Components, How To, suspension, Tech -

Top seven suspension mistakes

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your suspension settings, and if this all seems overwhelming, stop by a shop or ask a friend.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your suspension settings, and if this all seems overwhelming, stop by a shop or ask a friend.

Setting up your suspension is the easiest thing you can do to improve your riding experience. And the best part? It costs nothing.

Considering how big of an impact suspension can make, it’s shocking (no pun intended) how often we see riders on poorly setup bikes. If you’re not sure how to setup your suspension, then check out this article on basic setup.


If you are comfortable with terms like sag, rebound, and compression, then hit play to hear from GMBN about the most common suspension mistakes.

Can’t watch videos at work? We’ve spelled out the list below:

  1. Not setting up your suspension. You can have the most expensive bike in the world, but it won’t ride well if you don’t have it setup properly. If you’re not sure where to start, check your manual or the internet. There’s a good chance the manufacturer has base setting listed.
  2. Being lazy. Just because you’ve found some base settings that work doesn’t mean you should give up. Try experimenting with rebound or compression settings on different trails to get a feel for what the adjustments can do. It can make a big difference on race day.
  3. Not enough damping. If your bike is skittering around on the trail or you feel yourself being bucked off jumps, try adjusting your rebound.
  4. Check your sag. As a general rule of thumb, you should aim for 25% sag. Some designs require more or less, so defer to your manufacturer’s base settings whenever possible.
  5. Too much air. Some riders will add extra air to their suspension to gain speed uphill. While that can reduce suspension bob, it also has adverse effects on traction. The best way to improve climbing performance is to experiment with your compression settings. Some entry level suspension products don’t have compression/lockout adjusters, but most mid/high-end products ship with this option stock or have aftermarket kits available.
  6. Failing to adjust to different conditions. Depending on the weather, the oil viscosity in your suspension can change. When it gets cold, that can slow down your rebound and make things feel harsh. The opposite occurs in hot weather. Even changes in elevation can alter performance.
  7. You should get full travel at least once a ride, but not all the time. If you’re constantly bottoming your bike out, please see #4. While it’s tempting to set your bike on the soft side to make things feel plush, blowing through your travel too quickly can be a recipe for disaster. It’s nice to have a little travel on reserve in case of emergency.

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