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what is preload suspension on mountain bike

What Is Preload Suspension on Mountain Bike?

Preload suspension is commonly found on mountain bicycles, designed to provide smooth navigation over rough terrain. This system adjusts the tension of the shock absorber spring before the ride, allowing for customized performance according to the rider’s weight, the type of terrain, and desired ride quality. By reducing the energy transfer from the bike to the rider, preload suspension results in a less fatiguing and smoother ride experience.

How Do You Adjust a Preload Suspension on a Mountain Bike?

Tuning the preload suspension on a mountain bike is a straightforward process. Typically located on the bike’s forks and rear shock, the preload suspension allows riders to adjust the springs’ pressure to attain the desired results.

To adjust the preload suspension, first determine the type of suspension your bike has. The majority of contemporary mountain bikes utilize either an air or coil-spring suspension system. For air suspension, a shock pump is required to adjust air pressure, while a spanner or screwdriver is necessary for coil spring suspension preload adjustment.

adjusting the preload suspension of mountain bike

Once you have determined the suspension type, you can adjust the preload. You can adjust air suspension systems by turning the knob on the shock pump. In contrast, coil spring suspension systems require loosening the bolts that secure the spring before turning the preload adjuster to increase or decrease the pressure on the spring.

Finding the optimal preload balance is crucial, as too little can result in a soft and unresponsive suspension, while excessive preload can make the ride stiff and uncomfortable. The key is to start with a lower preload setting and incrementally increase it until an ideal level of support is attained. It’s all about striking a balance between suppleness and support.

Does Adjusting Preload Change Ride Height?

Yes, adjusting preload can affect ride height. Preload is the tension placed on the suspension springs before the vehicle’s weight is applied. When preload is adjusted, the springs’ tension is changed, affecting the vehicle’s ride height. If the preload increases, it will raise the ride height; if the preload is decreased, it will lower the ride height.

When Adjusting the Preload on a Rear Suspension, What Is Changed?

Adjusting the preload on a rear suspension can change mainly two aspects of the suspension. 

The first type of adjustment is spring preload, which regulates the force exerted by the spring on the suspension components. This impacts the stiffness, ride height, and travel of the suspension. Increasing preload raises the ride height and makes the suspension stiffer and less forgiving while reducing preload lowers the ride height and makes the suspension softer and more flexible.

Another aspect of preload adjustment is damping, which manages the speed of suspension movement. Altering the preload also impacts the damping – increasing preload increases damping, while decreasing preload decreases damping. This affects the vehicle’s handling, with higher damping providing greater control and stability and lower damping providing a smoother ride experience.

In summary, altering the preload of a bike’s rear suspension will have an impact on the spring preload and damping, thereby changing the ride height, comfort, and handling performance.

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