end than the other. If a change is needed,
at this point forget sag and focus on the
dynamics of the bike. You don’t ride static,
so don’t over-emphasize static sag. The
rider will be rewarded with always-neutral
steering and better stability through rough
sections with less pitching and less negative influence from one end to the other.
The rider will not need to shift around as
much and can ride more relaxed. Now the
damping can be focused on controlling
velocity rather than band-aiding the bike.
2) Don’t be afraid to experiment with
suspension settings! Keep a detailed log
with all your fork and shock settings, as
well as notes of terrain conditions. Only
adjust one setting at a time, and note
not only the change but also the result.
This type of incremental experimentation
will allow you to get the most out of your
equipment. In a Dorado Air-equipped fork,
experimenting with main chamber and sec-
and not responding correctly to the terrain.
I also feel that low-speed damping (both
compression and rebound) is very important
to finding a stable and confident setup. Keep
in mind that you can make a mediocre bike
ride pretty well with a good setup, and you
can also make a great bike ride horribly with
a poor setup.
How can riders increase the longevity of their suspension?
Keep components clean and pay attention
to service intervals, tailoring them to the
conditions you ride in, how much you ride,
Learning how to do simple routine maintenance for air can and wiper seals on a
shock or wiper seals on a fork is the best
way to protect your investment—similar to
changing the oil in that new Tacoma you just
Also, pay attention to the fork/shock when
shuttling or storing your bike. Don’t let anything contact the body/stanchions and cause
scratches or dings that will lead to leaking oil
and/or air as well as expensive repairs.
How should a rider go about setting
up his or her bike’s suspension?
Always start by setting sag and adjusting
air pressure or spring rates to get close
to the frame manufacturer’s recommended sag for the shock. Personally, I run
25–35-percent sag on the rear shock
depending on the frame, the frame kinematics and the riding I’ll be doing on that
bike. I usually run about 15–20-percent
sag in the fork; however, I don’t worry
about measuring the sag in the fork as
much as I do the shock, because I go off of
feel, such as ride height under braking and
how it feels in steep, ledgy terrain or when
I’m smashing into a berm and need the
fork to be supportive.
Set your rebound after setting the sag
so that you’re working around the correct
spring rate (air or coil). If you’re riding an
air-sprung shock or fork, you can adjust
the air volume/progression of the air spring
after riding and confirming the sag setting.
If applicable, adjust compression to get the
feel you’re looking for.
Spring rate/sag is the most important,
Also, don’t judge a setup on how it feels
in the parking lot. You must get on a trail
and up to speed while hitting rocks, roots,
berms, jumps, etc. to see how the settings
are actually performing.
What are some negative riding
characteristics that can be fixed with
minor suspension adjustments?
Rebound damping is incredibly important
to getting a high-performance setup, and
it’s very easy to adjust and feel the difference immediately. Too fast and you lose
traction and ground control; too slow and
you get the feeling that the bike is harsh
the best ways to balance the front and rear
suspension. IRT allows actual rate changes
in the critical mid-stroke rather than just
sag and progressivity in the last third of
—Mid-stroke spring rate is critical to
front-to-rear balance (cornering, front-end
support in descents and braking, [along
with] reduced pitch).
—Top-out-to-sag behavior is critical for
small-bump sensitivity (low friction, good
top-out system, active low-speed rebound
—High-speed rebound is critical for
great traction and recovery in rock gardens.
When it’s too slow, you pack up and it feels
like a hardtail after several impacts.
—Compression damping controls the
energy going into the system at the wheel
(bottoming in rock gardens) and downward
chassis movement (landing a jump, pedal
bob) and creates the tire feedback needed
to ride on the edge of control.