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Steering Damper

A steering damper can greatly improve the handling of a cars, trucks and motorcycles.

A motorcycle steering damper is necessary for sharp control. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
A motorcycle steering damper is necessary for sharp control.

Steering Damper

A steering damper is added to motorcycles, cars and trucks to improve steering control and prevent excessive wear on the front tire or tires. As a result of this enhancement, the rider or driver will experience less fatigue. There are numerous manufacturers of steering dampers and kits for attaching them to the bike or vehicle. Steering dampers come in a variety of styles, but most are a hydraulic device with a steel piston rod that slides back and forth inside a cylindrical tube. In some cases, the motorcycle or vehicle may come with a factory-installed steering damper.

Motorcycle Steering Damper

On a motorcycle, the steering damper connects to the turning fork on the front wheel and to the bikes frame. This reduces the wheels wobble (side-to-side motion), especially at higher speeds. It also prevents the rider from losing a grip on the handlebars if the front wheel hits a pot-hole, uneven pavement or a small object in the road. Steering dampers have various settings, and usually are easily adjustable with a knob that turns. They are sold in different colors to coordinate with the bikes paint job. Some models are sold with a mounting kit; otherwise, one will need to be purchased separately.

There is more than one way to install a steering damper on a motorcycle, and it is something that a bike owner can do in a short amount of time. A steering damper is most often installed along the side of the fuel tank, but some mount kits allow it to be installed in front of the fuel tank. For a side-mounted steering damper, the cylindrical tube is attached to the fork tube with a pinch clamp and screws, and the piston rod is bolted or riveted to the frame. After assembly, the damper should be adjusted so the rider can fully turn to the right and left.

Some racing or sport bikes may come with a built-in steering damper. Honda developed an electronic steering damper that is installed on some high-performance motorcycles and overcomes the drawbacks of a typical steering damper. According to 4Strokes, the Honda Electronic Steering Damper automatically adjusts the damping force at higher speeds and maintains optimum handling at lower speeds.

Vehicle Steering Damper

According to autocarepro:news, wheel shimmy, which is the vibration caused when the tires go over road irregularities, can be minimized with a steering damper. A steering damper is most often used on a car or truck when the suspension is raised or lowered, or oversized wheels and tires are added. They are also popular with off-road drivers to improve handling on extreme road conditions. Some vehicles come with a factory-installed stabilizer, but they can wear down over time and may not have the same level of handling and steering control that an after-market steering damper provides.

A steering damper should be selected that is compatible with the vehicles make and model. The owner's manual may list recommendations; otherwise, search online for parts that work with a particular vehicle. Steering dampers are sold individually or as double stabilizer for some vehicle models. It either comes with a kit to securely bolt it to the vehicles frame, or a separate installation kit must be purchased. After installing a steering damper, the vehicle owner should make sure that the wheel can be turned all the way in either direction.

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