How to Adjust ATV Shocks With or Without a Tool | Hunt or Shred

Adjusting the ATV shocks can seem complicated for anybody with less experience handling an ATV. Luckily, it can be done with or without a tool.

We can follow the steps below to adjust ATV shocks without or without a tool.

  1. Adjust the tire pressure
  2. Adjust the ride height and preload adjustment settings
  3. Adjust the high-speed clicker
  4. Adjust the low-speed clicker
  5. Adjust the rebound
  6. Test the adjustments

We have spent years working on off-road vehicles like ATVs. Tuning and adjusting the shocks is a simple task, and we have outlined the best steps to do it below in this guide. Keep reading to become an ATV shock expert.

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How to Adjust ATV Shocks With or Without a Tool

ATV shocks are an essential part of any off-roading experience. They are responsible for providing a smooth ride and helping absorb the trail's bumps and jumps.

Unfortunately, most ATV shocks come from the factory with settings that aren't always perfect for the rider's weight or riding style. But don't worry. Adjusting your ATV shocks is a relatively simple task that can be done with or without a tool.

Adjusting ATV shocks requires patience, trial and error, and understanding rider needs. Each ATV and rider’s preference is different, so some trial and error are needed to reach the optimal adjustment. Be ready to make multiple adjustments until you find the correct setting.

Following these steps and additional research should help riders achieve improved vehicle responsiveness, ultimately leading to easier maneuverability and safer & smoother rides throughout varying terrains.

Without A Tool

For riders without a tool, the process is a bit more complicated. There are dedicated tools to make this process easy, so when you don’t have one, you can try to use your hands or a rubber strap wrench.

We don’t recommend using your hands; in many cases, it won’t be possible to get enough leverage to make the adjustment. The rider should begin by understanding how the shocks are currently adjusted.

To do this, you should sit on the ATV and take it for a test ride, paying special attention to how the shocks respond to the terrain. If the shocks are too stiff, the ride will be very bumpy and uncomfortable, while the ATVs will bounce around a lot if they are too soft.

Once you know how the shocks are currently adjusted, you can begin to make adjustments. The most common adjustment is to the preload setting. The spring tension in the shock can be adjusted by turning a nut at the top.

To make the ride softer, turn the nut counterclockwise; to make it stiffer, turn it clockwise. If the compression is too stiff, there will not be enough bounce while riding. There is a perfect medium between the two.

With A Tool

For riders with a tool, the process is relatively straightforward. The tool typically used is a shock spanner, essentially a wrench with a hook-shaped end. With this tool, the rider can adjust the damping setting of the shocks.

Typically, a threaded collar or snail cam is used to adjust ATV shocks. But before using the tool, we need to adjust the tire pressure to the ideal properly and recommended PSI level.

The tool can be used directly on the shocks to loosen the locking ring. After doing this, we can set the ride height or the preload adjustment. When this happens, the adjustment collar can be accessed.

We can loosen this collar to adjust the rider's height. Once this is done, we can move on to the clicker adjustments. Many premium ATVs have dual-clicker shocks, so that we can begin with the high-speed adjuster first.

After adjusting this, we can either test-ride it and see if we like the setting or move directly to the low-speed adjuster clicker. We must ride over bumps to test this and see how the compressions feel.

Next, we can adjust our rebound. This is the amount of time it takes for the ATV to rebound from a shock. If the ATV bounces up and down after a bump, they need to be tightened, and the shock is too loose.

We recommend trying a few adjustments to see what feels best while riding. Nothing can ruin a day on the trails like poorly configured shocks.

Is It Possible To Adjust ATV Shocks Without a Tool?

Yes, it’s possible to adjust the ATV shocks without a tool. But it’s much more difficult, and some type of tool is required when we don’t have a dedicated ATV shock adjustment tool.

It’s also worth noting that the type of ATV shock matters. For example, most ATVs use clicker shocks, so no tool is required to make the adjustment. The clicker is a tool, and the only adjustment needed is a small knob, nut, or set screw on the shock.

However, many people might not have any tools around. This would force us to use our hands or a rubber belt. Both can be done, but getting enough leverage on the shock adjustment is tricky to reach the desired setting.

Always proceed with caution when you don’t have a tool handy. The last thing you want is an injury while playing around with ATV shocks.

What To Consider When Adjusting ATV Shocks

Tuning ATV shocks critical for a smooth ride, no matter what type of terrain you are driving on. Whether you’re a casual rider or an avid off-road enthusiast, adjusting your vehicle’s suspension is necessary to ensure a comfortable and safe experience.

Here are some key factors to consider when tuning and adjusting ATV shocks.

Riding Preferences

Adjusting ATV shocks depends on the environment in which they will be used. Softer settings may suit your needs if you will be riding primarily flat terrain with few bumps and no steep inclines or declines.

On the other hand, if you plan on tackling rough trails with jumps and drops, then harder settings are ideal. It’s essential to understand what type of riding you plan on doing before making any adjustments so that your shocks can provide optimal performance.


Compression is simply how much force is required to compress the shock absorber when going over bumps or dips in the road or trail surface. Too little compression can result in bottoming out, while too much would cause an uncomfortable ride and reduced traction.

This is due to excessive bounce back from each bump. When this happens, it’s uncomfortable, and it can lead to disastrous results like loss of control and flipping over cases can occur if this isn't set correctly.

Remember that lower values result in more shock absorption (softer) when setting up your ATV's suspension system. In comparison, higher values increase rigidity (harder) - experiment here until the desired effect has been achieved.


Rebound refers to how quickly the shock absorbs energy from bumps in the road or trail and returns it into the suspension system after compression (when hitting something).

To get proper rebound settings for your vehicle's weight, try experimenting with different levels until you find one that gives enough cushion without sacrificing control over long rides or rough terrain.

It may take some time to get it right, but it will make all the difference once you do. Always test the rebound multiple times on bumpy terrain to ensure it’s adequately adjusted too.

Preload Settings

This refers to how much “initial tension” there is between components before encountering external forces, such as bumps and dips. This can be crucial in determining overall comfort level when driving through rougher terrains.

We must properly tighten and adjust these collars before tinkering with the clickers.

Can Adjusting The ATV Shocks Make It Rider Smoother?

Adjusting the shocks is the number one way to create a smoother riding ATV. Primarily, you should focus on the compression adjuster to get better results.

The shocks today usually have both a high-speed and low-speed adjustment setting. The low-speed adjustment will help reduce the bounce of the vehicle. When the adjustment is turned counterclockwise, the ride gets softer, and the ATV also has better loose surface traction.

But when driving on bumpy trails, we need a stiffer compression setting. Otherwise, every bump will feel too harsh, and the ATV will not be smooth while riding.

This can be adjusted by turning the compression clockwise. However, turning it too far will reduce and even cut off the oil flow in the vehicle, causing major chassis damage and a sudden spike in pressure.

Play around with the adjustments or consult an expert if you are unsure whether it’s set properly. This is crucial to the durability and riding capability of the ATV.

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Key Takeaways

  • ATV shocks can be adjusted with and without a tool. Most ATVs have clickers, which can be used to adjust the compression and rebound of the vehicle.
  • Adjusting the ATV shocks is the best way to reduce excessive bouncing to improve how smoothly the vehicle can ride.
  • Consider the rider’s preferences, compression, rebound, and preload settings when adjusting ATV shocks.




41 years old. I'm a freelance writer that specializes in informational blog posts. All my articles are detail oriented and well researched. I'm a huge Arizona Cardinals fan!

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