In the last episode we covered the key difference between high and low speed compression, which controls how quickly your suspension compresses on different types of hits. Rebound, obviously, controls your suspension’s return to it’s original state. On the surface, it seems obvious, but there’s a big difference in what’s dictating their movement speed.

With compression, the speed of your impact is dictating the speed of your compression, which is controlled by the damping circuits. With rebound, the speed is dictated by the spring rate. A stronger spring, whether coil or air, will rebound faster. Regardless of the spring’s strength, you need a rebound damping circuit to control the rebound rate so your suspension isn’t bouncing back too quickly and causing a loss of control.

You don’t want too much rebound damping, either. If your suspension returns too slowly, it won’t be ready to take the next impact and will eventually get bogged down through successive hits. Which means it’s unable to fully absorb multiple impacts,

Like before, we’ll use the term shock generically, referring to both the fork and shock on a mountain bike.


Whats the difference between high and low speed rebound damping on mountain bike suspension and how to set it

To reiterate, High speed rebound has nothing to do with the speed of your impact. Instead, it’s a response to the size of your impact. You’re really only using your High speed rebound when you take a big hit that compresses the shock most or all of the way through its travel. Here’s why: When you shock is fully compressed, the air spring’s pressure is higher and wants to push back (i.e. “rebound”) harder and faster.

So, just as your shock starts to rebound from a big hit, it’s bouncing back faster, and that’s when it’s pushing oil through the High speed rebound damping circuit. That circuit is there to control the rate of rebound as your shock starts to return from its end of stroke. As it rebounds further out, getting closer to the fully extended starting position, its rebound rate slows because the air spring’s pressure lessens. As it does, the oil transitions its flow path from the High speed rebound circuit to the Low speed rebound circuit.

how to set rebound damping on mountain bike suspension fork and shock
Higher end forks and shocks (like the Cane Creek Double Barrel) give you external controls for high and low speed settings, but require dedicated fiddling to get them totally dialed.

Most of your time is likely spent in the first 2/3 of your travel, where the Low speed rebound circuit controls things. That’s why most forks and shocks only include an external control for Low speed rebound – it gives you the most noticeable tuning adjustments. The High speed circuit is usually set at the factory, either in a stock setting for a fork, or custom tuned for a particular full suspension frame’s leverage ratio and shock rate.

Now that you know what they’re for, check out our Suspension Setup Guide to tune your fork and shock’s rebound settings for the best performance!

The fun never ends. Stay tuned for a new post each week that explores one small suspension tech, tuning or product topic. Check out past posts here. Got a question you want answered? Email us. Want your brand or product featured? We can do that, too.



  1. Pretty good explanation but a few things seem inaccurate.

    Isn’t it the shaft speed rather than size of the impact that determines if low speed or high speed circuits are being activated?

    Regardless of impact size, the shaft speed is zero when the spring transitions from compression to extension. So no, the shock is not immediately “bouncing back faster” after a big hit.

    The shaft speed during rebound(extending from full compression) is inverse of the spring force in that it starts at 0 (peak force) and accelerates to max speed at full extension.

    If I dial in too much low speed rebound damping, the high speed circuit will never kick in because the shaft will never reach a high enough extension rate (shaft speed).

    Rock shocks used to label their high speed rebound as end stroke rebound, but even that was a misnomer because shaft speed is ultimately dictated by the amount of low speed rebound.

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.