How to Tune Your Dirt Bike Forks
See any professional dirt bike racer ride, and you’ll notice they make frequent jerking movements as the front suspension forks compress and rebound in accordance with their design. This phenomenon is caused by their front suspension forks compressing and rebounding as planned.
Most forks feature a cartridge design with multiple springs that regulate oil capacity for compression and rebound damping control.
Tuning your rear suspension is just as essential, with several considerations that must be kept in mind when adjusting. Ride height or “sag,” for instance, measures how much weight is on it when sitting upright – this can be easily measured using either a lift stand or having someone lift your bike until there is no more compression of its shock springs.
Preload adjustment should also be included on your list of adjustments. Preload tension changes how high or low your suspension rides in its travel or sag; increasing it will raise it, and decreasing it will lower it.
Rebound damping is an integral component of riding, as it determines how quickly the bike returns to its resting position after encountering bumps or rough terrain. An increased rebound setting will enable a faster rebound rebound, aiding control and traction.
Compression damping controls how quickly a suspension compresses after hitting a bump or rough section of terrain, with low compression settings feeling soft and spongy while high compression settings will feel stiff and firm – it is best to strike a balance between them both for optimal suspension performance.
Many people assume they can optimize their suspension by simply installing heavier springs, but that’s only part of it. Tuning requires expertise and time – but once it’s dialed in, the results can be stunning.
Once your suspension has been fine-tuned, please take note of how many clicks each adjustment takes so that when riding again, it can be set up with as few changes as possible compared to manually altering each ride. This will provide the optimal overall suspension setup and will make for more consistent rides compared with constantly switching the settings around every ride. Just be mindful that pushing compression or rebound adjusters past their limits may damage internal components.
Your dirt bike fork is an invaluable accessory; it helps ensure good wheel traction, smooths out the ride, and reacts instantly to all of the excitement a racetrack or trail can throw at it. One key component is its sag adjuster – getting this just right can have a dramatic impact on how your bike rides and how comfortable you feel on it.
Sag refers to how much your rear suspension compresses under your weight. Measuring free sag is simple: put the bike on the center stand, take a tape measure from an arbitrary point (fender bracket is excellent), go directly to the axle nut center, and mark. Lift the rear end and have someone hold straight up the bike while you stand on pegs and bounce it a few times; take another measurement from the same arbitrary point until the axle nut center and subtract smaller from bigger to find the rider sag figure.
Rider sag is your starting point, yet it can change over time depending on the temperature, spring preload, and even how many cheeseburgers and beers you’ve consumed in the last week! Brandon Fleming from Solid Performance suggests one major mistake many riders make is setting their sag once and never changing it again; that can be disastrous as your suspension’s settings fluctuate throughout each week depending on factors like temperature fluctuations, length of time it has been out of use and whether or not its been re-greased or re-greased or re-greased!
Critical adjustments include static sag, which refers to how much your bike sags when sitting with no weight on the forks. Too much static sag can cause the forks to dive further into their stroke when sitting without weight on them – potentially leading to kickback when breaking or hitting hard square edge bumps. If your forks dive too deep into their stroke when sitting still without riders on board, turn down the shock’s preload by either turning the top collar clockwise for tightening or turning it counter-clockwise for loosening; once adjustments have been made, take another test ride before fine-tuning as needed.
Fork seals tend to leak frequently in dusty environments where riders ride dirt bikes. This may be caused by a lack of regular cleaning as well as air pressure – when you tie down your front forks in place, they compress and increase air pressure on fork seals, forcing them out of their channels over time and diminishing their sealing properties.
To keep your seals functioning efficiently, always use a fork wipe or contact cleaner on both the tube and seal before you tie down your bike. This will clean any contaminants from getting under the seal that could otherwise form a puddle after riding. If a leak occurs, don’t delay replacing it, as this could disrupt the suspension setup and cause permanent damage to fork tubes.
Leaks in your fork seals can have an enormously detrimental impact on your ride, as the oil in the fork tubes absorbs shock when you encounter jumps, bumps, and potholes. If any leakage occurs, it will reduce shock absorption in one or more front fork legs, leading to an imbalance and potentially leading to your bike veering off course.
An additional factor leading to leaky fork seals is an o-ring becoming damaged or worn over time, as its role is integral in keeping fork oil out of seeping through and into the bottom leg of the fork leg. Replacing an old o-ring with a new one is relatively straightforward, with some essential tools and cleaners available, such as using a lubricated wrench with contact cleaner to remove old rings before installing new ones.
Fork seals may leak when their lip seals dry out – this type of lip seal can also be seen on rotating and sliding machinery shafts to maintain positive sealing pressure over time. You may try applying grease or contact cleaner to keep things in good working order until you take your bike on the trails again; alternatively, a fork saver could provide more lasting solutions by helping prevent seals from drying out during transport.
Dirt bikes require many parts and gadgets to run smoothly, but few tools do as much for the front suspension as a fork saver or support. This tool limits fork action during transport or storage and helps protect against continuous compression caused by being strapped down to a trailer. Furthermore, this helps prolong the seal and spring lifespan by limiting movement at such times.
Fork savers are an easy, effective, and economical solution to fork seal damage that can be installed quickly with just a screwdriver. Available at many retailers worldwide and very reasonably priced compared to replacing all fork seals at once, these solutions may well prove worth their cost in saving forks from unnecessary wear-and-tear damage.
As well as protecting forks during transport, the fork saver helps limit the shift and rotation of fork legs. On most dirt bikes, the lower right fork tube may shift out of alignment with the axle lug due to preload spring tension or weight from wheel assembly; by placing the fork saver between the fork and triple clamps, you can ensure both legs remain parallel at all times.
A fork saver can protect fork seals from premature wear and deterioration caused by dust, mud, or other debris kicked up during riding. These neoprene fork sleeve products slip over the top of fork tubes and are secured using either high-strength silicone bands or stainless steel O-rings for maximum effectiveness.
Forksavers won’t interfere with brake rotors or rigid fork protectors you might use and are easy to take off for washing. Available for both telescopic and conventional forks that utilize chrome sliders at the front of their fork tubes, these protectors offer a perfect way to ensure maximum protection!
Forksavers work best when used in combination with other fastening methods like tie-downs or wheel chocks. Some manufacturers provide adaptor plates that secure the front of a bike to a truck bed or trailer without compressing its forks.