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Digital Subscriptions > Fast Bikes > 336 > KNOW YOUR… STEERING DAMPERS

KNOW YOUR… STEERING DAMPERS

Steering dampers can often go unseen, but their presence is much harder to go unnoticed. We caught up with suspension guru Michael Hancock fromK-Tech to find out a little more about them…

WORDS: PRETTY BOY IMAGES: K-TECH, FBARCHIVE

Not a fan of slappers? Then you’d better fit one of these…

FB: What is the role of a steering damper?

MH: A steering damper is there to assist the rider and give them more control over the handlebars; so for example if you hit a bump or get any sideways kicks to the bike (like hitting a curb on track, or a cat’s eye on the road), it will literally dampen the force and ease the pressure on your arms by absorbing the kinetic force travelling through the chassis.

FB: How does it work?

MH: Steering damper are quite a simple idea really! Essentially they are a made up of a tube, which is the body, which houses a solid piston. The piston works by pushing oil straight through a bleed as you turn the bars from side to side, with the difficulty/resistance being controlled by your adjustment needle and oil viscosity.

FB: Do they make a notable difference?

MH: Yep! For example, if you rode a Superbike with one then without one you’d be holding on for dear life, as they’re incredibly important for stability when the front wheel makes contact with the tarmac again after a wheelie. They are definitely a massive help to a rider for not only reducing wobbles but even by saving you using all your strength to keep the bars in a straight line.

The K-Tech crew know a thing or two about stability.

If you don’t know the difference between yokes and yolks, Dzus and Zeus, or suspension and suspenders – email the experts letters@fastbikes.co.uk

FB: Are they effective on the road?

MH: Yes they are just as useful on the road as the track for all the same reasons – all you need is to hit a little bump and the bars can be all over the place, which is where the steering damper will kick in and help to save you!

FB: What’s the difference between an aftermarket and a standard damper?

MH: It’s the same as with all standard parts in the fact that they are made to a cost to fit in with the price of the bike, whereas aftermarket dampers are made for performance just like suspension components or exhausts.

FB: How do you adjust a steering damper?

MH: Most steering dampers will have some type of adjustment knob, which will have a winding mechanism in order to fine tune the feeling. If you wind them clockwise it will add more resistance and stiffen the damper, whereas going anticlockwise will give you less and make the feeling softer.

FB: What difference does the oil make in a damper?

MH: The viscosity will make a big difference to how the damper performs, just like it would in suspension. Setup and oil type tends to vary from one machine to the next, because it wouldn’t make sense to have the same degree of resistance on a spindly Moto3 bike as it would on a heavy and fearsome superbike. You can easily over-engineer something, and then it could hinder you.

FB: Howmuch impact do they make on track?

MH: They impact the most on track as that’s when the machines are pushed to their very limits and every force is amplified. Essentially, you want to ride the fastest you can in the easiest possible way, so you need all the help you can get. A steering damper will do just that if there is a wobble or bump, meaning the rider can put all their concentration into going faster!

FB: Are they more important on-road or off-road?

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