Once again, our routine patent trawls have pulled up yet another gem. This time, it comes from Specialized and suggests that there's a linkage fork under development. Here's everything we know.
This isn't the first time we've seen a bike brand turn its hand to suspension tech as Giant launched its own Crest fork in 2019, which is often seen on its budget mountain bikes. Of course, Specialized is no stranger to suspension tech either, as its cross-country mountain bike, the Epic, utilises the Brain system. The Brain uses an inertia valve mounted towards the rear of the bike which will firm up the suspension on smooth terrain and open up the shock when bumps are detected.
Like Giant, Spesh has turned its hand to a suspension fork as suggested by a patent that was granted on 13 December 2022 but what's interesting is that it's a linkage fork.
Much like Specialized's experience in fettling with suspension tech, linkage forks are nothing new and they offer a range of benefits, notably less stiction as they run on bearings, rather than seals and oils. But let's address the elephant in the room, this looks remarkably like the forks that the now out-of-business brand, Trust Performance used to produce.
This fork gained huge traction not only due to the look of the thing but it was also designed by the mighty Dave Weagle. And it offered a range of benefits as it retained a bike's head angle as it progressed through its travel, something that telescopic forks can't offer and it's said to offer a very precise characteristic while steering to name just two.
2022 specialized linkage fork compress.jpg, by Liam Mercer
Interestingly, Trust Performance went out of business mid-way through the pandemic and that could have been because the forks were a rather tough sell. The looks were divisive, to say the least, and the Message suspension fork came with the asking price of £2,500, over £1,000 more than the leading telescoping forks from Fox and RockShox, which are pretty darn good themselves. Though COVID-19 was the final nail in the coffin, exhibiting slowed sales and uncertainty around investments.
It's rumoured that Trust Performance had to put its patents up for sale in order to recoup a bit of cash, which directly explains why Specialized's fresh patent drawings look remarkably similar to the Message and Shout forks. In the patent, Dave Weagle is even credited as the Inventor.
Differences between the original Trust fork and Specialized's new patent are strikingly few, although the patent suggests that the new fork will include a rotation sensor that 'measures an angular relationship between two links and a setpoint of the suspension assembly is adjusted based on the angular measurements'. This is some classic, confusing patent talk, but, by looking at the drawings, it appears as though Specialized has designed a new sag indicator.
Though to answer the question posed in the title of this article, yes. With Dave Weagle's name in the patent and the drawings a near carbon copy, it's looking like we might see what can only be described as a Specialized-clad Trust fork.
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