ASK THE MXPERTS: BATHROOM FAUCET DAMPING PRINCIPLES
At the risk of sounding foolish, I don’t understand how the clickers on my forks work. For example, what does “16 clicks out” mean? Is it 16 from all the way out? Or from all the way in? I know this seems very basic to guys who have been racing motorcycles for years, but it is confusing to me. Can you help?
Maybe we can make sense of it for you by relating it to something that everyone understands. Think of the clicker adjusters on your fork and shock as water faucets. Most faucets use a common mechanism, typically a screw, to impede or expedite the flow of water. Faucets control fluid flow. If you want more water to flow, you turn the faucet counter-clockwise. When you want less water, you turn the faucet clockwise. Clockwise rotation of the faucet shuts off the flow of water through the spigot by pressing a rubber or ceramic stopper against the orifice that the water enters the system through. Counter-clockwise rotation of the faucet moves the rubber stopper away from the orifice so that water can flow more easily.
That is exactly how the clickers on your forks and shock work. When you turn the clicker in (clockwise), you impede the flow of oil though the bleed valve system. And because the oil has a harder time getting through the valving, it slows the movement of the shock down as it tries to push the oil through an increasingly smaller opening. Turning the clicker clockwise increases compression damping, also referred to as stiffer, heavier or slower damping. When you turn the clicker on your suspension counter-clockwise, you make the flow of oil easier because there is less restriction. This would be considered a decrease in compression damping, often referred to as softer, lighter or faster damping.
As for your question, if you want to increase the compression damping in your fork or shock to slow downward movement, you should turn the clicker in (clockwise). The method used by motocross racers to keep track of the amount or degree of compression damping in their forks is to count clicks. This is done by turning the clicker all the way in (clockwise) and then backing it out X number of clicks.
In action, it works like this: your forks have the compression clicker set at “15 clicks out,” but your forks feel too soft and are diving under braking. To fix this, you need to turn the clicker in from 15 clicks out to 12 clicks out. This will impede the flow of oil inside the fork internals and make them stiffer to stop the diving. Conversely, if your forks feel harsh in braking bumps and aren’t getting full travel when landing from jumps, you would turn the clicker out (counter-clockwise) from 15 clicks out to 18 clicks out, which would free up the flow of oil inside the fork’s internals with less restriction.
That is the simple explanation of how a clicker works. It gets more confusing when you add in rebound damping and the complexities of low-speed and high-speed compression damping, but the principles of the bathroom faucet remain the same.