Price: $8,930
Weight: 34.6 pounds (2012)
By Travis Engel

The clock doesn't lie, which makes finding the best racer simple. But there is no such tool when attempting to determine the best bike. Even if there were, the Session 9.9 would still have been the most divisive bike in this category.

We couldn't quarrel over component spec because at the time of our tests, the resin was still drying on the Saint-equipped 2013s. So we rode the equally expensive 2012 with X0 guts, but identical frame, suspension and wheels. Even with the tiny weight penalty that comes with the Saint build, the Session would still be the lightest
DH bike on our tailgate by well over a pound.

Likewise, we all agreed on how lively the ride was. The Session felt responsive while pedaling, and reacted instantly if you wanted to leave the ground or break the rear end loose. This flickability came courtesy of both the bike's light weight and its overall balanced feel, but beyond these points our testers' opinions on the Session rted to diverge.

Some veteran DH testers felt that the Session didn't match the other bikes' appetites for the fastest, most riotous sections of our downhill track. Even the bike's biggest fans admitted that it was not the category's most sensitive through hard hits, and that the cockpit is sized a tad snug. The Session's neutral ride, on the other hand,
gave it the edge over the other DH sleds on the slower-speed, technical stretches of our downhill course. In that regard, the Session felt a bit like an all-mountain bike on radioactive spider steroids.

As we found ourselves on the verge of questioning the Session's racing chops, the discussion turned to Aaron Gwin's World Cup wins. Gwin's campaigns aboard this bike prove something we had already concluded: The Session's unique ride qualities make it a bike that may not be immediately loved by all, but in the hands of someone intimately familiar with it, the Session has obvious race-winning potential.