how to set up the suspension on your trials bike

This information is subject to our disclaimer here.

Check your suspension to make sure that your seals aren't leaking, fluids don't need replacement and that all linkages are working fine. Problems with handling are frequently lack of maintenance, not incorrect settings.

SAG SETUP ON TRIALS BIKES

Setting up the sag on a trials bike is similar to that of a dirt bike, at least on the rear. As a rule of thumb, you want to use about one third of your rear suspension when you are in your normal riding position wearing your gear. The front is a bit different - you only want to use about one sixth of the fork travel. Most modern trials bikes have around six inches front travel and four inches rear travel but check with your manufacturer to confirm.

For the front, simply place a zip tie around one of the fork legs to get a position when you are standing on the bike. Then suspend the front wheel in the air and measure the difference. If your bike has six inches of front suspension travel, you should have about one inch of sag. If you need less sag, use washers or spacers on top of the fork springs to suit. If you need more, then you need to buy softer fork springs.

On the rear, measure from your rear axle to the rear fender while the rear is in the air. Get a friend to measure the distance once you are standing on the bike. You can spin the lower collar of the rear shock to adjust the sag as required. There is a tool you can buy to do this easily - some tap away with a hammer and punch but it does mess with the notches in the collar.

COMPRESSION & REBOUND DAMPING SETUP

Compression soaks up the initial impact and reduces the chances of your suspension bottoming out. The ride will feel quite harsh if it is wound up too high. Too little the bike will bottom out easily and tend to bounce more. Rebound damping slows down the return of the suspension to its normal setting. Too much damping here and the suspension does not rebound quick enough to prepare for the next bumps. Too little and it will be like riding a pogo stick!

When you adjust these settings, an important thing to keep in mind is that the front and rear of the bike should respond in a similar way to when you jump up and down on the bike in the usual riding position. If you make changes, ensure the net effect is similar at both ends.

Note where the clickers are on the rear shock and fork springs before making changes. Set out a typical section that represents your everyday riding and go for a test spin. As you make changes, move your clickers two positions at a time then ride your section and note the difference. Once you feel you are close to the desired result, move the clickers one click at a time.

 If you can't achieve the results you want, keep in mind your fork and rear shock oil could be old and need replacing. You can also vary the weight of the fluids to suit as well.

front fork height

You can move your front forks up and down with the triple clamps to change your bike's handling (also the positioning of the bars - see our Trials bike setup page). If the front wheel tends to wash out on corners and is not inclined to turn, you can drop the front of your trials bike by raising the fork tubes through the triple clamps. But first make sure your handlebar setup and rear suspension sag are correct.

Copyright B. Morris 2014

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