I have being trying something on my Yeti’s suspension for awhile now. I haven’t really documented it because i kinda wanted to see if it would work and if it didn’t i wouldn’t have to embarrass myself :p
Fox and many suspension fork recommends a sag setting of 20-30%. Depending on your preference most suspension fork’s will be set around that threshold. My sag is 18mm. 18mm out of a 120mm fork so that is 15%. It is definitely on the low low low side of things but there is a reason why i wanted to try it this way.
Usually i run 30% of sag on all my forks because i value small bump compliance a lot. I feel that small bump compliance is super important because it allows the suspension to ignore many of the smaller trail chatter as you focus on the bigger stuff. I make it a rule to focus on tuning in an acceptable amount of small bump compliance before i even bother with anything else. However i had a thought to try different settings just to mix it up and i think in this case it has paid off. I have always heard that the faster you go the more stiffer of a suspension setup you will need. It made good sense to me because the faster you ran into rocks and stuff the more force you would be generating and hence why the suspension need to be stiffened up.
Usually i have expressed that through a longer rock garden my fork’s felt like it was getting overwhelmed. Checking over my rebound settings and finding it to be fine i decided to give that theory a practical workout. I pumped up the fork a bit and went for a lap of MD straight away to test it all out. To my surprise the small bump compliance didn’t suffer much at all. I mean, it wasn’t as smooth but it was far from shockingly bad. So i got out my shock pump and pumped a little more pressure in. 18mm of sag is what has resulted from me pumping more pressure in and i have ran it at this setting for 1-2 months now and i have to say i like it a lot.
For some reason even at 18mm of sag the fork is still coping with small bump’s fine. Its not as smooth as 30mm of sag but it is definitely more than acceptable. I don’t know if it is just this fork or if it is the kashima or whatever, frankly i dont really care. I am just happy that it feels good. So has the increased pressure helped on the faster/rougher stuff? You bet your ass it has. The fork gets overwhelmed less and it has more travel left for the entirety of the rock garden. A real simple test i did was simply to try a lower pressure on a certain section and then pump the fork up and try the same section again. Check the o-ring on the stanchions and you can get a good gauge of how much travel was used. On the 30% of sag setting i was seeing 110mm out of 120mm of total travel getting used. As soon as i went to 15% of sag i saw that on the same section i was only using 90mm out of 120mm of total travel. It felt noticeably better, more controlled and just generally safer. Mission accomplished.
But that isn’t all. As a side effect of increasing the pressure the front end of the bike has gotten rid of any wallowy feeling it had previously. In certain situations i would feel a lot of wallow in the fork at 30% sag and that was unsettling. You don’t need unnecessary travel at moments where it isn’t beneficial. As an extra bonus the bike also became more predicatable and poppable when lifting the front up. Helps a lot with jumps/lifting the front on ledges and etc.
I am not sure if i can replicate this setup on other bikes or even forks. I might choose to run 15% of sag on other forks and find that the small bump compliance is completely unacceptable but so far on this bike it has seemed to work fine? On top of it all i have realised that once again trying different things is key to finding a setup that works for you. Chances are that you set your shock pressures near the start of your bikes life and has since left it dormant. Sometimes you change your style of riding and at other times you simply ride the bike differently after its initial break in period and you want to make sure you are getting the best for your buck with your ideal set up! Don’t get lazy next time and when you ride by yourself bring a shock pump and just try different settings. The worst you could do is have it running similarly to before! You never know, a simple shock pressure change could be the catalyst to you riding completely differently.