"Cliker Adjustment" advice from Dave J.

Dave J. = Smart Performance Inc.

His response to my email to him, regarding Sag and Clicker adjustment advice for the WR450 suspension he just finished for me:

Rear sag and fork position within the triple clamp is all about setting balance in the bike. There is no magic must-have rear sag number. The ultimate setting is based on how the bike performs given the conditions and the interface between bike and rider. You can, technically, ignore all “settings” and just feel the bike out, sort of like tuning the air/fuel screw on a carb simply by how the throttle responds to your input.

With that, a rear sag number is a good (not great) reference point. For example, a tuner may say, “I set it at 102 and the front pushes. I set it at 115 and now the rear slides out”.

Additionally, trying to get sag numbers to be consistent is tricky stuff, as you may know. I mean, you can take three sag readings and get three different results. So…the more accurate reference is the pre-load assigned to the spring as this can accurately measured and used against the performance of the bike. You’ll notice that in your build sheet, pre-load is noted as 250/266, meaning the free length of the spring is 266mm, and the installed length is 250mm. So, 16mm of pre-load, (which, by the way, is a bit much). But again, an excellent reference to refer to.

The other is fork position in the clamps. In your case, +5mm.

If I had my way I would remove this concept of free, race, rider sag and such from the brains of tuners and do nothing but force them to seek and test for results, referenced against the pre-load setting.

With that, one of the best things that you can with the machine is put it into a 20, 50, 100 foot skid-pad, which forces the bike into a whole-bike load, which quickly reveals front end push (lift) and/or rear end slide.




Additionally, the ski-pad concepts removes the complexity of the track or trail and allows you to hold and push the bike until it’s weakness or out-of-balance nature is revealed. It’s a very powerful and underutilized tool.


The fork compression and shock rebound clickers, as noted, are macro adjusters. They take care of the big picture. They will be the ones that you’ll want to focus on the most for getting the majority of the issues resolved to your liking.

Keep in mind that the rebound adjuster is both compression and rebound so it’s an all encompassing soft or hard screw. In fact, in ye old days, it was a rebound adjuster that was the “damper” adjuster. And most automotive applications only have a “rebound” or master adjuster.

On the forks it’s a little more tricky. In general, I would say dial the rebound first or the smoothest ride, then dial the compression clicker. However, I already know that the rebound clicker is going to be very close to what is ideal. +/- one or two clicks may be all that at needs. I would try this, at some point, just to see how it feels, but in general, you’ll know when you have too much fork rebound when you get head-shake, or it feels like someone is pushing or shoving on your upper back every time you go through some bumps. In other words, packing causes the upper body to do a slap-on-back type of push-up. With too much fork rebound, the upper body acts like a spring board, bouncing into and recovering from the hits. You’ll know what I mean when you feel this.

That said, very wet mud or very slippery conditions may need a lot of rebound to hold the bike down and keep the tire as planted as possible, so some exceptions apply.

Now…LS shock is a bleed circuit around the shim stack that controls the exchange of fluid between the main body and reservoir of the shock. It’s a timing or lead in to how soon the exchange stack is engaged. It can be used to tune in or out small bumps and feedback that comes into the rear of the bike. If you think of suspension hits or movements as pulses, then the LS adjuster controls when a given pulse will cause a reaction. But, only very small movements or pulses, as this circuit is quickly over run by the fluid fighting to make its way thought the port.

The HS setting is a blow-off valve. It’s a big spring on the back side of the exchange stack that offers some level of resistance as to how easily the stack can lift to blow-off pressures. Simple as that. So, it takes a very sudden and relatively big strike to get into this. Rocks or hits that cause at least a 2 inch wheel movement, with velocities at about 9 to 14 m/sec are HS. Turning the setting adds or removes pre-load to the spring.

But again, the rebound adjuster will solve 90% of the problems that you’ll most likely have with the rear of the bike…BECAUSE, the LS/HS is already set very close to where optimal is.

Often, it’s just best to find a little stretch of test area that you can charge about, trying different settings until you get a feel for what does what. Go two out, test. Go two in, test. Go four out, test, Go four in test. Stuff like that.

On the front, you’ll want just enough compression without too much. That is usually one to two clicks softer from the point (or edge) at when the fork starts to ride high and stiff. So crank them in until you feel this change, then bring them out just enough to settle fork. That’s the sweet spot. Well..the sweet spot for maximum performance on a MX track.

That said, there are some off-road conditions when the fork will run smoother with the compression clickers turned much further out. Small rocks and such can generate a lot of noise in the front, so these waves or pulses, (or frequency) can be avoided if they can simply pass through without any resistance. Again, it’s a just a matter of trying some different settings and noting what works best for each condition. This is why the newer build-sheets have those TEST 1, TEST 2…etc. columns.

I think that about covers it…so go have some fun without all this tweaking and tuning...........

Great info. Thanks for sharing. One of these days I'd like to get together with you and swap bikes and see how our bikes compare - I also have the full Phase 4 setup.

Great info. Thanks for sharing. One of these days I'd like to get together with you and swap bikes and see how our bikes compare - I also have the full Phase 4 setup.

Sure thing! Come on up to Rowher Flats with us sometime. It's a rock fest!

What is 'Phase IV"?

Yeah, I did get the full Phase IV treatment.

I rode my local 'track' yesterday for about 20 minutes. It's an old mini cycle track from the 80's, that get beat to crap by the local CRF150's.

The suspension is much improved, everywhere.

This track is TIGHT and short, and most corners are horseshoes, and have deep railed berms with only one line. Precision is key, or you are on your head in a second. It is not fast, but it is a little rough.

The jumps are 10' steep faces with tabletop flat landings, about 25-30 mph. The bike flies! I was doing sit-down jumps with tons of English, with no effort.

The rear does not squat anymore, so the bike feels like it has 10 more HP when you wick it: the front end will loft, and the back end stays straight, unlike before when it would hook-up, then spin, then hook-up again.

There is some understeer, and the front feels less planted than stock, but more planted than with just the stiffer springs.

I will address this as I get used to the changes. I think it's rider error..........

I have not played with any settings, including sag yet. Forks are at + 5mm per DJ recommendation.

Sag is at 4" / 1" more or less, for now.

The main issue for me is that the SP modded forks are now free-moving, which was a problem I had with the '03 forks, but never got a chance to address (I sold the bike). None of that feeling of loss of control over rough terrain.

Mind you, I don't ride that fast anymore, so it's all about control for me.

The whole bike feels much more like a 'dirt bike' than a trail bike now. It snaps to attention, and does not wallow.

I'm looking forward to the next few months of dialing it in!

More to come.

Edited by Krannie

4" x 25.4 = 101.6mm

What exactly is the +5mm fork measurement? (flat deck of fork cap to top of Triple clamp?)

Sure thing! Come on up to Rowher Flats with us sometime. It's a rock fest!

What is 'Phase IV"?

Was just a Rowher flats lasst weekend. I really like riding there. It's a little small but there are some fun and technical trails. Definitley rocky.

Let me know the next time you are riding there And I'll see I'f I can make it.


4" x 25.4 = 101.6mm

What exactly is the +5mm fork measurement? (flat deck of fork cap to top of Triple clamp?)

5mm of fork above the triple clamp, not including the caps.

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