How To Set Up MTB Suspension: The Complete Guide


You just got your brand new rad suspension from, and you throw it right on your bike to hit the trails. You’re going down your favorite trail, expecting to set all these PR’s, but your fancy squishy bits somehow feel worse than your old suspension? Well ‘that’s no problem’ you say, because your shiny new parts have all these knobs and dials to make everything feel buttery smooth, so you start trying to spin to win, but realize you’re not quite sure which knobs to turn or what you should be feeling when you spin them. So you go to Google and search for a guide, click on the first link you see, and now you’re here.

All of the high end suspension we carry here at The Lost Co has a wide range of adjustments that are designed to help smooth out all of the bumps and compressions you’re feeling out on the trail. But the problem is that it’s not super clear what all of these knobs and dials do and when you should spin which ones. We’re going to break down how to control your compression, rebound, spring rate, and how everything relates to each other.

If you're going to spend money upgrading your fork to that brand new, top of the line suspension, or even other tiers with all kinds of dials and settings, we HIGHLY recommend putting the time in to make sure it's dialed in for you, your bike, and your riding style.

Just because something might be expensive, does not mean it will work perfect right out of the box. In fact, often the opposite is true since there can be many adjustments.

Part 1: The Adjustments Available To You

What is a damper? What is an airspring? What is rebound?

Inside of your suspension, there are a bunch of intricately designed and precisely engineered doodads that make your bike all squishy. We don’t need to know exactly how everything is made, but it’s definitely beneficial to break down what your different suspension components are trying to accomplish and how our external adjusters can influence them.

In Part 1 of How To Set Up Mountain Bike Suspension we dive into the various adjustments available to you in order to make your bike feel buttery smooth.

Part 2: Finding A Base Setting (Sag)

With a lot of complex parts and jargon, deciding how to even start setting up suspension can be daunting. Fear not! We know exactly where to begin.

Your foundation will be your sag.

This base setting is going to be your home base to help you understand what the heck all these adjustments even do, and how best to tame them.

There are plenty of variables when it comes to riding your bike, and the main idea with this is to eliminate what we can to help isolate all the changes we’re going to be making in the next steps. Without a constant to compare your changes to, you’re just spinning dials in a void, without any reference points to measure against.

Part 3: Adjusting The Damper

Setting up your damper on your mountain bike's suspension is often seen as the most daunting, and is where many riders throw up their hands in defeat. Luckily, it’s not nearly as hard as it seems, and with just a bit of strategy and know-how, spinning these dials is going to unlock some serious performance. We’ll be teaching you how to confidently spin every dial you can get your hands on and not shy away from making changes.

Part 4: Common FAQ's About Setting Up Suspension

Most of this section is dedicated to diagnosing how your suspension feels, what setting might be causing it, and the best steps to remedy an issue (if one exists).

There are countless variables to consider; your riding position, trail conditions, physical fitness, and so many more that contribute to how your bike feels through your hands and feet. We’ll go over a few common situations that we hear from our customers and how we would approach the situation, but this is by no means a one-stop shop to fix all your suspension woes.

All of these tips are also assuming you’ve gone through the previous steps of setting sag and are struggling to find a comfortable ride. If you haven't set your sag, do yourself a solid and start there.

Got questions? Feel free to shoot us an email or give us a call!

(360) 306-8827



Tor Weiland



Bellingham, WA

Current Bikes: Transition Spire

Bike Size: Medium

Favorite Trails: Oriental Express, Galbraith

About Me: Hailing from the sunny landscape of California, Tor headed north and landed here in the cloudy town of Bellingham, WA. His riding style is "PINNED" and he loves to scope out those seemingly impossible triples. He loves riding and also loves sharing his experiences with others. You can catch Tor in front of the camera or behind the keyboard, but best of luck catching him on the trail!