Dirt Bike Suspension and How to Adjust It

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Taking the time to play around with your dirt bike suspension settings can dramatically alter the handling and performance of your bike over different terrain.

Today’s modern bikes come with adjustable suspension that is set up so any monkey can throw a screwdriver or spanner at it, and make a noticeable difference to the way it functions.

The quality you need to bring to the table is patience. Only small adjustments should be made, one at a time. Then you’ll need to ride over the same track or trail to feel the difference each minor change makes.

When making changes to the suspension, keep in mind each adjustment will have its advantages and disadvantages. What changes might help your bike perform better over certain terrain may also lower the performance of it over different terrain. It’s about compromise. And remember, not everyone weighs the same or has the same riding style. So Chad Reed’s motocross suspension settings are not necessarily going to be the best setup for you. It’s a personal thing…


  • On the top of the fork you will find a screw (or clicker). Next to it will have the writing S – H, meaning Soft and Hard. This is the compression adjuster. Though in some cases this is found on the bottom of the fork and the rebound is on the top – check your bike manual.If you wind the screw in towards the ‘H’ (clockwise) the downward action of the fork will harden. Alternatively, if you wind the clicker out (anti clockwise) the fork will soften.

To get a good feel for the difference this can make, try winding both clickers all the way in, then go for a ride. Don’t try and set any new Crusty records though… Once you have a good feel for that, try winding the clickers all the way out and compare the difference.

Make sure you don’t leave them set on extreme hard, other than to get a better understanding of how it affects the bike. Long term it ain’t good for the forks.

  • Now, on the bottom of the fork you will find the rebound adjuster. This determines how quickly the fork returns to its extended position after being compressed. Screwing the clicker in towards ‘Hard’ will slow the rebound speed down making it better for larger, rolling terrain or bumps.

Screwing the rebound adjuster out towards ‘Soft’ will increase the rebound speed, in most cases, making it better for smaller, rougher bumps.

Side Note:
Over time the forks draw in air creating a build up that messes with the performance of any dirt bike suspension. Undo the air bleed screw on the top of the fork to release this air. Make sure you do this with the weight off the front forks and be sure to tighten it back up before placing the bike back on the ground.

Click Here To Adjust Your Rear Shock

Jim Harmer

I'm the co-owner of Dirt Bike Planet. I live in Star, Idaho and enjoy dirt biking with my wife and two boys throughout the Idaho mountains.

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