What is a compression system?
A compression system is simply the method used to hold the front end of the scooter together- without it the forks, and possibly various other components, would just fall out. Compression also allows for tuning - this is to make small adjustments to parts of the scooter (i.e. the headset) in order to make them perform perfectly. Some types of compression allow for smaller changes than others, making achieving the perfect balance between smooth steering and a solid feel more easily achievable.
Every scooter has it in one form or another, but knowing which type your scooter has is crucial when it comes to ordering new parts or upgrading.
There are multiple different types of compression; each one has strengths and weaknesses:
Although very different from the others, a threaded set up is the most widely used. It’s the most simple and will come with the majority of pre-built scooters on the market, for example the ‘Team Dogz Pro 3 X-GEN’.
It works in the same way a normal nut and bolt would, the forks themselves screw into the headset, tightening everything around the head tube. The bars and clamp then attach to the top of the steerer tube/down tube that protrudes out of the top.
Specific parts for this kind of set up include the forks and headset- both must be threaded for it to work. Also a pair of bars with a slit in the base is essential in order to allow them to be attached properly.
Next up- SCS compression or a ‘standard compression system’ to give it it’s full name. This is probably the next most common type of compression in the market; it’s used on some pre builds, including the ‘Team Dogz Pro 4 X-GEN’.
This set up utilises a special clamp with a ledge about half way down, by placing a washer on this and a threaded insert such as a starnut in the forks, you can pull your forks and clamp together using a small bolt. Your bars are then tightened into the top half of your clamp. This all makes it really easy to make minute adjustments to your scooter that will allow you to enjoy really smooth feeling steering while maintaining a solid build.
The list of specific parts for SCS is quite extensive, firstly you’ll need threadless forks with a threaded insert near the top of the steerer tube/down tube - some come with one, others will need you to add one, known as a ‘starnut’. Next, you’ll need the specific SCS clamp and bars- these ones don’t have a slit in, allowing the clamp to tighten without needing to grip anything else. Lastly the SCS washer and bolt, these sometimes come with the SCS clamp.
An inverted compression system is another popular option, it’s not used on quite so many complete scooters but you don’t need much in the way of special parts- just forks and the compression system its self- so it’s reasonably easy to upgrade to from standard.
It works by using a long bolt that runs from the forks all the way up into the bars and tightens onto a starnut inserted into the base of the bars, this means that everything, including the bars, is held in place together and can all be adjusted from the base of the forks. This sort of compression could also be used in conjunction with the threaded type to further secure your bars.
Seen as an easy upgrade from a threaded system, ICS requires little in the way of parts. Basically, just the long bolt and starnut as many forks have a well/hole in which the head of the bolt can sit, although some will require a washer. You can use either type of bars, with the slit or without, as it won’t make a difference in this case. You can also choose which type of forks to use, however threadless forks make things a lot simpler and more accessible, so we would recommend using them for a really clean build.
Finally, Hidden internal compression- despite slowly gaining popularity this is the least used type of the four. It’s another system that can work really well as an easy upgrade from factory parts on some scooters, however you’ll need to make sure certain parts are the correct size.
This type of compression works by using a shim and top cap (washer) to mimic what an SCS clamp would do otherwise, by pushing against the top of the headset to pull simultaneously pull the forks up and hold everything firmly in place.
Specific parts needed for this can vary- one of it’s drawbacks is that, because of the extra width created by the shim being over the forks, you will need to be using HIC oversized
bars to fit. Hence, you also need an oversized clamp. Other than this, you’ll need threadless forks and the compression system its self- so, depending on what you already have, this can be a simple upgrade.
We recommend using sealed bearings with any threadless compression system; these ensure the best performance while requiring little maintenance. It’s a small upgrade that will make a world of difference- you won’t regret it!
The most important thing to remember when upgrading or changing what compression you’re using is the size of the parts you have available- often it’s possible to upgrade without changing much if you do your research. However, as always, carefully chosen parts and painstakingly tweaked set ups can make all the difference to your scooter- changing both the look and feel to suit you perfectly and enhance your riding experience. So choose carefully.