Looking at the components of a bicycle, an important one is the spring. Various forms of springs are found in several places in a bike, including the suspension, seat post, and pedal structure. Consider a mountain bike rider on a rough trail; the springs work to lessen sharp impacts, improving the quality of the ride. Springs also have a crucial role in controlling the bike's handling characteristics, which affects rider safety. This article will explain the role of springs by examining their location, function, choice, and upkeep. Additionally, we will discuss why certain types of springs, given different factors like load changes and temperature variations, work better in some conditions. This knowledge will assist you in improving your bike's performance based on its springs.
Requirements for Bicycle Springs
Material selection is a key step in the manufacture of bicycle springs as they are subjected to significant stress. Bicycle springs are subject to cycles of compression and decompression, face heat due to friction, and degrade over time. Typical materials include steel, stainless steel, and alloy steel, each selected for their characteristics. Steel is marked by high yield strength and toughness, suiting it for handling the stresses generated by bicycle usage. Stainless steel, due to its inherent anti-corrosion properties, is used in situations where corrosion is a potential concern. Alloy steel offers a combination of the durability of steel and the wear resistance of stainless steel.
The springs' design, such as coil shape and diameter, are critical to ensure the springs' compatibility with the bicycle's other parts and their shock absorption capacity. For instance, rear suspension springs with larger diameters and constructed from sturdier materials can better absorb shocks in rough terrain, improving ride quality.
The surface finish of springs matters in cases where bicycles face diverse weather conditions or terrains. The aim is to avoid corrosion or rusting. Zinc plating is one method used to protect against corrosion. It's important to note, however, that the use of any surface finish should not affect the spring's mechanical properties as the spring's performance depends on these properties.
Where are the Springs in Bikes?
Suspension system: Springs can be found in the suspension system of bicycles, specifically in the front fork suspension. Their main function is to absorb impact and to keep the bike steady on uneven ground. For instance, riding over a rocky trail causes the springs to shrink, countering the shock and allowing the tire to remain in touch with the ground.
Rear suspensions: Springs are a part of the rear suspensions on mountain bikes. They reduce shock from the rear wheel, minimizing the impact of riding over rough surfaces. However, it is crucial to maintain a balance in the shock absorption as too much can disrupt the power transfer from the rider to the bike.
Saddle suspension system: Springs located under the saddle of bicycles cushion the shock from the rear wheel, improving rider comfort. To ensure successful shock absorption and prevent excessive bouncing, the hardness of these springs needs to match with the weight of the rider.
Pedals: In some older models of bicycles, springs were used in the pedals to reset the pedal to its original state after each round of pedaling, assisting in maintaining a consistent pedal position. However, the benefit of this feature may vary based on different cycling techniques.
Bicycle accessories: Springs in accessories such as bike horns or lights usually control their switches. The design of springs in these parts can enhance the user-friendly nature of these accessories, although they do not have a direct impact on the bike's capacity or safety.
How to Replace Bicycle Springs
Replacement is required when a bicycle spring exhibits signs of compression or wear. The first step involves identifying the affected spring. Bicycle springs are situated in the front suspension, rear suspension, or the seat. The damaged spring's location aids in procuring the exact replacement and determining the fitting tools. The necessary tools may differ according to the specific mechanical requirements of each spring based on its position.
After you identify the spring size you are replacing, pull up to the Compression Spring Calculator and input your dimensions. You'll get a host of COTS options to choose from that are exact or very close to your old spring.
A range of wrenches or a socket set, and a screwdriver, are tools frequently used for bicycle maintenance. The manufacturer's instructions should be followed when trying to detach a firmly attached spring to prevent damage to other parts. For instance, during the removal of a large rear suspension spring, caution is needed due to its close attachment to other bicycle structural components.
Following the removal of the old spring, the immediate vicinity should be examined for any potential damage that could impact the new spring's operation. The area should be cleaned and lubricant applied, especially for springs under the saddle exposed to rust and debris. The new spring should fit securely when installed. A spring that fits loosely in the front or rear suspensions might cause instability while riding.
Post-installation testing is a good measure of the new spring's operation. The improvement in shock absorption on uneven terrains is an indicator of a correctly installed new front suspension spring.
Conclusion: Springs, Small but Significant Bicycle Parts
Bicycles typically employ springs within the front forks and rear shocks, serving as integral components of the suspension system. These springs process the shocks from various impacts, facilitating a smoother journey over irregular surfaces.
A bicycle spring functions on a basic principle; it changes shape to a compressed state when the bicycle impacts a bump, absorbing the sudden force. The spring subsequently reverts to its original form, pushing the bicycle upwards and minimizing the impact resulting from the obstructing feature.
In the context of downhill mountain biking, where riders encounter heightened physical and environmental factors, a high-performing shock absorbing system becomes necessary. Consequently, the attributes of the spring, such as its spring constant and the material from which it is manufactured, need to be appropriately selected. A steel coil spring offers advantages like durability and uniform performance across varying temperatures. Another option could be air springs, which offer tunability and less weight, however, they require more frequent maintenance.
Checking your springs regularly is crucial for maintaining bike performance. Any noticed lengthening of the spring beyond its original size may indicate it has worn out and replacement is advisable.