So you’ve got a new bike complete with shiny new suspension forks. Or you’ve got some shiny new suspension forks on your old bike. Either way, there’s a fair chance you’re looking at the fork and all the knobs, dials and valves thereupon and feeling ever-so-slightly lost. If that’s you, quickly scan through our guide to fork anatomy and then pop back here and we’ll run through Setting Up Forks For Beginners…
The idea of suspension is twofold. First, it’s intended to absorb shocks from the ground before they reach the rider, improving comfort. Second, it keeps the wheels in contact with the ground for more of the time, improving grip and control. The key to achieving both of these is sag and damping.
We’re working just with the adjustments available outside the fork here, so you won’t need many tools. Some zip ties and a tape measure are essential, and you’ll need a shock pump if you’ve got air-sprung forks.
1. Forks work best when they’re allowed to settle slightly into their travel under the rider’s weight, giving them some reserve extension so the wheel can drop into holes and down small drops without the rest of the bike dropping too. To achieve correct sag, start with a simple zip tie around one leg.
2. Zip tie in place, push it down until it’s resting on the fork seal at the top of the slider. Then get on to the bike and adopt the “attack position” – slightly off the saddle, weight balanced between hands and feet, centred over the bike. You’ll need either really good balance, a helper or something to gently lean on to achieve this. Make sure the zip tie is right down on the fork seal and gently get off.