The short answer to the above question of when to lock out mountain bike suspension is when you are riding on a long climb, or flat section of riding - which is not technical, not featuring massively rough terrain or obstacles to negotiate.
Mountain Bike Suspension has become increasingly complex in recent years, to the massive advantage of the rider - and one of the most common features of MTB Suspension is a lockout feature.
What is Suspension Lockout?
Most suspension forks and suspension shocks have a lockout feature - this feature stops the suspension from compressing, leaving the suspension in a fixed position. This feature should be used when travelling uphill, or on smooth flat terrain - to prevent any wasted energy being transferred through suspension movement.
Fork & Shock Suspension Lockout
Usually, both the suspension fork and the rear shock of a mountain bike will lockout - although it’s worth mentioning that with the body positioned over the rear shock, there is greater energy lost through the movement of the rear shock, when not locked out VS front suspension forks.
When to Lockout MTB Suspension?
We lockout our suspension when travelling on fire roads between trails - this is the ideal way to maximise pedalling efficiency, especially when riding a full suspension mountain bike.
When not to Lockout MTB Suspension?
Do not lockout the suspension when you travel across any sort of rough terrain - suspension is designed to maximise your performance and speed over rough ground. Regardless of whether you are travelling quickly or slowly, if there is rough terrain and obstacles - suspension needs to be active.
How to tell if suspension is locked out?
You can normally feel immediately when suspension is locked out, as there is no movement. This is most obvious on the rear shock, which will barely move under your weight and movement. If you travel over rough ground with the suspension locked out, you can expect the bike to feel unsettled and jumpy.
What happens if you hit an obstacle with locked out suspension?
The good news is that suspension components are usually tough enough to take the odd hit when locked out - when these things happen accidentally. That’s the good news, the bad news is that bouncing down off road terrain is not going to feel very good with suspension locked out - you can expect a harsh and uncomfortable landing.
MTB Suspension Online
At Westbrook Cycles, we stock and supply a complete range of mountain bike suspension components and parts - including rear shocks and suspension forks, for full suspension and hardtail bikes.