Trek Session 88 FR - first ride review£3,200.00

Trek's latest technologies freeride fabulously

BikeRadar score5/5

Trek has totally reworked its Session long-travel platform for 2009. The Session 88 is a superbly capable and light weight downhill/freeride rig thanks to Trek’s Active Braking Pivot, and its great shock actuation curve.

Ride & handling: sublime cornering, big hits eaten for breakfast

Two ingredients in the 88’s cocktail really gave it the kick we were after. The first is the Active Braking Pivot, which is hugely effective, giving an axle path the same as a low single pivot, but with all the advantages of a true four-bar system.

Traction under braking is outstanding. We even found ourselves doing our braking in the corner, instead of before.

The second is the shock leverage ratios in action. The rate is linear for the first part of the stroke, rising through the majority of the stroke and falling right at the end, thanks to the fully floating lower shock mount.

Travel is supremely supple through the initial stroke, for small bump traction, and it appears to never bottom out at the end. But it’s in the middle where the magic happens.

Most long travel bikes are very linear through the mid-stroke and can feel a little vague and unresponsive, but not the 88. The feedback you get from the bike through berms and when you push into a corner is sublime.

You really feel like you’re standing on the bike, rather than just pushing deeper into the travel.

We found ourselves drifting feet up like never before. It was so good that even the truly excellent 09 Totem fork couldn’t match its grace though the turns.

And it’s not just the turns – big drops were swallowed up with glee and at just 38lb it’s as agile as it gets for a 200mm (8in) travel machine.

We could even forgive the disappointing new Shimano Saint brakes, which are actually too powerful, lack modulation and never stop howling.

This is a bike that instantly flatters you with its ability, manoeuvrability, and ultimately its amazing feel of control.

Good work Trek.

Frame: hydroforming, E2 and Active Braking Pivot add up to a killer package

The centre of attention on this bike has to be the centre of the rear wheel. The new 88 uses the same ABP (Active Braking Pivot) as we’ve seen on the Fuel EX and Remedy models. The system is a four-bar design, with a pivot located concentric with the rear axle. This gets rid of any influence of braking over the rear suspension.

Hydroformed lines dictate the rest of the frame that’s headed up by Trek’s E2 system head tube, which is 1.125in at the top and 1.5in at the bottom, giving the benefits of 1.5in, without the weight penalty.

Equipment: RockShox & Fox do the shock business

Up front a set of galvanised finish 09 Rockshox Totem forks with 180mm (7in) of perfectly executed travel, topped off with a tapered E2 steerer. Out back resides a Fox DHX 5 coil shock, with specific valving for the bike’s unique leverage.

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