Steering dampers are a popular upgrade on high-performance sportbikes and street bikes. In fact, some premium machines such as the Kawasaki ZX-10RR and Ducati Streetfighter V4 S come outfitted with a steering damper from the factory. Now, you may be wondering, what exactly does a steering damper do? Well, as the name suggests, it’s meant to dampen sudden inputs into your steering which could cause head-shake or a tank-slapper.
Anyone who’s popped a wheelie at speed and set the front wheel down at an angle will be all too familiar with headshake. It’s quite a frightening experience, and can very easily result in a crash, especially if you make the wrong inputs onto the bars. The science behind it is that a motorcycle wants to inherently go in a straight line. When a sudden force acts on the steering, the bike wants to instantly straighten out. However, in doing so, the steering could go past the center line, causing a tank-slapper or head-shake.
A steering damper prevents this undulation of the steering by using either hydraulically or electronically actuated valves to slow down the movement of the steering system. Off-road applications of steering dampers are very useful, too, especially for long-distance riding and on jagged, uneven terrain laden with rocks and ruts. Several aftermarket steering dampers are available for off-road application, and they can go a long way in inspiring confidence, especially at higher speeds.
MSC Moto, an Australian moto accessories manufacturer, has just released two new steering dampers for dirt-bike application. The Axis Series has been designed for use on Enduro, Trail, and Motocross bikes. Meanwhile, the VectorMX is a more racing-oriented setup ideal for MX racing and Desert Enduro applications. It mounts right below your handlebars, and increases the height of the bars by less than 10mm, thanks to its streamlined design.
MSC Moto explains that its steering dampers are “an extra set of hands to help out with the bits that jump out on the track you don't see,” and can go a long way in keeping your off-road machine rubber side down. On top of this, you’ll be a lot less fatigued, especially on longer off-road stints, as the steering damper will do a lot of work in keeping the bike stable as you run over small rocks and bumps.
It’s important to note, however, that MSC Moto’s steering dampers, particularly the VectorMX, aren’t a universal fit. As such, pricing depends on your specific bike. MSC Moto has an extensive list of bikes compatible with their steering dampers on their official website. So, if you’re interested in getting one for your dirt bike, be sure to visit MSC Moto’s website linked below.
Sources: ADV Rider, MSC Moto, Keith Jobson via YouTube