Improved Spring Coil Suspension Will Help Your Riding!
Improved Spring Coil Suspension Will Help Your Riding!
by Justin Lofton
Before we get into the details of tuning, first let's learn what all the suspension terminology means. Spring rate is how powerful the springs are. Stronger springs take additional energy to squeeze a specified amount. The more aggressive and heavier riders can benefit from stronger springs, but they additionally lessen the capacity to take up minor bumps. Springs, being springs, take extra energy to squeeze as they go, thus we have spring "rate." Any energy will begin to squeeze a spring, it is how much the energy is needed to boost per amount of movement that determines the rate.
Progressive springs have varying spring rates and commonly seem to have the spring coils tighter together over a portion of the spring length. The spring coils that are tighter together are intended to be softer than the remainder. As soon as a impact comes along, they give way initially, until the spring coils connect against each other, and then the remainder of the spring coils, which are stronger, begin to squeeze. Hence, the springs can be stiff enough for more aggressive riding whilst still being able to take up lesser bumps smoothly.
Preload is how much spring energy the suspension has to maintain the bike and rider up. Back shocks generally have an exterior preload adjustment; forks are generally adjusted with spacers on top of the springs. With no preload, the suspension would collapse and would sag. Setting the preload too high, the suspension will be at it's full height, although the rider is sitting on the bike.. Primarily, preload ought to be set such that there is a little sag but not too much. Notice that preload does not raise spring rate, it just preloads the original force on the spring to move somewhere the bike sits on the "rate" scale.
Sag is a gauge of how much the suspension drops down when the rider is sitting on the bike. When going over holes, the wheels need to lengthen downwards to stay connected to the road. With no sag, even moving over minor bumps would let the wheels move off the road. This kills grip. A little sag is useful. Sag also consumes your suspension movement and this will lessen the capacity to take larger bumps with no bottoming. Too much sag is unacceptable. How much is correct? Lots of riders will offer you precise figures but the fact is that it has to be correct for you and, if you are a dedicated racer, this is not going to get condensed to a procedure. You merely have to attempt differing amounts until it feels appropriate.
Damping is the speed at which the suspension can move. It's also controlled by valving or by the weight stickiness of the oil. Too much damping and the suspension will be too sluggish to take up the bumps. Not enough damping and the bike will give way onto and bounce off bumps like a pogo stick. Occasionally, you may be able to change compression and rebound dampening independently - this can be a benefit. Like everything else, the correct amount of damping hinges greatly on where, how, and what you ride.
Oil height is a gauge of how far down the oil level is in the fork tubes with the springs out and the fork fully compressed. Because the forks are sealed oil height is important. As they compress, the air pressure in them rises; rising air pressure in fact adds to the spring rate. Hence, as forks give way, the air in them acts similar to progressive springs. The higher the oil in the tube, the more pronounced this effect is. Oil level allows you to tweak how your suspension behaves in the bigger hits.
Air pressure by valves (tire-style) fitted to the forks at the top.. Frankly, the manufactures fitted these valves so you can remove air pressure out, not put it in. The forks will warm up as you ride and the air pressure will build up. Rising over a period, forks tend to "inflate" merely by just riding the bike over a period of time the forks tend to "pump up". It is possible to temporarily tune your suspension to some unusual set of conditions; this is fine as long as you don't add too much air. The manufacturers do not recommend this as the forks seals could start leaking oil if there is too much air pressure in the forks. Also added air pressure will change how your bike handles, making it less predictable. Predictable is useful; it allows you to ride closer to the edge.
Bottoming is what happens as you hit a bump so hard that the suspension compresses to its limits. If you are bottoming frequently whilst riding about then you either have too soft of a spring rate, to not enough preload, excessive sag, insufficient fork oil, inadequate damping, or you don't know how to ride very well.
Lock up or binding is what happens as you stuff up your suspension tweaking. If you add excessive preload, the spring coils will bind up prior to the suspension bottoms. This is bad as the force on the suspension is on the wrong parts. If you have excessive fork oil then you will bottom out on the oil before the suspension is finished. Whilst this is not quite as bad and coil bind, it is still really tough on your fork seals. Bike manufacturers generally specify limits on preload and fork oil height; it is sensible to remain inside these limits. Should you want to go beyond these limits, you may need to think that new springs are now required.
About the Author:
Learn more about Air Suspension Kits. Stop by Justin Lofton's site where you can find out all about Air Spring and what it can do for you.
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