Despite the fact that such forks are usually used on sports bikes, they differ in a wide variety of options, from simple to more advanced. In order to present this variety more clearly, we list the options below:
- Spring loaded;
- Spring loaded with elastomer core;
- Air (air is used as a spring);
- Air with oil capsule;
The more complex the device, the more efficiently the shock absorber works, the quality and complexity of the device, of course, affects its cost. The usual spring mechanism is very cheap, but it is not very reliable, and it is almost impossible to properly adjust it. This option is only suitable for those who will fit any springs as a shock absorber.
With the help of an elastomer rod, it is possible to somewhat strengthen the structure of the shock absorber, which will now consist of more than just one spring. However, the stability and durability of such a fork is limited by the conditions of use, so those who choose mountain biking as a hobby should buy a more expensive device.
The arrangement of the air plugs will be somewhat more interesting. Of course, they will cost much more. However, their reliability makes them suitable for riding on almost any surface. In addition, their customization opens up many opportunities for cyclists. The role of the spring is played by air, which will not rust, unlike metal.
Air forks have their drawbacks, which can be compensated for by the oil-air design. This option is devoid of the disadvantages of the previous one, but it is not inferior to it in terms of the number of advantages. It is considered one of the best because it really cushions the athlete’s rebound in almost any conditions. Oil-air plugs are resistant to high pressure and temperature extremes, if correctly set, they can not be changed for a very long time.
The best option is considered to be oil-spring forks. They provide all the advantages provided by the options listed above, while practically freeing all of their disadvantages. At the same time, they are much more expensive than any others. There will be no need to change them with correct configuration and use. They are unpretentious and adapted to any conditions. Among other things, they also do not require much maintenance.
How to adjust the bike fork?
Everyone who bought a new bike was able to see in practice that in order to use it, one skill to ride is not enough. And the point is not even that it can break down and you will need to think about repairing it. To this, some may argue that they will drive carefully and nothing will have to be repaired or changed. Bicycle forks will not give rest to any fan of this mode of transport, so if you like cycling, you can not avoid the question of adjusting them.
Still, adjusting the springs and dampers is not as difficult as it might seem. In order to effectively configure everything, it is enough to understand how it works and what it consists of. The path to understanding is best started by answering the question about its purpose. In general, this article will answer the following basic questions:
- What is a bicycle fork for?
- What they are;
- How to set it up correctly.
What is its purpose?
Before talking about what the bicycle fork adjustment is, you need, as mentioned above, to figure out why it is needed at all. It serves as a shock absorber, softening the landing of the wheels and making your iron horse more stable. Its correct setting is a prerequisite for preparing for trips in mountainous terrain, and indeed on any uneven surface.
It consists primarily of springs, which turn the fork into a reliable shock absorber that can effectively cope with vibrations, bending and unbending when necessary. Good springs can not only provide comfort of movement, but also maintain the speed of movement, regardless of the flatness of the surface. Of course, it is the setup process that plays an important role here, but before talking about it, you should pay attention to the fact that forks are different.
How to set up correctly?
Setting up a bicycle fork is a delicate matter. Before talking about what this business is like, it is worth recalling that only the last three options from those discussed above are subject to adjustment, and the better the fork, the wider the range for its adjustment. It is worth mentioning that there are only five parameters for adjusting the bicycle fork:
A truly fancy expensive shock will have all of the customization options listed above. However, in practice, this happens very rarely. Typically, there are three main controls on a fork: rebound, stiffness, and travel speed. And yet, it does not hurt to pay attention to each of these parameters.
Rigidity allows you to tailor the bike to the athlete. his weight and riding style. Convenience lies in the fact that this parameter can be easily changed at any time. Rebound is, in fact, the sensitivity of the shock absorber, where it is not needed, it can be minimized so that the cyclist does not waste energy on it. Travel adjustment, in turn, determines the speed of the fork, fixing it in a certain position.
Preload (sag, preload)
This setting is responsible for the stiffness of the spring. It is also called negative spring travel. The sag value affects the shock absorber’s ability to track and handle any bumps in the road while driving. To determine the sag, you need to set the full travel of the fork (applies to forks with variable travel), the maximum speed of its compression and disable the lock.
To measure this parameter, you will need a plastic or rubber ring, or a plastic tie, which must be attached to the fork leg. If you sit on the bike and ride quietly for a few meters, the weight of your body will compress the fork by a certain amount. Then stop and slide the buckle down the leg of the fork towards the oil seal, and stand up gently. The fork will return to its original position, and the tie will be at a certain distance from the oil seal. this is the magnitude of the sag.
Since this parameter directly depends on the weight of the cyclist, its adjustment is made individually for each. Also, the sag value is influenced by the riding style:
- for freeriding, the sag can be 30-40% of the full travel of the fork;
- for downhill. 20-30% of the fork travel;
- for cross-country. 5-15 percent.
Whereas in spring forks the seg can be adjusted by external adjustment or by replacing the spring itself (if external adjustment is not enough), in spring-air and air forks, the preload can be adjusted by changing the pressure in the positive air chamber.
This is one of the most important parameters of the fork, which must be individually adjusted based on the chosen riding style. So, if you prefer a quiet ride on an asphalt road, you can completely twist the rebound, then the fork will not create unnecessary vibrations. If you mainly ride on a dirt road and rough terrain, you need to unscrew the rebound speed, on the contrary, so that the fork quickly fulfills the irregularities encountered on the way, but at the same time the steering wheel should not hit your hands due to too fast rebound.
Rebound speed is usually adjusted either outside the fork or internally (requires partial fork disassembly).
Adjusting the bike fork
If you are the owner of a bike that has an air, oil-air or oil-spring suspension fork, sooner or later you will decide to start tuning the parameters of its operation according to your taste and riding style.
As a rule, many bikers are terrified of experimenting with suspension fork settings on their own, fearing that they will not be able to return all the wheels and valves to their original position. And this is not surprising, because almost all modern suspension systems provide an abundance of various twists, which can bring a novice cyclist literally to hysteria.
In principle, nothing bad will happen if, by changing different settings, you record the number of clicks or crank turns. Then it will not be difficult for you to return all settings to their original position. It is also important to re-run each setting you change to determine how the bike travel has changed.
In this article, we are going to cover three main settings for suspension forks:
- preload (sag, preload);
- rebound speed;
- compression speed (compression).
Compression rate (compression)
This setting allows you to determine the speed at which the fork will contract when handling bumps in the road. Typically for forks with adjustable compression speed, you can set either Low Speed Compression or High Speed Compression.
By adjusting low-speed compression, you can adjust the behavior of the fork when handling small road irregularities, remove unwanted fork swinging when pedaling and jerking when braking and high-speed cornering.
High speed compression adjustments are generally relevant for forks used in extreme riding conditions. It allows the fork to be tuned to handle medium to large bumps at high speeds, and to prevent the fork from punching through serious impacts such as landing after a jump.
About Mountain Biking. Adjusting the Suspension Fork
Long-term passion for any hobby leads to an indispensable investment in it. The bicycle is no exception. Suspension forks on inexpensive models have few differences, but if you wanted something better and even had a chance to buy it better, then it’s time to take a closer look at this issue. You can start reading the instructions (which, by the way, is not bad and will be a big plus), but few have the strength (or desire) to read the fifty-page manual to the end.
Correct fork alignment affects further ride comfort on rough terrain and asphalt. The wrong setting can make driving torture. To begin with, it is worth noting that there are air and spring forks. In the first case, the stiffness of the shock absorber is regulated by air pressure, in the second it depends on a metal spring.
Tuning the Fork to the Weight One of the most important tuning options for the fork is fitting the rider to the appropriate weight. As for the spring forks, everything is complicated here, since factories produce them based on the average rider, weighing 75-85 kilograms (nevertheless, for good forks there are springs of different softness and there is a preload adjustment).
Adjusting my rear shock. Rebound, Fast and slow speed compression damping adjustment. WP Suspension
The situation is twofold: the heavier the cyclist, the more pressure will be on the spring, respectively, it sags more, and the risk of its breaking through on some hard area increases. In another case, when the weight of the cyclist is too small, the shock absorption is of poor quality, because this weight is not enough to overcome the resistance of the spring on various kinds of irregularities.
With a large weight, the preload adjustment (aka Preload) is very valuable, which increases the rigidity (twisting) of the spring with mechanical stops. Small irregularities are handled somewhat worse, but the chance of breaking through the shock absorber is noticeably less. So spring mechanics will stop responding to small irregularities of the earth’s surface. Already tired of reading? You can discard all the troubles, but then what is the point of buying a better quality part? So let’s continue.
A more versatile solution: air plugs that can be adjusted to almost any weight using a high pressure pump (often included). Buy it separately, however, is also not difficult.
You can try to pump the plug with an ordinary pump (after all, the nipple is usually automobile), if you have a lot of free time and effort (but there is no guarantee that the result will be achieved). High pressure pumps are equipped with a winding hose and a special pressure relief button.
What pressure should be in the fork Either in the instructions, or on one of the legs of the fork, there is a table of the ratio of fork pressure to the rider’s weight. It should be guided by, adjusted for your own feelings. Many people prefer to inflate the plug to a higher pressure than what is indicated in the table. So it is more difficult to punch and, probably, it will be worse for handling small irregularities. Therefore, it is necessary to milk sag at 15-20% of the suspension travel. For example, if the fork has a stroke of 100 mm, then, accordingly, 15-20 mm goes to the sag.
Sag is the difference between the fork travel of an unloaded and loaded bike. In human terms, the sag is the sinking of the fork after the owner sits on the bike. In order: the plug should be inflated to the pressure indicated in the table. Once the target pressure has been reached, it’s time to sit on the saddle. The rubber ring on one of her legs will help to understand which sag is on the fork. If there is no such ring, you can make it yourself from scrap materials.
An insufficient sag value will cause your hands to feel uncomfortable on small irregularities. the fork will not handle them. And if you overdo it with the sag, then this situation can end with a breakdown of the front shock absorber, which also does not bode well.
Negative Spring Needed in a Bike Fork It seems to be pretty straightforward and there should be enough compressed air for the fork to work effectively. But, oddly enough, in the operation of this system, one repulsive force is not enough, since a compressive force is also needed, in opposition to the first.
Bike Repair Adjusting The Rear Shock
The usual average rider weight simply isn’t enough to force the fork to react to the roughness of the road, and this is what caused the negative spring to be installed. Its function is precisely so that the fork can react to minor irregularities, helping to trigger. The mechanism described above comes in several variations: a metal spring or a separate air chamber.
Dual or Solo Air Most good forks are made with Solo Air technology with the same pressure in both chambers. According to this technology, several chambers are pumped simultaneously through one installed nipple, which has nothing to do with Dual Air technology, with which it becomes possible to adjust the negative spring.
The Dual Air system is quite difficult for many beginners, as they, especially without understanding the plug device, do not understand what’s what. Dual Air, frankly, is mainly required by athletes who care about seconds. In simple driving, there is no need for such a design. What’s more, the plug will only take longer to set up.
Adjusting Fork Rebound An important basic function of every working suspension fork is Rebound. If the oil damper was absent, then the spring would bounce back in an instant, and then immediately compressed, beating off the hands. In conventional forks, the rebound force can be adjusted with a special adjustment (plus and minus are usually drawn on the lid). It will be useful for beginners to find an area with bumps and drive along it. Adjust the rebound depending on the sensations and remember the position.
You can do this in several stages: drive with the existing setting. Then, if the rebound is not the fastest, do it and drive again along the selected segment. If it’s too fast and your hands are extremely uncomfortable, then turn the adjustment by 1/4 and repeat. The purpose of all of the above is to find the moment when the fork not only does not knock out hands on the rebound, but there is no delay from the oil damper.
Twisting the rebound to the maximum will trigger the fork with a delay that is quite noticeable. As a result, on a series of repetitive irregularities, each fork simply won’t have time to work out. The elastomer acts as a damper in cheap forks. Subzero temperatures cause it to harden and it can easily stop functioning.
By the way, it will be useful to mention that there is a platform. a technology that prevents unnecessary buildup of shock absorbers. It is installed in more expensive forks and therefore, the number of settings in them also differs in a larger direction (high and low speed compression, high and low speed rebound).
Fork blocking But back to our rams, as they say. Quite a few manufacturers already offer blocking on the forks of the mid-price segment. This is an incredibly handy add-on! Just imagine: on the asphalt you can get an analog of a rigid fork by simply moving the lever to the locked position. If we consider individual models, then on them the fork lock is completely turned on remotely, using a lever on the steering wheel.
Experimenting more with your new fork is the key to having it set up correctly and riding comfortably. You do not need to be afraid of this, rather, on the contrary, try to find the best option for yourself.