How to adjust the suspension of a mountain bike
Mountain bike suspension requires both careful maintenance and more or less fine tuning. Everyone approaches the settings differently. Professional riders often make changes: they change the pressure, select springs of different stiffness, try new shock absorbers after each race, etc.
Other cyclists customize their bike for a specific route. Mountain bike riders tend to only tune the suspension once, if not at all, just adjust and get used to the settings that are. How to adjust the suspension of a mountain bike?
How to check your suspension setup
The handicraft express diagnostic method allows you to quickly assess the correct suspension settings, as well as the technical condition of the bike as a whole. You need to take the bike by the saddle and stem, raise and release it so that it flops to the ground with both wheels at once. Harsh sounds. jingles, squeaks and bumps in the suspension and other extraneous sounds indicate a malfunction.
The shock absorbers should consume some of the energy upon landing, and the bike should spring slightly, but not high from the surface. When the bike bounces like a ball, it means the suspension has the wrong settings. Such a bike, when riding on bumps (especially on a steep descent), will bounce high, trying to kick the rider in the rear and throw him out of the saddle.
There are speed tests. The first. you need to not accelerate too much and, standing up on the pedals, as you usually drive over bumps, move over bumps. As an obstacle, you can put a thick stick or board on the flat asphalt. In contact with an obstacle, legs, arms and body, you need to feel if there is a sharp jolt of the suspension up? The springy recoil should not be upward. Impacts from irregularities should be smoothed out by a damper.
Another speed test is to drive off the curb at such a speed that both wheels touch the asphalt at the same time. When landing, there should be no rebound of the harness, much less swinging. During this test, imbalances in the operation of the front and rear suspensions are also detected.
Mountain bike suspension tuning
The first step in the suspension tuning point on a mountain bike is to set the shock absorbance. What it is is the difference between the length of the shock when the cyclist is not sitting on the tank and the length of the shock when the cyclist is seated. With this measurement, it is important to have the same position that you normally take when cycling.
When you ride down often, it is better to stand on the pedals, placing the fifth point, which is the center of gravity in the place where it usually is, and then take a measurement. During the test, you must not remove your hand from the steering wheel or lean with your foot, so as not to change the balance of weight between both wheels.
Since it is problematic to make this measurement yourself, ask someone to help you: measure the length of the inner pipe between the stops and the fixed anthers. When measuring, it must be borne in mind that sitting on a bicycle, the mark is pressed much further than in a static position. This measurement method helps to know if the entire shock absorber travel is being used.
How to Set up your Suspension
To pedal vigorously over rough terrain, the sag value should be between 10-20% of the suspension’s maximum travel. Athletes make meanings tougher. In extreme disciplines, subsidence can be set up to 20-30% or more. Professionals for special occasions use half the stroke when the wheel just sticks to bumps.
How To Set Your Suspension Up In 10 Minutes | MTB Suspension Set Up Basics
How to set subsidence
Sagging at air shock absorbers is easy to set. air is pumped into the main chamber when the subsidence is strong. Insufficient subsidence requires a decrease in pressure. Before adjusting, check the instructions for the recommended pressure for your riding style and weight. They repel these numbers, but do the right thing for themselves.
Springs are installed in the oil-spring shock absorbers, which are designed for the average build of the cyclist. Light riders or, conversely, heavy riders have to buy a new spring. When riding in different conditions, the spring will need more than one.
For suspension forks, springs are generally sold in pairs. Adjust both legs equally. The principle of adjustment is simple: the legs have sagged a lot. tighten the spring for rigidity. Sags a little, then unscrew and loosen. From well-known manufacturers, the instructions for the shock absorber say that if the spring is required to twist more than two turns, then a more rigid spring must be installed. For forks, the adjustment knobs located at the top have stops. You only need to twist them with your hands, so as not to break anything.
The rear shock absorber has no limiters, because of this, the spring can be broken, as well as the thrust nuts. There is a rule. you cannot compress the spring of the rear shock absorber from the free state by more than 15 mm. Otherwise, squeezing it, you can overload the stop and the shock absorber rod, which will lead to damage. For a spring, the stiffness is set once during manufacture.
How to Adjust Mountain Bike Suspension. Rebound
Check your fork manual to see where the rebound knob is. At first, it completely twists out (the fastest rebound). When adjusting, do not forget about the symmetry of the settings, unscrewing from the right. unscrew it from the left. Add half a turn symmetrically, push the handlebars down to squeeze the fork and feel. At the steering wheel, the rebound should be fast, but without recoil.
On the rear shock, the rebound is adjusted in the same way, only when the suspension is compressed on the move with your feet. There should be no bouncing or recoil, otherwise the wheel on the off-road begins to slide over the upper parts of the irregularities. Too slow and delayed bounce is also not good. At high speed, the suspension does not have time to straighten out with a series of impacts, becoming more rigid with each impact.
The rebound, compression and stiffness of the front fork and rear shock should be adjusted to suit the situation. When driving downhill only, the rear shock is better adjusted a little softer, with a slightly slower rebound, since the rear wheel has less load on descents. On a flat surface, it is best to have the same setting in front and back. However, everyone chooses what is more convenient for him.
When you have modern expensive damping systems, you should definitely experiment with the adjustments. Depending on the riding style and place of skiing, as well as preferences, you can set any parameters.
How to adjust the suspension of a mountain bike. when trying different settings, you need to remember or record the number of clicks (revolutions) at the handles and pressure. Individual shock absorbers have up to six different adjustments. The initial settings are not final. When you change something: mood, driving style, track quality, you will have to start adjustments again.
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Mid to high price suspension forks. The legs of normal forks are perfectly fitted and polished, they walk easily in their guides and allow you to handle even small bumps
Simulators of bicycle suspension forks. A good suspension fork allows the wheel to follow the unevenness of the road surface, despite obstacles in the form of stones, potholes and
Cycling cushioning. Saddle inconveniences cause the wheels of the bike to bump against uneven road surfaces. Such inconveniences can be greatly reduced by using one of the types of suspension
Suspension fork tuning tips
Tuning too soft can reduce the dynamic performance of the bike. Therefore, full compliance of all settings with the weight and preferences of the cyclist is required.
Bicycle fork partsUpper part (“legs”). the treatment of irregularities depends on the smoothness of their course; Damper. adjustable inside of the “legs”, with different settings; The stem and crown of the fork. they bear the main load relative to the head tube; The lower part (the so-called “pants”). filled with oil and often also accommodate adjustments.
Classification of suspension forks by type Spring and spring elastomer forks. Typical for cheap bicycles. Repairing them is easy and simple. Such a fork does not work well on the smallest irregularities. The base of the fork is a regular spring inside. Easily gets dirty during operation. When servicing the spring yoke, only the spring itself can be replaced. As a rule, such plugs are not equipped with settings. The only difference between spring and spring-elastomer forks is that instead of a spring, there is a polymer rod with a damper function. Both types are extremely vulnerable at temperatures close to or below 0.
Air. These forks combine an optimal price and fairly simple maintenance, coupled with a low weight. Compressed air, pumped into a sealed chamber by a pump, acts as a shock absorber and sometimes a damper at the same time. Ride comfort is certainly guaranteed, but there are also disadvantages. For extreme riding, it is better to choose a more technologically advanced fork. Careful and careful use, as well as timely care will ensure a long service life of the shock absorber and will bring a lot of pleasure while riding.
Spring oil. Perfect for tough use. The movement combines an oil cartridge and a steel or titanium spring. It is characterized by long-term wear resistance. The most durable and predictable versions of surebets.
Setting parameters Depending on the plug type and manufacturer, different plugs have individual setting criteria.
Many models have a lockout function. Needed when driving uphill and long straight sections. It is undesirable to forget to turn it off, because there is a possibility of getting a serious blow to your hands when you hit bumps.
Many forks allow you to set a preload. And very often the adjustment is on the outside. In some models, it is sufficient to change the spring. Correct tuning is the key to good depreciation. Springs from renowned manufacturers differ in color according to different degrees of stiffness.
Compression rebound and speed are done in most of the more expensive models. The bi-directional switch position adjusts the actuation speed when hitting obstacles and provides resistance upon rebound after actuation. The presence of jump sections on the track suggests a medium to slow rebound. For a simple ride, a faster one is suitable so that the wheel has time to process the relief.
Forks with a change in travel (dual position, talas). Allows you to decrease or increase the travel of the fork while riding.
Plug maintenance a guarantee of a correctly and long-working suspension fork. You can do it yourself with the right skills and the necessary tools. Let’s highlight several stages:
Removing the plug. In general, a simple procedure. it is enough to understand the features of the attachment. When servicing a fastener without a thread, you need to unscrew the extension bolts that clamp the stem, as well as the bolt that is screwed into the anchor. Threaded fastening is the clamping of the upper bearing with a nut, a cone, a washer with a tendril and a locknut. It is easy to remove, but not so easy to fix. If you often use your bike for long trips, there will certainly be a backlash soon.
Cleaning the mechanism. To prolong the operational capabilities of the bike, you should pay special attention to the cleanliness of all oil seals-anthers. Dirt getting inside can damage the surface of the fork legs and impair the ride comfort. Of course, such a fork will be much worse to handle obstacles.
Oil change and spring lubrication. It is recommended to change the oil in the damper and the fork pants every season. To lubricate the legs and pour the damper into the pants, it is necessary to use only proven products. in the first case, silicone lubricants are suitable, and in the second it is better to use fork oil. Active riding involves frequent maintenance, and therefore, before servicing the shock absorber yourself, it is best to find instructions from the manufacturer or consult with experienced people.
Air pumping. Chambers may require periodic air replenishment. Air forks hold pressure well and therefore only need inflation after a long period. It is best to check the chamber pressure before each ride to ensure that the fork is working properly.
Adjusting the softness of the fork (preload) Adjustment will allow you to set the stiffness of the shock absorber and is present in many forks. The usual location. at the top of the fork legs. In its normal state, the damping mechanism dampens vibrations to maintain the firmness of the spring on flat sections of the track. The essence of the adjustment is to adjust the distance between the upper and lower points of maximum pressure. There are several types of load on the fork: minimum stiffness (soft fork). soft fork travel can cause discomfort due to sharp vibrations of the springs when pedaling by a cyclist; high rigidity. small irregularities are processed much worse, which causes discomfort; the correct setting. the shock absorber is ready to reliably work off the shocks to improve the dynamics of the bike. Correct setting. after getting on the bike, 75-90% of the fork travel remains from its full travel.
Much depends on the type of shock absorber. For spring-elastomer forks, manually changing the amount of compression works with a special adjustment. The stiffness of the air forks is adjusted by increasing the pressure in the chamber. In simple models, the softness setting will not have a noticeable effect on the performance of the fork. Better forks should be set to 10-20% of the total fork travel. On spring dampers, this is achieved by preloading or replacing the spring with a spring version with a different stiffness. On air. by changing the air pressure in the positive chamber.
Adjusting the travel of the fork Locking the fork can even be found on budget bikes. Branded designs have the ability to smoothly or stepwise change the course. This allows the bike to be used for the widest conditions of use.
Compression Types Compression adjusts the compression speed of the front shock for a smooth ride and smooth rebound. The adjustment is responsible for the speed of compression of the fork under the influence of impacts from the surface.
The most expensive models have three compression options: low-speed compression. is responsible for reducing the sensitivity on small irregularities, but allows you to effectively dampen strong shocks; high-speed compression. its correct setting allows the fork to effectively handle many of the smallest irregularities, however, with the following strong blows, the fork will easily break through; blocking. absolute stiffness mode for driving on a perfectly flat road.
On some models with an air spring (dual air), the pressure in both chambers can be adjusted separately.
Adjusting the rebound speed of the shock absorber Rebound adjustment is provided for forks in the middle price segment and above.
Shock bounce refers to the rate at which the fork will return to its original position to practice further obstacles. It is an important factor for proper fork performance to adapt to a wide variety of surfaces and riding styles. On highways and flat roads, it is better to set the rebound slow. Otherwise, adjust the speed to suit the terrain and the rider’s personal preference. The response speed of the rebound should be optimal in order to avoid too strong blows to the hands. With a well-tuned rebound, the blows are damped after the fork is triggered and do not “shoot” into the hands, while the fork still manages to unclench to the next obstacle (which, for example, may already be after just 1 meter). If the shock absorber does not work on small irregularities, you need to slightly adjust the setting.
Algorithm for adjusting the rebound on the go: search for a road or path with irregularities; set up for the slowest bounce; increase the driving speed in order to understand how hard it hits the steering wheel; tighten the adjustment until the blows to the hands stop.
It is important to adjust the rebound so that the bumps do not hit the wheel, but the softness of the ride is not compromised. It is not recommended to adjust the plug immediately. Observe the sequence: preload (also known as stiffness). compression. rebound. Individual tuning of each parameter of the front shock absorber will improve its performance and create a more comfortable ride.
Aside from tuning, any suspension fork requires maintenance. This is described in detail in our article: How to care for a plug
How to lubricate shock absorbers on a bicycle
The most popular and cheapest shock absorber is spring-elastomeric. This shock absorber is very simple in design: a polymer rod is inserted inside the steel spring, which dampens vibrations.
The second type is oil-spring, more modern and reliable. Due to its relative cheapness and simplicity of design, it has become one of the most common in cycling.
And the third type is oil-air. It uses a compressed air cylinder instead of a spring. Due to the complexity of the design, it is better to repair them in specialized workshops, where they know exactly how to lubricate shock absorbers on a bicycle.
Lubrication of shock absorbers
A poorly oiled and misaligned mechanism can not only make an unpleasant sound, but can also make it difficult to control the bike, spoiling all the enjoyment of sports. The ideal option is to externally clean the bike fork after every ride, and at least once a season to lubricate the internal parts of the mechanism. The easiest way is to take the bike to a workshop, whose master knows exactly what to do, but experienced cyclists can try it themselves.
Springs and Elastomer Springs can be lubricated without disassembling the bike fork. For this, the grease is drawn into a syringe and poured under the boot. After that, the bike should be rocked and excess oil removed with a napkin. But! This is a quick, hiking option used when the bike cannot be disassembled even partially. According to the rules, you should first unscrew the mounting bolts from the bottom, then unscrew the Preload bolt, get the elastomer and the spring, unscrew the mounting bolts and remove the pants, that is, the part of the bicycle fork to which the wheel is attached. This is where the most dirt is found and it is this part that most often needs repairs. Anthers are taken from the last part (they can be easily picked up with a screwdriver).
Maintenance of the oil spring design is also simple. If the open oil bath method is used, then the oil is simply drained and the parts cleaned. This system is perhaps the easiest to maintain, and inspection and minor repairs can be performed even at home. Things are a little more complicated with a closed oil bath. The oil in this design is in the capsule and changes with the entire capsule. In contrast to the first option, a closed oil bath often requires more maintenance.
The most whimsical service is considered to be an oil-air shock absorber. To clean and lubricate it, you must:
- Unscrew and clean the shock absorber. This will prevent debris from entering the air chamber;
- Open valves and relieve pressure. If done correctly, the mechanism will be easy to compress and unclench;
- Further, the mounting parts are removed from the shock absorber, and the air chamber itself is disassembled;
- Then the oil seal should be removed. If any parts are damaged, it’s time to replace them or perform other repairs. If everything is intact, then old grease and mechanical impurities are removed, and you can start assembling the bicycle fork;
- Fork oil is poured onto the shock absorber body, placed vertically. Gaskets and seals are installed in place. The air chamber is pushed all the way so that no air escapes from it. It is better to add a little more oil, and only then screw it back to the shock absorber body;
- Next, the shock absorber is inflated to the desired pressure and installed in place.
Motorists have a saying: The car loves affection, cleanliness and lubrication. The same can be said for a bicycle, although it requires much less maintenance. If you know how to lubricate shock absorbers on a bicycle, then this procedure will not seem long or laborious at all, and the iron horse runs without repair for more than one season.
Adjusting fork softness on a bike
Preloading the suspension fork travel. preload. allows you to set the spring rate. When optimized, the damping system dampens vibrations where necessary and maintains firmness on level ground.
The adjustment consists in changing the distance between the upper unloaded and the lower point of maximum pressure.
In the first case, the fork travel is close to the maximum possible. On the road, this will result in constant vibrations of the springs up and down under the pressure of the cyclist. Interestingly, obstacles in the form of bumps and potholes such a fork will work out badly.
The second option is a high stiffness of the fork, the stroke length is less than 50% of the original. For the smooth passage of large obstacles, this value is not enough.
In the third situation, the shock absorber is fully tuned, allowing you to effectively repel impacts without compromising the dynamics of the bike. On average, the correct setting is 70% to 90% of fork travel of unloaded distance.
The preload method depends on the type of shock absorber:
- On spring models, the amount of compression is manually changed using a special regulator. When replacing the spring, a harder shock absorber is selected to increase the load, and vice versa.
- For spring-air forks, the stiffness setting is carried out through the pressure in the chamber.
- On pneumatic shock absorbers, the fork travel is adjusted by changing the pressure in the positive sector.
You can measure the load in a stationary position, sitting on a bicycle or while moving. For accurate results, correction is recommended in small approaches.
Front suspension compression types
Compression allows you to vary the compression speed of the fork, ensuring smooth travel and smooth damping. There are three compression options on the professional-grade front fork:
- low speed,
- high speed,
The first type of compression stabilizes the bike on bumps. Softness, precision in passing obstacles, comfort. all this is low speed compression. In fact, its setting is preload, which has already been mentioned above.
High speed compression is responsible for reducing shock loads on the wheel, frame and rider. Slows down the shock on landing, so the bike doesn’t bounce.
The fork lock function allows it to be set to 100% stiffness. By setting the suspension to a fixed position, the cyclist rolls the bike out onto flat roads. For driving on rough roads, it is better not to block the fork.
On some air models (eg Dual Air), the pressure in both the positive and negative chambers can be adjusted separately. Excessive compression on the negative side will make the fork overly soft, and the bike itself will begin to sway on the go.
Correct bike fork alignment
Front suspension. a damping device to smooth out vibrations on uneven roads and rough terrain. The node is located in the part of the same name. the plug. Shock absorber functions. to damp all vibrations, improve ride comfort, reduce the load on the frame and wheel rims.
The front suspension is an adjustable piece. The efficiency of real movement will depend on the degree of its adjustment. For example, insufficient shock absorber travel will not allow leveling out large vibrations when hitting obstacles, and shock loads on the frame will increase.
A suspension that is too soft will degrade the dynamic performance of the bike. In general, full compliance of all parameters with the stated requirements is required. In this article, we will look at how to soften the fork on a bicycle, adjust the compression and adjust the travel speed.
Adjusting the shock absorber rebound speed
Rebound is the rate at which the fork returns to its original position under load. The response speed of the rebound mechanism must be such that the shock absorber does not fire immediately and can absorb the impact from the next obstacle.
How to determine the effectiveness of a bicycle fork’s rebound? When driving over bumps, bumps are damped before they hit the steering wheel. the rebound is well tuned. The shock absorber does not work on small obstacles. minor adjustments are needed. And, finally, a neglected case, when the release is very late.
- Find a road or path with unevenness.
- Set the regulator to the fastest bounce.
- Accelerate, feel like check how hard it hits the steering wheel.
- Tighten the adjuster until the beating stops.
It is important to tune the Rebound so that the bumps do not hit the wheel, while maintaining a smooth ride. If the rebound is set to the correct value, but the shock is unpredictable, you may need to readjust the fork travel and compression.
It is recommended to tune the front fork not immediately, but in the Preload. Compression. Rebound sequence. Individual selection of each parameter will improve the performance of the shock absorber and give you a comfortable ride.