Review: 6 Months on the Trust Message Linkage Fork

Jun 18, 2019
by Mike Levy  
Can linkage forks ever be anything other than strange contraptions that show up at trade shows but never in real life? I mean, there have been plenty of attempts over the years, but where are they now?

The Message, a 130mm-travel, carbon fiber praying mantis-looking thing that's designed for trail riding is Trust Performance's attempt to supersede the telescoping norm. It costs a whopping $1,975 USD, or around a grand more than a fancy telescoping fork of your choice, and that's after Trust chopped $725 off the original price tag. Given its intended use, it's not light, either, at 2,000-grams / 4.4lb, or only 20-grams less than a Fox 36 with more travel and rowdier intentions.

So it's not exactly light, and it's certainly not inexpensive, but maybe there's more to this thing than the numbers? Trust believes that the Message's trailing linkage design is superior to how everyone else is doing it with stanchion tubes and bushings, citing how their creation offers more stability due to how they've designed the linkage, which might equal more control.
Message Details

• Intended use: trail riding
• Trailing multi-link design
• Travel: 130mm
• Wheel size: 27.5'' / 27.5+ / 29''
• Carbon chassis, steerer & linkages
• Aluminum pivot hardware
• Sealed bearings w/ lifetime warranty
• Twin-tube, thru-shaft damper
• External adjustments: rebound; three-position compression
• 250-hour service interval
• Rotor Size: 180mm rotor / 203mm max.
• Tire clearance: 29'' x 2.6'' / 27.5'' x 2.8''
• Axle to crown: 535mm
• Weight: 2000-grams / 4.4lb (actual)
• MSRP: $1,975 USD
www.trustperformance.com

It's been a long time since there was a product that stirred up the sort of responses that came with the Message's debut, many of which pointed out its rather large price tag, all of its pivots and eighteen (18!) bearings, its unconventional looks, and the dubious history of linkage forks. Us mountain bikers love to get caught up comparing numbers, but while the Dave Weagle-designed linkage fork might not beat telescoping forks on paper, can it do it on the trail?






The Claims

I polled a bunch of the people I ride with and it turns out that roughly 90-percent of them think the Message is either ''funny looking,'' ''too strange,'' or ''from a future where robots have killed everyone but the robots are either blind or have no fashion sense.'' As for me, I think it looks great on the right bike, but I have some questionable fashion sense, and maybe I'm preparing for our robot overlords. Besides, getting stuck on how it looks would be missing the point entirely: The Message (or any linkage fork) looks the way it does because, much like your bike's rear-suspension, it's designed to control pedaling support, stability control, and bump absorption through its linkage.

Do you know who's designed a bunch of proven rear-suspension designs? Dave Weagle of the dw-Link, Split Pivot, and Orion layouts. And do you know who's behind the Message's linkage? That same Weagle guy.

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Think of the Message's trailing linkage design as a sort of rear-suspension that's been put up front, and the location of the pivots and length of the links are used to control how the suspension performs. Again, just like the back of your full-suspension bike.

Consistent Handling: Trust claims that the linkage creates more stability, which I take to mean more consistent handling, by increasing the trail number as the fork goes into its travel. Because the axle path isn’t a straight line like it would be on a telescoping fork, the Message's offset changes as it goes into its travel. That means that the trail grows, too, which will kinda feel like your head angle is getting slacker, or at least not getting steeper... And that would obviously make your bike feel less twitchy when you’re doing things like braking hard, landing a jump or drop, or nosing into one of those roll-the-dice kinda chutes.


Trust Message fork review
Trust Message fork review
Instead of stanchions sliding in and out on bushings as on a traditional fork, the 130mm-travel Message uses a linkage design and sealed bearings at every pivot. Trust says that the kinematics of the linkage provides a consistent steering feel, regardless of where the fork is in its travel.


That's exactly the opposite of what happens with a traditional telescoping fork, though. They want to compress when you stab the brakes, too, but it makes your bike steeper and twitchier, which can be unsettling when it happens at the wrong time. Telescoping forks depend on the spring and compression damping to stay up in their travel, while the Message is said to use the geometry of its linkage to not only help it do the same but to also preserve the handling when it does go into its travel.

Consistency usually equals control and speed, and that's what Trust is aiming to create with the Message. In their own words: ''To put it simply: handling remains the same even when the head angle changes - early in the turn, at the apex, and at the exit, climbing or descending, your bike always steers the same.'' Your bike's geometry and how it handles isn't everything, but it's easily the most important thing; more than your bald-ass tires, far more than how much travel you think you need, and even more important than how you've set your suspension up, although that last one can have a massive effect on handling.

If Trust's big claims ring true, they could really be onto something with the Message.



Trust Message fork review
The looks are polarizing, that's for sure, with the majority of people that I ran into telling me that it's quite strange. If you're running a Message, be ready for never-ending questions at the trailhead.


What's on the Outside?

Carbon Fiber Chassis and all the Bearings: As if a linkage fork wasn't out-there enough, this one is carbon fiber from top to bottom. Trust has used the expensive black stuff for the Message's tapered steerer tube, uni-crown and both legs, and all of the links, although it clearly wasn't to save weight: The Message weighs bang-on 2,000-grams on my scale, or only around 20-grams less than a 160mm-travel Fox 36, making it relatively porky for a 130mm-travel fork.

Luckily, I have 130mm-travel Fox Float 34 Factory with their FIT4 cartridge in my shop, a comparable telescoping fork that's made for the exact same type of riding, and it weighs 1,860-grams on the same scale and with the same length steerer tube.

If you're going off the numbers, and it's difficult not to most times, the 34 weighs 140-grams less than the Message, which might as well be a cinderblock's worth of weight to some trail riders. But the Message seems - and performs - as if it's overbuilt to the point where its torsional rigidity feels like it easily surpasses any and every big-boned single-crown fork. More on that in the riding impressions below, but the gist is that Trust probably didn't make the carbon chassis as light as it could be, but they sure as hell made it stiff.
Trust Message fork review
The carbon legs are oval in shape, and there's room for massive tires and all the mud that you'd ever run into.

The large diameter carbon legs are oval-ish in shape and are angled out in a way that makes the bike look much, much slacker than it is. If you take a second look, you'll see that the axle is on the vertical link and well back of the legs, but it tricks a lot of looky-loos into thinking that the bike is rocking at a 58-degree head angle. It's not, and the Message's axle-to-crown height is 535mm, a few millimeters shorter than what my tape measure says the 130mm Fox 34 comes in at.


Trust Message fork review
Trust Message fork review
There are eighteen sealed bearings in total, one at every pivot (left) and both eyelets. Each major component of the Message sports a QR code (right) that lets Trust keep track of exactly when it was manufactured.

Trust Message fork review
Trust Message fork review
The bottom links (left) hang down below the axle line, but they've brushed off all sorts of abuse. A post mount works with seven-inch rotors (right).


Trust could have dropped a load of weight by going with bushings instead of sealed bearings, but would anyone take the fork seriously if they had? Probably not, even if there's a case to be made for bushings, so there are eight bearings on each side of the fork (two at each pivot) and one at each lower eyelet for eighteen bearings in total. I know what you're thinking, but the Message does come with a lifetime warranty that covers all of them. Also, bearings sure are easier to deal with than traditional fork bushings that are pressed down into the lowers.

All of the pivot hardware is aluminum and has the recommended torque laser etched onto it, and each one also has a tiny steel push-pin that slides through the hardware to keep it from backing out on the trail. It's also worth pointing out that there aren't a bunch of annoying washers that fall from each pivot when you undo the bolts, unlike so many full-suspension bikes out there.


Trust Message fork review
Trust Message fork review
With the lower link detached and the cartridge pulled out, you can see right up the hollow carbon leg (left). Each pivot gets a small push-pin (right) that runs through the aluminum hardware for a bit of extra insurance.

Trust Message fork review
Trust Message fork review
Bolt-on adapters (left) can be removed to fit Torque Tube hubs, not that anyone needs more steering precision from the Message. A sag gauge at the upper pivot (right) lets you know how much travel you're using.


Without a stanchion tube for a sag-o-meter o-ring to slide on, Trust used a rotating gauge at one of the pivots (a lot like Canyon does on their bikes) to tell riders how much travel they're using.

Another detail worth mentioning are the two molded-in brake line guides (more on those later, too) and the zillion different plastic clips that Trust includes to sort out your cable routing. There's no built-in way to install a fender, but that's nothing that a handful of zip-ties couldn't solve.


Trust Message fork review
When you want to take a look at the damper and right-side air cartridge, the whole unit slides out as one once you remove just two bolts and separate the linkage. The twin-tube damper is the black tube on the left, while the air cartridge is the black tube on the right.


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.


Trust Message fork review
Trust Message fork review
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.''


Trust Message fork review
Trust Message fork review
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.


Trust Message fork review
Trust Message fork review
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.


Trust Message fork review
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.


Trust
Trust
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?







It's Challenging To Set Up

I spend time on dozens of suspension forks each year, and I can usually nail my preferred settings, or at least get them within a few psi and a click or two before I finish up my second ride on the bike. The Message? Not so much. The issue, at least for me, was that I was expecting the fork to act a certain way, and I ended up chasing my tail a bit while hunting for the optimum setup.

Trust includes an easy to understand setup guide in their user manual that recommends pumping each of the Message's air springs up to whatever you weigh in pounds. That means I needed about 170psi... Only that's not right. Since then, Trust has lowered its recommendation to 20psi below the rider's weight. At 170psi, it was too harsh and, frankly, hard to live with when the trail was rough.

After backing the Open compression setting completely out in a search for some compliance, I ended up going all the way down to 150psi and having much better luck. Too bad the air spring is so linear, though, because I couldn't keep myself from finding the end of the Message's travel too often and too abruptly. There were moments when I wondered if the conical bottom-out bumpers were still there.
n a
Mike Levy
Location: Squamish, BC, Canada
Age: 38
Height: 5'10''
Inseam: 33.5"
Weight: 168lbs
Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
Instagram: @killed_by_death

Part of my struggles came down to me trying to get it to act like it has stanchions and bushings, which the Message is just never going to do, regardless of what air pressure you're running. It was specifically designed not to, of course, so it's silly of me to expect it to act like a 34 or Pike on the trail. Instead, riders will need to decide what camp they're in: The one that puts comfort high up on its list of priorities, or the one that knows comfortable suspension doesn't usually equal speed. It took a few months to figure out, but the Message definitely lives in the latter camp.


Trust Message fork review
Trust Message fork review
The included setup manual (left) is well done and easy to understand. One of the air valves backed itself out of the cartridge the first time I tried to remove the aluminum caps (right), but the fix only took a few minutes.


In the end, I've gone up to 160psi and added three thread-on tokens to the air cartridge. The fork's low-speed rebound dial is backed out 12-clicks from fully closed, the Open mode compression is 16-clicks out, and the Medium mode is 4-clicks out.

Speaking of modes, there's a big difference between the three, and while I can sorta, kinda understand the firmest setting when you need to crush a gravel road climb, I found the Medium mode to be near useless as the fork does a good job of controlling its travel without reaching for that band-aid.


The Carbon Fiber Chassis is Shockingly Rigid

When it comes to numbers, there's going to be some justified grumbling about the weight. After all, it's a 130mm-travel fork intended for trail riding that weighs nearly as much as a 160mm-travel Fox 36, so I can see the issue. Having ridden the Message quite a bit, I can also see that the carbon chassis is incredibly overbuilt and robust. You want torsional rigidity? The Message has all of it and then some more just for good measure. It feels a lot like a dual-crown downhill fork rather than something meant for trail riding.


Trust Message fork review
A traditional fork depends on its axle and fork arch for much of its torsional rigidity. Without the latter, Trust went with large-diameter carbon fiber legs that dwarf other forks meant for the same type of riding.


This was underlined, bolded, and then put in italics during back-to-back testing of the Message and Fox's 130mm-travel 34 on the same sections of rough trail; a traditional telescoping fork feels delayed in its turning response and less precise in those rocky bits of trail where it's more a game of pinball than mountain biking.

In truth, I'm not a big guy and a fork's torsional rigidity usually isn't a big factor for me, but I have no doubt that larger riders will benefit from the improved steering response. That said, in rough sections of trail when the bike was angled over I felt more chatter passing up through the massive fork legs and right into my hands than I would have preferred.


Can a fork be too torsionally stiff? Probably, but one thing is for sure: No one is going to find the Message underbuilt.


A few other things to note: It's a bit finicky to get your wheel in and the axle lined up, but I am glad that Trust went with a thread-on 15mm thru-axle instead of some hokey semi-quick-release abomination. I'm not sure what the fascination is with getting your wheel off without needing to use a tool, especially on a fork like this that isn't made for racing, but I'm happy they didn't go that route.

Also, with the carbon bottom links hanging down below the axle line, I thought they might be vulnerable to rock strikes, but there were no issues on that front. There are a few marks on from where they scraped against something or other, but nothing to be concerned about and I don't think it'll ever be.

Speaking of concerns, I actually cracked the Message's carbon fiber chassis. While swapping forks on the side of the trail, I used a zip-tie to hold the brake line in the upper guide instead of the supplied clips, sliding it through the slot and tugging it down by hand. Without putting any real force into it, I managed to crush and crack one side of the top guide. Trust includes a load of different snap-in clips that they'd really prefer you use, but they also admitted that this wasn't the first broken guide they've seen.

As of right now, Trust has no plans to change the design of the guides and recommends using the supplied clips without exception, but us mountain bikers do love zip-ties, don't we?
Trust Message review
Spot the crack? It's hard to believe, but that was caused by a zip-tie being tightened by hand on the side of the trail.

''In the instance you don't have them and need to use a zip-tie, make sure the zip-tie spans along the top to get some purchase on the cable. Otherwise, when you pull to cinch, all that energy is directed in a way that the just guide isn't designed to take,'' they explained. Regardless, a cracked cable guide isn't good, especially at this price.

The 250-hour service interval on Trust's damper is more than twice as long as what Fox or RockShox suggest for their comparable forks, which tells me that they have some serious confidence in how it performs. On top of that, you'll never have to drop the fork's lowers for a cleaning and new lube oil, unlike anything out there with stanchions and bushings. The sealed bearings are still smooth, and they should last a long time, too.


Giant Trance Advanced 29 Staff Rides - Mike Levy. Photo by Jason Lucas
The 130mm-travel Message first saw action on the front of my Unno Dash test bike before being transplanted onto the Giant Trance-based mutant that's pictured above. I've been putting in countless miles with it on Ibis' new Ripley as well.


The Message's Air Spring is Very Linear

Each of the air valves gets an aluminum cap, and a 4mm hex key is used to unscrew the caps as they're also recessed a bit inside the carbon leg. It's a nice touch, but I had a bit of an issue straight out of the box as one of them was screwed down so tight onto the valve that it backed the entire thing right out of the cartridge. The sudden and very loud loss of air might have made me pee a little bit, but it was an easy fix; the inside of the Schrader valve accepts a 5mm hex key, so I just screwed it back in. Trust admits that they've seen this with a few early production forks but have since sorted it out, so no one else should have to change their underwear.

As mentioned above, setting the Message up took much more time than usual, largely because I was looking for less harshness on high-speed compressions and no amount of dial turning or shock-pumping was giving it to me. I needed a far more progressive spring rate, too, with the Message being surprisingly linear out of the box. At 150 psi, which is in the neighborhood of where Trust says to start, I didn't need much of a hard impact to find the end of the stroke.

Just 10 psi to each leg makes a big difference, though, as does the thread-on volume reducing tokens that help the fork to ramp up later in its stroke. Adding a few helped remedy the bottoming, but I'd like to see more progression built-in to the air spring. I'm not a big guy and my glass ankles mean that I try to avoid smashing into terrible landings, so I can only imagine what a 200lb+ rider with much more courage would think...


Who wants to hear how the fork performs on climbs? Probably no one, but I will say that it's active without diving into its travel at every tired turn of the cranks. The slightly firmer Medium mode doesn't seem required to me.


Your traditional fork's stanchions slide in and out on (hopefully) slippery bushings and, as you'd expect, the tolerances between those two are of the utmost importance. Too tight and you'll have a buttload of friction and oil won't be able to get between the surfaces to provide lubrication like it's supposed to. But too loose and get that annoying play that feels like your headset is rattling, only it's a much pricier fix.

Without any bushings, and sporting sealed bearings at every single pivot, the Message has inherently less friction than a normal fork, and it's very, very supple because of that. It's most noticeable when you're just pushing on the fork with your hands, but it's probably most beneficial when the Message changes from compressing to rebounding; this is often referred to as stick-slip and the goal is always to have as little as possible. There's no doubt that that supple action improves traction, too, a boon when the trails are wet or dusty and loose.


But What's it Like to Ride?

Here's where things get a little interesting. With a traditional fork, it's pretty easy to figure out what the damper is up to if you pay attention; it's a 1:1 ratio and, well, you're practically holding onto the damn thing. But with the Message, you've got a short-stroke damper compressed by a linkage that not only applies leverage to said damper but also does some pretty neat things with your bike's geometry. In other words, there are more factors at play.

Unfortunately, one of those is that the Message acts like there might be too much high-speed compression damping for my liking, with more harshness being transmitted through to my hands when passing over rough, chopped up ground at speed than I'd expect. While it's not even close to being unrideable as some other reviews have stated (talk about wild exaggerations), it's certainly noticeable if you're comparing it to a top-tier traditional trail fork like the Fox 34 that I did back-to-back testing with. At first, I was convinced that my spring rate was too firm because that's sort of how it was acting, but the action didn't improve much as I lowered the air pressure in search of more compliance.


It's not just on the steep stuff. A flat, loose corner like this is exactly where the Message shines, with it making it feel as if you know exactly what's happening down at the tire's contact patch. It's a very good kind of weirdness.


When running into the type of things that cause high-speed compressions - pointy rocks, tall roots, flat landings, and square edges, all at a good pace - it felt a bit like the Message wasn't absorbing them as well as it should. But the same time, I was in more control and riding faster than ever, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense until you remind yourself that geometry and handling are the real keys to speed and control, not gooey suspension that turns the ground into your personal safe space.

''The footage may seem to suggest that there's less impact absorption, but the Message rider will likely have a better ride experience at critical inputs: the handlebar and tire contact patch,'' Weagle told me when I described the fork's action while filming for the video review. ''Keep in mind, we don't need to make the Message overly soft or compliant to make up for stiction issues,'' he went on to explain.

But was it actually too much high-speed compression damping that I felt? I'm far from the only rider who's come to the same conclusion, but Trust says that's not the case. ''Low hysteresis suspension systems often feel like they have more damping compared to those with higher levels of hysteresis,'' they say on their website. ''This is because the suspension is uninhibited by lag and able to react to impacts faster, increasing traction and improving control.'' Sure, that might be true, but it doesn't change the fact that the Message does transmit noticeably more feedback - more harshness - to the rider than a traditional fork does, regardless of the cause. After a few hours on rough singletrack, my body was more tired when using the Message, ride after ride, and flat landings felt especially severe.

The thing is, for a lot of riders out there, it might be worth it.

I installed the Message on a few different bikes, but something interesting happened across the board: With the Message up front, every bike turned into the best handling bike I've ever ridden. I kept stringing together some of the most impressive corners of my life while using the Trust fork, and I'm pretty sure that it wasn't me getting any better - I rarely get better at anything. So while I felt like the trail was rougher, I was actually going faster while being in more control. Over and over again. Geometry > Everything else.

Okay, so I can't quite bring myself to refer to it as the ''Trust Effect'' with a straight face, but I can confirm that the bike feels more stable and is easier to ride quickly through pretty much any type of corner. The steeper or rougher the corner or the lead-up to it is, the more the Message outshines a traditional fork. But it's a strange sensation as the trail does feel rougher, no doubt about that, but you're also in more control and are probably more relaxed.

Picture yourself coming into a sharp corner on a steep-ish section of trail that's filled with rocks or braking bumps. You're coming in fast and braking late, as you usually try to do, but the bike turns-in similar to how it would if you were riding at a much slower pace. It's tricky to describe because a traditional suspension fork sure as hell doesn't feel like it's doing anything wrong when putting it to the same test, but that's only because we've become used to their traits, for better or worse.

Turns out, we're so accustomed to our bikes stinkbug-ing all the time that we might not even realize it's happening.
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This screenshot from the video review illustrates where the fork excels. It's at this point that the bike handles calmly and like you'd want it to, even when the Message goes into its travel. When that happens with a normal fork, the bike instantly handles differently.


Spend some time on the Message, though, and a normal fork can feel like it's forcing you into a front-end down, ass up riding position that doesn't exactly help you out.

Because of the increased control, it never feels like the Message is using too much of its travel too often. In fact, I often got the sensation that the opposite was happening, hence the two-month-long search for more compliance that was ultimately just me chasing my tail. I wanted it to act as if it runs on stanchions and bushings but without the drawbacks that come with that time-proven layout, and that just isn't going to happen. That is, however, exactly what I think happened with much of the early feedback that I heard and read about the Message.

If I had jumped on the Message and put two weeks of riding on it before writing this review, I guarantee you that I'd have come away from that thinking it's a hot dumpster fire disguised as a carbon fiber linkage fork. It's far from perfect, and I can see many riders not gelling with the performance, but the handling benefits of the design are undeniable.


Is The Message Better?

Yes, the Message can definitely out-perform telescoping forks, but certainly not in every way. Trust's fork is torsionally stiff enough for the angriest silverback gorilla of a mountain biker, but that's small beans compared to the handling benefits that the linkage system provides. There's a huge improvement in how a bike turns with the Message bolted to the front of it, and I consistently found myself cornering faster and in more control than when I was using a traditional fork. In a world where many of us have zero issues with spending nearly $3,000 USD on wheels that do next to nothing besides making your wallet lighter, I wouldn't have to think that hard to justify the Message's price tag.

Let me put it to you this way: After spending a lot of time on the Message and then having to ride a normal fork, it feels as if the bike's geometry is a decade old while using the latter, at least until I get used to it again.

The Message isn't the Holy Grail of front suspension, though, and there are issues that need sorting out before Trust's message will ever become gospel. The most notable is the fork's lack of compliance during high-speed compressions, something that'll be hard to live with if comfort matters to you. Weagle is adamant that what I felt isn't actually too much damping, though. Straight from the horse's mouth:

''We’ve found it hard to compare the Message to a telescopic in terms of feel, they function so fundamentally different that some characteristics just “feel” different to us. Measurably, the Message has less high-speed damping than a telescopic—it just has it more of the time. And the reason we have more frequent damping is because the Message’s thru-shaft damper nearly eliminates hysteresis. Less hysteresis means controlled damping after fast changes in damper shaft direction which leads to less load variation at the tire and ultimately more traction. In the end, on the trail, the Message seems to coax riders into pinning it in a way we haven’t seen with other 120-130mm travel trail bike forks. Normally you can’t go faster or feel more controlled with less traction so there’s something more than immediately meets the eye going on here.

''We definitely don’t have all the answers, or maybe even the questions. One question I keep asking myself is how much does expectation change over experience gained, and how does that reform what “feels good” to people. A very subjective measurement built almost entirely on past experience. What I do know is that we’re going to keep trying, testing, tweaking new ideas and developing new designs so that everyone gets to experience that “feel good” feeling we get from the Message. And, hopefully, that gets more people having great experiences on mountain bikes enjoying the world around them and the sport that we love so much.
''

I'd like a more progressive starting point for the spring rate as well, as it feels far too linear for a fork that's best ridden at ten tenths. There's also no way that a zip-tie should ever be able to crack the fork's cable guide, especially one as pricey as the Message.

That brings me to the numbers, which don't exactly go in Trust's favor, do they? I mean, it literally costs twice as much as the best trail riding forks from RockShox, Fox, and all the other guys, but it's not twice as good. Not only that, but it's also considerably heavier. All you need to do is read a comment section under any review to know that numbers matter, regardless of some pretty big performance gains, so I see Trust having an uphill battle with a lot of riders on that front.



Pros

+ Drastically improves your bike's handling
+ Very robust and torsionally rigid
+ The looks
Cons

- Expensive
- On the heavy side for a 130mm fork
- Feels harsh on high-speed compression
- Spring rate will be too linear for many riders
- The looks



Is the Message for you?

Trust's first fork offers some real benefits, but the improvement in how the bike handles, especially through pretty much any type of corner, is by far the most notable advantage. The steeper and rougher the corner, the more you'll gain an advantage from the Message; it really is that noticeable. What it isn't, however, is ultra-plush and supple on the trail in the way that the latest from Fox, RockShox, and the rest of them perform. If your ideal suspension erases every impact no matter how small, and comfort is above speed on your priority list, you probably won't be happy with the Message.

The ideal Message owner is someone who enjoys riding their trail bike fast, and who knows that handling and geometry matter more, at least to them, than having the gooiest suspension. They're probably also just fine with having a fork on their bike that has other riders asking what the hell they're using because that's going to happen every ride.



Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesBottom line, I can't say that the Message is a better option for trail riders than the best from Fox, RockShox, and the rest, as its performance is too compromised for it to make sense for everyone out there. However, the handling benefits can't be denied, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to a rider who knows that forgiving doesn't always equal fast. If that sounds like your jam, and you also like to spend your rides going quickly on a trail bike, the Message might be just the ticket. Mike Levy








352 Comments

  • + 137
 I have been riding the Message pretty damn hard for 6 months now too. One clip for demonstration:

www.instagram.com/p/ByvqMNiH3o1/?igshid=nhwirh524ht3

I have two “Huck Pucks” (tokens) installed per leg and still bottom out the fork regularly (it’s only 130mm, duh), but I don’t call it a harsh feeling. I am amazed and how supportive it is and agree with Levy—this thing is responsive and ready to take a beating.

Lastly, I came from a Fox 36 and would contest that this fork, for me, has floated over square edge bumps better than my 36. It corners better than my 36. And despite being optimized for trail riding, it sure jumps as well as my 36 too.
  • + 27
 Not afraid to send it on that fork, it can take a beating
  • + 19
 Agreed. Seen this fork a lot in action - it can take a hell of a beating and i have no fear to send it to the moon on this thing. The torsional stability is a game changer for trail riding - if you've got the cash then its a game-changing upgrade
  • + 17
 Seeing C.Peper shred in person on this fork was an eye opener. It took some pretty major g-outs without issue. I wouldn’t be opposed to giving it a go but I’m holding out for a longer travel version to pair up with my Evil.
  • + 20
 Jeff Kendall-Weed has some sendy footage on it as well for the curious.
  • + 10
 Not afraid to send it! Fork looks like it was built for shredders
  • + 6
 Pretty good stuff there.
  • + 28
 I've been riding this fork also.
I put this on my hard tail race bike.
I'm coming from a fox 32 (too small for my size at 190lbs).
It is still early days for me but this does everything I wanted it to (dozen rides and still messing with settings).
I've been through many rock gardens (up and down) and while I might say this is "harsh" I would also say I never ever think about hitting a rock. This just eats them up.
The trails Ive been riding are
1) left hand canyon
2) heil valley ranch around boulder

these trails make you understand why they call them the rockies.
  • + 11
 As mike said "this fork is for people who ride a short travel bike hard; who ride it like a long travel bike." That describes you to a tee!
  • + 46
 I've been on the Message for 7 months, during which I've gone back and forth on telescopic forks (FOX 36 and Öhlins TTX).

The big telescopes are plusher and softer on big impacts (duh; the Message is 130mm with ~ 120mm of that travel being vertical). But, for me, the Message out-planes, out-pumps and way out-corners the other forks. As Levy says, going back to the telescope makes the bike feel old fashioned.

As far as "harshness" goes, perhaps the ideal fork for a shreddy rider doesn't erase all trail noise. What if if conveys some energy/info, and this energy/info helps the rider have more fun and ride better? Something like a sports car vs. a grandpa sedan.

Like Levy says, he's feeling more of the trail, but he's riding great.

How cool that Weagle brought this to the world, and we get to talk about it.
  • - 4
flag projectnortheast (Jun 18, 2019 at 9:36) (Below Threshold)
 You ran a 130mm 36? weird... Wink
  • + 7
 I'd say that the axle path of the fork helps a lot in the square edge hits. In the future, I can see big trail weapons taming down from 160mm to something like what the linkage 130mm offers.
  • + 22
 @Milko3D: Thanks man, yeah, I'm fine with going big with this fork!
  • + 10
 So a sponsored rider saying great things about his sponsor ? How surprising

Do you also want to tell us how ENVE stuff is great ?
  • + 22
 @zede: you don't have to listen to what he says, just watch the clips Smile

Those of us who haven't tried anything other than a telescopic fork wouldn't be able to appreciate how this feels without trying anyway.

It's above my budget and beyond my needs. I'm just excited about fresh takes on traditional tech. That's how progress happens. Even if The Message doesn't take over the world, the industry will learn from it and traditional stuff will get better.
  • - 2
 Bottoming regularly and jumping well would seem to be a contradiction.
  • + 6
 @zede: yeah he should probably mention that he's sponsored or an employee in his post.
  • + 4
 @rpet: Well I'm also an engineer, but I didn't mention that.
  • + 23
 @christian-peper21: you aren't actually an engineer unless you constantly tell people you're an engineer.
Source: am engineer
  • + 2
 Doing a G turn on that fork must look strange would like to try it.
  • + 0
 @pinkbike what's up with these shit new pop-up ads for Shimano. Looks profitable!
  • + 3
 @projectnortheast: Good point! I compared the Message with a 150mm 36 and a 160mm TTX. Not fair! Smile
  • + 1
 Best marketing out there!
  • + 5
 @downcountry: @pinkbike I really like them, as far as ads go. Message is to go out and ride, something everyone reading and commenting on Pinkbike articles should do more of. I’m sort of hypocritical writing this, but sort of not cos just got back from an amazing ride, super technical mostly natural trails. Every time I ride it reminds me it’s skill, strength and fitness that determines the outcome of the ride, not kit. So I’m going to do as they say and keep an eye on ‘hours to sunset’.

[and buy Shimano of course! Ha, only kidding.... you’ll have fun whoever made your cogs.]
  • + 1
 @Socket: @christian-peper21:
Hey I fix y’alls mistakes....
  • + 9
 I haven’t had a chance to ride this yet, but I wouldn’t doubt that this could be the future. In the late 90’s a bunch of guys at the shop I worked at sweared by the linkage fork of the time. I rode theirs a few times, and the handling was great for the time, it just didn’t match the damping of what else was available. But it did make everything else feel like a noodle torsionally, so stiff and cornered so well. The only thing that matched it in that regard back then was the Headshock.
With DW doing the design and my happiness with his rear suspension designs, I would bet that this could finally be the beginning of linkage forks being recognized as a legitimate direction to pursue. I may not be rushing out to buy one, but I definitely am keeping an eye on this fork.
  • + 5
 @zede: Sponsored or not, it’s a statement of fact. He’s got the video proof to back up that statement.
  • + 6
 @DRomy: pretty much any sponsored rider can state the product he/she is riding is the best and show a random video of him riding. (Also I'm not sure how riding in the middle of bmx says a fork is great ?)

The review is already mostly positive, the comments of non sponsored people/dentists who ride it are also positive, so no need for hidden advertising in the comments.
  • + 4
 @jorgeposada: they actually g-turn very well, better than a telescopic fork I’ve found!
  • + 4
 @zede: Correct. I'm sure BMXers will ride those jumps smooth as. Footage riding through rock garden or root tangle would be a better demonstration of fork performance.
  • + 3
 @Milko3D: That doesn't tell anything about the fork though.
Jeff Kendall-Weed can ride well on any component that isn't a catastrophic disaster. Give him a 5 year old entry level Pike and he will probably send it just as much.
  • + 1
 @Ttimer: It's just fun to watch and yeah, if someone like Jeff rides it at full speed through the rough, jumps and drops stuff...then it would surely be okay for my level of riding.

Does it not give you at least a little bit of confidence seeing Tues being thrown down crazy Rampage runs and not breaking in half?
  • + 4
 @Milko3D: I don't like that analogy.

Sam Hill on a Kids Bike will be faster down an EWS track than i would be on my trailbike. By that logic a Kids Bike should be all i ever need for my level of riding.
  • + 3
 @Ttimer: Let's not look into it too much, the clips are fun. You can still dislike the fork.

For the record, I'm sure I'm gonna smoke Sam Hill if he was on a *kids tricycle*. Whenever you're ready, Mr. Hill. Big Grin
  • + 1
 @aliclarkson: Not too worried was thinking how funny it would look. I G turn just about everything on 2 wheels, moto's , DH bikes , no brakes etc. Still trying to figure how to do it in my car.
  • + 1
 @leelikesbikes: TTX is the shock. RXF is the fork.
  • + 79
 Thanks for the very detailed write-up, Mike. Too early/rich for my blood, but it looks like this has potential to spark some real innovation in MTB engineering. It's refreshing next to other recent "feats", such as NX cassettes.
  • + 26
 Basically what I got out of the review: Wait for an improved second generation to come out, and then buy this fork.
  • + 89
 @endurocat: Nah, there are some big drawbacks with the Message, especially how harsh it feels. And I say multiple times that it costs twice as much and isn't twice as good. What it does is really, really neat, but I suspect that the majority of riders would still be better served with a telescoping fork at this point. "Bottom line, I can't say that the Message is a better option for trail riders than the best from Fox, RockShox, and the rest, as its performance is too compromised for it to make sense for everyone out there." It's certainly a good choice for some riders, though.
  • + 32
 Agreed - this is opening up a lot of new avenues for bike design/performance. Geometry rules - I ride a Process 111, which in terms of suspension design (downright primitive), plushness (it only has 111mm of rear travel...), and weight (it's _heavy_) should be shit - but the geometry, along with it being stout enough not to go all wobbly on my 220# ass, make it a joy to ride (and found the industry following in its footsteps for years and years).

One of the biggest things about progressive geometry is that you can actually get your weight forward to get some traction from your front wheel without killing yourself - and from what @mikelevy says above, the Trust puts that effect on steroids by not having the front divebomb into turns and upsetting your fore/aft balance. Since that railing turns thing is one of the things that really lights me up about riding, that gets my attention.

As a product, this is probably about $1k and two years of maturation (in terms of servicability, proven reliability, set-and-forget ease of use and such) away from where I'd buy one - but when I'm ready for my next bike two years from now (yep, not an early adopter...), I'm sure I'll take a very hard look.

Go Dave Weagle - way to fly your engineering freak flag proudly!
  • + 34
 @endurocat: That was in no way a glowing review of the fork, if you read even 25% of the article you can see there are big pros and cons.
  • + 36
 @endurocat: you're an idiot. He said throughout that it wasn't as good as a telescoping fork but there were surprising benefits. For every 1 pro, he gave about 2 cons. From an engineering perspective, the concept holds water. A dynamic axle-path throughout compression will benefit handling. To me, it was an unbiased assessment. Also, the world needs out-of-the-box thinkers like Trust to advance technology. Although this fork may not fly off the shelves in the near future, the concept will probably evolve.
  • + 31
 @mikelevy: is a $10,000 race trim bike thrice as good as a $3,000 base model? Or to go even further, is a $6,000 "name brand" bike from a shop twice better than a $3,000 direct to consumer bike? Is a Fox 36 Factory at $1,100 almost twice as good as a $600 Marzocchi or X-Fusion?

No. No. No. So by your logic no one should buy a Factory 36 or a Santa Cruz CC R (or whatever their stupid expensive top trim is) model.

The price should not be counted as a con. Mountain biking has a massive range of prices, and the high end stuff never has a linear price-to-betterness ratio. People who can afford a $10K Cannondale will buy it over the $5K version because they want either those marginal gains or like the looks or cachet, or both. I don't think they have any illusions that it's twice better.
  • + 31
 @just6979: So basically you want PB to ignore price and give everything a Doug Score?
  • + 4
 @mikelevy: Have you tried making the bike(s) more compliant via tire pressures/inserts, spoke tension, grips, gloves...? A super stiff chassis + a lagless (or at least close to) hydraulics sounds very good for energy transmission Big Grin

Maybe people will start questioning whether to go soft on tyres/grips/wheels/etc now - trading NVH for rigidity.
  • - 6
flag just6979 (Jun 18, 2019 at 9:06) (Below Threshold)
 @ninjatarian: no, but the "twice the price but not twice as good" argument is f*cking stupid and should either never be used (the correct choice) or be applied consistently to everything (wrong choice, but would basically mean price is a con on any bike over approx $4K, double con around $6k, and triple con up around $8-9k)
  • + 22
 @just6979: I usually don't count price as a con as its different for everyone. In this case, though, I think it's worth mentioning.
  • + 12
 @ninjatarian: Ha, Doug Scores! So good
  • + 4
 @Lwerewolf: Can't really go lower with tire pressure, but it's something to keep in mind.
  • + 40
 Agreed. This is grade A1 Pinkbike content. Super thorough and well written.

Regarding the amount of damping: In my past 7 months on the fork I too thought maybe it was overdamped because of the amount of noise that was coming through the fork. Multiple times, I've done full bracketing sessions (this graphic shows how bracketing works www.leelikesbikes.com/wp-content/050307bracketing.jpg).

I expect these sessions to end with me at wide open compression and rebound but, amazingly, I keep ending up in the middle of the adjustment range, very close to the suggested setting.

This exercise is a great way to find a setting that fits your needs. For me, that's a good mix of comfortable, lively, fun and yet controlled and confidence inspiring.

As Levy said: The Message does not feel like a telescope. To get the most from it, you need to focus on the overall performance/character of the ride — best accomplished with back to back runs while paying attention to details — not making the Message feel like your old fork.

Fun!
  • - 7
flag just6979 (Jun 18, 2019 at 10:10) (Below Threshold)
 @mikelevy: mention, sure. Bullet point it as a con, not so sure.
  • + 4
 The real question is: is it faster?
  • + 6
 @mikelevy @Lwerewolf - this is early days for this concept, so I'm sure we'll see a fair bit of progress over time to make headway in the alleviating harshness department without sacrificing the benefits in maintaining geometry. From this review, and what else I've seen in other places, it sounds as though the harshness is a comfort thing, rather than a bouncing-all-over-the-place on rough surfaces thing. As in, it affects rider comfort (not a trivial thing, as that impacts how well we ride, how long we can keep it pinned, and how much fun we have) - but it doesn't sacrifice traction and control on rough surfaces (like a too harshly sprung suspension often does, whether on bikes on motos or cars). If that's the case, then improving comfort is probably a matter of damper tuning - and that would be good news, because if early adopters could buy a comfort upgrade in a year or two with a more evolved damper, it would go a long way to alleviate their concerns about investing in an early stage product like this.

Since this thing is already thinking outside the box, though - I wonder if there are ways to alleviate harshness that won't impact geometry and control. For example, what if there were some sort of suspension bushing incorporated somewhere in the design not to introduce more travel into the system, but to isolate the rider from some of the hard chatter/vibration? In windsurfing, we use tendons made from polyurethane (same stuff you'd see in skateboard trucks) as a compromise between the full-on rigidity of a mechanical universal joint (unbelievably harsh and unforgiving) and a soft rubber u-joint (horribly spongy and imprecise).
  • + 12
 @ninjatarian: Doug Score: styling 6, acceleration 8, handling 10, fun factor 6, cool factor 10, features 6, comfort 2, quality 6, practicality 5, value 1

Total 60
Same as the Cadillac CT6 or 911 Speedster.
  • + 6
 @leelikesbikes: ha ha this is a standard binary search tree invented by Thomas Hibbard in 1962.
So the concept has been around longer than dirt or at least me :^)
  • + 7
 @mikelevy:
The Trust is probably harsher due to 1. Constant trail means as soon as there’s a steer angle and lateral force, you create massive torque on the handlebars. Telescoping forks lose trail as you turn so torque and feedback reduces.
2. The Trust doesn’t bind-there’s only kinematics and very little compliance so every single longitudinal force input on the hub got transferred directly to the handle bar. Telescopic fork binding does absorb this as a kind of hub compliance.
3. There’s significant damper lever ratio on the Trust so stiffer valvings for a given amount of damping force on the hub. Telescopic fork 1:1 lever ratio would have softer valves.

My 0.02.
  • - 2
 @just6979: this review was glowing while walking on eggshells maybe I'm just over reading. Parts of the fork unscrewed themselves a part of the fork broke. People complaint about the price of some things and it's stupid but this is a product that costs double the cost of a high end fork after they nocked the price of a decent fork off of it.On top of that the fork seems to bottom out to easily and feel to harsh and weighs more than other forks and I guess may be to rigid also you can't even take it apart. I like the concept but price does need to factor.
  • + 3
 @yupstate: Pros and Cons = choices to make, rather than cons with quality. It's nice to have choices, almost everything on the market works and looks the same.
  • + 1
 @acali: New or old Speedster?
  • + 1
 @g-42: Linkage forks have been around since the 80s. Longer on motorbikes. So have size constrained short stroke shocks.
It's not like there is a whole new frontier to explore.
  • + 2
 @MatthewCarpenter: I second this.
Great video and article. Mike did back to back tests which was good to see and did a great job at giving us a sense of the differences, but at no time was a stopwatch used which I think is a huge missed oppertunity.

Comparisions of which is faster and where would have been a very good addition to both video and article. (or perhaps a seperate video is coming??? @mikelevy )
  • + 4
 @Ttimer: Telescopic forks for MTBs have been mainstream for decades, and as a result today's forks are the result of decades of very focused development. That makes them a highly evolved product - as evidenced by the fact that there are tons of very good forks out there, and that progress from one product cycle to the next is rather incremental (not insignificant - but definitely a matter of refinement over time, rather than big differences). In contrast, linkage forks actually sold for MTB over the decades since the 80s must number in the what, dozens? As in, dozens of individual forks, not dozens of models. So yes, they've been around for a long time - but the concept is in its infancy in terms of development. Meaning if the first mainstream consumer market telescopic fork is doing this well, I'd hold out some hope for where this thing will go. There are a lot of variables to play with on this - it's almost like it's a whole new frontier in front suspension... Wink
  • + 4
 @Konda: Yup, 100% agree with that. We'll be doing a lot more 'bro science' testing in the future with timing Smile
  • + 1
 @g-42: Agree, I rode an AMP fork for a while back in the 90's and I liked it in the time of universally bad forks. But even the final development of the AMPs with the extended travel and twin dampers never looked like anything beyond what the crudest prototypes of these modern linkage forks look like, and the AMP thru-shaft dampers were comically crude. The potential with some more development is huge for linkage forks.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: In the end, it's still a fork with an linear air spring.

Pinkbike commenters are always pretending spring shocks and forks are better because they are linear and they don't heat up on longer downhills.
In forks, the heat usually dissipates better than in shocks, but some say that the heat built up is still noticeable in a fork when doing a long downhill.

I don't feel it in a shock nor in a fork so I don't really care, but i'm curious if you have done long downhill on this fork, and if so, if you have noticed whether the fork was feeling stiffer at the end ?
  • + 43
 The 250 hour service interval is so underrated. Consider that the 34 has a 30 hour lower service interval (approx £50 charge) and a 100 hour damper service interval (£100 charge) then if you follow those service intervals as Fox insist then the 34 will require £450 of servicing by the time you have ridden it for 250 hours. In the UK Upgrade offer the first service for free so after 500 hours of riding you should have spent £900 on servicing your fork. Now the price difference doesn't seem so drastic...
  • + 13
 Yeah if you cant do basic maintenance on your bike, you will pay someone else to do it, and it will cost. Mind blown..
  • + 10
 Fox does not have a 30 hour service interval for anything any more. Its 125 hours ride time, a full service. In the real world, once a year or every other year. Service interval chart at bottom of page - www.ridefox.com/service.php?m=bike&ref=topnavservice
  • + 37
 Seems to me like those who want to play with expensive toys should check this one out, and the boys ballin on budgets should sit tight. Nothing wrong with either camp, it’s cool it’s see things shaken up and also rad to see people willing to support someone doing things different. Thanks for the solid review @mikelevy
  • + 17
 Bang-on, that about sums it up.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: for those of us playing 'downunder'..... the argument is skewed the way of a air ticket to pretty much any MTB destination in the world including sundries and accomodation..... apparently our bike industry thinks that $3300 AUD is a sale price (exch swap $2269 USD) and a great deal (ref: www.bikesportz.com.au/shop/trust-performance/1119 ) ....great review by the way, will have to wait till that kidney I have listed on ebay sells ,, great in-depth review the whole concept and internals, thought that went into development is amazing.. off to have a spin on my wifes vintage AMP F4 fork for some linkage nostalgia
  • + 31
 I don't give a shit what it looks like. I will ride the ugliest thing in the world if it makes the difference between pedaling and transcendent dirt adventure. Additionally, no amount of good looks can make up for mediocrity.
  • + 1
 When using that argument, you must consider that virtually no fork on the market is “mediocre” compared to where we came from in the last 15 years. Forks today are all amazing, frankly, and it’s a tough argument to agree with when you factor in price.
  • + 9
 @bubbrubb: people keep saying that, but I don't really believe it. Year of release is always filled with people having setup issues. Second year and suddenly it's all about the best place to modify it so it works decently well. Next of course is the newest release with the better damper or air spring (or both in one year)... Rinse and repeat. Some of it is to generate sales and some of it is true. And yet, they somehow won't make a csu that doesn't creak!
  • + 8
 @bubbrubb: I reckon once the details are sorted out this will be similar to the when we ditched our awesome v-brakes for disc. Took a bit to relearn braking and the early disc brakes weren’t the best but clearly some real advantages the old technology couldn’t provide
  • + 2
 @bubbrubb: A rockshox sektor isn't worth it's weight as A boat anchor , roughly 70% of suspension now is better than anything from the 90s

but only 20% of bikes carry that 70% of goodness
  • + 1
 That’s how I choose my women.
  • + 2
 see also: dropper seatposts, tubeless tires, clipless pedals.
  • + 30
 Cornering blahblahblah...
Looks blahblahblah
Geometry blahblahblah...

Alright you've done the big trail bike test last fall, you know what we care about. Where is the slow motion footage of Adam doing the huck to flat test?
  • + 21
 Soooon. His ankles might still be healing from last year.
  • + 5
 @vinay you may want to watch the video
  • + 27
 With all the tedious incremental improvements in drivetrain, wheels, shocks, fork offsets... it's nice to finally somebody shake things up! Of all the "innovations" rolled out each year, this fork is probably the first one i would grab for a test.
Everything about it makes me curious.
(and screw the looks. 6 years ago the only forks with black stanchions were cheap Suntours. It was almost a mark of shame. Fast forward a few years, and the fashion's all reversed. it's a bike, not a boob job).
  • + 24
 Do appreciate the way you highlighted pros and cons while consistently relating them to your individual rider physical characteristics and preferences. Hopefully the discerning reader can then make the choice
  • - 7
flag WAKIdesigns (Jun 18, 2019 at 8:16) (Below Threshold)
 Because we all make informed, rational decisions when buying an aftermarket fork. That’s like assuming that we don’t like the stock forks that came with our bikes anymore because our knowledge has increased. This fork is like buying Miyata for family trips across the country. May not be the most practical but it’s not what it is about. I’d still respect that more than buying Volkswagen Sharan. Good shot by Mike but Clarksonistic first ride review is enough for this sort of thing.
  • + 5
 I mean... reviews like this of a thing like that are more of entertainment for folks who want to know what to think about that fork rather than for folks who consider buying one... it just messes up so much with the brains of the first group that they just need some sort of interpretable assurance of their initial reaction to it. Or to feel better about changing their mind. Reviewtainment. But Mike did a good honest job no doubt about it.
  • + 18
 Classic engineer talk from DW. Levy and everyone else "feels harsh like it has too much compression" . Engineer "shut up, we know what you need and you don't know what you like"

Overall interesting design and possible upsides in geometry, but unless they take a less harsh approach to how the fork feels in practice it is doubtful they will gain traction.
  • + 13
 Mike, it all depends on how you want your bike to perform. Like Levy says, it's going to be a little more harsh in terms of comfort. But if you want your suspension to aid in control more than in comfort, then it's a great set up. When Levy said it's great for riders who use a short travel bike like a long travel bike, and send it big, I'd have to agree with him. This is why I've liked it so much on my agro mini HD4 set up.
  • + 3
 @JeffWeed: great feedback Jeff. My thought is always how to drive adoption (part of what I do at work). A more traditional feel would mean faster adoption.
  • + 2
 Except that's not what he said. He effectively said "I won't argue that you're feeling it, but it's not what you think it is."
  • + 2
 @JeffWeed: you could make the same argument for a hardtail harsher but more control over the bike. This is a funny conversation for me as I ride mostly hardtails and I'm hearing arguments we make all the time as well as the it's not harsh you just need to change your riding i.e. Your not riding it right.
  • + 3
 @loganflores: not the same argument at all - a hardtail is harsher and harder to ride with worse performance over full suspension (due to lack of rear wheel traction). The Trust sacrifices some comfort for an increase in performance...
  • + 1
 @catton6183: the argument I was making was in reference to Jeffs comment on control over comfort. But for your comment A hardtail may be harsher to ride in some aspects but the idea that it inherently has worse performance neglects all the negative aspects of a full suspension and ignores all the positive aspects of a hardtail. Your putting comfort and traction over weight bike handling and power transmission. Most people who sh#t talk hardtails either haven't ridden them ever or haven't ridden well setup ones at least in my experience. Hardtails are inherently more efficient in many situations. Just as higher tire pressures are more efficient.
  • + 16
 @mikelevy: Do you think that the current trend for slacker headtube angles is due to having longer suspension forks that drastically increase our headtube angle when we are in the roughest section of trails?

I think with that in mind it really makes linkage forks much more appealing to me than before I realized that the HA was actually slacking out with the Trust fork when going into it's travel. It does seem like linkage forks could be the future of mountain biking.

I also am curious as to why the Girvin Proflex linkage design isn't still a popular way to make a linkage fork, it seems like it could be made to accept something like a rear suspension shock into it while providing the user with a ton of adjustability in fork trail and users could put coils on their fork to brag how heavy their bike is. . .
  • + 17
 Totally agree on this. The whole reason the bike industry is 'chasing stability' with longer and slacker bikes is that telescopic forks under-perform in that regard. With a fork that increases trail through the travel (i.e. the Message) this is no longer a requirement - meaning that bikes could in theory get shorter again and be more fun to ride instead of just being designed to plough through everything
  • + 9
 The head angle isn't "slacking out" when the Trust goes through the travel, but trail is increasing. This combined with the head angle getting steeper maintains the steering feel (slacker head tube and longer trail both slow down the steering, so getting them to change in opposite directions means the things they overlap on will change zero\less.
  • + 3
 @just6979: well spotted!
  • + 0
 @just6979: Effective Headtube Angle
  • + 2
 @unrooted: No such thing. Yes, HA and trail both need to be taken into account for steering feels, but they also both effect other things.
  • - 3
 @just6979: Just as real as ETT.
  • + 2
 @unrooted: just no.

ETT is a single static measurement that just no longer aligns exactly with the frame tubes\structure. Just like reach and stack (although they never directly related to a tube)

"Effective head angle", if it was a real thing, would be dynamic and also wouldn't really tell you anything, since there are combinations on both sides of actual HA and trail that would give the same "EHA" but would feel very very different. Combine that with different offsets and wheelsize, and EHA is too variable to be useful. Even the rate of the dynamic changes would also vary between differences in offset and wheelsize. There is a reason "effective head angle" is never discussed. (Note that this is different than "dynamic head angle", which is the head angle with both ends sagged (including a hardtail with it's zero (or tire only) sag))
  • + 1
 @catton6183: Although, the Message keeps trail consistent at the expense of the front center measurement.

On the original Girvin forks they had a sort of J-shaped axle path, with the axle traveling back and then up, somewhat like the Message fork, again with claimed benefits over a telescopic fork. People complained that, on steep descents, it felt like the wheel was tucking back under you making endos more likely. Granted that was with a 135mm stem, so we have more margin for error now, but it could still be of concern when pushing toward the limit of going over the bars. Girvin switched to a more vertical axle path on later models, to mimic a telescopic fork and alleviate those concerns.

The rearward travel of the message will also potentially negatively affect front center:rear center weight distribution, which people have been paying a lot more attention to lately.

I'm not saying that the pros don't outweigh the cons. I'm just saying that in preserving trail on the Message, they are robbing from Peter to pay Paul. A more holistic solution is something like Structure is doing (structure.bike), where they increase trail as the fork compresses by slackening the head tube angle, thus preserving trail while not stealing from the front center length. The downside is that it requires a whole dedicated chassis, it looks crazy (although the Message does too), and we don't know if they have executed the whole concept well yet as there are very few reviews out there, but that is ultimately a more promising direction I think when it comes to geometry preservation throughout the suspension travel.
  • + 2
 @thekaiser: Good thought on the front-rear weight distro, though I'm not sure it's any worse than a telescoping fork, especially with the slack head angles we've got now. I've got 160mm at 65 degrees, which would put the wheel somewhere around 50mm or more closer to the center, which is pretty significant. Pretty sure the Message isn't moving the wheel backwards _that_ much.
  • + 12
 I wonder if making a second generation a bit less stiff (and probably lighter as a result) could take away some of that harshness. That'd knock two big cons off of the list.

I'm definitely not an engineer, let alone Dave Weagle, so I should probably keep my mouth shut, but these are the PB comments after all Wink
  • + 3
 Two big cons off, and perhaps also the one big pro...
  • + 12
 Mike's comment about the fork working great for aggressive short travel bikes is spot on! I've been riding the 130 fork on an HD4 set up with a limited stroke shock (same eye to eye, shorter stroke) that has 136mm of rear travel. This has resulted in a bike that's not overkill for most average trails, but is still ready for bigger, gnarlier steeper stuff. I've really enjoyed this set up! www.instagram.com/p/Bv1zAQwH7Pv
  • + 12
 I've been lucky enough to demo this fork for two days - and would agree with this article in many regards. The scenarios where it excelled were cornering, technical climbing, stoppies (!) and jumps (something I wish the review talked about).

It did feel a bit harsh over high speed chatter - and drops and impacts were more felt more the arms, but cornering is probably the most fun thing you do on a bike (for me anyway), and the fact that cornering is just so good on this fork makes it all worth it!

As a last point I don't subscribe to the notion that expensive products should be more durable - that's not the case in any other industry.
  • + 15
 On a scale of one to Ron Jeremy how stiff would you say the chassis is?
  • + 46
 Ron Jeremy with rigor mortis.
  • + 6
 @mikelevy: after a blue pill overdose Big Grin
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: That impresses me about this fork, it seems like the solution we need to inherently weak single crowns.
  • + 11
 People can disagree, but, from a design perspective, this is beautiful fork. As understated as a linkage fork can be, yet it still looks burly and aggressive. It seems that most of the opinions stating otherwise are more happening because it doesn't look like a "normal" fork, which seems to be a pretty limiting perspective when it comes to progression.
  • + 10
 I have been riding the Message since October of 2018 and there is a learning curve for sure. Now I feel like its the best fork I have ever ridden. Setup is key! Take your time dial it in and you will feel the "Trust Effect". I could not be happier with this fork. Weighing in at 220+ the Message rides like a dream. The team that built this fork are some of the most innovative people in the industry and who is going to invest the R&D into something that everyone has been saying for years, a linkage fork is far superior to a traditional fork. If the Price is bothersome quit talking about it and ride your traditional fork. Trust the Message.
  • + 11
 That Pinkbike's Take didn't leave me satisfied at all! Now I gotta read the whole damn thing. Sneaky Pinkbike, sneaky..
  • + 5
 My bad.
  • + 9
 It's like is the way to go to boost your trail bike to enduro level... Well done guy. Looking forward for it. Always wanted a trailbike that doesn't sucks geo in certain moments...
  • + 10
 Exactly! It won't turn your trail bike into a "racing couch" of plushness, but it will allow you rally that trail bike super hard down some really gnarly stuff without going OTB. I've loved that I can have a short travel bike that doesn't feel "over biked" for easier trails, but is so ready and adept for the gnarlier stuff.
  • + 8
 I have had quite a few rides on this fork and I have been pleasantly surprised.The big take away for me is the improved front end traction. I noticed it right away. There are times on a traditional fork in loose corners when I feel like the front end is going to slip out on me, but on the Trust fork I feel like I had better traction which resulted in improved confidence and better corner speed. I realize that I'm just one small voice here but I really like it. I think it should be ridden before making any judgments either way.
  • + 7
 Right on man! It almost feels like you can push the front end in corners as hard as you can push the rear end.
  • + 3
 @JeffWeed: I'm a above average rider and I know my corner speed has increased due to just confidence knowing that the front end is not going to skip out as easily. Along with what you are saying I find I can really push the front hard and get more aggressive in the corners. Again maybe not for everyone, but I really like this fork.
  • + 8
 So here's the question this review leaves me with. If less sinking of the front in corners, less stinkbug effect, is the great benefit. Doesn't an increase of low speed compression on a regular fork do the same thing, bringing the same benefits and at the same cost (more harshness)? Is this review one big advert for running more low speed compression on your fork? Or is the extra torsional stiffness what really makes a difference?
  • + 7
 That question makes sense and I should have clarified. With a telescoping for you're over-pressurizing or over-damping it to preserve the bike's handling. The Message can use its travel but retain consistent handling.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: but it's NOT using its travel--it's not as compressed as the Fox on the same impacts. So the review ends up looking like it's comparing forks with different amounts of actual travel used. If you'd have to over-pressurize or over-damp the Fox to get the same effect, so what? You've still saved a lot of money and weight for the same result. And if you'd choose not to set the Fox up that way, that's a huge strike against the Trust--i.e., it can't behave the way you'd prefer.
  • - 1
 @phile99: I just wanted to write the same thing. If preserving the geometry in the expense of plushness is the main objective then just add some more air and compression to your existing fork and save 1.000$!

The only thing that sounds interesting is the fact that as it compresses the trail increases but it isn't enough to make me spend that much money.

Plus it looks terrible. Sorry..
  • + 5
 @gpgalanis @phile99: I think you're confused. He is comparing a 130mm Fox 34 to the 130mm Trust fork. The Trust can be run with regular settings, and maintain damping and the geometry of the bike all through its travel. A fox 34 would have to have heaps of low speed compression on, and likely more air pressure to keep the bikes geometry by essentially not being able to compress. It would essentially have to be locked out to achieve the feeling of a Trust fork, but then it would have no traction because it is not using any travel to absorb whatever is in its way.
  • + 1
 @leon-forfar: The Trust fork maintains the bike's geometry but isn't plush while the 34 does the opposite.

Can I make the 34 maintain the bike's geometry? Of course by adding more air and some compression. Does this mean the the fork will be unrideable if I go let's say from 30% sag to 20% sag? I doubt it and the same applies if I add some clicks of compression.

Will it be exactly the same as the Trust fork? Most probably not but it will be good enough (for me) and I will save some money in the process. Unless of course our existing telescopic forks have become obsolete because a new design has been introduced.

Anyway despite my opinion about the Trust fork it is great to see companies challenge the existing status quo but when you ask double the price then you need to be much better than the existing options.
  • + 2
 @leon-forfar: If you watch the video, you'll see that the Trust doesn't use as much of its travel on the same section of trail. That *could* easily explain all of the reported differences in how they ride--harsher, better geometry, better handling. (There may be more to it than that, but there's no way to know.)
  • + 2
 @phile99: I did watch, and I saw that. I meant that it still works to some degree, vs a Fox 34 that would be basically unrideable to achieve the same principle. The Trust may use less of its travel, but it is using some. The Fox would have to be locked out to give you the same "performance" gain (maintaining geometry) as the Trust, which would mean it would not provide any damping and skip over everything you would have next to no grip. I would argue it would feel harsher than the Trust if set up to achieve the same goal. I think the Trust philosophy would be better suited to longer travel forks, as you would have more travel to work with, especially when the damper is revised after some iterations.I bet it would work amazingly well for racers not looking for comfort, as Mike basically stated.
  • + 4
 I came to say exactly this. This fork seems really interesting, but I'm a bit thrown by the harshness described in the review. (Excellent review by the way. Longer than usual and I thought I might not read the whole thing, but ended up both reading it fully and then watching the video because there was so much good info in both. Honestly. Two thumbs up!)

What I was left unsure about however was whether the harshness was simply down to the spring/damper settings, or if it was somehow inherent to the linkage. This was touched on when Levy said even when set up soft the Trust felt harsh, but I'd like to know more. As @DavidGuerra said, it'd be interesting to see a similar comparison between the Trust and a Fox 34, set up "overdamped". Perhaps with a coil spring too, to better match the more linear (and heavier) Trust. Would the Fox then maintain geo similarly to the Trust, or would it do it differently/better/worse? Would the traits due to the increasing trail of the Trust be allowed to shine through with the damping better matched, or is it the difference in damping that provides most of the advantages felt when riding the Trust? As a person currently running a coil sprung and overdamped by most peoples standards (I really dislike brake dive, and general geo instability) telescopic fork, I'd love to see this explored. Smile
  • + 3
 Or maybe even compare it to a reduced travel 36, with coil and harder damping, to better match the chassis stiffness of the Trust too. But then again, getting a 36 modified just for the sake of one test might be a bit excessive.
  • + 1
 @leon-forfar: You certainly could be right. It would have been great if Mike tested that hypothesis.
  • - 2
 @leon-forfar: apparantly the trust needs to be run harsh to not bottom out so what's the difference. If mike has to run harsh settings and 3 tokens how much better is it for twice the price.
  • + 1
 @loganflores: Y'all are missing the point. Running a telescoping fork setup harsh just means it feels harsh. It doesn't magically obtain the handling benefits of the Message.

Message: a little harsh, but with handling benefits. Not comfy, but it is fast and very in control.
Telescoping fork set up "normally": feels good, but with some handling drawbacks. Fairly comfy, but without the speed and control benefits.
Telescoping fork set up "harsh": feels harsh, and still has the same handling drawbacks. Not comfy, and without the speed and control benefits.
  • + 1
 @ReddyKilowatt: fair enough good explanation. I would still argue that the area in which the message seems to shine is not a whole lot of your ride time compared to some of the drawbacks. I would say people should keep an open mind to riding completely differently and dropping pre conceived notions but this fork doesn't seem worth the price and this review showed a lot of issues I as a production manager would have been embarrassed about especially for the price now and original price.
  • + 2
 @ReddyKilowatt: So isn't a plush ride one of the main handling benefits of forks in general?

Suspension setup is a compromise and it seems that both the telescopic forks and the linkage forks offer some benefits but none offers all of them so it comes down to personal preference. And budget.
  • + 1
 @ReddyKilowatt: How do you know that?
  • + 2
 @ReddyKilowatt: I would have liked Levy to have tried setting up the Fox fork to make it feel harsher, like the Message does, then compare performance again.
  • + 2
 @ReddyKilowatt: That's the crux of this debate. One side of the argument is that the Trust has inherent handling benefits over a telescoping fork. (This side is based on the theory behind the fork's design, I assume, plus the positive things Mike reported about the fork.) The other side is that MAYBE the benefits Mike noticed were due to the slacker dynamic head angle and higher front end--things that will always happen if you use less travel.

Mike Levy, @11:15, talking about the Fox: "It's using a lot more of its travel, and that means that the bike is doing this more [stinkbug hand gesture] ... It means the angles of the bike are changing more; the handling is changing."

Talking about the Trust: "It's staying up higher in its travel ... You could see the attitude of the bike is changing less; the angles are changing less ... that means the handling stays more consistent. It was rougher with the Trust fork, but I had more confidence."

From the text: " the Message acts like there might be too much high-speed compression damping for my liking, with more harshness..."

It would have been really helpful to do a few runs with more spring/tokens and/or damping in the Fox--it would have addressed a HUGE confounding variable. He tried making the Trust softer, but it bottomed out too much--but he didn't try making the Fox stiffer. Obviously he knows exactly how he likes to set up a 34, but tweaking the setup would have been informative. For that particular short section of trail, maybe he would have liked the 34 with a stiffer setup.
  • + 4
 @phile99: I also think the big factor is that the Fox will decrease the trail number as it goes through its travel, which gives is the feeling of your head angle getting steeper, vs the opposite with the Trust. The axle doesn't travel in a straight line and increases the trail (feels like head angle gets slacker) which is likely where the stability and increase in confidence/ traction comes from.
  • + 3
 @leon-forfar: Yeah, that's the theory. I assume it's not all bullshit--Weagle has a good reputation.
  • + 8
 This was an exceptionally well written review; thorough and fair. Great job Mike!

It is rare that a product and its review could turn the industry on end. This could be one of those instances. If this review had been shorter, less scientific,or less passionate, the product might have slipped out of the spotlight. But I don't see that happening this time. I predict this is only the beginning. I truly hope this fork continues to to evolve and comes down in price. If what you're describing is true, there's definitely use cases where this thing will crush the competition.
  • + 8
 I'm a sucker for new shit...carbon wheels, new frame, carbon cranks, bars, 12sp, whatever. No I'm not a f*cking dentist. I just like bikes and I don't have kids so that helps. If it'll make my bike lighter, or possibly make me faster without sacrificing too much durability I'll spend the money. Has any of that shit actually done that? Probably not to be honest. When this fork dropped I ordered it the next day. I've got over 250 hours on it now, all in Sedona, and I just got it back from service. It's been flawless. I've owned just about every iteration of 34, 36, lyrik, pike etc etc from the last 15 years an all of those recent models are awesome forks, but I've, literally, NEVER purchased a product that has made such a difference in my ability to go faster. It's not plush, but I wouldn't exactly call it harsh either. Nothing you know applies to this fork and how it works. Forget it all. You can place your front wheel anywhere and it tracks in the roughest shit. Last I checked I don't hear race car drivers complaining their suspension is too stiff. Their goal is go faster in corners and exit with more speed. If you value that then this fork is for you.

Back to it being harsh...I have a terrible wrist injury from 10 years ago, still ride with a brace. I lost 70% of motion in my right wrist. I used to struggle to ride back to back days with regular forks. The message isn't plush but it doesnt hurt my wrist like every other set up I've had and I'm considerably faster. I can't really explain why it doesnt hurt my wirst, but if you want to go faster and can afford it, buy one. If you cant that's fine, too. There are so many good forks and products in general today it's insane. It's never been a better time to be a mtn biker.
  • + 6
 "Turns out, we're so accustomed to our bikes stinkbug-ing all the time that we might not even realize it's happening" 30 years riding 90% fully rigid and that is exactly how I feel whe I use a traditional fork... I would love to try a Trust fork using one of those new Zipp mtb wheels, seems like an onteresting combo
  • + 8
 Awesome review Mike! Haven't ridden one yet, but hoping to soon, as it sounds like an interesting concept that you just have to try to get a feel for.
  • + 6
 I've been on The Message for about 6 months now and love it. When I look at a bike with a traditional telescoping fork, they look old, ha! But the ride is worth it for me. On my second ride, I got PRs on the downhill AND uphill sections. The fork is a great technical climber because it will roll over everything in its path so easily. Yeah, drops to flat are kind of harsh. But for me and most of my riding, this fork is awesome!
  • + 6
 For anyone concerned about stiffness, I’ve run this thing with 180 PSI in one side and 0psi in the other and the damn thing still compressed and tracked straight.

It felt like shit because damping was way off and I should be running 170 in both legs, but that’s a different story. Long story short - I had a problem and Trust took care of me, and holy shit I was impressed by how stiff this thing is even with such uneven pressures.

Honestly I think that with torque caps (or maybe even without) you could run this thing with only one airspring pumped up and it would perform alright. As long as your shock pump goes to 340 psi (or whatever you need) ((probably don’t do this though)).

If you want my full review see the comments in the article about the $725 price drop. TLDR: it’s a dope dope fork and I like it.
  • + 6
 Sounds like this design would work great on a HT. The geometry of the bike changes so much on a HT when going through the travel compared to a FS (where both front and rear can work together). The reason why HT should really only be short'ish travel.
  • + 5
 As an enginerd, I can't help but be fascinated by the idea of a linkage fork. I'd totally put one on my bike.......... but engineers are notoriously cheap. And wow, that is a lot of money. So I'll just admire from afar and type BS into the PB comments section for now.
  • + 5
 So I've been running this fork on a SB100 for two months and absolutely love it. It may seem like a lot of travel for a 100mm bike but I guess that the SB100 is progressive enough that it feels nice and balanced (also its designed for a 120mm fork so not a huge change). I do tend to run the fork a bit softer then their recommendations (I weigh 160 with kit and run 145-150psi instead of the recommended 160psi). Definitely think its the ideal fork for those riders with the downcountry mentality of sending it with shorter travel bikes.
  • + 5
 This fork is really, really cool. How much better can traditional forks get? Certainly there's still room for development, but the returns will be more and more incremental as time goes on. This for represents a fundamental shift away from them. Ultimately, both will probably have their place in the world.
  • + 5
 This fork sounds like its for the rider that runs higher than recommended psi in their suspension. That is probably most of these riders. Also I usually don't send 5 foot to flat drops on trail and would bet most of PinkBike doesn't either. However I do ride rough corners, loose corners, seldom rebuild my suspension, and then go into pitted corners all nose heavy with little of my stanchion left to help. This might just be my fork but I'd want a DW Link bike to put it on. Now the question is which bike? Pivot, Evil, Ibis hmmmmm.
  • + 5
 Gotta say, after watching the video, the looks of that thing are less and less abrasive. Of course that’s how it goes, right? If form truly follows function, we can get used to the form, even if we’re initially not a fan.
  • + 4
 I had a hard time loving DW link at first. I thought it felt harsh. But then I realized how much traction I got and how well it tracked and I got over the "feeling". Just made me think about how I felt about DW link the first few Ibis I rode. Now I'm on a Pivot Mach 6. Maybe I need this fork on a shorter travel bike. Or maybe I don't need a shorter travel bike at all. I'm so confused what the industry is telling me I need right now.
  • + 3
 This fork is best on a shorter travel bike without question. If/when they bring a long travel option to market you'll have that option for your mach 6 or any other big rig. Ive learned that the best bike is the one you have today.
  • + 4
 Great review, it would be fun to personally do that contrast and compare. From an armchair perspective I know I'm not the rider for that fork (even though I'd like to try it as I'm from the Girvin and pro flex generation)

Thanks for putting in the time to produce that video, as a reader here I really appreciate it.
  • + 4
 I've had a couple of short rides on the Trust Fork, and for Northern Utah trails where switchbacks abound it seems like a great setup. I plan to pick one up this summer. If I were speccing a full build with this fork I'c economize a bit on wheels to offset the cost of the fork, and run a more compliant 31.8 carbon handlebar and some cushy grips to minimize the harshness Levy mentioned.
  • + 3
 Thanks Mike for an unbiased informative review.

Gotta admit i'm more intrigued now. The preserved geometry and handling alone are a huge selling point over other forks. Think if they address the cons with the next generation of forks they could really have something.

A 160-170 travel fork, with improved ride quality, progressive spring rate, lighter weight, 1500$ price range ...would be a game changer...

The looks don't really bother me if this thing would be able to perform twice as good as telescoping forks.
  • + 3
 I can't wait to get one of these for my own. I've known the crew and the design for a while now and can't be more stoked for it. For sure the Message is just that, for the riders on short travel bikes that ride them like they are DH bikes. Get your self an Evil Following or Canyon Neuron and a Message and just FN ride. you won't be disappointed.
  • + 3
 @mikelevy

Would you say there is more potential for a fork like this where someone rides less burly trail? Place that's a bit smoother where they really get to take advantage of the trust fork not changing the bikes geo as much?
  • + 3
 @mikelevy thanks for such a detailed review and also some setting starting point for those who want to give it a go. Were you able to self install the huckpuck volume spacers or did that require special tools too? Trust is informing people that you can’t self install them and they require special tools and a visit to a dealer. Some clarification would be rad!
  • + 3
 Long awaited review. I was hoping the riding impressions and performance will be covered much more, I think this fork deserves a lengthy performance review. Even so there are few other reviews and various videos out there as inspiration. Very interesting video is the one with rider hitting a tall curb without actually holding the handlebars where Message equipped bike just smoothly rolls over. I'm going to try it with my Lyrik :-)

Honestly, I am a big fan of this fork, and linkage forks in general. I've become a fan of French MOTION fork after watching some British video review where was claimed that MOTION-RIDE will replace the bushings by standard bearings.
I like that the Message is built on very stiff and strong chassis, the long sloped tube housing the springs and damper. I like the short suspension links and overall burliness of the fork. There is no Alu steerer pressed into carbon crown.
As for its "higher" weight - nobody has noticed that Message's unsprung weight is much much lower than it is at telescopic fork's lowers. You are able to make a long travel fork out of it just by lengthening the suspension links a little bit and the sum weight will be almost unaffected. However, it'll move the fork into Lyrik or FOX 36 category and weight comparison suddenly becomes a bit different !!!

As for the harshness. Its axlepath is more rearward and that's why it needs more of a vertical input to get it moving into travel. And how often is trail fork hucked to flat? Average trail rider will maybe never do such a drops like Mike Levy did in his video. I think Message will allow rider to stay centered over his bike during the drop-to-flat landings because Message keeps it's handling composure (unlike telefork) allowing rider to control the bike immediately after touching down. Telefork needs to rebound after serious impact. And probably one of the main reasons why we move backwards on our bike when doing drops is to keep our distance from front contact patch to gain some margin because telescopic front end is rubbish when in full travel.

A longer section of taller roots, stones, steps is another graveyard of telefork.
For me, the Message would be clear winner performance-wise.
  • + 2
 Simply said, the consistency and behaviour that linkage forks are able to offer will never be achieved by any compromise on teleforks. Personally I would rather buy this fork for 1.500eur and upgraded my old Rune than a replacement frame for my old fashioned Rune.
  • + 2
 You wrote: "I think Message will allow rider to stay centered over his bike during the drop-to-flat landings because Message keeps it's handling composure (unlike telefork) allowing rider to control the bike immediately after touching down. Telefork needs to rebound after serious impact. And probably one of the main reasons why we move backwards on our bike when doing drops is to keep our distance from front contact patch to gain some margin"

It could be that the Message handles way better deep in the travel, due to it's alteration of trail measurement, but it seems like you may not understand how it does that. It isn't magic. Normally, when the front end of the bike dives, like under braking and/or on steep terrain, the head angle steepens, which reduces trail. With a telescopic fork, the fork offset is fixed, so you have a steepening head angle, with fixed for offset, leading to a trail measure that gets lower the more the fork compresses. The message fork compensates this by having a rearward axle path, so as the steepening head angle is reducing your trail, the rearward axle path is increasing it, and hopefully the combination of the two leads to a consistency in handling.

The problem is that, in your scenario of a drop to flat, where you have your weight back because you want to stay behind the front contact patch, the Message fork is preserving the trail measurement by moving the contact patch backwards! In other words, it is decreasing your offset as you go deeper in the travel, which will put more of your weight on the front wheel. In situations where you are trying to lean back on the bike, the Message will make you get even further back to keep the same weight distribution.

In cases where you are landing to flat with equal weight distribution between the wheels, your head angle will not steepen as the rear suspension will be compressing equally to the front, and in that case the trust could offer more stability, as it it would be growing the trail above baseline, rather than simply preserving it (as a telefork would do), but in a flat landing with equal weight distribution the telefork would still not drop below baseline stability levels.
  • + 2
 @thekaiser: No worries. I understand what Message is doing. I wanted to say that thanks to its a nature (it was its purpose) of maintaining front wheel stability throughout its operation the rider can stay centered on his bike even during bigger drops.
Telefork will nicely waste all of its travel, rider will happily enjoy the suppleness of his telefork, but he must significantly move backwards because telefork loses its "ideal" composure which is a situation that you just wish to survive somehow. That's why you want to build some safe-zone buffer b moving you backwards until telefork rebounds and regains its composure.

With Message you are able to control it even immediately after the big landing because it doesn't lose its composure. It's a stiff chassis (unlike telefork) with consistent behaviour (unlike telefork). And that's why you don't need to build that safe-zone buffer. The initial impact may be harsher to the rider than with telefork but overall performance after impact is kept composed.
  • + 2
 @thekaiser: I remember DW saying in one of RideMonkey.com discussions that human rider is sensitive to changes in his relationship to the front contact patch. Moving the front contact patch backwards, towards the rider, may seem as a way of creating problem but the resulting effect on rider seems to be very positive.

It would be very interesting to compare Trust Message with MOTION E18 fork which was developed on different philosophy.
  • + 2
 @fluider: the MOTION E18 fork works on a very different principle. The sole aim of that fork is to eliminate brake dive. In every other scenario it should behave like a telescopic.

The benefit for the MOTION fork is that in theory you could come in faster to corners, brake later and suspension remains active (good for braking bumps etc.). Like ABP or Split Pivot suspension designs but for the front wheel. Additionally, when riding steep terrain where braking is required, you can brake harder and not have to shift weight bias backwards.

But in corners you wouldn't get the same benefit of the Trust - of having a good support without a negative effect on traction (like you would get with a telescopic by running lots of LSC)
  • + 4
 Excellent write up. It's not the best shock absorber but it tracks superior to a telescoping fork. Maybe put bushings in to lower the weight and you have a solid performing XC race fork.
  • + 3
 Hi--Great review Mike. It really gives me a sense of what this fork is and is not doing. I agree with others that it represents a new direction for future designs. I have one question/observation. You wrote: "Trust claims that the linkage creates more stability, which I take to mean more consistent handling, by increasing the trail number as the fork goes into its travel. Because the axle path isn’t a straight line like it would be on a telescoping fork, the Message's offset changes as it goes into its travel. That means that the trail grows, too, which will kinda feel like your head angle is getting slacker, or at least not getting steeper... And that would obviously make your bike feel less twitchy when you’re doing things like braking hard, landing a jump or drop, or nosing into one of those roll-the-dice kinda chutes." Those words don't make complete sense to me. My understanding of this fork is that it is designed to keep the trail the same, or preserve the trail as much as possible, as the fork compresses, as opposed to a telescoping fork, with which the trail will decrease as the fork compresses, because the head angle will grow steeper (leaving the rear suspension out of the equation for the moment). So, with the Message, as the fork compresses, the head angle grows steeper (again, leaving the rear suspension out of the equation), which would have the effect of decreasing trail, but the offset grows smaller, which in isolation would have the effect of increasing trail, but which, combined with the head angle change, works to preserve the trail of the bike. And that makes the bike more stable and predictable, which sounds like what you felt on the trail. Is that correct? If so, this would indicate that the Message fork might be particularly suited for hard tails, because the rear suspension would not be messing with the kinematics, and trail would be preserved. When you throw the rear suspension into the equation, we'd have to say that sometimes the rear suspension would be compressing at the same time as the front suspension, therefore, the head angle would not grow steeper, and when the fork compressed the reduced offset would lead to increased trail...maybe that's what you were trying to get at in the review? In any case, I think the general point that this fork is designed to preserve or maintain trail through the fork travel could be made somewhat more clear. Thanks again.
  • + 3
 For a given bike that’s gone through a certain amount of travel front/back, the message will have more trail than the equivalent telescoping fork.

With a hardtail, the trail will remain the sameish through the travel, vs decreasing trail on a telescoping fork.

With a full suspension, if you compress both the front and rear equally, then trail will increase for the message, vs staying the same for a telescoping fork
  • + 3
 Great review and video, Mike! How does it compare to a Fox fork with Live Valve? I would imagine the Trust would still have the edge on cornering as the trail is less effected, but I'm curious how they would compare at soaking up trail chatter. Granted with the Live Valve, the rear shock also comes into play, but both cost about 2 large, so I'm curious on your take of value of one over the other. I'm not implementing either anytime soon, but considering how close they are on cost, I think this is an interesting juxtaposition.
  • + 2
 It always takes a while to find that compromise point with a telescoping fork, where comfort and control are right where I want them. Getting things right on one type of terrain seems to mess it up for other types of terrain or situations. I typically lean toward a little more control. I'd probably like the Trust, but I'm too cheap. But, it's great that new things are being tried and finding some success. Mountain bike suspension has got to be one of the toughest. You need it light and small, and you have to deal with all sorts of varying conditions. I think the Fox system that adjusts damping characteristics automatically is likely part of the holy grail, as it directly attacks the challenge of those varying conditions. I'm just glad I'm no longer riding elastomer springs with narrow bars and steep head angles.
  • + 1
 At this point, Fox LiveValve is just toggling the lockout on and off automatically, not varying compression damping along a continuum, so in rough downhill terrain I don't expect it will do much to preserve the bike's geometry as the system will tend to be open the whole time, in which case it will ride the same as the same Fox units without LiveValve.
  • + 2
 Remembering this fork also has a linkage driving the spring and damper, to me it sounds like the damping and leverage ratio to air spring force are not quite right to match the Fox 34 in style. e.g. the fork is too progressive midway and not progressive enough at the bottom. Shame this issue has clouded the overall performance of the fork in this comparison. Especially since it could be tuned differently at the design stage.
  • + 4
 The "seemed harsh yet somehow still very supple and composed" (paraphrasing) reminds me of when PB rode Troy Brosnan's sender. I guess speed doesn't always equal comfort.
  • + 4
 I would love to put that fork on my Guerrilla Gravity Pistola with an 11-6 for a day at the bike park. I think it would an awesome combo!
  • + 5
 Did you try this fork on an aggressive geo hardtail? Anybody out there using one on a Nimble 9 / Honzo style hardtail?
  • + 6
 Nope, no hardtails for me. I have to ride/review so many full-suspension bikes and it's hard to switch back and forth to a hardtail... AKA I'm too soft these days haha
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: Getting soft is OK, just make sure you get old in the process.
  • + 5
 I’m running a Message on a plus hardtail (Specialized Fuse), and it’s insanely good. Crazy-good tracking through mess, insane levels of pump and of course the next-level cornering.
  • + 2
 Looking shouldn´t be a Con... they´ve done huge improvement since those mounstruosities appears... Now even many of the PBkers can get used too... the only they should do is to do more of straight line not so forward slacker... this you can even correct it with some clever graphics...
  • + 4
 The fork's appearance is certainly a con for some riders, regardless of if that makes sense or not Smile
  • + 2
 @mikelevy Thanks for the review - enjoyed the read and the vid. A question from pure curiousity: Did you find you had to re-tune the rear end of the bike to get the best out of the platform as a whole when running the trust fork? Or could stay with your standard rear suspension setup? Thanks
  • + 2
 @mikelevy How does the axle-path affect consecutive square-edge hits, like larger roots and rocks? Some suspension designs in the past that had lots of rearwards axle-path were fantastic on the first and maybe second hit, but jarring on consecutive square edges. Is there some of that going on here?
  • + 2
 Why no time comparisons on various sections of trail? Where’s that? My experience on my Trust fork has been that I’m riding FAR faster than usual and can hit sections harder than I would on a standard telescoping fork because, as Mike points out, this thing dramatically improves handling and control. Segment times that took months to beat and hard to even come close to without serious effort on a telescoping fork I PR’d on my first ride with the Trust fork without even getting too deep in the tuning even. Faster by a bit and with going faster, of course the fork isn’t gonna eat it all up so yeah I can see how maybe he got worked as a result. Still, never experienced the feeling of being “beat up” as Mike puts in, but my guess is he didn’t bother with the buck pucks or adjustments much either.

End of the day I can ride harder and faster which equates to more fun. It’s made trails i’ve Ridden for 15 years that much more fun and can ride them with even more confidence than I did on full squish bikes with more travel...yet beating those PR’s I set on such bikes when I was in better shape and younger...on my hardtail with the Trust fork on it.

Yeah, I’m very happy with my fork. Couldn’t go back to a telescoping fork after 3 months on this. And i’ve Ridden telescoping forks of all kinds since 1991.
  • + 2
 I am glad that something this unconventional came from someone as respected in the industry as Dave Weagle.
It’s seems like in the comments more people are more open minded towards this fork than they would be if a company like Specialized introduced it
  • + 2
 Hey @mikelevy - given trail changes through compression, and therefore where the wheel is in relation to front end of bike, how much of the harshness and other characteristics are explained by needing to change position over the bike compared to the telescoping forks we're used to?
  • + 2
 Awesome idea. How many times do you catch a rock or root going down a chute and almost (or do) get thrown over the bars because the telescopic fork suddenly dives and shortens the wheelbase/steepens the HA?

Way out of my price range at this point but would be awesome to try.

On the harshness... why not pair it with 27.5+ and drop some tire pressure?
  • + 3
 @mikelevy For the sake of comparison, and to turn the PB comments up to 11, flip the fork 180° and get back to us. Please and thanks!
  • + 4
 For the sake of comparison, I'd be more interested in how this one compares to that linkage frame. So the one where the fork linkage is in the frame instead of in the fork part of the bike. Anyone recall what bike it was (out of those who manage to decipher what I'm trying to write down in the first place)? Somehow I'm guessing that that bike does a better job than this regular bike with the linkage fork attached. Of course the modular approach makes it an easier modification for people who already own a bike. But the current bikes are typically designed around telescoping forks (compensate for the slackening head angles and reducing wheelbase as it compresses) so maybe a bike designed as a system may actually work better. But that's just a guess. Would be nice to actually see the two compared.
  • + 1
 @vinay: I think you are probably thinking of Structure (structure.bike). I agree that it seems like a more promising route, as they are able to preserve or even increase trail, like on the Message, but they do it by slackening the head tube angle as the fork compresses (only possible since they have that crazy 2 headset design), so front center length is also preserved, unlike with the Message.

Like you, I'd really like to see if they are able to make all of that potential come through in reality. It would be awesome to see some reviews, or even demo one.
  • + 1
 @thekaiser: Yeah, that is it! I think it would be cool if PB would do a similar extensive test on that bike and see how it compares to a regular bike with Message fork. Of course Dave Weagle knows stuff. But I've had enough good chats on here with @Structure-Ryan and he knows his stuff too. I'd like to see the two compared. Personally from what I've seen here in PB, I'd prefer the Structure bike. But that's just based on the articles and my chats with Ryan from Structure.
  • + 1
 I'm trying to understand who this fork would work the best for? A heavy fast guy that doesn't ever leave the ground but rides very chunky terrain?
Also, the reviews of that other linage fork seem to be quite a bit more positive.
PB does a real solid and fair job on these reviews.
Great job!
  • + 1
 Every complaint about the Message (other than the cable guide) is due to one problem: a falling leverage rate and the efforts to compensate for this:

Bottoms out too easily: of course it does, that's expected with a falling leverage rate.
Too harsh: Trust appears to be trying to control bottoming with excessive compression damping.

There's no need for a linkage fork to feel harsh. If anything, a telescoping fork should feel more harsh because it needs more support to keep it up in its travel. All the excuses about the harshness being due to hysteresis, low friction, or being too different to compare are just that: excuses for a workaround solution for the falling rate.

A front linkage fork has to choose the superior kinematics of a high linkage (ex. Motion Ride) with challenging chassis stiffness and weight, or the compromised kinematics of a low linkage (ex. Trust) with easily achieved chassis integrity. Maybe Trust can overcome their kinematics problems by creating a highly progressive position-sensitive damper and a more progressive spring. Until then, the Message appears to be another front linkage that falls slightly short of realizing the potential of the concept.
  • + 2
 me getting low or high , or better said , moving around on my bike is my attempt at preserving my bikes geometry , geometry is underated here ,this article really brings that to light for me
  • + 1
 @mikelevy how would you compare the trust to just riding the 34 with a bit more pressure. Enough so the 34 felt equally unforgiving. Feel like youd get the same benefits? It always seems like pros ride their bikes much stiffer than plebs anyway.
  • + 1
 makes me think about how I can actually ride faster when my suspension is stiff ,thus better preserving the ride geometry of the bike . but then my eyes jiggle out of their sockets and my bones hurt and I go softer so I can make more than a couple of runs without crippling myself
  • + 1
 Thanks for the great write up Mike. Totally off topic, but how's the Trance v the Ripley? I've built up a Trance frame and really dig it. These slack short travel 29ers do hit the sweet spot. With the right tires they do everything from XC to AM, and do it well.
  • + 1
 Wow, good to see someone taking a medium-use look at this new tech. I am not playing devil's advocate, I promise, but a lot of the commentary could be totally supported with real data. You could track speed entry/exit and angle pitch/roll/yaw with inexpensive tech. Talking "feel" is really subjective, and without a larger "subjective" data set it is really only an opinion, and one the reader/viewer cannot discern whether it is bias or not.
  • + 4
 The original geometry preserving, but overly harsh fork.. was a rigid fork.
  • + 1
 It would be interesting to see this fork on a hardtail. Because (Correct me if I'm wrong) doesn't the trail on a hardtail decrease more than on a full suspension, so maybe this fork could help counteract that and give the hardtail more predictable handling throughout its travel?
  • + 1
 Someone needs to do a head-to-head battle between this and the Lefty (Carbonmax PBR 130mm). I'd be interested to see which one would be a more compelling choice considering most of the stuff I read above also had been mentioned about the Lefty (stiff, better cornering, etc).
  • + 4
 If handling is that much better they should make it lighter so XC racers can use it.
  • + 5
 I imagine that's the long-term plan. They'll certainly need more than just one or two products in their catalog.
  • + 3
 I was actually thinking that if it has better control in cornering they should make a bigger one so DH and enduro racers can use it. Pro racers don't give a damn if it feels more harsh as long as they can go faster.
  • + 4
 One major +PRO on this fork is that it won't get those annoying F** creaking CSUs.
  • + 1
 I've been riding a Message fork and after reviewing Mike Levy's videos over and over and thinking about what he experienced and the parameters of the test I think it was not a fair review at all. Mike was comparing and contrasting the Message with a Fox 34 at 130mm of travel. But the axle to crown on the Message is 20mm longer, AND it weighs a half pound more. So, why compare it with a scrawnier fork? Sure, the Message is only 130mm of travel, but almost every other fork on the market at this A-C and weight offers 20mm more travel AND bigger legs. So thats what I did, I changed the air rod in a friends fork and after testing the Message until I knew the harshness and un predictability (is that a hurtful impact or will fork absorb it?) could not be tuned out, I put on the 150. Now, to be as fair as possible I rode the telescopic fork with compression lever flipped into the middle position and set the low speed compression mini knob to 8 out. Combined with proper air pressure /sag this made the Fox 'feel' about as firm as the Message in the street. Not science, but reviews are not.

Normally when I set up a trail bike I opt for roughly a balanced feel between front and rear, which is pretty much 20% sag in fork, 30% on the shock usually is a really good start. There was never a minute I rode the Message that it felt balanced with the rear, it was always choppered out using rec'd pressure for body weight. Next I dropped the air pressure down considerably less than suggested. Still it rode nose up.. When standing up climbing it was a scalded cat and if I ran straight into a rock or root across the trail most of the time it would suck it up in the most miraculous way. I might be standing and hammering up the hill, but the speeds are quite tame haha. Then as the trail turned down and the speed went up, hitting rocks became a guessing game.... was this a slapper or a cush impact. Sometimes the impact was so great it stung the hands, others would just disappear under the linkage. With a linkage it seems there is a very different bump feel depending on very slight changes in speed, body location and bump shape. The best way to run this set up was put the rear shock in mid position for more low speed compression to keep it from dragging ass around deep berms where the g forces would smash the bike, but only the rear suspension would respond. Now I will say that like many others have said there is a unique feel to the fork in a turn, very calm and stable as it will just set on the arc you pick with the angle of lean and amount of counter steering. The talk of 'trail' numbers has merit. The fork is also stiffer steering than a 34 which is a fork I am very familiar with, so that helps it's stability too. Then I switched to the big Fox with 20% sag, but tuned in more support like you would want on a faster jump line with a lot of G's. Checking tire pressure and rear shock pressure with digital gauge so it was exactly the same as when set up with the Message. Just getting out of my neighborhood the suspension action is infinitely superior. Holy shit, little holes, little drops, disappear like uhhh, I had suspension. Even more firmed up than I would ever have thought to run, when the front end hit something the Fox would open up and do a much much better job of eating it. On the trails the telescopic fork sure felt softer under hard pedaling efforts when standing, so I flipped it to full firm. Then came the descents, so many more of the rocks I smacked yesterday just disappear with the Fox. Maybe not as quite as good as a PIKE I have on a 29r, but the Fox was still way more confidence inspiring in the rock/roots.

Now if one is running more support in a RockShox, Fox, DVO, Xfusion, MRP, CaneCreek etc, than I think the steering stability difference gets very small. As soon as I opened up the low speed compression lever on the Fox fork when descending, the handling got looser, the opposite of what the Message was actually good at. It was certainly an eye opener to me who has always gone for the plush feeling suspension. This personal test has taught me that going firmer radically stabilized the bike and allowed me to really enjoy the 65.5* head angle. Which got me thinking, maybe if the damper in the Message was as good as the other forks on the market it just wouldnt have the same advantage, that some of the cornering advantage is directly related to the way it barely absorbs bumps? What if the damper really moved as well as any 130mm fork on the market, then it certainly would be more prone to mid turn G force compression? Or would it be so amazing we would all want to spend 2-4X what we can get a PIKE or a 36 for? (PIKE RL on Cambria right now for $500 for sake of conversation)
  • + 1
 I think you missed the whole point... Mentioned a bunch in the vid that that Trust stayed higher in the travel and that kept the bike's geo the same. But the linkage fork is made to keep the feel the same even when the geo does change. In other words, perhaps you need to set up the Trust softer so it does use similar travel to the Fox, and trust (yup) that the linkage will make it feel right instead of staying higher. Will also help a bit with the Trust feeling harsher.
  • + 1
 Bike stays higher - but that doesn't necessarily mean higher in the travel. Remember, the contour travel means that there is a J-shaped axle path so that the wheel moves backwards and then up. so in the first part of the travel the headtube doesn't get a whole lot closer to the ground even though the wheel is technically moving through the travel.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy, It seems like a lot of the difference could just be related to amount of travel used per "event." To me, the obvious question is whether you could make the Fox behave more like the Trust through added air/tokens and more compression damping--and whether the Fox would give you the same advantages (less unwanted geo change, better control & handling) if set up that way. Because if you could spend half the money on a lighter fork that behaves the same, that makes the Trust a complete bust--at least in this current version.
  • - 1
 (...and if you COULD set up your Fox that way, and prefer NOT to, that makes the Trust fork an even bigger dud.)
  • + 1
 Can I make this duck behave more like a dog? How are you going to make mimic the Trust with a telescoping fork? Makes no sense.
  • + 3
 Adding more air (increasing spring rate) or adding more compression damping to a telescopic doesn't achieve the same thing - you just get less small bump compliance, less traction and more wasted travel (travel not used in an 'event'). The Trust fork maintains excellent traction regardless of body weight inputs - the nature of the linkage means rider weight inputs are supported without having to run high pressure or choking amounts of LSC
  • + 1
 @catton6183: When you say "the nature of the linkage means rider weight inputs are handles without...high pressure...or LSC", I am assuming you mean that the rearward axle path is less sensitive to weight changes coming down from the bars than the more vertical axle path of a telescopic fork. That is true, but it also means that the Trust fork is going to be less sensitive to more vertical bump forces like drop offs or after the backside of bumps when the tire looses contact after the peak and doesn't reconnect with the trail until it flattens out, so it isn't all upside with no downside.
  • + 2
 @thekaiser: it's a good point about sensitivity to vertical forces, but I think the faster you are travelling the more backwards components of force on the front wheel there is when you land. So pedal drops and low speed flat drops might feel harsh, but at normal riding speeds the travel is activated more readily
  • + 1
 Linkage forks is not something new in biking, xc guys successfully use them with carbon springs for years! It does look odd) however considering service intervals and overall ride characteristic it looks appealing to me.

It is still very niches product since no oem
  • + 4
 Great comparison video, thanks Mike!
  • + 2
 Question is: is this a viable option against over speccing a mid travel fork on a shorter travel bike? Ie 140 rear /160 front.
  • - 2
 I'm gonna say no. Especially when you take into consideration the extra service cost to get it sent overseas for repair and the 16 or so bearings you'll have to replace at least every 12 months.
  • + 2
 So if it's faster than a telescoping fork, then why hasn't some pro XC team snatched some up and won races on 'em then?
Someone would've snatched one up.
  • + 3
 As you scale down the weight penalty will negate the performance gain. It also doesn't make sense commercially for Trust to develop it for XC applications as it's such a niche from a consumer point of view. I believe we are more likely to see it scaled up - and eventually on the DH world cup circuit, which will actually be the ultimate proving ground
  • + 2
 Not trying to bad mouth or anything. BUT.. Is Dave Weagle the ONLY person that can make a suspension design? Name one other person that you know designs bikes stuff?
  • + 1
 David Earle of Sotto Designs - instrumental in VPP design
  • + 2
 I want to know what happens when you have different settings in each air spring. 170psi and 0 tokens in one, 100 psi and 4 tokens in the other, etc.
  • + 4
 There is a guy in a comment up above who ran 0psi in one, and 180 in the other, apparently with no ill effects, due to what sounded like some sort of tech issue with one leg.
  • + 1
 So trust me, the message here is, if you want more feedback, and rougher ride, pump up your 34 a few psi for less dive, less geo changes through the rough and worse bump absorption, for much less cash, what's not to like?
  • + 2
 you've missed the point. Pumping up your 34 too hard will have a detriment to performance. Simply, you will make the ride harsher and your traction worse. In contrast, though the Trust feels firmer, traction is so much better than a telescopic fork as you aren't having to run loads of compression to keep your fork from diving - and any weight inputs on the bike aren't interfering with that traction, or the handling.
  • - 1
 @catton6183: when hitting the same rough sections while using way less travell it means it's harsher and offers less traction, everything else is bullshit,

you also missed the sarcasm.
  • + 0
 Ok here's the thing,
I ride with a 160mm fork. So then a telescoping fork of the same size would have some very odd effects. I'd imagine that (since axle path isn't straight) I'd actually get a decreasing trail figure for the first part of my fork's travel and one that is even larger than that of a telescoping fork.
So for the first part of it's travel the 160mm fork (at least in my mind's eye) would be less or equally stable compared to the telescoping fork.
That first part of the travel is the money zone so why take the weight and size penalty for something that doesn't improve the most important part of the fork's travel?
  • + 4
 Sounds like this would be a good fork for dual slalom.
  • + 1
 it would be so good!
  • + 0
 As if bearings on frames weren't bad enough, you're basically doubling up on bearing maintenance with this fork. Hell, I think this fork has more bearings than a typical frame.
  • + 9
 Certainly depends on the bike/rider/conditions, but I have bikes in rotation that have been ridden non-stop for years and all of their pivots are still running smooth. Not just at the end of a swingarm, either. Personally, the 18 bearings wouldn't put me off, especially as they're still great after a winter and spring here in Squamish.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: How on earth do you get multiple years out of rear pivots!?! I've owned 12ish bikes and never, ever gotten more than a year before the main pivot bearings were crunchy or stuck. Water and grit constantly blasts that spot in the wet months. I'm a one-bike quiver guy who rides a fair bit in the PNW, but still. It must be that "rotation" thing.

That said, I wouldn't be worried at all about those fork bearings. I like to have my lowers dropped min 2x/year anyway, and water doesn't smash the front wheel like it does our rear main pivots. My front hub bearings last years (rear, not so much).
  • + 1
 @JustinVP: What bikes are you riding? Riding buddy and I have had our bikes about the same length of time, done similar amounts of riding in the same terrain and conditions. My 2014 Trance is still running fine on the original pivot bearings, his 2014 Tallboy is on it's 4th set covered under the lifetime warranty...
  • + 1
 @dsut4392: All kinds of brands. Transition (current), Devinci, Diamond Back, Santa Cruz, Rocky Mountain, and a few others. They were all about the same except the old-ass (original VPP) Santa Cruz ate pivots, and the ancient Rocky had crappy bushings.

The current Transition and my last do-all bike, the Devinci, are the most reliable of the bunch. But still, pull them apart after a year and they're crunchy. I now at lease clean and regrease every 6 months, with new bearings every 12 months. We ride hard, we ride a lot, and we ride year round.
  • - 1
 Another big thing I think @mikelevy should have mentioned is the servicing cost of this fork. Bearings don't last long in mountain bikes especially if you ride in wet muddy conditions and I'm seeing at least 16 individual bearings in this fork so assuming they use a standard bearing you're looking at roughly $20 a bearing multiplied by 16 so $320 just to replace the bearings then you have to fork out (pun intended) even more to service the damper which could be quite costly in itself especially if you have to send it overseas because no one in your country is certified to service them. So that said the extra cost of the fork plus the huge cost of maintenance isn't really worth it for "a bit better handling" and what sounds like a massive headache to set up and a disappointment in the ride.
  • + 3
 There are eighteen bearings in total (there's two more at the bottom eyelets), all covered by a lifetime warranty and all mentioned a few times in the review... They feel like new today after seven months of us up here in the PNW, including a muddy and wet winter and spring, and I'd be surprised if I had to change them after just one season of use. Also, pushing out old bearings and pushing in the new ones isn't a difficult job. When was the last time you changed your fork bushings at home?

The Message has some notable cons, no doubt about that, but I don't think the bearings are one of them Smile
  • + 3
 The fork is part of the frame now, and suspension starts at the linkages.
  • + 0
 I'm very interested when they can make one that doesn't cost $23423423423424234. Control v fatigue is very interesting as hard charging as far as my limited skills allow over pootling is what interets me.
  • + 3
 The future of front suspension me thinks
  • - 1
 Surely I'm not the only one who cringes every time someone talks about the 'Trust Effect'... I don't care how good a product works the terminology used for this thing makes it sound like a cult.

Aside from Levy's review here, I've come across two types of review; those saying The Message is a pile of harsh overpriced garbage, and those sounding like they've been brainwashed, staring into space and waffling on about how much they now love the Lord - I mean the Message fork...
  • + 4
 I have a clear memory of what it was like to descend on forks with 1” steerers and quick releases. Still fun of course, but with all the flex it was just a lot more work to keep the bike on the right line and to keep weight distributed between front and rear wheels. I think the term “Trust Effect” is an attempt to describe the way this fork improves on current telescopic designs in a way that is equal or greater than tapered steerers, thru-axles, and improved internals have done in the last few years. After talking to the guys at Trust and riding the fork a couple of times (I work for a dealer) the big factors are the much-discussed axle path and resulting benefits to geometry, reduced seal friction, and the “caster effect” of the trailing axle. Like earlier improvements to suspension forks, these work to make it easier to keep the front wheel pointed the right way and control fore-aft balance better.
  • + 0
 Price alone will ensure that I never own this fork. It does sound very promising though. I look forward to seeing other manufacturer's takes on linkage forks and the resulting lower prices.
  • + 3
 Pros : looks !
Lol reminds me over being attached by a Praying Mantis
  • + 0
 Imagine being Dave Weagle and waking up to watching that! I doubt he's crying in his cereal but rather laughing his way to the bank... But that was a honest review of the Trust fork. And it sold me more on a Fox fork.
  • - 1
 what are the advantages of the trust over a shorter travel fork (like Levy compared it to)? Obviously it has more travel, but does it perform any different. The shorter fork will also dive less than the 34, even if it doesn't have the wack trail number change, so does the trust actually ride better than a shorter travel fork?
  • + 2
 So when is the really plush 160mm version coming?
  • + 0
 My DVO Diamond is both compliant at speed and supportive in big hits and a fraction of that cost. Would I notice the turning improvement? Probably not.
  • + 7
 Yes, so much yes. But you'd also notice that it's harsher.
  • + 3
 @mikelevy: For me and my riding style, it’s a trade I’m willing to make
  • + 2
 "The looks" should really be in Cons two times
  • - 2
 Haha all the trust owners will downvote you to oblivion.
  • + 13
 @bubbrubb: Nah - those five down votes won't hurt him much.
  • + 1
 @neimbc: I lol’d
  • + 4
 In real life it looks pretty burly. Side profile shots don't do it justice.
  • + 1
 I love the interesting twin tube damper. So if I have about 2000 euro I would like to buy a intend hero.
  • + 2
 It's the only fork that makes sense to me for my trance 29.
  • + 2
 Wow did you see that brake line bend??? Would do that on a regular basis
  • + 1
 I think I would prefer harsh on low speed hits, more supple on high speed hits.
  • - 2
 A $2k price tag wouldn't be insane for a revolutonary fork and I like what I'm reading about the overall benefits. However, the physical appearance isn't just bad, it's unacceptable. I do everything in my power to avoid hipsters who circle for any chance to make small talk about nothing and this fork's current look is like blood in the water. A lot ot development is needed towards this aspect of it.
  • + 2
 So it would be perfect with a coil?
Hahaha
  • + 1
 Spring rate will be too linear for many riders. It would be nice to see a comparison against the helm 29 coil.
  • + 1
 So after all that gibberish the conclusion is all you need is a rigid fork with a 4.0 fat tire...
  • + 0
 Great write-up. They need to go long travel for the idea to really work, it's too tight of a package. Make a DH fork with more aluminum tubes.
  • + 0
 This is going to have to be mainstream for many years for me to get used to the looks of it...... stupid I know, but that's simply my reality.
  • + 1
 I'd like to push that fork close to the edge and see if it tries to lose it's head.
  • + 1
 How does it compare to a duc 32 mike?
  • + 1
 Wonder what the Message would feel like with a set of Flexx bars?
  • - 2
 So, I could just put more air in a Fox 34 than I normally run so it doesn't go through as much of it's travel and rides harsher than usual and it will ride just like the message that costs $1000 more?!
  • + 1
 No - because running too much air pressure on your 34 will have a negative performance on grip so you would only be making it worse. The Message fork may feel 'firmer' but the trade off is that you have a performance boost, which is better tracking and therefore more grip
  • + 0
 @mikelevy So can I just air up my fork a few percent higher and get similar results?
  • + 10
 No, but that's a question that I should have covered in the review. The Message keeps the handling relatively consistent, even when it's deep in its travel. A telescoping fork can't do that, no matter how hard you make it.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: So you're saying its not harshness alone that sets the Message apart from the rest. The linkage actually is aiding in stiff stability.
But how? Or more specifically, when? If the Message transmits energy back up into the arms, then its because the linkage isn't really traveling
  • + 3
 @gserrato: or actually because the linkage isn't travel exactly in line with our arms (well not "in line" with our arms, but in the direction we commonly associate forks). I could argue that telescoping forks are harsh on square edged hits, since they can't move the wheel out of the way as fast as the linkage and thus more forces are transmitted to the bike and body. It's just that those forces aren't commonly associated with "harsh" (up and down), though the effect of trying to move the rider's center of gravity is similar, just in a different direction (forward for big square edges, instead of just up)
  • + 4
 @gserrato: My guess is a number of factors but torsional stiffness would be one of them. Telescoping forks twist upon impact. This fork twists less so you'll feel it in your hands. The same is probably true for fore/aft stiffness, etc.
  • + 1
 How about a hybrid? Linkage with telescoping?
  • + 1
 its the NSX of bicycle forks
  • + 2
 that's pretty funny.
  • - 3
 18 bearings and not user serviceable. The 2 biggest issues IMO followed by price. If price was even, maybe I’d overlook the bearings and such. But then add in over-weight, and add in that black plastic stuff, and it’s a deal breaker. I think they lowered price due to lack of sales volume, and not how they describe it.
  • + 5
 Complaining about bearings with a lifetime warranty as being a hassle is a moot point...
  • - 2
 @catton6183: no it’s real, have not prematurely ruined a bearing? If your shop doesn’t service Trust (not many) then you will have to send the fork out. How many times have you seen a fork bushing go bad? It’s rare.
  • + 7
 @bubbrubb: fork bushings always wear out - especially when people don't follow service intervals. And actually these days sending a product back to a service centre doesn't really take that long - it's not like local bike shop turnaround is particularly fast these days.
  • + 7
 If everyone thought that way, we'd still be on klunkers.

Everything good is usually more expensive and heavier and weirder looking at first. Eventually either the benefits outweigh those deficits, and\or technology and manufacturing improves enough to marginalize those deficits.
  • + 2
 Completely agree, I can service my 36 in about 15 minutes with 10$ in parts. 18 cartridge bearings is insane so I'd like to know what kind of service life folks are getting before I even considered this. Even with a warranty you still have do deal with pulling the fork etc. I imagine most people that can afford this have multiple trail bikes anyways so downtime on a fork is not an issue. I don't see this being anything other than a niche product for now but I do think they will sell enough to innovate and perhaps simplify the maintenance, offer different travel options, etc..
  • - 1
 @catton6183: I’ve been riding the same bushings on my Pike since 2013 with thousands of miles off-road abuse. Seals and fluids is a 30 minute job at most. Why would you send a fork in for a 30 minute service. 18 bearings. One bad one and you’re stripping your fork and mailing it out. No thanks.
  • + 1
 Talk about a "Feel Good Message!"
  • + 1
 Now just make a 150-180 mm version of this fork....
  • + 1
 That fork makes my nads itch
  • + 3
 tbh Mine itched pre-Trust
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: facts man.
  • + 1
 Kinda looks like an old Judy cartridge.
  • + 1
 LOL! Hopefully these guys learned from the mistakes of the past, and put some sort of compressible thermal compensator in there for when the oil volume expands.
  • + 1
 TLDR...
  • + 4
 We made a video for you.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Nice ! ;-)
  • + 0
 As an engineer.. I still can't afford this thing.
  • + 1
 Thanks @mikelevy????????
  • + 0
 Whats occams razor?
  • - 1
 One question. What does DW actually mean!
  • + 2
 It means maestro
  • - 1
 I'm not sure if I can trust someone who runs a Hans dampf on the front
  • + 10
 It's the stock tire on the new Ripley that I'm reviewing soon. Also, it's a great 900-ish-gram trail bike tire and pretty damn good when used as intended.
  • - 2
 @mikelevy: Ok Mike I didn't know it was spec'd like that, my mistake. But having a manufacturer spec a tire like that just to cheat with some extra rolling speed is pretty annoying.
  • - 2
 Air up your FOX fork a bit, voila all the performance of a Trust Message, less dive at the cost of a harsher ride.
  • - 1
 If this thing didn't have the DW moniker it would be DOA
  • - 3
 Sorry I fell asleep.
  • - 3
 I stopped reading after it said no user serviceable. Dumb
  • - 3
 Ugly. How does it compare to the Lauf?
  • - 3
 This one fork id never buy. I’d rather run completely ridgid.
  • - 3
 I mean it’s cool but it costs more than my whole bike does. If only I became a dentist...
  • + 5
 You can go to school to be a dentist. Don't give up on your dreams.
  • + 3
 It"s only a question of time for the prices to go down. It"s now freaky expensive, which sounds normal prior to the development costs associated to it. Once they start to sell more and more the prices should become less "exclusive"
  • - 2
 How does the damping on the Message compare to the Lauf xc fork?
  • + 10
 Lauf has no damping.
  • + 6
 and the Lauf has lots of lateral flex, not a hucking fork, more like an alternative to riding rigid.
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