Troubleshooting Suspension Symptoms (Part 2) – Rebound Damping

  • We’ve put together a troubleshooting suspension symptoms guide.

  • A troubleshooting guide is easier to remember and use.

  • We continue with rebound damping as most adjustable suspension systems are fitted with it, rather than compression damping.

We provided a guide on troubleshooting preload adjustment yesterday (click here for the article). Today, we continue with rebound damping (or “TEN” on Japanese suspensions).

What is rebound damping?

To recap, rebound damping controls the rate at which the spring returns to its original length after being compressed. Without rebound damping, the spring will re-extend too quickly, sometimes even further than its starting length. This is what causes oscillations – that wallowing or pogoing (pumping up and down) motion.

Think of rebound damping as a brake when the spring re-extends. The more rebound damping you add, the slower the wheel goes back down, and vice versa.

The rebound damping adjuster is marked as TEN (for tension) on Showa forks
Too little rebound damping (Front)
  • The forks feel exceptionally plush when riding straight up.
  • As the pace picks up, the front starts to feel mushy and you second guess what they tyre is doing (loss of feedback).
  • As you flick the bike into a corner, the front tyre starts to chatter and lose traction. You feel the front as unstable through the handlebar.
  • The bike does not want to stabilize after countersteering it quickly into corners.
Too much rebound damping (Front)
  • The suspension “packs down,” resulting in lack of traction especially on bumpy roads.
  • Ride feels harsh, opposite of too little rebound.
  • The front tries to wiggle or tank slap when accelerating hard out of bumpy corners.
  • Continuous bumps cause the bike to ride loose (loss of compliance).
The rear shock’s rebound damping adjuster is located just underneath the spring
Too little rebound damping (Rear)
  • The ride is extra comfortable when cruising but starts to wallow and weave when encountering bumps.
  • Poor traction over bumps under hard acceleration and the wheel starts to chatter.
  • The rear suspension pumps up and down (pogoing) resulting in the chassis pitching its weight back and forth. This is especially frustrating when you are riding a bike with a short-wheelbase.
Too much rebound damping (Rear)
  • Suspension compliance becomes poor hence feels vague.
  • Traction is poor over bumps under hard acceleration.
  • The bike tends to run wide when gas is added mid-corner as it forces the front tyre to lift.
  • The rear end of the bike hops and skip when the gas is chopped.

Stay tuned for Part 3 when we troubleshoot compression damping.

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