Ask The Editors: Should I Shell Out For a Steering Stabilizer?
April 9th, 2012 by Jason Giacchino
I never understood the benefits of a steering damper but noticed most racers run them. What’s that all about?
While ATVs share four-wheels with their automotive cousins, the fact of the matter is our structure of steering is actually closer to how a motorcycle functions than the complex rack & pinion system found on cars.
Put simply even on seemingly smooth ground, the terrain is constantly tugging the front wheels (and hence the direction) of our ATVs; a force we counteract by turning our handlebars in the opposite direction of the pull. It’s all a game of leverage; whether we are aware it’s happening or not. Factor in the skipping, bouncing and slamming we encounter when rocks, roots, whoops, or choppy ground enter the equation and maintaining that handlebar leverage becomes even more difficult.
A steering damper (or “steering stabilizer”) is basically a simplified adjustable shock absorber that takes some of the harshness out of the tug-of-war taking place while we ride. By using fluid that passes through valve stacks, a steering damper literally dampens the influence of the terrain before it reaches the handlebars.
The reason they are so popular among racers is that generally speaking, as the speed of the ATV increases, so too does the influence of the terrain. Less battling with the bars means less rider fatigue. Dampers are especially popular with desert racers; where extended periods of wide-open riding are commonplace.
Since the steering damper can result in a “deadened” feel at the bars, most are completely adjustable, giving the rider the option of running as much or as little damping as feels comfortable.