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Depending on where you ride, your suspension travel needs to be set up for you to tackle the challenges of your riding environment.

You might need short-suspension travel…or maybe you need a long-suspension travel setup?

Tune in to discover:

  • The differences between long vs. short suspension travel – and when you’d need one over the other
  • How much travel your shock absorber should have
  • How to check your suspension travel


Hello, and welcome to another episode of 30-minute Motorcycling – a podcast for those riders who are at the beginning of their own Dual Wheel Journey, where you’ll discover something new about how your motorcycle, moped, or scooter works – in less than 30 minutes.


If you’ve listened to episode 24 of 30 Minute Motorcycling, you’ll know what “suspension travel” is. 


If you haven’t, or you need a reminder, suspension travel is how much your suspension can move between uncompressed and fully compressed – i.e., when it can’t move an inch or millimeter further.


The more the suspension can move up and down, the longer the suspension travel is. 


In this episode, we’re going to talk about the differences between long vs. short-suspension travel and when you’d need a setup of either type. 


But first, how much travel should your shock absorber have?


It all depends – on three things:

1: The type of motorcycle you’ve got

2: Where you use it

3: Your riding style


Knowing that, when would you need a short suspension travel setup? Well, do you ride mostly on paved city streets or out on a race track? Then, apart from the odd pothole or trash in the road, you don’t need to contend with that much – at least not in terms of surface, cars are a whole different story.


Anyway, you don’t need to set up your suspension to handle rough terrain because with a bike like a cruiser, a standard motorcycle, or even a scooter, the worst type of terrain you can expect to come across is gravel.


What you DO need, however is a suspension set up for stability, good handling, and precision – you’ll need a short amount suspension travel – usually set between 80-120mm.


So that’s short suspension travel – what about long suspension travel?


If the common theme for short-suspension travel was paved asphalt roads, the long-suspension travel is the complete opposite – if you need to have a long-suspension travel setup, you probably ride off-road most of the time.


And forget your gravel road because we’re talking truly off-road here and all that goes with it – from fallen tree trunks, rocks, and other nature-based obstacles that a long suspension travel setup will cushion you from.

If this is the setup you want or need, the suspension travel needs to be set to have between 150-300mm of travel. 


But wait – how do you measure suspension travel? Is it hard?


I’m glad you asked, and no – it’s not hard – all you need is a rule or a tape measure.


To determine your suspension travel, you need two reference points:

1: The top point (i.e. when the shock is uncompressed)

2: The bottom point (i.e. when the shock is fully compressed)


Once you have these two points, subtract the two, and presto – you’ve got your suspension travel.


As an example, let’s say that we have a suspension setup where the shock absorber’s top point is 600 mm, and the bottom point is 200mm. 


Then, the suspension travel is 400mm, since 600-200 is equal to 400 – which would make it a long suspension travel setup.


And there you have it – those are the differences between long vs. short suspension travel, the most appropriate scenarios for each type, and how to determine how much suspension travel you’ve got. 


I hope you enjoyed listening and, above all, that you learned something new. 


Until next time, keep your helmet on and your eyes on the road. Bye!