MR. KNOW-IT-ALL: STEERING DAMPER DRAMA

STEERING DAMPER DILEMMAS

KIAdamperWEB

Mr. KIA Sir,

I’ve read that riders switch their steering dampers from bike to bike as they buy new machines. But after moving the damper to my new bike the arm is wearing funny and the damping doesn’t seem right. Can you shed any light and truth on the subject?

Mort Steinbaugh

Desert Center, CA

kiaApril13 (3) WEBcopy

Perhaps if I shine enough light on the damper situation you could use it to read the directions for installation? Modern steering dampers are well sorted and relatively trouble free if installed as they are intended to be. The shaft of the damper must be exactly over the steering stem of the machine. When the two parts are not lined up the pin can run out of slot in the arm. When it runs up against either end of the slot there are crazy, wrong loads on the internal parts of the damper. A second mistake is not paying attention to pin height when the bar mounts are rubber mounted. A small amount of play in the rubber mounts at the bar is a greater amount at the end of the damper arm. If the mounts rock back, and the arm bottoms on the pin, there are damaging loads transferred to the internals. Worst case is a worn body. On a Scotts damper this would only happen on a very early unit. A unit from the last few years is hard anodized to prevent this – even if the unit is installed wrong.

kiaApril13 (4) WEB copy

Look at the picture of the two arms. The one hogged out at the end was a case of running out of slot. That means that the mounting kit wasn’t correct for the bike. The one with the odd shape worn in the middle of the slot is from improper pin maintenance. If the pin is allowed to corrode and lock up in the mounting tower it will wear out the arm like this. Greasing the pin often will completely avoid this, and recent towers and pins are plated differently, so this doesn’t happen. The pin needs to rotate easily in the mount for the damper to work correctly and live. If you have paid attention to the mounting, then the damper should work correctly. Check the directions and make sure you have it right. Unfortunately, if the mounting was wrong for long enough, the internal parts may have been damaged like the ones in the photos. It may not damp correctly until they are replaced.

 

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