Written by Scott Will
Imagine this scenario… It’s March, the last storm was two week ago and you’re monoskiing on hard pack. Your shock is pumping in short bursts absorbing impacts and returning to form as quickly as possible. Days like this make most people dream about fresh powder and sure enough your local hill gets 13 inches overnight. Your suspension is the last thing on your mind; it wasn’t adjusted from the icy conditions the day before, nor since it was unboxed. As you rise up and drop back down into the new snow your monoski feels stiff and unresponsive through the transitions, but who cares because it’s a powder day!
For many skiers, after a “one size fits all” shock setting has been found then the shock dials are ignored and the suspension stays out of sight and out of mind. Below is a quick and dirty guide to tune your suspension and find a good base setting. This tuning method can be replicated on fresh powder days, stale ice days and everything in between to hone in your suspension for whatever conditions exist.
It may be a boring morning, but pick one run that you know well on a day when conditions are to your liking and don’t change that variable.
Take notes! Documenting what settings you are at and how they feel through the day will help you keep track of what works and what doesn’t. Cellphone note apps or voice recorders work well for most; pen and paper for the technologically challenged.
One turn of a shock’s dial is accompanied by a click which indicates you’ve made a change. Clicking all the way through your settings will help you realize how many adjustments are available and where the middle is at.
Keep in mind that this is a process and taking the time to go through the steps chronologically will pay off in knowledge gained about how your suspension performs.
Arguably the most important step, if sag isn’t set correctly then your sitski will not perform to its potential. It’s vital that the spring’s rated weight correlates with the user’s body weight. If your spring is rated for the wrong weight, you’re going to have a bad time.
Attach your sitski to its ski(s) on a level surface. You won’t be touching the dials while setting sag, only the adjustable ring to regulate the spring’s compression on the shock body. Start by twisting the adjustment ring in small increments to tighten or loosen the spring’s compression on the shock. Tightening the ring compresses the spring which translates to a supportive ride. Loosening the ring allows the spring to expand which makes for a responsive ride. The spring adjustment ring should never be loosened to the point of being able to spin freely on the shock, nor should it be tightened to the point of allowing for coil binding on the spring (coils rubbing against each other when compressed).
Transfer into the sitski and bounce to eliminate stiction before settling. Have a buddy check the suspension’s compression while you’re seated; this may require multiple tries. Finding a balance between supportive and responsive is ideal when searching for that base setting. The sweet spot is achieved when the spring is held firmly in place and the shock compresses about 30% with the skier seated. If you are the only person riding your sitski you shouldn’t have to adjust sag again. Programs may need to re-adjust based on the fluctuation of skier’s weights.
High Speed Compression or HSC is the shock setting that soaks up big impacts. Think about hitting a mogul and the subsequent impact of landing downhill. Your HSC eats up that impact to prevent the suspension from bottoming out which keeps you ready for the next obstacle. A little HSC can go a long way and the goal is to use as little HSC as necessary to prevent bottoming out.
Time to ski! Set your High Speed Compression at zero, and the Low Speed Compression and Rebound in the middle and take a run. Don’t go send a 15’ kicker, you’ll bottom out and likely ruin your suspension**. With the other knobs still set in the middle, adjust the High Speed Compression a click up from zero for the next run. Take notice of the difference from the HSC being set at zero. You should experience less chance of bottoming out. Keep cranking the HSC up a turn at a time until you are no longer bottoming out at all. Keep taking runs and notes while playing with the HSC adjustment on different terrain and when you find a setting that works, leave it there. We settled on a HSC of 2 for the Monique monoski.
**If you do plan to send 15’ kickers (looking at you Trevor) be sure to start small and work your way up to understand which HSC settings apply to which size jump and apply the correct amount of HSC before sending.
Low Speed Compression or LSC is the shock setting that constantly works to keep you riding plush or stiff depending on the day’s terrain. Too little LSC and you will be in for a sloppy, overly plush ride. Too much LSC and you will be jarred by the stiff suspension.
Try a run with the LSC and Rebound in the middle, and the HSC in its new setting. Changing the LSC in increments of 5 clicks works well. If you are skiing groomers you will probably want to stiffen the suspension by turning up the Low Speed Compression dial. The stiffer LSC will prevent the suspension from over compressing through groomed turns. If you are skiing a powder or packed powder day then turning down the LSC will allow for a plusher ride. The lower LSC setting will allow your suspension to soak up the dips into fresh pow or chunky snow as you work your way down the hill. We found that a LSC about 5 clicks up from middle rode well for our Monique monoski on packed powder. Pick a LSC setting that you like and keep it there.
The Rebound setting determines the rate that your shock returns to its “ready” position after the shock has absorbed an impact. The optimal Rebound setting allows for a smooth and controlled return. Too little or too much Rebound will leave your sitski’s suspension operating poorly because the Rebound will over or undercompensate on the return to that “ready” position.
With the HSC and LSC unchanged from the settings you found, take some turns with the Rebound in the middle and note the feel. If you feel as though you are getting stuck in your turns and the shock is not resetting quickly enough you should turn down the rebound to quicken its return speed. If it feels like you’re getting bucked on the landing after hitting an obstacle and you keep bouncing down the hill then the rebound is likely too fast and you should turn up the Rebound dial to slow its return. We found that the Monique skied best with a Rebound setting about 5 clicks below max. Everyone skis differently, so be sure to try a range of settings and pick the one that you liked best.
Keep in mind that all shocks are different and some rebound knobs do not have clicks but rather require an entire rotation for 1 adjustment. Our Monique 1 Monoski will be delivered with the shock pretuned, so you won't have to touch a thing.
Voilà! You should now have a base setting for your shock. Every make of shock and every skier is different, so your settings most likely won’t be the same as the ones we settled upon. We tuned the Monique’s suspension on the blue run, High Noon at Arapahoe Basin during packed powder conditions.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended to be a loose introduction for those learning how to tune their shock. For detailed tuning steps and information about your shock, be sure to consult the shock manufacturer and owner’s manual. Happy shredding!
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