How to adjust front suspension on a mountain bike?

How to adjust front suspension on a mountain bike

How to adjust front suspension on a mountain bike?

Mountain bike suspension is a very important component to make your ride more enjoyable. This component is responsible for absorbing the impact of bumps that occur on the road. It also provides smoothness to your ride so you can concentrate on other physical activities. Springs are the most important component of a mountain bike. They absorb the impact when you descend from a steep hill over a bumpy trail and return it back to its original position when you ascend. The greater the amount of spring you have in your suspension, the better your jumping ability will be.

How to adjust front suspension on a mountain bike?

How to adjust front suspension on a mountain bike

Step 1: Remove your front wheel – get out of the saddle.

Step 2: Tighten all knob bolts on the rear shock (it has a similar pattern to the end cap) by hand until tight. Read now: Best stationary bike stand

How many more Rotors and Guide plates will I have? Well, aftermarket parts cost more than OEM. But it depends on what you’re looking for in performance. The better you can tune your bike with exactly fitting R & G’s to achieve the expected results, the less you’ll need to replace them. 

Step 3: Grab the rear tire in both hands and give it a tug. If you have more plush feeling than what the manufacturer specified, back off another turn on your shock. Keep reading

Step 4: Lower your front end until you feel maximum resistance (usually around 25-30mm). With compound knobs = only tighten or loosen to match bumps standard hardware with lock tight style hardware. 

Step 5: Tighten the knob bolts until you feel firm resistance and make sure your breaks are working properly.

Step 6: Check wheel alignment chainstay length and front axle path for good ride quality.

Step 7: Now, you can adjust accordingly to achieve the elusive slow bumpiness that smooths out a lot of ruts as well other bumps it deems better left alone until needed on big jumps. Here’s ho to get an eye drop or fine grit sandpaper. Don’t worry about scratches! Use either method, depending on your needs.

Step 8: Adjust front suspension for “GOOD” handling with confidence. Rotate the guide plate nut clockwise, from loosest to tight. No-toe will adjust your rotor thickness accordingly. Count fingers below knurled rotors on the top of the knob bolt threads NO More than 3 turns! +2 is best and -1 will give you less travel action, so more stability in rough spots (lightning bolts). About 4 turns would be nice front at full sag is as high up your bars from this point (if you’re using a shock pump). Same with rear. Rear always goes lower than front & generally stays at the location of the dial on the knobbing tool until it fully compresses (it can initially feel very stiff, but that’s OK). If too loose, screw back just enough to not let the motorcycle move with heavy braking force in rough weather +2 settings makes for harder turning and also more travel action. -1 not needed for big bumps and extra comfort, +1 improves handling slightly but overall stability. Step 9: Now, you can adjust Compression in general terms:

Suggested settings 4 to 8 (small) is typical 5 to 12:(normal bottom out in rough roads), 18″+ would be a good ride quality boost with confidence on the track 13-27 recommended for rougher trails & when the bumpy ground is being taken in learning mode (bumpy roads are meant to be ridden, not learned on) Step 10: Now you can pick up your favorite bumpy, rough ride with more confidence and also carry less speed into bad dips (knobby trails or super steep jumps).

Note if you don’t plan to travel the cross country at all. I’d save most of the fork travel for 4UTNP. Keep this set-up standard & know what it takes to travel efficiently before you modify or upgrade.

5 clicks in quality mode (17 deg* in the bottom out area) I see this on a lot of riders, 4UTNP forks adjust better with stock checkers & anything more than 4 clicks up is often “too much”. That’s ok if your bump and highway riding are very different needs but as someone who travels cross country.

Set up mountain bike suspension: forks and rear shocks

Step 1: Do not remove the upper fork cap if you have an oil-ingredient-filled/sealed stem. Remove the lower shock cap & disconnect the spring so they can be inspected/cleaned (Some questions on perfect leak proofness of this method)

Step 2: There are several tricks to clean up, inspect & lube these parts to get them right for minimal performance compromise and, over time, saddle wear damage. You were able to do this on your shiny new bike time machine – ride it for a few minutes, clean & lube.

Step 3: Clean everything up here. I used simple BikeBiz stuff (9 oz can of brake cleaner for all lubes). Now break loose the seals on the fork/shock and make sure you keep any extra bulk out of them etc. With some brands, bushings are just riveted in place with kevlar belts that slide along threaded grooves in the ends of the bushings. Rivets have to be removed and there’s no telling how long it will take you, so don’t go nailing them down (I’ve done this more than once)

Step 4: Lube, lube, re-lube. All parts are greased with basically everything that exists as grease that isn’t black & multicolored etc. Clean off old stuff, inspect seals and thread/bushing grooves, grease old grease out of each. The bike shop might even have an anti roll off lube for you that’s not too messy & relatively safe (I use 1 part lithium based degreaser and 3 parts Gun Barrel Gear Clean waterproofing solvent with mineral spirits)

Step 5: Put all up side down together again. On most bikes, you remove the spring assembly by removing the lower shock cap adjusting bolts etc. Then re-assemble the lower shock cap and connect spring* etc. Other brands may require different parts going on top of each other too.

Step 6: Use that fancy tool you learned about in Millman’s Mini Workshop (DeSert Tool with case) to free up everything at once – If this is not enough, buy a second DeSert Tool or if it can fit on your tall bike, use an open-handed rock. Suppose that won’t work. Use a Box end wrench & keep going faster than Millman could get you loose.

Step 7: Any old set of handlebar grips and cable controls should be greased well with the semi-gloss or so treated -whatever kind screams “Manhood” to you. They are ready for use. 


A mountain bike suspension is key to enjoying a comfortable ride. In order to get the most out of your suspension, it’s important to know how to adjust it properly. While it may seem like a simple task, there are many factors that go into setting up your suspension correctly, so you’ll need some help from an expert. You can get help from our team of experts by filling out our contact form below and we will be happy to answer any questions you have about adjusting your front suspension on a mountain bike.

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