Suspension Knowledge: “How suspension can affect turning” 



Bouncing out of ruts? drifting to the outside?  tucking under?  It’s probably just YOU, but your suspension and bike setup could be partly to blame.


I will list some of the changes you can make to your bike that will affect turning.  But first, a secret that will help you understand how these changes effectively work.


Basically, any change you make to the bike or to your riding position that ALTERS the steering angle of the bike will affect turning.  Having the fork tubes at a steeper angle will make the bike turn sharper.  That is it.


The two things that have the strongest effect on turning (shown in photos) are:

  1. fork tube height (2mm increments)

  2. race sag (4mm increments)




Front suspension:

  • Softer compression dampening

  • Stiffer/slower rebound dampening

  • Lighter fork springs

  • Lower oil level

  • Less pre-load on fork springs


Rear suspension (notice that these are just the opposite):

  • Stiffer shock compression

  • softer shock rebound dampening

  • Heavier rear spring

  • More pre-load on shock spring, decreasing the sag


Other changes that are not from the suspension per se:

  • Using more front brake

  • Raising fork tubes in the triple clamps

  • Leaning more over the front

  • Leg extended farther forward

  • Increased body strength (legs, lower back, abdominals = less drift backwards)

  • Seat shape and height that allows easier forward movement

  • Bars that are positioned or rotated forward

  • Triple clamps that put the forks at a steeper angle

  • Wider foot pegs, or ones that are positioned forward

  • Linkage changes that decrease shock leverage

  • Shortening wheel base (although this puts more weight on the rear, it also stiffens the rear suspension and decreases sag due to less shock leverage)


Be aware of tradeoff effects.  For EXAMPLE: you might remove some oil from your forks so that they ease farther into the travel (due to less pressure buildup) only to have them bottom out on jump landings. (ugh)


Watch the experts.  They overcome turning problems with their body positioning and balance.  If their bike is set up optimally, they benefit from saved energy.


Talk to an instructor.  They can help you out with proper riding position.  If you still have trouble in turns, it may be that your bike setup and suspension are working against you.  (NOT GOOD)


Do NOT make a lot of changes at once (you will frighten your mother when you cartwheel your bike off the track).  If you need help, call a suspension tuner.


This technical article was provided by Quinton Cain of SUSPENSION DYNAMICS located in Arlington, TX.  Phone number is 817-563-6891.  SUSPENSION DYNAMICS has a complete line of suspension services ranging from tuning a stock suspension to complete revalving customization.


Additional Tech Tips

#1 ... Clickers

#2 ... Balance and Sag

#3 ... How Suspension Can Affect Turning

#4 ... Leaking Fork Seals 

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