How to Use a Shock Pump on Mountain Bike

Last Updated on April 25, 2022

A shock pump is one of the necessary items that you need in order to set up your bike properly.

You need this no matter where you are, especially if you’re really into having the perfect suspension setup for your rig. Not only does this affect your riding performance, but it also has a direct effect on the comfort and safety of your ride.

In this article, we will show you how to use shock pump the right way. We’ll also help you set up the sag for your fork and rear shock to get that customized and dialed ride that’ll help you make the most out of your bike.

So, how to use a shock pump on a mountain bike?

Steps to Setting up Your Suspension Sag

The first thing to do is to have your shock pump with you. You also need a tape measure or a ruler to get an accurate reading of your current sag if your bike doesn’t have any sag indicators.

Step 1: Get a friend to help you out with this one. Also, wear everything that you usually bring with you whenever you’re riding. Examples of these are your bag, shoes, helmets, and gears. You will set up your sag based on your weight during your ride.

Step 2: Know the amount of travel that you have in your fork and shock. They usually show these on the bike manufacturer’s website. You can also know this by using a ruler to measure the amount of space that moved from the fork or shock.

Step 3: Push the o-ring of your fork and shock down to where it compresses. Do this gently so you can get a more accurate measurement from shock pumps.

Step 4: Measure the current sag by letting your friend hold the bike. Let him place the front wheel between his legs while holding on to the handlebars. Then gently mount the bike so your suspension compresses into its current sag.

Step 5: Get off your bike and measure the amount of sag by checking how far the o-ring has traveled. You can do this by checking the markings on your fork and rear shocks. But if it doesn’t have this, then you can just measure it using a ruler and do a bit of calculation.

Step 7: Use the shock pump to put more air into your suspension to achieve the desired sag and shock pressure. Cross-country setups have a 25% sag, although this will depend on your riding style and how plush or hard you want your suspension to become.

You can also add more volume spacers if you’ve been using too much travel during your rides.

Step 8: Continue steps 4 to 6 until you’ve got the desired sag. You can use the little button on your shock pump to let out a small amount of air if you feel you’ve got too much air inside your suspension. Then use your shock pump to add more air.

Rebound Damping

The rebound in your suspension setup is an integral part of dialing your ride, even if it doesn’t need any air to function. It’s in charge of how long it takes for shock pumps to go back up once it compresses.

Moving the knob to the “+” side will make the rebound go fast while turning it to the “-” side will make it go slower.

Having a fast rebound is better for going on rocky terrain. Meanwhile, it’s a good idea to have a slower rebound on jumps and flowy trails. This is why it’s important that you bring a shock pump or spare shock pumps all the time.

Do I Lose Air When Removing the Shock Pump?

Bike Shock Absorber Suspension Pump

Contrary to popular belief, you won’t lose any air that you’ve placed in your suspension every time you remove your shock pump from the rear shock valve head.

The hissing sound that you’ll usually hear from removing the shock pump with bleed valve is actually from the air pressure escaping the shock’s body and hose.

The air pressure inside your suspension remains isolated and untouched when you remove the high pressure shock pump, similar to how a high pressure bleed valve air suspension works.

It’s basically the same with most best mountain bike shock brands as these prevent air loss and get rid of excess air with the help of a digital gauge.

Factors to Consider When Looking for a Shock Pump

Accuracy

Get a digital shock pump if you want to get the right amount of air into your bike. This shock pump provides a more accurate dialing experience because it shows the exact numbers.

Though this will also depend on the type that you will get as some cheap shock pumps brands can’t maintain an accurate gauge reading.

Precision

The accuracy of your gauge won’t really matter if its reading isn’t consistent throughout its use. This is because your sag can change from time to time depending on your weight.

You want your suspension to be at the same amount every time you put air in it so its sag will still stay the same. You can do this by checking your suspension with a high pressure shock pump on a regular basis. You can also bring two shock pumps so you can make sure that their reading is accurate. Or maybe have a bike shock pump that has a digital gauge for rear suspension, air fork systems, and air spring low volume features to release air.

Just take note that the best mountain bike shock should have the needed vital features to prevent air loss such as a digital gauge, valve head, bleed valve, and Schrader valve tire pump compatibility. The last thing you want is air loss especially if you have a high pressure pump and premium suspension fork.

Durability

Invest in the best shock pump that can take a good amount of beating. You will probably store it in your backpack every time you ride, right? So a shock pump will definitely wear out at some point. The more you use and carry your high pressure mountain bike shock pump with you, the more inaccurate its reading will be.

Related: Best Mountain Bike Backpacks

Top 3 Mountain Bike Shock Pumps

  • Rockshox HP3-A1 – The RockShox HP3-A1 shock pump has a digital display that provides an accurate reading of the air pressure inside your suspension. It has a longer and bigger frame compared to other brands so you can easily reach your desired air pressure or PSI in a short amount of time, making this one of the best shock pumps on the market.
  • Giyo High-Pressure – Here is another top recommendation if you’re looking for the best shock pumps. What’s great about the Giyo High-Pressure is it can reach up to 300 PSI air pressure fast and doesn’t leak any air when it’s removed from the shock valve. This shock pump is budget-friendly but is also built for surviving in extreme situations, so it won’t easily break from a fall or a hit, unlike other cheaper mountain bike shock pumps.
  • Syncros SP1.0 – The Syncros SP1.0 is another notable shock pump thanks to its large aluminum digital display, which provides an accurate measurement. This shock pump comes with a two-step Schrader valve that ensures no air will leak during the whole process. This is common in most premium shock pumps just like the Fox shock pump where you can get the desired pressure from the pressure release valve for air forks. It’s basically just the same pump but with different features like most shock pumps. You won’t even get that hissing sound from your shock pump with the bleed valve after you remove the pump from the valve head, unlike other mountain bike shock pumps.

Conclusion

It’s important to know how to use a shock pump on a mountain bike to get the right amount of sag in your suspension.

This also helps you make the most out of your suspension fork and rear shocks during your ride. It’s all about getting that confidence once you go through ruts, rock gardens, or when hitting jumps and drops.

You can achieve this with the help of a proper functioning shock pump. There are many shock pumps available in the market, so make sure you get the right one and the best shock pump with the tips and information we’ve discussed in this article.

When you do, then you’ll surely have a more enjoyable ride on the trails along with your shock pump.

Cheers and ride safe, mate.

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