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Suspension fork settings – What they mean

Suspension fork settings – What they mean


Changing the settings on your suspension has
a huge affect on your bike’s performance. You can make it more plush, responsive, or
playful. A lot of these settings are fast and easy,
while some take some more time. Today, we’ll do a basic overview of the
most common settings and what they do—specifically the ones you’ll find on an air fork. The first setting that most riders are familiar
with is air pressure, which you’ll set with a shock pump. Most forks come with a guide which is based
on rider weight, but that won’t give you a perfect result. For that, you’ll need to adjust your sag. When you sit on your bike, your fork compresses
a little bit, or at least it’s supposed to. This is sag, and it’s expressed as a percentage
of the forks total travel. Most trail and XC forks ride best with between
20% and 35% sag, but you should check with your manufacturer. The longer your travel, the more sag you’ll
likely need. You can determine your sag by sitting on your
bike with all your gear on, and pushing this ring to the bottom. When you get off, the position of the ring
will indicate your sag. The Pike even has a guide printed on the stanchion
to make things easier. More sag makes your suspension feel plush,
which helps you maintain control on chunky terrain. Less sag can make your fork more responsive,
but that’s only beneficial when the terrain is more moderate or flowy. If you like riding street, for instance, you
can get away with very little sag. Even with proper sag, aggressive riders will
sometimes find themselves bottoming out. Naturally they add more pressure, which works
at the expense of ride quality. There’s a better way. These are called volume reducers, or tokens. The more of these you have in your fork, the
less room there is for air. This makes your fork stiffen up towards the
end of its travel. You’ll hear people call this “progressive”
travel. The opposite would be “linear travel”. Linear travel, or no volume reducers would
look like this. Green indicates the part of the fork’s travel
that’s real supple and squishy, while red indicates firmness. As we reduce the volume, or add these expensive
pieces of plastic, the travel becomes more progressive. Reducing your forks volume is easy. Just order the right reducers for your fork,
let all the pressure out, and install them on the top cap. Reinstall the cap and pump the fork back up
to pressure. If you’re still bottoming out, reduce the
volume more by adding more of these tokens. The next setting is the damper, or compression. You might know this dial as a lockout, or
the Charger on the Pike. Simply put, compression controls how much
the fork resists traveling. This can usually be done on the fly. Before a long climb, cranking this up provides
a stiffer pedaling platform. For descending, you want it open so that it’s
extra squishy. When you’re doing a lot of pedaling on flat
terrain, the middle setting can offer a balance between pedaling and shock absorption. A lot of forks, have a low speed compression
setting. This affects how it responds to braking, and
small bumps. If you find that your bike bobs around a lot
while pedaling, or dips too much while braking, you might want to dial this up a bit. Don’t turn it up more than you need to though,
as you still want your fork to absorb little bumps. Now for one of the most talked about settings,
rebound damping. This controls how fast your fork returns after
compressing. Close it up and your fork will return slowly. Open it up and it’ll return quickly. I think a good way to set your rebound is
to open it all the way and ride off some stuff. Are you getting bucked around when the fork
returns? Close it a few clicks to reduce the rebound
speed. You’ll find that slower rebound makes drops
feel really nice, but crank it up too much and it won’t return fast enough for the
next bump. Personally, I like my rebound on the faster
side since it makes for a more responsive and playful ride. So now that we have a basic understanding
of the settings on your fork, let’s have some fun. We’ve seen a few clips of this guy throughout
the video, and some of you might recognize him. Meet Clint Gibbs, a fellow YouTuber who races
XC and Cyclocross. Today, he was able to clock a time of 2:58
seconds on this course here at Santos. I thought it would be fun to max out his compression
and rebound and record his time again. First we cranked the compression all the way
up, which makes the fork all but locked out. When sprinting and climbing, this would have
been a benefit, but this course gets pretty chunky in some sections. For Clint, it was harder to maintain control
in the rough sections, and transfer power to the ground efficiently. In the end, he fell short of his fastest time
by a full 9 seconds. That’s a lot for such a short course, which
shows how much of an advantage suspension really provides. Next, we closed up his rebound as much as
it would go. Pretty hilarious actually—Fox lets you close
the rebound to a ridiculous level. This would be interesting. Surprise surprise, Clint got the same time
as he did in the fully locked position. With a slow rebound, your suspension doesn’t
have enough time to set up for consecutive bumps. So, it keeps sinking lower and lower into
its travel until it finally bottoms out. So, what about fully open? In this setting, there’s nothing stopping
the fork from returning. Like we saw this can make the bike too bouncy,
and buck you around, but it didn’t have much of an effect on Clint. His time was 2:59, only one second slower
than his fastest lap. So let’s say you’re dialing in your rebound
and trying to decide between a click or two either way. According to our test, you might want to give
the faster setting the benefit for the doubt. So, there you have it. My goal was to explain these settings without
giving you information overload, but I know a lot of you guys like to get into more detail. For that you might want to check out Clint’s
channel. He does long form discussions on all sorts
of stuff, like XC, Cyclocross, geometry, you name it. I left some links to his videos in the description,
as well as some charts, articles, and parts you can use to adjust your suspension. So before you ask me where to get volume reducers,
check the description. One thing I’d like to mention is that you
can apply most everything we discussed today to your rear shock. We’ll go over the specifics of that another
time, but for now I’d like to know about your setups. Leave a comment explaining how you like your
suspension to feel, and why. By the way, for all the beginners who have
been asking what the settings are on my Pike, here you go: Average sag, low volume, fast
rebound, and very little low speed compression. That’s as specific as I’m going to get
because telling you exact PSI and clicks would totally undermine the point of this video. I want you to go out and dick around with
your settings. You might learn something. Thanks for riding with me today, and I’ll
see you next time.

100 comments on “Suspension fork settings – What they mean

  1. I’ve been watching vids all night and this one, for some reason, just made it all make sense. Thanks for the outstanding video.

  2. Hey Seth, I am Brazilian and I am translating your videos subtitles to Portuguese. I did this one, but it seems it is awaiting approval or something. Let me know if you need me to change something! We look forward to have access to your subtitles videos here in Brazil, and I want to contribute! Cheers and congrats on the quality of your videos!

  3. Hey Seth small correction low speed compression controls the compression resistance when suspension is moving slowly*, i.e. deep dives, high drops, etc. Compliance with small frequent bumps is controlled by *high speed compression.

  4. Thanks for the intro to the suspension settings. Gives a nice big picture all at once so one can begin to understand what is going on and what the possibilities are.

  5. пиздец, у меня марзучи 66 рв была, там даже с 2 метров дропа не пробивал, а тут этот рокшлак просто нажатием на руль пробивают

  6. MRP ramp control cartridge. Seems like the best thing ever in conjunction with a grip2. Tune the thing perfect for general all around. Get the most dialed fork you can but have anything you may need on the fly besides a shock pump and that’s not that hard

  7. Seth you are killing it on the youtube views.. I would of never thought so many people are interested in tuning their fork

  8. hey seth

    nice and clear gide how to adjust

    but is there a hack to firm up a factory non adjustible zoom shock absorber?

  9. What if I sit on my bike and the fork is down,but when I get of it came back to normal that means I need to inflate it?dumb quest but im new to air

  10. Lol, on my recon gold, they recommend 135+ for my weight 205lbs. That gives me absolutely zero sag or compliance. I run 75psi with no reducers and that feels pretty good and I still don't bottom out.

  11. Guys, are most lower – mid costing Rockshox forks any good?
    The price gap is rather large when compared to more expensive variants.

  12. I've been following this channel since 66000 subscribers and remember thinking at the time this guy is awesome. Every things explained so well and he has a real passion for his videos, not like some that just post to keep there income coming in. Thanks for all the great tutorials and info you've given us all, go Seth!

  13. I use a tad slower rebound. 3-4 clicks from full turtle. I am going to give the benefit of the doubt to this fast rebound test. Thanks Seth!

  14. Hey Man i really need Help,i have the same shock like u but lockout doesnt work,same on a rear shock.any suggestions???

  15. From age 7 to 25, i've been riding all types bicycles.
    I had a certain amount of knowledge about repairing and unmounting but your videos made me discover more on todays bicycles, functions and hacks.

    Thank you!

  16. Just make sure that you don’t get your bike shop to take tokens out they’ll rob them just like with my bike 😂

  17. I still don’t really understand all the settings but if I pop a wheelie the landing sounds really harsh but I’m pretty sure it’s not bottoming out ?

  18. I have a gt stomper ace 24. I have no clue how to adjust this. If anybody knows, please help me. I cant find an air pump spot and there is no dial to adjust the rebound. Please help i have a big mtb trip coming up snd i have a really stiff suspension as im short snd only weigh 105

  19. My fork still bottoms out on bigger jumps. I have the right pressure and sag. So should i add a third volume spacer to the fork??

  20. I have a Fox Factory 32 SC and a Fox Factory DPS but I run basically no tokens and Super squishy in the front and insanely firm in the back with a little LSC

  21. Hey! Nice video! It really helped me understand the way to setup air forks, I just bought a new fork and I am trying to do research for installing air volume reducers. All the videos and info I found were all talking about doing it on Fox or Rockshox forks, my fork is a new brand I found on ebay and I don't know witch volume spacers would work with my fork. Do most volume spacers fit on all forks or do I have to find a specific spacer for it?? Thanks in advance for the info!

  22. I used to like really slow rebound for doing drops, and big hits, but then I learned to keep it as fast as possible, but as slow as needed for big hits. The whole, "low speed compression/rebound"/"high speed compression/rebound" is a great idea in my opinion, best of both worlds.

  23. Hey Seth, here's something since you're so knowledgeable, why presta valves? They are pure shit from my experience. I guess smaller hole in the rim etcetera, but from my experience they leak like a sieve. Would never use them again. You know more than I do, having worked in a shop, and everything, do you have any light on the subject?

  24. I've got a Marzocchi Bomber DJ3 on my Dirt Jump Bike and it's got air chambers on both sides. That's the only adjustable part of it, and despite it probably being a little soft for riding the pump track (energy absorption) I run it with no air pressure. The springs alone provide what feels like just the right amount of damping to me.

  25. Do you have a video about clutch derailers? I'm getting this $3000 bike and haven't even heard of those before. Help me.

  26. So if your bike has both a high speed and low speed compression setting and pre-load, what is the best setting for the smoothest descent on technical trails

  27. 100% THANKS!!!! For years, many years, I thought assumed fork settings was a marketing ploy, I have a set of Rock Sox SID that almost never move, but I never tripped, I love MTB's but I mainly ride on bike trails and ride in the city. I just think mountain bikes look so cool, so do many of my friends but I can't see them actually see many of them going out to the mountain outback to ride either.
    Thanks, I learned something here!😃

  28. I have a new pike 2020 and it gives me jamming sensation. It's like outer seals stick to upper legs and when you hit some opsticle you get knock in handlebars

  29. I’m watching this in 2019, but quick question and if anyone can help that’ll be great 👍🏻. For those who don’t own air pressure forks. Does this help for forks that uses spring?

  30. Nice one Seth, best explanation I've found on suspension settings. I just botched mine until it rode how I liked (running 2004 marzocchi drop offs with air pump adjustment) which basically means I only ever bottom out on the heaviest of hits.

    I Didn't realise how unorthodox that was until someone I rode with commented on how 'pingy' it was. Barely any sag with fast compression/rebound, resulting in a very lively front end. I love popping random nollies all over the place and hit stair gaps/wall rides on my way back through the city, so find with the 'correct' amount of sag/rebound compression, the front is a little too slow and wallowy to ride aggressively.

  31. Very good video,thanks.not long bought a hardtail for a bit of fun and exercise and its got air sprung forks with the damper.thanks for a very clear description of what the forks can do.very good clear video 😉

  32. anyone?

    wot was the settings 'trick' to overcome excessive stiction please?

    i'm a fat git running Magura 110 Ronins on various ol' cheep ht's… oh! XC an' citi riding

    cheerz in advance

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