Dirt bike suspension is an important aspect of your bike that can drastically impact your riding experience. A well-tuned suspension system will not only help you stay safe but can also improve your comfort and enjoyment while riding. However, a suspension system that is too stiff can make it difficult to handle your bike and can be dangerous. In this blog post, we’ll explain how dirt bike suspension works, the causes of a stiff suspension, and how you can soften it to improve your ride.
- How dirt bike suspension works – a simple explanation
- Why your suspension is too stiff
- What can happen if your shock or forks are too stiff?
- Getting your suspension balanced before anything else
- How to make your dirt bike suspension softer
- Front forks too stiff
- Front forks too stiff
- 1. Adjustments:
- 2. Shock fluid:
- 3. Spring rate:
- Rear shock too stiff
- Adjusting the clickers
- Fork Preload
- Oil weight
- Oil height/air gap
- Internal valving
- Rider weight
- The problem with sending out your suspension
- How to ride with control on the trails
How dirt bike suspension works – a simple explanation
Dirt bike suspension works by using a combination of springs and dampeners. The springs absorb the impact of bumps and jumps, while the dampeners control the speed at which the suspension compresses and rebounds. The suspension’s job is to keep your tires in contact with the ground to provide maximum traction and stability.
Why your suspension is too stiff
Causes of a too-stiff suspension
Several factors can contribute to a too-stiff suspension, such as:
– Over-tightened springs or valves
– Incorrect oil viscosity or level
– Worn or damaged shock or fork seals
– Misaligned or bent forks
– Improperly adjusted rebound or compression damping
– Too much air pressure in air forks or shocks.
A common cause of a stiff suspension is incorrect spring rate. Each dirt bike requires a specific spring rate based on the rider’s weight and the type of riding. If the spring rate is too high, the suspension will be too stiff, which can make your ride uncomfortable and affect your control. A quick check of your bike’s manual or a visit to your local bike shop can help you identify the correct spring rate for your bike.
Another cause of a stiff suspension is worn or damaged components. If your suspension is not maintained correctly, you may notice that it becomes stiff or unresponsive. Check for any damaged components such as leaks or broken parts and replace them as necessary. Regular maintenance, such as cleaning and lubricating the suspension, can prevent these issues from occurring.
Adjusting the compression and rebound damping can also soften your suspension. Compression damping controls the speed at which the suspension compresses, while rebound damping controls the speed at which it rebounds. If your suspension feels too stiff, you can try adjusting the compression damping to a softer setting or increasing the rebound damping, which can give your bike a smoother ride.
Finally, adjusting the sag can also help you soften your suspension. Sag is the amount of compression in the suspension when you sit on your bike. By adjusting the sag, you can change the way your bike handles and feels. If your suspension feels too stiff, try increasing the sag, which will make the ride feel softer.
What can happen if your shock or forks are too stiff?
First off, a stiff suspension can cause discomfort, pain, or injury to the rider. Any impact or jolt absorbed by the suspension will transfer more force to the rider’s body, leading to fatigue or even accidents. Secondly, a too-stiff suspension can affect your control of the bike, especially in tight corners or uneven terrain. The wheels may lose traction or bounce uncontrollably, creating a dangerous situation. Thirdly, a stiff suspension can cause premature wear and tear on your bike’s components, such as the wheels, frame, or engine. Over time, this can lead to costly repairs or replacements.
Getting your suspension balanced before anything else
Before you try to soften your suspension, you should first assess if it’s properly balanced. That means ensuring that the front and rear suspension have equal sag, rebound, and compression settings. Sag refers to the amount of suspension travel used up by the rider’s weight. Rebound refers to how quickly the suspension returns to its original position after being compressed. Compression refers to how much resistance the suspension offers to compression forces. If one part of your suspension is out of balance, it can affect the overall performance of your bike. You can check and adjust your suspension settings by referring to your bike’s manual or consulting a professional mechanic.
How to make your dirt bike suspension softer
Now that you’ve identified the possible causes of your too-stiff suspension, you’re ready to soften it. There are several ways to do this, but the most common methods are adjusting your damping settings, changing your oil, or replacing your springs. Damping refers to your suspension’s resistance to compression or rebound forces. By adjusting your rebound and compression damping, you can make your suspension softer or firmer according to your needs. Changing your oil can also affect the damping and lubrication properties of your suspension, making it more responsive and smoother. Lastly, replacing your springs with softer ones can also reduce the stiffness of your suspension, especially if your current springs are too hard or worn.
Front forks too stiff
Front forks too stiff
The front fork is the single most important component of your dirt bike’s suspension system. It keeps your front wheel in contact with the ground, allowing you to steer and make corrections. If it’s too stiff, your ride is going to be a nightmare. There are several reasons why the front fork might be too stiff:
If the adjustments are set too high, the front fork will be stiff. Make sure to reduce the compression and rebound damping.
2. Shock fluid:
The front fork requires hydraulic fluid to work correctly. If the fluid level is low, the fork will not function correctly. Check and refill the fluid to the correct level.
3. Spring rate:
The spring rate can also cause the fork to be too stiff. If you have the wrong spring rate, the bike will not ride the way it should. You can consult the manufacturer’s manual to get the right spring rate.
Rear shock too stiff
The rear shock is responsible for absorbing the impact from bumps, jumps, and other obstacles. If it’s too stiff, it’ll cause the rider to bounce around and make it challenging to control the bike. Consider the following reasons why the rear shock might be too stiff:
If the adjustments to the rear shock are too high, it will be too stiff. Try reducing the compression and rebound damping.
2. Air pressure: If it’s an air shock, make sure the pressure is at the recommended level. Too much pressure will make the shock too stiff.
3. Spring rate: Like the front fork, the spring rate can also make the shock too stiff. If you have the wrong spring rate, the bike will not run optimally. Check the manufacturer’s manual to get the right spring rate.
Dirt biking is an exciting sport that requires a lot of concentration and effort. However, if your dirt bike suspension is too stiff, it can ruin the experience and even lead to accidents. This blog post has given you some insight into what makes the suspension too stiff and how to soften it up. Please consult your manufacturer’s manual for specific guidance. Remember to take your time to make the adjustments; it’s important to get it right. A well-tuned suspension system will make a massive difference in your overall ride experience. Hit the trails and stay safe!
Adjusting the clickers
One of the main contributing factors to stiff suspension is the clickers or compression and rebound adjusters. If these are set too high, your bike will feel stiff and likely result in a difficult ride. To adjust your clickers, you need to consult your owner’s manual. For the perfect setting, begin by adjusting the compression damping and then work your way up to rebound damping. Start by turning the clickers clockwise, then try to soften the suspension by turning them counterclockwise until you find a comfortable setting. Keep in mind that small adjustments to your clickers can make large differences, so take your time and be precise.
Another reason for stiff suspension could be the fork preload, which is the amount of compression applied to your bike’s front suspension before it meets the road. If there’s too much preload, your bike’s suspension is too stiff, and you will feel every bump on the road. To adjust fork preload, you need to use a fork wrench and adjust both the preload collar and spring seat. Be sure to adjust them in slight increments, as over-tightening can have potentially harmful consequences.
The weight of the oil used in your dampers can also increase or reduce stiffness, so it’s worth exploring when trying to resolve this issue. A heavier oil weight will result in a stiffer suspension, while a lighter oil will provide the opposite effect. For off-road biking, 5W oil should suffice, but for street riding, 10W or 15W might be best. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual to ensure you are using the right oil type and weight for your bike.
Oil height/air gap
The oil height or air gap of your dirt bike’s suspension is one of the primary contributors to its stiffness. If the oil height or air gap is too high, the suspension will become stiffer, harder to compress, and produce feedback to the handlebars and seat. To soften the suspension, you can lower the oil height or air gap by releasing some of the shock fluid. This will reduce the spring rate, lower the stiffness, and create a more comfortable ride. Be sure only to adjust the oil height or air gap according to your bike’s manual.
Every dirt bike’s suspension has internal valving that determines its spring rate and how it compresses and rebounds. These valves are responsible for the tuning of shock absorbers. If your dirt bike suspension is too stiff, you might need to revalve it. Valving involves making changes to the tune of your shock absorber to make it softer. You can consult a professional mechanic to revalve your dirt bike’s suspension. A revalve can significantly improve your bike’s handling and give it a more comfortable ride.
Your dirt bike’s suspension is set up based on the rider’s weight. If the rider weight is too low, the suspension will be stiffer, making the ride uncomfortable. If the weight is overweight, the suspension will compress too much, making the ride also uncomfortable. Before purchasing a dirt bike, it’s advisable to ensure that the suspension setup fits your weight range. If not, consult a professional to help you adjust the suspension’s spring rate and damping to your weight.
Damping is the resistance provided by the shock absorber to slow down and smooth out the suspension’s movements. If the damping is too high or too low, the suspension will feel stiff, and the ride will be uncomfortable. You can soften the damping by reducing the oil viscosity, changing the valving, or adjusting the damping adjuster. Consult with a professional to get the best recommendations and ensure that you don’t under damp your suspension, which can cause it to bottom out.
Softening your dirt bike suspension can improve your ride’s comfort and performance while ensuring greater safety on the road. In this blog post, we have discussed the primary causes of stiff dirt bike suspension and several ways to soften it, including adjusting oil height/air gap, changing the spring rate, re-valving the suspension, and considering rider weight. Remember that any adjustments that you make should be done according to your bike manual, and it’s advisable to consult a professional mechanic, and above all, ride safely!
The problem with sending out your suspension
Sending your suspension away for service can sound like a good idea, especially if you don’t have access to the tools or experience needed for an in-depth suspension tune-up. However, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider. Firstly, shipping your dirt bike suspension can be risky and expensive. Depending on how far you live from the service center, you may have to pay a lot of money for shipping, and there’s always a chance that your suspension could be damaged or lost during transit. Secondly, you’ll be without your bike for a while, which could be a real inconvenience if you’re itching to go riding and don’t have a backup machine to ride in the meantime.
On the upside, if you opt to send your suspension away for service, you’ll be entrusting your bike to professionals who know exactly what they’re doing. They’ll be able to identify any underlying issues that could be impacting your suspension’s performance, and they’ll have access to specialized tools and technologies that you may not have at home. Additionally, if you’re planning on racing, or if you’re the type of rider who demands the highest level of performance from your suspension, you’ll appreciate the expert insights and tailored adjustments that a professional service will provide.
If you’re still not sure whether to send out your dirt bike suspension, consider doing a basic checkup on the suspension components yourself first. Check for any visible signs of wear or damage, and take note of any adjustments you’ve made in the past. If you feel confident in your ability to maintain your suspension, you may be able to tackle basic maintenance tasks yourself, such as cleaning and lubricating the seals, checking spring preload, and adjusting the damping. However, if you notice any worrisome issues, such as leaks or stiffness, it may be time to call in the pros.
Finally, keep in mind that suspension service doesn’t always have to involve sending your forks and shocks away for weeks at a time. Many local bike shops offer basic suspension maintenance services that can be performed quickly and affordably. For example, you may be able to get your suspension fluid changed, your seals replaced, or your rebound and compression damping adjusted without having to give up your bike for an extended period.
How to ride with control on the trails
If you’re a dirt bike rider, you know how demanding it can be to ride on the trails. You need to be able to handle the unpredictable terrain, control your speed, and make quick decisions. One of the essential elements of a successful dirt bike ride is suspension. With the right suspension, you can mitigating bumps and jumps on the rocky trails. In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into dirt bike suspension and discuss how you can ride with control on the trails.
1. Understanding the Suspension System
The suspension system on a dirt bike consists of the front suspension, rear suspension, and the suspension springs. The front suspension consists of the forks and the rear suspension comprises the shock absorber. The suspension springs are the helical springs that are compressed when riding on a bumpy surface. The primary role of the suspension system is to absorb the bumps and vibrations from the trail, thereby providing a smooth riding experience. The better the suspension system, the more control you’ll have on the bike.
2. Adjusting the Suspension for Trail Riding
When it comes to off-road riding, the suspension system of the dirt bike should be adjusted to suit the terrain you’ll be riding on. To get more control on the trails, you need to add stiffness to your suspension. This is done by increasing the compression damping and decreasing the rebound damping. The compression damping is the resistance offered to the suspension when the shock compresses, while the rebound damping is the resistance offered when the shock expands. It’s important to keep in mind that the damping is adjusted depending on the weight of the rider, so a lighter rider may need less damping.
3. Starting with Tires
To ride with control, it’s important to have the right tires. The tires directly impact the bike’s suspension and determine how it will handle the terrain. You should consider getting tires that match the trail you intend to ride on. Soft compound tires work better on soft terrain, while hard compound tires work better on hard surfaces. By getting the right tires, you’ll be able to maintain better control and traction on the trail.
4. Body Positioning
Proper body positioning is another crucial factor that determines how well you’ll ride with control on the trail. In off-road riding, it’s important to shift your weight to the front of the dirt bike when going up an incline. To maintain balance when going downhill, it’s important to keep your weight towards the back. Additionally, keeping your elbows up and your feet firmly on the pedals will ensure you have more control and traction.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
Like with any skill, to become good at off-road riding and riding with control on the trails, it takes practice. The more you ride, the better you’ll get at handling the bike, adjusting the suspension, and maintaining peak performance to become an expert rider.
Riding dirt bikes takes a lot of skill and discipline. To become good at it, you need to learn the basics, know how to adjust the suspension, get the right tires, perfect your body positioning, and practice on the trails. Riding with control on the trails is essential to keep you safe and maintain your bike’s performance. With the tips in this post, you should have a better understanding of how to ride with control and get the best performance out of your dirt bike suspension.
Leave a Reply