Mountain Bike Setup: Rebound

What is rebound?

An important step in your mountain bike setup is to get the rebound right. Rebound literally means to spring back or to return to original position. It is that part of the damping that controls the extending movement. Normally you will have a little red turning knob on your MTB to set the rebound. When the rebound is too slow you turn the knob in (clockwise). If it is too fast you turn it out (counter-clockwise).

Shock rebound

How does it feel on the trail?

Too much rebound damping leaves a fork/shock feeling “dead”, and unable to fully extend between hits – meaning a string of small impacts can lead to it “packing down” and bottoming out. You might experience the fork of diving down during fast corners. Over steer could also one of the problems.

At the other end of the spectrum, too little damping allows either end to ping violently from roots/edges, reducing grip. It feels hard to hold on over rocky sections. You might also notice that the bike is very bouncy while pedaling.

Find the golden middle

There is no exact way of setting the rebound other than feeling what is right. As a rule of thumb: you want as little as possible and as much as necessary. But to be on the safe side - rather have too much than too little rebound.

A simple test

A simple effective test for a basic setting is to slowly ride off a kerb. The bike should move up and down as little as possible but with good comfort and no negative feedback to the rider. It shouldn’t have a totally heavy dead type of feeling but also must not have a bobbing or bounce feeling once you have dropped off the step. To get the feeling for the rebound you might want to close it totally and then open it fully and test the kerb with each setting. Don’t forget to write down your original setting.

If the bike bounces it needs more rebound. Increase the rebound one click at a time until the landing is a well-controlled splat with no intrusive bounce. If the drop feels harsh, decrease the rebound. Play with the adjuster till you get the feeling that the bike is planted.


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