How do Motorcycle Shock Absorbers work?

motorcycle shock absorber

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The motorcycle industry is always changing, bringing us new and interesting features on the machines we know and love. Today’s motorcycles are more complicated than ever, and understanding how your motorcycle’s suspension works can be scary at first.

However, understanding how your suspension is set up, how it affects your riding, and how to make modifications is an excellent first step toward completely understanding your bike and keeping it in the uppermost shape.

Suspension is almost certainly installed on your motorcycle, with shock absorbers in the back and forks in the front. Your tires, steering stem, and swingarm are all part of your suspension system.

These components can offer you a harsh or comfortable and cushy ride, controlled or waterbed-like response to bumps, and straight and true or weaving and wobbling corner tracks.

We’ll look at how your suspension works in this article, and how it can be enhanced.

Continue reading to learn everything there is to know about motorcycle suspension systems and how this information may help you land a job in the industry.

Suspension systems for motorcycles were first introduced at the turn of the 20th century. Suspension systems were major seen on motorcycles at the front wheel.

Shock absorbers are an alternative tag for motorcycle suspensions. This mechanism allows the motorcycle to roll smoothly on various roadways, allowing riders to enjoy a safe and secure journey.

Shock absorbers for motorcycles have gone through some changes since their inception, most recently in the last few years. 

Motorcycle shock absorbers, which are necessary for comfort and a smooth ride as well as improved control, are expected to be in high demand in the coming years.

Types of Shock Absorbers

motorcycle shock absorbers

Following are the different types of shock absorbers:

  1. Hydraulic type shock absorbers
  2. Double-acting shock absorbers
  3. Single-acting shock absorber
  4. Friction type shock absorber
  5. Lever-type shock absorber
  6. Telescopic type shock absorber

1. Hydraulic type shock absorbers:

Shock absorbers of the hydraulic type are now standard on all passenger cars. By forcing a fluid via check valves and microscopic holes, they increase resistance to the spring action.

2.  Double-acting shock absorbers

Double-acting shock absorbers provide resistance to the springs during both compression and rebound.

3. Single-acting shock absorber

Only on the rebound does a single-acting shock absorber provide resistance.

4. Friction type shock absorber

Because of their unexpected damping characteristics, friction-type shock absorbers have nearly become useless.

5. Lever-type shock absorber

The indirect-acting form of a shock absorber is the lever-type shock absorber. Through a lever and link, it is fastened to the chassis. A double piston system forces oil through a valve when the axle swings up and down.

6. Telescopic type shock absorber

The direct-acting form of the shock absorber is the telescopic type. It’s attached to the axle and the frame.

Following are the in-depth details of a motorcycle suspension absorbers system and the important aspects relating to it:

1. Front Suspension:

a) Conventional Telescopic Forks:

The most common type of front suspension is telescopic forks. The setup is straightforward, consisting of lengthy hydraulic tubes with an inside coil spring. These forks have a T-clamp at the top that connects them to the motorcycle’s frame, and the other end is attached to the front wheel’s axle.

In the event of road defects, the bottom portion of the fork bodies slides up and down the fork tubes, absorbing the vibrations. The inside is filled with oil to ensure smooth operation, and the oil is sealed inside using an oil seal.

b) Upside Down Forks (USD):

Inverted or upside-down forks are just telescopic forks that have been turned inside out. The slider bodies are at the top of them, while the tubes are at the bottom.

These are now predominantly utilized in high-end motorcycles since they reduce the motorcycle’s total unsparing weight while also boosting torsional rigidity, resulting in superior handling.

Important Terms:

  • Pre-Load Adjustment: This is the technique for adjusting the initial suspension position with the weight of the motorcycle and the rider operating on it.
  • Fork Damping: It is a phenomenon that occurs inside forks and has the effect of lowering, restricting, or preventing oscillations.
  • Brake Dive: When the brakes are engaged, the increased load on the front wheel causes the bike’s front end to drop, resulting in fork compression. Brake Dive refers to the shortening of the forks.

2. Rear Suspension: 

Previously, bikes did not have rear suspension and relied solely on front forks to maintain ride quality. However, as technology progressed, manufacturers began to use rear suspension, which is being used today.

The key components of the rear suspension system are the swingarm and coil springs.


A motorcycle swingarm can be thought of as a quadrilateral component of the motorbike, with one side bolted to the motorcycle’s frame and the other bolted to the rear wheel axle, which the wheel turns around.

The swingarm on many bikes is only present on one side, which is known as a single-sided swingarm. Though it makes it easier to remove the rear wheel with little effort, it adds to the unsprung weight of the rear suspension. Because of this, single-sided swingarms are rarely employed.

There are two types of suspension used with a swingarm:

a) Twin Shock Absorbers:

It refers to two shock absorbers on the back end of a motorcycle, as the name implies. These were first employed on off-road vintage motorcycles shocks in the 1970s and 1980s, and they were well-received due to the benefit of increased rear-wheel travel.

b) Mono Shock Absorbers:

Manufacturers began to use mono-shock absorbers in their motorcycles as time passed for a variety of reasons. Monoshocks were discovered to operate significantly better than traditional dual shock absorbers after extensive testing.

A single shock absorber is connected from the swingarm to the frame of the motorcycle in this design. It is not directly attached to the swingarm, but rather employs a linkage to provide a rising rate of rear damping.

Monoshocks also reduce swingarm torque more effectively, provide greater handling and stability, and are easier to adjust than twin shock absorbers because only one unit is used.

How do Motorcycle Shock Absorbers work?

motorcycle suspension

Shock absorbers or motorcycle suspensions are responsible for absorbing impacts and adequately and comfortably overcoming the irregularities of the terrain where we are rolling. The suspensions also play an important role in the stability, road holding, and control of the motorcycle.

Motorcycle suspension upgrades get their name from the fact that the motorcycle’s chassis or body is suspended over the wheels, and its purpose is to keep the motorbike stable when braking or halting, ensuring safety.

The suspension system on a motorbike, whether front or rear, is made up of two main components: the spring and the damper. When the wheel hits a bump, the spring permits the suspension to rise and then returns to its original position once the impact has passed.

Apart from the leaf spring, which is not often used, the two most common spring types used in bikes are coil springs and gas springs.

Every spring has a “stiffness” parameter that specifies how much power is needed to compress it by a certain amount. A spring with a stiffness rate of 5 N/mm, for example, will compress by 1 mm when a force of 5N is applied to it.

The front and rear suspensions are made up of a spring that cushions when the weight of the motorbike decreases, and a shock absorber that maintains the rise when the spring is extended again so that the upward movement for the wheels is gradual rather than abrupt.

The weight is transmitted to the front wheel when braking and to the rear wheel when accelerating, allowing the entire unit to move up and down to accommodate for those forces.

The Best motorcycle shocks are made up of the following components:

a) Fork: It connects the front wheel to the steering and chassis, as well as the front brake, and has a built-in suspension. It allows the front wheel’s vertical axis to swivel to change the bike’s direction when cornering.

b) Telescopes: It consists of two tubes, each of which is made up of two pieces, one of which is placed into the other. The wheel is held in place by the tubes.

c) Scissors or oscillating arm: It attaches to the rear shock absorber with this metallic piece.

d) Shock absorbers: The rear suspensions use hydraulic or gas shock absorbers.

e) Rims: The rims are the foundation of a motorcycle’s movement and progress.


So, hopefully, we’ve cleared up any confusion you may have had about Shock Absorber. One of the most crucial components of a suspension is the shock absorber.

It has a significant impact on vehicle handling. Various technologies have been developed, including hydraulic, pneumatic, and active systems, which are used by many automobile manufacturers.

In the following post, we’ll look at how shock absorbers generate forces and how to tune them to achieve the desired reaction.

If you have any further questions regarding “Types of Shock Absorber,” please contact us or post them in the comments section.

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