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Suspension Setups

Before you even begin to tackle the tough job of dialing in suspension, you need to know what type of riding you will be doing. Whether its trail, MX, TT, desert, or woods racing, proper suspension will make you faster or allow you to ride longer with out getting tired. After you have decided which type of riding is most important to you, you can start to set up your quad's suspension to best suit you weight, ability, and the terrain.

When setting up your suspension a good place to start are at the A-arms and swing arm. There are lots of good (over priced) aftermarket brands to choose from, but the real decision is what width A-arms and length swing arm do you need. Your probably wondering what wider A-arms do, and do I need? At most racing events there is a set width limit that your quad can be(usually 50''). They measure the quad from out side of your front wheels. In MX, TT, and desert you want to be at the limit, because the wider the front is the less roll you will have, and it also creates more control and stable ride. But if you are riding XC or trails that have trees, you are going to need shorter or stock length A-arms so that your quad will be able to fit between the narrow areas that the trees create.

The swing arm is also a major part in setting up your suspension. A longer swing arm from 1 to 2 inches longer will give you better straight-line stability but will take away traction under acceleration. A shorter swing arm is good for TT racing or hard packed, slick MX track. You would use the longer swing arm if you have plenty of traction and especially if you race desert or off road, where you need straight-line stability.

The wider aftermarket A-arms and a longer swing arm also create a better controlled suspension travel and more adjust ability. When purchasing wider A-arms it will be recommended that you replace your standard shocks to help the performance of your quad. Reason being is the geometry and shock mounting points of the new a-arms will not work with a stock length shock. The A-arm and swing arm manufactures will also recommend the length and travel shocks that are right for you and your quad.


What is Next
First start wit the ride height (sag) of your quad. This measurement is taken on flat ground, with the rider in full gear sitting on the bike in normal position. It is very important that the rider always sits in the in the same spot on the bike while taking the ride height, or each time you check it will be different. Also try to have about the same amount of gas in the tank. Now measure from the ground to the bottom of the frame, either in front or behind the foot pegs. Just make sure you measure it from the same spot every time. To raise the ride height you will need to tighten the spring pre-load adjuster to put more tension on the spring. To lower the ride height you will need to loosen the spring pre-load adjuster.

Most manufactures have different ways to do this. Some have a threaded collar (or large thin nut) that you can twist to increase or decrease pre-load. Some have a whire clip that slides into groves in the shock body. Here you would raise or lower the clip into a groove to make the adjustment. No matter which is used, the job is much easier if the quad is jacked up and the shocks are free of dirt.


Setting the Ride Height
TT racing - 4-6 inches
MX - 6-8 inches
Trail riding - 7-10 inches
Desert - 8-11 inches


If the track or course that you are on is smooth with out big jumps, you want your quad low to the ground, so that the quad can turn well. But when the quad is low it will not take jumps or bumps as well. If the track is rely rough, then raise the quad up so that it can handle those conditions.
There has to be a balance between turning the quad and handling the track. 1 inch of ride height change can make a difference. This is something you need to experiment with. You should bottom lightly at least once each lap on the track or else your not using the full travel of your shock. You don't want to bottom hard though which that will wear out parts faster and you.



Springs
If you are going to use the stock a-arms, swing arms and shocks, the factories typically set a quad up for an average rider who weighs 165lbs and rides a variety of terrain. All quads, every make or model, have different spring rates, because of the different leverage ratios on the shocks. This is because of different sized A-arms on the front, and swing arm lengths also differ greatly.
The spring rate is how strong the resistance is when a spring is compressed. We rate springs in pounds, when a spring is compressed one inch and the force is 300 lbs then the spring is a 300lb spring. A lot of springs are rated in kg/mm (metric). So to convert a 300lb spring into metric you would divide the pound rating by 55.88 or if you want to convert kg/mm (metric) to lbs you would multiply the metric by (55.88=5.4 kg, x 5588=300 pounds.
Spring rate is a very important part in making your quad handle. So by working to achieve the correct ride height measurements, you will find out you need a stiffer or softer spring. If the spring preload is adjustable, you would ultimately like the adjustment mark to end up in a middle position so there is room for adjustment either way.

Multi-Spring Shocks
The stacked springs make a progressive spring rate. All springs get progressively stiffer when compressing through its stroke, but they have a level progression. A progressively wound spring starts off softer and then gets a lot stiffer that a straight rate spring. When using the multi spring stack you can adjust where the progression changes through the stroke. When you use a normal progressive spring, the progression is set and cannot be changed. Also with the multi stack springs you can have crossovers to fine-tune your spring even more. The crossover change the point of progression. Crossovers are the spaces that are stacked on the shock body between the springs to change the bottoming point of the short springs in the spring stack.
Generally when you have a three stacking stack the 2 short springs are softer than the bottom spring. So if you have a 3 spring stack one long spring and 2 short springs, and do not use crossovers, you will have a softer rate. This happens because the short springs are allowed to use their full stroke, which gives you a softer spring rate. The crossovers really help you tune your springs progression. Changing the crossover by 1/8 inch make a big difference. This is also something that you need to experiment with.

What to Look For
Remember that you use the spring's pre-load to set the ride height. Spring preload also stiffens of lightens your spring rate. If you find the ride height you want but keep bottoming you should use a stiffer spring.
But if you use to stiff a spring your quad will not transfer the weight properly and you will lose traction and also have a rough ride. And if you springs are to soft then the bike will have excessive bottoming and to much body rolling (feels like all the weight is on 1 front shock). There is not a perfect setup that will work for everyone. The aftermarket companies that you buy your suspension from will get you in the ball park, but you will still need to tune your quad to best suit you.

Setting the Adjusters
When setting the compression adjuster, remember that this is basically your low speed adjustment. On most of to days shocks the high speed adjustment is only changed internally. The compression adjuster is generally located at the top of the shock or on the reservoir. You want to turn this in as little as possible. The further out, the softer the ride will be and the more traction you will get and the more the wheels will stay on the ground. How ever, to handle constant bumps like desert or rough woods riding, it may be necessary to use a stiffer setting. Never keep the dial all the way in as it may cut off oil flow.
Rebound
Remember the faster you get from one bump to the next, the faster you want to rebound. For example on a flat MX track with the occasional jump, you can go with a slower setting to keep the quad low in the rear for better traction. For a whooped-out road or rough trail, you need quicker rebound to reset the shock for the next compression stroke. If you quad doesn't rebound before the next bump, it wont be using all of its travel. Do this bump after bump and the shock will pack up and the shock will stop moving. Also if you quads shock packs it will kick side to side.

However if you rebound is set to fast it can cause the quad to kick off the face of the first bump it hits. So again this is an area that has to be experimented with every time you change terrain you ride in.

Experiment
So with any suspension changes you will have to spend time adjusting all of the components of the shock to get the right balance for your riding ability and terrain..
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Glad ya enjoyed it CRazy and hope it helps people out. I havent been on here for a while but i'll try to get more handy tips
 

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Suspension Setups

Before you even begin to tackle the tough job of dialing in suspension, you need to know what type of riding you will be doing. Whether its trail, MX, TT, desert, or woods racing, proper suspension will make you faster or allow you to ride longer with out getting tired. After you have decided which type of riding is most important to you, you can start to set up your quad's suspension to best suit you weight, ability, and the terrain.

When setting up your suspension a good place to start are at the A-arms and swing arm. There are lots of good (over priced) aftermarket brands to choose from, but the real decision is what width A-arms and length swing arm do you need. Your probably wondering what wider A-arms do, and do I need? At most racing events there is a set width limit that your quad can be(usually 50''). They measure the quad from out side of your front wheels. In MX, TT, and desert you want to be at the limit, because the wider the front is the less roll you will have, and it also creates more control and stable ride. But if you are riding XC or trails that have trees, you are going to need shorter or stock length A-arms so that your quad will be able to fit between the narrow areas that the trees create.

The swing arm is also a major part in setting up your suspension. A longer swing arm from 1 to 2 inches longer will give you better straight-line stability but will take away traction under acceleration. A shorter swing arm is good for TT racing or hard packed, slick MX track. You would use the longer swing arm if you have plenty of traction and especially if you race desert or off road, where you need straight-line stability.

The wider aftermarket A-arms and a longer swing arm also create a better controlled suspension travel and more adjust ability. When purchasing wider A-arms it will be recommended that you replace your standard shocks to help the performance of your quad. Reason being is the geometry and shock mounting points of the new a-arms will not work with a stock length shock. The A-arm and swing arm manufactures will also recommend the length and travel shocks that are right for you and your quad.


What is Next
First start wit the ride height (sag) of your quad. This measurement is taken on flat ground, with the rider in full gear sitting on the bike in normal position. It is very important that the rider always sits in the in the same spot on the bike while taking the ride height, or each time you check it will be different. Also try to have about the same amount of gas in the tank. Now measure from the ground to the bottom of the frame, either in front or behind the foot pegs. Just make sure you measure it from the same spot every time. To raise the ride height you will need to tighten the spring pre-load adjuster to put more tension on the spring. To lower the ride height you will need to loosen the spring pre-load adjuster.

Most manufactures have different ways to do this. Some have a threaded collar (or large thin nut) that you can twist to increase or decrease pre-load. Some have a whire clip that slides into groves in the shock body. Here you would raise or lower the clip into a groove to make the adjustment. No matter which is used, the job is much easier if the quad is jacked up and the shocks are free of dirt.


Setting the Ride Height
TT racing - 4-6 inches
MX - 6-8 inches
Trail riding - 7-10 inches
Desert - 8-11 inches


If the track or course that you are on is smooth with out big jumps, you want your quad low to the ground, so that the quad can turn well. But when the quad is low it will not take jumps or bumps as well. If the track is rely rough, then raise the quad up so that it can handle those conditions.
There has to be a balance between turning the quad and handling the track. 1 inch of ride height change can make a difference. This is something you need to experiment with. You should bottom lightly at least once each lap on the track or else your not using the full travel of your shock. You don't want to bottom hard though which that will wear out parts faster and you.



Springs
If you are going to use the stock a-arms, swing arms and shocks, the factories typically set a quad up for an average rider who weighs 165lbs and rides a variety of terrain. All quads, every make or model, have different spring rates, because of the different leverage ratios on the shocks. This is because of different sized A-arms on the front, and swing arm lengths also differ greatly.
The spring rate is how strong the resistance is when a spring is compressed. We rate springs in pounds, when a spring is compressed one inch and the force is 300 lbs then the spring is a 300lb spring. A lot of springs are rated in kg/mm (metric). So to convert a 300lb spring into metric you would divide the pound rating by 55.88 or if you want to convert kg/mm (metric) to lbs you would multiply the metric by (55.88=5.4 kg, x 5588=300 pounds.
Spring rate is a very important part in making your quad handle. So by working to achieve the correct ride height measurements, you will find out you need a stiffer or softer spring. If the spring preload is adjustable, you would ultimately like the adjustment mark to end up in a middle position so there is room for adjustment either way.

Multi-Spring Shocks
The stacked springs make a progressive spring rate. All springs get progressively stiffer when compressing through its stroke, but they have a level progression. A progressively wound spring starts off softer and then gets a lot stiffer that a straight rate spring. When using the multi spring stack you can adjust where the progression changes through the stroke. When you use a normal progressive spring, the progression is set and cannot be changed. Also with the multi stack springs you can have crossovers to fine-tune your spring even more. The crossover change the point of progression. Crossovers are the spaces that are stacked on the shock body between the springs to change the bottoming point of the short springs in the spring stack.
Generally when you have a three stacking stack the 2 short springs are softer than the bottom spring. So if you have a 3 spring stack one long spring and 2 short springs, and do not use crossovers, you will have a softer rate. This happens because the short springs are allowed to use their full stroke, which gives you a softer spring rate. The crossovers really help you tune your springs progression. Changing the crossover by 1/8 inch make a big difference. This is also something that you need to experiment with.

What to Look For
Remember that you use the spring's pre-load to set the ride height. Spring preload also stiffens of lightens your spring rate. If you find the ride height you want but keep bottoming you should use a stiffer spring.
But if you use to stiff a spring your quad will not transfer the weight properly and you will lose traction and also have a rough ride. And if you springs are to soft then the bike will have excessive bottoming and to much body rolling (feels like all the weight is on 1 front shock). There is not a perfect setup that will work for everyone. The aftermarket companies that you buy your suspension from will get you in the ball park, but you will still need to tune your quad to best suit you.

Setting the Adjusters
When setting the compression adjuster, remember that this is basically your low speed adjustment. On most of to days shocks the high speed adjustment is only changed internally. The compression adjuster is generally located at the top of the shock or on the reservoir. You want to turn this in as little as possible. The further out, the softer the ride will be and the more traction you will get and the more the wheels will stay on the ground. How ever, to handle constant bumps like desert or rough woods riding, it may be necessary to use a stiffer setting. Never keep the dial all the way in as it may cut off oil flow.
Rebound
Remember the faster you get from one bump to the next, the faster you want to rebound. For example on a flat MX track with the occasional jump, you can go with a slower setting to keep the quad low in the rear for better traction. For a whooped-out road or rough trail, you need quicker rebound to reset the shock for the next compression stroke. If you quad doesn't rebound before the next bump, it wont be using all of its travel. Do this bump after bump and the shock will pack up and the shock will stop moving. Also if you quads shock packs it will kick side to side.

However if you rebound is set to fast it can cause the quad to kick off the face of the first bump it hits. So again this is an area that has to be experimented with every time you change terrain you ride in.

Experiment
So with any suspension changes you will have to spend time adjusting all of the components of the shock to get the right balance for your riding ability and terrain..
Nice Thread!! Have you had any experience working with the factory Can Am mx shocks, a-arms, and axles. I just put my 16 yr old son on an 08 450x with the stage 1 kit & factory long travel suspension. The bike is nice and handles well (the kid has placed 2nd and 3rd in two out of three races), but I believe the bike will do better if I can get it dialed in. I've made some adjustments with the stock springs, compression, and rebound, but have yet to get the full potential out of the machine. My son is racing the Whiplash series in AZ that is a mix of desert racing and mx. He is 6'4" and weighs about 170 when fully geared up. Any thoughts, suggestions, or experience with the stock setup would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
 

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Great post Xrider77.

But I have a couple questions... Why do you measure ride height between the skid plate and ground VS swag like a dirt bike? And do you need to factor in the tire size when setting ride height?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
As far as getting the shocks dialed in first set your ride height. The best place to check that would be at the bottom of footpegs, and about 22-25 inches in front of that. As far as the tires go, your ride height should be set at what tires you are going to be racing with (tire sizes) that is. It is gonna be a little trickier getting it to squat exactly where you wanna get it squatting with out at least a re spring.

I'm 175 all geared up and I've got the rear preload backed nearly all the way off. I'm about 3 turns from the very top. The fronts are good to get, but the rear needs a little bit of playing around with.

If your noticing excessive rolling in the corners that is because of the soft springs that come from the factoy, A slightly stiffer set of springs can help that, and A revalve will make it Sweet!
 

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Xrider,

Again your imputs are very helpful. We are running 21" front & 20" rear Maxxis Razr 2's on the bike. From what I gathered from your posting we should be looking for a ride height of around 8 inches on the MX equipped bike. With the Razr tires would that change to a 8-10 inch ride height? Once I move forward of the foot pegs should I still be looking for the 8 inch ride height or should it be slightly higher in the front?

Your comment on the rear shock was interesting. When we installed the mx shock on the bike, I set the pre-load to the specifications listed in the installation package. That setting lifted the rear to max extension and was hard as a rock. I immediately took it back off and re-set the preload about a 1/2 from the top. That made the bike feel decent and perhapse a few more turns toward the top will help make the bike even smoother.

In the Whiplash Racing series, they run several different couses including ones in Page, AZ, and at the Cinders in Flagstaff, AZ. These two races have more whoops than I've ever seen in my life. The ones in Page were just plain jagged and evil!!!!! With that said, getting the bike softened up to where the kid can just survive for two hours is in itself a victory; however, the kid and I both want to be competetive so getting these shocks dialed in is priority one.

As for body roll, have you found any adjustment settings with the high and/or low speed compression that tend to work? With a re-valve, do you happen to know what valve setting are giving the best results. I am very fortunate in that I can get the shocks re-valved at a very reasonable price. I just need to make sure that it's necessary before I move in that direction.

Your assistance is greatly appreciated!
 

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Can someone make this a sticky?? Please!!!!
 

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:) Thank you!!!!
 

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what aftermarket a arms can i run with my stock shocks, because i sent my shocks to rocket ron and he said if its half and inch then it will be fine it will just lower the quad some, let me know plz
 

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When measuring the ride height at the pegs, is that the distance from the pegs to the ground? Or the distance from the frame in the center of the quad to the ground (at the centerline of the pegs)? And, measuring the shocks at the front with the front off the ground, is the stock length of 12.8in, on the XMX model, the length of both springs? Or just the bottom/main spring? Thanks
 

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I used the frame right in front of the pegs. I also checked at the front of the frame for a level stance. It's just what I did. But I would measure from the frame at all times and mark the frame where you measure so you measure at the same place each time.
 

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awesome, great info and helps us newer guys getting started, thank you.
 

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I rode on some rough bumpy sand this weekend and I wondered if adjusting it to a softer setting would help smooth it out or not? I read in the manual there is a spring adjustment and a shock adjustment. So any advice as to what to try in setting both? My handle bars were rocking back and forth and I just couldnt ride at the speed I wanted. Any speed really was extremely bumpy. I hope an adjustment will help but not sure which way to adjust or how much???
 

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Leave the springs alone if you like them that way for normal riding and the height you want. Once they are set, what did was set the valving upper and lower at factory which is about the middle. Then I softened up the bottom adjustment till it felt good, one click at a time. then I fine tuned the upper, by going softer also one click at a time. You will find your happy spot fairly quick in choppy sand. The adjustments are most noticable than what you would think.

My dune settings are
Front top 13 click from hard
bottom 6 click from hard

Rear top 5 click from soft
bottom 16 click from soft

I go around 250 with gear and 6'3". I also like a softer ride in the dunes kind of like floating on glass.
 

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I picked up a set of xmx shocks and need a starting point for tuning, can someone give me the factory set adjustments for compression and preload? Thanks! Also can someone give me alittle input on high and low speed compression and what is what. Like is a jump and braking bumps high speed and the face of the jump and rollers low speed? Thanks
 

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For stock Can-Am DS450 (Shock settings) and other Can-Am ATVs, you can check out the BRP operators guides here:

BRP -- Operator's Guides

Hope it helps!

-Justin
 

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Taken from Fox Shocks site. Dual Speed Compression setup is same theory on any shock. Pretty straight forward. Hope this helps.

DSC (Dual Speed Compression)

HSC Adjustment Range
The High Speed Compression (HSC) adjuster mainly affects compression damping during medium to fast suspension movements such as steep jump faces, harsh flat landings and aggressive whoops. The goal is to run as little high-speed compression damping as possible without bottoming.

« Back
The Low Speed Compression (LSC) adjuster primarily affects compression damping during slow suspension movements such as G-outs or smooth jump landings. It also affects wheel traction and the harshness or plushness of the vehicle (note that low-speed has nothing to do with the speed of the vehicle). Choose an LSC setting that gives good body control without causing excessive harshness or loss of traction.
 
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