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 Fast Gravel.... I hate it. steering damper?

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Stillwater97




PostSubject: Fast Gravel.... I hate it. steering damper?   Fri May 26, 2017 12:21 pm

I'm really not a fan of fast gravel. I always feel like the bike is going to go where it wants unless I'm on it. Would a steering damper be useful? Anyone on here own a damper?
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wwguy

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PostSubject: Re: Fast Gravel.... I hate it. steering damper?   Fri May 26, 2017 2:00 pm

I ride with Scott's dampers on my WRR and Beta 300 two-stroke. On the pavement they're great for controlling head shake at higher speeds. Off-road they're great at reducing wallowing in sand washes and reducing front tire deflection when riding over rocks and roots etc. This is especially helpful when riding narrow single-track on exposed hillsides. It's unlikely that I'll ever own another dirt bike without one.

That said, I honestly don't see how the damper will help much with what you describe. Gravel on dirt roads is more like little ball bearings that allow the bike to "roll" or slide laterally going into or out of turns, especially those turns that aren't banked for riding.

I hear you loud and clear though. For me, riding gravel roads at higher speeds is the scariest riding I do because I feel like I'm in the least control over the bike.
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Stillwater97




PostSubject: Re: Fast Gravel.... I hate it. steering damper?   Fri May 26, 2017 2:29 pm

ball bearings is right.


But, I think I want a damper anyway, so I like your reasons for getting one and the wife is all about me riding safely. I think she will buy those excuses.

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dicklane625

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PostSubject: Re: Fast Gravel.... I hate it. steering damper?   Fri May 26, 2017 6:53 pm

How fast you trying to go? What tires are you running? I'd think street tires would be a good deal worse than a set of knobbies...

I like the way my bike feels with a longer chain on loose gravel, pretty much everywhere actually. You could try adding a link if you have room... It'd be fairly cheap to try. The little bit the tire moved back seems to make a difference in stability.

Round here we have "cali crowned" roads. So convex with the high point being near the center. Proper use of the rear wheel keeps the front wheel from sliding off the road on the outside of a curve...
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Stillwater97




PostSubject: Re: Fast Gravel.... I hate it. steering damper?   Fri May 26, 2017 6:57 pm

dicklane625 wrote:
How fast you trying to go? What tires are you running? I'd think street tires would be a good deal worse than a set of knobbies...

I like the way my bike feels with a longer chain on loose gravel, pretty much everywhere actually. You could try adding a link if you have room... It'd be fairly cheap to try. The little bit the tire moved back seems to make a difference in stability.

Round here we have "cali crowned" roads. So convex with the high point being near the center. Proper use of the rear wheel keeps the front wheel from sliding off the road on the outside of a curve...

I keep my speed at or under 50 on gravel roads. depends on the roads. D606 front and rear. tires are in decent shape still.

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dicklane625

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PostSubject: Re: Fast Gravel.... I hate it. steering damper?   Fri May 26, 2017 9:15 pm

That's doable road depending... The other thing I thunk about is to find an untraveled road n practice turnin without hands on the bars... I do it goin downhill so I keep my momentum.... It gets you used to using your weight on the pegs to turn.
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Biglake




PostSubject: Re: Fast Gravel.... I hate it. steering damper?   Sat May 27, 2017 6:38 am

Going fast on gravel is sketchy, you need to drift around corners, if the rear tire isn't slipping/sliding a bit the front plows straight ahead.
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Two times

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PostSubject: Re: Fast Gravel.... I hate it. steering damper?   Sat May 27, 2017 9:50 am

Your safety layout should rely not only on passive means such as using a damper... cos as mentioned previously: it will not assist on all scenarios, and probably not even on this specific scenario of fast gravel.
IMO you should add active means of protection... in other words: taking advanced off-road riding lessons/course, in order to learn how to tackle fast gravel, or any other scenario that frights you. maybe there is something wrong with your riding technique or your body positioning? in such a course you will learn what to do / what no to do, how to approach it... in addition you will learn how to react if everything "go south" & you start losing control at high speed. not every time you lose control at high speed it has to end with a crash.

If you really care about protection & about your family concerns - I think you should consider this.
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VW_Lee

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PostSubject: Re: Fast Gravel.... I hate it. steering damper?   Sat May 27, 2017 2:05 pm

My response is pretty much a copy of what wwguy said. I never thought much about steering stabilizers until I rode a bike equipped with one. Now I have Scotts stabilizers on both my bikes (WR250R, KTM 500 EXC). Like others have said, the stabilizer might not help you with this particular situation, but it will help you in many more. I know that it dramatically helped the KTM in the high speed sandy sections, so it might mellow out the gravel a bit too. The main thing is it helps keep the bars from getting yanked hard to one side or the other when you hit an object the wrong way. I consider the steering stabilizer to be a piece of safety equipment.

Lee
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rsteiger

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PostSubject: Re: Fast Gravel.... I hate it. steering damper?   Tue May 30, 2017 10:59 am

As far as riding fast on gravel is concerned I have learned two things:

First, it is an acquired taste. If you are use to riding more on pavement then it will be a bit alarming to you at first as the bike wallows around underneath you. This is fairly normal and standing up, while it sounds crazy, will actually help you get a feel for it.

Second, tires play a big impact on how the bike handles in the gravel and other loose surfaces. For me I like to run either a MT16 or a XCMS front tire. Many prefer a MT21 front as well.

I do run a steering damper on my WRR as well but I did not put it on the bike for gravel riding - I put it on the bike for my occasional high speed blasts down the interstate to get to some of my riding locations.
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LordMDP




PostSubject: Re: Fast Gravel.... I hate it. steering damper?   Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:47 am

A steering damper for the reason you mentioned will not make the situation better. it could make it worse if you had one really turned up.

You need to slide your crotch forward get on the gas and hang on. You'll get used to it

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bsheet2

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PostSubject: Tire Pressure   Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:43 am

The biggest thing I found on fast gravel is to run about 16 to 18 psi air in the front tire and 18 to 20 psi in the rear. This lets the tires sort of wrap around and grip those marble size rocks instead of getting bounced around so much.
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dhally

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PostSubject: Re: Fast Gravel.... I hate it. steering damper?   Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:35 am

I had MT43 tires front and rear for a couple years, running 10 to 12 psi. Greatest gravel runner ever! Felt like a TW 200 - moved around a lot but didn't actually break loose. Get those tire pressures down, put on rim locks.
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BluePill

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PostSubject: Re: Fast Gravel.... I hate it. steering damper?   Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:54 am

I have ridden a fair amount of 3/4" gravel on dirt roads in Eastern CT. I agree with the Ball Bearing analogy. I run stock trailwings at about 15F and 18R when doing mild mixed surface riding. Big gravel reminds me of ice riding.

Basically I set up the direction of travel at the beginning of straight sections, crank up the throttle, and get to my stable speed (usually 50-60 MPH). The bike will maintain good stability because of the gyroscopic effect of the fast turning wheels. I do not try to change direction at this speed, so picking the right line at the start is very important.

When a corner comes into sight, I slow down before entering it. Usually 15 to 20 mph, or a bit slower if it is a tight corner. When I get to the next straight I repeat the aim and crank it. wings

You have to learn to trust that the bike will continue in a straight line as long as the surface is fairly even. Same with ice and sand. The more you do it the easier it becomes.
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Jerry S




PostSubject: Re: Fast Gravel.... I hate it. steering damper?   Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:46 pm

After running a steering stabilizer I think it's one of the best improvements you can do for two reasons;

- If you have ever had a higher speed tank slapper.

- It takes a majority of the work off your arms. On longer dirt trips where your fighting sand and rocks all day, I'm still going strong after 100+ miles. Before, I'd have spaghetti arms by in less than 40 miles.

Additionally, its nice on slower stuff when an unseen rock would otherwise snatch the bars out of your hands.

The only guys who say they're unnecessary are the ones who haven't run one.
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Jens Eskildsen




PostSubject: Re: Fast Gravel.... I hate it. steering damper?   Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:37 am

Jerry S wrote:

The only guys who say they're unnecessary are the ones who haven't run one.

Not according to this thread Shog
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rsteiger

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PostSubject: Re: Fast Gravel.... I hate it. steering damper?   Mon Dec 11, 2017 11:47 am

I have a Scotts Steering Damper on mine and I have found it to perform best when I am riding in sand. I don't see as much benefit in Gravel and the Single Track that I do.

A unique thing with some of the Scotts Dampers is that it is a directional steering damper meaning that it only damps when moving away from center on their dirt bike dampers. As you return back to center there is no damping. I can see their logic in this but I don't think my skill level can see much benefit from this one way damping. If I were to order it again I would chose their street model which has damping in both directions.

For gravel the best improvement was to get my suspension dialed in and then to relax a bit and that comes with experience. The bike will wander a bit and you just need to trust it and relax.
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