Thursday, 16 February 2017

Basic suspension set up tips

Firstly, know your fork! It is vitally important you know what model you have so you can correctly understand the performance features of it. Please refer to your owners manual or download one via 

When setting up the fork always work in the following order:
1/ Spring rate, this could be via Air pressure or a mechanical spring
2/ Sag
3/ Rebound
4/ Compression 

The following is intended to give you an idea on each function but does not specifically refer to any specific model. 
Springs: Coil
The spring rate of a coil spring refers to the amount of force needed to compress the springs in the fork. Marzocchi offers several different spring kits to coordinate rider weight and riding conditions.

Spring Preload
Spring preload can be done with the external adjusters on top of the fork. Preloading the springs will compress them slightly and increase the initial force needed to compress the spring. Marzocchi forks can use the maximum amount of preload from the adjuster and the fork will still get full travel. Spring preload is used to fine-tune the spring rate to adjust for the proper sag measurement. Minimal spring preload is recommended for better performance and longer working life of the springs, so it is better to change to a stiffer spring rate than to add significant preload (10+ turns.)

Springs: Air
Air spring rate is the amount of air pressure that is in the fork. Air pressure can be infinitely adjusted using a shock pump to fit rider preference. Be sure to use a shock pump that can accurately gauge air pressure in the adjustment range.

Sag refers to how much the fork compresses when the rider is in the normal riding position. Marzocchi recommends between 10-20% for XC and up to 35% for DH/ Enduro to provide the best overall ride. The easiest way to measure sag is to put a zip tie around the stanchion and then measure how much the fork compresses when the rider is in the normal riding position. Keep in mind that the normal riding position on a DH bike may not be correct on level ground. 

Damping: Rebound
Rebound damping controls the rate in which the fork is able to extend. All of the Marzocchi forks have adjustable rebound damping. Rebound damping should be set fairly fast, but without causing a sudden, harsh force back to the rider. This will allow the fork to comfortably extend to full travel as soon as possible after impact.
TIP: It is a good idea to get a feel for how the different rebound adjustments affect the fork. Try turning the adjuster all the way counter-clockwise to the fastest rebound setting and then quickly compress and release the suspension several times. Next test the fork with the adjuster turned all the way clockwise and then somewhere in between, this will demonstrate the differences between damping settings.

Damping: Compression
Compression damping is the oil flow resistance felt when compressing the fork. Compression damping is categorised in two ways: low speed compression and high-speed compression. Low speed compression refers to when the fork is compressed slowly and gradually, for example during rolling impacts and rounded bumps. High-speed compression refers to the resistance felt during multiple, hard impacts and square-edged bumps. 
It is better to be conservative while setting the compression damping because the spring offers resistance to compression as well. Too much compression damping creates a harsh ride because the suspension cannot compress rapidly enough to absorb large impacts. Compression damping is not a substitute for proper spring rate and should not be adjusted until the fork has the proper spring set-up for the rider.

Testing, testing, testing
Find a quick loop with multiple trail features such as drops, roots and rollers, but it is important that it is repeatable. Repeat the loop and experiment with the settings paying attention to how the bike feel is changing on each loop. Make sure you have a shock pump with you and don't be afraid to change the settings, your bike will feel different on the trail to what it did in the car park.

Trouble shooting

The following chart will help pinpoint any problems that may occur while setting up your Marzocchi suspension fork. Keep in mind that some problems may be due to one or more cause and that setup should be done in the order as it appears in this book.


  1. Hi, I'm looking at a 380 C2R2 Titanium. I weigh ~90KG in riding gear and usually run about 10% sag on my fork, would I need an x-hard spring? If so, where would I purchase one in the UK? Thanks.

    1. You should be good to go on the stock spring (hard) with some low speed compression dialled in but personally I would definitely be looking for more sag. There is a steel X-hard spring in the box that you can try before you commit to titanium.

  2. I just bought a 380c2r2 and was wondering if you could give me a starting point for rebound and compression. I'm looking for a baseline of clicks per adjustment dial. Somewhere to start.

  3. Would you happen to know if there is internal compression damping on a DJ1? Sag is just less than 30%, but I am getting a lot of pedal bob and front wheel dive when pumping the jumps. Any Advice?

    1. DJ forks don't have adjustable compression damping. Personally I would make the fork harder to reduce sag to around 20% for DJ riding, then the fork will become less 'bobby'.

  4. Hey there!
    I have some 2015 350 Car's which I've done regular lower services on but would like to do a DBC damper service but not sure where to start. Are you able to help me out with the process please? Cheers!

  5. I weigh 250lbs i need stiffer springs for 2005 888 rc..