How To Tune An Air Shock On Your Mountain Bike – Adjust Your Rear Suspension

How To Tune An Air Shock On Your Mountain Bike – Adjust Your Rear Suspension


– The air shock is the most common form of shock seen on the average
mountain bike these days. The reason for that is it’s lightweight, and it’s easily adjustable for a whole wide range of riders. In addition to that, you tend to have two damping adjustments. Rebound and compression. Rebound tends to be a red dial, and compression a blue dial, or sometimes a lever, so you can add on a bit of compression. Make your bike easier
to climb, for example. In addition to these adjustments, you can also change the air
volume inside the shock. And what that does, is make
the initial breakaway force feel nice and supple, and helps the shock ramp up through the travel. So if you’re using too
much of your travel, for example, too often, but your sag is set correctly, air volume is the way to go to cure that. So we’re gonna demonstrate with a couple of Fox shocks, and a Rockshox shock that
are quite common these days, and show you how to
adjust your air volume. What are air volume spacers? They simply are plastic spacers, or bands, that you put inside the
air chamber of the shock, and it alters the progression of the shock by changing the air volume itself. So, they’re a bit different on different types of shock. So, on Rockshox for example, they are called bottomless rings. And they’re simply these red rubber bands. And they go on the outside of the shock, under the air sleeve. On the Fox X2, and some
of the more modern shocks, it’s a very similar system, except they’re not rubberized. These are actually plastic
and they clip together, around the shock. On more conventional Fox shocks, like the Float series,
you get these spacers that go inside, much like
in the suspension forks that we showed you in the previous video. So, with your correct
sag setup on the bike, go out for a ride, move your O-ring up, and see how much travel you’re using, and also ask yourself a few questions. Do you use all the travel? And how about how often do you use it? Is it too often? Does the backend feel a bit harsh? Or does it feel insensitive
to the small bumps? Does your bike feel a bit
wallowy in the mid stroke? Adding volume spacers can change the feel of the shock quite dramatically. So, the initial part of the travel can feel a lot softer and more supple. So, the bike will feel really
good on the small bumps, and give you a lot more
grip on the back wheel. It also ramps up significantly towards the end of the stroke, but there’s also something
else that happens that’s really good, is the bike can sit up a little bit more in the mid stroke. So, if your bike does feel a bit wallowy, it can help address that. And also, if you strike your pedals a lot when you’re climbing technical climbs, it can just help resist that. It can keep the bike up a tiny bit, just when you’re climbing, and you’re really sort of
weighting the rear end. Okay, first up is the
Rockshox Monarch shock. So it’s exactly the same process for all the Rockshox shocks. We’re talking the Monarch Plus, Debonairs, all of those. So, firstly, you’re gonna need a shock. I’ve taken it off the bike, just for ease of explanation here, but you can do this on
the bike quite easily. Although you probably don’t want to do it at the side of the trail, so you don’t get mud and stuff involved. Secondly, we need a shock pump. Thirdly, you need a fine pick, or at worst you can do
this with a screwdriver. You just have to be careful
not to scratch the shock. Of course you’re gonna
need some bottomless rings. Get those in packs from your
nearest Rockshox dealer. And a bit of suspension grease. And one more additional thing that can make this process easy for any of the shocks, is
one of these little fellows. Especially a rubber grip. So, they’re commonly used in car mechanics and stuff to change the oil filters. And it’s just like a third hand, so, sometimes you need
to twist the air sleeve, and even with rubber gloves on, they can be a bit oily
still, despite cleaning them. And it’s just a way of
gripping the can basically, and just removing it without damaging it. So, they’re quite good, although this one is quite excessive in its size. So, first up, remove your air cap. Attach a shock pump to the shock, and just note the pressure
you’ve got in there. You’re gonna want to use that pressure when you build the shock back up again, so it’s just useful for
reference to know that. Okay, so with the air out of the shock, the first thing you need to do, is remove this O-ring seal, that’s just on the
outside of the can here. So this is where the pick comes in handy. These are good because you can get in without damaging the O-ring itself. Just pull it behind there, and just use it to pull it
down and out of the way. And, remove this. Put it to one side. And you’ll want to give this a clean before you put it back on afterwards. Next up, simply take the air can, and pull it down and off the shock. And there we go. As you can see, there’s
one band on here already. I’m gonna put two more on, just to show you the process. Make sure you don’t cover
up the air port at the end. Otherwise, it’s not gonna work very well. So simply take a couple of bands, stretch them over, and line them up next to the one that’s already in place. Now depending on your model of shock, and the size of your shock, and the amount of travel your bike has, there’s gonna be limitations
on how many bands you can fit into a particular shock. So just check on the Rockshox website. They have a recommendation chart there, just to tell you what the
maximum is you can fit. As explained, I’ve got
three bands on mine. So it’s nearly time to
put the can back on. I’m just gonna wipe it with, the inside of it, just with a bit of suspension grease, just to make sure that, I’m just gonna
wipe the outside here, just to help the sleeve slide over, and make sure there’s a good seal. And you simply get the sleeve. Slide it back on carefully, until it clicks into place like that. And it’s time to get that O-ring back on, and slide it back into place. It really is that simple. Then, all you need to do
with the Rockshox unit is reinflate the shock to
your preferred pressure. If you’ve taken it off the bike, reinstall it on your bike, and go and hit the trails. Something to bear in mind, with any of these shocks you’re doing, is you’re not gonna get
this right first time. So, try a couple of bands. Go out and try it. Use your O-ring on the shock shaft, just to monitor how much
travel you’re using. If you feel it’s about right, and you’re only using
the end of the stroke on the bigger sort of impacts, so flat landings, then you’re pretty much in the right ballpark. Okay, so next up I’m
gonna use a Fox Float X. So, this is not the Evolve sleeve, so it’s not the newest one, but it’s quite likely a lot of you still got this shock on your bikes. So first up you wanna
remove your air dustcap. Put that somewhere safe. Then you wanna attach the
shock pump to the valve. And then just note what air
pressure is inside there. You’ll want that later on. Just gets you back on
the trails a bit quicker. Okay, remove your shock pump. Now, unlike the Rockshox version, where you simply slid the sleeve off, on this one, on the Fox shock, you actually need to
unscrew the main sleeve. So it can be quite tricky, if it’s greasy or if
it’s been done up tight in the first place. So, that is where tools like this, that are a non-destructive tool is actually okay to use on this, would come in handy. I’m just gonna see if i can
do this by hand, and I can. I can feel it undoing. And simply unscrew this all the way. And you’ll feel resistance will change when the thread is fully undone. And you just wanna slide it down, so just be careful as you slide it off. So it will be a slight bit of air pressure just keeping it on. And then slide it all the way off. There we go. So that is off your shock there. It’s also worth cleaning
the outer sleeve as well. Just make sure the threads are
all good and in tact there. Run a rag through the inside of there. And just give the seal a nice clean. If your seal happens
to be damaged on these, get some advice from your local Fox suspension service centre. Or, if you can do it
yourself, replace the seal. Unlike the fork system,
or the other shock system with the bands, you can only
fit one of these at a time. So you have to make your choice between a slightly smaller one, a tiny one, or the bigger ones. So in this case, it’s actually
got a bigger one inside. I’m just gonna remove this, to show you how to do that, and then just reinstall it. Now, using the pick, I’m just gonna move this O-ring up
that’s on the shaft here. Be careful not to damage the shaft. And then there’s a flat
washer plate just sat inside. So you wanna slide that up as well. And that exposes the access to the volume spacer itself. A little bit fiddly when
they’re covered in oil like this one is. And there we go. You slide that off the shaft. So now I’ve selected the
bigger volume spacer there. Just gonna click this over the main shaft, with the bigger end facing
the outside of the shock. And then you just have to
clip it over the bottom here, and put it into place. There we go. And it’s a case of pushing
the washer back in place. Get an O-ring that holds it all together. Just push that back down the shaft there, and hold that in place there. Now it’s a good idea, while
you’ve got the shock open, because this is actually
the inside of the shock, give this a good wipe down with some isopropyl alcohol. Give it a clean. And then just put a few drops of the Fox Float fluid on the O-ring here, and just on the shaft on the inside. Don’t put too much in there, because it interferes with the shock. I’m also gonna put some fluid just on the thread of
the air sleeve as well, just to make sure that a.)
it screws back together well, and b.) it helps form
a bit of a seal there. So it’s a case of just locating
the sleeve over the shock. Be careful as you push it on, you don’t want to damage the
wiper seal at the end there. And then just push it back up the shaft. There will be some natural
resistance to this. And then you wanna just
locate the threads. And simply thread it up tight. Again, my hands are quite oily here, so those rubber straps are quite good for this sort of thing, but you don’t need to overtighten it. Give it a good wipe. Take note of the air pressure from before, and reinflate your shock. Okay, so now we’re gonna
take a loot at the Fox X2. So originally this was introduced as a downhill sort of like a freeride, long travel-based shock. But you’re actually seeing this creep in on quite a lot of bikes
with less travel now. This is such a good shock with a lot of control damping. The thing that’s really smart about the Fox system, is you’ve got these little orange bands, and they just locate, and
they can snap together. And the reason they’ve done that, is it means you can do this with a shock on the bike, and you don’t have to undo the shock mount box to
slide anything over. You just clip them either side. So you’ve released the air from the shock, and next stage is to take
off the outer air sleeve from the shock. Now, if you’ve got an
older version of an X2, this is the point where
you can pretty much just unlock it and slide it off. But if it’s one of the vaguely newer ones, there’s a tiny little 1.5
mil Allen key bolt there. And, the bolt there is literally just to stop it accidentally coming undone. So, make sure you use a good
quality Allen key for that, because it’s a very easy bolt to damage. So I’ve just taken the
sleeve off, laying that down. So you can see here that there’s one air volume band already on. And you’ll also notice there’s a red band held on by two O-rings. Do not remove this. This is to stop you
putting on too many bands, which can damage the shock. Okay, so just make sure
that you keep that in mind. So, all you wanna do is just instal the amount of volume bands
on here that you want. I’m just gonna put two on
for arguments sake here. Clip these in place. And I’m basically ready to slide back on. Just like with the other Fox shock, just gonna put a few dabs of
the oil all the way around. This is a box fresh shock, so
I don’t need to clean this. But, if it was your shock at home, I would recommend just
making sure it’s all clean, and visually inspecting the O-rings, and anything that could be damaged. You wanna slide the outer
sleeve back on again then, until it sort of locates into position. So now it’s a case of you just gotta slide it back into place. You’ll feel where there’s
a natural sort of place where it just clicks in. So, just give that a push, and you’ll find it
clicks into place there. Then, you just want to twist the sleeve, so the 1.5 mil Allen key, sort of retaining bolt there can just be put into place
to keep the sleeve in there. Once that’s done, it’s a case of returning the air
back to the main air can, putting it back on your bike, and going to hit the trails. Hopefully this video on
air volume adjustment for shocks has been helpful for you. If you wanna find out how
to do the exact same thing with forks, click right down here. And if you wanna find out how to do a fork lower leg
service, click over here. Don’t forget to click on the globe in the middle here to subscribe. Brand new video every single day. And of course, if the
video’s been helpful for you, give us a thumbs up.