Bicycle Fork Guide
Spring, sag, damping, and travel are all words used in conjunction with bicycle suspension. The spring is most often a coil spring, and is used to absorb jarring shocks. Air filled shocks are often used instead of coil springs because of their light weight. Sag refers to the amount of give the suspension has; how much it lowers under the weight of the rider. Damping refers to the speed of the spring. Travel is the total distance the suspension can move. More travel generally allows for bigger bump absorption, but less efficient pedaling energy.
Cross country mountain bikes typically use a front shock with a rigid frame or a short travel rear-end. Enduro mountain bikes are designed for harder riding and have a heavier duty suspension system. Downhill bikes are the heaviest duty of all mountain bikes and use a very long travel fork similar to a motorcycle shock. For optimum shock absorption, a suspension system should be set up specifically for the rider's weight and riding style.
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Bicycle Forks - Bicycle Suspension Products