2022 TREK SESSION

THE RETURN OF THE HIGH PIVOT

Words by Drew Rohde | Photos by Dusten Ryen
Video by Brian Niles/Treeline Cinematics

SPONSORED CONTENT

In the latest episode of our Dissected Series, we build and take a detailed look at the new 2022 Trek Session downhill bike. The Trek Session is a bike we have been very familiar with over the last decade or so as we have personally bought and owned them, tested them, and even won a few DH races aboard them. There is no denying we like the Session and have reviewed them on this site in the past, but this new Dissected feature is intended to share the new features and design elements of this new bike in a factual and unbiased manner.

Back in 2005 aggressive mountain bikers were witness to the first Trek Session, a long travel freeride bike that could pedal gnarly stuff on the shore or shred a bike park. At the time the Trek Session seemed to be the evolution from Trek’s early high pivot, idler pulley-equipped Diesel DH bike. As bikes, freeriding and downhill racing progressed, the Session evolved into a more downhill race machine and departed from being a dedicated freeride hucker to what we know it as today. The high pivot, idler design returned and made some waves under professional racers as the bike continued to evolve under Tracey Mosely and then coming into its glory years under Aaron Gwin, Rachel Atherton, and a few other Trek Factory Racing athletes. One may think with so many World Cup wins, the Trek Session is a one-trick pony, but several top-step showings from the Trek C3 team have shown the Session is equally at home winning gold medals at the Red Bull Rampage as it is on the world racing stage.

2022 Trek Session Dissected
2022 Trek Session Dissected

WHY GO BACK?

For some it may be hard to imagine why Trek would be going back to a system they used on the Session 10 so many years ago. According to Trek Bicycles Advanced Concepts Engineer Dylan Howes, when Trek moved to the Session 8 from the 10, it was more about taking advantage of the brand’s latest technologies like Advanced Braking Pivot, Full Floater, EVO Link and applied them to dual suspension bikes no matter the discipline. Along with these new suspension technologies, Trek made the Session 8 much lighter, had a different stiffness and completely different ride experience.

As technology progressed, shock technology, rider preference and so many other factors have evolved, Trek decided that they wanted to revisit some of the major aspects that made the Trek Session 10, and high pivot bikes in general, a valid platform. High pivot bikes offer great impact absorption, roll-over speed and traction.

2022 Trek Session Dissected

HIGH PIVOT 101

As you move the pivot that the wheel moves around higher, it allows the wheel to move rearward and upward as it encounters obstacles. By letting the wheel move in a larger arc, it gives the rear end more time to react and get out of the way. In a sense it is cushioning that impact or obstacle more than just relying on a straight vertical path and shock damping. The goal is to keep the bike feeling smoother, reduce deceleration from square-edge impacts and reduce fatigue to the rider on extended sections of rough terrain.

Now, if you are a realist, you will know that nothing comes for free, and moving a pivot to a location that allows for better impact absorption is certainly going to have a drawback. To combat the chain growth from the lengthening wheelbase of a high pivot bike the idler pulley becomes a crucial component. As the rear wheel moves up and back it moves further away from the bottom bracket. Since a chain cannot stretch, that energy gets transferred to the next weakest link. Those weak links are your feet/legs and the suspension. What that translates to on the trail is pedal kickback and decreased sensitivity of the rear shock. The cranks want to back-pedal as the wheel moves through the travel, which forces your leg muscles and feet to push back against the pedals to keep them even while standing on the pedals. This wears the rider out and stiffens up the rear end because of counteracting forces. The 2018 Trek Session had 15-27 degrees of pedal kickback depending on the scenario, and the 2022 Trek Session reduces that to 5-8 degrees. The idler pulley isolates the chain growth and by reducing pedal kickback, the rider can be stronger, longer and enjoy a more sensitive and composed bike that rolls over obstacles faster.

2022 Trek Session Dissected
Specialized Levo Gen 3 Dissected

WHAT ELSE IS NEW?

Adjustable Leverage Ratio – In previous years Trek Factory Racing athletes benefitted from having the race shop make them custom links for different tracks and rider preference. Wanting to add the benefits and tunability to the general public, the shock Mino Chip takes the bike from 20% to 25%. Both settings offer more progression than the preceding Trek Session but make this bike ready for even more aggressive riding and just about any rear shock you can find.

Aluminum Only – In a move that stunned the development team and engineers, all the athletes involved proclaimed that they were so pleased with that initial aluminum prototype, they did not want a carbon version. Trek engineer Dylan Howes said that the athlete feedback on the benefits of the aluminum frame caused a major reworking of the Session project as the plan had been to move to carbon after initial testing was complete. Major benefits included a slightly more composed bike due to a little bit more weight, a more comfortable feel and a nice snappy feel out of hard corners and big G-inducing berms. Another benefit that riders like Reece Wilson and Charlie Harrison appreciated out of the new Session frame is a muted feel. The material and suspension design work in unison to give a very calming and settled feel.

The benefit to end users? A more affordable bike and frameset for downhillers looking to spend more on riding than buying.

2022 Trek Session Progression Chip
2021 Trek Session

ADJUSTABLE WHEEL SIZE – With so many riders wanting different things out of their bikes, the new Trek Session aims to please everyone from clock-chasing DH racers to Red Bull Rampage hopefuls and park rats. One frame does it all and can quickly be converted to run 29-inch front and back, Mullet (mixed) or full 27.5-inch wheels. The Trek Session frame comes with the EXT headset cup, required for running a 27.5” front wheel, but is sold separately for those buying a complete bike. In its default packaging, the new 2022 Trek Session ships with 29-inch wheels front and rear. With this setup riders can choose between a high or low geometry setting via the Mino Link. If you want to run a mullet/mixed wheel set up, simply put the bike in the High position and change out the rear wheel to a 27.5 and you are ready to rock. If you are a freeride, park rat and want to run full 27.5, you have to install a lower headset cup to maintain geo and ride height. That is it. Simple, quick changes that give you three different bikes.

UPDATED SIZING AND GEO – Trek has ditched the traditional sizing structure and are now using reach-based sizing. Three sizes of the Trek Session are available; R1, R2, R3 and cover the same range of rider heights as seat tubes have shortened and reach becomes the deciding factor. Across the board, all the new Session frames have lengthened up front to keep in tune with modern geometry demands. Something else that has changed is the addition of size-specific chainstays.

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THE WOLF’S FIRST IMPRESSION

After our brief riding sessions to collect footage for this feature, it is very apparent that Trek has created a solid downhill bike. We are very excited to put this bike to the test against some of the best we have ridden and are counting down the days until the chairlifts start spinning. The versatility to run the new Trek Session in three different wheel configurations is a definite strength, and we hope to try out the Mullet setup this summer. Another strength we see is the solid value for privateers and cost-conscious downhillers.

In terms of performance, it is still much too early, and we have not yet put the bike through enough scenarios to learn it inside and out but there are some readily apparent improvements. The progressivity at the rear end is noticeably improved and when we charged into hard compressions, the bike kept up with the terrain and has not hung up yet. We really like the suppleness off the top and feel that it is going to do a good job for riders who like to charge full speed. The added length will take a little getting used to on some of our tighter, slower DH trails with switchbacks as the longer reach, lengthening wheelbase and 29-inch rear wheel had us feeling a bit slower in the tightest stuff. Certainly, there is a learning curve to each bike and with some more tuning and practice we are confident the Session will get even better. If we had to break down our initial impressions of the new Trek Session it would be that it is a fast, versatile, confidence inspiring downhill bike that will let you push harder, and ride faster than you thought you could.

Stay tuned for a long-term review to see if we can work out the little kinks and get this bike to do exactly what we want.

Price: $6,999 (Session 9)
Weight: 37lbs
Website: Trekbikes.com

VISIT TREK’S WEBSITE TO LEARN MORE
2022 Trek Session Dissected

TREK SESSION 8

Price: $4,999

2022 Trek Session 8

Frame: Alpha Platinum Aluminum | high main pivot | idler pulley | integrated frame protection | 200mm
Fork: RockShox Boxxer Select | 200mm
Shock: Fox VAN Performance

Handlebar: Bontrager Line | Alloy | 780mm – 27.5mm Rise
Stem: Bontrager Line Pro | 50mm
Shifters: SRAM GX DH, 7-Speed
Brakes: SRAM Code R
Saddle: Bontrager Arvada
Seatpost: Bontrager Rhythm Elite

Wheels: Bontrager Line DH 30
Tires: Bontrager G5 Team Issue | 29×2.5″

Bottom Bracket: SRAM DUB
Derailleur:
SRAM GX DH

Crankset: Truvativ Descendant DH | 34t | 165mm
Cassette: SRAM PG-720 | 11-25 | 7-Speed
Chain: SRAM PC-1110

TREK SESSION 9

Price: $6,999

2022 Trek Session 9

Frame: Alpha Platinum Aluminum | high main pivot | idler pulley | integrated frame protection | 200mm
Fork: RockShox Boxxer Ultimate | 200mm
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate DH

Handlebar: Bontrager Line Pro | OCLV Carbon | 820mm – 15mm Rise
Stem: Bontrager Line Pro | 50mm
Shifters: SRAM X01 DH, 7-Speed
Brakes: SRAM Code RSC
Saddle: Bontrager Arvada
Seatpost: Bontrager Rhythm Elite

Wheels: Bontrager Line DH 30
Tires: Bontrager G5 Team Issue | 29×2.5″

Bottom Bracket: SRAM DUB
Derailleur:
SRAM X01 DH

Crankset: SRAM X01 DH | 34t | 165mm
Cassette: SRAM PG-720 | 11-25 | 7-Speed
Chain: SRAM PC-1110

2022 Trek Session Dissected2022 Trek Session Dissected