How to adjust dirt bike forks.
Properly adjusting a dirt bike’s suspension to your personal riding style is one of the quickest ways to shave seconds off your lap times. A properly adjusted suspension for your weight and riding style will not only make you faster it will save energy. Each track and each type of soil may require different suspension settings and this article is meant to be a guide to get you started. Properly adjusting your suspension is an ongoing process and requires patience. Once you’ve found suspension settings that work well on a particular track it’s a good idea to log them in a notebook so the next time you go back to that track you can build on previous hours of testing.
Some tracks with larger jumps may require stiffer suspension settings while tracks with several small bumps or “woops” may require softer settings. Modern dirt bike come with amazing suspension compared to bikes of yesteryear and so many suspension adjustments even a novice can adjust them and make a noticeable difference.
Let’s first start with your forks.
On the top of the fork you will find a flat head screw (or clicker). Next to it will be an S - H, meaning Soft and Hard. This is the compression adjuster. Though in some cases this is found on the bottom of the fork - check your bike manual.
If you wind the screw in (clockwise) towards the 'H' the compressive action of the fork will harden. If you wind the clicker (counter clockwise) out the fork will soften. When making adjustments on one fork make sure you make the same adjustments on the other. 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 track records though since your bike may react to jumps and bumps very different than you are used to. Once you have a good feel for that, try winding the clickers all the way out and compare the difference.
The second way of adjusting forks is the rebound adjuster. You’ll find the rebound adjuster on the bottom of each fork. 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 making it better for smaller, rougher bumps. Thinking of a pogo stick may help to visualize this.
As you ride your forks suck in small amounts of air that alter the perfect suspension settings you’ve worked so hard for. With the bike up on a stand and no weight on the forks loosen the bleed screw. Be careful though, if your forks have accumulated a lot of air pressure the bleed screw may fly out and into the dirt. Loosening the screw slowly and not turning it all the way out should take care of this problem. Once all the air is out tighten the bleed screw.