Mountain Bike Suspension

Mountain Bike suspension can be one of the most important things when looking at buying a bike. Most entry level XC bikes only offer front suspension to keep the prices low and because of the weight savings.

Front Mountain Bike Suspension

Entry level bikes will most likely offer only front coil suspension. Some of the most common ones are the Suntour because they build good entry level forks.

Some of the good entry level forks you could find on budget bikes are:

  • Suntour XCT
  • Rockshox XC 28
  • RST Blade
  • Suntour XCM
  • RST Saturn
  • Suntour XCR
  • Rear Suspension

Rear Shock

The rear suspension on a mountain bike offers an smoother ride and allows the rider to take on jumps and steep technical descends. The downside of using a full suspension bike is that the rear shock will absorb some of the power when pedaling, this is why some higher-end XC bikes will offer a way to lock the suspension for when the rider is climbing.

In modern bikes you will find two types of rear shocks: air and coil based.

Air shocks are more popular on XC bikes as they are lighter and allow to control the travel.

Coil shocks are generally heavier and in some disciplines like downhill, they are still the first choice as the travel is usually the same throughout all stages of the compression.
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Air shock on top and coil shock in the bottom.


“Travel” refers to the amount of compression a suspension will do. The amount of movement the suspension will allow the wheel move.

Travel is a very important factor when defining what the bike is good for, as well as other things obviously. Most XC bikes offer around 80-120mm travel on their forks. About half of XC bikes won’t have rear suspension, but the ones they do will have about the same: 80 to 100mm of travel.

By no means this can be taken as the defining numbers for categorizing a mountain bike, but they give a good idea about what the intended use of the bike is:

Front Supension Rear Suspension
Cross Country XC 80-120mm Air 80-100mm (optional)
All Mountain 120-140mm Air 120-140mm
Enduro 140-180mm Air ~160mm
Freeride ~180mm Coil Coil Shock
Downhill ~200mm Coil Coil Shock
Boxxer Rockshox Mountain Bike Suspension

Double Crown Boxxer Fork is 200mm travel

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