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Suspension Adjuster Basics

Most Off-road motorcycles have external adjusters on their forks and shocks. These adjusters adjust the amount of hydraulic load that will be applied to the particular valving stack. They DO NOT adjust the sensitivity or the valving itself.

They simply adjust the amount of oil that BYPASSES that particular valving stack.


     Most of this "BYPASSING" happens at low suspension speeds. Therefore the adjusters or "clickers" adjust the low speed characteristics of the suspension more than anything else.

They do effect the high speed characteristics to a small extent, but that is what the suspension's INTERNAL VALVING does.

Your clickers work almost like an air screw, or a fuel screw on a carburetor.

Internal suspension valving works similar to internal carburetor jetting.


     The clickers actually "click" slightly when you turn them. They click so that you can more acurately adjust them. They are usually set from "clicks out from seated". This means that you turn the adjuster IN, while counting the number of "clicks", until the the adjuster seats LIGHTLY! This would be the clicker position, or the "clicks out".

If your adjuster is set at 10 clicks out, then 8 clicks out would be stiffer, and 12 clicks out would be softer.

     Some adjusters don't "click", but they function exactly the same. This adjuster's position would be counted in "1/4 turn increments out from lightly seated".


     Contrary to popular belief, in order to adjust the suspension's "high speed impact" characteristics (like bottoming in the whoops), internal valving modifications are required,



Example: If your 4 stroke obviously has a main jet that flows too much fuel, turning in the fuel screw to compensate would do nothing but create other problems!


     There is usually a minimum of 4 external adjusters.




     The shock has a LOW SPEED REBOUND/COMPRESSION ADJUSTER and a LOW SPEED COMPRESSION ADJUSTER. Some shocks have a HIGH SPEED COMPRESSION ADJUSTER as well,  this adjusts the amount of BLEED at high speed compression, not the valving.


     Most kayaba, WP, and some showa forks (example 2002 KX250, 2002 250SX, or some early/mid 90's CR's) have the rebound adjuster on the top of the forks, and the compression adjuster on the bottom.

Most kayaba, WP, and showa shocks have their compression adjuster(s) at the top of the shock, and the compression/rebound adjuster on the bottom of the shock.


     Twin-chamber forks (example 2002 CR250, 2005 YZ250/KX250) have the rebound adjuster on the BOTTOM of the forks, and the compression adjuster on the TOP.


     A good tuner can diagnose basic internal valving problems with the external adjusters.