The Tuesday Tune Ep 11 - Adjusting Spring Rate vs Adjusting Compression Damping Posted on 25 Nov 06:30 , 0 comments

This episode of the Tuesday Tune is dedicated to one of the questions we regularly get asked: whether the rider should adjust spring rate or compression damping to achieve a desired effect. This week in the Vorsprung Suspension workshop, we're looking at some of the considerations that determine whether you might want to adjust your spring rate (eg. air pressure or coil spring stiffness) or adjust your compression damping.

A large part of the difficulty in differentiating between the effects of compression damping and spring rate is caused by the fact that the forces generated by the spring are acting in the same direction as the forces generated by the compression damper. As a result, increasing spring stiffness and increasing compression damping both have overlapping effects in that they both make the suspension feel firmer in some way. However, because the spring is an energy storage device, whereas the damper is an energy dissipation device, the way that they generate these forces and the way that affects the feel of the bike vary considerably.

Because of this, increasing compression damping has effects that overlap with the effects of increasing spring rate in some ways (bump harshness, travel usage etc), but also overlap with the effects of decreasing spring rate in other ways (stabilizing/deadening the bike). We take a look at how you can understand these effects so that you can pick the most appropriate adjustment to make when you feel that your suspension isn't quite performing at its maximum potential.

As always, the purpose of this is to explain some concepts, and it is important to realize that every fork and shock has adjustments that behave in slightly different ways, so this is far from a conclusive array of "If XYZ then do ABC" statements. Not all adjusters are effective everywhere in their range of clicks (some adjusters stop doing anything before the dial stops turning), and the variation in damping forces that they can produce can be drastically different from one product to another, as some adjusters offer a broad range of adjustment and others are very much for fine-tuning within a narrow band. In other cases, you may run into limitations with stock air spring curves when running above or below certain air pressures, that cause disproportionately large issues once you firm them up or soften them beyond a certain extent.