Steering damper woes... a little help please? - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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post #1 of 18 Old Jul 14th, 2015, 10:29 am Thread Starter
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Steering damper woes... a little help please?

So I am just finishing up my fork seals (long time needed) on my 99 and decided I will rebuild my steering damper as well as it is basically useless and all grimey and leaky anyway.

Well the problem I am having is that someone before me apparently tried to back out the bolt on the fork brace side with, what I can only assume, is an allen bit instead of a torx. Anyway, the head is completely rounded out.

I am OK with drilling it but want to make sure what I am drilling into. Does anyone have a pic of the damper and the suspect bolt so that I can gauge how to tackle this?

Thanks in advance.

- Justin

Justin - Las Vegas, NV
"Never do anything that you wouldn't want to have to explain to the paramedics"

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post #2 of 18 Old Jul 14th, 2015, 11:24 am
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Re: Steering damper woes... a little help please?

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So I am just finishing up my fork seals (long time needed) on my 99 and decided I will rebuild my steering damper as well as it is basically useless and all grimey and leaky anyway.

Well the problem I am having is that someone before me apparently tried to back out the bolt on the fork brace side with, what I can only assume, is an allen bit instead of a torx. Anyway, the head is completely rounded out.

I am OK with drilling it but want to make sure what I am drilling into. Does anyone have a pic of the damper and the suspect bolt so that I can gauge how to tackle this?

Thanks in advance.

- Justin
Do not have a picture, but the bolt you have to drill is familiar to (almost) everybody having done the same job. It was/is glued well enough... If needed, remove the bridge - easier to drill (tell me how I know)

Born to be wild so why not

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post #3 of 18 Old Jul 14th, 2015, 7:08 pm
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Re: Steering damper woes... a little help please?

check kirks video on utube "search k1200lt damper"

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post #4 of 18 Old Jul 14th, 2015, 8:51 pm
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Re: Steering damper woes... a little help please?

The head on the bolt is very thin but the shaft is 8mm. Drill out the center of the bolt to just below the shoulder then stop. Go up a size and drill to the same depth. Repeat until the head pops off. Once you pull up on the damper you will have enough of the bolt shaft left to grab with a pair of vice grips and remove. Do not drill much beyond the depth of the shoulder or you can eat up the shaft and damage the swivel that the bolt passes through.

Replacement bolt is available in most well stocked hardware stores. Most of us go with a hex head with a bit more meat. Be sure to use blue locktite when reassembling.
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post #5 of 18 Old Jul 15th, 2015, 2:52 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Steering damper woes... a little help please?

So got the damn thing out. Drilling was a little difficult due to the movement of it but not too bad. Made an interesting (well a few) discoveries...

First, the damper is trash. The shaft is all marred up from what seems to be pliers perhaps. Like there are actual chunks taken out of it. So that sucks. someone tried to so something to it at some point and seemingly failed miserably.

Plan to order a replacement. Not sure if it will be OE (may not be able to afford that) or aftermarket yet.

Secondly, the bike actually rides ok without it. No noticeable bad habits under all conditions that I could come up with to replicate. nothing bad, Tried everything i could think of - accelerating, accelerating out of a corner, braking in a corner, no hands low speed, no hands high speed, no hands really high speed, no hands in a slight corner, one handed in corners, deliberate upsets in stability, ect.

Third, it actually handles BETTER than it did with the bad damper on there. In a past post I was bitching about wind bumping me around a lot... turns out the wind still bumps me around but not anywhere near as bad as it did with that messed up damper. The old damper had some dampening action but had a pretty broad null zone. I think this was exaggerating the wind problems I had. The bike just soars right along now up to triple digits with no pucker moments now. Couldn't do that before. The thing was all over the road before.

Obviously I would not suggest anyone remove the damper as it is clearly there for a reason but if you were having tracking or stability problems with wind like me, it is a place to look for a problem possibly.

should have a replacement in a week or so and will report back with findings.

- J

Justin - Las Vegas, NV
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post #6 of 18 Old Jul 15th, 2015, 2:59 pm
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Re: Steering damper woes... a little help please?

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No noticeable bad habits under all conditions that I could come up with to replicate. nothing bad, Tried everything i could think of - accelerating, accelerating out of a corner, braking in a corner, no hands low speed, no hands high speed, no hands really high speed, no hands in a slight corner, one handed in corners, deliberate upsets in stability, ect.

- J
Looks like you covered all the bases, except maybe a handstand?

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post #7 of 18 Old Jul 15th, 2015, 3:03 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Steering damper woes... a little help please?

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Looks like you covered all the bases, except maybe a handstand?
no comment.... (reference the user name to the left)

- Justin

Justin - Las Vegas, NV
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post #8 of 18 Old Jul 15th, 2015, 5:20 pm
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Re: Steering damper woes... a little help please?

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no comment.... (reference the user name to the left)

- Justin
A sharp rap to one bar end. Might not want to try that though.

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post #9 of 18 Old Jul 15th, 2015, 9:34 pm
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Re: Steering damper woes... a little help please?

The dampener does little to affect normal handling, not even sure it would help in a tank slapper. Maybe just enough for you to get it back under control. Sounds like some one tried to re-work it already and botched the job. Use a button head screw or Allen head to replace the one you drilled out as a standard hex head bolt will restrict movement.

John
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post #10 of 18 Old Jul 16th, 2015, 4:23 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Steering damper woes... a little help please?

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The dampener does little to affect normal handling, not even sure it would help in a tank slapper. Maybe just enough for you to get it back under control. Sounds like some one tried to re-work it already and botched the job. Use a button head screw or Allen head to replace the one you drilled out as a standard hex head bolt will restrict movement.
Yeah I am getting more and more "surprises" as I go along. Fortunately nothing major.

And at this point, it looks as though I will be going aftermarket for the time being. Not sure the source yet but I have a few lined up.

I assume the damper is primarily to help reduce the effect of the flexing of the front end given that upper and lower triples are not "connected" (turning force is applied only on the top vs. top and bottom like on a conventional triple), the lower would essentially act as a fulcrum of sorts when pressure is applied at the bars or the wheel, the damper likely helps reduce twist from bump steer or other input from the wheel end.

Just my thoughts though. Could be wrong.

- Justin
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Justin - Las Vegas, NV
"Never do anything that you wouldn't want to have to explain to the paramedics"

2002 Honda RC51 "Tia"
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post #11 of 18 Old Jul 16th, 2015, 7:37 pm
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Re: Steering damper woes... a little help please?

Think you are wrong - If you are putting enough force to move any of that then your forks are locked!

John
2009 K1300GT Red Rocket
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2005 K1200LT Ocean Blue Blue Wizard 110 K and counting...
2006 Bushtec Turbo+2 Spell
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post #12 of 18 Old Jul 16th, 2015, 8:46 pm
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Re: Steering damper woes... a little help please?

There was one of these in the silent auction at the 2013 CCR in Bend, OR.

Hyperpro Steering Dampers | Damper Accessories | Your Suspension Shop - Y.S.S. Australia

There were a lot of bids on it, so I passed, but I kinda wish I'd hung in there a little longer.

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post #13 of 18 Old Jul 16th, 2015, 10:47 pm
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Re: Steering damper woes... a little help please?

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Yeah I am getting more and more "surprises" as I go along. Fortunately nothing major.

And at this point, it looks as though I will be going aftermarket for the time being. Not sure the source yet but I have a few lined up.

I assume the damper is primarily to help reduce the effect of the flexing of the front end given that upper and lower triples are not "connected" (turning force is applied only on the top vs. top and bottom like on a conventional triple), the lower would essentially act as a fulcrum of sorts when pressure is applied at the bars or the wheel, the damper likely helps reduce twist from bump steer or other input from the wheel end.

Just my thoughts though. Could be wrong.

- Justin
Could be wrong and are wrong.

Most conventional forks have the handlebar rigidly attached to only the top triple clamp. So the primary steering force is transmitted through the top of the forks.

The steering damper is designed to only affect rapid movement of the forks, not motion of normal speed. It is hard to move the bars fast enough to activate the damper. However, it will minimize rapid movement such as hitting an edge at an acute angle or a divergent oscillation such as a tank slipper caused by a cupped tire. The faster you try to move the damper, the harder it will resist.

To test this when you have the damper off the bike, clamp the cylinder end in a vice. Move the piston by hand as fast as you can. Now take a rubber mallet and give the piston a good rap. Hint: don't have your head in the rebound plane of the mallet. A good damper will resist the hand motion only slightly, but will react quite strongly to a rubber hammer blow. If you don't care about the damper, hit the piston end with a ball peen hammer instead.

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post #14 of 18 Old Jul 17th, 2015, 12:05 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Steering damper woes... a little help please?

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Think you are wrong - If you are putting enough force to move any of that then your forks are locked!
nah forks arent locked.... it makes sense in my head. I realize its not coming out the way I see it, but essentially the lower mount for the fork tubes is the pivot point for flex when there is resistance on either end of the forks (either from the ground and riding forces, or from steering input). Forks flex, a lot, on almost all bikes. Some just less than others. The BMWs I always thought had an odd front suspension that allowed for a lot of flex but it seems to work for the bikes. Either way, this is, at this point, a moot discussion anyway.

Justin
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post #15 of 18 Old Jul 17th, 2015, 12:09 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Steering damper woes... a little help please?

Or I am just over analyzing things and not looking at the big picture... I work grave shift and barely sleep... cut me some slack. lol

regardless, the damper seems to have been, at least, a contributing factor to my stability issues, as it was, in fact, damaged and had a null zone of almost no resistance at all that could have been causing a bit of a bump if you will and removal of it nearly eliminated the problem.

- Justin

Justin - Las Vegas, NV
"Never do anything that you wouldn't want to have to explain to the paramedics"

2002 Honda RC51 "Tia"
1999 BMW K1200LT "Elsa"
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post #16 of 18 Old Jul 17th, 2015, 12:27 pm
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Re: Steering damper woes... a little help please?

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Or I am just over analyzing things and not looking at the big picture... I work grave shift and barely sleep... cut me some slack. lol

regardless, the damper seems to have been, at least, a contributing factor to my stability issues, as it was, in fact, damaged and had a null zone of almost no resistance at all that could have been causing a bit of a bump if you will and removal of it nearly eliminated the problem.

- Justin
The null zone would not contribute to instability in the wind. However, the opposite, slight binding or drag from the damaged shaft, could affect stability in the wind. A bike will automatically counter steer when hit with a wind gust due to the trail designed into the front suspension. Any drag on the steering will impair this. That is why steering stem bearing preload is so critical on bikes. You want no play, but also as little friction in the steering as possible so that the steering can move ever so slightly when a side force is induced by a wind gust.

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post #17 of 18 Old Jan 30th, 2016, 7:10 pm
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Re: Steering damper woes... a little help please?

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The head on the bolt is very thin but the shaft is 8mm. Drill out the center of the bolt to just below the shoulder then stop. Go up a size and drill to the same depth. Repeat until the head pops off. Once you pull up on the damper you will have enough of the bolt shaft left to grab with a pair of vice grips and remove. Do not drill much beyond the depth of the shoulder or you can eat up the shaft and damage the swivel that the bolt passes through.

Replacement bolt is available in most well stocked hardware stores. Most of us go with a hex head with a bit more meat. Be sure to use blue locktite when reassembling.
Thanks SILVERLT2002....this worked in 10 min after messing around for several hours with various easy outs that never worked.

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post #18 of 18 Old Jan 31st, 2016, 11:08 am
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Re: Steering damper woes... a little help please?

I would use a good allen head replacement (with a washer) rather than a hex as the hex will limit movement of the damper. I tried a hex and it did limit movement.

John
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2009 R1200GS (Gone)
2005 K1200LT Ocean Blue Blue Wizard 110 K and counting...
2006 Bushtec Turbo+2 Spell
2004 330 Ci Convertable
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Have ridden a Motorcycle in all 48
But lack DE, MA, RI and CT with the 2005 LT

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