How ATV Suspension Works: A Guide to Shock Adjustment

Shock absorbers are an essential part of the suspension system on any ATV and they help to keep your ride smooth. In this article, we will explore  How ATV suspension works: a guide to shock adjustment. 

They are made up of a piston and cylinder which work together to absorb bumps in the terrain, making it easier for you to stay comfortable as you travel over rough ground. 

The shock absorbs some of the jolts that would otherwise come through without them but eventually, these components may wear down or get damaged, so it is important that you know how they work and what you can do to keep them updated.

Hopefully, by the end, you’ll have a better understanding of how shock absorbers work and what you can do to ensure that they keep doing their job as long as possible.

Shock Function

The primary function of a shock absorber is to transfer the force from one side of an object to the other. This can be applied throughout different types of situations.  

The most typical examples are when there is a heavyweight applied to one side of an object and lighter weight is applied on the opposite side or when there is a fluid-like substance that flows through at a higher speed than liquid.

This effect helps you throughout everyday life, such as when you step off an elevator onto concrete; your foot absorbs the shock of stepping off the elevator which would otherwise bounce your weight. In this way, shocks play a huge role in your life that you might not even realize. 

The shock on an ATV acts as a spring and it absorbs the jolts of the ground so that they don’t come through to the rider’s body.

The job of the shock is to provide dampening, meaning that it reduces the amount of recoil and vibration. It accomplishes this job by slowing down the operation to make sure that the shock is fully utilized as a tool of absorption.

Shock Location

The main purpose for shocks on an ATV is to reduce suspension travel and absorb bumps in terrain and obstacles. To accomplish this, shocks are usually positioned at either the front or rear of an ATV. If your ride has shocks positioned in the front, they will be found just below the axle, mounted to the lower arms (A-arms) and struts. 

The shock and fork travel together but if you notice that this movement is not as smooth as it used to be, you might want to consider installing new shocks. When it comes to the rear suspension, shocks are found on either side of the rear axle and they run parallel with the drive shaft. 

The shock absorber for this type is commonly called a swingarm and it helps to support the weight that may be resting on your ride. Rear shocks are mounted on swingarms which allow for independent movement from the suspension. 

This independent movement is usually controlled by a linkage rod that links the shock to the steering system.

Types of Shock Absorbers

There are two types of shocks available for ATVs: gas charged and air-oil (shock absorber and hydraulic fluid). The most common type of shock absorber is the gas-charged unit. 

When extra pressure is added to this type, it becomes stiffer but when it is compressed, such as when an ATV rides over a bump in terrain, the gas-charged shocks require more force to get them back to their original state than that required by air oil shocks. 

Air-oil shocks are better than gas-charged because the piston inside of them is kept in position by oil which requires less force to get back to the original position. In fact, most ATVs now have air-oil shocks on them as they provide a more comfortable ride with less vibration.

This type of shock absorber uses hydraulic fluid and bellows to function. When they are compressed, the hydraulic fluid flows through and allows it to return back to its original state. We’ll learn more about them in the following section.

How ATV Suspension Works: A Guide to Shock Adjustment

If you notice that your ride isn’t as smooth or if it bounces more than usual, then there is a chance that something could be wrong with your shock absorbers. It is important to know how they work and what you can do in order to keep them in proper working condition so don’t neglect this!

Suspension plays an important part on ATVs and dirt bikes because it helps absorb bumps and jolts that would otherwise go straight into your body while riding. This article will help explain how these shock absorbers work and what you can do to make adjustments for optimum performance. 

A suspension system with shocks is usually made up of four parts: a spring, a shock absorber, bushings, and linkage. The spring works by applying pressure

The shock absorber is the component inside the spring that absorbs bumps in terrain. It also returns the ATV back to its original position when it doesn’t have any weight on top of it. Shock absorbers are an important part of your ride because they get put under pressure while you are riding down challenging terrain… so how exactly do they work? 

Air-oil shocks absorb bumps in terrain using air, oil, and rubber valves. These components allow for gas or air to be injected into them which increases their volume and therefore provides resistance when compression occurs. 

This type requires more force to compress than gas-charged shocks and they only have one preload adjustment, which is the air pressure inside them. 

Gas-charged shocks, on the other hand, use oil to adjust their compression resistance and therefore do not require air pressure like the former. This type also has two preload settings: hard for use in specific situations such as riding on rough terrain or soft if you want a smoother ride.

How Do You Check Whether Your Shocks Need Replacement? 

If you notice that your ATV doesn’t handle bumps well when it’s running with no weight in it then there is a chance that something could be wrong with your shock absorbers. Signs of possible problems are worn bushings or rusting of the body – usually around the mounting bolts because carbon forms on the surface of the metal. 

You may also find that your ride is not holding air pressure well.. especially if you find yourself having to add more into it every time you go out riding. What can be done to repair worn shocks? If you have been noticing any of these signs, then there is a chance that your shock absorbers may need replacing. 

However, before doing this, read below because fixing old shocks could work better than buying new ones: 

  • Check the bushings in your shocks for wear and replace them if they are too damaged or loose (you will know how worn they are based on how much movement there is between the shaft and mounting bracket). 

This procedure requires removing and disassembling the shock and then reassembling it after installing the new bushings. You can do this on your own with the help of an internet tutorial or you can take it to a local mechanic to have them do it for you. 

  • Replace any leaking O-rings in your shocks because if they are too worn out then you will find that air escapes through these and causes your ride to lose pressure over time. This procedure requires removing and disassembling the shock and then reassembling it after replacing all of the damaged O-rings.

Replace or Repair?

The lifespan of shocks is typically around 3 years depending on how much use they receive and how well (or bad) of shape they get put in by riders. 

If you start experiencing issues with your ride that may be caused by damaged shocks, there are certain warning signs that you should watch out for: 

  • Worn bushings 
  • Rusting on the shock body
  • Failing to hold air pressure well If these things happen, it is usually time to consider buying new shocks. 

However, if you find that your ride still works as intended and feels good when you’re riding it, you are in luck because the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies here. 

While changing old shocks for a newer set will definitely make your ride feel and operate better than before, you may want to consider just repairing them instead of replacing them altogether especially since they have passed the three-year limit. 

To repair them means that they will be fine after getting some new parts such as bushings or o-rings. Parts for ATV shocks can easily be found at local auto parts stores, so you can save money by going that route.

How ATV Suspension Works: A Guide to Shock Adjustment – Conclusion 

In this article on how ATV suspension works: a guide to shock adjustment, we have discussed how shock absorbers work and the different types of shocks that are installed on ATVs. Follow these guidelines to get some help with determining whether your shocks are damaged and need repair or replacement.