Suspension fork

The fork on the bicycle is an important element that connects the frame and the front wheel. The 'legs' of the fork are connected at the upper end by a fork tube. This fork tube itself can be rotated within the bicycle frame and is what you use to steer your bicycle. At the lower end of each fork leg, you find the mounts for the front wheel axle. Most bicycles use one of two types of front forks: the rigid fork and the suspension fork. The difference between the two is that while a rigid fork simply holds the wheel in place, the suspension fork is equipped with shock absorbers and suspension elements.

How does a suspension fork work?

A suspension fork improves your bicycle’s handling by optimising the contact between tyre and road. The suspension and damping compensate for bumps and uneven road surfaces, increasing your comfort and improving your control of the bicycle.

Suspension fork construction (example)

With a suspension fork, the suspension and shock absorption happen in the lateral fork legs, which are made up of a dip tube and a stand tube. Even though both fork legs have the same external structure, different processes take place inside them. While one side does the suspension, the other side does the damping. 

1. The suspension

The suspension does the job of absorbing the big impacts coming from the road surface. This is done either using air or a steel spring. In both cases, pressure compresses the suspension system (air or spring). The damping, located on the other side of the fork, prevents the suspension from springing back in an uncontrolled manner (snapping back to the starting position) when the pressure is released.

2. The damping

The damping in the other part of the fork leg prevents the fork from continually sliding up and down as a result of the action of the suspension. If the damping did not prevent this, safe off-road riding would not be impossible. Often, damping is done using a volume of oil, which is pressed into one of two oil chambers via two valves with the aid of a piston, depending on whether the spring is in or out. The qualities of the oil determine the strength of the damping: the smaller the valve, the more pressure will be needed to force the oil into the chamber (and thus, the more powerful the damping effect). On many forks, the level of damping can be adjusted.

Which is better – suspension fork or rigid fork?

You don’t always need a suspension fork. In certain situations, the rigid fork offers advantages. 

Advantages of suspension fork

Advantages of rigid fork

  • relieves stress on components 
  • protects back, wrists, hands
  • better ground contact on rough terrain 
  • better transfer of muscle power used (especially on inclines)
  • lower maintenance requirements


Originally developed as a suspension fork for MTBs, the damping fork has now become indispensable for anyone who ever rides off-road. Nevertheless, there are some disadvantages to suspension forks that should be mentioned.

Disadvantages of suspension fork

Disadvantages of rigid fork

  • higher weight
  • higher price
  • higher maintenance costs
  • no cushioning of heavy bumps impacts


What suspension forks are there for e-bikes?

The suspension fork on an e-bike must be built to withstand the higher weight and faster speeds. Manufacturers have realised this and now offer a number of models that are. And because suspension forks offer significantly more riding comfort, as they can be configured to perfectly absorb the shocks in a particular setting, their use has extended into different riding situations, such as city riding on cobblestones. An e-bike with suspension fork will also offer more flexibility and ground contact in the event of unexpected bumps. 

How do I correctly set up a suspension fork?

You can adjust a suspension fork with air suspension using a special air pump. This is a relatively simple procedure. On a steel suspension fork, the adjustment is somewhat more difficult. In essence, the preload of the steel spring changes the spring travel, which makes the fork softer or harder depending on the setting. 

If you would like to know more about the settings for a suspension fork, it is best to consult the user manual or contact your e-bike dealer.