Steering Damper - Does it do anything? - - Excellence in Motion
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 25th, 2018, 9:56 pm Thread Starter
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Location: FORT MILL, South Carolina, United States
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Steering Damper - Does it do anything?

During the last oil change and safety check on my '03 K1200RS (50K miles) the BMW tech said my "steering damper is leaking". He said there is no rush to fix it. Once I confirmed in my Clymers what the steering damper is I checked it out and it wiggles freely. I noticed the steering damper on my buddies 1200RT is rigid.

My question - should I be in a rush to fix this? Will I even notice a difference? Steering seems fine to me, but maybe I don't know what I'm missing.

2003 K1200RS
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 26th, 2018, 8:24 pm
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Mine was off when I purchased my bike used. I'm the 3rd owner. The gentleman I got it from said it was off when he got it from the original owner. Original owner said he had stripped the mounting bolt, so he removed it completely and included a new one as a replacement.

The guy I got it from never installed it either, so I got the original dampener plus a brand new one that was never installed.

When I got the bike, installing the dampener was on my huge list of neglected maintenance. When I finally got to it, it turned out to be very easy to remove the stripped bolt so I reinstalled the original dampener. So I basically have this brand new one in the bag still as a backup.

The truth is, I didn't really notice too big of a difference. I replaced all the felt rings that stabilizes the mounting points too. Both the new and old dampener action the same and there isn't any leaks that I can tell.

I only have a tank of fuel with, and a tank of fuel without the dampener installed. The only big difference I can tell is on some rougher roads on the highway. There is more control with it, but not enough to make me worry. I'd say you would be just fine without it if you chose too. If I didn't know there was a dampener on this bike, I would have been just fine to leave it the way it was.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 31st, 2018, 7:10 pm
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Years ago I hit a pothole followed by a mound of asphalt pushed forward which created the pothole. The forks abruptly turned, and the bike spit me off instantly. Had I had a steering damper on that bike, the front end might not have reacted so harshly. The damper prevents sudden or abrupt rotations of the forks. If it's leaking, I'd replace it.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 31st, 2018, 9:48 pm
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Location: Frederick, MD, United States
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Easy fix, and might not be a bad idea to change the fork oil and seals while you are at it. You can find the seals and dust covers on Ebay for about 1/4 what BMW charges.Doing the forks kind of gives you a reason to do the steering damper.
There are some good YouTube videos on how to do both. They took me about 3 hours from start to finish could take as much as 4 hours. Easy job and beats 200.00 an hour at the BEEMER dealership.

Rick Mead
2004 K1200GT Orient Blue
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 31st, 2018, 9:49 pm
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I used 10 wt oil in both.

Rick Mead
2004 K1200GT Orient Blue
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old Nov 2nd, 2018, 7:14 am
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What a Steering Damper is designed to do is eliminate or reduce front end vibration and shimmy. A high speed wobble is a phenomena to behold. Once you have experienced it, you will know exactly what Dampeners are for. They are about the most violent suspension event possible on a motorcycle short of having the front-end fall off. Once initiated, they throw the steering from lock to lock at an accelerating rate and total lose of control can be instantaneous.

I have had my damper come a little lose at the mounts and had to just tighten the fasteners back up. The continual low frequency impact of road bumps tends to loosen the fasteners Keep an eye on your damper and it can save your life.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old Nov 7th, 2018, 7:51 pm
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If you have ever rode a bike from the 80s or before, fast, on shitty roads, or even smooth highway for that matter, you have probably felt front end wobble. It sucks in a way that words don’t describe because it leaves you feeling really helpless and totally out of control. The second thought you have is, I wish I had a steering damper... replace it.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old Nov 7th, 2018, 8:34 pm
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Just use lock tight and it will cure this problem of the bolt coming loose.

Rick Mead
2004 K1200GT Orient Blue
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old Nov 8th, 2018, 12:03 pm
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Location: Cleveland, Oh, USA
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Steering damper

Damper, not dampener.
And yes, you should have a good one installed on the bike, not a failed one like mine. I experienced some severe head shake and almost lost the bike. As mentioned elsewhere, it happens in an instant and is extremely dangerous.

Last edited by FridayBob; Nov 8th, 2018 at 12:06 pm. Reason: clarify
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old Mar 14th, 2019, 7:13 pm
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Broken Arrow, OK, USA
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Dampener are expensive and I really don’t think it does much. If you are worried you might be able to rebuild it it’s the seals on the ends that leak. I’ve put oil in mine and it leaked out
Good luck
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