Setting Up Your Bike’s Suspension 1/3: Suspension Breakdown

In this three part series, we will be covering everything you need to know about your suspension and how to set it up. For the first part, we’ll be going over a breakdown of the main controls you need to know about.

Almost all suspension products, front and rear, will have at least some settings so you can fine tune them. Having these settings dialled in will greatly increase your comfort and ride quality. Follow this guide to learn more about suspension, and how to set it up.

There are numerous ways to adjust settings on your suspension, but the most common you’ll find are Preload, Compression, and Rebound.

Preload Adjustment:
Preload is exactly what is sounds like; it is “pre-loading” your suspension fork. Basically, dialling this in or “adding preload” will slightly compress the spring to increase the resistance your fork/shock will have against force. If you have an air sprung shock, adding more pressure has the same effect.

Compression Damping:
Compression damping happens internally. It works by changing the flow of oil through tiny holes inside different chambers in the fork. The more compression damping you add, the slower your fork or rear shock will compress. On the other hand, this will limit the free movement of your suspension when you are on rougher terrain or when you hit any bumps.

*Side note, suspension products with a lockout feature, are using a very high compression damping setting to achieve that rigid feel.

Rebound Damping:
Rebound damping also happens internally. It’s very similar to compression damping, but the difference is that it works going the opposite way. Rebound damping is when the suspension is rebounding to its original position after being compressed.

The more rebound damping you add, the slower your fork or rear shock will return to its full travel. Having too little rebound damping can make your suspension fork feel like its trying to eject you off your bike after an impact or hard turn. On the other hand, dialling it in too much can make it feel “packed down”, restricting the suspension from returning to its full travel on rough terrain or repeated hits.

Now that you know all the technical terms and have an idea of what is going on with your suspension, stay tuned for our guide on how to set up your front suspension fork!

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