Video: Suspension Setup 101 With a ShockWiz

Dec 30, 2018
by Mike Kazimer  


Suspension setup can be a confusing topic, and there are all sorts of theories and opinions floating around on how to achieve the ideal settings. During Crankworx Whistler I took some time to help Paul Haysom, aka Paul the Punter, get his Trek Slash dialed in. In order to facilitate the process, we used a Quarq Shockwiz, the tiny monitoring device that gives setup recommendations based on a rider's preferences and data gathered out on the trail.

A Shockwiz certainly isn't a required accessory, but it can be a useful tool if it's available. At the end of the day, though, the correct settings will be the ones that feel best to you, the rider, and not the ones that a computer spits out.



Nukeproof Mega 275C
That red o-ring and the gradients printed on the shock, in this case a RockShox Super Deluxe, make setting the right amount of sag a simple process.


The Process

Setting sag: Most frame manufacturers will have a suggested amount of sag mentioned somewhere in their setup guide. If not, in most cases, 30% is a safe place to start for the rear shock. What's sag? It's the amount that the shock sinks into its travel when you're aboard the bike wearing all your riding gear. If the shock has sag gradients printed on it, all that you need to do is slide the travel indicator o-ring up towards the body of the shock, sit on the bike (with someone holding it or while leaning against a wall), and then get off.

Take a look at where the o-ring is and adjust the air pressure accordingly with a shock pump. If you don't have those handy gradients printed on your shock, you'll need to bust out a tape measure or some calipers to see how far the o-ring has moved. Take that number and divide it by the stroke length of the shock. For instance, if you have a shock with a 60mm stroke, you'd want to set it up with 18mm of sag in order to hit that 30% mark.

Sag amounts for a fork are typically between 15 – 20% depending on rider preference. Start with inflating the fork to the manufacturer's recommended pressure based on your riding weight and see how it feels. It'll take some trail time to really tell, but a quick lap around the parking lot will at least let you know if you're in the ballpark. Too stiff? Let some air out. Too soft? Add a few more pounds of pressure.


RockShox Lyrik
Fox 36 2019
Manufaturers' suggested settings aren't always 100% accurate, but they provide a very good starting point.


Turning Dials

If you need a place to start, begin by adjusting the rebound and compression dials according to the manufacturers' suggestions. Feel free to tweak accordingly if things feel way too fast or slow, although I've found that most setup guides are fairly accurate these days. This will give you a baseline that you can work from.

Next, it's time to head for some laps. There's nothing wrong with heading out on a ride and adjusting things as you go, but if you really want to get into it, find a section of trail where you can easily take multiple laps. Take a lap, and pay attention to what you're feeling. Is the shock rebounding too quickly or too slowly? Is there a lack of small bump sensitivity? Are you bottoming out off of every drop? I find it easiest to focus on one suspension component at a time, and I'll typically get the rear shock dialed in to my liking first, and then focus on the fork.

After that initial lap, you'll need to decide what needs to be adjusted. This is where it can be helpful to have a more knowledgeable friend along for the ride, or a gadget like the ShockWiz. How much you can actually change will also depend on how many external adjustments your fork or shock has.

Once you've made a change, whether that's to speed up the rebound, or reduce the amount of compression damping, head up for another lap. Did those changes help? Take notes so that you can return to your original setup if necessary – that way it's easy to undo any tuning that doesn't seem to have been beneficial.


Fox 36
Volume spacers are extremely useful for adjusting the amount of end-stroke ramp up in an air sprung fork or shock.


Volume Spacers

Along with adjusting the fork or shock's rebound and compression settings, internal volume spacers can be very helpful. You'll need a few more tools, but it is something that can be performed trailside if you're prepared. Spacers affect how much a shock ramps up towards the end of its travel, and are often a necessity to make sure you're not clanging off the bottom every time you land off a jump or drop.

Again, the best way to determine if you need to change your spacer setup is to take a lap, ideally hitting a drop or jump that would typically use a good amount of your bike's suspension travel. Keep an eye on where the o-ring is at the end of each run; if it seems like you're using full travel too often it's probably time to add in a volume spacer. Alternately, if you have the correct amount of sag but never ever seem to be able to use all the travel removing a spacer may be necessary.


Keep on Learning

There are a wealth of resources available online and in real life to help you make the most out of your suspension. This video is meant to provide a very basic general overview, a glimpse into what a typical suspension setup session might look like. Your local bike shop is a great place to start – a knowledgeable mechanic can get you headed down the right path, and then offer further suggestions once you've gone on a ride or two to see how it feels.

Suspension setup can be an intimidating topic for some riders, but don't be afraid to ask questions, experiment, and above all, have fun.


94 Comments

  • + 51
 A great tool for bike shops to rent out for customers. Not really worth owning outright IMO.
  • + 10
 Unless youre racing and youre on different tracks in different locations, then it can be helpful
  • + 9
 This should be labeled as Advertisement
  • + 5
 @endurocat: let's ask the shockwiz
  • + 2
 @pogan: Eh, I expect more from serious racers. This is more "good baseline" to me.
  • - 1
 I put way more pressure in my fork last ride, and it made a world of difference. Had me looking for a solid fork it felt so good.
  • + 2
 @endurocat: You mean an IXS advertisement.
  • + 27
 "A Shockwiz certainly isn't a required accessory, but it can be a useful tool if it's available. At the end of the day, though, the correct settings will be the ones that feel best to you, the rider, and not the ones that a computer spits out."

And that's the end of that.
  • - 8
flag makripper (Dec 30, 2018 at 12:25) (Below Threshold)
 Unless racing. But for the average rider and average ride for sure.
  • + 1
 @makripper: ....no, racers are the same in that respect, their numbers are just going to be a bit different.
  • + 6
 @js11: not necessarily what feels best for a racer, but it's not a Shockwiz that they should be paying attention to either. Racers should be after what is measurably faster as long as it is not so far outside their comfort level that it impacts ability to perform.
  • + 8
 @cofo11: that's exactly it. Time is more important than comfort for dh races. Enduro, comfort is a little more important.
  • + 21
 The biggest problem with the shockwiz is that the vast majority of riders are over-biked and therefore "over-suspensioned" to varying degrees. So a piece of software is never going to be able to figure out that "oh, you don't actually need that 180mm of travel, you'd probably be just fine with 140mm" and set things accordingly - instead it's just going to recommend you let out air pressure until you start using nearly all 180mm, which is almost certainly the wrong thing to do. And the people who are actually using their suspension to its full potential probably don't need a computer to tell them what dial to turn, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • + 1
 Very true nilswalk. I have found the wiz sets the bike up too soft for my liking usually. However it really helped me with dialling in hsr/lsr which greatly improved tracking and grip for myself.

It’s a good tool, but personal preference is the ultimate decider. What it does do is give a decent baseline to work from.

Would I buy one, god no. But I’ll keep borrowing one from the local shop for a 6 pack of beer.
  • + 1
 I agree with you @nilswalk
Less is more
  • + 1
 Personally, I feel like the biggest problem with it is that it is real easy to start chasing settings if you don't know what you are doing. I owned one for a while and tuned a number of different shocks with it, if you don't know how compression, tokens, etc work, along with what the bike should feel like, then you are in for a rough time.

I've had it give me ridiculous recommendations, like trying to get me to run 4 tokens in a Fox 34 140 when 3 felt like garbage. I did some experimenting with it and found the results were easy to skew, along with it sometimes not knowing what it wanted. I also found it seemed to like the air pressures on the softer side with more tokens, which didn't really work out for me.

The other problem is that the calibration process is ridiculous inaccurate, but critically important. I've done it 5 times on the same fork and gotten 4 different ratios before. For such an easy process, it's something that shifts around way too often.

I think the value in the Shockwiz is when you have someone that knows about suspension setup, but can't ride your bike the way you can (different weight, bike, riding style, etc). It can be useful for them to put on your fork/shock, then read the results and offer suggestions along with your feedback on how the bike feels. If you don't know what the settings mean or have an understanding of suspension setup, then you are probably gonna end up frustrated with it.

I will also add that I found being in the yellow or green acceptable all around, whereas red was always off. The detections (e.g. pogo, etc) were all pretty spot on. The way I interpreted it was that yellow or green is the range of preference (riding style, feel, etc), but red was always off. It's challenging to try and chase having all greens, I found with it all green the shock was too soft and slow, but I could push things into the yellow and it feel right.

I'd also like to see it do more graphing. It'd be cool to see the data laid out in front of you and compare against different runs or adjustments. It'd be even cooler, although I know it'd be difficult, if it could track time somehow and provide overlay of that data with video or GPS.
  • + 2
 @nilswalk. So true, at many DH races you see cat 2 and 3 racers pedaling down flow trails on DH bikes.
To me this seems like a great tool for the guy who loves to talk on and on about suspension with his riding partners, and share his knowledge and experience in techno mumbo jumbo while completely distracting from the ride.
  • + 20
 Remember that before you start fiddling with all the dials, volume spacers, pressures, digital gadgets etc. YOU NEED TO SERVICE your fork regularly (and frame bearings), otherwise your fork is never gonna function well and you will just loose time you could be riding.
  • + 3
 this.. there is no special bumber to make ur shock feel great, just service regular and ride the fucker
  • + 4
 *number ????
  • + 17
 I put a token in my head tube . What a difference! Lowered the compression to my tire by two clicks.
The right side sags at about 20%
  • + 14
 Nice, are you running frame inserts?
  • + 7
 My buddy has one of these, I borrowed it for most of last summer and it pretty much told me that my suspension was already set up fine. Glad I didn’t spend my own money on it.
  • + 4
 Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person in the world who doesn't need volume spacers in my fork. Even at 200lbs full geared up, my current Lyrik and the Fox 36s I rode for year prior all felt fine stock. Plush enough when needed, supportive when I didn't, and I never bottomed out. Rear shocks however I always end up needing to put one in. Go figure.
  • + 2
 Same here. I always run more spacers than recommended in the shock,and nothing in the fork. I attribute it to my rear-biased riding position. If I put a spacer in my fork, I will never use my travel.
  • + 8
 If you never bottomed out they weren't set up correctly.
  • - 4
flag ilovedust (Dec 30, 2018 at 14:35) (Below Threshold)
 Its not about bottoming out. You buy a 160mm fork to use 160mm not 150mm with 10mm emergency travel.
The volume adjusters ramp up the travel keeping it plush in the first half then making it harder meaning you can run less air but still get more support in the mid to bottom stroke.
I am 200lbs plus kit (or 100kg in proper money) and run 2 vs in my Pikes.
  • + 17
 Stock doesn't mean no spacers at all.
  • + 3
 The thing with forks is that they all work on the same linear travel path whereas shocks are exposed to all sorts of different leverage ratios from different frames. So yeah maybe a volume spacer in a shock makes sense even though you don't need one in a fork.
  • + 1
 Both come with spacers out in. I'm around 200 and used max spacers in a lyrik and currently have max spacers in my DVO topaz
  • + 10
 @ilovedust: You sir, are incorrect. You buy a 160mm fork to complete the bike geometry and you set it up to never reach bottom out. If you've been in a mess, you realize that the only time you should hit bottom out in your fork is an obscene high speed G out or when your in a lot of trouble. You do not want a mass in motion to come to an abrupt stop - when that happens you crash, your break, or you lose all control. If you want a plush cruiser setup you might be right....
  • + 0
 @Loamhuck: I bottom out regularly. It's fine. More often on the rear than the front, but still bottom the front out once or twice a week. I'm not sure I've ever crashed as a direct result of bottoming out.
  • + 0
 @gabriel-mission9: I wouldn't say it's fine. You're putting unnecessary stress on your fork and frame when bottoming out.
  • + 4
 @Happymtbfr: there are harsh bottom outs and bottom outs you don't even feel it. You should use all your travel without harsh bottom outs, unless you are hucking big stuff.
  • + 2
 I put unnecessary stress on my bike everytime I ride it. I currently have dents in my rear rim, a small dent in my front, a slightly torn seat, next to no tread on the rear tyre, my cushcore is showing signs of damage both ends, my Charger damper has an annoying habit of spewing its damping fluid into the lowers when I ride really steep shit that works the front brake and fork hard and my swingarm bearings are starting to feel a tiny bit rough. Don't get me wrong, I love my bike and care for it, this is why I know every little bit of damage or fault on the bike like the back of my hand, but it is subject to wear and I accept that. The occasional bottom out is small fry compared to keeping on top of all that. Honestly, you should reach full bottom out on occasion. Yes if it goes off like a gunshot then you've probably bottomed too hard and want to have a look at your setup, but there are rubber bottom out bumpers on your shock and fork for a reason, they are there to be used. Rear shock bottom out bumpers are even tuned to be part of the damping profile of the shock.
  • + 8
 yes but coil
  • + 1
 @gabriel-mission9: This is a questionable product at best...what's it recording at 1 or 10hz at best....
  • + 1
 @Loamhuck: Haha, not a clue to be fair. I'd guess it's better than 1hz though. I'm not exactly an electronics whiz, but with the processors they can get in a mobile phone, I'm pretty sure it'd be easy enough to get this sampling at 100 or even 1000hz. I would guess that the real limiting factor will be mechanical, ie. how fast the cable reel can react to changes in direction.
  • + 1
 @gabriel-mission9: Problem: data storage and post processing.
  • + 1
 @Loamhuck: Data storage. Again my phone can hold 10G of data. I should imagine this equates to quite a lot of riding time.

Post processing, Well, i'm happy to sit and drink a cup of tea between runs while it thinks.

Not arguing, as I say I know f*ck all about electronics, but I just struggle to believe that the work this thing does would be any stress at all for the average smart phone.
  • + 1
 @Loamhuck: Not sure why you think this is limited to 10hz. I'd trust this device that actually measures suspension travel over the ShockWiz, which estimates based on air pressure, and doesn't even work with coil suspension.
  • + 3
 @Loamhuck @gabriel-mission9: Don’t buy a SussMyBike, I did, and it was complete garbage. It didn’t produce repeatable results, and the adjustment suggestions were (in my view) incorrect. I bought it as a reliable way of setting up multiple bikes, for different riders. (I’m a part time mechanic for a World Cup team) In the end I sent it back. Such a shame, as it appeared to be just what I needed.
  • + 1
 @gabriel-mission9: The SussMyBike unit stores all the data on the device itself, the phone app is just for displaying them. ... But the firmware is simply not good yet, you cannot export any data for later usage and the service is lacking. They just released a firmware update though, maybe it's better now. I'll have to ask the guy who ordered it for our group if he still has it or if he returned it already.
One of the two devices we ordered also developed an error while riding, where it didn't record everything anymore.
  • + 1
 Hmm. Fair enough. Guess thats why proper dataloggers are so much bigger. Just seems odd to me. I have my own reservations about the method of gathering data (Shockwhiz/air pres - Sussmybike/Extendystring) and completely agree with the need for proper sensors, but I'm surprised the data processing side of it is any issue at all.
  • + 1
 In terms of processor power that is, programming it to give you good adjustment suggestions is another matter.
  • + 4
 I'm surprised that so few bike brands give sag recommendations since the difference between shock sag and wheel sag differ so much depending on leverage ratio.
  • + 1
 This. Found an old blog from the guy who designed the bike a ride. He was saying that 30% shock sag IS not 30% suspension, attaching a chart to the post with the suspension curve and advising a 1/1,1 ratio to get 30% suspension sag. Changed the way the bike rode.
  • + 3
 Keith the Banshee Bikes designer used to do a blog all about the design aspects of his frames. he would post the leverage ratio graphs showing the recommended sag point in relation to the actual shock stroke, it was pretty cool learning all the behind the scenes of his work!
  • + 1
 @jazzawil: whatever happened to that guy and Banshee bikes?
  • + 0
 @jamesbrant: started to use hydroforming so the frames are cracking now
  • + 1
 @bok-CZ: which generation banshees used hydroforming? My 2015 phantom is doing fine in rough stuff and I wish to keep it that way. Doesn't look like a lot of hydroforming though...
  • + 2
 Paul: So what exactly do you do here? Kazimer: I take the spefications to the customer so the engineers don't have to deal with them.
F is there anything our phone can't tell us!? Amazing technology, trust the computers.
  • + 1
 I keep seeing people say that the ShockWiz isn't worth the price to own, and I get that it's expensive. However, I own two bikes that I paid over $4k for, and my wife rides a $4k bike as well. $329 is a small price to pay to maximize the investment in those bikes.
  • + 3
 After it was all said and done, a lot more was said than done. Still, I want to hook up to one of these and see how the recommended changes feel
  • + 1
 The ShockWiz is a great tool to help riders dial in their suspension quickly and easily. We’ve had riders of all levels and abilities who’ve rented ShockWiz devices from us, come back and tell us that the ShockWiz made their suspension perform better and helped them get set up faster than they ever could on their own. I haven't had a disappointed user yet.

Not all of us have the years of experience and/or time to develop a deep knowledge of suspension and its nuances. And even if you do, the ShockWiz can help you get in the ballpark right away. Consider a new bike purchase: How many rides would it take you to get the suspension dialed in? Looking at the Number of Rides Last Year Poll, many of us are in the 1x/week club.

Wouldn’t you rather spend that time enjoying your rides rather than trying to figure out what needs adjusting for your next one?

Might as well take advantage of the technology that’s available, to let us do what we love.

Full disclosure: We rent and ship ShockWiz devices across the country, for far longer and cheaper than any LBS: Check us out at FeelTheBerm.com.
  • + 4
 Pretty much changed the rest of my summer with this! Kaz knows a lot about bike set up, stoked we got to make this video.
  • + 2
 And your going to have to do it all over again with your new Scott bikes.
  • + 1
 @paulhaysom @mikekazimer what shockwiz settings did you start with (front and rear)? Eg. Soft or firm, poppy, etc
  • + 1
 The best thing I ever did to improve my suppression set up skills was watching Vorsprung Tech Talks and using a set up sheet for most of a season. It was a pain in the ass to write down 15 settings before each ride but it really paid off.
  • + 1
 My cousin and I bought one together about two years ago ~$200 per and we both love it. My suspension setup was very close to optimal and the shockwiz confirmed the benefit of lowering PSI and taking advantage of using full travel. I highly recommend this product to anyone looking to dial in their suspension in a much quicker manner. Sure it's pricey but nothing in comparison to Carbon this or e-that. Find a buddy ans split the dif IMO
  • + 1
 Every bike is different , we all understand that , setting up your bike so that you never use all your travel is cheating yourself , bottom out without knowing it what I generally prefer
  • + 2
 I learned the hard way that sometimes setup isn't the issue... Sometimes you just need to maintain your equipment getting it rebuilt so it can function as it should.
  • + 1
 Worldwide's video helped me out 3 months ago when I purchased my ShockWix from them!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=CA1b_jr5XZc
  • + 1
 Should have done this vid with a bike that had Fox 36 and Fox Float X2 that way you could have taken advantage of all the recommendations.
  • - 1
 ShockWiz was the product that most excited me, and let me down the hardest when I put it to use. Sample rate was too low, software was nowhere near smart enough, couldn't connect multiple units at one time, no option to view ride data and make my own decisions about setup change....I get that it was the first consumer device to help suspension setup, but it was aimed squarely at the tech-hungry amateur looking for new ways to fiddle with their bike. Keen to see future generations and other brands take on the challenge.
  • + 1
 How do you think the data could be better presented? What questions about your suspension performance would be answered by increasing the smapling rate and having both fork and shock logged simultaneously? What 'smarts' were lacking in the implementation that should have been included?
  • + 2
 Although i have only played with these things briefly, I also am slighlty disappointed that you can't actually see the raw data recorded. The only output it gives is advice about what changes it thinks you should make, without any way of knowing why it wants you to make those changes.
  • + 2
 I can't figure out how to attach it to my TTX and when I put it on my Mattoc it filled up with oil....
  • + 1
 Really interesting video. I'm so insensitive I didn't notice my rear lockout was on till I crashed for the 3rd time in as many runs and buggered my wrists.
  • + 3
 Just ride your damn bike kids
  • + 3
 Without Bosch Performance motor, Di2, Live Valve, ShockWiz, TyreWiz, power meter, helmet crash sensor, GoPro, gimbal, Trailforks, and Strava? That's just savage.
  • + 1
 It's why I just picked a cheap BMX bike...
  • + 2
 @paulhaysom, the Lyzene floor shock pump is what you're after at 1'20".
www.lezyne.com/product-dpumps-hp-shock.php
  • + 2
 i remember you stopping every 30 seconds ion queenstown to complain about your fork, glad you finally got there Wink
  • + 1
 I have 2 ShockWiz for sale, I moved to coil front and back. Private message me if interested.
  • + 4
 2 shockwiz?! You poor thing, they got you!
  • + 5
 @spaceofades: you’re free to think whatever you want. I am free to not give a damn about it. Cheers.
  • + 3
 I adore Pinkbike Smile
  • + 1
 @MikeKazimer: Broken back??? What happened? Did I miss something? (Yes, I am being nosy.)
  • + 1
 @bbeak, yes, I broke two thoracic vertebrae and had spinal fusion surgery towards the beginning of the summer. Broke my hand and some ribs too, but I’m all healed up now.
  • + 1
 @mikekazimer: I am glad to hear that you are healed so quickly. That is something reserved for the young! I was worried for a moment that you wouldn't be able to keep doing what you do. This was a purely selfish worry on my part since I enjoy your work. (Yes, I am not only nosy but self centered as well.) Seriously though, be careful out there!
  • + 1
 I just have Mz 350's, no point setting them up as they're just garbage no matter what lol
  • + 1
 350CR ? That's what I'm running and had no issues.
  • + 1
 @Jabbawasmadadda: basically the new fox 36 damper. I had the 380’s they were amazing.
  • + 1
 I really believe this helps with the high and low speed compression adjustments.
  • + 1
 All I see is Joe Satriani
  • + 1
 not sure why, but for some reason I want to buy an iXS xult helmet.
  • + 1
 But do you want to say no to carbon fiber?
  • + 1
 Tire pressure.
  • + 0
 Digital snake oil.
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