Years in the making and remarkably well kept as a secret, Trust Performance’s all-star crew has just introduced their first product, The Message. It’s a trailing multi-link front suspension fork, and the design comes from a collaboration between suspension guru Dave Weagle, carbon master and original ENVE founder Jason Schiers, and all-around go-getter and Competitive Cyclist founder Hap Seliga. Over the past few years, some longer than others, each of them has branched off to do their own thing, but came together to launch what they’re calling the next generation of mountain bike front suspension.

Now that your eyeballs are sufficiently warmed up, here’s the quick specs:

  • 29er/27.5+ or 27.5″
  • 130mm travel
  • 535mm Axle-to-Crown
  • Twin-tube thru-shaft damper
  • Trailing Multi-linkage
  • Full carbon chassis, steerer and links
  • Boost 15×110 axle, Torque Cap compatible
  • 180mm post mount front brake rotor
  • Fits 29×2.6 or 27.5×2.8
  • Fits standard tapered steerer tubes
  • 250 hour service interval
  • Lifetime bearing warranty
  • 1,980g
  • Retail price of $2,700
  • Available now

If that price-that’s-more-than-some-carbon-full-suspension-framesets didn’t scare you away, let’s dive into the details…

Trust Performance The Message is a new trailing link suspension fork for mountain bikes

“The Message stems from a desire to answer a question that had plagued me for quite some time: Why does the rear suspension on every bike and motorcycle I’ve owned or designed always feel better than the front?” says Founder and Technical Director, Dave Weagle, via press release. “What would happen if I designed a device that increased front end stability while riding rather than decreased it? Is the ride better? Is it worse? Or does it just not matter? After building and riding a number of prototypes, the answer became very clear — it’s a lot better; I realized that I had to start Trust Performance.”

Trust Performance The Message is a new trailing link suspension fork for mountain bikes

Rather than a straight axle path of a traditional telescoping fork, The Message contours the axle path to move both up and away from the obstacle. And since it’s using a lever to compress the “shock”, they’re able to tune the leverage ratio along with the damping circuit to fine tune the performance. Does this mean we’ll soon have to ask “What’s that fork’s leverage ratio?” Maybe.

Why add this complexity to the front of the bike? “The performance of the Message allows the front end of the bike to reap the benefits that rear suspension designs have enjoyed for years — supple performance early in the stroke, supported with a progressive mid-stroke and more bottom-out resistance at the end of the travel,” adds Trust Performance Co-Founder and President Jason Schiers. “One of the main goals in creating the Message was centered around the ease of setup. By simply using the rider’s weight, your front suspension can be set up to optimal performance in a matter of seconds.”

Trust Performance The Message is a new trailing link suspension fork for mountain bikes

The other benefit is that the suspension parts are no longer doubling as structural parts, so their movement can be optimized for reduced stiction.

Trust Performance The Message linkage fork fits on 29er 275plus and 275 trail and all mountain bikes with a standard tapered steerer tube

Lastly, it corrects for running a slack head angle with short offset, a trend among modern mountain bikes for everything from XC to Trail to Enduro. The goal with those designs is to increase stability and downhill prowess without totally scrapping the quick handling needed in tight trails.

The Message approaches it differently. It still pushes the axle out front a bit, but relies on the levers to tune the caster angle throughout the travel. This has the effect of changing the “trail” throughout it’s travel range, which lets them control how it will handle at every point in the compression.

The Message linkage front suspension fork by Trust Performance with external sag indicator

An external travel indicator shows your sag…and travel – it’ll stay at the deepest compression point. Not only does it show how much “fun” you just had, it also makes it easy to set the sag without a helper to push an O-ring down.

It has independent air springs on in both legs, which must be filled separately and evenly. The valve is positioned under a cover midway down and has a tooled plug you need to remove before threading on your pump. While those are extra steps compared to other forks, sag set up should be easy – they recommend starting with your body weight (in pounds) as the PSI, then tweaking +/- 10psi from there.

From there, you can also use the eight included “Huck Pucks” air volume spacers to tune the air chamber size.

The Message linkage front suspension fork by Trust Performance

The fork gets multiple external compression adjustments. On the top is a three position adjuster that moves between Open, Medium and Lockout. Farther down on the side of the leg are the fine tuning adjustments for Open and Medium. These let you tweak each of those settings to better suit local trails, riding conditions and your personal style.

The Message linkage front suspension fork by Trust Performance

…and rebound adjustments. The fork comes with a very graphical, user-friendly manual with recommended starting settings for all of the adjustments based on your weight and the air pressure setting.

The first batch of 2,500 forks is in stock and ready to ship, first come, first served.

TrustPerformance.com

71 COMMENTS

  1. Love it. Solid people behind it, people that I believe wouldn’t put a product out without ensuring it’s well sorted and offering a tangible benefit.

  2. Very ambitious (2,500 units x $2,700). I hope it works out. It’s time to start exploring ideas other than telescoping forks again.

    • Geez, someone is sweating nearly $7m of inventory tonight…

      I’m intrigued but coming in that high to start, especially consumer direct, won’t make things easy. There’s a volume component, but that’s too close to a lot of premium carbon frames (with shocks and pivots themselves).

      $2,700 is probably better than $1,500- if Trust moved the “this is what a high end suspension fork costs” marker up by only $500 you know that Fox and RS would be there within a season or two. While I’d love to test the benefits, DW is in the licensing game- Trust may be more proof of concept for licensees than anything else.

        • Of course not, so obviously didn’t feel the need to clarify. But they’re hoping to get $6m+ from this first run, which is a lot of pressure if they have investors to keep happy.

        • I wish DW the utmost success with this endeavor.

          Yet, there is no way in hell that this fork has is truly $2700 worth of improvement. For one, all it really offers is an improved axle path over the existing telescoping designs (which is marginal considering that all telescoping fork designs, also have a rearward axle path.

          Additionally, this is not a new design, as linkage forks were invented over a hundred years ago for motorcycle forks. Considering that the linkage fork has been around for such a long time, you have to ask yourself why 99% of motorcycles have forgone the linkage fork, in favor of telescoping designs. In MotoGP (where cost is no object) you cannot find one team on the grid that has a linkage fork. If it offered such superior performance, it would be a much more common design.

          Unless you have a bunch of money to throw away, this fork is a total waste of your money.

  3. Interesting. Sort of like the same argument about whether the front leaf spring shackle should be on the leading or trailing end. If leading as the spring compresses it push the tire forward into the rock. If trailing it moves it away. Frankly having the shackle on the leading end of my old Landcruiser never gave me any cause to think about a shackle reversal, but I always like to see innovative engineering like this. Hope they are successful, because the world can always use new ideas.

    • A 130mm normal fork brings the wheel back between 40-50mm at full travel, unless this has a very extreme axle path it isn’t going to bring the wheel any closer than a telescoping fork.

  4. Another instance of the bike industry trying to recreate the wheel or solve a problem that doesn’t exist. You’d think that an industry with similar kinematics (Motorcycles) and 100x more engineering man hours would’ve thought of this first if it was the best.

    • The motorcycle industry has thought of this many times. It has even put linkage forks into production several times; they just haven’t become popular.

      • Physics doesn’t care about popularity. If thy worked, they would be on at a minimum the top shelf motorcycles. Even Buell never used them. And Eric never saw a crazy idea he didn’t like.

        • With my comment, I meant to imply nothing beyond the fact that the motorcycle industry has in fact produced linkage forks. Nothing more, nothing less. I know very little about motorcycles, so wouldn’t feel qualified to say much more than that; I do know that BMW (has?) used linkage forks on its bikes for years.
          My original statement aside- good point about the absence of these forks on top-shelf motorbikes. That does mean something. I also think bikes and motorcycles are very different from each other, and there may be a place in the market for linkage forks. The idea that linkage forks don’t work seems odd; people do ride them on their bicycles, and they do function.

          • I’m not making the argument that they don’t work. It’s that they don’t odder a performance advantage. And thy’re more costly, complex and heavier. As far as motorcycles vs bikes and suspension, they’re way different in back and nearly identical up front.

            • They’re definitely more complex, no one would argue about that, and it’s a clear minus. For a solid majority of riders, the higher price is a big enough drawback that they won’t buy, but for some people, the higher price won’t matter. This fork seems to be between a Fox 34 and 36 in weight.
              Current telescopic forks are indeed pretty darn good, but I wouldn’t say a linkage fork offers nothing. It offers anti-dive, and a backwards axle path. Are those worth the premium? Not for me, but for someone they are.
              I don’t mean this as a rhetorical question… If linkage forks offer no advantage, then why do you think Dave Weagle spent years developing one and is betting a sizeable chunk of change on his design succeeding?
              Side note- I remember a time when AMPs, Lawwills and Girvins were the same price as RS MAG21s and Manitou 4s. What happened??

              • You don’t want anti dive. The “dive” is needed to speed the steering up entering corners on low/long/slack/longer travel frames. I know nothing about Dave’s motivations/reasons. It’s possible he put all that time into seeing if it could be developed to a pint where it had a clear advantage. When it comes to development sometimes you need to take the whole journey to see what you get. Sometimes it woks, sometimes it doesn’t. I do a lot of R&D for a living. Don’t get me wrong, I love trick bits. I’m intrigued. And I would love to try a set. They’re super cool.

        • There have already been cases where linkage forks have proven superior to telescoping forks on motorcycles (BMW Telelever, ELF racing, Britten VR1000). The reason you don’t see top-shelf executions at retail is because the business model still favors building a frame and an engine, then purchasing suspension, wheel, and brake goods from secondary makers. Even MTB makers have attempted to “own” the suspension components in the past, but never gained a taste for it. Buell was no different in this regard.

          There have also been successful linkage based forks in the past – AMP Research and Girvin/K2, who’s products more than delivered on their promise. They were more rigid, lighter weight, and had much less stiction than telescoping forks. They lost due to market forces more than a deficiency in their designs. I believe there is a maker who’s revisited the Girvin design, giving it longer travel and it looks awesome (can’t remember what it’s called, at the moment).

          It will take a brand making the plunge into an entirely integrated system (frame & suspension), and proving it’s better, to really get these technologies to fly.

    • Through the 60s, 70s and 80s linkage forks were common on motorbikes. Their use died out but nobody can ever give a good (engineering based) reason why. They were lighter and better damped than telescoping moto forks of the time. The best explanation I’ve seen is that Showa, Ohlins and Marzocchi didn’t make them, which meant the racing crowd didn’t use them (except Yamaha), which meant they weren’t in the magazines or on the TV and so weren’t cool. It killed demand for them at the high end because the (insert team here) replica needed telescoping forks and at the low end they were too expensive.
      .
      BMW still uses linkage front suspension, albeit in combination with a telescoping section as well. Telever bikes are notoriously nice to ride and forgiving of mistakes. I’m sure this fork will find some buyers on the strength of Weagle’s name, but at $2700 it might struggle regardless, unless it’s all a ploy to sell patent licenses to Rockshox/Fox or somebody else.

  5. One big reason linkage forks have never taken off (beyond a brief flowering in the mid-1990s) is an economic one. I mean, if you’re a manufacturer that wants to crank out literally hundreds of thousands of forks per year, then what would you rather work with- some tubes that you plug together with the spring and damper inside, plus a few threaded caps, or several tubes, short links, the damper(s) and spring(s) and a multitude of bolts? 500,000 forks X 8 bolts = 4 million effing bolts. Sourcing them, QCing them, installing them, checking tightness… it’s a big job and one that cuts profit margins. Lesson: dominant designs don’t always get dominant for functional reasons.

      • Not quite, at least on a manufacturing scale. I can get center ground tubes in long lengths. I can TC coat them and then hanve them ground. Then cut to lengths I need. Easy.
        The lower are a simple machining process. Fork sliders are cheap, easily mass produced.

        This requires multiple machining steps.

        Not negating performance, but a telescoping fork is easier to manufacture.

  6. The Lefty Ocho has no friction as it rides on roller bearings. No pivots to deal with. And it is a very light fork. You can buy a bike with a Lefty for a little more than this fork sells for. I think I will stay with my Ocho. Pink Bike called it one of the best forks on the market. That’s good enough for me!

    • I saw a test where the Lefty Ocho was torsionally only a bit more rigid than a SID, while being a bit lighter. All that rigidity loss for just a smidge of weight reduction.
      I think the Lefty and this fork are in different leagues- the Lefty has awesome rigidity and low friction on its side, as well as simplicity and even, ironically price, exactly as you noted. On the other hand, the Lefty lacks anti-dive, and has a straight axle path. It’s darn good, but (on a theoretical level), it’s not quite what this new fork claims to be.

        • Good point. I wonder how complete the anti-dive is. Given how many prototypes and years of work and how much math and engineering they put into the fork, I doubt they would make something that doesn’t corner well.
          I could be wrong, though. Anti-dive seems like a pretty nice feature in any scenario where you’re going downhill- on more run of the mill downhill sections, it allows you to have full travel. And on very sketchy, steep sections, it keeps the front end high.
          I also wonder how many people use the front brake while turning. I guess I haven’t thought about it…

          • There are a ton of different scenarios. And there are different “wants” for them. Suspension is always 50% compromise. The telescopic fork will do certain things well, and this fork others. You will never get something that does everything well. So, you have to set priorities and then pick what matches them.

    • I got a different impression from Pinkbike- the article says: ”Most of those other link designs end up with forward-arcing axle paths or try to mimic the linear motion of a telescopic fork while adding some braking anti-dive feature with their link,” Weagle said. ”That’s probably partly why our product looks so different than anything else. In the end, by focusing on stability, we ended up with a pretty novel invention.” *****Preventing brake dive actually wasn’t the focus of his efforts, even if it ended up being a byproduct of it.*****

    • Every linkage fork has either pro-dive or anti-dive. Every telescopic fork has pro-dive. They seem to have prioritized trail migration over axle path or dive performance… pretty bold to launch a product like this with no whitepaper. Good thing some of us know how to reverse engineer kinematic systems. This thing has tones of Anti-dive. I’m getting 130%+ anti-dive at full travel with my quick model of this fork, depending on if they call 130mm as the crow flies or as vertical travel, if its vertical then the anti-dive will be even higher. That’s too much IMHO, but i’d still love to ride one.

  7. I think it looks good and would love to try it out but for somebody like me who just goes out to ride to have fun I’m not getting rid of a perfectly good Pike to buy a 2700 fork.

  8. Isn’t it only leading links that have anti dive properties? As the brakes are applied the link wants to extend (ie lifting the height of the bike) but the corresponding forward shift of the riders centre of gravity under deceleration counters it to get a net result of little or no change in fork ride height. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong. But this weagle fork is some kind of parallelagram trailing link so in effect it would dive under braking?

    • It doesn’t matter if the links are leading or trailing. Two things influence dive under braking, axle path relative to the contact patch, and caliper rotation. You’re right in the sense that a trailing link would have pro dive characteristics, but only if the caliper was directly attached to the link. It is not here.

  9. Several people have brought up the possibility that this fork is intended as a showcase product that allows DW to then license the design to others. I wonder who the buyers would be… Almost certainly not RS and the like, buying this design from DW would be tantamount to admitting that what they’d been selling for years was not up to snuff. Another possibility is framebuilders. Building this fork is more like building a suspension frame than it is like building a telescopic fork. A framebuilder who buys licenses to produce these forks might be able to start making more $, instead of every time giving away profit to fork makers.
    Still, it’s hard to see these getting so cheap that lots of people start buying them. They’re as expensive as a frame, price-wise, getting your FS frame with one of these is like paying for two frames. Ouch.

  10. HAHAHAHA!! $2700? NOPE!!! Even if it has some marginal advantage over existing designs, the price tag makes it a no go. Even if it has ma marginal advantage, very few people will have the skills to utilize that advantage. IMHO to in any way justify the price versus conventional forks, the difference in performance would need to be similar to the difference of riding full rigid verses air suspension. JMHO

      • Problem??? Then maybe you will like this comment. “Whatever!”

        When asking an exceptional amount for a new design in a class of established proven products/components, then it must produce truly exceptional results. NOTHING here suggests the radically improved results to justify the exorbitant price. Nothing I stated is incorrect, as you yourself apparently agree since you failed to argue against my points. You simply did not like it be stated what most people are likely thinking,

        Thank you for your input. Enjoy your ride.

    • Clearly people are not watching the video carefully enough. The Trust displays significant advantages in just the 39seconds of video shown.
      Did you notice the anti dive?
      Did you notice the small bump performance?
      Did you notice the big hit performance?
      While that was going on did you notice how stable the rear of the bike is?
      The rider was using less input to keep the bike in line because the front end is stable through the travel.

      I once had a LOOK Fournales linkage fork. Great performance, just wasn’t stiff enough. This solves that

  11. Well, they are absoutey hideous. IF I ever considered spending this much money on a fork it would have to be a stunner… performance wise AND in the looks department. Big NOPE.

  12. This is like a Jones bicycle: You get one just so you can get more attention at the parking lot/trailhead. Have you ever noticed a Jones owner will always get on his bike and “warmup” over by where people are congregating? Then, if anyone even looks so much at his bike, he has to stop and start spewing the Kool Aid about his choice of bike is superior to yours, why your suspension sucks, and why he is the #1 consumer in the world.

  13. Lot’s of people spend $2700 on enve wheels (not me) for not much benefit over $1000 wheels. I think Trust can find buyers for these if they ride at least as well as top offerings from Fox and others.. though a half pound weight savings would make that a much easier sell, which I don’t see here.

  14. Brilliant design. They dont specifically mention antidive as a feature but its the biggest benefit and they subtly allude to it. Hope this takes off and becomes available at a more affordable price point. Hope someone also revives and improves on the USE S.U.B. 4 single leg strut

    • If, at 2700 dollars, it’s slightly heavier than run of the mill telescopic forks, a version that costs less won’t be competitive in the weight department.

  15. Nobody seems to mention that there is no travel adjustability on this fork. If this fork could be internally adjusted from 130mm-160mm, more folks would consider it as it could remain with them across multiple fram purchases.

  16. Hmmm. I rode AMPs way back when. Loved them. Big believer in linkage forks, both on motos and bicycles. Would put one on the bikes again in a heart beat.

    But…

    Man, as someone mentioned, for $2700, they might have put just a little bit of effort into making it look… well… nice?

  17. There’s quite a bit of what I call “used-car speak” on their site, like claims that their design allows you to run a wildly different axle-to-crown length than what your bike is designed for. That’s questionable advice.

    And they do claim to have anti-dive. They make a lot of claims. I hope most are true.

  18. All positive and doubtful facts aside, of which I fear will occur more when really using the fork, it does not look right! It does not look like something that says “ride me”. Just like 29er did not look right in the beginning… they had a lot of flex, they made me sit on top of the bike instead “in” the bike. Now they look right because they are… chain stay length, bb drop, seat and head angle, reach, stack, Boost wheels, lighter, stiffer long travel forks. I honestly hope the Message will find its way but this fork looks just like a pre-production-proof-of-concept-design.

    • Agreed, looks are a major problem for the marketing of this fork! You seem to be saying that if a product is right, it will look right. Broadly, I’d agree, but there are some goofy looking products out there that are supposed to work really well- thinking of that Marin FS bike. Just hideous.
      The other big obstacle is price. Way back when, the Lawwill Leader, Girvin Vector and AMP F1/2/3/4 all cost roughly the same as top-shelf telescopic forks. And even though that was true, and even though they delivered what they promised, they still didn’t end up carving out a place for themselves in the market. Replaying the same scenario again, but with far higher prices for the new entrant, is unlikely to lead to different results, especially since modern telescopic forks are so much better than before. The only thing really different about this rematch is the brand respect Weagle and co. have on their side.

  19. What is it with all the armchair experts here? What makes you think you know how good this fork is having never ridden it? You just make yourselves sound foolish. Yet it’s the internet so you can hide behind your computer screen.

    That said it’s heavy, yet I’ve heard it rides so much better that it’s worth the extra weight. So like I said, I need to ride it before I make any judgements.

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