for a decade and in the trade for 15 years
  • + 1
 @makripper: ahh my bad

I challenged my red seal in carpentry

so all I know is want I was told in bc

I think most recognize journeyman and red seal as the same thing
  • + 1
 @mxmtb: Canada wide = every province..
  • + 1
 @mxmtb: unfortunately not. when I was working in the oil hole that is Alberta, companies were taking advantage of journeymen without their redseal and paying them as third or fourth years. probably and hopefully doesn't happen everywhere though.
  • + 2
 @cliffdog: The thing about the YTs is that they cut out the middle man in there production and distribution of their products. This means they can cut costs and supply good bikes for less money, however as soon as you break a custom YT part you screwed since no bike shop will carry their inventory. This means a direct order from YT themselves is needed, which could leads to days or weeks off the bike. You don't win if you're waiting on parts so you can ride.
  • + 57
 About those brakes. It does seem that Shimano have some consistency issues there at the moment across the range, even my 785's suffer inconsistent lever feel no matter when/how/who the bleed is done and there's a *lot* of forum chatter about this. I hear stuff like, "it's fixed in more recent builds", etc but seems like there's more going on here. Anecdotally at least, folk are seriously considering moving away from the once bomb-proof and low maintenance Shimano.

What I would like to see is for someone like Pinkbike get hold of a Shimano rep who really knows what's going on to do a show and tell...
  • + 18
 Same here with XT8000. Inconsistent feel, need bleeding often. All mechanics I spoke to talked to say it's true, and that those from warranty replacements aren't much better. The only Shimano brakes free from this issue are said to be Deores and XTR Race. However Shimano fanbois will tell you that you just don't know how to bleed them correctly. And here's another thing I don't like about latest Shimanos: they are harder to bleed than pre 2012 models. Quite frankly I think Shimano went down in quality after that, so realiability wise they should go 5 years back.
  • + 15
 Very good point. It would be handy to hear the truth from the horses mouth. Maybe mineral oils are being made with secret bubbles and the brakes are fine?!!! Wink

I have to say the last set of XTR's I had were a let down. Gutted to be honest.

Older XT's were ace, as were SLX (probably the best of the bunch).

But now I'm on Hope V4's there is no turning back.
  • + 4
 I left to magura-land because
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: it's all about Shimano not anodizing the MC's inner surface after machining it and trying to compensate it with a plastic plunger in some cases. Once the irregular inner surface gets worn out because of the friction with the plunger, there's not a way a seal could be able to avoid the oil passing them and changing the lever throw. This gets exacerbated over time as the plunger gets more and more deformed.

Deores have plastic plungers IIRC, so wearing gets minimized, but they tend to bend and lock inside the MC.
  • - 2
 @southoftheborder: I heard it also has to do with the servowave, but it can be bullcrap. My Deores are fine, but haven't tried the XTR Race. Then my mechanic says Saints calipers often leak, but I don't know where. My 2010 Saints were amazing ot at least I had great luck with them. I was bleeding them only to change oil, otherwise I never had them suck up air. And they were super consistent, plenty of modulation, as much power as I could ever desire. If XT 8000 would be reliable, I'd like them a lot. I love the bite build up on them, something that my other favorite brake lacks: the Guides. I wish they had more power at the end.
  • + 6
 i have a pair of saints & zees... both have the same problem... :/ inconsistent lever feel
  • + 5
 My xt’s go through phases but nearly always require a pre run/ride leaver pump even bled regularly. That said, they are utterly faultless after that. Tolerably wierd.
My deores on the other hand, exactly what I want. Never touched in two years, nice solid feel. Just bang on. Only coolness stops me swspping them onto my big bike.
  • + 6
 my rear zee is terrible but front is mostly fine
  • + 4
 Ive been running deores after they came stock on my bike and i decided after riding them there’s no need to change them, best brake for the value you could ever get. don’t have to bleed too often either.
  • + 4
 I swapped them to Codes RSC, same bite power, consistent brake feeling and adjustable contact point (less freestroke).
Soooo good!
  • + 1
 @beatjumper: weird, my rear zee is great, so much so that I might get one for the front, my front xt isn't so good, terrible feel and low power
  • + 1
 Unfortunately it does seem like Shimano's been having quality issues as of late. Probably a result of trying to get their manufacturing costs down? But yeah, brakes come in need of bleeding, have strange detents throughout the lever stroke...I dunno what's going on with Shimano
  • + 5
 Inconsistency, it's a new trend in brake business, Sram got it mainstream. So now Shimanos got on board Big Grin It's amaze me how top tier brakes are this days, even if you waste a lot of money on them, they can still be bad.
  • + 5
 @b-wicked: once inconsistency becomes a norm you get a new sort of consistency... that's the way they planned it Big Grin
  • + 4
 My XTs drive me crazy. Bleed and bleed and still super inconsistent, pump up garbage.
  • + 1
 Just for the record on brakes effected - currently have some XTR trails that are rock solid, bite point is constant and can flip the bike upside down, piss on it etc and they’re still fine. I bleed them with back pressure rather than to an open res, no idea if it’s made any difference but they’re good.
Had two sets of M8000, one good, one bad.
All my previous gens were good.
I am frustrated with Shimano, they do seem to have lost some of their high end feel, to the pressures of SRAM no doubt. Not content with making their own shitty products now SRAM are forcing everyone else to do the same. I’m only half joking.
  • + 7
 @ThomDawson: you're not wrong though mate. I think brands are feeling pressured into price point, not performance based. Shimano brakes always shat all over SPAM, now they're both guff. Shimano should have just sat tight and commanded more money for a better product, not devalued it and their brand name at the same time, which is nigh on unheard of for them.

Good job Hope are still in business! :-)
  • + 3
 @cunning-linguist: I genuinely think there has been a conversation at Shimano - “look this SRAM stuff is made of cheese and people can’t get enough of it, let’s just use cheaper alloys it obviously doesn’t matter to anyone”.
  • + 4
 Shimano are very consistant in building inconsistant brakes. Let's just hope they don't start the same shit with their gearing Range
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I thrash my XTR brakes and only bleed them when I remember too... meaning I don't have to bleed them, i just try to bleed them every 6 months to put fresh mineral oil in them
  • + 2
 I’ve given up on Shimano brakes. My XTR Trails were by far the worst. My Zee’s were a bit temperamental and my XT’s never right despite being returned numerous times. My Deore’s were brill though especially for £60 a pair at the time.

I’ve now switched to SRAM and both pairs of Guide RSC’s have been flawless for two years now with just pad changes.
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: Sorry the fanboi question ;-) but why harder to bleed? use bleed funnel and (when bleeding the first time), take the time and keep pumping the funnel for a long time, also wagging the brake line. Then ride some rough stuff and redo, but only a quick funnel bleed. Job done, from then on it's a superfast bleed any time.

Some general experience on Saints, XTs and XTRs, which I ride for several years now. I find there's two main inconsistencies with the previous, widely-spread generation, which can be easily kept at bay. (I will not refer to the problems of the 8000/9000 generation, WAKI, there is a constructional problem with piston bind imo, but the following may still help some of those as well)

1. The wandering bite point is due to too much air (low oil levels) in the reservoir. When that air is gulped up into the line during riding the bite point instantly changes, but comes back after one pump. A well-maintained brake sees that problem solved with a quick bleed.

2. Brake levers losing oil (seen as sticky dirt close to lever pivot). This is a harder one to gauge. But in my experience, I was able to keep them flawless by paying attention to neither pressure wash or brake-clean them. The O-rings are sensitive in there, so baby them as much as you can. Pressure washing is never good for any seal and brake cleaner is like acid for o-rings (decays rubber).

Issue 2 then circles back to inconsistency 1: When you have flawless O-rings so they don't lose oil, the wandering bite point issue occurs rarely and a quick bleed stops it.

You need to baby the O-rings from day one, but don't be fooled by my long rant: it's not so difficult, just keep an eye out during cleaning and maintenance. Dirt is less of an issue I find.

With these inconsistencies at bay, Shimano brakes offer great performance (Saints absolutely, XT/XTR undersized for steepest alpine territory, but great elsewhere).

For me, performance is only outdone recently by combining Shimano levers with Magura MT5/7 calipers (again, baby the levers' O-rings): great ergonomics and great modulation and stopping power. Did I already say it? you'd have to baby the brake lever O-rings though ;-)

Hope this helps somebody, brake nerd out.
  • + 3
 @sebazzo: Re 1 you’re wrong. It’s a manufacturing ‘defect’ that persists with a normal bleed. Shimano will warranty them for it. But apparently that’s cheaper than fixing the root cause because it has been going on with the current generation of Shimano brakes since 2015. I’m one of those people who had multiple brakes with the same problem and eventually switched to another brand.
  • + 0
 @jasdo: My set comes from the “fixed” batch. Well it’s not fixed
  • + 2
 Same deal here, bought brand new SLX brakes. They were good for about a week, so I acquired the Shimano bleed kit and did it four times a month at least. Brakes were always inconsistent and almost hugged a couple of trees on multiple occasions. After some months of poor reliability I simply sold them for nothing and got Formulas, never going back to Shimano. Also my friends ride everything from Deore to XTR/Saint. By far, the best brake Shimano offers is the Alfine. Seriously, even Magura seem like a good option compared to Shimano and they are pretty much worthless.
  • + 2
 I had a set of XT8000 brakes, which were affected by all the stuff you read online... inconsistent lever, mushy, etc etc. I bleed them a couple of times, new pads etc... nothing helped. I sold them for very cheap to friend, warning him about the issues. Next time I rode with him, i tried the brakes and worked perfectly. One year later, they still work perfectly. Apparently he knows how to bleed them better than I do.
  • + 1
 @sebazzo: your info is good, but very few will take note. "But I BleEd mur brakeS ReeL good and dey sTiLL no WeRk." Hint: bleed Shimano brakes exactly as you would a car after diligently pumping calipers with open funnel or syringe attached to get EVERY bit of air out of the system. It takes a a while and with a short section of clear hose attached you can see all the bubbles working their way out. It's just a shame Shimano doesn't ship their brakes this way...
  • + 2
 @leftCoastBurn: Love it when people tell you how easy Shimano brakes are to bleed (they are easy to bleed) and in the same breath tell you that all these thousands of people with defective brakes just didn’t do the bleed quite right. (‘Ya didn’t wiggle the lever right and tap the caliper twenty times...’) Why not believe that a large company (Shimano in this case) screwed up a product? Or the alternative logical conclusion if thousands of people can’t bleed em right would be that they didn’t design them well enough to be easily bled.
  • + 3
 @ilovedust: I'm on slx and it's the same for me.. Damn near faultless.
  • + 1
 Race to the bottom is always a mistake. Companies feel pressure and try to cut costs/price to compete. Always better to make the best, consistent product and charge a slight premium for it. My favourite example is dodge until fiat group bought them out.
  • + 5
 @leftCoastBurn: When you open up fresh brakes and the oil comes out black after a few rides, that's no poor factory bleeding any subsequent one you could do would ever fix.

Poor machining tolerances at the MC and calipers are too painfully usual with Shimano nowadays. Then you have brakes which would transpire oil and stain the pads overnight or change their bite point middle run for no good cause other than the above listed ones. And again no finned pads or sandwiched rotor could fix them, because the product is flawed ever since it left the production line.

Imagine the same happening to automobile brakes. Would you buy a Toyota knowing their brakes would fail randomly, and knowing it's a well documented issue, both by consumers AND the specialized media? We as bikers are too damn used to suck this kind of stuff up and just keep riding, or just pass the issue to the next fool willing to buy our failing stuff.
  • + 1
 @jasdo: well, can't argue with you, as it's your own experience.

My experience was the same initially. Buying something else was no option back then (Avid?!?), so I was motivated to figure Shimanos out. In my world, I DID figure them out. Get the poor factory bleed out of the way, and then it's simple fast bleeds all the way. all I'm saying.

The manufacturing defect is only with the 7000/8000/9000 generation calipers. My 9020 xtr levers work just fine with the magura calipers.

PS if by some bad chance you slightly f*cked up your orings early in the brake's life, you may never be able to achieve what I'm talking about. Had that with my first Saints
  • + 2
 @leftCoastBurn: you are right it works just as you describe. And then you do it again 3 days after. And again and again...
  • + 2
 @southoftheborder: exactly! How can I sell my m8000s knowing they have the bite point migration issue? I would have changed already, but I have the ispec2 shifter and I don't want to buy another shifter.
I'm thinking hope or Magura next. Shimano look nice but don't work nice.
  • + 1
 @jaame: I think both of those have adapters for ispec 2 (maybe that’s why you singled them out) but even Guides will work with ispec 2 and some Problem Solvers adapters I think...don’t quote me! The Guides sound really good I just don’t know if I can do SRAM to myself.
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: I used XTR´s last year, and now it would take a lot to ever get me back on shimano. went through three sets.... Been loving my simple Guide´s. Waaay better.
  • + 1
 Hmmm you got me thinking now.

Older sets of Shimano brakes I have. Owned (deore,XT, SLX) with the 'ugly lever' design have always been spot on- no issues at all.

My last few sets of Shimano brakes (XT and now ZEE) have had loads of problems

Twice i have had a lever stick on me (cannot release it without dismantling the thing ) luckily both warrantied easily.

But particularly the rear zee is so so inconsistent. I'm always bleeding it, looking for leaks , checking hoses but still temperamental.

I now just reside myself to a full brake bleed and clean up every month or so. Doesn't take long and vastly improves things- till the next time a lever sticks on me....
  • + 1
 PS I didn’t mean to say that XTR trails aren’t affected. I meant that it seems some are ok and some aren’t. My point was it’s a bit of a lottery with the current gen Shimano brakes. Apologies for the confusing post.
  • + 1
 @ThomDawson: the lottery with current Shimano brakes is to get a good one. They are more than expected to release their 7001, 8001 and 9001 series. For instance the 8000 cassette has been shit. Dropping chains with backpedalling, it was derailling almost instantly in no more than 1/4 of the back stroke. Then they revised them, like XTR 9001 and it became all fine. Then they finally got their head out of their buts and created their own chain locks and narrow wide chainrings, but they still need to revise the chainline for spiders for their 1x cranksets. 49-50mm is good for Boost rear ends but bollocks for anything else, since on most mountain bikes create highest loads on last 4 cogs. So for non-boost stuff 46mm please. i spaced out my SLX M7000 by almost 3mm.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: and then I bought Eagle!
  • + 1
 @bohns1: Listen man, the Eagle (...) lower cadence (...) real mountains (...) and even if (...) so no, not really (...) period.

I can only add (...) I don't know how (...)
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Listen man.. Eagle.. I live in some of the biggest mountain ranges in the world.. Canadian Rockies dude... Get under the squat rack and do some Bulgarian split lunges while ur at it and stop pussying out on 2x will Ya!
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: that's not my experience at all but I just might be one of the lucky ones. My riding crew minus one guy are all on Shimano brakes of various years and models and they all have the same experience as me. Still, we could all just be the lucky ones... I'm on 2014 zees. They are on their 3rd bike now with two bleeds and they have perfectly consistent lever feel and great power.
  • + 40
 i have a 2016 model and the day i brought it home my wife asked if the color was "whore's nail polish red".
  • + 88
 Well, you can always ask her to touch up the stone chips! Ha, I kid...
  • + 2
 BURN!!!
  • + 1
 this...
  • + 39
 What, no "Climbing" section?
  • + 34
 and no water bottle.
  • + 25
 Climbing :
At under 15kg, it pedals pretty good, but was held down by its slack STA.

Voilà
  • + 11
 They tried a session climbing aboard the session to session it uphill, following the session they concluded that the session, sessioned downhill better
  • + 5
 @Uuno: If you put an Eagle drivetrain on there and a lockout it probably wouldn't pedal that bad. Lighter than a transition smuggler.
  • + 1
 @tom666: 200mm of travel locked out probably isn't worse than 170mm without any lockout, and my vivid/DH tyre equipped Swoop 170 feels decent, so... .
The main differences I see between pure DH bikes and mini DH bikes is the seated position, and suspension design
  • + 3
 @Uuno: It would pedal like a barge, but if you could lock it out and put the seat up it could be done. Probably better off pushing though to be honest.
  • + 1
 @tom666: not my Smuggler.
  • + 1
 @jamesbrant: Thats entirely possible but I've seen many smuggler builds over 32lbs
  • + 18
 @paulaston Hey Paul you should've called Trek and told them not to bother with their Active Braking Pivot since you think that suspension that locks up when braking is beneficial.....
  • - 19
flag Powderface (Nov 20, 2017 at 2:11) (Below Threshold)
 Too funny... Honestly if I see one of his articles/reviews I don't even bother reading it. Not sure why PB bothered hiring that clown.
  • + 3
 Now that the patent is out, Trek should just hop on that Horst train. Save some weight and simplify the rear axle area.
  • + 3
 @hamncheez: if trek drop ABP I'll be straight to Devinci
  • + 3
 @enduroFactory: No suspension mountain bike with 4" of travel or more should be without some form of ABP.
  • + 0
 I think @paulaston likes bikes that sit down under braking. I.e. have a rearward axle path/high actual or virtual pivot point.
ABP design means there is little relative rotation between the brake caliper and disc as the bike moves through its suspension travel which means the wheel keeps rotating. But it’s the axle path that affects the dynamic geometry.
  • + 4
 @willf28:

Everything you said is just totally wrong.

You might as well have said that ABP design means the inertial force of my involuntary hip thrusts aids the anti-squat caused by my left foot and the rotational mass of the moon at night time. Meaning the axle path is always properly lined up with true north throughout it's travel and ensures maximum traction when in mid air...

I'm sorry but that kind of misinformed twaddle is exactly what people like Mr Aston should be here to address, but he's either too clueless himself, or constantly makes excuses for poorly designed bikes for some other reason.

And what do you think you mean by "sit's down under braking"? You simply mean where the brake stops the suspension from actually working, the bike continues to pack down but won't rebound until you release the brake, meaning you basically have no rear suspension under braking. Bit harsh going into corners on a heavy bike with no rear suspension after you've just paid thousands for a 'quality' bike i reckon, but what do i know...
  • + 0
 @deadmeat25: yes both effects stiffen the suspension, but high pivots change the geometry like pulling up the handbrake in a rolling car. Some people like this as it slackens the bike or at least prevents it steepiening and digs the bag in etc. Relative rotation between the caliper and disc causes the wheel to lock and also causes the suspension to stiffen and the rear to skitter but this happens without the ‘beneficial to some’ squatting. Of course Some designs have Contain both of these effects.
  • + 5
 @deadmeat25: If a bike has a 550mm reach, 8ft wheelbase, and 61 degree HA, I think that Paul Aston is happy. Very happy. Everything else on the bike is just incidental.
  • + 1
 @willf28: I think what you're implying is the effects of a single pivot with fixed rear triangle where when the brake is applied it locks the pivot point used by the axle if the wheel is not to rotate while static (not rolling)

Even with the ABP having an single pivot style axle path, due to the placement of the caliper being on the floating seatstay (same as a Horst design, not directly fixed to the front triangle) it reduces that effect. If Trek placed the caliper on the chainstay then it would function exactly like any other single pivot design i.e Orange, Kona etc.
  • + 1
 @Demoguy: yes if Trek had the caliper on the chain stay the back wheel would skitter more. And because the pivot point is concentric they get the most Benefit, lAlso if they put the pivot point higher the bike would have brake squat. These are two independent effects. Every bike needs at least some squat (anti rise) to prevent the front end diving. My point was that people who like the geometry change, and have the skills to use it get much more Benifit than just the back wheel skidding.
  • + 17
 kinda sad for north american and overseas workers that that they can save $2000 by moving production to taiwan.
  • + 13
 They should take a pay cut and work faster to accommodate, then they wouldn't lose their jobs. Oh...
  • + 5
 There's something like 100 hours of labour on a carbon frame. Charge that at $25 an hour in the US then compare to what you can get an hours decent labour for in Taiwan. There's your price difference.
  • + 3
 That was the thing that hit me too, not so much in the human aspect, but that they can save $2k per bike via overseas production. That's a lot given that I doubt the components account for much of that reduction.

I wonder how many of these frames they sell given recent enduro bike competition - if it is 1000 worldwide then you save $2mil, or the wages of 40 staff (estimating a salary of $50k - I don't know how feasible that guess is)? I'd be interested to know whether the decision is driven by consumer direct brand competition, or low current sales of DH bikes...
  • - 5
flag VTwintips (Nov 20, 2017 at 4:36) (Below Threshold)
 @tom666 I doubt U.S. factory workers would get paid $25 per hour. Thats closer to an engineer's wage.
  • + 1
 @VTwintips: Wheat? That's sad if that's true...
  • + 10
 @bishopsmike: Engineers make much more than $50k a year, factory floor workers can make that with some overtime. Depending on industry of course.
  • + 4
 @VTwintips: For a good carbon layup tech with any sort of benefits, $25/hr is pretty average. Source: work for a composites shop.
  • + 1
 @VTwintips: 50k is on the low end for any entry level engineer fresh out of school... That number quickly goes up with 5-10 years of experience.
  • + 3
 @yzedf: and location of course...$80k minimum to start in Silicon Valley if you are out of a reputable school with at least one relevant internship...

@slimboyjim:
But, even if it were $50k, $2M doesn’t hire 40. It hires 20...easiest to estimate the per worker cost to your business as 2x their salary by the time you pay incidental costs, benefits and insurance. Also figure in one manager/supervisor per 5 engineers and your costs go up quickly.
  • + 1
 They got tired of recycling those frames...
  • + 4
 @tom666 - 100 hours doesn't smell right at all. You're saying it would take one guy 10 X 10 hour days to build ONE frame? In a factory?
  • + 3
 @gtill9000: It's a very long process. A full suspension frame is made up of about 400 sheets of pre preg that somebody has to sit and cut out using scissors. Then those hundreds of sheets need painstakingly laying into 2-part moulds with specific positions and allignments with use of mandrels and bladders to stop it all collapsing in when you close the mould (fiddly work). That needs doing twice to make the front triangle and again for each rear triangle piece. Every piece needs cooking inside of it's mould. Every piece needs filing to remove flashing when it comes out the mould which is labour intensive because epoxy is strong as f*ck but you don't want to damage the frame. The front triangle then needs bonding together dead straight. Then the headtube, BB, chainguide area, dropouts and every part that has a pivot on need to be machined and steel sleeve inserts bonded in. Obviously everything has to be super super straight and square. Then it all needs assembly (pushing in all the bearings, torquing everything and checking for allignment at every stage. Everything needs to be taped up by hand for painting, decals need laying and then clear coating. Quite long drying times for all of these. Then there's securing on that plastic downtube guard, guards for the chain and seatstays and fitting the knock-block. Add in quality control procedures all the way along this whole thing. I stand by 100 hours. You can see why it's cheaper to do it in Asia.
  • + 1
 I'm calling bull5h!t.
  • + 2
 If they want to move production to NOAM, the solution is not lowering the wages or increasing the price.
The solution is paying the corporate heads less.
In the past 30 or so years these people have been raising their wages and bonuses to an absurd level. In some companieS, the "wages" of the big heads, is 10x how much the rest of the company is payed.

Meanwhile, the 99.9% of us, has been payed pretty much the same. In the past 30 years. Actually quite less, if you consider inflation.

The solution is not to buy from the biggest conpanies. Buy local.
  • + 1
 @tom666: Pretty sure the pieces are laser cut on a large table. Fitting the pieces into the mould however must be done by hand.
Do you think they make half moulds of the frame parts and then bond them together? I hope not. I think they make them monocoque with a bladder inside to squeeze out in the frame.
  • + 1
 @RedRedRe: CEO wages are WAY more than 10x average employee's. The last number I saw was a little south of 400x.
  • + 0
 @JBSDesigns: They will make the front half of the front triangle (headtube, half the top tube, half the downtube) and then make the rear half (seattube, BB area and the other half of the top & down tubes) and they'll be bonded together in the middle of the top and down tubes. Certain places might use lazer cutting to cut all the swatches to size, that would be quicker, but I believe most places, including big brands, just use scissors and stanley knives.
  • + 2
 @tom666: Even small to medium sized sail-makers have a laser cutting tables. And if Trek bikes are built as you describe, I would never buy them...

What you describe would result in discontinous and overlapping fibers in the areas with the highest moments. I find it hard to believe that any carbon frame is made like that. You would also loose one of the major benefits of using pre-pregs.
  • + 0
 @JBSDesigns: You can look at how Trek makes the session here dirtmountainbike.com/features/making-trek-session.html the front triangle is definitely in two pieces. They do use CNC cutters to cut the swatches at Trek by the looks of things - but I do know that many places just cut bits out by hand.
  • + 1
 @tom666: some carbon trek frames still made in USA but not all.
  • + 1
 @enduroFactory: At the time that article was written the Slash was made in Asia and the Session was made in America. "Asian made Trek Slash frame is £2900 and the American made Session frame is £4800". £1900 more which is like US $2500 or something. Pretty sure both are made in Asia now.
  • + 2
 @tom666: yeah and it's hard to tell whether the quality of a frame made in US is better or worse than the one made in Asia. You may off course argue for "local produce" but at 4800$ it better be close to UNNO or ARBR, and I doubt that. At least for us Europeans it doesn't matter much where it is made if it's not made in Europe, so cheers to Treks made in Asia.
  • + 1
 @yzedf: But I said $25/hr, not overtime.
@Connerv6: A shop is not a factory.

I work in a composites factory for a company that is the biggest in the world of its kind. Workers get paid $17/hr.

Engineers start hourly at $26/hr there.
  • + 3
 @VTwintips: sounds like a shitty place to work. I made what the engineers there make when I was a car mechanic 5 years ago...
  • + 1
 @yzedf: Dude, either you're full of shit or the people who switched from being car mechanics over to working at my company after 10 years are full of shit because they were all making less than 17 at their car shops.
  • + 1
 @VTwintips: there are a lot of shitty paying mechanic jobs out there for sure. My best paying was $48-53k working as lead tech at a Jaguar specialty shop, my worst was $35k working on shitbox cars at a repair shop / tire shop / body shop and hating every minute of it. I live in New England so the pay here is higher (as is costs of living), when I lived in Baltimore I looked around, and yeah $12-15/hr was pretty common.

Like the guys you work with, after 8 years I was done with it.
  • + 1
 @yzedf: My friend was working for an Audi place in CT. He was nowhere near a lead tech though. The other guy who I worked for transferred into the company from some other auto place out here because he got paid higher there than as a schoolteacher, which is what he went to school for. In my mind, you should know you aren't gonna get paid shit as a school teacher in the U.S., but that's another story. I'm from Vermont and went to one of the better schools in the country in PA. I kind of took a chance and said, I want to help make this cool product at any cost even if I have to start as a factory worker. Starting to really think it is a mistake now as its a hit to the paycheck and to my resume and they are so lean they have like 10 engineers for 700 people, and 2 HR people for over 1,000, so they've actually become lean to the point of inefficiency, which shows really really badly. They've got people with masters in process engineering working on the floor, and no factory flow at all. Its just so disorganized and scary to be at a place that has never hit close to its production goals, with the need to do so to be able to keep the doors open.

Cost of living is actually as high as anywhere out here in Denver. On the whole, Denver is really booming, so cost of living is super high. Even things like food and gas are way more expensive over hear (although I guess the refineries in NJ help keep gas prices down). Octane 85 gas is the "regular" out here and it costs the same as 87 back home for example. Whole foods can be cheaper than regular grocery stores, which is just pathetic. Boulder Colorado of all places has cheaper food than Denver, if you'd believe that.

I'd be pretty embarrassed to go back to this one place, but I had an opportunity to get 20/hr as an entry level engineer in my hometown, and now that I have composites experience, I think they'd be even happier to have me. There are some amazing things in terms of wilderness out here in Colorado but they built all the infrastructure and cities 3 hours east of it all, so you end up going through 2 tanks of gas out here per week if you wanna work and have fun. So that it is a trade off too. Riding everywhere back home in Vermont, but without enough people to ride with, or being too far from riding but with people all over the trails to ride with. (I mean, I literally had to build the trails myself in VT).
  • + 3
 @VTwintips: The US is a big ol' place and I'm sure pay varies a lot depending on the area. In the UK the pay is so much better near London but the cost of living is also higher. I think both salaries and rent are maybe nearly twice as high in the southeast as they are in the north.

Take a short flight to Norway, Sweden or Switzerland and suddenly the pay doubles again and so does the rent.
  • + 2
 @VTwintips: it’s funny, I grew up in the Denver suburbs, Littleton actually. I lived there when the bottom fell out in the 1980s and it wasn’t pretty. Now living in CT. Taxes are nuts so everything is more expensive, gas is nearly 20-25 cents a gallon more, hard to find milk under $2/gal, price of beef and pork has doubled in the last couple years, not to mention rents are insane if your near a city and property taxes are ridiculous if you’re in a good school district.

You shouldn’t feel embarrassed about taking a job. Jobs are that thing we do in order to do the things we actually want to do, and if it’s a place that knows you and wants you back, all the better. Might give you the inside track for growth into a higher and better paying position. Especially in a job market as saturated as yours.
  • + 14
 complains there isnt a coil, then immediately complains that he needed more spacers in the x2
  • + 11
 I think that shock issue is a much bigger deal than what is explained here. Spending this kind of money on a bike, only to be without a bike while you wait on a shock replacement/fix is crazy. Sending a part in for factory replacement can take a very long time, and summer is short for most DH bike regions!
  • + 3
 for real. Fox wouldn't even replace a blown damper out of the box DPX2 for us on a BRAND NEW 2018 Transition. They're too busy tripling their stock prices to give any decent customer service.
  • + 2
 Biggest Injustice in the bike business. No support for expensive shit that shouldn’t have failed.
Speak with your money. Stop buying.
  • + 4
 @jflb: Pretty frustrating. Can't really just STOP BUYING as we're a business. We've taken a pretty hard stance against Shimano for the most part, but Fox and SRAM aren't far behind on lack of support these days. Plenty of B1 reverbs failing within weeks and having to send them in for repair instead of replacement. Customers are typically pretty pissed even if they are cool with us personally, which is always a blessing.

Not to mention the now epidemic Guide failures.
My Fox 34 on my 1 week old bike has loose bushings. Guess I get to rebuild that fork immediately, and argue with Fox regarding warranty.
  • + 9
 To often these new shocks suffer malfunction under reviews. Almost every review (different magazines) has this part where the rear shock breaks, and the company sends replacement. Or the forks develop klunking noise. And it happens on high end products.
  • + 16
 Yes, and I love the line about "plenty of ramp up to suit a coil shock", but then the air shock is only alright with the max of 5 bands in it.
  • + 1
 @bishopsmike, in my experience the Float X2 doesn't tend to be as progressive as other air shocks without some spacers.The Session does have a progressive spring curve - it's not drastic, but it should allow for a coil shock to work.
  • + 2
 Which makes sense, given that the X2 is designed as an air shock to be used on bikes you could be running a coil.
  • + 1
 Are these review bikes that have been getting excessively thrashed by a lot of random riders over a short period of time? Or does each reviewer get a brand new out of the box whip?
  • + 9
 So you’re 5’11 and 160lb and you maxed out the volume spacers and wanted a size XL? At 6’4 and 180lb it appears this isn’t the bike for me....
  • + 6
 Treks always look absolutely beautiful, but they seem almost as reluctant as Spesh to adopt new-skool tube numbers.
I rode a 2017 Session in XL and it felt like BMX sized.
I'm 6'2" so tallish, but hardly a giant and although I can't remember the specific reach number, I would have wanted it to be at least 3 sizes bigger. This looks on paper to be a little closer to that, but still not suitable for riders much over 6'
  • + 2
 100% true. I'm at 6"4" and the XL Session just felt cramped so I got the Operator instead, amazing what the extra 35mm feels like. I really wish I had fit on the Session as the pedaling performance of my buddies bottom spec 2017 Session is better than my low spec 2017 Operator. The $800 savings was nice though... paid for my season pass and most of my upcoming Boxxer upgrades from Avalanche.
  • + 2
 Trek and spesh are too busy dreaming up new standards and proprietary parts to pay attention to improving the handling. Bread and butter customers like acronyms and can't tell the difference.
  • + 1
 @scottzg: hahaha, so true
  • + 1
 I am 6'2 and I ride a session 9.9 26er XL. I have also rode the 2017 and 2018 session 9.9 in L and XL. The extra 20mm from 2017-2018 make a big difference. I have on order a session 9.9 29er in XL that I will be review soon on my newly started youtube channel "Whistlerbike"
  • + 9
 Bring the 26inch park back please.
  • + 5
 How's this for a crazy idea pinkbike... Why not review an alloy framed / low end bike from a range rather than stupid expensive dentist bikes all the time...
It's 'cheaper'... Rolleyes yeah right. Now it's 'only' $8000... Rolleyes
  • + 52
 I don't disagree but often a review of a cheaper bike is heavily influenced by shortcomings in the spec. At least if they review a top end version you get an idea of how good the bike can be at its best rather than hearing that it's good but let down by cheap tyres or poor brakes. After all most people are likely to customise and upgrade any cheaper parts on a lower spec bike so knowing a bikes full potential isn't necessarily a bad thing whether or not you can afford it.
  • + 0
 Or even review more bikes from brands which are considered to be on the more "budget" end of the scale, like the Patrol 672 review from the other week.

You never hear of brands like Patrol, which makes you wonder how many more of these obscure, but probably pretty decent brands are out there.

Bike and product reviews as well as racing news are definitely my main interest on Pinkbike. Great review on the Session by the way PB, looks like a proper weapon.
  • + 8
 Alloy frame with high end spec for the win
  • + 12
 They review what’s sent to them. I know, crazy.
  • + 8
 I kind of feel for those Waterloo based workers who used to produce those frames according to local health, safety and environmental regulations. Some smart manager rocked up to then and said: "Tnanks for the effort, skill and consideration for our health. But we did the math and we can actually make more money if we have someone else produce them in another continent. No no, you can't make more money. In fact you're fired. But I can. See, I did all the hard math work."

... Goes back to the PB comment section analyzing all the complaints about their frames being too expensive..
  • - 3
 Atleast you can feel the bike ridden by dentist 2D by reading a review ????
  • - 4
flag sessionlession (Nov 20, 2017 at 4:12) (Below Threshold)
 The emoji didnt work pinkbike didnt accept any cancer ):
  • + 6
 I'd like to see pinkbike do a set of comparison reviews between the top and bottom spec of different bike models or the full bling carbon and the lower spec alu. It would be great to hear the differences.
  • + 2
 @Kickmehard: Hell yes!!!
  • + 4
 I believe that most MTB magazines don't get to choose what they ride. Manufacturers send them stuff, and most of the time they want to send the best product of their line.
@mikekazimer could you tell the process of bike testing (you ask Trek for DH bike or they call you and say "We can send you a DH for test) ?
  • + 2
 In all the years and all the reviews they've done on Pinkbike, I'm surprised -- utterly shocked, I say -- that this topic has never come up.
  • + 2
 Here's my review of the Session 8: Great platform, the Rockshox Kage feels like crap
  • + 1
 @Whipperman:
I review bikes for a magazine. I don't get to choose what spec level I get. Funnily enough the last bike I reviewed was a Trek (Slash), and they sent the 9.7 which is the base model.
  • + 1
 just buy a shit car and put the money in your bike. I have a $1000 car and 2 bikes that retailed for $10k and $8K.
  • + 3
 Latest news from PB- Bike that costs more than my car is good for riding. I do enjoy the reviews though, thanks for bringing up the shortcomings in shock and brakes. I agree with the other guy, a shock failing on an $8k bike should not be glossed over, for most people that would be half the season of riding gone waiting on repair from Fox.
  • + 7
 That's lighter than my enduro bike ...
  • + 3
 Hey what gives @mikekazimer?? All the photos show G4 TEAM ISSUE, yet the review states that these are G5 tires, but yet the tread photo shows that it’s neither one. . . As we currently know them. Have they updated their tire range and keeping it secret? Do they have you on gag order?? I would like to know cuz I really liked the G5 and it’s SE counterpart, but would have loved a stronger casing for both. The tread photo it looks almost like the E13 tread pattern.
  • + 4
 They have updated the range in 2018, I know this much but no more! Hope that helps!
  • + 2
 You're right - those are G4 tires. And they have been tweaking their tread patterns, so that may be why they look different than what you're used to.
  • + 3
 @mikekazimer: I have been riding G4s all summer. Decent, but... Minions DHF... Anyways Bontrager is rolling out some seriously good tyres. XR2 is the best XC tyre I have ever ridden. I put Hans Dampf on straight after XR2s and it felt like utter rubbish. My friends are very happy with their Enduro patterns too. Bonty really stepped it up and IMHO beats Specialized tyres on all fronts.
  • + 0
 @trudeez the G5 and SE5 were unrelated tires

SE5 = G4 pattern w/ thinner sidewalls
SE4 = XR4 pattern w/ thicker sidewalls
  • + 0
 @j-t-g: ummm no, the SE5 is 100% based off of the G5, but with lighter casing and slightly shallower tread blocks. Look it up on any press release or bontrager webpage. And where did I mention anything about the SE4/XR4.
  • + 4
 Frame reach XL, 47.5.

While the world appreciated the attempt at metric, this frame looks longer than 47.5mm, maybe 475mm?

Yup, I'm pedantic and bored.
  • + 0
 We also have cm (centimeters), m (meters) and km (kilometers). So 47.5cm is a proper metric value, much less common than mm, but much more sensible when it comes to biking (yeah, i know, there are people ot there who will argue that 2mm of chainstay makes difference for them).
  • + 5
 May as well copy and paste the same review from last year.... and the year before..... and the year before that
  • + 2
 @pinkbikeaudience — the suspension compression videos are great, but when you only compress the rear end, it doesn’t give a lot of useful information. Sure, it’s neat to see the linkages work, but if you aren’t compressing the front too (as would be the case in ‘real life’) it’s almost importable to see what the rear axle path is like or any other relevant information a compressoin test like this would reveal. If possible, could you find a way to compress the bike both front and rear? Thanks.
  • + 2
 The sizing comment by the reviewer is interesting, at 5'11", he represents a slightly taller than average male, yet he would pick an xl for his personal bike. Why is the sizing of all major bike brands not accommodating? All the dh world cup riders seem to be "up-sizing" as well. Why can't frame sizing better represent what the riders are seeking?
  • + 1
 It all depends, I am 6'2 and on enduro bikes I always like a Large, but on all DH bikes I always ride an XL. It just seems how it is. I rode at least 10 different bikes this summer and it was always the case.
  • + 1
 Bike companies are slowly building longer reach bikes at the same time that people are realising that riding longer bikes is better. Give it 5 more years and you will see +500mm reach frames become more common place. In the meantime if you can't wait go grab a Pole or a Nicolai or a Mondraker.
  • + 2
 I believe Norco has amongst the lowest 2nd hand resale value these days. Buy a used Norco frame and pimp the shit out of it. Be sure to follow the guide lines of the original setup for the frame and you should be fine. Don't go for mega 180 mm front suspension if the bike requires 140 mm. The bicycle market is inflated, it is a buyers market. Have fun, but have $2500 ready, if you like to pimp with Hope.
  • + 1
 I read somewhere that the full-floater shock design was useless tech, and its only purpose was to help avoid patent infringement (on Weagle's split pivot?). Is there any truth to that? What has changed so that Trek has now dropped that design--a settled lawsuit? Expired patent?
  • + 3
 I didnt come here to look at the typical PB comments about how its too expensive for everyone... I came here to look at this fucking flyyyyy whip.
  • + 1
 The type of rear suspension on this session is notably stiffer than for example Mondraker Foxy and Summum. I have not tried Session, but I have tried it on a very similar Norco trail bike. But the Mondraker Foxys suspension movement is so much smoother. And newer carbon Mondrakers are very stiff.
  • + 2
 Great. 32 pound production downhill bikes. Get friendly with your warranty department.
And I find it strange that bike testers are only finally beginning to mention that Shimano’s brake bite point wanders all over the map.
  • + 3
 It's an example of how irrelevant Shimano is becoming. In the past, nobody wanted to be disinvited from the next Shimano launch or get taken off the list to get free product to test so everything was awesome. Now people can call out Shimano for what they have become and tell the truth because there is nothing to fear. Nobody cares about Shimano so it doesn't matter if Pinkbike doesn't get invited to get a sneak peak at the next XTR. Kind of like how it's safe to call an RST fork junk because nobody cares about RST. Or Hayes brakes.
  • + 3
 @wibblywobbly: Shimano is still more reliable than sram in my experience, sram stuff seems to self destruct
  • + 1
 Oh my god the keyboard warriors on here are insane... you all complain about the most nebula bullshit... omg no carbon cranks omg too expensive... half you idiots cant even ride let alone thrash a bike like this to its full potential... so just go back to riding your 2008 santa cruz nomads and get real
  • + 4
 let me know when I can get a session with 31 inch wheels in electric assist.......I hate pedaling downhill.......
  • + 1
 "Extremely easy to get along with"-brutal Understatement!! this Thing made me go faster,jump longer distances and higher Jumps and Drops,this Bike is my Personal Dream come true,i have never ridden one wich functions so well all around.No Commercial here-not a Teamrider or Trek Reseller-just the bloody happy truth!
  • + 4
 11 speed Saint shifter pod? Methinks a typo this way comes.
  • + 1
 Hold on. Trumps promise of bringing jobs back to Wisconsin didn't include preventing Trek from offshoring the Session? The big (and Yuugely sarcastic) news is the bike is only 8k now!
  • + 3
 lighter than my trail bikeFrown
  • + 3
 Very nice bike but ffs the price is madness
  • + 1
 Amén DH BIKE REVIEWS AGAIN

I open pinkbike and its has been so enduro at the news.

Facebook have more Downhill at the moment
  • - 1
 The bike looks nice and I'm sure it rides very well but the price of trek dh bikes...come on...I honestly would be very appreciative if one day pinkbike did an honest review.

Stand back from the sport for a moment and then come back and boom, the 8k price tag hits you for a competition dh bike from trek.
Sorry to moan but you can buy the exact moto trial bike the worlds finest use for 2-3K cheaper than this, or a enduro moto or mx.

I guess what I am trying to say is where the f**k is the value in this? The warranty is pathetic, it has own brand components which trek take full advantage of on mark up, the sizes are silly (unless were still in the 90's). But this is our fault as others have already mentioned as we buy this crap so trek can do as they please.

One other thing is that for this price the big brands should have a warehouse full of demo bikes so should someone pay for one they can try out a few sizes before they take complete ownership. Even the reviewer in this bike had to go for an XL and he was 5'11'', so would he of gone for an XL from the go, probably not.

My cash will stay in the bank thanks
  • + 3
 lowkey looks like a session
  • + 4
 8000USD
  • + 3
 My trail bike hovers around 30-31 pounds...thats a light bike!
  • + 2
 Not even 6 foot and he says he'd want the extra large. Bike sizing is horrendous.
  • + 1
 i've wanted to build up one o these with 26" for awhile now. lots o deals on parts. and i like shorter the turning radius.
gonna have to look for a used one in small.
  • + 1
 I wonder if you can change a spring rate on a coil shock without having to remove du bushings now that it doesn't have that full float system
  • + 2
 If you want a really dismal calculation. Price paid / miles ridden = price per mile. Could never justify a DH bike again.
  • + 3
 where are the Shimano fanboys now??
  • + 1
 Wait! There's no place for a water bottle inside the front triangle! PB Blasphemy!
  • + 1
 it's a bummer ya can't buy a shock for tha rig cause there is no one with 225 x 75 mm one the market Frown
  • + 1
 instead of reviewing the $8000 bikes, you shoul review the cheaper bikes the average rider can afford
  • + 1
 Would like to see more DH bike shootouts, where possible the same build......
  • + 1
 Hang on - this bike has 2.35 tires and the rim internal diameter is only 27.5mm - how can it be competitive?
  • + 1
 Damn it, why did they stop making it in the U.S. Looks like Guerrilla gravity has my next dh purchase
  • + 2
 Um what is a DH bike? Do they use enduro tech?
  • + 1
 Who really wants a trek, is trek cool? I wasn't aware of this, it's maybe cool for a year, so many nicer bikes for that much
  • + 1
 There really are. You can score a pro build m16 for 5k right now if you pay retail
  • + 1
 Pinkbike you should do a review like this of the Commencal Furious so I will know if I should buy it or not.
  • + 1
 Beautiful bike but damn that's a lot of money for a bike that can't even go uphill
  • + 1
 Yeah Trek always has that Ferrari thing going on looks wise, dream bike for me but at that price it will remain a dream for me.
  • + 2
 I'm looking at that flip chip an thinking 26/650
  • + 1
 650/29 more likely these days. Cos DH bikes aren't big enough!0
  • + 3
 @cunning-linguist: that would be one hell of a big flip chip Big Grin
  • + 2
 @nojzilla: Americans are known for their love of big flipping chips!
  • + 3
 @cunning-linguist: Is that real chips or what they call crisps?
  • + 2
 still one of the nicest dh bikes around!
  • + 3
 820mm bars - Damn!
  • - 2
 8 Grand for a bike with five year old Saint on it.

At least the V10 (which has an equivalent quality frame in terms of fit and finish) comes with Carbon cranks and drivetrain/brakes that have been updated since Obama ran for reelection.
  • + 2
 Saint is good, so why fix it
  • + 2
 I run oneuped saint on my trail bike with the new deore 11-42 cassette. It's a hell of a drivetrain. Doesn't matter what SRAM drivetrain I hop on, from NX to XX1 eagle, I'm always disappointed coming from my five year old saint.

Carbon cranks? No thanks.
  • + 1
 In Vancouver BC a top spec V10 sell for $14K, the session is cheaper
  • - 1
 $10K and ONLY carbon handle bars! What?
For that I want more carbon, I want some Titanium as well.
Saint cranks are great, however for a top of the line race bike I want carbon cranks.
  • + 11
 It's $8k not 10. Still expensive.

Obviously trek don't rate carbon too highly on DH rigs. At 32lbs it's not suffering much of a weight penalty to be fair.
  • + 21
 Carbon cranks on a DH bike is like an Italian with mandolin looking for a spot in a Norwegian Death Metal band. X01DH and SixC with 83mm spindle are ridiculous products.
  • + 6
 @WAKIdesigns: which band?!! :-)
  • + 7
 @cunning-linguist: I have to admit @WAKIdesigns - that was a good analogy. Funnier than $hit. To set the record straight, Gianni Manni was the dude with the mandolin - he was trying to get into the band "Darkthrone".

Also: Sweden is to death metal what Norway is to black metal :-)
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: What about an Italian playing Death Metal with a banjo?
youtu.be/QhXHINK7-o4
  • + 4
 @elpsstoffo: or like an Italian Metal band, like Lacuna Coil... it's theoretically the thing, but not really...

@cunning-linguist: Blooood pouring from my eyeeees! GhhrrrrrrOUUUU!!! The dead spirits surround MYYY heaaaad! Aaaaaaaaaarghhh! The Hollowness!!! of the decadence!!! Unholyness!!! of the CLEEEEERGAAEEEEEE!!!! AAAAA AAAAAA! Oooooo Sole miooooooooooo
  • + 3
 Ask Mick Hannah how he feels about his e13 Crankarms falling off :-D
  • + 5
 @Boardlife69: it's good, but just nothing beats the final countdown on the kazookelele.

Go search it and thank me later.
  • + 2
 @cunning-linguist: you basterd, I opened kazookeylele final countdown at work, everyone asked me what the hell was I listening to. Spattered all over my screen. Writing this from bathroom still laughing. hahahahaha
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: glad to be of service squire! :-)

Knew I had a calling in life!!!
  • + 3
 @cunning-linguist: around 10 things a year get me laughing so hard at work. that I have to go to the bathroom to laugh it out. It was impossible to stay here in open landscape office gasping for air and crying. That was one of them. Another one from last month:

Insults by Neitzsche: your mother is so ugly, the void won't stare back at her.

Or my friend sending this to another friend and he was silly enough to check his messenger during a meeting:
pics.me.me/sprayed-febreez-in-my-bathroom-nowit-smells-ike-shitrus-~blane~-25989944.png
  • + 1
 @cunning-linguist: LMAO! That guy. Now its stuck in my head. U phuker.
  • + 0
 @Fifty50Grip I'd like a 69 GT Mustang and a blowjob.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: both pretty classic.

Mine are normally pretty vile TBH! Brutality for the win!
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Works fine for me going on 5 year hitting everything in the Whistler bike park, so mmmm
  • + 2
 Made in Taiwan to $$$$$$
  • + 1
 Blood clot red is beautiful
  • + 1
 445mm rear centre! How can it turn?
  • + 2
 Looks like a slash
  • + 2
 i see cable rubs.
  • + 1
 It's a Bird...It's a Plane...no,It's Supertrek.
  • + 1
 A shot out between this and it's 29er sibling would be interesting.
  • + 2
 I did a preliminary head to head earlier this year: www.pinkbike.com/news/riding-the-trek-session-29-2017.html. 29er DH bikes have a ton of potential, and you'll see even more of them on the World Cup circuit next season, especially since riders will have had a full off-season to test / get used to them.
  • + 0
 @mikekazimer: Thanks Mike, the next world cup will be very interesting then. But I think the industry needs the Gwin factor to complete the 29er puzzle.
  • + 1
 Far far too expensive, end of.
  • + 5
 For you maybe. For a lot of people it isn't.
  • + 1
 l o o k s l i k e a s e s s i o n
  • + 1
 keep riding my 26” and that $8k in the bank!
  • + 1
 Trek blows
  • + 0
 Trump might say this is treason sending work out of country
  • + 1
 Those carbon frame builders will soon be working in defense, all good.
  • + 1
 Dot 5 FTW
  • - 2
 Apparently originality has already failed this thread. "Looks like a session" is soooooooo tired!!!
  • + 2
 Indeed. I cringed before I even read the first comment Blank Stare
  • - 3
 I wish it looked more like a Session Frown
  • - 2
 Red is feckin’ horrible!!!!
  • - 2
 Disappointing to see so many bontrager parts on such an expensive bike
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