Everyone could probably use a little suspension tutorial. Local trail ripper Dan Ennis is here with some basics to help make your day in the forest even more fun.
Dan is the head mountain bike tech at Fast Bike Industries, a local suspension service company that not only rebuilds forks and shocks at regular service intervals, but also offers custom tunes and kits for discerning riders who are looking for the next level of control on their bikes.
Fast Bike Industries is owned by David Behrend, who has years in motorcycle racing and suspension engineering. The new mountain bike service department is a niche Behrend thinks he can fill in the area, and believes by offering the same kind of customer service he has in the moto world, he can be successful and improve rider experience.
If anyone has the chops to be able to head this department, it’s Dan. With a healthy racing background in all mountain bike disciplines, and a 4x collegiate national championships at Brevard College under his belt, he has also filled the ranks at suspension companies like Ohlins and Cane Creek. Basically, he knows what he’s talking about.
Catch Dan at any of the local gravity events giving suspension tips to riders and coaching a few up and comers. Or hit him with any suspension related questions at (828) 435-0125 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Ennis suggests riders start tuning their suspension by adjusting their bike’s “sag.” Before you start, make sure you have your shock manufacturer‘s recommended sag ready.
•Move the O-ring on to the top of the fork or shock until it is snug against the bushing.
•Climb on to the bike and be careful not to bounce. Stand up on the pedals and then dismount, again being careful not to bounce.
•Where the O-ring now rests is your measured sag. Add more or less air to the shock to reach the manufacturer’s recommended setting.
“If it’s not set up right, it affects your bike’s handling. It needs to be set up to the manufacturer’s recommendations,” he said. “Some companies have it printed on the side of the shock, which helps make it that much easier. If you aren’t sure, any of the local bike shops can help, and the sag can be found on any manufacturer’s website.”
After you set your sag, get out on the trail and make some other adjustments, like rebound.
Rebound controls how fast the suspension returns when you hit something. If you set it up too fast it can buck you. If it’s too slow, then it will stay stuck down. Most people will end up somewhere in the middle.
For rougher trails, setting your rebound a little faster can help the rear end of the bike skip over rocks and roots. For smoother trails, or trails with bigger jumps and drops, a little slower rebound will help keep the rider from getting bucked and help maintain better traction and cornering. “For 80 percent of folks, that’s enough adjustment,” said Dan. “Go ride your bike, have fun.
“Now, for folks with more adjustments on their suspension, like Cane Creek, Ohlins and some Fox models that have compression adjustments, the best thing to do is to turn it all the way closed, which should be clockwise, then turn it wide open and narrow it in from there.” Dan said that compression can run heavier in smoother places like DuPont for more efficient pedaling. Some shocks have a “pro-pedal” setting on their compression adjustment, which some riders use for riding gravel roads or smoother trails. You will have to determine which works best for you.
“If you’re on Airstrip in DuPont, you might dial it in some. If you’re on Pilot Rock in Pisgah, you’re going to want it wide open.
“One of the cool things about newer shocks is adjustability,” he said. “You can dial them in depending on where you’re riding.”