The suspension on your dirt bike is a crucial component that provides comfort and stability while riding in off-road conditions.
However, your dirt bike’s suspension might not be adequately attuned to your weight in some cases. Luckily, you have the option to adjust it accordingly.
In this guide, we’ll go over how to adjust dirt bike suspension to your weight to better fit your riding style.
Table of Contents
Guide for Adjusting Dirt Bike Suspension to Your Weight
Before anything else, why should you adjust motorcycle suspension in the first place?
Well, the reason for this is simple. By adjusting the suspension of your dirt bike in accordance with your weight, you’ll be able to handle it much better.
It also translates to a better riding experience overall.
With that out of the way, let’s now talk about how you can adjust the suspension on your dirt bike based on rider weight.
Tools You Will Need
- Dirt bike stand
- Measuring tool
- Preload adjuster
- Shock spanner punch
- Flat head screwdriver
- Spanner wrench
Step #1: Check if You Have the Right Springs
First, you must ensure your dirt bike has the right springs for your weight.
Generally, dirt bikes can support riders weighing around 150-180 pounds. That said, if you’re above or below that, you’ll likely need different springs for your bike.
You can tell if you have the right dirt bike spring if you don’t constantly bottom out your bike’s forks or shocks.
Another indicator is if your dirt bike’s suspension feels balanced on both the front and back.
Step #2: Calculate and Set the Sag
If you’re wondering, sag refers to how much the shocks and forks compress in your bike when sitting on it.
- To set sag on a dirt bike, mount it on a dirt bike stand so its wheels are off the ground.
- Using a measuring tool, measure the distance from your dirt bike’s swing arm all the way to the fender.
- After that, lower the dirt bike from the stand and measure the same distance again. Now, subtract the two numbers that you’ve got. This will be the free sag.
- Once you’re done, put on your riding gear, then sit in the middle of your bike’s seat. Have someone measure the same length as before.
- Now that you have the measurement, subtract the first from the second number. This will be the rider sag.
Alternatively, you can just use an online dirt bike sag calculator to make it easier to calculate the sag on your dirt bike.
- Now, based on your requirements, you can loosen the collar ring in the top shock and either loosen the lower ring to increase the sag or tighten the ring to decrease it.
Step #3: Determine the Preload
Preload is a term that’s interconnected with sag. It refers to the adjustment on the bike to account for your weight. Put simply, preload is when you adjust the sag on your dirt bike.
To get the number, you want to measure your dirt bike’s suspension when it’s fully extended, at rest, and with your gear on.
That said, there are several ways to determine the preload of your dirt bike. Probably the most common method is to use percentages.
- Basically, you want to measure the length of a fully extended suspension and then divide the number by the rider sag you measured earlier. The number should be around 30%.
- If it’s less than that, you’ll need to reduce the preload using an adjustment tool by spinning the collar, which you can find on the shock upwards.
- If it’s above that, spin the collar downward.
You can perform rear and front fork adjustments, allowing you to soften or stiffen your bike’s suspension.
Step #4: Adjust Compression
The next step is to adjust the compression on the shock of your dirt bike. However, this is only applicable to shocks that have compression adjustments in the first place.
By doing so, you can change how your bike can take on bumps and braking.
In essence, compression adjustment or compression damping allows you to control the speed at which the suspension compresses each time it hits bumps on the road.
If you notice that it’s not properly absorbing bumps, you can reduce compression damping to make the suspension a bit less stiff.
On the other hand, if you find that you bottom out easily, you can increase the damping instead.
Step #5: Adjust Rebound
Contrary to compression, rebound damping allows you to control the speed at which the suspension extends right after compression.
If your dirt bike bounces too often, increase the rebound damping. On the other hand, if the suspension extends slowly, you can decrease it instead.
That said, adjusting the rebound can be a bit more subjective.
- To start, you want to note your dirt bike’s current settings.
- After that, check the number of “clicks” on your adjustment knob. Then, turn it clockwise until it reaches the end. Do the same thing but counterclockwise. Make sure to take note of the number of clicks you’ve noticed in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions.
- Then, you want to set the adjustment knob to the center. All you have to do is divide the total number of clicks by two. For example, if you counted 20 clicks, turn the knob by 10.
This will then serve as the center, which you can use as a basis for the adjustments mentioned earlier.
You can also use the tuning chart shown above as a reference when adjusting your bike’s suspension.
Step #6: Adjust Ride Height
The final step you need to do is to adjust the ride height based on what you deem comfortable.
It’s worth noting that this will significantly impact the overall handling and steering of your dirt bike. To achieve this, you’ll need to adjust the rear shock of your bike.
Depending on your preference, you can lower the rear to improve the handling or raise it to improve steering.
By lowering the rear, you’ll be able to make the bike more stable but at the cost of reduced steering. On the contrary, raising it will make it less stable but with much better steering.
Hopefully, this guide has taught you how to adjust dirt bike suspension to your weight for a more comfortable riding experience.
As a rule of thumb, stiffening a dirt bike’s suspension for heavy riders is important to prevent sagging and bottoming out too often.
The opposite can be said for light riders.
Ultimately, adjusting the suspension of your dirt bike is crucial to help you get the most comfort and control out of your vehicle.