How To Set Up MTB Suspension Part 4: FAQ's

detail of adjusting rebound knob on rockshox lyrik mountain bike fork

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be releasing parts to a comprehensive guide on how to set up your mountain bike suspension. Each section will be an depth breakdown laid out in an easy-to-read format so whether you have no idea what HSC or preload are, or you know exactly what PSI you run in the Summer at a bike park, you are sure to learn something. The sections will include; Adjustments, Finding A Base Setting, Adjusting Damping, and General Set Up Tips.

Let's dive in!

Last week we talked about how to adjust your damper
and setting up your compression circuit.


Diagnosing what’s causing an issue you’re having with your suspension can be a tricky task.

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 just skipped right to here before setting your sag, it’s time to find out how to do that first.

Frequently Asked Questions

It just rained for the first time this season and I’m scared of losing traction in the mud, what can I do?

There are a number of things we recommend changing when the weather turns for the winter, and first would be changing out your tires to a more aggressive spike and lowering tire pressure. Slowing down your fork’s rebound a couple clicks will help keep your front tire a bit more settled because you won’t be riding as fast as you were in the dry. Slower riding conditions mean your suspension won’t pack as easily as it does when you’re ripping hard through dry and grippy terrain.


My whole bike feels unresponsive and sluggish, I’m having trouble clearing jumps.

By adding a couple clicks of LSR and HSR front and rear, you can give your bike more pop than a can of soda! This will make your bike more lively on the trail, and have you jumping off every little pebble you can find. If that’s still not enough, a click of LSC will help keep your bike riding higher in its travel which makes a bike feel more lively and nimble.

alex royal dropping into a steep chute on a transition patrol with a marzochi bomber z1 and fox float x

Everything feels great, but I’m never getting close to bottoming out my fork or shock. How do I use all of my travel?

As far as problems with your suspension go, this is a great one to have, because it already feels good! If you have any volume spacers in either end, I would start with taking them out one at a time and seeing if that helps push that o-ring closer to bottom out on big impacts. If you don’t have any volume spacers to remove, try taking a couple PSI out, but don’t take so much out that you’re running more than 33% - 35% sag in the rear.


I’m hitting a lot of big drops and keep bottoming out, how do I keep this from happening without losing suppleness?

This is where volume spacers are your best friend! Whether it’s your fork or shock that needs extra support through those big hits, volume spacers are designed specifically for this reason. With less volume in your air chamber, your suspension is more supportive in the end stroke without sacrificing that nice small bump compliance of the first third of your stroke. Ask any of those crazy freeriders in the desert who hit Rampage style lines for breakfast how many volume spacers they’re running, and often you’ll hear they’ve got as many as they can fit in the front and the rear.

Also, if you’ve got one of those fancy new RockShox rear shocks with an adjustable Hydraulic Bottom Out, you can add a couple clicks of that to take the edge off of the big impacts.

alex royal dropping into a steep chute on a transition patrol with a marzochi bomber z1 and fox float x

On rough descents, my hands start to hurt and it feels like I’m getting too much feedback through my bars. How do I keep my hands from going numb?

Ahh yes the number one complaint about setting up suspension! Just like everything else on this list, it could be coming from a number of factors. The most obvious fix would be taking away a click or two of HSC to allow your fork to use its travel a bit more freely on those sharp impacts, but your rebound could also be letting you down. On rough descents with repetitive impacts, slow rebound will let your fork ‘pack’, which means it doesn’t have enough time to extend before taking the next impact. When you hit an obstacle with your fork bottomed out, of course it’s going to feel super harsh! So I would recommend increasing your LSR and HSR by a couple clicks.


When I’m riding a big berm, my fork feels like it uses all of its travel and is almost bottoming out. How can I keep it a little higher in the travel?

If you’re lucky enough to be riding trails with big bowled out corners, then fork dive happens when you’re pushing hard into them and trying to generate speed on the way out. By adding a click or two of low speed compression, you can keep your fork riding higher and maintain your frame’s geometry a bit better.


My rear suspension feels like it’s bobbing up and down when I’m pedaling and losing me a bunch of power.

Some rear suspension designs suffer from lots of pedal bob, so the job of preventing that falls on the rear suspension. Lots of shocks have a lockout lever, which on most shocks just closes the low speed compression circuit to keep those low speed articulations to a minimum. If you don’t have one of those levers, you can just increase your low speed compression damping to get a similar result, just don’t forget to adjust it back for the descent!


I keep getting bucked off line after hard compressions.

Try slowing down your HSR and LSR a click or two. Your rebound is likely engaging too fast and causing your bike to be a bucking bronco.

alex royal doing a toboggan on a transition patrol with a marzochi bomber z1 and fox float x

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!