The Ultimate Guide to Motorcycle Suspension: Everything You Need to Know

Different types of motorcycle suspension in india
13 December 2023

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Long story short: Here, we will discuss in detail the types of motorcycle suspension, maintenance and FAQ related to bike suspension.

Motorcycle suspension or two-wheeler suspension acts as the balance system like it is for humans. In India, not all places have paved roads, so the ride will be bumpy and uneven. So, to counter these types of roads, a good suspension setup is mandatory on our bikes. The suspension setup does the job of soothing and making your ride comfortable on these roads. While selecting a two-wheeler, you need to make sure a good suspension is present. It serves a dual purpose: contributing to the vehicle’s handling and braking and providing safety and comfort to the motorcycle. So here we will discuss in detail the types of motorcycle suspension, maintenance, and FAQs related to bike suspension.

Different types of motorcycle suspension

Motorcycle suspension can be categorized into two:

  1. Front suspension setup
  2. Rear suspension setup

In this, for each setup, there are different types, and they are

Different types of front motorcycle suspension

Telescopic forks

Telescopic shock absorber in motorcycles

Telescopic forks are the most common form of front suspension. The setup is simple and consists of two long hydraulic tubes with internally fitted coil springs. The top of these forks is connected to the motorcycle’s frame, while the other is provided to the front wheel’s axle. The lower portion of the fork slides up and down the fork tubes in case of road imperfections. The inside is filled with oil to ensure the smoothness of operation and is locked inside through an oil seal. The primary maintenance in this type of suspension is fork oil change.

Pros of telescopic forks

  1. Simplicity and ease of maintenance
  2. Less expensive

Cons of telescopic forks

  1. Low level of stiffness compared to USD forks
  2. Low precision level compared to USD forks

Upside-down telescopic forks (USD) or inverted forks

inverted shock absorber in motorcycles

The name itself mentions everything about inverted forks. It is nothing but telescopic forks set in an inverted manner. In these, the slider bodies are at the upper portion, while the tubes are at the bottom. USD forks are mainly present in high-performance bikes like KTM, Bajaj, Honda, Yamaha etc. Inverted forks provide a high level of stiffness, better stability and precision compared to telescopic forks.

Pros of Upside-down forks

  1. High level of stiffness compared to telescopic forks
  2. High precision level compared to telescopic forks
  3. Better handling compared to telescopic forks

Cons of Upside-down forks

  1. Expensive
  2. Tough to repair if an oil leak is there
  3. Need extra care and maintenance
Telescopic suspension vs USD suspension in motorcycles

Different types of rear motorcycle suspension

Spring-loaded hydraulic suspension

Damping oil is present in the hydraulic piston and in air-tied condition. Outside the suspension is a spring, which ensures that after the spring piston gets downward because of the pressure, it returns to the right place again.

Dual or Twin shock absorber suspension

dual shock absorber in motorcycles

As the name suggests, two shock absorbers are in the motorcycle’s rear section. It is a type of spring-loaded hydraulic suspension found mainly in cruisers and touring bikes.

Pros of twin shock absorber suspension

  1. Easier to maintain
  2. Offers a supple ride
  3. Cost-effective

Cons of twin shock absorber suspension

  1. Variable damping from two shocks as they work independently
  2. It offers less stability while cornering
  3. It offers less stability at high speeds
  4. In extreme conditions, bubbles are formed in damping oil, known as cavitation, which affects damping

Gas-filled or Nitrox charged shock absorber

Nitrox charged shock absorber in motorcycles

These are also spring-loaded hydraulic suspensions with an additional canister filled with nitrox gas. The purpose of this nitrox gas canister is to prevent the formation of bubbles or cavitation. Hence, the damping performance is not compromised for long rides.

Pros of Nitrox charged shock absorber

  1. Prevents cavitation issues
  2. Reduced bouncing on irregular surfaces
  3. Efficient dissipation of heat on the tube
  4. Offers better stability in corners and at high speeds

Cons of Nitrox charged shock absorber

  1. Expensive than a twin shock absorber
  2. Complicated with repair and maintenance

Mono shock absorber

mono shock absorber in motorcycles

As the name suggests, there is only one shock absorber. Monoshock is in front of the rear wheel and uses a linkage that helps provide a rising rate of damping to the rear to connect with the swing arm. Nowadays, most performance-oriented bikes come with this type of suspension setup.

Pros of mono shock absorber suspension

  1. Superb cornering capability and handling
  2. Excellent high-speed stability and rideability
  3. Easy to tune and adjust
  4. Precise damping

Cons of mono shock absorber suspension

  1. High maintenance
  2. Cannot carry the excess load
  3. Shorter life span compared to other suspension setups
  4. Expensive
Nitrox charged shock absorber vs dual shock vs mono shock suspension in motorcycles

How does motorcycle suspension work?

Motorcycle suspension combines spring and shock absorber to isolate the chassis and rider from road imperfections. Any suspension setup needs three things – a spring to absorb bumps & shocks, a way to dampen the motion of the spring and enough range of motion to allow the first two components to function. The shock absorbers resist movement and, in doing so, tend to quiet the oscillations incurred by the frame. At the same time, the spring absorbs bumps and shocks.

How can we adjust motorcycle suspension?

In most motorcycles, there is an option to adjust motorcycle suspension to a softer or harder suspension feel in the rear section. There will be a nut or a screw for the same to adjust. For detailed instructions, please refer to the owner’s manual.

How can we adjust motorcycle suspension according to weight?

This is not a DIY task and requires expertise in the same.

Which is the best motorcycle suspension setup for performance-oriented bikes?

In the front section, go for USD forks, while in the rear, mono shocks are the best. It is a significant performance bonus if mono-shock comes with a gas canister.

Which is the best motorcycle suspension setup for heavy riders and heavy loads?

Go for dual shock absorbers with gas canisters in the rear. At the same time, in the front section, both setups, telescopic and inverted forks, are acceptable.

When to change and repair the two-wheeler suspension?

In 99% of cases, suspension change is not required other than in significant accidents. However, a regular shift in fork or damping oil is needed as per the service manual.

What is Pre-load on motorcycle suspension?

It refers to the initial position of suspension with the motorcycle’s weight and rider acting on it.

What is Rebound on two-wheeler suspension?

Rebound is the rate at which the suspension can extend and return to its normal position once the motorcycle has encountered a bump.

What is Brake dive on motorcycle suspension?

When the brakes are applied, the front wheel causes the bike’s front end to go lower, resulting in the compression of the forks, known as brake dive.

What is damping on a two-wheeler suspension?

Damping is controlling or stopping the spring’s oscillation, either when it compresses or rebounds.

What is motorcycle suspension sag?

Suspension sag is the amount of suspension travel used when sitting on your bike in a natural riding position.

What is a soft suspension setup?

Soft suspension gives the vehicle a plush low-speed ride and is not rigid. Even when the road gets rough, the ride will not be uncomfortable. This suspension is ideal for commuting but is not recommended for high-speed and enthusiastic riders.

What is a hard suspension setup?

A complex suspension setup is the exact opposite of a soft suspension setup. This setup is recommended for high-speed and enthusiastic riders where the handling is excellent. The downside of this setup is that the rider can feel all bumps and irregularities on the road.

What is a medium suspension setup?

A medium suspension setup sits between a soft and firm one. It provides a good balance of ride and handling. It gives the best of both worlds of soft and hard suspension setups.


This guide has discussed different types of motorcycle suspension, their pros and cons, and some frequently asked questions related to two-wheeler suspension.

If you have any other doubts or queries, email us at We are always eager to help and assist you. Also, here are several social media platforms of Bikeleague India to raise your suspicions.