Bicycle shock absorbers: varieties and settings
The popularity of two-wheeled vehicles continues to grow steadily every year. New models appear and existing ones are improved. Bicycles began to be in great demand for use in specific conditions: riding without a road, rough terrain, jumping over obstacles. The design includes special elements. shock absorbers, which allow you to repeatedly operate the bike and not experience discomfort when moving.
What are shock absorbers for?
Traditionally, shock absorbers for bicycles consist of leaf springs (springs) and a damper. The springs, as a more powerful element, help to reduce shock loads on the frame and the cyclist when driving over bumps at high speed. The damper functions include vibration damping and position stabilization. It should be noted that the damping system acts as an additional one and is not installed on all types of shock absorbers.
The initial installation is on mountain bikes and sport bikes. For example, in downhill competitions, a cyclist is required to quickly pass a track strewn with stones, bumps and holes. Often you have to jump into the air to jump a high obstacle.
Conversely, shock absorbers are not fitted to road and road bikes as they are designed to be driven on tarmac and not suitable for cross-country riding. Although cyclists can sometimes set them up on their own to increase comfort when riding on uneven roads.
In most cases, the systems are installed at the front of the bike and are called suspension forks. The name speaks for itself: the shock and vibration damping device is located in the part of the frame to which the front wheel is attached. There are several types of front shock absorbers:
- Rigid spring.
- Spring loaded with elastomeric damper.
The first type includes the simplest and cheapest devices. They consist of stiff metal springs embedded in the legs of a bicycle fork. The springs of such shock absorbers are not supplemented with a damper, which makes them ineffective when driving over rough terrain. But they are actively used on road bikes for comfort.
The elastomer springs include a rigid metal spring and a rubber damper located in the center of the fork tube. This type dampens vibrations much better than the previous one, and can be actively used when driving on small and medium bumps. A significant disadvantage of elastomeric shock absorbers is the low cold resistance of the rubber damping pin: with a decrease in temperature, the ability to damp vibrations is significantly reduced.
Air shock absorbers have high efficiency compared to spring-loaded ones. As a shock softener and vibration damper, air is pumped into the fork. Disadvantages: deterioration of the sealing properties of the cuffs and air permeability, as well as the high price of forks.
Oil shock absorbers are divided into two subgroups: oil-air and oil-spring. The “spring” on them is the air pumped into the bicycle fork and the steel spring, respectively. Used as a damper cartridge filled with oil.
Another type of shock absorbers is also widespread. rear, which eliminates the residual force effects of the drive wheel. Most of the shock loads still fall on the front wheel, so rear damping systems are used as additional ones. They are similar in design to the front ones. A bike with two shock absorbers is called two-suspension.
Amortization system setup methods
Shock absorbers can be adjusted in several ways:
- Spring flexibility setting.
- Changing the speed of compression and return of the spring to its original position.
- Travel blocking.
- Adjusting the travel distance of the bicycle fork spring.
Adjusting the stiffness and mobility of the shock absorber spring involves changing the resistance to external influences and the selection of the optimal characteristics. So, the stiffer the spring, the worse it resists shock during movement. In a weakened state, the shock absorber will constantly “jump”, and on serious obstacles it can even break through.
The selection of the rebound and compression speed allows you to adjust the shock absorption system for specific travel conditions: mountain trail, forest road, complete off-road with stones and holes. Along with setting the speed, leveling the stroke length of the bicycle shock absorber is also applied: this adds or removes the margin of distance within which the spring can move. This is done to reduce spring wear during long-term operation.
Blocking the stroke is “disabling” the softening ability. The spring is made rigid and incapable of deformation. Suitable for use on smooth asphalt where there is no need to absorb shocks.
Self-assembly and repair of shock absorbers
The damping system requires periodic maintenance, and in case of deterioration in performance, inspection and repair. In both cases, you will need to remove the fork from the bike. But, before proceeding with the description of this process (and it, by the way, is simple), we note some features of the service.
Oil and air plugs require special attention:
- Changing the oil in the cartridges after 4-5 thousand km of run.
- Cleaning, lubricating and checking oil seals for leaks after 100-150 km.
- Weekly check of cuffs on air forks.
- Examination of the external surface for chips and cracks.
The last point applies to conventional spring or elastomer suspension forks. Also, from time to time, you will need to change the polymer damper.
To remove and disassemble the fork, turn the bike upside down, dismantle the rim brake and remove the front wheel. Next, the steering stem and pipe are pulled out. After that, the support ring is carefully removed and the fork itself is removed. To remove the spring, you will need to unscrew the force adjustment bolts, and then remove the damper.
Using a regular screwdriver, remove the seals (anthers or oil seals), then pull out the entire shock absorber. The overhaul of parts is a thorough inspection, cleaning, lubrication and replacement of some elements. On average, fork disassembly should be done once a season. Installing the front shock absorber and fork on the bike is done in reverse order.
The rear shock absorber also requires periodic inspection. Standard maintenance consists of periodic lubrication and cleaning of components. It is recommended to use heavy high-temperature greases for the suspension. Clean the surface of the springs and damping element if necessary.
Long-term operation knocks down the running distance of the shock absorbers, so it is necessary to periodically tighten the springs, adjust the compression and rebound speeds. In order to avoid a decrease in the spring’s sensitivity to shocks, it is recommended to adjust the settings in stages: first select the compression speed, check while driving, and then adjust the rebound speed.
Do not neglect the shock absorbing system in a faulty condition. This will not only cause inconvenience when driving, but will also contribute to a deterioration in the ride characteristics of the bike. there is a risk of bending the wheels or damaging the frame. Self-disassembly of the suspensions should be carried out if there is confidence in their subsequent assembly. Otherwise, it will be better not to touch anything, but contact a specialist for repairs.
Another cushioning option is the under-seat damping pin. Such devices can be installed as additions to an existing shock absorption system or to improve the comfort of cycling without shock absorbers. There are two types of seat posts: telescopic and parallelogram.
The telescopic pins are actually shock absorbers themselves. The seat tube contains an anti-shock damping system: an inner tube, in the cavity of which there is an elastic spring with a rubber damper. When hitting road irregularities, the shock absorber “walks” vertically inside the pipe, thereby damping vertical vibrations.
A significant disadvantage of a telescopic shock absorber includes:
- Increased friction during prolonged driving on uneven roads.
- Resistance to shocks and vibrations only along the axis of the pin.
- Settlement of springs and seats.
All this prompted the invention of another type of seatpost shock. the parallelogram. The design of such a device is represented by the following elements:
- Seat tube.
- Articulated arms.
- Rubber damper that is placed between the levers.
On shock absorbers of this type, the seat is displaced in a smooth arc due to the compression of the elastomeric element. The travel of the parallelogram pins is lower than that of telescopic pins, but they are more durable and resistant to small bumps.
Both types of shock absorbers require adjustment for the rider’s weight, which allows him to operate where necessary. Otherwise, the movement will be uncomfortable, moreover, the risk of damage to the frame increases.
Don’t brake: 5 ways to make your bike faster
Even an old and dilapidated mountain bike can be made faster. For this, you don’t even need imagination, just our advice.
After buying a mountain bike, many owners become unhappy with its speed. Indeed: a mountain bike. for the fastest, but also a road bike. is an expensive thing. How to be? Cheer up: a mountain bike can be made faster. We will carry out a deep modernization: we will replace something, we will adjust something.
The worst option for driving on asphalt is tires with a “complex pattern” on the tread and too large studs. They are designed for riding over rough terrain, mud and sand (for better traction). They are usually put on mountain bikes. You will have to replace these with tires without all of the above (tires with a minimal pattern / without it and without studs at all. are called “slicks”).
This type of tire has minimal rolling resistance. This is the easiest way to make your bike go faster. With this, it will turn almost into a sports car.
How to make a bike faster. change it into less toothy rubber
Most modern mountain bikes are equipped with shock absorbers. Shock absorbers. to absorb vibrations when driving on uneven surfaces. Shock absorbers also “eat up” the speed, swinging you back and forth with the bike. This is especially noticeable with active pedaling.
In addition to shock absorbers, modern bicycles also have a shock absorber lock. With its help, with one movement of your finger, the fork can be turned into a rigid fork (rigid, without a shock absorber). That is, the shock absorber will remain “on board”, but it will already be fixed (it will not swing as the bike moves). This will not reduce the weight of the forks (rigid. not damping: they weigh very little), but it will not eat up kinetic energy when pedaling hard.
Shock absorber lock. The weight of the fork will not decrease, but at the right time will make it rigid
Contact pedals are a mechanism that allows you to mechanically fix the cyclist’s foot on the pedal, thereby connecting the cyclist’s shoes and the bicycle pedal into a single whole structure. This ensures full contact of the cyclist with the bicycle drive. You can also make the bike faster this way. After all, now the effort will be exerted not only when pressing the pedal, but also when lifting the leg up.
Contact pedals increase the cyclist’s pedaling efficiency by an average of 10-20%. But such a system costs money. Sometimes considerable.
Clip-on pedal with a mechanism built into the bike shoe
Land below. This will reduce the area of resistance to oncoming air and wind.
- Pay attention to the seating position of road cyclists: it is almost horizontal.
A horizontal landing can be achieved with a mountain bike. To do this, raise the saddle higher and move it back (if the mechanism allows). At the same time, replace the stem with a longer stem and lower the stem lower.
- Handlebar stem. the part that connects the handlebars to the bike fork. Serves to fix the handlebar and adjust the cyclist’s fit.
It’s better to take a carbon stem: it’s lighter. But more expensive. If, due to the fork or financial situation, it is not possible to replace the stem, simply lower the handlebars lower. Paired with a high-lift saddle, this will also improve your aerodynamic performance.
Mountain bike handlebars are often very wide. This also prevents the bike from being faster. Tip: Trim the handlebars to the width of your shoulders. It could even be a little shorter.
The handlebars on road bikes are narrow and light. This is another important factor that has a positive effect on the speed and aerodynamics of the bike.
Largest chainring. On mountain bikes, it usually has 42 or 44 teeth. You need to replace it with a 48-tooth star. Do not be afraid: you may not need to change along with the cranks (the tube-shaped parts that connect the pedals to the chainrings). Since most modern bicycles have a large chainring that is removable, not molded in one piece with the cranks.
How to make your bike faster. replace the larger chainring with one with more teeth
The tips above will help you make your bike faster. But remember: not only the bike plays an important role in speed, but also the physical fitness of the cyclist. Regular exercise and weight control will help you achieve this.
For more information on how to train a cyclist, read here and see the following video:
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Bicycle saddle: what it can be and how to choose it
During cycling, the pelvic bones are under great stress. You may experience discomfort or even pain due to the wrong bike saddle. Also, the cause of painful sensations and quick fatigue is often incorrect installation of the seat in height and tilt.
When you buy a new bike seat, you have to run it in, so to speak. You need to get used to the new saddle, having driven more than one hundred kilometers in it. It’s possible to say unequivocally how well you made a purchase only after two weeks of frequent cycling. Do not rush to change the recently purchased accessory if you feel any discomfort while riding a bike. First, analyze what pain is bothering you. If the pain appears only when pressing on the pelvic bones, then you have not rolled yet. If you experience redness from rubbing, try different clothes first. The bike seat is rubbing anyway, then you need to choose a new bike saddle.
Fortunately, there is a huge selection of different types of bike seats, from many reputable manufacturers: Allay, BBB, Brooks, Fizik, Mizumi, Romin, Ritchey, Spectra, Tioga. Thanks to the large selection, each cyclist can choose a saddle individually. Each person has a special anatomy and riding style, therefore they make narrow and wide, as well as hard and soft models.
Fit to width
In order to choose the right bike saddle, you need to know the distance between the pelvic bones on which you are sitting. These ischial bones must support the body as support when seated. The distance between the two bones is easy to determine individually: first, sitting on a soft plastic surface, and then, measuring the distance between the centers of the remaining dents.
Sitting on a seat that is too narrow will keep your sit bones off the surface and your weight will be supported by the soft tissue between your legs. Under the weight of the body, the blood vessels in the groin overflow, disrupting the blood supply to the perineum.
Pedaling on a seat that is too wide will rub your inner thighs against the sides of the saddle. In this case, chafing of the skin cannot be avoided, especially in the summer heat. Buy a saddle on which you will sit with your pelvic bones and also will not rub against it with your feet.
Armchairs with thick, too soft padding are pressed through by the bones, and a significant amount of the torso is transferred to the soft tissues in the groin. But most of the weight should be distributed between the two ischial bones. Bicycle seats that are too soft are just as bad for your health as those that are too narrow.
Selection depending on material
The first bicycle saddles were made from leather. The main advantage of leather as a material is that it can take a new shape, and it is also breathable and absorbs moisture.
A new leather seat will be uncomfortable at first, perhaps even painful for you. The cause of pain will be an unformed surface at the pressure points of the ischial bones. During cycling, the pressed leather is squeezed over time at the points of contact with the bones. Once positioned, the leather saddle is shaped to perfectly fit the rider’s body. A real leather seat can be compared to a leather chair in comfort. The choice of a saddle should be stopped on products made of genuine leather.
It is important to know that most saddles sold as leather are not actually leather saddles. For sports products, leather is used only as a thin coating, and their base is made of plastic or carbon. The base of these saddles does not allow air to pass through and is too rigid to be pressed by the pelvic bones.
One of the few saddles in which pressed cowhide is used for base and cover is Brooks. The best leather saddle is made with no foam or helium lining. Without any soft insulating material, the bike saddle allows sweat and heat to pass through better in hot weather.
A leather saddle is very comfortable to travel long distances. And when the old worn seat bends, it is enough to slightly tighten the tension bolt on the frame, and it is like new.
Brooks and similar saddles are too heavy and too large to be used in cycling and stunt riding, but ideal for cycling.
Creation of the famous Brooks saddles in a factory in England:
Most modern bicycle seats are assembled from a polyvinyl chloride base, foam pad and synthetic materials. These seats are installed on virtually every bike on the market.
Since most plastics are inexpensive, the saddle made from them will be of poor quality. When riding a bicycle with a plastic seat, it is advisable to wear a cycling uniform or thick clothing, as you will very quickly rub calluses when you fidget on slippery artificial turf.
Not all plastic seats are of poor workmanship. For example, there is the Tioga Spyder saddle, which has a complex structure with holes. It quickly takes the shape of the human body, has good springiness and excellent cooling. When traveling in hot weather, it only brings pleasure, upset only by the high price for it, which equals 90-100 dollars.
Faux leather as a material for covering bicycle seats is used on specimens of the middle price level. There are many types of imitation leather, they are different in density and strength.
- Dermatine wears out quickly.
- PVC is resistant to wear and tear, but very slippery and completely sweat-proof.
- Stretch leather is the most durable of all substitutes, but slippery.
In order not to rub the skin until reddening, it is better not to ride a bike with a cheap seat, wearing only swimming trunks or thin shorts, pants made of synthetic fabric. You can protect yourself by putting on a saddle cover that will take on friction as you move.
If you like your favorite lightweight plastic saddle, you can upgrade it by purchasing a leather case. In this case, the new accessory will soften the slippery rough surface.
Wide or narrow?
Professional riders always use a narrow saddle made from quality plastics or composites. Most often, softening lining is not used in such products. Indeed, in fact, the cyclist does not sit: he most often stands on the pedals, rotating them, and the athlete hangs most of his weight on the horns, lying on the steering wheel.
Typically, narrow, rigid saddles are fitted to road bikes. They are also very convenient when mountain biking in cross-country style, that is, when actively riding through forests, fields, parks.
City bicycles and cruisers, which people ride in an upright position, have wide and soft seats. Comfort is important on such bicycles during a short and unhurried ride around the city. High-speed pedaling on mountain, touring, road bikes, wide seats will interfere with.
By the way, the opinion that obese people should definitely put a wide saddle on a bicycle is a delusion. In fact, the width of the pelvic bones in an overweight person is often the same as that of a lean fellow cyclist.
When choosing a bicycle saddle for girls, it is important to know that the pelvic bones of many of the fair sex are wider than that of men. The average distance between the ischial bones in women is 132 mm, and in men. 90 mm. Not all ladies will fit a men’s saddle.
A girl cannot ride a bike with a narrow seat for a long time, it can cause discomfort, up to a feeling of pain.
Manufacturers of bicycle saddles, taking into account the peculiarities of the female constitution, are expanding their range with special ladies’ pieces. The classic women’s bike seat is wider than the men’s bike seat and has a shorter nose to make it easier for ladies to ride in a skirt.
Designers decorate women’s bike accessories with designs and give them vibrant colors.
Soft or hard
It is a big mistake people make when buying a soft saddle for a road or touring bike. For a mountain bike, a “pillow” is also not suitable. In general, any bike that you will be pedaling for a long time or quickly should not be equipped with a gel, finger-pressed seat. These seats are usually bought by inexperienced cyclists, because they are convenient for short trips.
On a soft saddle at first you feel comfortable, but after an hour of travel, clothes begin to get wet from sweat and the skin of the crotch becomes numb.
On a solid saddle, the back of the body hangs above its surface, touching only the right places where the bones are. From the experience of athletes, it is best to develop maximum speeds on a bicycle in such a seat. Solid saddle plus carbon seatpost and water-absorbing cycling shorts. perfect combination for long distance travel.
There are many bicycle seat gel covers on sale now. But such innovations need to be taken critically. Logically speaking: a soft pad on a bicycle saddle is needed by the same people who put “pillows” instead of a seat, that is, unhurried cyclists.
Excessively enlarging the saddle padding when attaching the gel boot to the saddle will increase side swing. Rocking not only interferes with pedaling, but also causes chafing on the skin of the thighs.
- The ischial support pads must be of sufficient length to provide back and forth movement when riding.
- The nose of the saddle should be narrow and long.
- The sides of the nose should not protrude so as not to chafe the inner thighs.
Areas for the support of the ischial bones are circled
Saddle without spout
An innovative proposal. the MoonSaddle. completely avoids crotch pressure when cycling. It has no nose at all, and a large ergonomic support. a crescent. serves to support the torso. The crescent seat is universal in size and is suitable for children and adults.
MoonSaddle is made of abrasion resistant elastomer, bent from durable stainless tubing
Several manufacturers are making bicycle seats with a concave or cut center section along the nose. This design is quite well thought out, since its purpose is to reduce pressure on the soft tissues of the perineum.
Skeptics of the need for such a design suggest that if you sit on a too narrow “leaky” saddle, then soft tissue will fall into the opening of the seat. So, instead of the intended benefit, a seat with a hole will only do harm. But these are all assumptions, because in reality no one sits calmly on a bicycle saddle, but mostly to be in motion: stands on the pedals, shifts back and forth.
In addition, like any other saddle of a different design, it is not a problem to choose a similar product with a hole in width, taking into account the characteristics of your pelvic bones.
On fast bikes like mountain bikes, road bikes, touring bikes, the springs on the saddle are not needed. People ride such bicycles leaning over the handlebars, in this case, the rear part accounts for no more than 60% of the body weight. When pedaling quickly, the springs, especially soft ones, swing to the sides, thus reducing the pedaling efficiency. In addition, an excessively wobbly seat chafes on the inner thighs.
Coarse springs, such as those found on some Brooks saddles, are stiff enough not to wobble when pedaling, but they are good at absorbing rear wheel shock. Spring seats will not be superfluous on city bikes and cruiser bikes, on which the rider sits vertically, pressing with almost all his weight on the seat.
We can say that on bicycles with a handlebar high, it is better to put a seat with springs, and if the handlebar is located at or below the seat, then you can do without a saddle without springs.
Fearing to fall off the bike, people lower the seat low so that while sitting in it, they can reach the ground with their feet if they become scared. Sitting very low in the saddle and pedaling, uninformed cyclists will bend their knees excessively, to the point of being comparable to multiple squats. Of course, such a would-be cyclist quickly gets tired of his legs, and what is more dangerous, with constant driving like this, the knee joints are destroyed. Most cyclists make the mistake of setting the saddle too low.
To correctly adjust the height of the bike seat, you need to:
- Turn the pedals so that one of them is set at the lowest point.
- Adjust the saddle height so that you can straighten your leg in the lower position of the pedal, but will touch it with the heel.
- Check if the seat is too high, you should be able to touch your toes to the bottom of the lowered pedal.
Please note that the seatpost cannot be pulled further if it goes less than 10-15 cm into the tube, otherwise it will break the frame. Each seatpost has a limit mark.
If the nose of the saddle is lifted up, then it will press on the organs of the perineum. Well, if the seat is lowered with its nose down, then you will constantly move forward, resting with strained hands on the steering wheel. The ideal saddle tilt is zero position when parallel to a flat road.
It is always convenient to ride on a saddle that is straight and tilted, as this is the only way to find the ideal position for a long journey. If you feel that the aligned saddle is pressing on you, then you need to lower it only a few millimeters.
Many modern bike saddles can be mounted further and further from the handlebars.
To correctly adjust the bike seat in the longitudinal position, you need to:
- Turn one of the pedals to the 3 o’clock position.
- Move the saddle forward or backward so that the kneecap is over the axis of the pedal, in this position.
Due to personal anatomy or bike frame design, it will not always be possible to set the saddle in the ideal longitudinal position. In such cases, a bent seatpost should be fitted, offset to the rear.
From all that has been said previously, there are several main recommendations when choosing a bicycle saddle:
- The high price tag of a bicycle seat doesn’t say anything about its convenience. The saddle must be chosen individually, taking into account the anatomical structure of the pelvic bones.
- The base of the seat must be pressed under the pressure of the ischial bones.
- Seat cover should not be slippery.
- For long-distance, tourist trips, the most comfortable will be a leather saddle.
- Active cycling requires a rigid seat without springs.
- Soft, wide, spring-loaded seats come in handy for imposing cyclists who usually travel slowly and not far.