To the Point - Suspension Setups for Enduro Racing

Mar 10, 2014 at 14:00
by Richard Cunningham  
Fox Factory tuners are in the pits at every major enduro race. We contacted global marketing guy Mark Jordan to give us a quick rundown on the differences between a general trail tune and the ones that Pro Enduro racers use. Every bike and rider requires a slightly different suspension setting to achieve similar results, so the following tips are intended to provide a conceptual understanding of an enduro-specific tune and a starting point for knob twisters.

Dan Atherton Interview

To say that Dan Atherton runs his suspension firm would be an understatement. We thought it was locked out when we gave his GT the trailhead test.



Is there a difference in the general suspension settings between a standard trail tune and an all-mountain or an enduro racing tune?

It depends on the rider and type of enduro race – single-race format, multi-day format – but in general, I would say yes. Most racers cater their bikes to the terrain and run a firmer tune than they would for typical trail riding. But for multi-day/stage racing with little practice, a rider may choose more of an overall tune to cover a variety of terrain.


Does Fox do any significant internal damping changes in the fork and shock?

It depends on the rider. This year we have all of our riders on new enduro fork tunes and some will get custom shock tunes.

A firm trail tune is used if the venue does not allow racers to practice the course to ensure a higher average speed on every type of stage.



About spring settings. Do you set the spring stiffer than a typical trail setup?

Yes, most racers run a stiffer spring setup with only 10 to 15-percent sag

In a general sense, what do you look for in the low-speed compression and rebound settings?
.
Low-speed compression is for support and handling. LSC can help the fork stay up in the travel, which helps provide control during heavy braking, cornering and on steep terrain. Rebound is for bump recovery and control. Rebound needs to be responsive, so the suspension can recover from an impact and allow the tire to track the ground.

What setup mistake do you see most often at enduro type events?

Riders not taking the time to setup their bikes for the terrain or focusing too much on a single obstacle. Steep terrain may require you to change the suspension to balance the bike, but don’t change your entire setup for just one, five-second obstacle.

Do top enduro racers feel that remote platform or lockout features are important?

It varies, but many riders are seeing the advantages of on-the-fly remotes to increase their bike’s efficiency.

It was no problem for Fabien Barel who just smashed into the catch berm and then placed it nicely on the high line out of trouble. In the scratch results from today he was third overall.

Fabian Barrel attacks a red-hot gravity stage at the Val de Allos EWS. The position of the O-ring on his stanchion tube indicates that his fork is set stiffer than the shock - a tune that sets the ride height to favour for steep, technical descending.




144 Comments

  • + 227
 Is it me or is the title misleading. I was really hoping for some real world numbers for suspension set-up. Not generalized statements like "enduro-specific tune," or "firm trail tune." Waste of my time if not for a couple of decent photos to add to my wallpaper.
  • + 65
 Right, how will I ever know if my suspension setup is #Enduro??
  • + 14
 I'm only just getting my suspension set up for "All Mountain", how does this "Enduro" differ i wonder...
  • + 22
 For #Enduro
Lower SAG
More Low Speed Compression
Faster Rebound
But I think that it applies to any sort of racing vs fun setup.
The stiffer you are the more #Enduro you are.
  • + 127
 I wonder if viagra will sponsor enduro racing?
  • + 7
 ^ I see what you did there.
  • + 61
 It was hard not to.
  • + 75
 I too thought that it might be an interesting article but half way through the second sentence:
"We contacted global marketing guy..."
Yeah! Marketing! Whenever I want accurate unbiased information I always ask the marketing department.
  • + 38
 are you happy to see me or are you riding "enduro set-up"?
  • + 2
 Silly dude. Funny.
  • + 30
 That was the most hard hitting, real world advise I have ever received regarding enduro style suspension tuning. Great job! The staffer responsible for allowing that article to hit the interwebs is a level 10 mouth breather....
  • + 22
 They only mentioned stiffer spring rates because the only "tuning" that you can do to their shit ctd is air pressure.. Fitting
  • + 12
 i set my suspension to purple. they told me i was crazzy but then i ate them with my butt. youre not enduro like me.
  • + 18
 "Here at Fox we prefer to use the Trail setting as opposed to the Descend setting for enduro racing"
  • + 1
 @RDot84 your real world numbers won't match my real world numbers for the same style tune. I understand exactly what they mean when Fabian Barrel tuned his fork firmer than shock for steep trail. They did a great job explaining the fundamentals-something that a lot of people think they can throw a lot of money at to achieve. #gorideyourbike
  • + 11
 Didn't Fox take care of this issue with the CTD?
Set it and forget it.............right?
  • + 1
 I think Pavarotcsi..or Pinkbike just described how FOX shox should be tuned to be #enduro. Since they have really low general damping, you need to get your PSIs higher to bottom out less (33% of time instead of 50% of time). Obviously use as little rebound damping as you can without feeling the bike jumpy or reckless. And CTD...? Not hating a particular products here, just discussing the general attitude of FOX.
  • + 2
 I don't see how this is that different to a DH, XC or FR set up, except for the sag (which I don't agree with, rough terrain benefits sag, be it DH or enduro). For DH I run lots of low speed compression to make the bike behave properly, no diving or vague feeling when cornering. High speed depends on the size of the hits but the same should apply to enduro, wouldn't you base this on the size of the rocks you'll encounter on the trail?

Idem dito for park riding, more low speed means more pop and being able to pump better. For XC it means better pedalling.
  • + 1
 damn.. i smoked all my enduro
  • + 1
 As I said those rules applies to any kind of racing. Stiffer suspension means faster bike in general. If it's XC, Enduro, 4X or DH doesn't really matter. For me this article is nothing more than pumping the enduro fashion.
  • + 1
 #gotendurobro?
  • + 102
 So, what your saying is that every different rider requires a different suspension tune for different courses? Got it.
  • + 71
 I approve of the level of sarcasm in these comments
  • + 14
 I think what they are trying to say is that Dan Atherton should get enduro specific rigid fork and shock on his bike. And Enduro specific suspension is better that the suspension you have now. I could be wrong.
  • + 48
 Enough with f*cking enduro!!!!!!!!!!! If I don't see a nice DH bike review in the next week I'm gonna shit a cassette!!!!
  • + 62
 make it happen pinkbike , and i hope that cassette will have the 42 ring option , other wise its not enduro
  • - 3
 @Rdot84 In essence I agree with you. However……
Given that there is no clear definition as to what Enduro is (I thought Enduro was a race format for a riding style that could be described as DH like descents with XC flats and climbs), in some ways, the article is 100% spot on. Enduro is different according to every opinion out there and will vary considerably with the location.

I think its fair to say that the racing format that most of us would think about was born in Alpine Europe and yet here in Australia we hold "Enduro" events on tracks that really only require a 120mm hard tail, provide an uplift vehicle and the idea of multi stage is simply to do another run from the same starting point either on the same track or "the other" track.
They rarely (if ever) resemble anything like the European races and thats nothing to do with the fact that we don't have real mountains.

So the take home message from this article could be: Run what suits you and alter the settings to suit the course.

Pros will ALWAYS run settings stiff but thats because they go fast in the first place. Stiff can be fast, but fast requires stiff. They hit rough stuff twice as fast as we do and therefore soft settings would bottom out too often and ruin the ride. A beginner shouldn't start out with stiff suspension as they won't have the experience of skills to handle a rough riding bike. But as they improve, they will find that a small tweak (e.g. stiffening, slowing down this, speeding up that) will help them to cover ground faster but with the trade off of a rougher ride what will potentially fatigue them more.
  • + 4
 @Mfro.....Uhm, I still want to see some numbers.
  • + 8
 So do I. Its always good to compare notes. I think the most insightful info out there is the diary work submitted by Jared Graves.

I'd also love to see some rider stats including: rider weight, bike / travel, tyre pressure, suspension brands with pressures / spring rates, settings on C&R, is the suspension stock or modified.

But I guess ultimately it is still very individual. Factors such as how the rider sits in the bike (do they ride the front or the rear), geometry, stem and bar combo in relation to their height / weight etc. Hell it would be great to know if certain riders exploit strengths with their set up. EG, if a rider is a strong descender and flat sprinter but fatigues quickly on climbs and has a poor lactate threshold etc does that affect their set up.

It would be great to get an explanation from a rider as to how they want the bike to feel. We could all run the bike at the same settings as a pro but it might feel just awful. If however you could replicate how the bike FEELS (i.e., doesn't drop into holes, skips over rough but without feeling skittish, take huge impacts without harsh bottom out etc, is firm enough to be as efficient as possible but without inducing excessive fatigue for a run that should take no longer than 10 mins etc), then that is something we could work towards.

We need another in depth interview with that Barel bloke!!
  • + 4
 ^ This. And maybe Pinkbike could even add "rider stats" as a feature to our profile bios.
  • + 5
 I'd like to avoid shitting out cassettes but if so an 11-23 might pass more easily than a 10-42.....
  • + 3
 bigwillyhillbilly, your butthole has been saved!
  • + 2
 That was a deep article about suspension tuning indeed :\
  • + 1
 tl;dr
  • + 41
 Finally, an enduro specific article, thanks guys!
  • + 23
 I'm still waiting for an article that outlines how to set up my suspension for looking at my bike while it sits in the garage
  • + 30
 Cue little Jonny running his 160mm trail rig with 5% sag "'Cos it's faster, Pinkbike told me it was."
  • + 21
 STIFF, THE END.
  • + 5
 Thats what she said….
  • - 5
flag noclouds (Mar 10, 2014 at 22:28) (Below Threshold)
 not to you
  • + 9
 she was fugly anyway.
  • + 19
 this article is enduro specific
  • + 3
 title confirm "To the Point - Suspension Setups for Enduro Racing"
  • + 13
 Enduro suspension setup on my enduro forks for my enduro bike for racing enduro
  • + 8
 double rainbow enduro bro...
  • + 15
 So it turns out that Fox forks have to be run with with almost no sag to stop us killing ourselves when we hit a bumpy thing.
Really?
You don't think all of us with your overpriced 'OTB specials' bought in the last two years hadn't noticed?

I feel closer to nirvana now I have been enlightened.
  • + 11
 Interesting on the 15 to 20 percent sag comment, I could never get the 30 percent thing to work to great , always seemed soggy and sluggish ... unless its a full on DH right obviously
  • + 6
 couldnt agree more. my 7 inch travel bike feels mushy with 30 percent as well, and the air sprung totem bottoms out if you just look at it wrong
  • + 1
 Never tried the 30percent thing till I couldn't get more than that cause my shock pump sux and my rear shock is such low volume. I actually kind of like it on a magic link bike. My fork tune has to be stiffer though with faster rebound to keep me behind the handlebars.
  • + 3
 Im 230lbs and I never run more than 20% on the front and roughly 25%rear. Works wonders for me!
  • + 1
 I run 30% on my 130mm trail bike. Probly not efficient, but I have fun and that's all that matters. And like chopper said, I run a stiffer fork and it works out real nice. After all these comments I'm gonna give 10-15% another run just for the heck of it.
  • + 2
 Brake dive is the fuckin worst on the steeps , Geo goes all wonky and feels like you gonna take a trip over the bars .. I take less sensitivity on the smaller stuff any day
  • + 2
 I thought that was an interesting to throw out there. As above, running roughly 20% sag up front and 25% out back for 70kgs. Only using about 85% of the fork travel, but it feels good.
  • + 13
 I think I'm more dumberer after reading that.
  • + 9
 We all know Pros run firm set ups but why is this compared to us mere mortals? Too much forward energy lost with active suspension descending much in the same way firm set up for XC results in less bob and wasted energy climbing? Why run 10% sag on a 150mm fork when you could run 15% sag on a 100mm fork? Do they really need so much extra travel in reserve on such a firm set up? Shorter travel frame and fork would be much lighter for a start (assuming the extra 50mm travel is indeed wasted).
  • + 25
 Because 100mm isnt enduro enough.
  • + 3
 Beardless, this was my exact thought when I read this!!
  • + 3
 They either truely smash in to stuff and stiff use 150mm travel with 10% sag (do they?) or run 10% on such a long travel for for descending efficiency but have to run the long fork as this it what the sponsors sell to the masses for "Enduro". I can't see a 100mm "Enduro" Pro fork selling well to us unskilled folk needing more skill compensation so it makes little sense for a Pro to run something the company can't sell. Just a cynical thought and there might be some truth in both reasons I suppose.

Steve Romaniuk stands out as someone with a very soft tune. In his video parts I've watched he'd bottom out his Boxxers just compressing in to the small undulations in the run up to a drop... goodness know how he nailed so many crazy gaps with a set up like that!
  • + 6
 Because a bottom out at the wrong moment can waste you and you do everything to prevent it. Sometimes you think you know the maximum energy at your weight you can put into your bike but when encountering a hard sudden compression you can be surprised how much more that is. Also small bump sensitivity can be given up to a certain degree for reserves if you are fit and committed to keep a grip and use your arms.
  • + 3
 Fair enough but if you are hitting something hard enough to bottom out, or be close to bottoming out, a 150mm fork with 10% sag then I guess you could argue that should only happen with very poor line choice and loses you more time than a shorter travel forks with less sag and better line choice. Just think out loud here. Small bump sensitivity with both 10% sag on a 150mm fork and 15% sag on a 100mm fork could be made identical with altered damping curves. It's only really a big hit issue as I see it.
  • + 3
 longer travel forks have better progression, spring rate doesnt ramp up as fast. also how are you going to sell enduro specific products if you dont use them in enduro races
  • + 2
 because this website isnt for mortals anymore...
  • + 3
 "They either truely smash in to stuff and stiff use 150mm travel with 10% sag (do they?)"

Correct. We don't, but pro's ride like that.
  • + 5
 God damn it, I've typed 3 comments explaining different theories for why you'd want less sag in Enduro than DH, and none of my theories make sense. Great article Pink Bike, the one single bit of useful information in the entire fluff piece raises more questions than it answers.
  • + 13
 I like to save the last inch for when it gets hairy ....... wait ... what the f*ck ? haha
  • + 1
 But a 150mm fork will typically lead to better geometry for fast and steep riding (higher handlebars, front wheel further out front) and of course 150mm forks come with stiffer axles and stanchions required for high speed impacts and turning.
  • + 11
 I WANT PRO BIKE TESTS, like moto mags do! But not enduro riders. Just DH
  • + 11
 #soenduro
  • + 6
 Much wow... Such suspension..
  • + 10
 Very rebound. So sag. S-T-I-F-F. WOW
  • + 7
 "global marketing guy Mark Jordan" ---there is the problem right there. They contacted the Marketing guy. I want to hear from mechanics
  • + 5
 The word "blah" has been replaced with "enduro"..

"Oh I see you're not using your suspension travel?"

"That's because I have less shock for blah riding and blah racing"

...anyone tried the new mavic blah wheels? You run double the psi in the tyres for a blah specific set up.

I like watching blah racing. Though I don't like all the blah specific stuff. Let's remember , blah is just trail riding...but serious Wink
  • + 4
 So basically normal suspension like everyone rides but with a bit more air in to cater for the fact that they are going stupid fast?

What I learned from this article is that I can say I have an "Enduro" tune by adding 10-15psi to my suspension.
  • + 3
 "What I learned from this article is that I can say I have an "Enduro" tune by adding 10-15psi to my suspension." - Fox should be praised for this. Everybody would have been betting on a $500 premium over normal Fox shocks to get an "Enduro tune" (which of course would have just been Fox putting 15 psi more into the shocks at the factory).
  • + 2
 Yeah, we all know that the air used at the fox factory is now enduro specific anyway...
  • + 1
 Ans beside, why there is no enduro position on a ctd shock? Ctd-e anyone...next year maybe
  • + 6
 Can I get enduro advice from a fox racer or mechanic instead of the global marketing dude?
  • + 2
 Thought this was going to be FOX tring to defend why decend mode is p@#h and has no LSC and dives but no! ,just to tell us Enduro is run your forks hard with less sag! .and more LSC .so not like their Decend mode lol. I'll stick with my lyrics thanks with all the setting and knobs to set as I please thanks ,its coil ,it has lsc,hsc,and 20mm axle ,now I know that's ALL MOUNTAIN and not ENDURO how the hell will I ever get down a hill fast again ;-(
  • + 2
 To the point? yes, of vagueness. LOL. enduro here, enduro there, enduro everywhere. why don't we call it "all-mountain-trail-DH-FR-cyclo-cross-country tour". If you want suspension set up then take everything into account, yikes Smile potato, potato.
  • + 3
 Personally i run 17.86% sag for most enduro courses and , depending on the pressure and altitude of the day, precisely 32.45 psi on the rear and 31.23psi on the front. Thats how i roll biatches! Endurrrooooooo
  • + 2
 What I got out of this is...if I am to ride my local trails Enduro style, add more PSI and stiffen it up. And oh most importantly, do NOT setup my suspension for that one bloody obstacle. This was an enduro-rific article! Boss!
  • + 7
 Rather useless article.
  • + 3
 I'm setting my suspension up for mountain biking! And as others have said, misleading title and a very vague, bland read inside.
  • + 4
 This article is captain obvious. Pros run sh*t stiffer. I was expecting actual tuning tips.
  • + 1
 This article should not have been promoted as a tech article. It's BS ( that's short for marketing! ) Didn't do fox's reputation any favours either.

It's hard to tell sometimes if RC is a smart guy writing for dumb people or .....
  • + 1
 In other words their sponsored riders run the forks really stiff to stop the forks blowing through its travel, wallowing under successive hits and diving under any sort of braking like every other set of fox forks. Now go pump up your forks to prevent these problems and when you lose all your grip and small bump sensitivity and ride like a tool, afterwards we cant be to blame as this is a "pro set-up" and you are not pro... and chances are you wont change it back because we told you this is #enduro and everyone wants to be #enduro
  • + 5
 All About Enduro and Enduro only!
  • + 1
 For any one who doesn't race. who gives a f### what the call it what they try and sell you what they say about sag what wheel size is best (26till I die) were the ones riding our bikes we no what suits us having fun is the most important part. Don't fall for the marketing scams they just want your money that's the idea behind 275 29, they want us to have an xc bike enduro dh dj all mountain
  • + 5
 This makes me glad I'm running rockshox this year.
  • + 1
 Now, to get the focus back on enduro and wheelsize - because we all know 650B is the Enduro wheel size. It would of course be terrible to pair the wrong shock/fork setting with a 27.5 wheel, or indeed the wrong seat. Now, WTB has created the 650B optimized seat - I kid not --

enduro-mtb.com/en/product-release-wtb-saddles-optimized-for-650b
  • + 5
 ..... or you could just use "trail" mode......
  • + 3
 Fill dem shox'n'forx with 200 cSt oil and pump 'em up to 1% sag and welcome the 90's! \o/
  • + 3
 I hope there's an enduro specific candidate in my next municipal election. Will likely garner 27.5% of the vote.
  • + 3
 This is far and away the most useless article I have read on mountain bike suspension anywhere.
  • + 3
 What a tease...was hoping to know more about the mysteries of "if" and "how" CTD is being used...
  • + 3
 Is it just me or is #Enduro DLC irl?
Noted I have purchased expansions such as Enduro Helmet, Enduro650b and Enduro NW ring.
  • + 2
 dude... dint forget your enduro650b specific saddle and fanny pack with an enduro chain break. otherwise you will not be fast enough
  • + 4
 Next big thing SAG on the fly adjustment
  • + 1
 Interesting. Hows this?

Fork and shock each have air reservoir with remote operated gate between air chamber and reservoir. In 'low sag' mode (high pressure in air chambers), you hit the button opening the gate, and use dynamic bodyweight to compress front and rear - you release button at maximum (or desired) compression. Air goes into reservoir. Hey presto, you now have lower pressure in air chambers i.e. 'high sag'. To go back to low sag, hit button without compressing suspension which will dump higher pressure air from reservoirs into air chambers.

You read it here first.
  • + 1
 ...All that while screaming furiously " i ride enduro with stiff suspension ! "
  • + 1
 So to the point is 6 queststion. ¤out of 6 anwsre is It depends on the rider or at at least that is what he says between the lines. So
in short.
TO the Point :Supension settings depends on the rider,
  • + 4
 fascinating
  • + 1
 Uh, folks, Mark's the marketing chief, not a suspension engineer. Damn good rider though! PB shoulda interviewed Fox's team guy Mike V also for setup tips.
  • + 4
 "knob twisters"
  • + 1
 Serious question: Do Fox's mechanics reduce the air volume of the fork springs to make them more progressive for factory racers?
  • + 1
 Often.
  • + 1
 Three new settings in the pipeline- ENDURO climb/ ENDURO Trail/ ENDURO Descend EC_ET_ED. Brought to you by marketers and the makers of the magic buzzword ENDURO.
  • + 1
 When I "We contacted global marketing guy" I should have stopped reading.

10% SAG? Is it cause Fox fork have way to little LSC??
  • + 1
 Cheers Pinkbike, all you needed to say was "Different settings for different terrains and/or venues. One setting doesn't suit all riders"
  • + 2
 Fox should seriously consider updating the CTD damper. Now CTDE is the way to go. Everybody need the "E" so much!!!
  • + 0
 The suspension tune is completely contingent on the trail..fast rutty trails require more compression air air pressure, while sea otter like courses mean lower compression and air pressure
  • - 1
 Haha whats with all the hate! I thought the article was good for ppl trying to figure out suspension set up.I would bet that the majority of riders are running a setup that is not as good as it could be.
  • + 2
 How long untill fox change CTD to CED (Climb - Enduro -Desend)
  • + 2
 Got mine adjusted : climb - Shred -ReShredAgain ! works fab !
  • + 2
 I learned sooooo much my mind has officially been blown!
  • + 1
 I just want to know which goggles go best with my open face lid, so everyone at the Cafe knows I'm Enduro.
  • + 1
 Since this is an RC article... can someone please also ask Fox what is the best tune for "black diamond" riding?
  • + 2
 just get a rigid fork. that's very stiff.
  • + 2
 my shock says "Enduro" on it, that means I'm better than all of you
  • + 1
 Or just more inflated than non-enduro people?
  • + 1
 is that my ego or my shock Smile
  • + 1
 oh, I guess I set my bike up for Enduro racing... Butt, I don't even race! WTF!!!
  • + 2
 Didn't Gravesy say he didn't change his suspension setup all last season?
  • + 1
 a similar article for DH would be awesome. maybe there already is one, someone let me know
  • + 1
 I'm curious if some of the guys run their should so stiff they never bottom out, might be better just having less travel.
  • + 2
 Enduro specific suspension oooo
  • + 1
 Who wants count how many enduros were in that article?
  • + 2
 Will it ever end!!
  • + 1
 Turns out, no matter what you do, you cant please everyone Frown
  • + 1
 Is it me or does the first answer conflict with the second photo caption?
  • + 1
 So no mention is made of enduro specific fork oil???!!
  • + 1
 can we expect a similar article from a rockshox sponsored rider next?
  • + 1
 Was that a tech lesson?
Well at least formula 1 starts Thursday!
  • + 1
 Lame article......basically zero useful info
  • + 1
 I'm off 'Mountain biking' in the morning.
  • + 1
 its not the bike. or even the tune....
  • + 1
 enduro
  • + 0
 "It depends on the rider" haha!
  • + 1
 thats so enduro
  • + 1
 FREERIDES NOT DEAD!!!!
  • + 0
 CCDB...
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