Shawn Snyder’s Tech Tips...“Suspension”
What all fits under the suspension category? A lot, the list of parts and topics seem endless. The first thing that comes to mind
is setting up your quads geometry. The geometry depends a lot on the riding you are doing, for instance, motocross, flat track
or XC. Every type of riding requires a different geometry or dimensions of the ATV.
A good place to start is with tires and wheels. When choosing tires, keep in mind the ride height you want to achieve, the com-
pound and tread. Once you have determined your best tire and wheel combination, its time to get in touch with an a-arm manu-
facturer and get the right front end an shock setup for the type of racing you enjoy. Ride height is considered the distance from
your bottom frame rails to the ground. This is different with every type of ATV racing. Your ride height is altered by changing
the preload on the springs or by changing the weight of the spring. The ride height should always be checked on a flat surface
and with the rider on the bike. I take my measurement from the rear of the frame near the foot pegs and measure from the floor
to the bottom of the frame.
You also need to keep in mind caster, camber, and the geometry you want to run for your application. In motocross, you want
to keep the center line of the four wheels equal or square. In other racing, you may want to run rectangular. For instance, if you
are drag racing you need a longer swing arm to help transfer weight to the rear wheels which allows them to hook up better.
Once you have decided what dimensions you want to run; you can look for the A arms, swing arm and axle. Some axles are
adjustable in width. This is good for the consumer so you can adjust the axle for what you are doing. You can also change your
rim offset, but I don’t recommend this. When you change your front wheel offset, you change the inclination of the tires axis.
This can put more stress on your spindle and ball joints. You want to keep the axis in line with the upper ball joint to the center
of the tire.
A-arm manufactures have come along way since the 80’s. When manufactures saw that they could better the stock geometry;
builders changed the shapes, configurations, looks and the way they performed. Builders often move the front wheel to be
placed wider or narrower and forward or backwards. It all depends on the geometry you want to run. You also have many
metals to choose from. Chromoly is most often used for performance grade products. Chromoly is very strong and is lighter in
weight than other metals.
Bushings are also a factor in your suspension. I have seen many materials used for ATVs including delron, plastic, nylon, brass,
urethane and UHMW ultra high molecular weight polyurethane that is a newer thermoplastic polymer. UHMW has a very good
impact strength and is a low coefficient of friction and is self lubricating, non-sticking polymer. Some also use ball bearing and
needle bearings as well. Bearings are higher maintenance in general and I have not seen them last very long.
There are many topics and items to discuss; and the shocks are a major one. Shocks will be discussed in depth and how to set
up your shocks and geometry in future articles. Remember your shocks should be serviced every 2-3 nationals for pro level
riders and every 6 months for trail and general riding. Remember this is just a guideline and depends on how hard you ride and
the conditions and time you put on them...Have a great year and thanks for another great season!
Got a Tech Question? Contact Shawn at firstname.lastname@example.org
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