My Fork is Too Small: Adjust It Yourself!

While enjoying a track, suspension issues caused by a fork are a real bummer. I know how bothersome it is. 

So, you are wondering what happens if my fork is too small?

If your fork is too small then it won’t be able to absorb much shock. Also, the dampening effect will be lessened. Thus your ride will feel much bumpier and risky. Also, the bike will bounce due to a lack of fork suspension. You’ll have to adjust the fork and tire to solve this problem.

But knowing only this much won’t serve your cause. Thus, you’ll need to stick with me a bit if you want to know everything!

What Should be the Ideal Fork Size?

There are many factors to consider while choosing the right fork. Still, we have prepared a standardized chart for you.

What Should be the Ideal Fork Size

Depending on the stanchion diameter, you can choose these forks for your bike:

Stanchion Diameter Travel Fork
30-32 mm100-120 mm
34 mm120-150 mm
35-38 mm150-180 mm
40 mm180-200 mm

Although these circumstances might vary depending on your individual needs. Also, don’t think you’re the only one with this particular issue. It’s a very common thing among bikers!

Thus I have taken the initiative to further elaborate it. 

My fork is too Small, What to do?: 2 Major Problems and Solutions

May it be the commute, sports, or just your leisure, a perfect fork is of utmost necessity. That is to ensure a smooth and safe ride. Thus if your fork is too small, it’s sure to cause problems for you. It’s also a problem if your fork is too big.

what size fork do i need

So, I have tried to enlist all the problems you might face. Also, I have tried to give proper solutions to them. 

So, be sure to stick with us till the end. 

Lesser Shock Absorption and Dampening:

Firstly, you need to know the answer to a certain question. Does suspension depend on fork? 

The answer is yes. In fact, it greatly depends on the fork. There are two main features of suspension: shock absorption and dampening. And both of these are affected by the fork. 

So, how does shock absorbing work? 

By compressing, the fork acts as a shock absorber and permits the wheel to rise. In this method, an air spring or coil spring is compressed using the shock’s kinetic energy. After that, the stored energy in the spring surely has to go somewhere. When the wheel is driven down, this happens.

how does shock absorbing work

Now, this absorbed shock has to go somewhere. That’s where the dampening comes in. So how does dampening work?

Dampening slows down the return of the shock absorber by absorbing the stored energy. Then it converts it to heat. Most forks use oil reservoirs, pistons, and valves to absorb vibrations. The valves partially obstruct the flow of oil when it is moved by the fork. That is from one reservoir to another.

This movement occurs from one piston head to the other. As the oil is pushed through the valves, a small amount of heating occurs. 

By this, we understand that both these main features require the fork. So, if it’s too small, surely problems will arise.

If your fork is too small then the preload on it will be too much. So, what happens if there is too much preload on fork? The answer is it becomes too stiff. This results in a lack of control over the bike. 

Also if there is too much preload then the dampening will also be affected. The bike will feel more bouncy. Thus you will have lesser control over the bike than usual. Which in turn might lead to accidents. 

Solution 1: Fork Adjustment

So, how can I adjust my fork? 

There is a procedure for calibrating a fork, and it requires a ruler and perhaps a helper. SAG must be measured. It’s the amount of travel the fork compresses when you just apply weight to the bike. That is of course while riding the bike. 

An adequate SAG range for your weight should be listed in the user manual table. That is for your fork model. To produce the appropriate sag, preload is changed. The greater preload is the lesser the SAG will be. 

On the other hand, the lesser the preload is the greater the SAG will be. 

Solution 2: Alternate Fork

The other solution is to get yourself another fork that is right for you. Not all forks are built for the same models. 

Also, your body weight also matters when choosing the right fork for you. 

So, can I use a small fork regardless of my weight?

Most likely, you weigh too much for a small fork. If so, the following choices might be available to you: Alternately, swap out the fork or the spring. 

To specifically accommodate too-big or too-small riders, certain fork manufacturers supply various springs for different fork models. Consult the fork’s owner’s handbook; it should contain the details.

can I use a small fork regardless of my weight

The fork manual might be accessible on the manufacturer’s website if you don’t already have one.

If the fork is broken or there isn’t a softer spring, you can switch to a different fork. One that can be adjusted or that fits your weight.

The “preload” of an air fork is determined by the pressure of the air in the chamber. It is plainly able to be dropped to zero, an air fork may be the ideal solution.

Also, there are certain forks fit for various frames. Like a steel fork for an aluminum frame

Here are some high-quality forks to check out that can handle the extra weight:

  • Next up is the 150mm travel fork suggestion. If you’ve searched a bit about bike forks, you’ve already heard of ZTZ. Its ZTZ Mountain Front Fork clearly stands out from the competition.
  • Lastly, check out RockShox Zeb Select for 180mm ones. They are quite the premium forks to get your hands on.

I hope you find these suggestions useful!

Lesser Track Grip:

The other problem with a smaller fork is you won’t be able to stay on track. A smaller fork means your ride will be more bouncy. For an uneven terrain, this will create a great disadvantage. 

If the bike bounces too much and doesn’t stay on track, then it’ll become harder to handle. It will feel shaky and unbalanced. 

The unsprung mass moves the suspension spring swiftly. It is in response to the sudden impulse of the road irregularity.

But a suspension spring does not return at the same rate as it is displaced. When the much larger sprung mass needs to be moved, the spring moves slowly.

Solution: Fork and Tire Adjustment

While I have already discussed how to hope to adjust your forks, there is another option. It is to adjust the tire pressure. So, does tire pressure affect track friction?

Yes, although, many riders believe they must be inflated to the tire’s maximum psi. Too much pressure causes the tires to bounce off from obstacles rather than roll over them. For example, you might weigh less than 150 pounds. Then, you could be able to run the pressures at around 25 psi.

Use the least amount of dampening feasible when setting up the front forks. Here, push down on the handlebars and measure how much travel you make. Do it by squatting on the bike and slamming on the front brake.

Make some changes and see whether the front end dips more or less as a result. 

Try to use about 2/3 of the journey unless you are performing some aggressive drops. To prevent bottoming out, that will leave 1/3.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why don’t fat bikes have suspension?

Suspension is mainly necessary for unusual circumstances. But, fat bikes are primarily made for sand and snow. However, having a front fork that can withstand some blows is excellent. Again, the big tires typically function adequately for this. You can get away with rigidity with good handling skills.

Are rigid forks better?

Forks that are rigid are substantially stiffer and lighter. When it comes to moving more quickly across flat ground, this usually makes them considerably superior. Accelerating and decelerating lose far less momentum, allowing you to apply more force to them. Though not for uneven terrains.

How to increase suspension stiffness?

The ride can be made quite firm by purchasing oil-based shock absorbers. They should be filled with thicker, higher viscosity oil. Alternatively, you might get brand-new shock absorbers that are gas-filled and offer a stiffer ride. There are stress-absorbing systems designed for racing or rallies.

Bottom Line!!

Now I want to hear your opinion.

Did you get your answers about the whole “my fork is too small” question? I hope you did!

Here’s an extra tip for you. Lesser preload at the back and more in front bring more stability. 

If there’s anything else on your mind, be sure to comment down below.

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