Modern bike supension has come so far that it’s not a stretch to say it makes you a better rider. If, of course, that suspension is set up correctly.
Developments in suspension have made bikes more capable and fun to ride than ever before. Today’s suspensions go beyond smoothing out bumps to give you better traction, control and confidence. Technical advances have even trickled down to entry-level bikes that have effective suspension with some tuning options. To get these benefits, however, the suspension must be set up properly.
As suspension gets more capable, it also gets more complicated. Adjusting the dials, valves and spacers for optimum performance requires technical knowledge or some outside help.
Why nailing suspension set up is important
Making sure your suspension is properly tuned isn’t just for racers. If you’ve spent good money on your bike, you want to make sure that it’s working to its full potential. A big part of that is tuning the suspension for your personal riding style.
Properly tuned suspension gives you more control across a wider range of trail conditions. Instead of bouncing and skipping across rough trails, your suspension will help you maintain control through roots, bumps and rocks and keep traction through corners. It even helps you clean climbs on technical terrain and might even save you when you make the occasional mistake.
When you nail your suspension settings just right it will give you the confidence and control to push your riding and tackle harder trails, or just make riding your favourite trails more fun.
Better tech means a better ride, but not more simple
Ideal suspension settings will vary greatly from rider to rider, though. Even two riders on the same bike could have very different settings. One may prioritize a planted feeling that hugs the ground, while the other rider may want to pop off every little jump on the trail.
As suspension technology advances it has become harder for casual, or even advanced riders to fully understand. Simple air spring settings are now accompanied by high- and low-speed compression, high and low-speed rebound, and the option to run volume spacers to change spring curves. The changes these adjustments make to how your bike feels on the trail can be complicated.
Shocks have evolved to provide a wide array of adjustments for a reason. No two riders are alike and no suspension tune will be perfect for everyone. Getting the most out of your freedom machine requires some effort and knowledge of how each different setting impacts the system as a whole.
Finding the magic balance to make your bike work for you
Not everyone has the time or interest to run repeat laps of one trail to set their suspension. Only the pros have assistance from a crew of suspension techs. It’s still important to get the most out of your suspension, though, and even those of use who think we know how it all works could use a little help setting up our bikes.
How do you get more support on bigger hits without making the suspension feel harsh? How do you make the fork feel lively, without bouncing like a pogo-stick? What do you change when your suspension just feels a little “off” on the trail?
Bike manufacturers work together with suspension companies to make sure the baseline suspension settings work well with each frame’s kinematics, but baseline settings are just a starting point. From there, what changes do you make to get every ounce of performance out of your shock?
If event pros need help, so do the rest of us.
Shockwiz: A big help in a little package
One way to take the mystery out of tuning your suspension and get the most out your bike is ShockWiz. Quark’s suspension device measures how your bike moves through its travel while you’re on the trail. It uses these measurements to give you clear, easily understood feedback on how to improve your suspension set-up, including what order you should make changes in.
Since ShockWiz is small enough to join you on your daily rides, it gives you real-world feedback based on how you’re riding your local trails, or race track, instead of measuring an “ideal” set-up in a bike shop.
All of this information is clearly presented on your phone, via Quark’s free ShockWiz app. You can make changes and compare settings on the trail with real, empirical feedback on how those changes impacted your bikes performance.
Shockwiz measures each setting individually, including separate settings for high- and low-speed compression, as well as giving an overall tuning score. The latest version of the Shockwiz app includes a range of different tuning styles, including “poppy,” “neutral” and “planted,” and will adjust your tuning score based on which preferences you choose. Finally, the app gives you a brief description of how each setting should impact how your suspension feels, so you can dial in how you want your bike to feel and ride on the trail.
If you’re looking to get the most out of your bike, ShockWiz is an easy to use option to help you dial in your suspension for your riding style and local trails.