When it comes to comfort, traction, and ride stability, rebound can have a massive impact on it. Getting your rebound set right can be tricky sometimes so the best way to set it correctly is to actually understand what it’s doing.
So what exactly is rebound damping? Rebound damping refers to the movement of the suspension as it returns back to its relaxed position (after compression). As the shock or fork compresses and the spring will store a certain amount of that energy. On the backside of the impact, that stored energy within the spring wants to release and push the tire down towards the ground in an uncontrolled way. Damping is changing that stored kinetic energy into heat. This is one of the reasons why your fork or shock heats up while you are riding.
How do changes in rebound affect performance?
The more rebound (slower rebound) damping you have , the more the flow of oil is being “choked”. Therefore the return speed of the wheel to the ground is decreased. The less rebound (faster rebound) damping you have, the oil flow is less restricted and therefore the return speed is increased.
Let’s take a look at a suspension set up with too little rebound (too fast) damping. As you decrease (speed up rebound) the amount of rebound damping, the comfort level will increase and the traction will decrease. When you encounter an impact while riding, the suspension will compress and the energy stored within the spring will want to release on the backside of the hit. Without the proper amount of rebound damping to control that energy release, the wheel will become unweighted and bounce. Resulting in a complete loss of traction.
Check out Mikey Sylvestri in this rough section running his fork a little on the fast side. When entering a section of trail with successive bumps or hits, it’s extremely important that the suspension rebounds evenly. As shown above, his front wheel is about 6 inches off the ground while the rear suspension is tracking the ground. When your bike is reacting to every bump evenly, you are in control.
Mikey Slowed his rebound down 3 clicks and now his bike is tracking the ground evenly. (as shown above)
When testing rebound settings, start from wide open (counter-clockwise) and go in (clockwise) with 3 click increments. Try and be aware of your bike staying evenly balanced over successive hits as you test. Once you find a setting you feel comfortable with write down your settings for future reference.