Suspension, why bother setting it up?
correctly tuned suspension can make a good bicycle feel capital, but a poor frame-up can make a great bicycle tactile property frightful. We take you through the substantive steps to optimize your bicycle for your ride style and the trails that you love. Spending a couple of hours tweaking your suspension will transform your riding enjoyment and can besides be a set of fun .
You’re not a number!
The aim of this tuning guide is to help you reach a suspension setting that is optimised for you. suspension set up is dynamic – there are therefore many variables like your weight, where you ride, what you ride and how you ride, that mean that just copying your mates ’, or even worse a pro ’ second, frame-up will result in sub-optimal performance. While most manufacturers now offer printed guidelines that will give you a good base apparatus, following this guide will give you the skills to personalise that frame-up.
Suspension is always a compromise
There ’ s no such thing as the perfect pause specify. If you optimise your suspension to provide big-hit support, little find sensitivity will suffer. Suspension setup is constantly a compromise, finding a balance between sensitivity and support. It ’ s consequently authoritative to find the suspension balance that suits the way you ride and your trails .
Before you start
Before you invest prison term optimising your suspension, you need to ensure that your suspension fork and shock are in good working club. There ’ sulfur no steer spend time on setup if your abeyance units are puffing and wheezing their room down the hill. Most abeyance manufacturers recommend an anoint service every 50 hours of riding and a fully damper service every 100 – 200. Be honest, when was the last time you had yours checked ? If you ’ re setting up a modern bicycle you don ’ t have to worry, but if your bicycle has seen some natural process it is essential to first get your units serviced by professionals – it will transform the operation of your motorcycle !
To follow this guide you will need your normal riding clothes, right down to your helmet and backpack. To best optimize your bike’s performance you will need a short section of your favourite technical trail, a shock pump, a measuring device (ruler or tape), a calculator and a buddy to help.
Step 1: Setting your sag
For your abeyance to perform at its best, it must be able to respond to every contour of the trail. When you hit an object, your fork and electric shock compress, absorbing the energy from the impact. This, in turn, is released by extending back out again. To maintain grip, suspension forks and shocks not alone have to absorb impacts but besides extend to fill holes and keep your tires on the ground. In order to let the abeyance both compress and carry, we preload the suspension with our own body system of weights. The measure of preload is known as sag, literally the amount the suspension sags into its travel when you sit on the motorcycle. Too little sag and the bicycle will lack grip as it can not extend into compressions, excessively a lot and it will wallow and respond ailing to repeated impacts .
When we sit on the bike the amount the suspension compresses into its travel is known as the sag and it defines the way your bike rides.
Setting your rear shock sag
Before you start make sure your rear shock is in ‘ fully open ’ mode ( if you have a low-speed compression adjuster wind it amply in the [ – ] commission ). Have your assistant support the bicycle on charge ground as you climb on .
- Bounce firmly up and down to charge the negative spring and free up the travel.
- Assume your normal seated position and after allowing the bike to settle for at least 5 seconds have your assistant push the rubber O-ring on the shock stanchion up (or down) to the rubber wiper seal.
- Carefully rock your weight forward and dismount from the bike without disturbing the O-ring.
- Measure the distance the O-ring has been pushed up from the wiper seal in mm.
- Divide this number by the total shock stroke (often less than the physical shock shaft length, check in your bike manual) and then multiply by 100 to get the percentage sag, e.g. (15 mm / 50 mm) x 100 = 30%.
- To achieve the correct sag, add or remove air from the air-spring as needed and repeat.
many manufacturers will have a suggested sag rig, but if not, we recommend a base plant of 30 %. If you require less sag simply add air to the shock, if you require more sag lower the air press. Add atmosphere in 10 pounds per square inch increments and each time repeat the procedure until you reach the necessitate sag .
Pro-Tip: While setting the sag, hold equitable one brake, not both or you will cause wrong readings .
Setting your fork sag
once the rear electric shock is set correctly, it ’ sulfur prison term to set up your suspension branch. Make certain your suspension dampen is fully open and adjust the air-spring imperativeness to the manufacturer ’ south recommendation. Have your adjunct support the bicycle as you climb on .
- Bounce firmly up and down to charge the negative spring and free up the seals.
- Assume your normal standing attack position then after allowing the bike to settle for at least 5 seconds have your assistant slide the rubber O-ring on the fork stanchion down to the rubber wiper seal.
- Carefully rock your weight back and dismount from the bike without disturbing the O-ring.
- Measure the distance the O-ring has been pushed up from the wiper seal in mm. Divide this number by the total travel (eg 160 mm) and then x 100 to get the percentage sag.
- To achieve the correct sag, add or remove air from the air-spring as needed and repeat.
get down with the manufacturer ’ sulfur recommendation, or if there are none we would suggest 20 %. If you require less sag simply add air travel to the fork, if you require more sag let some air out. Add publicize in 10 pounds per square inch increments and each clock repeat the work until you reach the command sag .
It ’ sulfur now time to optimize your floor plant. Choose a short section of local anesthetic lead that includes features that you regularly ride. Rocks, drops, jumps, berms and G-outs, whatever you enjoy riding – the more features the better. Choose a chase with at least one section where you would expect to use wide travel and one that you are comfortable with where you can hit the lapp lines again and again. Before you start tuning, be certain all external rebound and compression adjustments are set to the manufacturer ’ mho recommended specifications. This will put all settings in a good establish range for your weight .
If a rider has a drag they ride hebdomadally and sleep together very good, they should be using all of their travel on occasions. What frequently happens is a rider will go to a raw trail or one that they don ’ t know angstrom well and won ’ thymine achieve full travel. This is oklahoma as they won ’ metric ton be riding ampere fast as they would on familiar trails. Mark Fitzsimmons, FOX Suspension Program Manager
Step 2: Optimising your air-spring rate
While 20 % sag in the fork and 30 % in the shock is a beneficial foundation determine, it may not be the optimum for your depend on vogue and the bicycle ’ sulfur suspension design. leap rate ( the force needed to compress the give ) is constantly a balance between big-hit accompaniment and little bump sensitivity. The optimum settings for you will depend on your riding style and the trails you ride .
After a few runs to get comfortable, push the crotch and shock O-rings down to their windshield wiper seal and ride the lead, concentrating on how big impacts and drops tactile property, is your bicycle bottoming out harshly, does it feel harsh on little bumps, are you getting full travel where you expect to ?
If the rear of your bike feels wallowy and stuck to the ground, bottoming out easily
Your shock spring rate is excessively low. Add pressure to the rear shock absorber, 10 pounds per square inch at a time, and repeat the trail. Stop adding air when the bicycle feels good, while still giving full travel when required. Make a note of the optimize pressure .
If the rear of your bike feels harsh over small bumps and does not give you full travel where you desire
Your jolt form rate is besides high. Remove pressure from the rear shock 10 psi at a time and repeat the chase. Stop when the bicycle feels good over small bumps and maintains grip. Make a note of the optimize imperativeness .
If your suspension fork dives when you brake or ride very steep trails
Your crotch air spring rate is besides low. Add atmospheric pressure to the suspension crotch 5 psi at a time and repeat the lead. Stop when the fork dives less and gives good support. Make a note of the optimize atmospheric pressure .
If the suspension fork feels harsh over small bumps and lacks grip
Your fork air spring rate is besides high. Remove coerce from the pitchfork 5 psi at a time and repeat the drag. Stop when the fork feels sensitive over humble bumps but calm has good support. Make a note of the optimize coerce .
Pro-Tip: If you find that the only way to stop frequently bottoming out your suspension branch or shock is to use a high spring imperativeness that feels very coarse over belittled impacts, you may need to increase your spring rate progression, see step 3 .
Step 3: Spring rate progression
We now have to consider how brawny you are as a passenger and how challenge your trails are. If you ’ re a potent passenger and feel like the back abeyance is frequently bottoming out, or your fork is running abject in its travel under hard brake and fast corners even though the motorcycle does not feel cushy in general ride, you may need to adjust the give rate progressiveness. For a more progressive spring rate you need to add bulk spacers ( or remove if you are not using enough travel ). Adding book spacers will make the final examination function of the suspension stroke firmer, requiring more impel to bottom out.
Read more : 7 Bike Fit Tips for Older Riders
If you feel that you are bottoming out your suspension too frequently, despite running the correct air-spring pressure
Reduce the volume of air in the fork or shock air-spring chamber with the accession of 1-2 volume reducers .
If you feel that you struggle to achieve full travel where you expect to
Increase the volume of air in the fork or shock air give chamber by removing 1-2 volume reducers .
Pro-Tip: If you make boastful changes to the apparatus of your branching, such as a firmer spring rate or the addition of more volume tokens, go back and tune the bounce rate and progressiveness of the back jolt to match. It ’ s probable that with better front end confidence, you will ride more powerfully and need to reconfigure the shock. Go back to the track and start again .
Step 4: Rebound damping
Rebound damping controls the speed at which compressed suspension extends after an impact.
If rebound damp is besides low ( – ) the suspension will extend besides fast and feel bouncing and out of control. If the rally damp is besides high gear ( + ) the suspension will not recover fast enough after repeated impacts and ‘ pack down ’, sinking ever lower into its travel and performing ailing .
Setting rebound damping on your shock
- Start by adding full rebound damping (+) to the shock.
- Choose a small drop to ride off slowly and focus on how the rear suspension springs back after impact.
- Repeat the test, each time reduce rebound damping by one click (-) and see how the shock starts to recover faster.
- Stop when the rear shock recovers so fast it overshoots a tiny amount. This is a good base setting. Now repeat a full section of trail at this setting. Experiment twice more with two clicks either side and see which feels the most controlled with good grip .
Setting rebound damping on your fork
- To set a base fork rebound, start with the rebound fully closed (+). Stand next to your bike and compress the fork with your body weight. Quickly release the fork and let it bounce back.
- Adjust the rebound until the fork rebounds as fast as possible without causing the front wheel to ‘jump’ off the ground.
- Once the base setting has been set, repeat a full section of trail at this setting. Now repeat a full section of trail at this setting. Experiment twice more with two clicks either side and see which feels the most controlled with good grip.
But what about high-speed rally damping ? Most pause forks and shocks have a unmarried recoil adjuster, which efficaciously is a low-speed bounce adjuster. Some identical high-end suspension units besides have a high-speed rebound adjuster excessively, controlling rebound speed at high-shaft speeds. however, we have seen that there is a draw of crossover voter between high- and low-speed recoil, any adaptation of one directly influences the other. If you have a high-speed bounce adjuster, we recommend setting it to the manufacturer ’ randomness recommendation and then setting rebound as described above using the low-speed recoil adjuster .
Pro-Tip: If you ride a set on easy terrain or slowly, then a slower rally may feel more comfortable initially. however, moving to faster terrain, for model on a holiday in the Alps, will leave you with sore arms and legs as your motorcycle can not recover fast enough from the hits. Run as fast a recoil set as is comfortable for maximum performance .
Step 5: Low-Speed Compression Damping
Low-speed compression damping influences your suspension characteristics at low shaft speeds (not bike speeds), predominantly influencing the mid-portion of the suspension travel.
If you feel like you have achieved a good spring rate with full small blow operation and good bottom out control, but you feel that the motorcycle lacks mid-stroke patronize, sinking bass into its travel when you brake hard, ride steep trails or push the bicycle in to corners and jump faces, you need to add more low accelerate compression damping. Adding low focal ratio compaction damp does decrease suspension sensitivity, so you alone want to add the minimum level to achieve enough support. start with it fully open ( no extra dampen added ) .
If you feel that your bike moves through the middle of its stroke too quickly
- Starting with no low-speed compression damping added on the shock, ride the test trail, each time increasing the low-speed compression two clicks (+).
- Focus on how the bike feels under big weight shifts, braking, corners and jump faces. Stop when the bike feels supportive in the mid-part of its travel.
- Repeat for the fork.
Pro-Tip: Try to keep your low-speed compression damping settings balanced. For exercise, if you run very high low-speed compression on the fork and none on the rear shock, the motorcycle will tend to shift more system of weights to the rear wheel during ride, and frailty versa. A balance apparatus is key .
Step 6: High-Speed Compression Damping
The most expensive forks and rear shocks have a high-speed compression damping adjustment (HSC), controlling the damping when the suspension compresses at high shaft speeds (big, fast impacts).
If you find that your fork or shock is placid bottoming out excessively easily and have a high-end shock and pitchfork with the choice, you can adjust your high-speed compaction dampen. Adding more high-speed compaction damping reduces the amount of change of location the branching uses in high gear accelerate impacts ( shaft travel rapidly not bike speed ). abject levels of high-speed compression result in digressive damp which allows full travel well in reaction to big, fast hits, whereas high levels result in progressive dampen, reducing the sum of travel available in reaction to boastful, fast hits .
If you feel that your bike needs more support at the end of the stroke during high-speed hits
- Starting with no high-speed compression damping added on the shock, ride the test trail, each time increasing it by one or two (if there is a lot of range) clicks.
- Focus on how the bike feels under high-speed impacts, like landing jumps or big obstacles at high speed. Stop when the bike feels supportive at the end of its travel.
- Repeat for the fork.
Step 7: Check for balancee
When it comes to rebound and damping, in nearly all cases a balanced suspension setup is essential for optimal performance.
As a final check, find some level anchor and ride slowly across it on your bicycle. From the attack-position pump repeatedly up and down ampere intemperate as you can. The bicycle should feel supportive and the bounce speed should feel balanced for both the front and raise. If the bicycle feels unbalanced, identify where the imbalance is coming from and make equate adjustments .
A poise suspension apparatus is very crucial. grip not alone comes from the tires and terrain surface, but the total of coerce the rider is placing on the presence and buttocks tire. A balance setup is authoritative to this component of grip. Mark Fitzsimmons, FOX Fahrwerksprogramm-Manager
If you follow this guide, you will not only find a abeyance setting that is optimised for your ride style and terrain, but besides gain a deeper agreement of how each property of your suspension functions and interacts. commodity suspension performance is a balance, a compromise flush, between many different factors. If you make any big changes to one mise en scene of your suspension, you need to balance the early settings to match.
Read more : 7 Bike Fit Tips for Older Riders
This article is from ENDURO issue #038
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Words: Trev Worsey Photos: Finlay Anderson