It definitely helps on rocky terrain if you are a tall rider and you can just extend your telescope legs in order to lift your bike over some rocks. For me that was never an option so I had to rely totally on my riding skills and my suspension. So basically it all boiled down to suspension ;-). Here is what you can do:
The faster you ride rocks the more damping you need to handle the impacts. Suspension needs to absorb many hits riding in rocky terrain.
It must stay active and work as high as possible in the stroke in order to absorb successfully without throwing you off course. The softer you make the suspension the deeper the suspension goes and there it cannot absorb properly due to the high progression of the suspension when working too deep or too low in the stroke.
Springs that are too soft for the rider never keep the bike high enough
in the suspension travel and cause big problems over rocks. Springs are
also mostly linear in nature and a soft spring stays a soft spring no
matter how much you jack the bike up by adding preload. If you weigh
more than 85-88kg you should consider changing spring rate.
Make sure the bike is balanced
Springs and damping should match front and rear so the level of the bike stays correct and does not favor a forward or backward tilt. An unbalanced bike cannot track correctly in rocky terrain. This is why changing spring front AND rear is important. The same goes with damping changes. Just doing front or rear is not advisable because the bike balance will be out.
..to avoid unwanted geometry changes. If brave try rebound 3 clicks open
from standard to improve reactivity over rocks. MX bikes need valving to
handle rocks as they are over damped. If you modify the damping on a MX
bike get it done carefully by someone with experience or you may end up
with a disaster. (click adjusters)
You can lower the bike either by cutting the seat or by internal modifications of fork and
shock. Lowering is specialized and involved. It is seldom done correctly
so be careful who attempts it. Lowering properly can be a huge
advantage on rocks. Pulling forks through and running too much rear sag
is not a solution as the geometry of the bike will change and once again
the shock will work too deep in the stroke. Rather get the bike lowered
If on a budget service front rather than rear. Change fork bushes no matter how new they are – change them! Never use aftermarket fork seals, they are not good friction wise and there is a reason why genuine may cost a little more.
You will find the information about standard clicks in your manual. Rider and static sag must be in the right range.
That is something you can even do at the check or service points if you have time to prevent friction build up. If you are not sure how to do that read the article on how to lubricate seals.
With that you should have a pretty smooth ride on rocky terrain. The rest is up to you!
The Dirt Bike Garage Manual
HOW TO GUIDE for "do it yourself" riders