Technical Tuesday: Suspension Basics

Oct 5, 2010
by Mike Levy  
Suspension setup can be intimidating, but the key is simply knowing what the terms mean and how each adjustment effects your bike's performance. Inside we breakdown the basics of this, the first in a series of videos that will focus on demystifying your suspension and helping you arrive at a setup that works for you.

Read on,Taking the time to properly setup your bike's suspension is one of the single most important things that you can do for your ride. But before you do start fiddling, you need to know exactly what all of the terms mean, and some of those are less clear than others. While I'm sure that many of you out there not only already have a clear understanding of what the dials do, but also have a baseline from where to start, there are plenty of riders that will benefit from a quick breakdown before getting their hands dirty. Before watching this video you'll need to keep in mind that this is the first installment in a series of Technical Tuesdays that will get progressively more advanced as time goes on. You may already know some or all of this, but if you're patient you may learn something new down the road.

Watch the video to learn the basics of suspension

Views: 62,829    Faves: 363    Comments: 10

Now that you know what the terms mean, stay tuned for next week's video which will cover selecting the proper spring rate and adjusting sag.

Past Tech Tuesdays:

Technical Tuesday #1 - How to change a tube.
Technical Tuesday #2 - How to set up your SRAM rear derailleur
Technical Tuesday #3 - How to remove and install pedals
Technical Tuesday #4 - How To Bleed Your Avid Elixir Brakes
Technical Tuesday #5 - How To Check And Adjust Your Headset
Technical Tuesday #6 - How To Fix A Broken Chain
Technical Tuesday #7 - Tubeless Conversion
Technical Tuesday #8 - Chain Wear
Technical Tuesday #9 - SRAM Shift Cable Replacement
Technical Tuesday #10 - Removing And Installing a Headset
Technical Tuesday #11 - Chain Lube Explained
Technical Tuesday #12 - RockShox Totem and Lyric Mission Control Damper Mod
Technical Tuesday #13 - Shimano XT Crank and Bottom Bracket Installation
Technical Tuesday #14 - Straightening Your Derailleur Hanger
Technical Tuesday #15 - Setting Up Your Front Derailleur
Technical Tuesday #16 - Setting Up Your Cockpit

Have you found this tutorial helpful? Share any of your hints or tips below!

Visit to see their entire lineup of tools and lubes.

Posted In:

Author Info:
mikelevy avatar

Member since Oct 18, 2005
2,032 articles

  • 58 1
 oh my that last clip was rather disturbing
  • 6 1
 Ban him for sexual referance! lol
  • 4 0
 Please.. Tells me more about high speed rebound..
  • 5 33
flag OliScale (Oct 5, 2010 at 9:01) (Below Threshold)
 high speed rebound is basically for big jumps and drops

if you set it too high when you hit a drop, your bike will feel rigid, too low and you will bottom out/go through too much of your travel
  • 2 0
 High speed is also for square edge bumps or high speed shutter bumps.
  • 18 0
 ^^^ your thinking Compression, not rebound
  • 3 2
 shame that he forgot about the bottom-out adjustments.....not good...
  • 5 0
 pperini, Didn't forget. Not all suspension, or even the majority, of suspension units offer bottom out control. Although it was left out on purpose, it will be something that is covered at a later date.
  • 5 1
 good job PB.....nice to see a video that touches on the more intricate things about bikes.....

(not like that vid on how to patch a tire....or whatever that was... Facepalm
  • 1 0
 wow very informative...but it kinda made me think i dont wanna ride DH. to many dials to turn haha as for the last scene.........i was kinda expecting that..or at least something stupid LOL
  • 2 2
 oh yeah sorry i thought he said high speed compression..
  • 1 0
 Where the tech Tuesday on spring rates and sag ?
  • 9 0
 lol gotta love the ending
  • 4 0
 i lol'd
  • 10 0
 i want a morewood... Frown
  • 3 0
 asa sa sa sa sa goodie gooooood! Looks very promising.

Would be great if this series includes some on-site presentation of some general presets for some specific track. The one on Freecaster with Fabien Barel from Andorra DH some years ago (don't remeber exactly) was really great. I must say it really made me understand a lot more about suspension setup. After that I eliminated most of common mistakes that Mike spoke about, especially LSC and rebound settings. For the first time I truly realized how properly set up bike can make me faster and more confident.

One hint as usual: good that you dare to say what is right or wrong, and that many people do make mistakes.
  • 2 0
 Haha, this was really helpful as I just bought a new 66 RC3 and have been trying to dial it in, it feels good on the trails at speed, but I totally SCHLACKED it hard, bottoming out on a 12 foot drop, now I know why... Thanks Mikey!!
  • 2 0
 Great tech tuesday!

Can you clarify, I was told that high speed compression damping comes most into play when you are in the lower part of your travel and you hit something big. ie square edge hits at higher speed etc. If you are going off a big jump, when you suspension is not compressed, and you land its actually the low speed that compensates for lack of bottom out.

Low speed controls brake dive ( as mentioned ) acts as 'propedal' high in the travel and compensates for smaller hits such as stutter bumps and rough sections of trail.
  • 1 0
 High speed compression should always mean the speed of the shaft, i.e. high shaft sheep, be it the front or the rear suspension. When the shaft changes from low to high speed or vice versa is another tuning option most of us would not play with but a tuner such as TF Tuning could if you wanted them to.

Bottoming out of the shock/fork is also different from shaft speed, most shocks and forks have a different system but have similar outcomes. It basically makes the last part of the stroke harder than the first 70% or so. Some systems are hydraulic like the Fox fit units, this is the little stack of washers on the end of the shaft. These have to force out the oil in the other part it slides into, effectivly making the end of the stroke a bit harder. on a DHX 5 it is the size and pressure of the chamber under the floating piston which will control how the damping ramps up at the end of the stroke.

Changing the low speed can amke it feel similar to a propedal tuning option but they are not the same. You would normally change the low speed first and do the propedal type tuning later on.

Every company has a different take on when the changes and ramps should take place and if it should be hydraulic, pneumatic, air/hydro, open or closed bath etc. Some are just plain better designs, some more cost effective, some easier to work on. Hope it helps
  • 1 0
 nice series, would like to know the spring tension in tha rockshox domain (not in the manual), i'm a lightweight (62kg) and feel that a softer spring will help with 'small' bump sensitivity
  • 1 0
 there aren't many choices with coil sprung forks, especially those without preload adjustment. Buy soft or extra soft spring assembly, that's all you can do. RS should state somewhere in product manual which spring suits your weight. For my feeling you sit somewhere between Soft and X-soft.
  • 1 0
 Thanks Waki, now the hard part of sourcing one in Africa :-/
  • 1 0
 CRC... or just go to some LBS, RS used to be quite good with spare parts availability (at least in EU)
  • 1 0
 i've been in contact with the rockshox import agent here but still waiting on his reply
  • 1 0
 thanks Carlos, you've just given me more info than the agent could in a week, guess i'm in for a mission, props for the help
  • 1 0
 Thanks for clearing things up! I always thought high speed and low speed compression corresponded to the bike's speed. these vids are very well done and easy to understand, keep it up!
  • 1 0
 same was soo helpful cheers
  • 1 0
 hmmm interested to hear about sag. As a super light rider (135 lbs with gear) I usually give up on getting that dh 30% sag as the springs required just make the suspension WAY too soft through the ruff or even small drops.
  • 1 0
 Good video Mike. How does low speed compression adjustment on my fork affect HSC shim stack performance?
Is 'pro-pedal' adjustment on my shock essentially LSC adjustment?
  • 2 0
 I turn all the knobs on my suspension as far as they go clockwise. The bike goes fastest with that setup.
  • 1 0
 wow,very precise, hahah whatever works
  • 2 0
 Now here's a tech Tuesday that we can all lean from. Keep them coming.
  • 1 0
 lmao wow that ending clip was a little random. good video tho learned some new stuff.
  • 1 0
 Wow dude that was awesome, helps out alot! Keep the suspension stuff coming.
  • 1 0
 "Wonky setup", eh?
I agree, that last 5 seconds, I could have done without.
  • 1 0
 Thanks Mike. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.
  • 1 0
 On rockshox monarch rear shock what does the gate do?
  • 1 0
 The gate basically locks out the shock until it detects a force that is big enough to open it, and then it becomes active again for the big hits.
  • 1 0
 Ahh right cheers Smile
  • 2 0
 Nice shop!
  • 1 0
 Which compression setting (high/low speed) is used more in rock gardens?
  • 1 0
 That was helpful even when i wasn't sure about settings but i made this same setting how he said was working perfect,that was two years ago Smile
  • 1 0
 woudl of thought it would be high as its gonna be fast hard hits
  • 1 0
 The f**k was with that last section?....LOL!
  • 1 0
 Good job. I'll look forward to the rest.
  • 1 0
 screw it, going to suspension worx.
  • 1 0
 Thx, can't wait for the next one!
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
 great job mike
  • 1 0
 super helpful

Copyright © 2000 - 2023. All rights reserved.
dv42 0.056973
Mobile Version of Website