Originally Posted by CharlieVT
My take on things is that the steering damper is not there to provide stability, rather, it is there to reduce the consequences if you happen to experience insability. So, before you chuck the damper, consider why it is there in the first place. I'm keeping mine.
Just trying to provide food for thought.
You are absolutely correct. If everything is smooth and normal, the damper does exactly NOTHING! It is there ONLY to damp out any oscillations that start at the systems natural frequency and start to progress into larger oscillations. All systems have a natural frequency that when exited at that frequency can progress to larger and larger amplitude. The damper is there to stop or at least reduce them if this happens.
If you weight down the rear of the bike when it is on the centerstand, then move the handle bars slowly side to side you will feel little to no resistance from the damper. If you move them rapidly though, after a couple inches movement at the bar ends you will feel the damper kick in and resist movement. The faster the movement, the more the damper resists it.
If the damper did not have this amount of free play in it, it would affect bar turning at normal handling movements, so it does nothing until some amount of movement has taken place, and then only if moved rather quickly.
Riding without a damper will not likely be noticed by the rider, but if hitting something like a pothole or debris on the road when riding at a speed that will cause the wheel to be deflected at the natural frequency (usually around 35-45 MPH on most bikes) you can get the oscillation that can progress to a "tank slapper" without the damper in place to damp it out.
By the way everyone, it is DAMPER, not DAMPENER. You damp vibrations to stop them, not dampen them. The vibration or oscillation will continue unabated if you throw water on it.