What's Inside the Message? Thru-Shaft Damper:
The Message's twin-tube, thru-shaft damper sits inside the right leg and has roughly 50mm of stroke that's topped off with a conical bottom-out bumper, and the fork's linkage works off that to provide 130mm of travel. An air cartridge sits atop the damper, with the whole thing sliding out from the bottom of the leg as a single unit. There's an air cartridge inside the left leg, too, but no damper - that's all done within the right leg.
With a relatively short stroke, a sealed bearing at the bottom eyelet, and a low-speed rebound dial (w/ 20 clicks) poking out like an anodized red nipple, the damper looks a lot like a strange rear shock. Then there's that bright red disc that sits on top of the damper and has the high-speed compression shim stack underneath it; there's a separate ''blow-off stack'' for the Medium mode so that they ''don't need to compromise both with lockout and each can be tuned independently,
'' Weagle told me.
The fork's thru-shaft damper uses a twin-tube layout that's similar, at least in principle, to other things out there. Picture a tube in a tube, with the oil passing from one to the other, as well as through the damping circuits, and you get the idea. When compressed, oil is forced out of the main tube and through the compression circuit before ending up behind the main piston via bleed holes that join the inner and outer tubes. Can you guess what happens when the shock rebounds? Yup, the opposite but the oil passes through the rebound circuit this time thanks to check valves.
The red cap (left) is hiding the high-speed compression circuit, and adjustments are made to the Open and Medium modes via a 3mm hex key on the side of the damper (right).
Speaking of the fork's Medium compression mode, this is where you'll find the 3mm hex adjusters for that and the Open setting, with them hidden beneath a rubber cap when the fork is put together. The bottom dial tunes the fork's Open compression via 20 clicks, whereas the top dial offers 5 clicks to alter the Medium mode's action. That's easy enough to remember (there's a big 'C' on the rubber cap, too), but I'd like to see each dial's function labeled as well. Plastic Gears:
What about that strange looking arrangement of plastic gear wheels and that long rod that runs the length of the air cartridge? Trust needed the three-position compression lever at the fork crown to reach the damper, and that's how they did it. The Message is said to be relatively unfazed by pedaling and changes or where the rider's center of gravity is sitting, which is largely true in practice, and Trust debated about whether they needed this cheater switch at all. ''Trail fork consumers are used to some form of adjustability and lock-out feature and, as such, we felt we needed to include it to not be too alienating,
'' Weagle admitted when I questioned the need and execution. ''That said, we might find that future iterations don't need it.
The three-position dial atop the crown turns a plastic rod that parallels the air cartridge before itself turning a number of equally plastic gear wheels. This is how you select your Open, Medium, or Firm compression modes.
If you're looking at those plastic gear wheels and wondering how long it'll take to wreck them, you're thinking exactly like I was. The stops are built into the underside of the aluminum compression lever, though, so you shouldn't ever be able to apply too much force to the plastic bits down inside the fork. Not User Serviceable... Yet:
When the Message was first released, word was that the damper would be user serviceable by anyone with the skills and tools to do the job. That's not quite the case, though, with the dampers in first-year forks not intended to be opened up by anyone at home.
Weagle cites two reasons for this approach: ''First, we want to make sure in our first year that we're seeing everything that happens to the suspension in a variety of real-world conditions. Seeing this enables us to build-in service efficiencies and address common consumer needs in a way that only strengthens future product development. Second, we're actively building out our worldwide service network, training staff and developing a suite of service videos that our distribution partners and service centers can use to properly service the Message.
'' I get that, sure, but I still want to take it apart at will.
A single bolt holds the cartridge in at the top (left), and the whole thing swings slightly as the fork compresses and rebounds, just like the shock does on the back of your full-suspension bike.
Oh, and there apparently are also some proprietary tools that require some kind of training, but those aren't available to the consumer yet. While I'm of the opinion that everything on our bikes should be easily serviceable at home with a set of hex keys, average intelligence, and some patience, I can also understand why Trust would be exercising caution on this front. That said, I'd want my $1,975 USD fork to include its proprietary tool kit and anything else I might need to work on it for the next five years. Air Spring:
The black cylinder that sits on top of the damper is the air cartridge, and the valve aligns with a port in the carbon leg when you slide the whole assembly home. There are a few things to note here, including that you'll need a shock pump with a long-head on it to reach the aluminum valve; many shock pumps are this way regardless, but I'd like to be able to use any
shock pump on this fork.
Trust does ship the fork with a pump that works with the Message, as well as a bunch of thread-on volume spacers so you can tinker with how it ramps up later in its stroke.
The top assembly comes off to reveal a threaded cap on top of the air cartridge. This is where you install the volume-reducing tokens for more ramp-up.
And did you note the very strange shape to the top of the cartridge? That bit mates to the corresponding shape up inside the leg and, get this, the whole damper and air spring assembly swings in an arc slightly as the fork goes through its travel, just like the shock on your full-suspension bike.
That means that the cartridge's top mounting bolt, the one just above the valve, is a pivot of sorts, and it's also why the Message's carbon legs flare out slightly from top to bottom - to provide room for the cartridge to swing.
You can never have too many pictures of prototypes. Trust says that the Message was in development for the past four years.
Trust's first suspension fork provides endless technical talking points, but we should really be talking about how this thing performs. Is the Message yet another linkage creation that promises to blow telescoping forks off the trail only to end up fading into obscurity like all the others? Or is the very expensive, very strange looking Trust Message the one that proves stanchions and bushings aren't the best way to do suspension?