Q: There are numerous configurations and layouts, but what does the rising-rate linkage in a modern single-shock rear suspension actually do?
A: In addition to its obvious role as the connection between shock and swingarm, the linkage turns relatively little shock travel into three or four times that at the wheel, allowing the use of a lighter, more compact shock. The farther you push a rising-rate linkage, the harder it is to push. That helps your rear suspension respond to small bumps without bottoming over big ones. Linkages used on streetbikes are relatively linear compared to the steeper leverage ratios on motocross bikes designed to clear 60-foot jumps.