Rocky Terrain
Get Ready to Rock

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:

General Rock Setup

Super soft suspension is a NoNo on rocks

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.

Correct springs are vital for rocks

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.

Damping should be Enduro specific and clicks run on standard...

..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)

If you are short you can lower the bike a little

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 professionally.

Racing Specifics

Service suspension before your last training ride

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.

Set all clicks on standard and set sag correctly

You will find the information about standard clicks in your manual. Rider and static sag must be in the right range.

Lubricate your fork seals

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!


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