Is It Damping Or Dampening?

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This might be the question of all suspension questions that no one actually asks, but everyone definitely has an answer to.

So, is it damping or dampening?

It’s damping.

Damping is “a decrease in the amplitude of an oscillation because resistive forces drain energy from the system.”

Read “FOX Takes First Live Valve Premier Class Desert Racing Victory”

That’s pretty technical, so let’s simplify these three parts:

  • “Oscillation” = compression and rebound
  • “Resistive forces drain energy” = shock (damper) controls the movement
  • “The system” = your vehicle (or bike) and wheels

So, damping is “a decrease in the amplitude of compression and rebound because the shock controls the movement of your vehicle and wheels.”

Damping is also what you can tune through adjusters, like DSC, QS3, and iQS. Technologies like Live Valve tunes damping for you, multiple times per second.

Justin Lofton on his way to victory at the 2020 Best In The Desert BlueWater Challenge.

Interested in learning how a shock controls the movement of your vehicle and wheels? Check out our earlier post “How Shocks Work”.

But SO many people say dampening!

Hey, we’ve done it. Maybe you’ve done it. No one is pointing fingers over here. It’s a common misconception, but it’s also really easy to just add the “en” into “damping” without even thinking about it.

“Dampen” is a verb meaning “to make slightly wet.”

“Dampening” isn’t even in the dictionaries we use. So, we don’t think it’s an actual word. But if it was, maybe it would mean “making slightly wetting”? Maybe not. That sounds pretty weird.

Anyway, now you’re in the know.


Like what you see? Check out all the FOX Academy videos for powered vehicles and mountain bikes here.