By Justin Steiner
Trek’s Session models are designed specifically for DH racing. Of the two, this Session 8 is the “budget” version retailing for $4,400. Let’s face it, racing is expensive—Downhill in particular. Not only that, but the level of sophistication of these machines’ suspenders makes my motorcycle’s suspension seem awfully dated, crude and mediocre.
I’ve had the Session 8 in for test for a couple of months, long enough to both race and spend a day thrashing though my local gravity park—Seven Springs Mountain Resort.
Proper suspension setup is key to any suspension rig, so—as with all Trek bikes— you’ll find detailed suspension setup guides on their website. Setting up the Rock Shox Boxxer RC and Fox Van RC rear shock was a breeze, thanks mostly to the low-speed-only compression and beginning-stroke-only rebound adjustments on the fork, and low-speed compression and rebound adjustments of the rear shock. You’re right, your eyes aren’t fooling you, that’s a Trek-custom-tuned Fox DHX RC4 rear shock in the photos. Trek was kind enough to send us both the stock Session 8 Van RC and the custom-valved RC4 for a direct comparison of the factory vs. custom tuning. I’ll save the gory details for the upcoming review, but let’s just say the stock shock hasn’t seen much action since swapping…
Set up at the factory recommended settings the Session is ready to adapt to varying terrain with only a few clicks of rebound adjust to best suite a particular terrain or style of riding. On the fast and rocky Massanutten Yee-Ha! DH course, I dialed in just one additional click of rebound. Hitting bigger jumps and drops at Seven Springs I dialed a few additional clicks of rebound front and rear to help me tackle the 20-25ft “Showtime” table tops, which you can hit to punctuate each run down the mountain. This year it took me most of my first day out to regain the confidence and feel for hitting these large but tame tables. Call me a wimp, but I’m still acclimating to that sort of airtime.
Overall, I’m finding the Session 8 is as easy to ride as it is to set up. It’s a very intuitive bike, as Brian Martis of Seven Springs said “…it rides exactly like your brain thinks it should.” Geometry numbers are fairly industry standard in the downhill realm: 64-degree headtube, 13.9” BB height, while the long-ish 17.4” chainstays and 46.4” wheelbase definitely add stability.
Overall, I have to say this is a mighty capable bicycle right out of the box. Aside from a bar swap to something wider—a personal preference—I’ve felt little need to change or swap any parts.
Here’s a video from the Massanutten Yee-Ha! of one of my practice runs aboard the Session. Feel free to point out all of the places I screwed up in the comments below.
To see the full review of the Session in print, subscribe by August 10 to have issue #159 mailed to your door.