Suspension Knowledge: Adjusting the “clickers”




After speaking with many riders and parents over the years, I thought it may be helpful to clarify some of the misinformation on suspension adjusters, also known as “clickers”.  I will discuss other areas of suspension in following issues.


In most cases, as you turn the adjusters clockwise, you increase the dampening, which makes the suspension stiffer.  This is the same as making it “harder” or “slower”.  The adjuster moves a needle valve that controls the free oil flow, and as you limit that oil flow, you increase the dampening.  Plus (+) and minus (-) indicator arrows correspond to more and less dampening.  It is the same with (H) and (S) indicators, which stand for Hard and Soft.  Be aware that there are exceptions to this “clockwise equals stiffer” relationship.  One example of this is the compression adjuster on the KTM shocks from a few years back.


To record your settings: screw the adjuster in, counting the clicks, until it comes to a stop.  To put the setting at a particular number, always count the number of clicks out from the fully seated position.  Some adjusters do not have detents that “click”.  For those, simply count the number of turns to record their position.  Other adjusters rotate and change apertures postionally.  These will not bottom out like a needle valve but will continually rotate.  They will have scribe marks to indicate their position.


Now for the OBVIOUS: Compression affects how the suspension travels down or “compresses”.  Rebound affects how the suspension travels back up or “rebounds”.


The “clickers” have a more pronounced effect on low speed suspension movement. Some shocks have both a high speed and low speed compression adjustment.  The speed being referred to here is not that of the bike, but rather, that of the suspension movement.


For EXAMPLE: if you come up short on a double and hit the face of the jump, --- that’s high speed; if you do the same jump and land perfectly on the downside, --- that may be low speed, depending on the jump.  In BOTH cases, the bike is going the same speed, but in the second scenario the shock is actually moving more slowly to the bottomed out position, taking almost a full second (and you usually don’t even feel it!)  In the first scenario, when you come up short, the shock bottoms out in about a fifth of a second, (ouch).


Remember:      HARD = (H) = STIFF = SLOW = (+) = more dampening

                      SOFT = (S) = FAST = (-) = less dampening


See if this makes sense: If you set the COMPRESSION very Soft (-), it will have less dampening resistance and will move faster when you hit a bump, and will therefore absorb more of that bump.  And if you set the REBOUND very Soft (-), it will also have less dampening resistance and will move fast causing the bike to quickly spring back up.


If you are unsure about the location of  the adjusters for your particular bike, consult your manual or call a suspension tuner.  Be wary of advice from other riders.  If you get confused, do not be ashamed to call and ask questions.  There are many people who can help you.


This technical article was provided by Quinton Cain of SUSPENSION DYNAMICS in Arlington, Texas.  Phone number is (817) 563-6891

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Suspension Dynamics   817-563-6891    qcain@tx.rr.com