Pinkbike Poll: Do You Play With Your Knobs?

Oct 11, 2015 at 16:10
by Mike Levy  
I'm writing this just after assembling a brand new test bike that I'm looking forward to spending a load of time on, a 155mm travel, carbon fiber machine from Transition that weighs just a bit over 27lb with dual-ply tires and a dropper post. It's not an inexpensive bike (there are plenty of those to choose from if that's what you're looking for) but it also has suspension that is everything but a downhill bike in its capabilities. As good as it is, the Patrol's suspension, any bike's suspension for that matter, needs to have its knobs turned to roughly the right position in order to get the most out the fork and shock, not to mention the springs needing to be right for your weight in order for any of those settings to work properly.

The Patrol's FOX fork allows you to tinker with low-speed compression, high-speed compression, and rebound while a shock pump is used to alter the spring rate. The RockShox shock provides rebound, a multi-position low-speed compression switch, and an air spring to adjust. That's seven different parameters to use to your advantage, which is less than many other bikes, and it only takes twenty minutes of reading to know how all of those will affect your ride. Yes, suspension is a luxury - just look at what BMXers can get away with without it - but, if I'm going to have it, I want it working for me rather than against me.
FOX 36

Your $1,000 fork and $700 shock can be set up to do more harm than a rigid bike ever could; they could allow you to go quicker over rough ground than you ever thought possible; they could save your ass when you make a boneheaded move. It's all about those dials; you see, but how many of us take the time to make things as best as the could be? Or even halfway decent, for that matter? How many of us walk out of the bike shop and never bother making any changes? This poll isn't a name-and-shame gathering, though, as there's got to be something said for just getting on with it, and skill and dedication are always the most important factors. That said, I'd argue that I'd want to get the absolute most out of my pricey mountain bike. Why bother spending many thousands of dollars if you're not going to have the machine working for you rather than against you?

Did you take the time to tune your suspension?




128 Comments

  • + 257
 I also like to tinker with other peoples knobs.
  • + 31
 We know that happened in Coastal Crew.
  • + 11
 Going to have that creepy rape face next time, when adjusting my pikes!
  • + 226
 Someone played with my knob once and I ended up with an STD (Suspension Too Damped).
  • + 21
 Everyday at least a couple of times and then the misses comes home from work and I had to try fiddle again to try for an even firmer setting.
  • + 4
 I found out that a few clicks of high speed compression works better when im sitting Behind the rear end
  • + 5
 Two clicks down and then three clicks up… oops, I hurt myself...
  • + 5
 I twist my knob until it falls
  • - 2
 ALWAYS mess with your friends suspension adjustments. Hours of hilarity will ensue.
  • + 6
 I used to fiddle with my knobs all the time, but then all my fork oil sprayed out so I quit. :/
  • - 5
flag Hbay (Oct 23, 2015 at 14:15) (Below Threshold)
 Fucking with every coworkers knobs in the bike shop was definitely an ongoing prank for awhile, so annoying!
  • - 2
 I understand everyone plays with their knob, but someof YOU have to give it a rest!
  • - 3
 Play with it til you scratch a stanchion!
  • + 105
 I use to constantly play with my knobs, until sadly I went blind.
  • + 43
 Coming from a guy that's nicknamed Longtravel, good one Big Grin
  • + 4
 "Some say quit or I'll go blind / But that's just a myth...."
  • + 4
 Oh shit, was your suspension too soft and it pitched you over the handlebars resulting in two serious eye injur.......


ahhh, I see what you did there Wink
  • + 58
 I feel bad for those people who said they never tinker with their knobs...
  • - 21
flag sandrida (Oct 23, 2015 at 1:52) (Below Threshold)
 mine is somewhere there in the middle, i am of the forgeting kind. but quite stupid cause i send drops from time to time, last time it was like 4 meters down pretty much flat landing.. hurted my back and my suspension didnt even help me alittle. Smile
  • + 7
 I try to get a setting where my suspension is plush (I like it that way) and if it bottoms out every once in a while it means that it uses all it's travel.
  • - 5
flag HutchJR (Oct 23, 2015 at 5:23) (Below Threshold)
 Sandrida I think you might be mistaking 4ft for 4 meters... 4 meters is 2 door heights
  • + 9
 for 4 ft i dont even need suspension. i was referring to 4m wich is 13ft. if you looked to my profile you should have seen i am not a beginner. it was 4 m down and 8 m out.
  • + 1
 maybe i will upload this vid later on... i am waiting for something good. but edits will come later
  • + 8
 Haha. This guy ^
  • + 47
 I played - and it was only half satisfying. Problem is, I don't really know what a balanced ride should feel like. Pinkbike: Please do a series of articles with side-by-side gopro vids that show the difference each adjustment makes - would help a ton in figuring out when to stop polishing!
  • + 13
 "polishing" ... Wink
  • + 8
 I'm in the same boat. I have no idea if I'm even in the right ballpark. My knob fiddling is amateur at best.
  • + 5
 PB. Please do have a "how to" series on how to play with our knobs. PG rated too no XXX
I wouldn't want to frighten the children on this site
  • + 2
 this is a constant problem in MTB, riders assuming there is an ultimate correct set up or correct riding style, while every person has its own different corrects. I weight 70kgs and I set up my shock most times at 190lbs cuz that's the set up I enjoy the most on my bike. The AutoSag and the manual says I should ride at 120. 4 years and the shock has had no problems. Fiddle with your bike and find the setup that you like and are comfortable the most, one shouldn't care about what is correct for other people, or what the book says is a perfect balanced ride.
  • + 2
 Not gonna lie. I know what the knobs do, but I'm too lazy to adjust each one and ride and adjust and ride. But even after reading every article, what I thought was better small bump compliance was actually just crazy low air pressure in a tubeless setup. I'd love a split screen vid that showed what too much compression vs not enough, too much rebound, not enough, unbalanced front and rear looks like, with tips on how to decipher what my bike is telling me. Almost boosted off the rear on a big hit? Is that a rebound or compression problem? Or really, what to do to figure out. Video can tell the story far better than words. Please and thanks PB Smile .
  • - 2
 I know what stuff does, I know how different dampers work but I will always take factory settings as a point of departure, especially with the sjock. I simply go to the roughest local rock garden and make no brakes run at it (best guys pedal into it). I want my bike feel stable through it, the big holes will punish too soft fork, while necessary braking at the end of it will punish the braking performance. I found over the course of years that the safe line goes through softer than harder rear end and harder than softer front. Slower than faster rebound on shock and faster than slower on front. LSC on rear is a constant fight between pedalling and descending while front seems better off with some good dosage of it. I may be far from perfect but it's always good to know the lesser evil.
  • + 3
 exactly the opposite of what I run.
  • + 40
 personally I prefer a 36er steel rigid with 100mm bars and 170mm stem cloathed in a hot pink paint job.
  • + 21
 while dressed in lycra I assume. Perhaps a body suit with trapdoor?
  • + 45
 "100mm bars"
That's not even one grip
  • + 13
 No trapdoor needed...he didn't eat anything to keep the weight down
  • + 57
 the trapdoor was for going in not coming out
  • + 3
 I presume he has bull bars on his 100mm bars.
  • + 4
 Bar tape, duh.
  • + 28
 there should be a "Yup, I tried a number of different settings but I have no f*cking idea what I'm doing" option.
  • + 11
 I think the dangers with over complicated suspension items cause constant fettling around. Sometimes isn't it just best to enjoy the ride and not be half way through a descent and thinking , 'hmmm a little more rebound and 2 clicks of blah'
Besides every terrain and style of trail (flow vs tech) is going to require a different setup, so more fettling!

For me it's simple, softer for tech, firmer for jumpy stuff
  • + 2
 Oh the dangers if Existential Adjustments Angst!
  • + 2
 A lot of it is adjusting yourself to your suspension setup as well. If you're constantly changing your settings, you never know how the bike's going to react.
  • + 1
 So true. More or less I like to set and forget. However in past year I didn't realize how bad my suspension had become due to putting off service. After service had to relearn to ride proper suspension. Just yesterday two clicks on hi & low comp on my fork completely changed the feel, for the better. It's devil magic I tell ya.
How do you know what you don't know until you know what you know? Sometimes getting messed up is the only way to get straight.
  • + 12
 How about "Sure did. I adjusted it and I still adjust it to best suit the riding I'm doing. But it could still be better" Need to get some telemetry and a decent timing system/track...
  • + 9
 keep it in check by ensuring the wife gets more feels than the knobs. both are worthwhile.

that being said, upgrading forks (and bikes) from a float 32 to a 36 rc2 -- knobs have become a higher priority.
  • + 1
 That's some advice to live by right there!
  • + 7
 I checked the second box, but it's not like I'll go to a track and start thinking about my setup, it's more like I'm riding it and if I feel I hit my BB too much or my fork uses too much travel I'll use 1-2 more clicks of compression than usual. Works the other way around as well, when I feel my suspension is too harsh, but I don't really think about it until something bogs me. On my Enduro it was more like set and forget, I can't remember tinkering with it the last few month.
  • + 6
 Where's the option for "I adjusted them, but have no idea what I'm doing", or "I adjusted mine, but can't tell the difference". I've messed with the settings, but other than going fully one direction or the other I don't feel the difference, or just don't understand what I am looking for with the adjustments : /
  • + 1
 you just described me....
  • + 1
 There so many adjustments on my forks that I have no idea what I'm doing, and when I change things I hardly notice the difference. Oh well set it and forget it
  • + 3
 I should imagine that a large percentage of people are spending shed loads on suspension that they never really get the extra money's worth out of, myself included. I run my Cane Creek coil and my older Lyrik air with the compressions completely open, I very rarely change the spring rate/air pressure in either, and only alter the rebound on a regular basis. Is this a familiar story to anyone?
  • + 1
 that's how I used to run a lot of my stuff. Now that I'm a better rider I'm noticing I feel the difference, but I am just not amazing at understanding what is happening and how to fix it by turning knobs. I just get it to feel solid and forget about it. And yeah, rebound is the main thing after that.
  • + 2
 I pretty much used to leave mine feeling in what I thought was about the middle, and it felt ok. Been like that for a couple of years. Just two weeks ago I took the time to tweak them to notice the changes doing multiple runs of my local dh track. Difference is crazy, feels like a new bike!
  • + 1
 No. Rebound is set based upon spring rate and to prevent under or over oscillation and then mostly left alone. Compression, air-spring curve optimization, sag and tire pressure area all parameters that are adjusted more frequently to suit different trail conditions. I service my suspension more than I change the rebound, unless I change spring rate.
  • + 2
 I get the sag and lsc and hsc feeling "good" but leave it a little on the firm side and slightly over spring (not a ton of sag) because I ride very tough trails and I often use up a lot of my travel if sag is too high. And rebound is crucial on rock gardens I ride because the suspension will sink too far if it's not quick enough of successive hits m.pinkbike.com/video/415639
  • + 3
 I also have a lyrik solo air and have fiddled with the settings quite a bit and honestly the fork feels the best with everything open. I still mess around with rebound and psi though
  • + 1
 I run a Cane Creek DB Coil and Fox 36 FIT with High and Low speed compression damping, so a massive range of options is available. I spent some time testing when I got the bike and found 2 good set ups, one for trail riding and 1 for uplift days or alpine riding. That's it. I haven't got time to mess about tweaking settings on the trail, I just want to get on and ride.
  • + 1
 @ejopdahl - damn that's a nice track Smile
  • + 1
 Thanks! It's a good suspension tester. It's the kind of trail you just barely make it to the end of. Gnarly grade the entire time.. Almost have to just get the bike stiff like Gwin so you can plow haha
  • + 3
 Not only that, I had the shim stack changed to suit me in my rear shock and changed the shims in my 888 forks too.. Now its only a click or 2 either way depending what I'm riding.
  • + 2
 On one of my bikes it is impossible to set up the rear to stop it bouncing me out of the seat yet there is actually nothing wrong with the shock. If I leave the settings front or rear as defined by the manufacturer (of the shock and forks not the bike manufacturer) you may as well replace the set up with solid forks and a hard tail! The question is: when are the bike manufacturers going to take responsibility for suspension and ride performance and stop playing one-upmanship on specification? And when are the suspension manufacturers or bike designers going to make it easy to adjust for different rider weights? (Hint: adjusting sag is not a solution to that problem). We are not all downhill race suspension technicians, but we are probably all capable of reading clear and concise advice. Help!!!!
  • + 2
 Where's the "I actually worked with my LBS to set up my suspension to fit my riding, wrote down the settings (and what to change for varying conditions), and actually check 'em once in a while to make sure nothing is off" button? I guess with all the direct-to-consumer hype right now, people have maybe forgotten that good bike shops actually have competent staff that can get you dialed. Or maybe I'm just lucky to have a good shop to work with.
  • + 1
 I worked for a large Specialized dealer and they sent all the managers to SBCU, we learned some great set-up techniques. It was nice to know and have other shop staff and custys come ask for set up help....just reinforced the knowledge.
  • + 3
 My ding-a-ling.
My ding-a-ling I wanna play with my ding-a-ling.
But that's impolite.
In public.
So I fiddle with my forkin knobs instead.
lol
  • + 1
 I used to mess around with my settings but now i just find a setting i like and then leave it alone wherever i ride. Maybe it cud be better with a slight change now and again but i dont really care, it doesnt slow me down at all. I think ive just learnt to ride it as it is.
  • + 1
 I'm no expert, but I know what I like, and I like fun. I run my rebound reasonably fast and I have barely any compression turned on. I'm not a racer, I'm not even a weekend warrior, I'm just a guy that likes his suspension to be felt, so as long as I'm not bobbing around like an idiot I'm happy. Just et the bike out of the shed and go ride.
  • + 1
 I had preload,air adjust,rebound and compression on my 888rcv and I played with settings almost everytime,then it stared to bother me so I switched to Boxxer RC with rebound and compression and it is enough for me and works great ! Less is more sometimes in my opinion
  • + 1
 I have a simple coil XC fork (Recon Gold RL) with preload, low speed compression and rebound adjustments. Stock spring works fine for me (sags right at 25%) I use little or no preload and I just adjust the rebound a little faster or slower depending on terrain and speed of travel. Lately I have been running the rebound on the faster side, but before the point it starts kicking back.

I only add compression if I'm standing up for a longish climb on smooth dirt or road sections. I'm mostly happy with the performance and like the feel of coil.

What makes the greatest difference though is clean stancions. A few drops of oil around the seals, a few hard compressions on the fork and a good wipe with a clean cloth and the fork stays super smooth. An annual service is given too, mainly as a precaution, as I've never felt the performance deteriorating over time.

A good working fork is crucial on a hardtail!
  • + 1
 It's a little choice 2, and a little choice 4. I usually adjust my settings for the first few rides to get a good base line, then make small adjustments depending on where I'm riding.

That being said, if I had it Pushed and set up professionally (we're talking by a real pro mechanic, not a LBS mechanic, which I was for years), it would probably be better than I can do myself.
  • + 1
 I'm forever searching for the ultimate settings, had my float X pushed to suit my weight and riding style then put a evol can on it amazing difference that made. My forks I have played with vol spacers in my old pikes and my 36s 1 token in the pikes and 1.1/2 in the 36 might put 2 in the 36 and drop the pressure. The 36 is completely different to set up to the pike imo
  • + 1
 I think a tuning guide for dummies would be a great idea; simple, plain language with 'Use cases'. "If you feel X, do Y. If you do X, try a little more Y." I haven't found really consistent, simple resources.

I generally understand what the knobs do - at least I think I do - and spent a few hours last week doing loops on the same trails and tuning my fork with the addition of some bottomless tokens and rebound tweaking. I would really recommend that; do the same trail back to back with different settings (change one thing at a time) and note how it feels.

My Pike definitely feels better now than it did - more support against diving, still uses its travel well - but I don't know if it's yet completely optimized. And I didn't really touch the low speed compression. I can't quite tell what that does yet in my normal riding, so it's roughly in the middle and that seems fine.

On the other hand, my DBInline is basically one click more HSR rebound off of factory recommendations for my bike and I'm not sure I can imagine that feeling better. So those apps/guides help too.
  • + 1
 Bos have one on their set up guides
  • + 1
 I used to be in the I have no idea catagory, but I found a solution: I asked a Fox employee, at Sea Otter, what his bike settings were:

He runs 30-35% rebound damping in the fork and 60-65% rebound damping in the shock.

I set my bike up this way and it feels pretty good.
  • + 1
 what a shame there is no " bike model - shock/fork model - body weight - .... " chart which tells me what is the best setup. to be honest i do not even feel the difference when i play around with my suspension setup. i know i should, but i dont. any real hints to a newbie ? cheers
  • + 1
 www.trekbikes.com/suspension (if you have a Trek xD)
  • + 1
 I went to the next level: I tried adjusting the CTD and TA (FOX 34 circa 2013), got angry, then purchased the PUSH FFS upgrade for my fork.

I don't play with it a lot (just some small tweaks here and there depending on the conditions), but it is nice to have full low-speed and high-speed compression adjustments.
  • + 1
 The poll doesn't have my scenario - "I frequently adjust the knobs to try and get better feel, but I can never seem to get it just right. I think I broke my leg off a jump because I didn't have enough rebound dampening..but do I need to adjust the beginning or end stroke rebound??? I have no clue which."
  • + 1
 Heck I adjust mine as the temp changes...evening ride at 75 F, and the suspension will feel pretty terrible with the same settings the next morning at 30F. For simplicity, all I will change is rebound as temperature changes, but temperature makes a pretty big difference in ride feel.
  • + 1
 i found trying different bikes/suspenion is really good for getting familiar with all the little nuances and differences regarding suspension feel. After all its tough to know exactly whats going to work for you if your not sure what doesnt work for you. Obviously playing around with the settings and experimenting with clickers, is really important. But riding different bikes with different suspension designs and different suspension companies really allows you to take notice of what you like, and maybe dont like. The more you try different things the better your frame of reference is for knowing exactly what you want and whats feels best. And then how to achieve it
  • + 1
 I'm always playing around with my knobs but it's even more fun to play around with your buddies! Just make sure to count the clicks so when they notice your not a complete ass!!!
  • + 1
 I told myself I didn't need to trade it up when the carbon one came out this year, but that's almost four pounds lighter... are you kidding me?! And mine has carbon everything!
  • + 3
 Has anyone have a link to ultimate guide how-to set up MTB suspension? Both forks and shock, preferably air ones? Thanks
  • - 4
flag enduroelite (Oct 23, 2015 at 7:17) (Below Threshold)
 www.youtube.com/watch?v=umyreA4trv8

www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhTZtLJ79J0

www.youtube.com/watch?v=bf5sI-8tCvk

I found these on a tool called a COMPUTER

It gives me access to something called the INTERNET

I used a search engine called GOOGLE

you should look it up......
  • + 7
 just tried the local tool shop but they don't sell computers, now what
  • + 4
 Those knobs are like brake levers to me... can't keep my hands off them.
  • + 3
 I adjust for weight and temp. Gotta back off the rebound a touch in the cold weather or it stacks.
  • + 2
 Meaning you speed up the rebound?
  • + 3
 That'd be correct. Colder weather increases the viscosity of the oil, so it will slow down your compression and rebound. Reducing the damping (or as you put it, speeding up) in both compression and rebound can counter that.
  • + 1
 Carbon patrol, dual ply tyres & just over 27lbs?

I need to have a go on those scales, that would be the cheapest weight reducing upgrade in a long time Smile

25lb Reign here we come!
  • + 1
 Came here to post this. Really curious to see a build that is that light with dual ply...
  • + 4
 Set & forget
  • + 1
 I have set mine using the Fox App and am happy with the outcome. I have the luxury of CTD remotes on both my forks and shock and I use these most rides.
  • + 2
 I think its true there are suspension enthusiasts. Then there is everyone else.
  • + 1
 There's no answer for "I tried, but I had no idea what I was doing so I sent my stuff to Push Industries and they dialed it in for me. Now it rides better than ever before."
  • + 3
 Set up perfect, don't touch it ever again
  • + 3
 WAIT! there's adjustment on suspension forks?
  • + 1
 I used to ride with a guy named Harry Palmer. He played with his knob a lot, and he was pretty fast. Maybe I should play with my knob more.
  • + 1
 I'm hung like a budgies tongue but that doesn't stop me from turning my knobs like the rest of us. Short travel or not that dial will be cranking until my hands a cramping.
  • + 2
 If you lock out more than 2 times per ride you're playing with your knobs again.
  • + 2
 Thread title is misleading.
  • + 1
 I know, that why I'm here....what a scam.
  • + 2
 I could see how you could confuse the picture for a huge schlong.
  • + 1
 Sadly I play with my knobs too often. I really like it more when a professional takes care of them though.
  • + 2
 If you don't admit that you do.....you are clearly lying.
  • + 1
 also no option for, I let DVO do it for me during a race and they dialed it in perfectly for me.
  • + 1
 I do play with knobs and I am building an open source platform to encourage others to play as well Wink picorico.io
  • + 2
 need more pics of your Patrol!! Big Grin
  • + 1
 Hilarious! This has to be one of the best PB threads of all time (and I am female).
You asked for it Mike Smile
  • + 1
 mines soft with the beginning stroke but ramps up quickly the deeper it goes
  • + 2
 knobs are there for the fiddling !
  • + 2
 They played us like a damn fiddle!
  • + 2
 no, but I do masterbate frequently
  • + 2
 WIN!
  • + 1
 Needs an "I tinkered with the damper assembly" option Wink
  • + 1
 See your doctor if knob lasts longer than 4 hours.
  • + 1
 FOX evolution series...my knobs don't do anything
  • + 1
 Was hoping for a hilarious suggestive photo..
  • + 1
 I'm the "Bos" when in comes to my knobs
  • + 1
 J TECH....
  • + 2
 Ditto Smile
  • + 0
 Knobs? No i like play with bobs Big Grin
  • + 1
 Did she say that?
  • + 1
 Jesus told me not to..
  • - 1
 I have AIDS (automatic instant damping system)
  • + 0
 There are settings..???

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