arrange mountain bike suspension: forks and rear shocks

The whole lot it is advisable learn about the way to arrange your mountain bike suspension, together with mountain bike fork, shock and coil shock suspension arrange.

Want a little bit of assist with arrange mountain bike suspension fork and shock (if in case you have one)? Arrange is completely essential to be able to get most consolation and management whereas using off-road. Get it incorrect and also you’ll be preventing a relentless battle together with your bike and the terrain. Get it proper and you’ll enter an entire new world of management. And whereas it could possibly appear very difficult, getting the fundamentals proper is definitely easy. Learn on and learn how to dial in your mountain bike suspension.

When you’ve determined you need to improve your suspension, take a look at our guides to the finest mountain bike suspension forks and finest rear suspension shocks to search out our beneficial choices.

Right here’s what we’re protecting on this information:

Soar to: Fundamental suspension concept – how does MTB suspension work?
Soar to: set the sag on mountain bike suspension
Soar to: set rebound damping on a mountain bike
Soar to: Rapha UK girls’s clothes sale
Soar to: alter spring development in mountain bike suspension
Soar to: And at last, take care of your suspension!

Fundamental suspension concept – how does MTB suspension work?

Mountain bike suspension is both by way of forks which management the motion of the entrance wheel, or forks and a shock which controls the rear wheel motion. These are important pneumatic springs (or typically, within the case of shocks, precise springs) and it’s how these springs are tweaked to answer the terrain, rider and surroundings that impacts how properly they carry out.

With organising suspension you’re primarily setting two issues: how arduous the spring is and the way that spring’s motion is managed (the damping).

With air sprung suspension (which covers the overwhelming majority of suspension today), the firmness of the spring is dictated by the air strain. Air strain in an air chamber. When you want a tougher or softer spring you alter the strain on this chamber with a shock pump.

For this information we’re going to imagine that you’ve air sprung suspension, however in case you do have coil sprung suspension this information remains to be price studying because the rules are nonetheless related.

The spring’s motion – the way it compresses and the way it re-extends (rebounds) – is managed by your suspension’s damping.

Damping is basically fluid passing by a gap or over a collection of steel shims (very skinny washers). Fluid will transfer extra slowly by a small gap than a bigger gap, or over a thicker/stiffer shim than a thinner shim. With a bigger gap, fluid will cross by quicker. Whenever you’re adjusting your damping, you’re altering the dimensions of gap(s) that the fluid flows by.

How a lot management and adjustment you’ve over your suspension’s damping will rely in your fork or rear shock. Some forks and shocks solely have rebound damping adjustment. Some forks and shocks have compression damping adjustment as properly.

Some greater finish forks and shocks have separate damping changes for low velocity and excessive velocity impacts/forces. We’ll cope with these afterward on this information.

set the sag on mountain bike suspension

That is very first thing it is advisable do together with your suspension. Fortunately it’s additionally the best factor you’ll have to do. You’ll want a selected shock pump for this.

What’s sag? Sag merely refers back to the place the bike settles into with a rider on board. It’s your start line earlier than fettling another parameters. Start with the rear suspension, assuming you’ve it.

Man sitting on mountain bike to set shock sag - how to set up MTB suspension

Whereas many guides advise you to set your sag in what’s also known as the ‘assault’ place, we’d counsel taking a seated method. Why? It’s a bit extra repeatable than the standing place, it’s simpler to do by yourself, as you don’t want a helper to carry the bike, or a wall to lean in opposition to, and eventually it’s much less seemingly that your suspension will find yourself too gentle whenever you’re seated and climbing, as that’s the place you utilize to set-up the bike.

Suspension is designed to work finest with between 25-35% sag (AKA 1 / 4 to a 3rd). For instance, on a 100mm journey bike you need to purpose to have 25mm-33mm of sagged journey whenever you sit in your bike.

  1. Begin by ensuring any lockouts are off and your compression damping dial is open (unscrew counter-clockwise).

2. Drop your saddle and sit on the bike together with your again straight, your legs planted on the bottom and your arms holding the bars.

3. Bounce on the bike a bit and let it settle.

4. Slide the o-ring on the shock as much as the seal on the air can.

Detail of mtb shock showing o-ring - how to set up MTB suspension

5. Elevate your ft for a second in order that your weight is operating immediately by your straight again to your saddle.

6. Arise and step off the bike, ensuring that you simply don’t compress the suspension additional.

Setting suspension shock sag - how to set up MTB suspension

7. Test the gap from the principle air seal to the o-ring. When you have a RockShox shock you possibly can learn the gradients to work out your sag proportion – purpose for 30% to begin with. If it’s one other model then measure the gap utilizing a small ruler or tape measure.

8. Discover out the shock stroke in your bike and divide by 3.3 to work out 30% sag. In case your o-ring has gone past this level then you definately’ll want so as to add air, if it hasn’t reached it then you definately’ll have to take away air.

Pumping up mtb shock - how to set up MTB suspension

9. When including or subtracting air keep in mind to compress the suspension with the pump connected to equalise the constructive and adverse chambers earlier than you recheck the sag. You are able to do this by placing your abdomen on the saddle and pulling up on the swingarm.

10. Don’t verify the sag with the pump connected as it’ll act as an additional air chamber.

11. Make an observation of the strain in your telephone whenever you hit 30% sag so you possibly can at all times get again to your baseline in case you make adjustments.

Pumping up fork pressure - how to set up MTB suspension

12. With regards to fork sag, we are inclined to go far more by really feel than any particular proportion. Attempt beginning with the beneficial pressures printed on the chart in your fork, which is able to work out round 15-25%.

You need the bike to really feel just like the entrance and rear are transferring up and down roughly the identical quantity whenever you bounce round within the automotive park.

As soon as using, in case you discover you’re not getting first rate quantities of journey used on massive hits and landings then be at liberty to attempt rising how a lot sag you’re operating ie. let air of the suspension, attempt 10psi at a time. You must also dial off a click on or two of rebound damping after you’ve let air out.

Many manufacturers now have suspension set-up calculators that can assist you get began. These may be very helpful, however at all times cross-check with your individual sag measurements to see how correct they’re. Most ask you to enter your top and weight and offers you a strain for the shock and typically the fork. The extra refined calculators may even offer you damper settings and quantity spacer suggestions.

PRO TIP: Attempt to use the identical pump when making adjustments to your shock strain, because the gauge could learn in another way between pumps. 

set rebound damping on a mountain bike

DO NOT try and set your rebound damping till you’ve set your sag correctly!

In case your bike has compression adjustment (blue dials) then unwind them utterly (counterclockwise). An important damping adjustment to get proper (it’s additionally the most typical adjustment on all forks and shocks) is rebound damping. That is the velocity at which the fork or shock returns after hitting a bump. Most rebound dials are crimson and also you’ll discover them on the physique of the shock and/or the bottom of the fork, by the dropout. Begin by closing the rebound circuit utterly (clockwise), then rely the variety of clicks to totally open (counterclockwise). That’s your vary of adjustment.

Rebound adjuster on mountain bike fork

The rebound adjuster on this set of forks sits slightly below the leg

  1. Set each your fork and your shock in the midst of the vary and make a lap of the automotive park.

2. Bend your knees and elbows and compress the suspension as arduous as doable, however as your physique extends totally, preserve your limbs straight.

3. Watch the fork and the shock – they need to return simply previous the sag level, then settle at sag. In the event that they prolong past the sag level on the second compression then it is advisable add a single click on of rebound damping. In the event that they return to the sag level with out going past it, then it is advisable cut back the rebound damping by one click on.

Fox Float MY24 new shock trunion or in line

As a basic information, on Fox and Rockshox shocks, the crimson dial controls rebound, and the blue controls compression price

4. Repeat the method one click on at a time till the rebound takes you simply past sag then settles again to sag. Make an observation of the variety of clicks from totally closed in your telephone.

5. Now you possibly can play with the damping out on a experience and at all times be capable of return to the baseline.

PRO TIP: You have to to reset the rebound damping in case you change the air strain or development utilizing quantity spacers.

set compression damping

Not all suspension forks or rear shocks have adjustable compression damping so this part might not be relevant to you.

In case your suspension does have adjustable compression damping, you don’t HAVE to regulate it in case you really feel it is perhaps a bit past you in the mean time. that’s wonderful. Go experience your bike.

Detail photo of mtb shock - how to set up MTB suspension

The blue dial on the piggyback resevoir management the compression damping

Compression damping impacts how your suspension compresses.

Not sufficient compression damping will lead to suspension that bobs round and dives by its journey whereas pedalling, descending and/or below braking.

An excessive amount of compression damping will forestall your suspension from absorbing impacts successfully. You’ll really feel it relax at you, also referred to as ‘spiking’. If the palms of your fingers really feel sore on the finish of a descent, you might have an excessive amount of compression damping in your fork.

Compression damping is once more, a factor of private desire. Some riders like an easy-moving supple suspension, different riders choose tremendous secure suspension that doesn’t transfer eagerly. Suppose firmly-sprung rally automotive versus soft household property automotive.

Typically talking, quite a lot of riders don’t have sufficient compression damping dialled on. Their suspension bobs round and dives excessively.

Preset compression damping modes

Quite a lot of rear shocks (and a few forks) have built-in presets for compression damping. Fox forks and shocks, for instance, typically have a pedal platform mode with extra compression damping and an open mode with much less.

The pedal platform mode means numerous compression damping, leading to a agency experience that resists transferring below pedalling (bobbing) however doesn’t hand over enough suspension journey on bumps.

Open mode means minimal compression damping, leading to a supple, plush experience however one that may be wallowy with extreme bobbing.

This shock is currently set to Trail preset setting

This shock is at present set to a ‘Path’ preset setting

Path mode is the overall all-rounder setting. Agency sufficient to keep away from extra bobbing however nonetheless in a position to take up first rate hits.

RockShox and different corporations have comparable presets.

Low velocity compression

When you have suspension with correctly adjustable compression (versus built-in presets) then it’s price attending to know the way it works.

Principally low-speed compression impacts how the suspension compresses at low speeds and through low amplitude forces.

Dial in low velocity compression till your suspension doesn’t bob about excessively below pedalling. Some bob is okay (typically unavoidable actually) nevertheless it’s good to eliminate your suspension pogo-ing round robbing you of power and management.

Don’t fear about shedding small bump absorption an excessive amount of; your tyres are there for absorbing the small stuff.

With low velocity compression dialled in suitably you’ll additionally discover that your fork doesn’t dive or sink by its journey throughout steep descents, particularly these the place you’re braking considerably.

Excessive velocity damping changes

Not quite a lot of suspension forks or rear shocks have adjustable excessive velocity damping (rebound or compression). It’s reserved for top finish models meant for knowledgable riders and racers.

Setting excessive velocity damping is one thing of a darkish artwork. Most riders dial off the excessive velocity compression. Additionally they dial in a couple of clicks of excessive velocity rebound in the event that they’re using terrain with numerous jumps and drop-offs.

Learn extra: arrange a Cane Creek rear shock

We’re not going to enter adjusting excessive velocity damping on this information. When you have a shock with excessive velocity damping adjustment, your finest wager is to seek advice from the instruction guide and/or web site of the producer.

alter spring development in mountain bike suspension
Imagine it or not, on quite a lot of suspension these days you possibly can have it behave in a sure approach for the primary a part of its journey while on the identical time have it behave otherwise for the latter stage of its journey.

In different phrases, you possibly can have a supple, linear price motion for the primary third (approx) of your suspension’s journey and now have a firmer, ramping up motion for the latter third of your suspension journey.

This tweaking of your suspension’s spring price is finished by way of quantity spacers.

Inserting quantity spacers into your fork (eg. RockShox’s Bottomless Tokens) or rear shock solely impacts how your suspension feels for the final a part of its journey. How the suspension behaves on the sag level or within the center a part of its journey stays unaffected.

When you’re a lighter rider, or a rider who rides comparatively sedately on milder terrain, you’ll be wonderful together with your suspension as it’s. You don’t nee quantity spacers. Simply experience your bike.

When you’re a heavier or extra aggressive rider tackling technical terrain at excessive speeds then you possibly can actually profit from rising the progressivity of your suspension.

Learn extra: match Fox Float rear shock quantity spacers

With quantity spacers put in you possibly can run decrease air pressures in your suspension and/or much less low velocity compression damping and have a supple freely-moving motion to the early phases of your suspension’s journey while on the identical time avoiding a fork that blows/dives by the latter stage of its journey too eagerly.

Don’t overlook to burp your suspension!

This isn’t a vital factor however you might want to do it, simply because. What can we imply by “burp”? Principally air can get trapped beneath your fork’s mud wipers. It doesn’t have an enormous impact however it could possibly trigger them to lose a bit of flexibleness.

eliminate the trapped air? Pay money for a small zip tie and thoroughly push it between the fork stanchion and the mud wiper seals. Insert the zip tie solely a centimetre or two. You might hear a small hiss of air come out.

When you do, take away zip tie slowly and get again to setting your suspension up as earlier than. When you don’t hear any air hiss out, by no means thoughts. There wasn’t any trapped in there. Slowly take away zip tie and stick with it with different setup twiddles. If fork feels a bit sticky, it’s in all probability in want of a fast lube mini-service.

And at last, take care of your suspension!

Don’t neglect your suspension. It’ll degrade depressingly shortly in case you do, particularly in filthy situations. That is extra true for forks as it’s for rear shocks (though it’s best to nonetheless keep watch over your rear shock).

You’ll be stunned how simple and fast it’s to carry out a primary clear-out and lube-up job in your fork and rear shock.

You in all probability gained’t want any bizarre particular instruments however you have to to pay money for some suspension fluid that’s designed in your explicit model of suspension.

Seeking to improve your suspension? Take a look at our information to the finest mountain bike forks and finest mountain bike rear suspension, which covers each air and coil shock choices. Or if it’s time for a full improve, our information to the perfect mountain bikes has one thing to swimsuit each using fashion and funds.