Written by Dan Feldman; Head eBike Technician at eSpokes, SRAM University graduate, Bosch & Shimano Certified
Electric mountain bike manufacturers have raised the bar for 2017, and a good setup is critical to getting the most from these amazing bikes. Your favorite electric bike dealer can help you with your suspension settings, but there are a lot of things you can do yourself. Here is a short guide to understanding suspension jargon and how to change the settings.
The next setting to tackle is the Rebound Damping. This changes how fast your suspension will return to the original position after a bump. If you have too much rebound damping, your bike will stay compressed after a bump, and feel sluggish. If there isn’t enough rebound damping, the suspension will pop back like a pogo stick. The rebound damping is usually marked with a red knob. On a fork it is usually located on the bottom of the right hand fork leg. Find the knob, and count the number of clicks or turns from full on (plus sign or turtle) to full off (minus sign or rabbit.) Set the knob in the middle of the range to begin. Now is the time to ride the bike on a trail. If you find that the bike has a pogo feeling, and bobs up and down a lot, turn your rebound damping up, to slow that down. If it feels mushy and stiff after a few bumps, turn that damping down. Generally, you want it to be as fast as possible, without having an excessive jumpy pogo feeling.
If you are a bigger person, or your personal riding style is very aggressive, you may find that you are still bottoming out, even when you have the shock preload maxed out and the pressure is pumped way up. If this is the case, then there are some other adjustments that can be made. If your suspension has a spring or coil, then a spring with a higher ratio might be a good investment. Your local bike shop mechanic can help you with selecting and installing the right spring. Suspension with air adjustment is also easy to tune by reducing the total volume in the air chamber. Your mechanic can easily set this up for you, and it will enable the suspension to react to the increased forces. Remember to go back and set your preload, sag, and damping after having this work done, as changing the spring ratio or air volume will have a large effect on the performance of your suspension.
Getting your suspension just right will increase your control and confidence, and ultimately make your riding even more fun.