Words by Nic Hall; Photos by Rob Aseltine
Trust Performance is doubling down on their efforts with the release of their brand new Shout fork. Linkage forks aren’t necessarily new, but it seems they have never been as visible in the mountain bike space as they are right now. While most riders (including us) have dismissed them as an ugly and unnecessary fix to a design that ‘ain’t broke,’ we’ve all been secretly curious as to how they feel on the trail. Our opportunity arose a couple months back. We got a call from Trust Performance and were honored with an invite to a small and secretive media camp to see something new. Something their current and future fans have been waiting for— a longer travel version of their trailing multi-link suspension. Just last year, Trust released their 130mm unit, called the Message. It was a fork that piqued the interest of many riders, ourselves included, but the shorter travel kept it out of our wheelhouse. Now with the Shout, we have our chance.
I arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah and was taken over to the Trust headquarters for a quick introduction to the brand’s history and their unique design philosophy. They have a dedicated staff of core individuals that believe they are redefining the world of front suspension. Trust isn’t just making big claims, they’ve got decades of experience behind them and a venerable suspension guru in their back pocket – Dave Weagle.
Dave is one of three founders at Trust and if you haven’t heard his name then you’re not looking at very many chainstays. Partnering with Dave, is Hap Seliga and Jason Schiers. Hap co-founded Competitive Cyclist many years ago and Jason founded Enve Composites. Hap brings sales and business experience while Jason adds a wealth of knowledge in the carbon fiber engineering department.
Trust’s products are designed to address some of the inherent drawbacks of a telescoping fork, mainly the changing trail measurement, brake dive, decreased stability under compression and stiction to name a few.
After some handshakes and hellos, Trust walked us through some of their early prototypes. We could see the evolution, tuning and conceptualization in these heavily abused test mules. The raw CNC’d aluminum and carbon tubes were a far cry from the finished product we were being shown, but it was great to see the evolution of testing in their showroom. At the end of the prototype lineup sat the finished product— 1 of 8 reportedly in existence. The new Shout fork is 178mm of long travel carbon wizardry.
After the unveiling we walked back to the warehouse where several stripped dampers were laid out. This is the part where the smart guys try to explain the magic behind the madness of Dave Weagle’s design to a group of mountain bike journalists. The new damper offers a 100% damped travel stroke with almost zero potential for cavitation. The damper is unique, as it has an open shaft that allows for rapid cooling, low diameter stanchion shafts to nearly eliminate stiction, and offers 250 hour service intervals.
After an overload of technical info surrounding axle path, rate curves, compression tuning and platform shim stacks, it was time for a beer. We walked down the street to a local brewery and had a few beers while we talked shop a bit more. We thought the best way to set up some expectations for the new fork was to ride the short travel sibling, the Message for an evening pedal. After beers and snacks we headed up to Park City for quick rip.
One ride is not even close to enough time to tell you about the Message, but I liked it enough to ask for a long-term review, which we have been working on since. That being said, my initial thoughts were how well the fork handled out of the saddle efforts and how composed it was for a short travel fork. It quickly set my expectations pretty high for what the Shout could offer. We were scheduled for a full day of laps at Deer Valley Bike Park and we couldn’t wait.
The Shout is a 178mm travel trailing link fork that accommodates either 29” or 27.5” wheels and is built around a 15×110 boost front hub. The fork weighs 2,170g, which is roughly 100 grams more than a Fox 36. Axle to crown is 580mm and offset is dynamic due to the axle path. Speaking of axle path, trailing linkage suspension moves the axle path upwards and backwards instead of just inline, like a telescoping fork.
The damper, as described earlier, is pretty unique. It minimizes seal contact area while providing for 100% damped travel. This translates into a very linear feeling and consistent ride. The damper has three settings: fully open, which has a built in 20% pedal platform or “sag point firm mode” as Trust puts it, medium mode which increases mid stroke firmness, and firm mode which retains 20% travel with a very firm compression but still has a blow-off function if you accidentally leave it on.
The Shout chassis is a full carbon layup with hollow legs that house the damper and air springs. The links are also carbon. Bearings are located throughout the linkage and are all replaceable. Dropping the damper out for service or to install a volume spacer requires just two hex wrenches and a few minutes. Since the damper is protected by the chassis, chances of shaft damage or seal degradation are low.
The suspension curve is very linear in the first 80% of the travel, with a large ramp at the end. This can easily be tuned to be more progressive with air spring volume adjustment. Compression and rebound are controlled through dedicated circuits for the open, medium and firm mode, so you don’t have to compromise between trail efficiency and downhill performance.
The main areas that Trust says the Shout stands above telescoping designs are traction, stability and control. So, I will discuss each of those categories along with general feel and the elephant in the room…the looks. We all know looking fast is half the battle and mountain biking may be just a fashion show in disguise.
The first thing I noticed on the fork is how raked the bikes look due to the fork legs sitting a few inches in front of the axle. Along with the large linkage, the fork is unique and stands alone in the market. While the looks are polarizing, I would encourage you to hold your hate back until you ride the fork.
Traction was probably the most notable area of difference between the Shout and a telescoping fork. This fork is able to keep the front tire on the ground longer and keep you on-line better. As I learned to trust (dad pun) the fork throughout the day, I found myself riding further forward on the bike, giving the front wheel more weight and more traction. I was holding tighter lines and riding faster through corners. Off camber sections barely caused a second thought on the Shout while root and rock sections seemed to be just a bit less gnarly. I kept switching back to the telescoping fork just to make sure my mind wasn’t biasing towards the shiny, new thing, but I really was breaking later into corners and holding more speed through rough sections just due to my tire being on the ground more.
Stability on the bike increased over time with the Shout. It requires the rider to put more trust in the fork and more weight over the front end in turns and rough sections of trail. Only after several runs was I really reaping the rewards of the axle path, traction and dynamic trail. As the head tube angle remains more consistent on this fork throughout the travel, it keeps the bike balanced and feeling more composed over steep and rough sections as well as in high speed corners.
Control was on par or slightly better with any of the biggest travel forks currently on the market. I noticed very little lateral flex when riding but that didn’t translate to an overly harsh ride. The biggest difference I found was that I could hold a high line through an off-camber section easier than I could on a traditional fork. The Shout kept whatever line I aimed at without feeling like it was railroading me.
Overall, I was impressed at the combination of traction and the composed manners of the Shout. I was holding faster lines with less effort and every turn felt progressively better as I learned the fork dynamics. The level of front end traction was astounding. Tuning took several runs to dial in and I would still like to experiment more with the air spacers, which we hope to do for a longer-term test.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Shout redefined how I think about front suspension and combines a high-performance damper with what has been learned about leverage curves over the past decades, all while increasing stiffness. Those changes translate to putting my front wheel on the ground sooner, increasing front end grip, and allowing tighter and more aggressive line choices. While the looks may be different than what you are used to, full suspension bikes probably looked weird when they came out in the early 90s. With all the marketing noise in the mountain bike industry over every new product, it is rare to find a piece of kit that actually changes the way you ride, but that is exactly what I found in the Shout.
Out of the Box Design
Takes Time to Dial in
Jury is Out on the Looks
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