Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Suspension Setup Part 4: Setting Compression, Balancing Front and Rear Suspension

Alright, here we are, in the last article from Suspension Setup article series. After knowing the terminology, how to setting SAG and rebound now its time to know how to setting compression and balancing your front and rear suspension. 


Sag and rebound damping setup both have a very narrow range of what’s correct for a given bike and rider, but compression damping is a little more dependent upon terrain, riding style and rider preference.

EXPERIMENT: In most of these cases, this adjustment comes in the form of a multi-position arrangement with positions for descending, general trail riding and climbing. If you have this type of setup, the best thing you can do is to experiment with all the settings and decide what settings make the most sense for your terrain and riding style.

BRACKET: If your fork or shock offers a multitude of low-speed compression damping settings, experiment by bracketing like you did with the rebound adjustment. Turn to the minimum setting and test by cycling the suspension slowly through its travel. Then turn to the maximum setting and retest. Then go to the middle and bracket from there.

Increasing low-speed compression damping generally provides a firmer platform for resisting rider-induced suspension motion such as pedal bob and brake dive but will also help to support the bike in berm corners and g-outs. However, overdoing the low-speed compression damping may decrease small bump compliance, resulting in a harsher ride. If your fork and shock offer high-speed compression damping adjustment, start at the factory recommended setting and bracket out from that starting point.


With your suspension adjusted to a good baseline, it’s time to make sure it’s balanced front and rear.

TEST: Find a smooth, level surface. If you have three-position compression adjustments, select the open or descend setting. While cruising around in the neutral position, cycle the suspension by weighting the pedals heavily and the handlebars lightly. Mimic the pressure you’d apply to pump a roller. Here you’re looking to ensure the suspension compresses and rebounds harmoniously. Both the front and rear suspension should compress similarly and rebound at the same rate.

ADJUST: If the front and rear suspension are rebounding at different rates, adjust in a bracketed fashion until both are rebounding at the same rate. However, don’t lose sight of setting rebound as quickly as possible without any residual motion.

Source: Dirt Rag Magazine 191/2016 "Dirt Rag Guide Suspension Setup"

Ride On!

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