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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Looking for some wisdom on my Fox 36 160mm fork on my 140/160 bike. I generally have the recommended settings for my weight, yet when riding moderate trails, even some where I'll hit a short steep section with rocks/roots, 1-2 ft drops, I never use the full fork travel. After most rides my rear shock has used 90+% of its travel but the fork usually only 50-70%. Would you think I need to lower the pressure? I'm already running the fork open with open mode adjust (FIT4) pretty much fully open also. Or is it generally considered OK to have that extra travel on tap with the reverse mullet suspension travel setup?

For comparison, my shorter travel 120/130 bike with 130mm Fox 34 on the front I generally use close to full travel front and rear on almost every ride unless its super smooth.

Thanks for any input.
 

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Formerly of Kent
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A 160mm fork shouldn't bottom out on 2ft drops. I wouldn't lower pressure just so you arbitrarily use more travel.
Yeah.

The key here:

Don't ride a 160mm bike on trails with a maximum of 2ft drops. That's not what it was designed for.

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Volume spacers were never mentioned.
Whatever's stock on the Fox 36 that comes on a Pivot Mach 5.5

I might be under selling the trails a little bit. For example tonight I rode some pretty real "all mountain" trails with a rooty 500ft descent. The bike and fork feel great, I probably just don't hammer as much as other riders I guess. I let 3psi out but moved the "open mode adjust" 4 clicks from open. Used a bit more travel tonight but no where near bottom out. Either way, no complaints, I just wanted to make sure it wasn't expected that every time you hammer downhill you should be bottoming out the fork or you're not getting your moneys worth, LOL.

Tonight:


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Suspension is really not a "set and forget" item.

In reality, every place you ride, you should re-adjust to accommodate the terrain.

We are however, lazy. If I set it at XX psi, X clicks out, it's good for everything.
No. If you ride a smooth trail system, you may want to make the suspension stiffer, to allow better transfer and less wallow.
If you ride a technical slow system, you may want it softer. But, if you increased your speed, you will need it stiffer to prevent bottom out.

Now, how you like your suspension is preference, somewhat. I like to have roughly 10% of my travel left on most rides. (In case of a screw up on something knarly, I want some more travel!)
 

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Yeah.

The key here:

Don't ride a 160mm bike on trails with a maximum of 2ft drops. That's not what it was designed for.

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Honestly, my 160mm forked bike (140mm out back) pedals better and climbs better than my older "trail" bikes with 120mm. Its a better xc bike than my old trail bikes, and its still, well, a 160mm bike when I want that.

I used to be fully onboard with your statement back when 160mm bikes were closing in on 40 pounds and pedaled like hot garbage. A bigger bike for trail riding today is a very viable option!

OP, Set the spring so its supportive and adjust from there. If its sprung correctly and using half its travel, remove volume spacers and adjust pressure accordingly. It sounds like you either have too much pressure, too many spacers, or both.
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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No point in having more travel if you don’t use it. Adjust your suspension.
 

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I would certainly recommend playing around with the pressure & settings.

**Record what your current pressure & settings are now, don't lose that info.

*Adjust to whatever your heart desires.

**Using full travel shouldn't be the goal, what feels best most often is. That being said, setting your fork to use full travel & seeing how it feels elsewhere will answer your questing. Will it feel better everywhere else or wallow like a pig, or somewhere in between like a water bed, comfortable yet (un?)supportive.

Keep track of your settings, write down your thoughts next to them, hell might as well pick some traits & rate each setting. Down the road you could potentially use that info as you progress or visit other more or less aggressive trails.
 

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For example tonight I rode some pretty real "all mountain" trails with a rooty 500ft descent.
That's a connector trail around here.

Bikes these days tend to be designed around west coast mountain trails. If you don't have the gradient to load up the front end you're not going to use full travel. It can also be a technique thing- if you're sitting 'back in the saddle,' rather than riding the front wheel, the fork is going to feel over damped and over sprung.

There's nothing automatically wrong with not using all travel, but it might be an indicator of a riding technique deficiency or a poor tune. It's up to you to decide if you need to HTFU or tweak the fork to suit your needs.

For context, when i'm riding in top form i will reliably bottom my fork on a 1500' descent, despite being oversprung and heavily damped. I'll go weeks without using the last 15mm of travel when i'm not feeling totally comfortable, though.
 

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These comments crack me up. Make your suspension feel and ride good then just ride your bike.
It's not about using all the travel you have it's about making your tires stay stuck to the ground. More travel just lets you hit bigger stuff.
 

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Some really weird understanding of suspension.

Set your suspension up so both front and rear A) bottom out at the same time B) bottom out on your hardest reasonable hit.
 

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I have a similar reverse mullet —let’s call it emo— setup with a Fox36 160 up front. I use this bike for everything (it rides better than my 140/140) and have the bike setup so it feels balanced front and rear.

If I’m pushing hard on steep and rough trails, I’ll use 90% of my travel unless I f*ck something up. If I’m riding my mellower before work loop and riding at about 75%, I’ll have about 20-25% travel in reserve, but the bike still feels balanced.

Of course, I will adjust my setup for terrain, but for most of my riding on the trails I’m most familiar with, I’ll keep the same setup.

This works well for me, and I’ve finally got to the point where I truly focus on feel as opposed to being obsessed with how much travel I’m using.

So, my advice is, set, ride, evaluate and adjust based on what combination of grip, support and comfort works for you. Sure, you don’t want to only use 50% of your travel on rough and fast trails, but on smooth and fast trails without jumps, that might be what you get if you’re running more travel than necessary with the necessary support.

For me, running one bike for everything means both of the above scenarios occur. But, I’m having fun.

If you want more specific setup advice, record exactly what your settings are and systematically adjust over a demanding but short track that you can ride repeatedly, adjusting, recording and evaluating on each run.

Also, Dougal made a one page suspension setup guide that is super helpful.



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All setup is compromise.

I've been setting up a new bike this year with a 160mm fork. During my setup sessions I wasn't using full travel on the fork on the settings where the bike felt it was otherwise at a good compromise set up - supportive, responsive, grippy, comfortable.

Got on the podium at a big mountain enduro race last weekend - used all the travel.

If my setup had been using 100% travel at low speeds I'd have been bottoming out lots on the race run. I'd be accusing the fork of not "staying up in its travel". If "stays up in its travel = good" then surely you can't also state "doesn't use travel = bad"?

My compromise setup was good at low speeds and low impacts also. But it didn't generally use 100% travel. It was a compromise.

The fork in question is a 2019 Lyrik RCT3 with non-adjustable HSC. I could have chosen any fork but I know I get suckered into endless twiddling with setup if I have too many options.

With an RC2 I might have adjusted HSC to get full travel more easily in my testing and then in the race run had more trouble with bottom outs. I think the 2020 Lyrik Ultimates this year have softer HSC in general; with a 2020 fork I might have had more bottom outs. If I'd experienced excessive use of travel in my race runs I'd be adjusting some aspect of setup to compensate.

If you're concerned at not getting full travel, consider the adjustments available and try out fine individual adjustments to see if your overall compromise is better or worse. The results may not be what you expect so don't wed yourself to getting "100% travel" at any cost.
 

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For example tonight I rode some pretty real "all mountain" trails with a rooty 500ft descent. The bike and fork feel great, I probably just don't hammer as much as other riders I guess.
I don't judge how much travel I feel I should have used based on a descent. I'll do some big DH runs, and not use half my travel because there may have been a lot of rock, but none were big hits. On the other hand, making a mistake on a jump and landing hard might see me bottom out.

I run a coil now, so no adjusting air pressure. My sag is relatively static. My adjustments are compression only now for the most part, high and low. I tune them to balance the feel and being able to take the hits.
 
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