Tech Tuesday - RockShox Vivid Air Tuning

May 15, 2012
by Mike Levy  
Sag First, Dials Second: There are four basic steps involved in tuning the Vivid Air: setting the sag by adjusting the shock's air pressure, tuning both the beginning and ending stroke rebound via the separate dials, and also adjusting the compression. It is imperative to begin the process by first getting the sag correct, as this will have an effect on rebound and compression settings. For instance, more air pressure will result in a harder spring rate and stiffer suspension, but it will likely also require additional rebound damping to control the extra spring force that is extending the suspension after an impact. It is for this reason that a rider with 200psi in the shock's air spring chamber will require more clicks of rebound control compared to a lighter rider who may have only 150psi in the shock, although this rule isn't set in stone given the varying terrain and differing needs of riders.

Starting Point: Not sure where to start your setup, but don't want to hit the trails with your suspension way out in left field? RockShox recommends starting with their 6-3-6 setup, a configuration that should provide a good base to tune from. This references six clicks of beginning stroke rebound, three clicks of ending stroke rebound, and six clicks of compression damping, with all adjustments being made from the their fully closed (clockwise) positon. The 6-3-6 method still demands that the shock is running close to the correct amount of sag in order to get the most out of the damping adjustments - 30% being a rough rule of thumb for many bikes.
While this is a good place to begin tuning from, it is important to keep in mind that different bikes employ different leverage ratios, terrain dictates setup to a large degree, and that rider ability and technique will also factor in. It's for these reasons that we encourage riders to experiment with their Vivid's settings rather than just being happy with the default setup; you may unleash performance that you didn't know was available to you.

What's needed:
• Shock pump
• 2.5mm hex key
• Your riding gear
• A friend
Some helpful pointers before you begin:
• Remember to wear your riding gear (including a pack with water, if you wear one) when setting up your bike - the added weight will have an effect
• The Vivid's ''beginning stroke'' rebound controls the rebound speed in the first 25% of the shock's stroke - smaller, fast impacts
• ''Ending stroke'' rebound refers to the final 75% of the shock's stroke - larger, slower impacts
• Compression damping controls suspension sensitivity and ride height
• The number of 'clicks' made during setup always refers to how many clicks the the dial makes from its full in (clockwise) position
• Attaching the shock pump allows about 10psi to escape, so it is necessary to compensate for this when adding air to the shock
• Riders often forget to equalize the positive and negative air chambers by pushing the shock into its stroke, allowing the air to pass from one to another. This is an important step when setting sag, one that will make setup difficult if it isn't done.

RockShox Vivid Air Tuning

Past Tech Tuesdays:
TT #1 - How to change a tube.
TT #2 - How to set up your SRAM rear derailleur
TT #3 - How to remove and install pedals
TT #4 - How To Bleed Your Avid Elixir Brakes
TT #5 - How To Check And Adjust Your Headset
TT #6 - How To Fix A Broken Chain
TT #7 - Tubeless Conversion
TT #8 - Chain Wear
TT #9 - SRAM Shift Cable Replacement
TT #10 - Removing And Installing a Headset
TT #11 - Chain Lube Explained
TT #12 - RockShox Totem and Lyric Mission Control Damper Mod
TT #13 - Shimano XT Crank and Bottom Bracket Installation
TT #14 - Straightening Your Derailleur Hanger
TT #15 - Setting Up Your Front Derailleur
TT #16 - Setting Up Your Cockpit
TT #17 - Suspension Basics
TT #18 - Adjusting The Fox DHX 5.0
TT #19 - Adjusting The RockShox BoXXer World Cup
TT #20 - Servicing Your Fox Float Shock
TT #21 - Wheel Truing Basics
TT #22 - Shimano Brake Pad Replacement
TT #23 - Shimano brake bleed
TT #24 - Fox Lower Leg Removal And Service
TT #25 - RockShox Motion Control Service
TT #26 - Avid BB7 Cable Disk Brake Setup
TT #27 - Manitou Dorado Fork Rebuild
TT #28 - Manitou Circus Fork Rebuild
TT #29 - MRP G2 SL Chain Guide Install
TT #30 - Cane Creek Angleset Installation
TT #31 - RockShox Maxle Lite DH
TT #32 - Find Your Tire Pressure Sweet Spot
TT #33 - Three Minute Bike Preflight Check
TT #34 - MRP XCG Install
TT #35 - Stem Choice and Cockpit Setup
TT #36 - Handlebars - How Wide Affects Your Ride
TT #37 - Repairing A Torn Tire
TT #38 - Coil spring swap
TT #39 - Trailside help: Broken Shift Cable
TT #40 - Installing a Fox Float Air-Volume Spacer
TT #41 - Replace the Seals on Your 2011 RockShox Boxxer World Cup Fork
TT #42 - Clean and Lubricate Your Fox F32 Dust Wiper Seals
TT #43 - Thread Locker Basics
TT #44 - Install a SRAM X.0 Two-By-Ten Crankset
TT #45 - VPP Suspension Bearing Service
TT #46 - Rotor Straightening
TT #47 - Finding and fixing that creak
TT #48 - Bleed and Service Magura Marta Disc Brakes
TT #49 - Cup and Cone Hub Basics
TT #50 - Install and Adjust Pedal Cleats
TT #51 - Cup and Cone Hub Rebuild
TT #52 - Converting Mavic Crossmax SX Axles
TT #53 - Cassette Removal and Installation
TT #54 - Cane Creek AngleSet Installation
TT #55 - American Classic Tubeless Conversion
TT #56 - Wider Rims Are Better and Why Tubeless Tires Burp Air
TT #57 - Pedal Pin Retrofit
TT #58 - Bleed RockShox Reverb Remote Lines
TT #59 - Cutting Carbon
TT #60 - Silence That Squeaky Disc Brake
TT #61 - Five Minute Wheel True
TT #62 - Removing Bike Rack Rattle
TT #63 - Inside Shimano's Shadow Plus Mech and How To Adjust It
TT #64 - Steerer tube length
TT #65 - Marzocchi 44 Rebuild
TT #66 - RockShox BoXXer TLC
TT #67 - Ghetto Tubeless Tire Inflator
TT # 68 - RockShox BoXXer Seal Replacement
TT #69 - Ghetto Dropper Post
TT #70 - FSA Orbit Option Install
TT #71 - How to Bleed Formula Disc Brakes
TT #72 - Crankbrothers Kronolog Cable Replacement
TT #73 - Three Ways to Save A Leaky Tubeless Tire
TT #74 - Chain Length Basics
TT #75 - Tech Tuesday: DH Helmet vs. Motocross Helmet


  • + 43
 As much as I love all tech tuesday's, they need to get back to being more general so that all riders, or a large majority of riders can actually use them....just my 2 cents
  • + 14
 This person talks sense.
  • + 22
 and most importantly, get back to making their own videos, they were so groovy and funky, i miss tech tues videos.
  • + 8
 wtf is a jackalope
  • + 2
 vivid air can be found on most bikes for sure.
  • + 2
 a haire
  • + 2
 wher the hell did they get A WHITE V10 FROM?
  • + 2
 So basically, PB just re-wrote what the SRAM video already tells us. I knew it was too good to be true when i saw the post
  • + 2
 Seen one dem round here....rabbit. with horns.
  • + 4
 If the beginning stroke rebound affects the first 25% and the ending the final 75%, aren't you always in the "end stroke rebound" if you are saged to 30%? This the beginning stroke rebound would only affect those moments you are unloaded a bit?
  • + 1
 yes you are.. the lighter Beginning stroke keeps things lively over small bumps, while the End of Stoke is slower to keep you from getting bucked..
  • + 3
 This is good to know for when you first get a Vivid Air. Take your time setting it up, after spending hours testing out each adjustment on mine I now have it dialed and will never ride coil again! 2 cents
  • + 2
 I just bought an M9 with a vivid air from USA, had it sent to Aus. I'm 165lbs. The shock was compressed fully closed at 0psi. I pumped it to 150 psi (equalizing every 20psi increase and could not hear air moving between chambers) and had 90% sag. Got to 200 psi and only had it 80% sag. At 250psi was at 75% sag with no weight. I thought it was broken and put the bike away in misery. Next day pumped to 275psi and still no movement of sag. When I pumped to 300psi the chambers equalized and it moved to 0% sag. Finally got it set to 210psi and 30% sag. Its obviously got some equalizing issues when setting up, following the manual was as helpful as it was misleading.

The 275 psi limit is not a great guide, but at least it finally works. Time to see what all the hype is about.
  • + 3
 I weigh 170, my psi is at 260, and my compression circuit is all the way out and I can still just BARELY achieve a firm, responsive ride. I run my Beginning stroke at 3-4 out and my End stroke almost all the way out. Ideas?
  • + 3
 Yeah, lower your air pressure.
  • + 1
 Probably the wrong shock tune. They come in tune A B C or High Medium Low depending on your shock year. If you have the newer R2C it is printed near the ending stroke rebound screw. What frame are you running and what shock tune?
  • + 1
 It's a med tune on a TR450. And lol, ustemuf.... lower my PSI to ride higher in the travel and get a firmer ride. Haha... It didn't COME with 260psi!
  • + 1
 Dirteveryday; you're the same weight, on the same bike and shock as me. I have the PSI at 180-200 and that is on the hard side. I would guess you either need to empty the shock of air, reinflate and be sure to follow the instruction to compress and equalise air pressure as shown in the video. If that doesn't seem to work, contact SRAM.
  • + 2
 Done, redone, and done again. And again. Sigh....
  • + 1
 Wheres your sag at that PSI?
  • + 1
  • + 0
 Sounds like you have the wrong compression tune for your frame/riding style.
  • + 1
 I'm sitting at 25-30% sag. I dunno... my buds have ridden it and think it feels like theirs...which are set up fairly stiff. Im possibly just too picky and have lately been really noting what everythings doing down there.
  • + 1
 yea, haha if it feels good then ride it.
  • + 4
 I just want to know one thing: where did they get that all white V10 carbon?!
  • + 1
 I've just recently got a vivid and coming form a roco air its been tough to set up.
Im still fiddling with its settings but I have it feeling 80% good at the moment.

The biggest difficulty I had was with the overall air pressure and ending rebound.
Alos the air pressure determines the sag which seems to be way too much at normal settings.

My roco I was previously on for my weight and bike I used 155psi in the main chamber and 220 psi in the piggy back.
This gave me perfect sag and an outstanding overall ride that was plush but never bottomed out.

The vivid on the other had for same bike and of course same weight rider, I had to push it up to 350psi to finally find a sag point that was rideable.
Even at 350 its a tad softer than what I like.

Then with the ending rebound on the 3 setting the shock felt completely horrible.
It would pack down when riding and not return to its full length feeling very odd.
Finally I ended up opening the ending rebound completely and it now feels decent.
The rebound setting is marked "M" so, I'm assuming I might have to lower the shim stack to take advantage of the ending rebound for my bikes leverage ratio.

After only being on 2 ride though I have to say the shock is awesome.
Once set up to how you like to ride it will feel like a coil or pretty close and ride very smooth!
The roco was much easier to set up and it also rides superbly coil like!

Im still testing the overall ride but I have high hopes for the vivid, especially since you can purchase any extra part needed to internally adjust your shock or service it, unlike the roco!

  • + 2
 You know you will damage the shock past 275psi!!?? I weigh 170 with gear and I run 180 PSI with the Demo.. I can't imagine why your air pressure would need to be so high.
  • + 1
 Yes, thats what Im worried about bro!
The bike I have it on is 160mm with a 200eye to eye.
I weigh 200lbs and with the roco a smooth 155psi was a little on the hard side.

The vivid says 275psi max but for me to get a balanced ride that didn't bog into all the travel I had to keep going up to 350psi.
I rode her hard all day Sunday at 350psi and it felt awesome but, yes Im very concerned with 350 as for it being way to high.

I ordered the rear valve adaptor for the piggy back's pressure so, Im very curious to see if the piggy backs pressure is up to par.

Some pictures of last sunday at 350psi and no explosions yet, ahhahha

I dont know what to do really as I purchased the shock not knowing it would take so much?
It riding good at 350psi but if it will really break it they need to advertise explaining much better.
I have to try looking for a link to e-mail scam or rockshox to ask some questions.
  • + 1
 Hey Niko, where did you order the piggyback adapter from?
  • + 1
 Just used this to tune my vivid on my new carbon V10! Was very useful! Mainly the video! So glad it told me about equalising the pressure, feels a lot better! This was worth searching for
  • + 2
 anyone notice that the she kept saying "jackalope" last time i checked there were not any antlers on the rabbit sticker
  • + 1
 just got one of those bad boys. This really helps! didnt know some of the stuff you shared!

oh and thanks pinkbike for bringing back the video tech tuesdays Smile
  • + 1
 So 6 3 6 as they wrote or 3 3 6 as written on the picture? They have this mess everywhere lol
  • + 1
 I have the 2012-2013 Rockshox Vivid air R2, I cant find the compression knob, WHERE IS IT? NEED ANSWERS.
  • + 1
 These rear shocks tuned correctly feel amazing!
  • + 0
 do not head-butt your friend lol and why not, you could call him butt-head after that
  • + 1
 Shut up, Beavis!
  • + 1
 ive got all the stuff u need except a friend
  • + 0
 Pinkbike made a mistake, in the text is says 636 and in the photo it says 633. (I think that 633 is correct).
  • - 8
flag WAKIdesigns (May 15, 2012 at 0:14) (Below Threshold)
 I think you should a tell on them to Sven Martin at Vital and Steve Jones at Dirt...
  • - 4
flag airsoftesneeto (May 15, 2012 at 1:08) (Below Threshold)
 they fixed it
  • - 4
flag WAKIdesigns (May 15, 2012 at 1:47) (Below Threshold)
 Oh thank heavens - it was so confusing, I've spent a dozen of whiles and moments trying to sort out 636 - I felt hollowness in my mind lost in the process of setting up shock as if my delicate existence depended on that. I envisioned my crumble body crashing on rocks, blood pouring from the crack in the helmet, then my coleagues discovering that the low speed compression was set three clicks too far... Therefore I pursued desperately the solace that only a user manual can offer
  • + 2
 It still reads 6-3-6 twice in the text... Anyhow I'm sure most will refer to the Sram vid..
  • + 3
 You seem like you're in a bad mood waki
  • + 2
 HAHAHA i don't know why waki got negs i find him hilarious XD seriously people, there are guidelines you have to follow, but on such little details, it's your personal preference anyways so who needs an exact number. ride your bike with different settings and find out what you prefer.
  • - 5
flag WAKIdesigns (May 15, 2012 at 7:31) (Below Threshold)
 mtb24pride - I was so seriously serious in trying to be a dick to benthirlwell - I admit it. I have been pulled by a sudden negative feeling brought up by a thought of badly set up low speed compression on the Vivid Air which I don't own, that my psychic reacted on the same principle as most internet forumers work: being an a*shole to someone makes world a better place - I can't deal with someone being wrong on the internet!
  • + 7
Seriously yourself sometime and shut up , because no one is listening to you and your just making a fool of yourself.
  • - 1
 I apologize, sometimes I'm just having a desire to do/say something mean, that will feel like farting into someone's space suit...
  • + 1
 i didnt like mine will sell it for 300 bucks has bearly been used

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