How to Diagnose Steering Damper Problems

by Chris Gilliland

Steering dampers, or stabilizers, are a must for today's high-powered sport bikes. Operating to reduce the unwanted movement from the front wheel through a hydraulic piston, steering dampers provide a degree of stability at the speeds at which most racers ride. On the street, a steering damper can practically erase road irregularities, providing the motorcyclist with a smooth ride. After a while, however, steering dampers can begin to malfunction. But, how can you tell if your damper is working properly?


Inspect the steering damper visually for any signs of leakage or damage on the damper's piston. If necessary, remove the damper completely. Leakage may be sign of damaged internal components, but may also be caused by loose fasteners on a rotary-style steering damper.


Adjust the steering damper to its firmest setting and turn the handlebars from side to side. Take note of the effort required to turn the bars and any visible leakage from the damping rod and piston. If the handlebars turn easily and without any dampening effect, the damper's valves and rods may have internal damage or wear.


Check the steering damper mounting bracket's alignment with the upper triple clamp. If the bracket is misaligned, the steering damper may not have a full range of motion. Remove the steering damper and bracket and inspect for any signs of damage before re-installing according to the manufacturer's instructions.


  • check Contact the steering damper's manufacturer if you believe that the damper is damaged in any way.


  • close Do not ride your motorcycle if you believe that your steering damper is damaged. A damaged steering damper may interfere with steering inputs and create a loss of control.

About the Author

An avid motorcyclist, Chris Gilliland has immersed himself into the two-wheeled world while balancing work life and raising three daughters. When he is not managing the parts department of a local, multi-line motorcycle dealership, Gilliland can often be found riding, writing or working on his motorcycle blog, Wingman's Garage.

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