Front Suspension Forks are the part of a bicycle that holds the front wheel in place. Suspension Forks serve two very important functions
1) Its main function is to obviously hold and steer the front wheel
2) while also providing suspension for cyclists, resulting in increased comfort, improved traction and enhanced safety by making sure that one (or both) wheels stay in contact with the ground.
Focusing on MTB suspension, most MTB suspension forks come with a set of dials that let cyclists make adjustments according to their riding preference. Getting these settings correct is essential in maintaining the fork’s performance, as well as ensuring the best in ride quality. The 3 main controls available on bike suspensions are – Preload, Compression Damping, and Rebound Damping.
This fork setting exists so that the fork can be customized according to the cyclist’s weight and riding style. Preload is the resistance the fork produces against your weight. So this basically means that the heavier a cyclist becomes, the more preload he would need.
This setting helps the suspension absorb bumps and irregularities as the wheel moves in an upward direction. Compression Damping regulates the force that moves a fork through its travel, and is achieved with specific oils that move through the compression circuit. When its flow is restricted, the suspension can be made firm or completely locked out.
The exact opposite of the above, Rebound Damping takes effect when the fork returns to its original position after an impact. The more rebound damping one dials in, the more time it takes for the fork to return to its natural position after an impact. Similarly, you’ll need less damping if your bicycle feels too stiff and rigid, especially after corners or when you land a jump.
Now, to ensure that your fork is in perfect working order, one has to know how to set up and tune their front suspensions as required. Knowing how to pump air into your fork, and the exact amount one needs is very important knowledge. The correct fork setup will give you confidence and make a good bicycle ride safer.
For this maintenance exercise, you will need:
- Shock Pump
To achieve correct sag, first attach the zip tie onto the stanchion, then push it all the way down until it’s resting on the fork seal.
Measure the stanchion of the fork, and divide that length by four to roughly calculate a 25 – 30% sag distance. Most bicycles feel good on
a 25% sag, but it also depends entirely on your personal preference.
Then adopt the “attack position” and make sure that your weight is properly balanced and centred across the bicycle.
Firmly bounce your bicycle up and down. Now measure the distance between the zip tie and the fork seal. Optimum sag is somewhere between a quarter or a third of the total fork travel. So on a 100mm travel, we’re looking at around 25 – 30mm of sag.
Then unscrew the air valve cap on the suspension fork and place it somewhere safe.
Using the shock pump, you can now adjust your sag so that it reaches the 25% sag distance. If you require less sag, simply add air to the fork. And if you require more sag, let some air escape from the fork.
You can start by using the manufacturer’s recommended pressure first, then later fine-tune until the desired 25 – 30% of sag is achieved. Take it up or down by 10psi at a time.
Meet the Mechanic
Tan Kang Eng
If you’re looking for a professional touch on your fork, this shop offers skillful and affordable bicycle fork services; standard MTB fork service at RM280.00, Fox brand fork service at RM350 and Cannondale brand fork service at RM680. Prices may vary accordingly, so do not hesitate to inquire for more information about services offered at Kedai Basikal Eng Hong.
KEDAI BASIKAL ENG HONG
Tel: +604 331 2244
Address: No.5305, Jalan Raja Uda, 12300 Butterworth, Pulau Pinang