Communication between rider and suspension tuner can be as tricky as child psychology, so we asked master suspension tuner Jim “Bones” Bacon to break it down for us. On a daily basis he deals with the top racers in both motocross and off-road and at the same time the regular customer guy, so he definitely knows the tricks to translating information from a rider into the suspension and ways to help a rider figure out this black science and tune his own suspension.1 Make sure you are starting on the right foot-meaning correct sag, the proper spring rates and a balanced bike that is completely broken in.2 Be smart with your questions. If the suspension kicks, ask where? Then ask if that’s because it’s too stiff (compression) or because it rebounds too fast. Use your questions to isolate the problem. Quiz the rider enough to get valuable answers. If you can’t come to an answer, have the rider go out again and think about his problem while riding.3 Meanwhile, watch the bike and note if you see what the rider is feeling. This opens up two more scenarios:A. You see it and decide upon the right change with some smart questions.B. You don’t see it, yet the rider feels something just isn’t working correctly. Some riders feel things they can’t explain. Determine where on the track the problem is occurring. Then ask specifically what he is feeling. Here we are getting back to asking smart questions. “I get headshake!” isn’t going to cut it. Is it lock-to-lock bar swapping, or is the front end just light and jittery? If it is an impact issue, did it hit and deflect or hit and sink into the stroke? Then ask, “Where?” Then decide on a change.4 Make one change at a time unless you are 100 percent sure of where you are going.5 Upgrading from stock is an easy step for most suspension guys, as they know what stock is and how it works. Improving upon someone else’s already revalved suspension is much more of a mystery. Using stock as a baseline is a good strategy. Most good suspension shops should be able to give you optimum stock settings as that is where they should have moved on from to improve the shock and fork through internal valving modifications, if necessary.Contact Pro Circuit at www.procircuit.com or 951/738-8050.