Steering Dampers - - Are they really worth it?

24 replies to this topic
  • jchantzWR400F

Posted May 14, 2003 - 04:09 AM


I have a 99 WR400, some decent mods up to this point. Used to ride when I was younger, just recently really getting back into the sport. Have been looking to make the next big mod, and am wondering, if steering dampers are really worth it. I do not ride with any guys that have'em, and have not ridden a bike with one. So, 2 questions, what are the physics behind them (how do they work), and are they worth the price. Everyone seems to like Scotts. :)

  • sjw

Posted May 14, 2003 - 05:58 AM


after haveing one for 2yrs now I would not want to ride without it,we ride trails only and it has saved me
more than once,they are not cheap but worth it!

  • BrandonW

Posted May 14, 2003 - 06:58 AM


Are they worth it: I think so. Any time I can get out of a get-off makes me smile, and a damper will get you out of some.

How do they work?
They all have internal hydraulics that *resist* turning the handlebars. Turning away from center gives resistence, turning back to center is free. (Some are different, but that is the basic concept.)

You are riding along, and a big nasty rock pops up that you did not expect. Your front wheel hits it, and starts to deflect your front wheel to the side. Then your damper starts working..... It begins to slow that movement away from center down. That gives you a split second to react. Then, as you try to correct the wheel movement, you can do so back to center freely...

They provide resistence so unexpected jolts to the front end are minimized.

They WILL make your speeds increase, as you begin to feel very stabil where you used to be on pins and needles.

Save up, and get one!

  • utvols

Posted May 14, 2003 - 07:15 AM


If you are racing against me no. If you are racing somewhere else absolutely!!! :)

  • SBG

Posted May 14, 2003 - 07:33 AM


To see an example of where a stabilzer "MIGHT" have helped, look in the DRZ BB and look for the "I CRASHED" thread. He has an mpeg which shows the situation described above by BrandonW.

  • ThrottleJocky

Posted May 14, 2003 - 09:55 AM


Yes, I have a RTT and will never go back.

  • Indy_WR450

Posted May 14, 2003 - 12:53 PM


I will not ride a bike hard without one. I like my front end geometry quick and have the forks up 15mm in the clamps and run 3.6" of rear sag. My bike needs it for stability in sand and especially in the rock gardens. :)

  • Hick

Posted May 14, 2003 - 02:49 PM


So, 2 questions, what are the physics behind them (how do they work), and are they worth the price. Everyone seems to like Scotts. :D

They all basically have a sealed hollow body that bolts to your bar clamp with a vane inside which is connected to an external arm; this arm attaches to a post that bolts to the frame. So as you turn the bars the damper moves with your clamps but the vane stays with the frame and pushes hydraulic fluid (fork oil) from one side of the hollow body to the other via some tiny metered orifices and passages that are in the damper cover.

This hydraulic action is what provides the damping for the movement of your steering/front end. Much like a shock you can meter the oil flow by turning a knob, increasing or decreasing the amount of hydraulic damping. Much like a shock, the damper stabilizes the motion of the front end. It is an anti tank slapper device.

They are very much worth it, period.

The Scott's is popular because it has been around the longest, is very well made (actually manufactured by Ohlins), and has the most features.

In the last few years GPR has come along with a competitive product for quite a bit cheaper. WER makes one that is also cheaper than the Scott's.

A few notes on the differences between the three (Scott's/Ohlins, GPR, WER).

Scott's: Mounts to bar clamp, so you have to decide on a bar position and stick with it, but it can clear most cross bars, especially if mounted backwards. Lower mounts that move the damper down to the front fender are now available for YZFs and CRFs. Scott's unit damps steering away from center only.

GPR: Also mounts to bar clamp, so this can create issues with your bar position like the Scott's. Unlike the other dampers, the GPR damps in both directions. The Scott's damper made for road bikes damps in both directions, which is interesting I think, but the off-road version gives you a "it steers itself" feeling over high speed rough stuff. Having said that my brief experience w/ a GPR was a good one, it seemed to do its job well and most, if not all, owners swear by them.

WER: Mounts to bottom clamp only. Like the Scott's it damps away from center only. This brand has been around a long time so it must work. It may not be as durable as the other two, OTOH you are not as likely to be hitting your face on it.

An old-school off roader/Baja racer I met recently opined that steering dampers were the best safety advance he'd seen in his long career. I never thought of it that way before. I just thought of them as helping make you go faster. :)

Out of all the people that have tried a steering damper you will have a hard time finding someone who is now willing to ride without one.

  • Dougie

Posted May 14, 2003 - 03:02 PM



  • jchantzWR400F

Posted May 14, 2003 - 04:17 PM


Thanks guys, that's the kind of Sh*t i'm looking for. :D Thats what makes this site so awesome. Hick, Do you know about how much cheaper the other 2 models are? I have seen the Scotts for around $420. :) Does that sound right.

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  • sunnymex

Posted May 14, 2003 - 07:34 PM


I will second Dougie's post. YES!!! :) :D

  • John_H

Posted May 14, 2003 - 08:07 PM


Same answer every week this question's posted. YES :)

  • Wicked_Crash

Posted May 15, 2003 - 04:31 AM


GPR also has a new damper that mounts below the handle bars on the top clamp. I think it's called the GPR 2K. GPR has had the best customer service I have seen in any motorcycle accessory manufacturer. In the past, they have given Thumper Talk members a discount and free shipping. I think the total for a damper, post mount and top clamp was around $400. :)

  • mikeolichney

Posted May 15, 2003 - 06:42 AM


Hick did a great job outlining the three top competitors. I am going to throw in my two pennies as well.

I own a WER on a WR250F. It works great, a small downside is that you ussually have to butcher your headlight or number plate to make clearance. I attached a DHH headlight to get a second bulb and with some creative mounting did not have to use a Dremel tool.

My CRF and YZ250F share a Scotts. It takes 10 seconds to switch the Scotts from one bike to the other. All you need is a top clamp and tower for each bike. If you have more than one bike, you might want to go this way.

No one has brought it up, but the RTT is going on my next bike:


Posted May 15, 2003 - 07:11 AM


Scotts also has a new fender mount that works very well.

I will never race without one ever again...

Bonzai :)

  • endurodog

Posted May 15, 2003 - 09:30 AM


Mike I still have my WER on my YZ250 (2smoke) No problem drilling the head for the mount on that since there is no oil in the frame. How does the mount work on the 4 strokes?

  • mikeolichney

Posted May 15, 2003 - 10:35 AM


I used the weld on tab. No problems with it.

  • Hick

Posted May 15, 2003 - 12:17 PM


Hick, Do you know about how much cheaper the other 2 models are? I have seen the Scotts for around $420. :) Does that sound right.

That sounds right for the Scott's complete kit (Damper, bar mount, tower). They used to have a $499 special that included a top clamp and Pro Tapers. For the damper only expect to pay about $300. The GPR is only a few bucks cheaper I think, but the "kit" is about $70 cheaper or more relative to Scott's.

Steering will have pricing on GPR and Scotts units.

I don't know much about the WER.

WER Products is their web page, looks like their kit is $367.

At that price I think the Scott's is worth the extra fifty bucks, just my opinion.

The Scott's "low mount" kit that adds about $100 to the total. I've got one and I love it love it love it love it. :D

I know there is some sticker shock going on here, but the fact that everybody on this thread was happy to part with this kind of money should tell you something about how effective these things really are. I can't fathom owning a bike w/out one.

  • newrider

Posted May 16, 2003 - 05:00 AM


I've been waiting for this topic, and it got great responses. Here's my question:

The low mount version has caught my interest but I'm concerned about damaging it. It looks like it sticks and could get smacked by a limb or something...I'm a trail/woods rider so bush whacking is a regular occurrence. Any opinions here?

  • Hick

Posted May 16, 2003 - 09:34 AM


The low mount version has caught my interest but I'm concerned about damaging it.

I've had one on my CRF since I bought it. No "real" trees, but a lot of Mesquite. The only thing that has happened to me is I went completely off the trail and right into the middle of an eight foot Mesquite bush. Somehow the damper knob ended up on the maximum setting. Obviously I noticed this right away... :)

The mount is pretty sturdy, if you get into something hard enough to damage it you are also going to end up with a broken fender. Point being, when was the last time you snapped a fender off at the triple clamp?? If this happens regularly then the low mount will probably cause you some problems. The WER was designed for enduro riders and it is mounted in the same location. I've not taken a real good look at a WER mount, but I doubt it is stronger than the Scott's version. I don't see it getting bent very easily...

In short, I wouldn't worry about it if I were you.


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