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Oct 23, 2000
Well, now that I have moved into the world of "real bikes," I begin to see the importance of proper suspension set up. Can someone help me figure out what I should do, and in what order?

I ride a 01 EXC 200.
I ride at a beginner level.
I ride approximately 70% woods, 30% mx.
I weigh about 145 with gear, I'm guessing--about how much to add for gear? I weigh 130 in street clothes, no shoes.
We set the sag as much as we could--to get the static sag below 45mm, we had to set the rider sag at 90mm; now it's about 30mm. I only vaguely understand these things so I may have garbled or misremembered the info.

I don't know where to start. I don't know what springs are in my bike now, or even what weight oil. What should I do first? Shock or forks? How do I go about setting the clickers? Should I use a different weight oil? I know I need lighter springs.

Thanks in advance.


Jan 7, 2001
First, I lay no claim to to being any kind of a wizard at this. In fact, I like my bikes set up so stiff that most would say I've got it all wrong, but that's what I like & works VERY good for ME. I like a lot of feedback.

With the disclaimers out of the way: It's all very subjective & will take some experimenting to find what works for you. What you want is to make use all of the available travel without bottoming too much.

On the rear, your 90mm "rider sag" sounds about right and this can be adjusted to suit your style/conditions. With this set, you should have some "static sag" with the bike compressing the rear something like 10-35mm under it's own wieght. If there is no "static sag when the "rider sag" is set to something reasonable, then you need a stiffer spring. If there is too much "static sag" then you'll need a softer spring. I'd set the clickers at the standard settings & adjust to keep the wheel planted & control the chassis attitude.

Front: As far as spring rate, how much of the travel is being used? If you are using most of the travel, just barely bottoming on the biggest hits, you should be in the ballpark. If you're only using 1/2 the travel, the front is riding too high up in the stroke, or is just beating you up, you may want a lighter spring rate(be careful here, because too much compression damping can mislead you into thing the spring rate is too high). On the contrary, if the front bottoms frequently or rides too low in the stroke, you'd want to bump the spring rate up(again be careful, too much rebound can make the front pack down). Once the spring rate is in the ballpark, use the clickers to keep the wheel tracking the ground.....

And I'd start out with the type/amount of fluids called for as standard & adjust as needed.

All of this assumes that everything is in good shape to start with.

Three key things that will make all this much easier to work with:

1. The spring's job is to SUPPORT the weight of the bike & rider.

2. The damper's job is to CONTROL the spring's action in such a way that keeps the wheels in contact with the terrain as much as possible.

3. Only change ONE thing at a time!

Hope you find some of this useful....

Last edited:


Jan 9, 2000
Firecracker Too add my input.The EXC has as far as i know these springs:
rear pds1-250(progressive spring 250mm long)
front 0.38 but may be 0.36
for your weight you will need a softer rear spring-the choices are PDS0-250,PDS 5-265 or a straight rate.The straight rate is better for mx and the progressives for woods (IMO).My suggestion would be for a PDS5-265 as ive never seen the PDS 0 on any bike.The 265mm spring is meant to be better as its starts progressing at a different place in the travel(the works bikes have used these for a couple of years)
The front springs on the KTMs come too soft so i expect they would be o.k.
The forks you will need to put a cable tie around one of the chrome tubes to see if you are using the full travel-if not reduce comp damping(adjuster under fork anticlockwise)if this isnt enough you can lower the oil level to 155mm from the top of the tubes with springs out.If this still isnt enough then 2.5wt oil can be used instead of 5wt.The std WP oil is good quality but seems thick for a 5wt so maybe a oil change will help.The rear with the correct spring may still need the compression damping reducing to maybe 2 clicks from fully in(its opposite on the PDS shock compared to normal shocks).Try these things and see how you get on.The shock spring is the most important for you as dont forget the springs are the building blocks of suspension performance.


Nov 13, 1999
FC, since you are new to "real bikes" you have no frame of reference of what is good and what is bad. Sound like a true statement?

I suggest you find a nice short loop that has a good mix of trail obstacles to use for testing. I know a good loop at Walker Valley. The Walker loop starts with rolling whoops and ends with a rocky jeep trail descent with a good mix of obstacles in between. Ride the loop, stop and make a fairly radical clicker change and ride it again. Note how the bike has changed. Now change the same clicker radically going the other way and ride the loop. Put the clicker back to it's start position and do the same routine with another clicker. (On my bike "radical" would be 4 or 5 clicks.)

Today is a good day to start a logbook - so write down what changes you are making and what you are feeling when you make the changes.
Unless the bike is scary dangerous, always complete your lap and make the changes at the truck.

You should refer to Jer's offroad setup check list, but I think I would run the clicker tests in this order: Fork compression, fork rebound, shock compression, shock rebound. (The shock rebound is the most likely to make the bike spooky if it gets too bouncy so watch for that.)

This methodical approach will "learn you" what your clickers do in the minimum amount of time. If you test with a friend, you can go your own speed (on the short trail loop) and know that if you have trouble, your buddy will be along in a few minutes so it's not dangerous like trail riding alone. In fact, let me know and I'll meet you for a test day. I need to try out that James Dean jetting and my new cheese valve before summer is over.

Basically, figure out what your suspension capabilities are stock before you spend money on changes.

Have Fun!
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