Australian Mountain Bike - - Front Page - WORDS: JARED RANDO IM­AGES: NICK WAYGOOD

Sus­pen­sion setup is some­thing which takes years for even the most knowl­edge­able riders to un­der­stand. Throw in a mix of mul­ti­ple ad­just­ments and a never end­ing spec­trum of tech­nol­ogy and it only gets more and more dif­fi­cult to get right. More often than not, find­ing the right tune takes quite a while and varies with dif­fer­ent rid­ing con­di­tions, rider abil­i­ties and bike setup. More often than not though we find our­selves in a sit­u­a­tion where we need to do a quick setup as a start­ing point to get the ball rolling. Chances are that with a new $10k bike in the back of your car you’re go­ing to look to high­tail it to the trails and get out there as soon as hu­manly pos­si­ble, or you might need to bor­row a bike or even rent one for what­ever rea­son. I find my­self in this sit­u­a­tion quite often so here’s some steps I fol­low to get the tune right as a start­ing point, with­out tak­ing up too much time.

STEP 2 Set your re­bound set­tings

Once you have your pres­sure set, it’s time to set your re­bound. The best thing to do here for novices is to seek some in­put from some­one with some ex­pe­ri­ence un­til you have an un­der­stand­ing of how it works. For me, I tend to ad­just the re­bound un­til the bike is re­bound­ing no­tably slower when com­pressed and back it off a click or 2 from there. It’s im­por­tant to do your rear re­bound be­fore your fork be­cause the aim here is to have your fork match your rear set­tings for a bal­anced ride.

STEP 1 Set your rear sag

First things first, start with your rear shock and set your sag. Any­where be­tween 10% - 30% is in the range for most riders. If you are un­sure, try 25% as a start­ing point and go from there. It also makes it easy to do a quick vis­ual on the shock shaft to get rolling. Push the o ring up, sit on the sad­dle and lift your feet up. Take note of the pres­sure and where you are in the travel un­til you have the right set­ting. I do it with the com­pres­sion set­tings fully open so I can tune in the right com­pres­sion on the trail.

STEP 3 Set your fork pres­sure

I pre­fer to set the fork pres­sure by do­ing the good old car park test rather than us­ing a sag ad­just­ment. What I do is re­set both the fork and rear shock O-ring, go for a quick roll and com­press the sus­pen­sion evenly in a neu­tral rid­ing po­si­tion. I first check at about 30% travel and check both the front and back O-rings are ef­fec­tively in the same po­si­tion. I then do it deeper into the travel look­ing for the same re­sult. If the O-ring on your shock is half way through the travel and the fork O-ring is at 25% then you need to soften your forks. The aim here is to match your fork to your shock – you should only be ad­just­ing your fork as the rear shock is set to your sag set­ting. My per­sonal pref­er­ence is to run my forks a lit­tle stiffer than my rear shock so when my forks hit 50%, my rear shock will hit about 60% but that’s me and I would al­ways set up any­body else’s bike bal­anced to start. Once again start with your com­pres­sion in your forks open and tune it on the trail.

STEP 4 Set the re­bound on your forks

Once again do­ing the car park test and even com­pres­sions on your bike, ad­just the re­bound on your forks so it re­bounds evenly with your rear shock. The re­bound at any given set­ting will change with fork pres­sure which is why you want to do the pres­sure be­fore re­bound. The aim is to ad­just the re­bound so the fork and rear shock re­bound evenly on small and large com­pres­sions. You’ll know when you get it right be­cause the bike should feel nice and bal­anced. My per­sonal pref­er­ence is to bal­ance the re­bound and go 1 click faster in the forks which helps keep the front end of your bike up over jumps and af­ter big com­pres­sions.

STEP 5 Get out on the trail and fine tune it all

From there, the next step for me is to get out on the trail and fine tune my set­tings. For com­pres­sion I’ll nor­mally start a cou­ple of clicks in and tune it in or out to suit the trail and con­di­tions. I very rarely ad­just my re­bound set­tings as the ini­tial tune is gen­er­ally the right setup. If your bike feels too soft or too firm, it’s best to start the process again and bal­ance the fork with the shock to get it right if you have the time – other­wise you can go down the slip­pery slope of over com­pen­sat­ing on one end or the other and los­ing your bal­ance. Dif­fer­ent bikes are dif­fer­ent too and a sag set­ting of 15% on one bike might need 25% for the same rider on a dif­fer­ent bike. With the whole process, I be­lieve the most im­por­tant as­pect is bal­anc­ing your front and rear sus­pen­sion – a bal­anced bike, is a happy bike and will ride like it should.

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