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Adjusting ATV Suspension

Adjusting ATV Suspension

When you take an all-terrain vehicle out for a ride, it should be a lot of fun from start to finish. Part of the fun factor is a result of how the ATV handles, and this is where the suspension comes in to make the ride enjoyable. If you find your ride isn't giving you the same smoothness, there may be an issue with the suspension. These insights on adjusting ATV suspension will help remedy this concern so you can enjoy the next ride without worry.

Suspension Types

Before we look at adjusting ATV suspension, it is important to know which type your ride has so you don't waste your time since only certain types are capable of being adjusted. Here are the three main types on the market:

Standard Shocks: These shocks are typically on smaller ATVs such as youth models or any that are aimed at being compact, cost-efficient options. Since they are standard shocks, they are not adjustable and usually rely on the springs to produce the action of the suspension which absorbs the impacts and shocks from bumps. If you have this type of shock, you will not be able to adjust them at all.

Pre-load Shocks: Typically found on most ATVs for both utility and sport models, this pre-load option comes in two types. The first type allows for the use of up to five pre-determined settings you can adjust as needed while the second type uses a threaded lock ring mechanism, but both are capable of being adjusted.

Piggyback Reservoir: This is a fully adjustable, more advanced suspension found in newer models of sport ATVs. It features the ability to completely customize the suspension in terms of compression, rebound, and threaded pre-load controls.

Adjusting Suspension

Free Sag

The first thing you need to know when adjusting ATV suspension is the proper free sag. The free sag is a measurement indicating how much free sag or how much static sag the suspension experiences and relates to ride height in both the front and rear suspension. To check this in the front suspension, you will need a friend to lift the front end of the ATV until the A-arms are fully extended but make sure the tires are still touching the ground. From there, you will take a measurement from the floor to a chosen center point on the ATVs frame near the front. This measurement is called the unloaded measurement. Next, put the ATV back on the ground fully and bounce the front suspension allowing it to settle on its own. Once the ATV has settled, measure the same point on the frame down to the ground. From here, you will need to subtract the second measurement from the first measurement to get the free sag value your suspension should be at on the ATV. The ideal figure should come out to be roughly 10 percent of the ATV's total suspension travel.

For the rear suspension, you will need to lift at the grab bar until the suspension is unloaded with the tires touching the ground and then measure from the grab bar to a selected point on the swingarm. You will then drop the ATV back to the ground and allow the bounce in the suspension to settle just like you did for the front suspension. You will then repeat the process of subtracting the second number from the first to get the figure to within 10 percent of the suspension travel.

Other Matters

Aside from adjusting the sag on the ATV, there may be other controls to check, especially if your ATV has piggyback fully adjustable reservoir suspension. For instance, you may be able to adjust matters such as preload, compression, and rebound. The preload can be adjusted to change the length of the shock to align with body weight for a more customized ride. The compression controls how hard or easy it is for the ATV shocks to squeeze together when you ride over a bump. The rebound controls how quickly the shock returns to its original position after being compressed. It is important to note that not all ATVs have these controls. If your ATV does have these controls, it is best to check with the specific guidelines of your owner's manual to make any desired adjustments to these areas.