What Does Preload Do On A Mountain Bike?

What Does Preload Do On A Mountain Bike? – [Explained]

Mountain biking is a great way for the entire family to exercise and enjoy the outdoors together. However, you must fine-tune every detail to get the most out of your journey. Also, it’s a great technique to protect yourself from harm and have a more relaxing ride. Riders often find the preload adjustment to be the most perplexing part.

When you preload your bike, you can adjust how it sits while you ride, minimizing the distance you travel.

Can you explain what it is and how it works? This blog will provide all the information you need about what a preload does to a bike and adjusting the preload on your mountain bike.

Mountain Bike

What exactly is the preload?

So when forks and the shock are at their most extended positions, this measurement determines the mechanical compression the spring experiences.

For example, let’s say you’ve removed the front fork from the motorbike and discovered that it has a cavity that can accommodate a spring measuring 320 millimeters.

The length of the spring that you want to install within the fork is 330 millimeters. It indicates that the spring must be compressed by 10 millimeters for it to fit within the fork tube.

Given that the spring has been compressed by 10mm and has a rate of 1kg/mm, you would need to apply more than 10kg of force to the fork to start compressing it.

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For instance, if you placed 11 kilograms of force on top of the fork, it would only compress by one millimeter (not 11 millimeters) since the initial 10 kilograms of power you provided was overcoming the force that was being produced by the spring that was located within the fork (since it had been compressed to fit inside).

If you turned the preload adjuster on the top of the fork and added another 5mm of mechanical compression, the spring would then exert 15kg of force back out, which means you would need to apply more than 15kg of force to begin to compress it. It can accomplish by turning the preload adjuster on the top of the fork.

By increasing the spring’s preload, you may alter the suspension’s response to weight while keeping the rate constant due to the rider’s actions, such as accelerating, decelerating, swerving, or braking, or applying the application of lateral or lateral-lateral force.

Increasing the front fork’s preload, for instance, reduces the diving effect caused by shifting body weight forward while braking. It is because more of your weight is required to counteract the force of the spring pushing back up.

Because of this perceived change, it is commonly referred to as stiffering” the suspension.

For What Reason Do We change Preload?

Extreme braking or accelerating might cause the suspension to bottom out or peak. If you bottom out or top out the suspension, the system will no longer be able to maintain the tire in excellent touch with the road.

preload on mountain bike

Traction is essentially decreasing. As a result, although we want to make use of as much of the suspension’s travel as feasible, we don’t want to push things to the limit.

Adjusting the preload on your bike is one method to prevent this by shifting how much range you utilize and where the bike settles in its power curve. Since every rider has unique requirements, finding the ideal spring rate takes time and effort.

Preload allows you to adjust how your bike “sits” while you’re on it, keeping your travel to a minimum.

How to adjust the preload on your Mountain bike:

To adjust the new bike’s preload, you’ll need to adjust the quantity of air in the fork and shock. When the preload is increased, the suspension is better able to withstand impacts.

Your weight, preferred riding style, and terrain determine the ideal preload. The handling of your bike will improve if you increase the pressure on the tires.

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Here we will show you how to set the preload on your bike:

  • Determine the optimal tire pressure for your vehicle’s size.
  • Second, ensure the tires are filled to the correct pressure by setting the bike up on a stand.
  • You may change preload by turning two screws on each side of the fork or by adding or releasing air via a valve of the front fork. (for example, Schrader valve).
  • Stopping it requires depressurizing it by pumping air out.

How to determine the appropriate preload on the bike?

You need to make sure that there is sufficient preload when you are setting up your bike since this will guarantee that you have proper suspension.

Several variables, including the following, determine the appropriate preload for your bike:


The preload setting could change depending on the terrain you are bicycling. For instance, if you plan to ride off-road, you may require more preload than someone who exclusively bikes on paved roads. It is because off-road riding is more complicated.

Because of the rocky off-road condition, your suspension must deliver greater shock absorption than it would on a smoother roadway.

Rider weight:

When adjusting the preload settings on a mountain bike, rider weight is one of the most critical factors. When the rider’s weight increases, the amount of preload you must add to the front fork and the rear shock to compensate for this must also rise.

As a rider’s weight rises, more strain is placed on the mountain bike components, which might cause them to wear out more quickly than if riders supported them with a lower average weight.

rider weight on mountain bike

Riding style:

When you ride in a more upright posture, you are seated on top of the bike rather than leaning over it, as you do when you ride in a more aggressive stance.

When ascending steep inclines, the more upright posture puts less of the rider’s weight on the front tire, which decreases the amount of traction available and increases the likelihood of wheel spin. Because of this, a greater preload will be required to compensate for the decreased weight supported by the front wheel.


Before you embark on your next mountain bike journey, you should ensure that the preload adjustment is set to the most suitable level for your body weight, riding style, and the terrain you will be traversing. You’ll be able to have a comfortable and enjoyable journey with the aid of the guide that was just shown to you.

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