Mountain bike suspension is an innovation that provides a cushioned ride by suspending the rider and bicycle, insulating them from the road terrain. It is usually split into two conversations, front suspension and rear suspension.
Front Suspension: when talking about the front suspension, it’s usually referencing the front fork. Suspension forks utilize an internal spring and damper to suspend the rider and bike. Suspension forks are highly sophisticated pieces of equipment and earn their high costs. The better ones are adjustable. They are designed for a specific riding style, such as Downhill, Enduro, Fatbike, Freebike, and XC. What makes one better suited for a specific riding style are:
Amount of Travel
Rear Suspension: a shock absorber is built into a frame design, where the rear triangle supporting the rear wheel is allowed to articulate. There are alot of variations on spring placement, which makes for cool and interesting bike frame designs. There are alot of different designs for a rear suspension, with too many to list here, but in general they can be placed into two primary types:
Single Pivot: this design uses a single point to pivot the rear of the bicycle. Typically the pivot point is where the rear triangle framing attaches to the bottom bracket.
Split Pivot: this design uses two or more pivot points.
Rear Suspension Shock: all rear suspensions use a shock. Just because a builder designed a frame design to use a specific rear shock, doesn’t mean you’re dedicated to using only that shock. In fact, there are a lot of aftermarket shocks you can use to upgrade your ride and change some of the riding characteristics of your rear suspension.
We’ve gathered some of our favorite fork and frame builders below, with many of them American made.