Steering Dampers

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Steering Dampers

Postby brockadavis » Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:36 am

I have an F800 GS and want to try riding some dirt roads. I have ridden on reasonable good gravel roads but as soon as a get into really loose stuff I get the wobbles and find it very difficult (almost impossible) to control the bike.
Questions.
1.Do steering dampers make a big difference?
2.Can anybody recommend a particular brand?
I'd appreciate any feedback on good tips on riding in loose gravel or sand.
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Re: Steering Dampers

Postby Richard Hughes » Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:29 pm

2 things you can do here, 1 sell the 800 and buy a 1200 GSA or 2 Talk to Ben Pickard regarding steering Dampers on 800's, he will tell you all you want to know and maybee even some you don't, he went through the uncontrolable sand wobbles until he got his dampner and now recons it's almost as good as a GSA. :lol:
ask him about 21 inch front wheels too....if you have about 6-8 hours free :lol:
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Re: Steering Dampers

Postby bully1 » Wed Apr 28, 2010 7:49 pm

I've got my damper for my 1200GS ready to put on shortly ( after the Holland track on the weekend I need it) I've had it ordered for a few weeks so may put it on at the tuning day.
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Re: Steering Dampers

Postby 2volts » Wed Apr 28, 2010 8:05 pm

Without a steering damper, at speed (80 - 100kph) on reasonable (hard packed with loose surface) gravel I found keeping your weight well forward seemed to steady the front end a bit. But not really practical in other conditions and definitely not in softer or sandy conditions where you need to keep the weight well back.

So yes a steering damper is a good thing on the F800GS.

RalleMoto in NSW make a steering damper for the F800GS. Buy from Motorrad Garage or Adventure Moto.
Reasonably easy to fit, except for when you drop a screw or washer into the black hole of the engine area and it's lost forever.
Anyway, it's all bolt on and easy to remove if need be.

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Re: Steering Dampers

Postby _Wilks » Thu Apr 29, 2010 1:34 pm

As a hack adv rider with no expertise but plenty of kms under my belt here is my opinion. The fundamental function of a steering damper (SD) is to slow or minimise sudden and large movements coming thru the bars. Therefore SD's typically work best for the rider in 2 scenario's - 1) sudden deflection caused by largish rocks or potholes and 2) speed wobbles.

For off-road riders the speed wobble can kick in at varying speeds depending on (and there's probably more factors):
- the surface (sand, gravel etc),
- the load on board (pillion, camping gear etc),
- the positioning of the load (close to the rider, hanging over the tail-light, high tail bags, low slung panniers etc), and
- the front wheel size (diameter & width)
- tyres & tyre pressures.
So there is no magic 'number' when the speed wobbles will start.

As a very general comment, I wouldn't be buying a SD to address the absence of a 'planted' feeling when riding at slow to modest pace through the gravel tracks in the hills or south west. In that situation, I'd suggest to hold off on the SD and first try put in many many hours of riding/practice in those conditions to grow your skills and familiarity. Experiment with tyre types and pressures too. If faster off-road riding is your thing, particularly with a load on board, then grab a SD as Pete suggests.

One last comment. When weighing up the opinions of us here, the key factor is the type of riding the responder does themselves. If their riding background/preferences are different to yours then it's possible their opinion isn't so relevant, or perhaps has less relevance to you.

My preferred type of riding is fully loaded, multi-day, long distance adventure stuff with as little bitumen as possible.

Cheers
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Re: Steering Dampers

Postby brockadavis » Fri Apr 30, 2010 11:40 am

Thank you very much for all these responses, I really appreciate it.
I will definitely get a steering damper for the F 800 GS. I also have a R 1200 GS which is in Victoria and if I get good results on the 800 I'll fit one on the 1200. The other tips were really useful as well. I need to get some practice in a controlled environment to develop some skills before venturing out into really remote areas.
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Re: Steering Dampers

Postby kev » Sat May 01, 2010 12:23 am

I wish I had a steering damper as my skills are not what was needed, but shit I had a good time. Oh well.
Last edited by kev on Tue May 04, 2010 4:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Steering Dampers

Postby Richard Hughes » Sat May 01, 2010 12:14 pm

Kev, what are you doing up that early in the morning?

"A bad worker always blames his tools"

Steering dampers are I think a personal choice, Personaly I'm not fazed when the GSA starts to shake its head, Speed wobbles are a pain in the arse, but I don't think the bike is at fault, more the load, road, tyre pressure etc
High speed dirt riding requires confidence in both yourself and your bike, once you loose that in either one your whole riding style changes and your chances of using your face as brakes increases.
When you start to get a Tank Slap up your first responce is to fight it and hold on tight, stay loose and power up and 9 times out of 10 things will improve.
Ride at a speed your comfy with.

I know I'm lineing myself up for a Huge Tank slapping high side on my next dirt ride by saying all this, but The bikes not the problem, "It's the Nut on the handle Bars"
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Re: Steering Dampers

Postby boomer61 » Sat May 01, 2010 9:45 pm

My two bobs worth,
I learnt to ride dirt on farms and in all sorts of stuff. The dreded sand was the hardest as you never knew what was going to happen as sand is never the same. None of these bikes had steering dampers, you learnt to hang on and deal with it.
I now ride a K1200S road bike (factory fitted) and a XR600R (scotts/ohlins after market), both fitted with steering dampers.
The steering damper as Ben suggest is the best addtion to a bike if it dosent already have one, most serious off road 4X4 have them fitted, espacially if they dont have power steering.
I believe my steering damper has saved me on numerous occasions at speed and in the slow stuff, its ability to take the inital shock is invaluable in keeping you up right but you still need to have the experince to know what is happening and how to deal with it.
In sand it offers the extra resistance to the sand grub you get that noramlly pulls the handelbars and you around.
From my observations of Kevins bike at the auction yard and the brake disc rotor touching the pivot bolt on the swing arm there may be more to Kevins last accident than just sand and technique.
I am concerned when I hear people say power on when you hit sand. To me it is more of read the road and spot the soft stuff early, set yourself at a speed you think you can ride the bike through it at and then feather the throttle on to maintin momentum as the soft stuff tries to drag the speed off, it is a balancing act of momentum, power, balance and steering control.
A steering damper will not solve problems caused by stupidity, however it will assist when commensense is applied with experince.
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Re: Steering Dampers

Postby Richard Hughes » Wed May 05, 2010 3:00 pm

Ben800GS wrote:This thread is an example of why a ‘novice’ dirt rider (and I mean that in the best possible way) should be reluctant to blindly accept advice from hackers like us, or should I say “some of us” in case there’s a professional amongst us? The various opinions seem to conflict with each other and can be confusing, but taken in the right context, they’re all correct:

By design, the 1200GS (I had one before I saw the light) has a fair amount of weight on the front wheel and Richard (who rides a 1200) is correct in suggesting that speeding up (thereby decreasing the front wheel weight) helps steady the wobbles. This is the case with many (probably most) other bikes, but…
By design the 800GS has a very light front wheel (maybe too light when carrying luggage) and Peter (who had an 800) is correct in suggesting that keeping your weight well forward (thereby increasing the weight on the front wheel) helps steady the wobbles (I found that slowing down very gently has a similar effect).
As Pete says, this applies to "reasonable dirt roads" - soft surfaces like sand are a different story altogether...
So, depending on your bike, load, luggage setup, tire pressures, road/track conditions or whatever, you may need to either speed up or slow down to settle the wobbles on dirt roads - no magic formula...

Shane is correct in suggesting that 'learning' with aids such as a steering dampener dilutes your exposure and limits your ability to grow your skills and familiarity (I would also add ABS, ASC, ESA, linked brakes and Telelever front suspension to this list), but…
Kevin is also correct in suggesting that, if you happen to be a “bad worker” or “the nut on the handle bars” (as Richard harshly implies he is) you need all the help you can get, which may include a steering dampener. I haven’t met a man with more perseverance than Kev - he chose to jump in the deep end (no dampener) and he’s not riding any more...
So, it may be best to learn with a dampener...or maybe not?

Shane hits the nail on the head with his warning that the opinion of others may have less relevance to you as they have different bikes, backgrounds, preferences, experiences, skills and ability.
Some have a natural 'feel-for-the-machine' and a better sense of balance, and can get away without aids that others may want or need - what works for others, may not work for you…

In my view the way to go is to familiarise yourself with ‘generally accepted’ off-road riding principles (tips/advice from us hackers and videos/books such as the one by Robert Wicks) but don’t take it as gospel.
Then, in Shane’s words, “many, many hours of riding/practice in those conditions” will reveal what works for you and your bike – get a 'feel' for it AND HAVE FUN WHILE YOU’RE DOING IT!

I believe you've made the right decision to get a dampener - it has a more profound effect on the handling ability of my F800GS (particularly when carrying luggage and at speed) than what I've experienced on any other bike.


Ben, spoke to Kev, he took the (Harsh) comment as a joke, the way it was meant.
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Re: Steering Dampers

Postby bully1 » Thu May 06, 2010 6:52 am

I will be putting my Ralle-moto damper on at the tuning day, mechanics and onlookers welcome. It doesn't look too hard, but it is a GS afterall.
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Re: Steering Dampers

Postby bully1 » Sun May 16, 2010 8:12 pm

well it didn't all go as planned and the steering damper wasn't put on, the GS is still in pieces in the shed with the top triple tree needing the bearing pressed out so the new one can be put in. This will be done on monday and then the re-assembly will take place.

The major problem seems to be some rust and corrosion around the top of the bearing, Anthony, Alan and others tried to make a home made press but to no avail. I've since picked up a 21mm ring spanner which will make re-assembly much easier, the other problem was the front ESA cannister in the way, which was a pain to remove ( needed little hands), it prevented the socket and extensions reaching the 21mm nut on the bottom of the triple tree,hopefully the spanner will fix that up. I've replaced all that gear today (ESA) to speed up re-assembly once I get the parts back Monday/Tuesday.

Should all be back together within an hour once I get the parts back, with a press on hand the job would be fairly straight forward on a standard 1200. After doing some comparisons with the standard handle bar set up it will raise the bar position by 18mm and move the bars back to the rider by 10mm, not forgetting that the '08 has the reversible handlebar risers. I'll let you all know what difference it makes after I give it a test run next weekend.
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Re: Steering Dampers

Postby bully1 » Tue May 18, 2010 8:24 pm

well it's all back together, just over an hour on the PIg tonight and she's all go once again,I'm going to take it for a trial on Sunday ( after coffee), probably just a quick squirt up Ashendon rd through to jarrahdale if anyone wants to join me.
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Re: Steering Dampers

Postby bmwlefty » Tue May 25, 2010 6:48 pm

If ya can't get hold of a Damper, will a handful of scones do the trick?
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Re: Steering Dampers

Postby bully1 » Fri May 28, 2010 7:46 pm

Scones will be alright so long as they are warm and you have strawberry jam and cream. :mrgreen:






When are you picking up the 1200LT ?????? will the speed limiter let you buy it yet Lefty??
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