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The advent of full suspension bikes is incredibly helpful to give people confidence, but it’s also a nightmare. Why? You’re adding a whole new section of the bike with pivot pieces and joints that over time will wear and tear. But on the other side, you’re adding another layer of things you can adjust and modify. For most mountain bikers, these extra hassles are totally worth it. So, the million-dollar question – should you change mtb suspension setup based on the trails you ride?

Perfect Doesn’t Exist

mtb suspension setup dirt trail riding

A Moment In Time Can Be Perfect…

Let us preface this that by no means is this a deep dive into mtb suspension setup. If you get into the nitty gritty of suspension, most riders are overwhelmed at the options available. Let’s put this out there with a clear statement – there’s no such thing as a perfect setup. It’s more of a perfect balance between factors like support, responsiveness, stability, and traction that fit YOUR preferences. How do you get to this? The simplest way is to use the concept of BRACKETING.

Bracketing – The Way To Find Your Biking Zen

For engineers and college-goers, you may have studied this in class. In its most basic definition, it’s a way in which you can separate your own experiences from what is being studied i.e. suspension setup. So, to start things off, find a trail with varied terrain. You can do this step multiple times. Then, you want to try the two extremes of the adjustment range on the same exact trail. That’s it. What you’re looking to find out is which one felt better? Was it the fully open or closed test?

What To Test

It’s Bracket Time

Now that we know how we will test using our two extreme adjustment ranges, there are three basic configurations you should focus on in your bracketing methodology – sag, compression, and rebound. Sag is the 1st to test followed by compression and then finally rebound. It’s a good idea to go slow and really FEEL what’s happening. Separating each of these into their own test scenario will help you dial in the suspension to your liking. If your interest has been piqued on really digging into your suspension, Vorsprung’s – Tuning Your Suspension is a good read for that deep dive on bracketing and what to look for.

Happy pedaling… (and maybe adjusting)!