The rear shock of a full suspension bike is arguably the most important component to really set up well as it can have the greatest adverse influence on our overall ride quality. This is particularly so as most riders are more likely to be riding with a slight bias towards the back wheel than the front wheel. Most ‘expert’ riders concentrate on setting up the rear shock and then adjusting the fork to provide a balanced overall ride.
You are going to have to do multiple laps of the same tracks/ loops with the tools (and a pen & notepad or your phone) in your pocket until you are 95% happy. That is how I did it. SO don’t make the lap too long or you will ru out of energy and enthusiasm. Think short term inconvenience for long term rewards.
And remember that unless you are completely certain only change one setting at a time.
I am lucky enough to have access to a bike park in summer so I can tick off the laps without all the pedalling but that said pedalling is pretty important to a Nomand unless you are another one who has essentially built a shuttle sled. With my Nomad (and I have been through three rear shocks) I concentrated on the pedalling first, so an undualting trail with rocks and roots, some short sharp climbs and then a length of smooth double track climb to get into a mainly down hill that has a bit of everything. Probably a 15 minute loop. Well worth the time and effort. That said I know exactly what I am looking for so it takes me six-eight loops to tune the rear shock:
First lap: ride as normally as possible to get a feel for new shock with base settings. If there is anything really standing out as ‘wrong’ for your riding style or bike, then change it immediately and make that the aspect you concentrate on for the second lap.
Second lap: RB
Third lap: HSC
Fourth lap: check RB and HSC are working with more normal trail speed.
Fifth lap: LSC
Sixth lap: check everything works in balance at proper trail speed.
If I change anything significantly, for example, rebound, I will ride another lap concentrating on how that change has influenced how the bike responds to my inputs and the terrain.
Then I go somewhere that has bigger features such as drops and jumps and check that the settings hold/ feel good in that scenario.
I also know that I don’t have a lot of fast twitch muscle in my legs so I run my RB perhaps one click slower than other riders might for the same trail (fast jump trails mainly) as I know that I will get bucked more often if I don’t. I also prefer to have a bike that pedals well and maintains traction in fast tech trails than one that is optimised for the seriously high speed buffed jump trails (think Original Sin versus Dirt Merchant). So knowing how I ride and what I prefer also informs my tune choices.
The Canecreek field tuning guide is a good guide to going about it:
Good explainations about what you are trying to achieve with each setting.
Main thing is decide that, even though you are going to spend 1.5-2 hours riding the same loop 6-8 times and you are concentrating on tuning your shock rather than being the fastest every lap, you are going to have fun anyway.
Oh and in case I did not emphasise it enough write everything down and only change one variable at a time. Once the rear shock is as perfect as you can get it, take a quick check that the fork is set up so that the bike feels balanced in all riding scenarios.
Enjoy the process, happy trails.