A proper suspension setup is going to help in oh-so-many ways, and we've made it easier than ever to get you to suspension nirvana. You're going to be faster. You're going to have more traction. And most importantly, you're going to be more comfortable.
To start, we're going to set up your sag to make sure that you have the right geometry and suspension movement. After that, we're going to move on to dampers, so you'll be able to control the system energy and chassis movement. We've made this super painless... don't worry.
Set Your Sag
Let's start with the obvious: What the hell is sag? Easy—it's the amount that your suspension settles under your own weight when you're in the riding position. Setting sag is a key element of your setup because, if the sag isn't properly set, it alters the bike's ride characteristics by changing the geometry and handling—not in a good way. Our engineers design each bike to be set up at a specific sag value (we call it Rx Tune), and while we believe that this setup is pretty damn close to perfect, more advanced riders might want to slightly deviate from these recommendations depending on the terrain and how they want the bike to feel and perform.
1. Make sure that all of the damping adjustments are set to fully-open (see damping section below) prior to setting your sag.
2. Remember to cycle the suspension during the inflation process to allow the pressures on both sides of the spring to equalize. Cycle the suspension until you get a stable pressure reading with the suspension at maximum extension.
3. Disconnect the pump when checking sag. Leaving it attached will affect the sag measurements.
Tuning the Damping
Every suspension component contains fluid that's used to control the speed at which the suspension moves. We call the resistance provided by this fluid "Damping." Our engineers optimize the damping circuits of our suspension components for two general scenarios—compression and rebound. Compression occurs when the suspension moves deeper into the travel as a result of the wheel striking a bump or some other kind of rider input. Rebound, meanwhile, happens when the suspension extends from a compressed state and releases the stored energy and forces in the spring.
There's at least one adjuster on every suspension component. Each adjuster is for a scenario (compression and rebound), while higher-end components may have multiple adjustments. Regardless of the adjustment, though, damping is controlled by adjustment knobs/dials that allow the fluid to flow with more or less resistance, and this depends on which direction the dial is turned. These adjustments are like a faucet, where turning the dial clockwise closes the faucet and makes it hard for fluid to flow. Likewise, turning the dial counter-clockwise opens the faucet and allows fluid to flow more easily. Each adjuster will typically have several positions referred to as "clicks," because they make a clicking sound when you turn them. Makes sense, right?
NOTE: Damping recommendations described as "clicks" are always referring to the number of clicks counter-clockwise from maximum damping (dial turned fully clockwise/closed).
Rebound Damping Adjustments
Rebound damping adjustments (typically a red knob or gold for Öhlins) are controlling the rate that the spring is allowed to return to the original sag position. Our engineers recommend values for rebound damping (Rx Tune) primarily based upon spring rate. Advanced users, however, may want to deviate from these recommendations based on terrain, skill, or personal preference. For example, if you feel like your bike is skipping off rocks or pogoing down the trail, you should slow your rebound. If the suspension feels harsh and it's not returning fast enough (this is called packing), you should speed up your rebound.
Compression Damping Adjustments
Compression damping adjustments (typically a blue knob) are controlling how compliant the suspension feels over both rough and smooth terrain. Unlike rebound damping, compression damping adjustments are more dependent on your riding style, terrain, and personal preference. Our engineers recommend starting with small amounts of compression damping (adjuster tending towards open/counter-clockwise), and then adding more compression damping based upon terrain and your personal preference. For example, if you feel like you're losing traction or chattering on features, you should decrease your compression damping by turning the adjuster a few clicks in the counter-clockwise direction. If your bike feels too soft, like you're bottoming out or pushing through the suspension travel, you should increase your compression damping by turning your compression a few clicks in the clockwise direction.
BOTTOMING: Using the total available travel of the suspension.
CHATTERS: Full wheel displacement, or when the wheel is skipping.
COMPRESSION: Suspension movement that occurs when the wheel hits a bump and compresses.
COMPRESSION DAMPING: Damping created on the compression stroke while the suspension is collapsing.
DAMPING: Fluid resistance to movement. The force created as oil passes through holes or other valving systems.
PACKING: When hitting a series of bumps, the wheel extends too slowly after being compressed—enough so that it does not completely return when hitting the next bump it encounters.
POGOING: Uncontrolled rebound.
POOR TRACTION: Wheels not holding a rider’s line.
REBOUND: Suspension movement when the wheel extends. It occurs as the spring forces the shock, or fork, to extend.
REBOUND DAMPING: Damping created on the rebound stroke while the suspension extends.
SAG: Is the amount that the bikes suspension settles under a rider while in the riding position.
SPRING: A mechanical device that stores and returns energy as it’s displaced.
SPRING RATE: The amount of weight required to deflect a spring one inch. The lower the spring rate, the softer the spring.
TRAVEL: The measure of distance from the bottom of the suspension stroke to the top of the suspension stroke.