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Suspension settings for dummies

#1
Greetings all .
Been trying to figure out the various suspension settings for my new bike .
Looking at the manual that the bike came with under each adjustment (preload , damping and compression ) the book says use the adjuster to suit load and road surface .
Now coming from bikes where I have not been faced with these options , what am I looking at ?
As the title says some help for this dummie in plain english would be most appreciated .
Firstly what does each adjustment actually do in regards to load and road surface ?
Secondly a real world situation or a few examples would be great .
For instance lets take my example - I am 74kg - riding to work and back on tar roads what would be optimal settings ? ( for lack of a start point lets make this the start point , adjustments from here up and down )
- If I add a pillion where would I look at adjusting - front and back -preload ,damping ,compression ( road riding ) ? lets call the pillion 60kg
- If I intend to do dirt riding without pillion what adjustments could I make from my original road riding position ?
- again the above but with a pillion
- lastly pillion with +30kg camping and gear - road and dirt
Possibly from here one could include adjustments for more technical terrain - rocks , soft sand etc
Thanks and happy riding
P.S why isnt there an African riders regional section ?
 

Graves

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 14, 2016
929
295
123
So. Cal.
#2
Preload: This setting applies tension to your springs, effectively making your springs softer or stiffer.
Compression damping: This setting increases or decreases the shock or fork oil flow resistance during the compression stroke of the shock or fork.
Rebound damping: This setting increases or decreases the shock or fork oil flow resistance during the rebound stroke of the shock or fork.

Suspension is very critical in a bike's handling characteristics. Ride height, spring rate, balance front to tear, damping, they all play their parts and getting them all balanced out for a given bike and rider is challenging. Get it right and you will ride with ease, get it wrong and your bike will bite you. Google motorcycle suspension and get ready to read, a lot.

I've been setting my own suspension for years. And racing So Cal desert I've talked to a lot of people that wouldn't ride something that wasn't setup by one of the suspension shops, they say "have your suspension done and you'll never own a bike without professionally modified suspension". I got a chance to ride a bike with pro level suspension and initially I wasn't all that impressed, it was early in the day and I was fresh. Later that same day when I was tired I rode that same bike, HOLY CR@P!!!, I was able to go so much faster than normal after becoming fatigued. Did I have my suspension done after that? Well, no. I figured that now that I'm in my 50's I don't need to be going that fast when I'm tired.
 

Black99S

Well-Known Member
Aug 25, 2016
56
37
78
BC, Canada
#3
First. Set your rider sag using preload -- on the rear to 33% of travel and on the front to ~25%. This is the most important thing to do to use the full range of suspension travel available. Lots of info on the web about how to set rider sag.
Note that the preload adjustment does not make your spring softer or stiffer - that is controlled by the spring rate. If you cannot get the sag set properly with the range of preload adjustment available then for heavy riders / heavy load buy a stiffer spring.
Second. Start with factory recommendation for compression and rebound dampening. Ride it, make some gross adjustments (compression first, then rebound, one at a time, front then rear, away from factory settings). Then ride the same road / off-road again to understand how each is impacting your ride. Then go back to factory settings and start tweaking until you are happy.
Useful to bounce the suspension in your garage before / after adjustment to see if you can discern a difference and understand what you have done before riding it.
The difference between a 150lb rider and a 180lb rider is mice nuts considering the largest mass the suspension is controlling is the 500lb+ bike.
 
Last edited:
Likes: breynolds63

nixter

Active Member
Jun 13, 2017
5
0
31
43
canada
#4
I wish there was a dummy chart with some basic setup values based on weight and on/off road preference. Someone must have compiled something by now

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk
 

Graves

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 14, 2016
929
295
123
So. Cal.
#5
After almost a year on the AT I've figured that I need to have the suspension done. The springs are set to max preload, same with the compression damping, fork oil level + 5 mm and rebound about 1/4 out from max. I was going to start with springs, but my crash ate up all my AT mad money, maybe in a couple months.

I wish there was a dummy chart with some basic setup values based on weight and on/off road preference. Someone must have compiled something by now

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk
 

Graves

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 14, 2016
929
295
123
So. Cal.
#6
Oh, and I'm 6'1", 300 lbs without gear, and ride like an ass on and off.

After almost a year on the AT I've figured that I need to have the suspension done. The springs are set to max preload, same with the compression damping, fork oil level + 5 mm and rebound about 1/4 out from max. I was going to start with springs, but my crash ate up all my AT mad money, maybe in a couple months.
 

jimbo

Active Member
Mar 2, 2016
122
21
28
stanthorpe qld
#7
First. Set your rider sag using preload -- on the rear to 33% of travel and on the front to ~25%. This is the most important thing to do to use the full range of suspension travel available. Lots of info on the web about how to set rider sag.
Note that the preload adjustment does not make your spring softer or stiffer - that is controlled by the spring rate. If you cannot get the sag set properly with the range of preload adjustment available then for heavy riders / heavy load buy a stiffer spring.
Second. Start with factory recommendation for compression and rebound dampening. Ride it, make some gross adjustments (compression first, then rebound, one at a time, front then rear, away from factory settings). Then ride the same road / off-road again to understand how each is impacting your ride. Then go back to factory settings and start tweaking until you are happy.
Useful to bounce the suspension in your garage before / after adjustment to see if you can discern a difference and understand what you have done before riding it.
The difference between a 150lb rider and a 180lb rider is mice nuts considering the largest mass the suspension is controlling is the 500lb+ bike.
 

klokan

New Member
Oct 22, 2017
1
0
1
Praha
#10
[QUOTE = "nixter, post: 4589, member: 2499"] Přál bych si, aby existovala fiktivní tabulka s některými základními nastaveními založenými na hmotnosti a na preferencích on / off road. Někdo už musel nějakou zprávu zkompilovat

Odesláno ze zařízení Pixel XL pomocí funkce Tapatalk [/ QUOTE]

Ahoj, už je tato příručka?
 

stevo

New Member
Jul 25, 2017
14
1
3
adelaide
#11
put young fella on back abt 50kg nothing else wound preload right up and backed of 5 clicks front and back set all shock adjustments 3 clicks off the softest setting and best ride ive ever had on the thing
 

CLAYTO

Active Member
Oct 3, 2017
38
16
38
East Yorkshire
#12
Hi, just done my suspension settings and after a weekend on the moors can say there is a definite improvement. I have gone along the lines of @Graves: preload front and rear maxed out, then 10% off the max compression and rebound. I am 17st with my gear and do mostly off road riding. The rider sag is as close to what it should be now without changing the springs.
Even for road riding I would err on the side of firming it all up from standard settings.
Cheers
PC.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

fjrden1

New Member
Aug 1, 2018
5
0
1
55
GB
#13
The red nut on the front suspension doesn't click, or doe it? It says max 15 turns but mine appears to be just turning. Help for a dummy

Sent from my K107 using Tapatalk
 

egary1974

Well-Known Member
Sep 5, 2017
97
36
48
Arkansas
#15
I finally got around to playing with suspension. I tightened the compression all the way and went for a short ride. the dirt road by my house kicked my in the groin. I will probably soften it up for the dirt. on the interstate it seemed to transmit more jolts to the handlebars which I didn't like. driving through the neighborhood it was much more responsive when turning. I liked that. brake dive is reduced a little bit I guess. i'll turn them all the way to soft and go on a comparison ride later. I haven't messed with rebound.

there is some good intentioned misinformation on youtube. at least one guy that appears to know what he's doing says that the right compression adjustment was for compression and the left compression adjustment is for rebound. the truth is rebound is on bottom of forks. compression is on top.
 

inexorable

Active Member
Aug 16, 2018
118
42
28
UK
#17
A thread for dummies? I'm in.

I come accross this on a FortNine video last night....


Somewhere in there is an explanation of sag and stuff.

I really need to learn suspension.
 

vfmoore

New Member
Nov 3, 2018
24
1
3
Oregon
#18
Ok, I could use the wisdom of the collective on interpretation of the Owners Manual on suspension adjustment as well. With my Adventure Sport rated at 397lbs of weight (I am assuming that does not include fuel, and if it does, please correct me), I would think that mother Honda would have built in enough suspension adjustment to handle all of the weight this 225 ready to ride fat boy will throw at it. I have been able to dial in the suspension of my KLR such that it went from tank slappers at 70 indicated to stable even in crosswinds at 85 indicated (95 downhill with the wind at my back :) ). Would like to do the same with the ATAS, and am hoping that I do not have to resort to a heavier spring as I did with the KLR. That being said, both the Back preload and front compression dampening mention "clicks", the front preload and rebound indicate turns, but the rear rebound and compression dampening are frustratingly silent about full turns or clicks, and in playing with the rebound dampening (have not touched the compression) I could neither feel nor hear clicks. So, what say you? Also, for those more familiar with the AT than my two weeks of ownership, does it seem logical that I will ultimately need to by a heavier spring, as if that is the case, I might as well do it for a winter project before setting the suspension.

Thanks a bunch.
 

Squily

Well-Known Member
Feb 23, 2016
159
105
103
Esperance Western Australia
#19
The normal AT's suspension is undersprung and badly dialed. My rear shock turned into a pogo-stick after the first 1k. Hopefully the AS has a better setup, but don't bargain on Mr Honda getting it right

The front forks on the AS doesn't have the same issues as the normal AT, and are better quality components. The rear shock is essentially the same to my understanding. So IMO, the front would be ok, but you'll need a rear shock rebuild to set it up properly
 

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