When To Use Lockout On a Mountain Bike?

Lockouts are so common on mountain bikes that they might not seem much to talk about. So just in case you don’t know, here is the gist of it.

The lock-out feature, usually found on suspension forks, lets you remove all of the travel at any given moment. This allows for better efficiency and an easier time when riding up steep terrain.

A remote lockout will be your best bet since it is usually located near the handlebars and more easy to reach than a handlebar lockout button.

Keep in mind that there’s a distinction between disengaged lockouts (namely, they still function but hold no mechanical power) and easy-to-reach lever lockouts (meaning they do not function).

It’s basic stuff in essence, but you won’t know the significance of it until you experience proper use.

In fact, some bikes come with this feature included in their design, whereas others have it as an additional option. It usually affects the range of the bike and thus the price.

On a hardtail mountain bike (a type of bike with no rear suspension), a lockout will be of great help when climbing up steep terrain.

When going uphill, you don’t want any extra resistance from your suspension as this will make things more difficult for you.

On a trail bike, you can easily disengage the lockout and carry on as normal. You’ll find quite a few bikes with this kind of feature available today and it’s usually one of their selling points.

The first use for the lockout was on mountain bikes. Hardtails started adopting them soon after for those who wanted to do more distance with trail riding.

Today, pretty much all suspension fork models come with a lockout feature built-in.

However, it is not always easy to reach and it is important to remember this when you are out riding. Lockouts can be found on hardtail or trail bikes, but in most cases, the latter will have an added lever for easier access.

A bicycle with a lockout feature is worth the money spent. Even if you don’t intend to do much climbing, you might change your mind in the future.

If this is the case, then it makes sense to purchase a bicycle that has a lockout feature. It’s better to be prepared than not.

In addition, certain brands are notorious for their amazing equipment and premium feel which come with a higher price tag.

If you want to save as much money as possible, look out for models with lockout forks without having to spend quite so much on the whole bike.

What is a Disengaged Lockout?

A disengaged lockout is a lever on the side of the handlebars that, when flipped up, keeps the
suspension from moving.

It’s an important feature for mountain bikers to have because it prevents their suspension from bouncing too high and causing packability.

It also gives riders more control over how their bike responds and more consistency in turns.

When should I use it?

A disengaged lockout is commonly used on rough terrain where there are large rocks and roots buried beneath deep dirt or sand.

Remote Lockout

A remote lockout is when the lever is attached to the handlebars instead of on the frame. This allows for more leverage to be applied and a tighter turn.

So if you’re riding trails with deep sand, you should lock out your suspension by pulling up on the lever with your hand.

If you’re riding single-track and the trail is rapidly changing to packed dirt, a remote lockout can help prevent too much movement as well.

What is the difference between remote and manual?

Remote lockout means you don’t have to physically touch your front fork to get it to work whereas you would have to manually grab your front suspension and push or pull it up or down depending on what you need at the time.

The advantage of having a remote lockout fork is that if you are riding through thick sand, you don’t have to worry about getting sand inside your brake calipers.

If you have a lot of rocks on the trail, you don’t need to worry about your gear mountain bike getting stuck on anything.

Remote and manual work best on modern mountain bikes for different reasons:

Remote can be used in single-track terrain where there are rocks and mud and sometimes deep sand or remote doesn’t require going back to the shop if something goes wrong.

However, if you want to turn your suspension up or down manually, it is a lot more control.

If you are going downhill, the remote lockout can lock out your fork but locking out entirely won’t make much of a difference when riding downhill because the angle of the front end is so far below what it is when running free.

Lockout Fork

A lockout fork doesn’t make much of a difference in rocky terrain that has ruts in it but can make a huge difference in a single track.

It can also make a huge difference downhill. A lockout fork can be used to either lock out the fork or engage it.

A handlebar lockout button is not a remote system and it will only prevent the suspension from extending. A handlebar lockout button is only found on the front or the rear, but rarely both.

How to Use a Bike Lockout

For a bike with a lockout feature, the process is relatively simple.

First of all, you should be standing at the side of your bike and facing it. Gently pull on the lever and then push it down to engage.

If you are looking for maximum efficiency when using your lockout, then do what is known as the ‘half-pull’.

This consists of pulling on the lever halfway so that no pressure is put on the rear suspension shock.

This makes for a much easier experience that doesn’t drive up costs unnecessarily when you are trying to get an extra push while riding uphill.

Other Benefits:

A lockout feature can be beneficial for a number of different reasons. By removing the pressure on the rear suspension shock, it allows you to pedal faster without having to worry too much about how fast you are traveling.

It also helps to reduce the strain on both your hands and arms during your workout.

Some people find that there is less risk of injury when trying to reach the pedals as well which makes for a smoother ride in some cases.

Finally, if you are going into unknown territory or leading a large group of people, then this feature can really come in handy.

Final Thoughts:

When it comes to technical climbs while mountain biking, your biking activity requires finesse so that you don’t strain yourself or the bike.

Again compared to smooth trails and downhill bike rides, your bike’s suspension design may mean loss of efficiency and overuse of the disc brakes if the right bike setup is not in place. 

This is why a lockout on a mountain bike is such an important part. It makes your bike design modern while keeping your bike suitable for any terrain without any modifications. 

If you have modern bike rides that are smooth, efficient, and enjoyable, then go for a bike with an easy-to-reach lockout lever and you will have an impressive bike.

From riding to school since the age of 13, attending BMX races and events with his dad to himself conquering 10+ trails across the globe, for Rob, his Giant Stance 29 2 2020 is the friend that makes everything better. He is also a proud member of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

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