How important it is to setup your Suspension?

Modern motorcycle suspension consists of several variables. Each of these variables can be changed to alter the motorcycle suspension action. Riders of different weights, heights and skill levels as well as tracks of various terrains require different suspension settings. In general, heavy riders require stiffer settings to keep the Suspension up in the travel to absorb a series of bumps as well as resist bottoming. Lighter riders need softer settings to transfer weight in turns and eliminate kicking and deflection. The idea is to have the motorcycle suspension soft enough to get good traction by transferring weight from the front to back and absorb bumps of all types, but have it stiff enough to ride high in the plush part of the travel and resist bottoming. To accomplish this, HOLESHOT SUSPENSION has several variables to work with. The suspension tuning elements include spring rates and preload, oil viscosity and volume, internal shim and valve body configurations, external adjustments and various optional parts.

The SPRINGS control how far the bike rides in its travel with the rider on it. Typically, the bike should settle approximately 1/3 of the travel with the rider in place. This will require softer springs for lighter riders and stiffer springs for heavier riders.

The VALVING refers to alteration of compression and rebound dampening action by modifying internal piston flow ports and their shim configurations to control fluid flow at various speeds.

Proper hydraulic dampening will allow motorcycle suspension to absorb small bumps and large impacts while keeping the wheels contacting the track surface as much as possible.

VALVING is directly dependant on the spring force in both directions. The two must be set up to work together to provide the most comfort and control.

With modern motocross suspension there is a lot of adjustment and tuning that you can do with it. Riders will only benefit by spending a little time getting to know what their motorcycle suspension is capable of. Here are a few of the terms used and some brief explanations.

Compression Dampening
Compression dampening controls how the suspension compresses. An adjustable valve “Race Tech Gold Valve” lets a certain amount of oil through the Suspension and controls the speed at which it travels through its stroke.

High speed - High speed compression dampening allows you to adjust the suspension rate when the suspension is moving at high speed. Hitting a big square edged bump will cause the forks or rear shock to move through their travel at a high speed.

Low speed - Low speed compression dampening adjusts oil flow through the base valve and would be used for tuning the suspension when you are hitting obstacles that are more rounded or perhaps landing on the down ramp of a jump, any situation where the suspension is moving though its travel at a slower speed. Keep in mind that high and low speed suspension tuning is more about how fast the Suspension components are travelling in relation to the bike, not how fast the bike is travelling on the track.

Rebound Dampening

Rebound dampening controls how fast the suspension returns to its full travel after it's been compressed by hitting an obstacle or bump. If your rebound dampening is set too fast the bike may have a tendency to kick up over braking bumps or when accelerating out of corners. If it's set too slow the suspension can pack down over a series of bumps because the shock or forks can't return to full travel quickly enough before they hit the next bump.

Spring Rates
Spring rates are the numbers used to indicate the stiffness of the spring, either fork springs or shock spring.

Wheelbase Length
Wheelbase is the measure of the distance between the front wheel and back wheel. Bringing your rear wheel forward in the swing arm will decrease your bikes wheelbase and will make the bike quicker to turn in corners. Increasing your wheelbase makes the bike more stable at high speeds.

Fork Leg Height
Fork leg height is adjusted by moving your fork legs either up or down in the triple clamps. This has a similar effect to changing your wheelbase. If the fork legs are high in the triple clamps, the wheelbase is effectively shortened and the bike turns in faster. Dropping the fork legs down makes the bike more stable at speed.

Leg Spike

IS used to describe a harsh feeling as the forks (or shock) move through their travel. It is usually caused by a mismatch in the suspension tuning between the front and rear of the bike. One end will be trying to move at a different rate than the other and this can cause a feeling of harshness.

Stiction IS the term used to describe the friction of the motocross suspension components movingagainst each other? Manufacturers use special coatings on the fork leg inners and specially designed seals to try to minimise the amount of stiction in the Suspension.But if you have an experienced Suspension Tuner he can set up a bike with a lot less stiction in the forks.

Bottoming is when the suspension uses all of its travel. If your suspension is way too soft it will bottom out with a crunch and feel quite nasty. If your suspension is tuned correctly it should just lightly bottom out, that's fine, after all you want to be using all of your suspension's travel. A lot of riders want no bottom in out in their shock, but that’s what the Bump stop is for.

These are just some of the terms used when working with motocross suspension. Most owners’ manuals have a pretty good section on tuning and adjusting your bikes suspension. It's a very worthwhile exercise to experiment with the settings on your bike, a well handling bike is an easier bike to ride and that means quicker lap times as well.