While in Les Gets for the Summer edition of the Bicycle Connections Agency, we tested a box-fresh Trek Session 9.9 29er paired with a 2019 Rockshox BoXXer WC edition. Read on to get our initial thoughts on both bike and fork.

Trek Session 9.9

When the first swathes of 29er Downhill bikes appeared on the World Cup circuit it was very much a race between manufacturers to accommodate the additional wheel size, by any means necessary. We saw countless frames being fettled with; custom rear ends, amended linkages, the list goes on. These amendments have nowbeen refined and we've started to see the first production runs of 29er specific downhill bikes enter the market. 

One of the most intriguing of these is this Trek Session 9.9. The Session has been a performance powerhouse since it first entered the World Cup circuit, from the likes of Aaron Gwin to Brook MacDonald and now the Athertons, the Session has long been a staple at the sharp end of the results. But how does it perform with the larger wheel size?

Straight out of the gate it's clear that the Session is a race-bred machine. It gallops, never trots. The race-proven Evo Link suspension design eeks out the very best from those larger wheels, the ability of this bike to pick up speed over testing terrain is astonishing and the grip is seemingly endless. The Carbon chassis is stiff, yet not unforgiving and adjustable geometry allows riders to achieve a truly dialled setup. You really do get the feeling that when the going gets steep, the Session comes alive the most.

The Session is one of those bikes with seemingly no ceiling, the more time you spend on it and the more your confidence in its capabilities grows, the harder you are able to push. Even when the rain fell and Les Gets turned into an ice-rink the Session felt accomplished, never skittish. 

It's difficult to provide a comprehensive review of a bike when testing time is limited, but first impressions were very, very good. If nothing else, it took me all of an afternoon to realise, much like in our downhill test, wheelsize is now one of the biggest differentiators in the speed of modern downhill bikes.

Rockshox BoXXer WC Debonair

When the Boxxer launched at the beginning of this World Cup season we were excited. This is no half-job, this updated Boxxer has been in development for some time and, fortuitously or otherwise, the new Boxxer has arrived on the crest of a 29er wave.

35mm stanchions remain on this updated model, while Rockshox did experiment with wider stanchions, rider feedback predicated that the 35mm remain as it provided the best balance of stiffness, ride sensitivity and performanceAs does the 110x20 axle, Rockshox did contemplate a 110x15mm axle, but in the interest of compatibility opted to stick with the 110x20 format.

The return of the iconic red lowers, paired with those murdered-black stanchions and the moto-inspired chrome clamp all make for an aesthetically imposing fork. These changes are not only aesthetically motivated though, that flat clamp is to help reduce the overall height of the cockpit when paired with 29er wheels, the culmination of which is an aggressive, assured riding position.

It's not just the external features that have been updated. Internally, the dimple bypass has been completely redesigned, now forged from a plastic, the updated bypass is lighter, more robust and promises improved performance. Debonair is also now standard across the updated BoXXer range, although this does spell the demise of the team edition, with the fork now only available in the RC and World Cup iterations.  

On the bike, performance is outstanding. Supple, stiff and glued to the ground. We primarily tested the BoXXer on the Canyon trail in Les Gets and if anything it was a little overkill, which is not a criticism of the BoXXer but rather a testament to the sheer capability of this fork. The combination of 29inch wheels with a fork specifically designed to accommodate that additional size is nothing short of remarkable. The BoXXer really is confidence inspiring, this fork simply does not get flustered, point it where you fancy and hold on.

There is ample opportunity to fettle and tinker with the setup, the return of high-speed compression a welcome addition for those looking to take this fork to the very edge of its performance capabilities. For the rest of us mere mortals, Rockshox has developed an app to accompany the new range of forks. Riders are able to scan the product ID of their fork, input their weight and the app will provide rudimentary settings, essentially a base-point on which riders can experiment and revert to. The settings that it provided for myself were pretty much bob-on first time.