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Finally !! The shocking story of how to "Tune your Suspension" !!!
Your probably just like most people. You go to your local dealer, pick out your ATV, take it home and ride it.

Did you know that you could and should adjust the comfort of that 4 wheeled beast by adjusting those shocks and thereby giving you a more comforting ride that means you will be LESS fatigued at the end of the day? HA ! I didn't think so!!

Well here it is. The best advice around. Tune your Suspension .
Don't know how? Don't be afraid, we'll walk you through it, step by step.
First we'll teach you a few simple things about ATV shocks.
1) PRELOAD is when you adjust the length of the shock to match your body weight. The springs that you see on them controls PRELOAD.
2) COMPRESSION controls how easy or hard it is for the shock to squeeze together when you hit bumps.
3) REBOUND controls how fast the shock returns to its normal position after it has been compressed.
One note here, NOT all shocks on all ATVs have all these adjustments. Please consult you owners manual to determine which adjustments you can make.

Preload Adjustment
By turning the large nut at the bottom of the spring you can adjust the springs tension to suit your body weight. To properly make this adjustment you will need to measure the "ride height sag"....
1) Lift the rear wheels up off the ground.
2) With the wheels off the ground, measure the distance from the top center of the rear axle to some point straight above it on the ATVs frame. Write this dimension down.
3) With all your riding gear on plop your butt on the seat with your feet on the pegs in your normal riding position. Then have someone measure the distance again in the same place as the first measurement. The difference between the 2 measurements is called the "ride height sag".
4) Adjust your preload so that your "ride height sag" is about 30% of your total suspension travel. Example: If you have 9" of total travel you should have about 3" of ride height sag.

Use the same procedure EXCEPT your "ride height sag" should be about 20% of your total shock travel.

Compression Adjustment
Adjusting the compression of the shock determines how fast the shock "compresses" together. This adjustment should be made according to the type of riding you plan on doing. The real trick here is set the suspension at the point where you use all the travel of the shock without bottoming out hard.
With the setting too soft the suspension will feel "mushy" and you feel like it's "floating".
With the setting too hard, you'll feel every little bump you hit because the shock isn't absorbing the bumps like it should.
You can start by setting the compression at full soft. Ride the ATV for a short while. Then begin to ride over small bumps. Begin to adjust the shocks to absorb the bumps without feeling mushy. As you adjust the compression on the shocks, gradually begin moving up to bigger bumps and jumps. Every time you progress to larger jumps amd bumps readjust the shocks. Keep doing this untill you reach the point where you have reached YOUR personal limit of bumps or jumping safely while using all the travel in the shocks. (It's even ok if you allow the shocks to bottom out "slightly" as you land your largest jump)

The rebound adjustment is the setting that determines how fast the shock returns to its normal position.
Setting the rebound at full soft allows the shock to return to full extension more quickly. At this setting the ATV may begin to experience a pogo effect. As the rider speeds over bumps, a shock that returns too quickly may rebound right back up and smack you right in the butt, sending you right over the handlebars. Setting the rebound at full hard slows the return of the shock to it's normal position. At this setting as a rider speeds over bumps the shocks may not return to position fast enough causing the shocks "pack up". The more the shocks "pack up" the less travel they have until they have a chance to return to their normal position. The best way to set the rebound on your shocks is to find a set of "whoops". A series of rolling hills two feet high and six feet apart. With the setting at full soft, ride through the whoops at a slow pace at first. Then each time you ride through the whoops go through a little faster adjusting the rebound until you reach your fastest comfortable speed and the ATV is returning to its correct position without bucking you off.

It's not brain surgery
The MOST important thing to remember is, ONLY MAKE ONE CHANGE AT A TIME!!!!! Doing one change at a time will allow you to get a better feel for how your suspension is responding to the changes. Making more than one change at a time will just confuse you because you won't know which change made a desired or undesired effect. Tuning in your suspension to suit your needs will make you a much happier camper.

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184 Posts
Have you tried to adjust your rear preload using these methods yet? I measured my rear suspension and only was able to get 8.5" travel hanging the rear from the rafters in my garage and pulling down on the axle to make sure its fully extended, then compressing it with a ratchet strap and jumping on it once or twice to make sure its compressed all the way to the bumpstop. When I sat on it to check the sag I measured 7.5"!!!! I checked this a couple times after either extending or compressing the suspension and got the same number each time. That means that I only have ONE INCH of rear suspension travel as its setup stock. I am 185lbs so I dont think it should be this bad, and what happened to the advertised 10 inches of travel?

I dont really think that I want to stiffen the rear THAT much, I might get in there and try adding a little preload, I might not. What tool do you need to adjust that rear spring preload? Spanner wrench?

FRONT: I had already adjusted the preload to 2.25" of threads showing and measured the travel at the full 11" with 3.25" of sag. This works out to 30% which is about right (your article says 30 rear 20 front, but 20% is too stiff for me).

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I mean that I only have 1" of compression travel left, but I dont think that the first 7.5" is doing much for me if it compresses under static weight.
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