Mountain Bike Shock Absorber Setup Guide: How To Adjust Damping According To Route Terrain

Mountain bike is different from other models in that it has a shock absorber system, including but not limited to the front fork and rear bladder. Moreover, with the progress of technology and the increase of the difficulty of the track, the mountain bike can travel more and more routes in increasing styles, and the difficulty is also higher and higher.

Now let’s take a look at how to set the damping of the shock absorber system to achieve the most suitable and optimal effect for road conditions and terrain.

The first is the choice of stroke. The range of travel of different front fork ranges from 80-220mm, and the diameter is also different. Therefore, it is the first step to determine the appropriate travel distance. Although many front forks and rear liners can adjust the stroke, it is very important to select a suitable range at the beginning.

Step 1: Adjust the preloading

In order to have the best performance of shock absorption and be able to respond positively to the road that each wheel has moved through, when the wheel hits the ground, the front fork and rear bladder will be compressed and absorb the energy generated by the impact, otherwise, they will expand and release again.

In order to maintain good traction on the ground, the front fork and the rear bladder should not only absorb the impact force, but also ensure a good rebound, so as to better achieve the “flying close to the ground”.

In order to achieve this effect, when we use the weight to press down the frame, the load is preloading. Too little preloading will make you unable to have good grip while riding, and too much preloading will not respond to the impact force. The setting of preloading is the basis of many of the following.

The specific setting method of the front fork is: let a friend hold you on the flat ground, before that, make sure that the shock absorber rebound is flexible, and then maintain the normal sitting position for 5 seconds. At this time, record the position of the rubber ring, and then carefully shake the body forward to record the distance of the rubber ring pushed upward. If α = 15mm, divide this number by the total impact stroke β (usually less than the actual stroke length, It can be found in the technical manual), and then multiplied by 100% to get the preloading percentage, that is, α / β * 100% = δ (for example: 15mm / 50mm x 100% = 30%), then this δ is the correct preloading value. Many brands will have a setting suggestion, if not, it is usually 30%.

The specific setting method of the rear bladder is: you also need a friend to help you hold the bike on the flat ground, make sure the rebound is flexible, and keep the normal sitting position for 5 seconds. At this time, record the position of the rubber ring, and then directly divide the pushing distance by the total travel distance, and then multiply it by 100% to get the percentage.

Generally speaking, we recommend 20% preloading for the setting of the rear bladder. The principle and method are the same as those of the front fork. After that, of course, you need to actually try several times on the road to optimize your settings and finally find the right preloading point.

Step 2: Optimize the front fork according to the terrain

Although a 20% rear bladder and 30% front fork preload is a good base setting, it may not be the best riding style and may not necessarily match the frame setting.

The spring rate is always unbalanced between large impact support and small impact sensitivity. The setting that suits you best depends on the terrain and riding style. If you like the strong support under the big impact, then the road feeling will not be clear, on the contrary, under the big impact, you will feel relieved and the route is unstable.

According to the terrain: if the rear of the car is not sensitive and stuck to the ground, the spring speed of the rear bladder is adjusted too low. Increase the pressure by 10psi each time. Repeat this action until the desired feeling is provided. Then record the pressure value.

If you feel rough in a small bump, without clear feedback, the front wheels can’t follow your idea and have good directivity. If your rebound rate is too high, reduce the pressure by 10 psi each time. Repeat this action until you can provide good traction. Then record the pressure value.

If you feel that the front fork does not respond well to small bumps and lacks grip, do the same as in the previous step, but reduce 5psi each time. Repeat this action until the front fork can feel a sharp small vibration, and record the best pressure at this time.

After the basic settings, here are some advanced settings:

1. If the arm pain after riding on a long cross-country road section is confirmed to be caused by shock absorption, the front fork may not rebound fast enough and maintain a low posture during riding. If the springback rate of the front fork is fast enough, then this situation is that the rebound speed is too fast, and the impact is directly transmitted to you without good absorption of vibration. At this time, the rebound should be slowed down, and preloading is the key to all settings.

2. If you want to ride a more steep route, you need to set the setting position of the weight to be back and close to the rear balance point to meet the needs of the steep slope. If you still feel the center of gravity forward on the steep slope, try to raise the handlebar as much as possible to make up for the forward angle of the bicycle.

3. If you want to ride a very muddy route and want to ensure that the maximum traction is on wet ground, besides the low tire pressure, slowing down the rebound rate is a good choice. At this time, don’t think too much about the rebound rate, because the mud has absorbed part of the impact, so it is better to have the lower grip.

4. If you want to try a track with higher technology than you are used to, you should first observe the settings of the drivers galloping here. If not, you can first turn up the damping to ensure that you can absorb the big impact. On this basis, you can gradually familiarize yourself with the road before looking for a suitable damping setting.

5. If your route has a lot of jumps and large landing movements, you need to make sure that the center of gravity of the chariot is balanced, and you don’t feel the top heavy or easily cocked. Then you can try to slow down the springback of the front fork, so that you can land smoothly from the previous accelerated downhill state, rather than immediately return to the fully ejected state. This may seem to be a violation Intuition, but give it a try. It can make you faster.

6. If there are a lot of jumps and bends in the route, and you need to land two wheels at the same time, you need to speed up your rebound rate setting to better control the body state.

The above are some simple setting ideas for different terrain such as damping, shock absorption and rebound. Of course, in actual riding, it is most important to find a suitable style and scale. If there is a better setting method, I hope you can put forward suggestions and share experiences.

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