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Confused about to soften or harden

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Here is what I read. I am confused because I thought if your front end is pushing you want to stiffen it up but this is saying to soften??


If the forks or shock COMPRESS too FAST, then they will bottom out. If they compress too SLOW, then they wont use the full stroke, causing a rough ride, and a push in the front-end when your turning.


Rebound is really misunderstood by a lot of people. Rebound controls the SPEED at which the forks or shock returns to its pre-set ride-height or sag, after it compresses. If the forks rebound too FAST, then the bike will push in a turn. If the rear rebounds too FAST, then the rear of the bike will kick-up sometimes throwing the rider over the bars, or at least, smacking him in the rump. The object to setting rebound is to get the wheel back on the ground as soon as possible, WITHOUT adverse effects.

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If by "pushing" you mean "understeer" (not steering quick enough), then you need to SOFTEN, or speed up the compression - at the very least. If you are "oversteering" (steering is too quick or "tucks"), then you need to STIFFEN, or slow the compression down - at the very least.

Fork compresssion is only one out of several chassis adjustments that have an effect on steering. The very first thing that should be done is to make sure the shock sag numbers are correct.

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Thanks. What about the rebound? That effects while I'm already in a turn? When do I soften that up if it's pushing?
It's too difficult to answer your question. "Push" can happen for multiple reasons. Most adjustments on dirt bike setup have a sweet spot and the problem is that most or all adjustments are related to each other.

Below is my own tuning guide. It's relatively very short. I wrote it about a year ago for a friend and also to help myself if I get a bit lost. It's made from pieces of other tuning guides [edit: credit to MXTech, TooTech and Ride Concepts] and my own experience on my KX450F in the past few years. Hope it helps. I'm certainly NOT in the suspension or motorcycle business. I just like riding.


0. Set clickers to some reasonable defaults. From tuner or user manual.

1. Set the handlebars in a position which has your upper body comfortable in the cornering attack position.

2. Install correct springs. See note (A) below.

3. Set fork height for speed of the track. Lower front (raise tubes) for slower tracks. If in doubt set mid range.

4. Set rear rider sag, for the desired stability versus tight turning. Test on smooth turns. Raise rear in small 1 nut turn steps, and mentally note how much easier the front end will turn in and hold the inside line. Continue raising the rear until the bike becomes twitchy and unstable or it feels like you're always pulling back the handlebars, or you find yourself sitting back on the seat on entry, so on exit the rear wheel is stepping/sliding out. Also if too high in the rear (or not enough steering trail) and the bike will turn before you can lean it, so it'll often feel like it "stands up" mid corner. Too low in the rear and the front will simply push wide at mid corner.

5. Set rear rebound dampening for the best blend of traction with some kicking (faster rebound) versus smoother ride but risking packing down and swapping. Faster and/or harder surface tracks typically require faster rebound. Rebound adjustment also changes the comp setting, so maybe compensate on comp clicker if wish to keep comp the same.

6. Set fork rebound for the best mix of predictable traction and willingness for the bike to turn at the speeds which you typically go in mid corners. All other settings being correct, there will be a distinct range for front rebound where the front sticks in corners. Slower riders often need slower fork rebound. Too slow on the rebound and the front wont feel planted in turns (erratic front end) and the bike might also give you savage headshake at speed. Too fast and the bike will drift/push wide and wont turn. Rebound adjustment also changes the comp setting, so readjust fork comp happy with that.

7. Set comp dampening to just prevent bottoming or blow through on both ends. Then fine tune to find the best mix of smoothness (comfort + traction) and control. Set rear LSC to fine tune the turning (front vs rear heights) during corner exits. See note (:banana: below.

8. Repeat the above. Go back to an earlier step and repeat to fine tune.


A. Springs must provide the correct front/rear ride heights when supporting your weight. Learn how to feel when a spring cannot hold the weight on it, as opposed to incorrect dampening setup. Springs can control your steady front/rear height, dampers are for dynamic control only.

B. Regardless of preferences, front and rear of the bike must be setup/tuned to work with each other. For best control and speed, aim to be a firm as possible on the front and as soft as possible on the rear. eg. A soft setup fork will make a decent shock setup feel erratic. eg2. A firm rear setup will transfer loads to the front and can make a fork feel erratic and hinder overall control.

C. Imbalanced front/rear rebound can cause the bike to feel imbalanced after jump take offs.

D. Hardpack: Go softer/faster on all four clickers. Start with compression.

E. Sand: Go firmer/slower on all four clickers. Start with compression.

F. Don't neglect correct tire choice and tire air pressure.

Edited by numroe
credit note
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