Not another suspension setup question..

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4/26/2018 7:00 AM

Not another suspension setup question.. No!, or rather yes but I have not seen this question when scanning for tips setting up the right? suspension setup. Yes, I have visited the "what’s the right setup" swamp, tuning, tuning, tuning some more, then tuning it back.. finally realizing there are no "right" setting, just what feels good for you and the style/terrain you run..
But now to my question, I, and many with me I have noticed, have this fear of "bottom out", hence maybe using conservative setting, to have some marginal just to be sure, hence not using the full suspension available. I wonder if the fear for bottom out is unreasonable, hey it’s not like I run Rampage, and if I should accept some bottom out in order to run a less conservative setup?

What’s your take, experience?

//Claes

4/26/2018 8:01 AM

Well for me fear of bottoming out is as "irrelevant" as the idea that you should absolutely use all your travel.

The issue when bottoming out is the stress you are putting on the suspension, frame and you. When it is occasional there's nothing to fear and you shouldn't target to have a "safety travel". But if it is a regular issue (like every time you hit that line/jump/drop) you may end up damaging something. So then you should change your settings.

On the other end, as long as your setup is feeling right it is not an issue not to use full travel on a regular ride (or even a harsh one). That being said, if you really have a lot of unused travel you should try some softer settings and see if they work better for you. They might ad some compliance/grip.

Last thing, it also depends on the bike/travel and riding type you do. If you have a big bike (like an enduro) for mellow riding it's quite logical to have quite a lot of unused travel, and at the opposite if you're riding hard a small travel bike (like XC or Trail) it's logical to bottom out from time to time.

So my point is set your suspensions so that they offer you the best performance and they don't bottom out on a regular basis. But you should not compromise your settings to get a "safety margin" nor to absolutely use full travel.

4/26/2018 9:30 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/26/2018 9:31 AM

what bike/shock are you on? that could help a bit with some answers.

one thing to consider if you're running coil and your suspension feels dialed but you're bottoming more than you'd like is an upgraded bottom-out bumper.

P.S., if you're really scared of bottoming out, don't look at the g-out project from croatia : )

4/26/2018 10:22 AM

When racing, suspension mechanics line of reasoning suggests you should only be bottoming out 1-3 times (max) on the track - this stands to reason that there is a huge compression/hole/jump (or all three) and that you'd use all of your travel on these features.
When riding, for fun lets say, you really shouldn't ever be bottoming out...unless your local trail looks like an EWS track. Ideally, you'd have your suspension tuned so that you're using 80-85% of the travel regularly, but that 15% is left for when things get really rough or you get wild and need some "safety suspension".
Furthermore, as stated above by Spomer and Rems, if you are constantly going through all of your travel with harsh bottoming, you stand to damage the suspension.

4/26/2018 10:30 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/26/2018 10:33 AM

If on what I would call ' proper ' DH trails, rough with some big G-outs, a flat landing or two and aggressive fire road crossing transitions I expect and find it normal to bottom out maybe 1 to 3 times in a 2 min plus run.
But only on certain features that you know there is a massive or high speed impact, there is no point in setting your bike to not bottom out for these generally rarer features which make up a tiny amount of the overall trail as it will be far too stiff for every thing else.

4/26/2018 11:51 AM

Definitely don't intentionally build in "safety travel". It will only bring compromises. Plus, if that safety travel is built in, if you do get rowdy and get into the "safety" bit, its likely going to be super harsh and likely to upset the bike and rider, except without the feedback of an actual bottom out. Without the feedback of actually finding that clunk (occasionally) then either tuning the suspension or tweaking your riding style (line choice, ride the fork, get in the back seat, etc) to avoid the bottom out is going to become virtually impossible.

4/26/2018 12:57 PM

I am with the others here. A bottom out or two on say a race run is good. Constant bottom outs are not. If you constantly bottom out then I feel like you need to change some settings and/or Sag or in some scenarios change the shock/fork tune.

4/26/2018 1:12 PM

I don't think anything is scarier than an unexpected/harsh fork bottom in a dicey situation. Having your shock bottom isn't that big of a deal, but I know I build "safety travel" into my fork setting. I almost never bottom my fork, and I like it that way.

4/26/2018 1:56 PM

TEAMROBOT wrote:

I don't think anything is scarier than an unexpected/harsh fork bottom in a dicey situation. Having your shock bottom isn't that big of a deal, but I know I build "safety travel" into my fork setting. I almost never bottom my fork, and I like it that way.

This is interesting. Lot of schools of thought here. I remember Shaums March suggesting one should always bottom their suspension a few times per run. When I was on the slower side of things, I think running my stuff soft helped increase confidence and control. Bottoming never really scared me.

These days, when I'm riding well, I seldom bottom. Like TR, I don't want that harsh metal on metal "i'm going over the bars" feeling. I always leave 1/2"-1" for the oh shit I'm gonna die moments. That said, I do like my stuff more linear than most, I want to use the travel I have, but I also want the very end to ramp really hard, and I want my bike to ride higher in its travel. This seems to be the ticket for me.

Oh, and so we are clear "bottoming" vs "almost bottoming" are very different to me. If the o-ring shows full travel but I don't feel bottom this is a different ball of wax than that all-too-familiar metal on metal THUD.

4/26/2018 4:51 PM

claesto wrote:

Not another suspension setup question.. No!, or rather yes but I have not seen this question when scanning for tips setting up the right? suspension setup. Yes, I have visited the "what’s the right setup" swamp, tuning, tuning, tuning some more, then tuning it back.. finally realizing there are no "right" setting, just what feels good for you and the style/terrain you run..
But now to my question, I, and many with me I have noticed, have this fear of "bottom out", hence maybe using conservative setting, to have some marginal just to be sure, hence not using the full suspension available. I wonder if the fear for bottom out is unreasonable, hey it’s not like I run Rampage, and if I should accept some bottom out in order to run a less conservative setup?

What’s your take, experience?

//Claes

I'd say that most of the above answers nailed it. Like sideshow said, I usually try to dial my air shock/fork to have at least 15% left for the gnarlier features. When I'm riding a faster trail I expect a few bottom outs. However if the bottom outs are harsh enough that they really grab your attention and result in a loud clack and possible whiplash, then either you need to stop hucking to flat, pay attention to that hole next time, or consider adding a volume spacer to your shock/fork.

That being said there's nothing quite like the feeling of getting suspension perfect for your regular trails. If you run Fox, and your sag is correct, its ideal to have the O ring end up in the middle of the logo on your stanchion after riding your go-to trails. Obviously, there can be flaws with using the o-ring as a form of measurement but for those of us who are not racers or race mechanics, this can be an easy way to estimate if your suspension is near what it should be.

Yes you should definitely be afraid of bottoming out too hard too often, especially on a rear air shock because you can end up blowing it out, but that's what warranties and your LBS are for.

I try to do less thinking and more sending.

4/26/2018 6:35 PM

TEAMROBOT wrote:

I don't think anything is scarier than an unexpected/harsh fork bottom in a dicey situation. Having your shock bottom isn't that big of a deal, but I know I build "safety travel" into my fork setting. I almost never bottom my fork, and I like it that way.

And remember that if you bottom out your rear shock and not you fork, you still do have some defree of movement (fork comoression) as buffer to aviid shit breaking. Now that I read you, I set up my susoension that way.

4/26/2018 11:41 PM

I never had problems with bottoming out and it also never happened frequently but the last time i fell of some northshorey thing but stayed on the bike and some how "rode it out" but bottomed the shit out of the fork. So i went home took the fork apart and realised that the whole damping (Motion "Control") unit kind of exploded. (if you want to buy spare parts, it's for sale https://bikemarkt.mtb-news.de/article/1035999-rock-shox-motion-control) So now i moved with my 80 kilograms from the blue boxxer spring back to the black and i occasionally bottom it out but quite rare.

4/27/2018 5:11 AM

With today's mixed travel bikes (150/130)(140/120) etc... it is hard getting your suspension equalized for efficiency and comfort. When I am asked about how to set up suspension I generally reply "Racing or pleasure" most of the time people are out for pleasure so I suggest 30% front and rear with medium rebound. But for racing or anyone wanting to go fast and take big lines, I suggest 25% front and rear with at least a few volume spacers.

But back to the bottom out subject, if you are on an xc ride and trying to recover on the DH, you generally won't be bottoming too much. Likewise, if you are absolutely sending it bottoming out is an event that should happen. The amount that you should be is debatable. On a DH course or enduro stage 1-3 times is generally a good amount. its when you bottom on every single jump or drop, that you start having problem.

If you don't want to bottom out, ride a rigid. Thats the feeling you will have if you have your suspension too hard trying not to bottom out.

4/27/2018 7:59 AM

They are times when you'll use full travel. I would just make sure that those moments don't come with any instability like a jarring knock, or squirm. If you hit bottom and you ride away like it's no big deal, that's fine I would say... If you hit bottom and it comes with undesirable side effects then you need to make some adjustments.

4/27/2018 9:57 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/27/2018 10:27 AM

I think the biggest problem with this question is that the definition of bottom out isn't clear. Using all the suspension should will happen multiple times in a run. Rarely should you "feel" a bottom out if suspension is set up properly. If its set up right youll look down see that both of your O-rings are maxed, and feel like you never felt any clunk or harshness.

I find that if I cruise a trail at 75% to 80% speed I'll use about 90% of my travel, If I throw down a Strava run, I'll use all my travel (but generally don't "bottom out" hard)

This also is based on a rider that can attack a trail and ride it in the top 25% of riders, anyone lesser will probably not use all the suspension unless they have it set up on the soft side using weight/sag as a set point

@jason_gainey

4/28/2018 1:51 AM

My 5c

On the back always set the rear to recommended SAG 30 to 40% depending a bit on your liking and suspension type... Never ever set your suspension outside recommended SAG. Bottoming out on the back is not really a problem if its not a super harsh bottom out (even if you ride fast a couple harsh ones is ok, try to suck more with your legs when landing). You can bottom out once or 50 times in a trail as long as its not super harsh ones all the time. If you feel harsh bottom outs then two options, my number one is that if you ride air shock, put some spacers inside and you should be good to go. If you ride spring then you need high speed compression (but I personally hate this setting as is number one cause of no good traction on braking bumps and flat tires), so I recommend always riding high speed fully open.

Up front my recommendation is never bottom out. Bottom outs on the front or very soft fork usually ends in a over the bars maneuver . no SAG rules here, this is a trial and error approach. Also depends where you ride. If it's very steep track, harden the fork so keeps still high in the travel on steep sections and you can still ride with your weight up front. Have in mind that your head angle depends mainly on your fork setup, so if you ride soft you will be riding steeper head angle the steeper the track gets, so completely the opposite you want. That is why you will see most pro's riding super stiff forks, that way front end keeps high and can keep weight on the front wheel without having it dive. Also rebound should be much faster in the fork compared to shock. You want the fork to recover quick in braking bumps and avoid packing.

RESUMING:
Fear fork bottom outs
Do not fear rear bottom outs

Sorry for the typos, and hope this helps

Cheers,
Cesar.

4/28/2018 3:30 AM

Thank you everybody for your responses and advice!

Conclusion is that I will experiment with a bit less conservative settings, in small steps off cource until I feel more confident experiencing a few minor bottoms out to get that shit out of my head... ;-)

Cheers,
Claes

4/28/2018 3:33 AM

PS ...and hey, if I do go over the bars, I promise to post aftermath pictures :-D!

5/3/2018 11:56 AM

The best setup is when you bottom out once in a while but don't notice it. My travel ring is usually pushed to full travel at the end of a ride but I don't recall ever hearing a loud clunk or feeling it bottom. Perfect.