A lot of riders we encounter on the trails have poorly setup suspension. The first and most important thing to get right is your sag.
‘Sag’ is how much your fork/bike sinks into its travel just by having your body weight on it ie. with both feet off the ground.
Too much sag (suspension to soft) and you’ll be bottoming out the suspension too often, having a dive-prone fork and generally a wallowy handling bike. You’ll also be clipping pedals more often too.
Too little sag (suspension too hard) and there’ll be less grip available and your bike won’t be using its suspension travel appropriately.
A quick rundown of how to set your sag
Turn any compression (or platform) damping to its minimum setting.
Push your suspension’s rubber O-rings all the way down to the seals.
Stand on your bike in the ‘attack’ position ie. stood up and over the front of your bike.
The next bit is tricky as it requires you to balance both-feet-up on your bike. Do it next to a wall or tree that you can lean lightly against if you’re struggling to balance. Don’t lean too heavily on the wall/tree as it will stop your true weight from compressing the suspension.
Bounce about on the bike to break any stiction on your suspension units. Let the bike settle. Re-set the O-rings to where the suspension seals sag tup to.
Dismount your bike CAREFULLY so as not to disturb where the O-rings settled. Again, can be tricky. Don’t be afraid to start all over again if you think you’ve made a mistake.
For fork sag you should be aiming for 25% sag. So a 140mm travel fork should have 35mm of sag.
For rear shocks you can go anywhere within 25-30% depending how you like it to feel and the particular design of your rear suspension. 30% sag for a plusher and lower-slung ride. 25% sag for a firmer, punchy feeling ride.
Once you’re happy with your sags, dial back in your compression (or platform) damping.