After visiting Utah over the summer to attend a Trust Performance media camp and getting a taste of their new long travel Shout fork, we wanted more time on their impressive trailing link suspension. Sadly, the Shout delivery date was a couple months away, but we were able to get a sympathy Message fork hold us over. The Trust Message is a 130mm linkage driven fork with a very polarizing look that has some very real ride characteristics that should grab open-minded rider’s attention. We recently posted a story introducing Trust Performance and the great minds behind the brand, so we’ll keep this review a bit shorter, but if you’re interested to learn more, click here.
After unboxing our new Message fork, we allotted a significant amount of time to the review so we could fine tune the ride and get to the bottom of a linkage front suspension. The short media camp was a great introduction, but we were excited to get the fork on a personal bike on home trails. In keeping with the blacked-out batman vibe we opted to mount the Trust Message to our Ibis Ripley, which we reviewed here.
Shortly after we mounted the Message up, we were able to get out for some more riding with the Trust Performance crew in Whistler during Crankworx. The entire staff at Trust is beyond helpful. They go out of their way to make sure you are getting the most out of their product and they all happen to be rippers, so they can relate to the fastest of riders.
Trust says the Message can replace forks between 110-140mm and is aimed mainly at the trail market. The fork offers 130mm of “Contoured travel,” which means Trust is controlling the axle path with the linkage. The axle moves up and back, which is like many modern rear end travel paths.
Max tire width is 29×2.6 or 27.5 x 2.8, the fork can accommodate either wheel size as there is no traditional arch limiting size. Axle to crown is 535mm, right in line with other modern offset forks. The axle is 15×110, max rotor size is 203mm, and the Message will fit on any tapered headtube frame.
Once you get around the visual element, you will start to notice the details that really make the Message what it is. The chassis and links are built from ultra-burly carbon. We got our hands on some slow-mo footy of the Message being sent through a some gnarly square-edge hits and saw practically zero fore-aft flex in the legs, all of the force was being applied directly to the links and damper, and that is exactly where the real meat of the Message is, the damper.
Some of you may look at this fork and think, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” but Trust isn’t sitting back and content with the status quo. The problems of stiction, cavitation, and high friction found in telescoping forks have been addressed in the Message. Short strokes, hysteresis control, and small diameter shafts work to address the issues we’ve accepted for decades. That sounds like a lot of marketeering, but the proof is evident when you can start cycling the suspension with the push of your pointer finger, yet it resists brake dive and standing effort bob.
So do all these differences in design translate to a meaningful change in suspension dynamics and control? I think so, and here are my top reasons why.
Climbing on the Message is truly impressive. I usually climbed with the fork in the completely open mode as it has a very good platform built into the linkage. But the mid lockout is perfect for long and steep trail climbs as it gives a huge amount of support but still allows for grip producing travel. Tight steering is accurate and precise but does get some getting used to as you are looking down the legs which are significantly in front of the axle.
Trust designed the Message to address the inherent issues found in telescoping forks, with complex trailing link geometry, high end dampers, and a unique design. Take away all the fancy words and I find that the fork just rides faster and better. I was consistently able to hold more aggressive lines, higher on the trail with an increased feeling of control. While I had more control of the bike, I did not feel that the ride was plush or forgiving. The Message rides very high in its travel until the moment you need it, then it gives you everything it has.
This on/off feeling of the damper is pretty easy to tune out. Optional air spring spacers (Huck Pucks) are available and easy to put into each side of the springs. These improved the bottom out on big hits immensely and let the fork settle just a bit more into the mid travel.
With the pucks installed, not once did I feel the bottom of the travel, but when checking the travel indicator, I was always at 100%. Overall, I would say the travel feels somewhat vague. I could not tell you if I used all the travel or just stayed in the top 50% after a high-speed rock garden. What I could tell you is that I was faster and more in control than my old favorite forks. It’s a weird feeling and visual reference to get used to, but the clock didn’t lie.
The Wolf’s Last Word
After testing bikes for so long we often feel like, “I’ve got this, I know what it’s gonna do,” before we even pedal down the trail. Our reference points are only based on what we’ve ridden in the past, and we’ve been fortunate enough to ride A LOT of stuff. However, when products come along like this, our calibrations get checked. When suppleness, fore-aft flex, platform and low-speed isolation are so different from anything we’ve ridden, it forces us to step back and reevaluate what it really means for something to feel good.
The Message is not exactly a plush Cadillac, but, most aggressively set up 130-140mm forks don’t fall in the plush category either. We did notice that the Message requires a bit more of the rider, as it’s not quite as forgiving as some forks on the market, but for every extra bit of energy the rider puts in, the Message will be there. When I pushed the Ibis Ripley into terrain outside its 140mm comfort zone, this fork would give me the confidence to stay off the brakes and just point the front wheel. It’s the most stable and capable ride we have experienced on a short travel fork. We held lines that would have other forks flexing and twisting as we struggled to stay on line and off the brakes.
Ultimately, if you like to squeeze the absolute max out of shorter travel rigs, go fast, and ride race lines, the Message could really take your riding to the next level. The small weight penalty is worth every bit of performance gain the Message has to offer, whether or not the price and looks are, is up to you.
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