With a little basic care and feeding, your full-suspension bike will ride trouble free for miles and miles of fun. Here are our favorite tips (we're happy to help you with these settings and adjustments, too):
1.Adjust the air pressure or spring preload of both front and rear shocks to the manufacturer's specifications (for a given rider weight, they give recommended settings). You can get the correct information for your shocks from your owner's manual or fork/shock company's website. This adjustment will ensure your bike and suspension function like they're designed to.
2.Set the correct amount of sag — the amount the suspension compresses when you sit on the bike. This is an often misunderstood concept as most riders run their suspension too firm. Getting this setting right ensures that your suspension is working for you all the time and never topped out. To set it, refer to your owner's manual to find the correct setting (or visit the shock maker's website). Then, have a friend (see the left image below) hold your bike for you as you sit on it with full riding gear. Generally, the bike should sag 20 to 30 percent of its total travel. The O-ring often found on shocks (below, right) can be used as a guide for telling how much your suspension sags and for dialing in the correct amount. Or, you can simply install zip ties on your fork and/or shock and measure how far they move, too.
3.Dial in your rebound. When you hit bumps you want your suspension to come back to neutral quickly enough. That's what the rebound adjustment does. Start by checking your fork or shock owner's manual to read the guidelines. You want your rebound to extend your suspension fast enough to be able to handle lots of quick bumps in a row, yet not so fast that it bounces or throws you out of control. To get it right, turn the rebound adjuster (image, right) in small increments (they usually click) to find the best setting for you and your trails. And keep in mind that you'll want to adjust your rebound as you adjust your air pressure or spring preload, too.
4. If you're riding with air shocks or forks, check your air pressure at least every 2 weeks and top it off as needed according to the manufacturer's specifications. Just like tires, air suspension will lose a little air over time. If your fork or shock needs to be pumped up daily, then you should bring it in to us to have a look at it to make sure it's not leaking.
5. Another good check is to grab the top of the rear wheel (right) and wiggle it sideways to feel for side-to-side play in the rear-end suspension linkage. Does it feel loose? First, try snugging the rear quick-release skewer, then make sure your rear hub bearings are adjusted correctly by removing the wheel and turning and pushing and pulling on the axle feeling for looseness (there shouldn't be any). If those things are fine, tighten the pivot bolts (right). If that doesn't do it, bring the bike in so we can take a look and determine what might be causing the problem.
6. Be sure to wipe the stanchions and around the seals of the shock and fork (left) regularly. Check, too, for oil deposits (a sign of a possible leak) or any nicks on the stanchions. If you spot any problems or are unsure bring the bike in for us to take a look and we'll give you the low-down on what needs to be done. Clean components work better and last much, much longer so simply by keeping things clean you can avoid most problems.
7. Inspect the areas where your cable housings touch your frame and fork. The movement of the suspension can cause them to rub and actually cause a weak spot if allowed to persist. Install tape at the contact points (arrows, right) or stop by the shop and we can show you some frame guards and tricks to alleviate this common problem.
8. Wear and tear is greater if you ride in the mud, muck, snow, rain, etc. For these conditions you should clean your bike after every ride and check it for grit and grime that can wear shocks, bearings and other components prematurely. Cleaning is as simple as getting a bucket and sponge, filling the bucket with warm soapy water and having at it. Just be sure to never use high-pressure water to clean or rinse because it can blast the grease and oil right out of the bearings and moving parts and you definitely don't want that. Always rinse with the sponge or by dribbling water from above over your bicycle and components. Be sure to dry completely and relube after cleaning, too.
9. It's important to lube your fork and shock with only the manufacturer's recommended oils, because other types of lubes can eat through seals or harm the internals.