Terminology for Cycle Suspension

For those of you who are researching what to buy in the way of cycle suspension, shocks and forks, here's a summary of the common terms used. Individual manufacturers also use their own terminology, which is usually explained on their websites.


This is how far a fork or rear shock travels when compressed. On some forks the travel can be adjusted externally.


This alters the feel of the bike and is the rate at which the suspension bounces back up after compression.


Some suspension forks allow you to lock them, so that the shock absorber doesn't work. This is useful for smooth road riding.


As you pedal, especially hard, most shocks will give slightly and this is referred to as Bob. In an ideal world, suspension would give plenty of shock absorption with no bobbing !


This is how the shocks are absorbed, with air, oil or physical springs in the fork or shock absorber.

Chain growth

As the rear of a full suspension bike moves up and down, the distance between the crank and the rear cogs changes; this is referred to as chain growth or stretch.


This is the natural depression of a shock or fork when you sit on the bike and its important when setting up a bike.


The metal bridge that links the two fork legs. Many forks have a single crown, but some have double or triple, usually in the stronger suspension models used for downhill and freeride.