RTW Steering Damper - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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post #1 of 44 Old Dec 24th, 2019, 10:56 am Thread Starter
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RTW Steering Damper

I love my 2017 RTW but havenít been satisfied with its low speed handling in general or its high speed reaction to gusts.

After discussing it with the dealer and EPM Performance, I decided to remove the steering damper, which is quite stiff, and cautiously take it out for some local and highway riding.

Not surprisingly, the low speed handling is a lot more natural and lighter, and the higher speed reaction to gusts is much better, a more solid feeling. So far, even bumping the handlebars hasnít created any sense of instability. (I am concerned by the GSW damperless instability but wonder if BMW overreacted on the RTW.)

Iím considering the Hyperpro reactive damper which is lighter for slow movement and adjustable for faster movements.

Has anyone else removed the damper or tried the hyperpro?

Last edited by Roger 17 RT; Dec 24th, 2019 at 11:02 am.
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post #2 of 44 Old Dec 24th, 2019, 12:21 pm
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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Originally Posted by Roger 17 RT View Post
I love my 2017 RTW but havenít been satisfied with its low speed handling in general or its high speed reaction to gusts.
Hi Roger,

I'm no help for your info quest but was wondering what do you find unsatisfying w/ RTW's low speed handling? I guess you're just saying it could be better. It sounds like removing the damper has improved this for you which suggests to me this is a component I'll never need to be concerned about because as it wears it might only make handling better, or at least won't make handling worse, which is nice to know. I haven't had any complaints about low speed handling nor response to wind gusts but I am the quintessential undiscriminating owner of a '16 RT because unlike quite a few here I find the entire machine perfectly wonderful, screen, seat & mirrors notwithstanding!
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post #3 of 44 Old Dec 24th, 2019, 2:25 pm
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

The steering damper seems to me is to counter the bike being light in the front end. Most bikes that are heavy in the front shouldn't need a damper. I have to say that I like the feel of motorcycle with a light front end. The heavier front end motorcycle feel like a tank. The 1600 BMW is heavier in the front end and steers great but for some reason it doesn't feel as stable at high speed than the R1200RT. Too bad that the steering damper isn't adjustable.
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post #4 of 44 Old Dec 24th, 2019, 5:20 pm
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

I have always understood that steering dampers only worked for "tank slappers" which is when the steering is abruptly forced to the left or right by bumps or wind. In other words it does absolutely nothing when normally going down the road.
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post #5 of 44 Old Dec 24th, 2019, 5:28 pm Thread Starter
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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Hi Roger,

... what do you find unsatisfying w/ RTW's low speed handling? I guess you're just saying it could be better. ...
Like you, I really like the bike. My observation is that it takes a bit more than the natural input to do something like changing lanes, and if your day dreaming a little weave can start up. This is probably due to the stiction in the damper. Again at slow speeds if thereís a thick painted line The bike sometimes seems to resist starting over it, probably the same issue. At high speeds the bike seems planted until a tractor trailer goes by and then the gust often sets up a slight weave.

The two low speed observations go away without the damper and the high speed issue changes to a quick wiggle that dies out quickly.

I got used to all the above and almost donít notice it anymore but this winter I decided to see what I can figure out.
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post #6 of 44 Old Dec 24th, 2019, 6:41 pm Thread Starter
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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I have always understood that steering dampers only worked for "tank slappers" which is when the steering is abruptly forced to the left or right by bumps or wind. In other words it does absolutely nothing when normally going down the road.
On the RTW thereís a very large resistance ALL the time. I think the BMW design is constant force fast or slow. The breakaway stiction At the handlebar ends is about 3lbs on my bike.
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post #7 of 44 Old Dec 24th, 2019, 6:42 pm Thread Starter
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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The steering damper seems to me is to counter the bike being light in the front end. Most bikes that are heavy in the front shouldn't need a damper. I have to say that I like the feel of motorcycle with a light front end. The heavier front end motorcycle feel like a tank. The 1600 BMW is heavier in the front end and steers great but for some reason it doesn't feel as stable at high speed than the R1200RT. Too bad that the steering damper isn't adjustable.
The K1600GT has a damper on the parts list but I canít see it on my friendís bike.
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post #8 of 44 Old Dec 24th, 2019, 8:38 pm
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

Here are a few of my favorite things that I have, but hope I never need...

Helmet
Fire Extinguisher
M1911 in .45ACP
Steering Damper

Things I would not do:
Cut the strap on my helmet
Put the fire extinguisher in the trunk
pin the grip safety on the 1911, or remove the firing pin safety
remove the steering damper
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post #9 of 44 Old Dec 24th, 2019, 11:17 pm
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

Prior to my RT, all of my bikes have been Kawasaki's, from the 250 Ninja to the ZX-10R and C14. This '16 RT has to be the worst slow-handling bike I have ever had. I dread being caught in stop-and-go traffic, not because that sucks, but because the RT absolutely sucks when riding it at these speeds. I have never needed to play with the clutch and throttle with any other bike as I do with this one in order to keep it upright...and it only gets worse when carrying a squirming photographer passenger amidst 100s of bicyclists on a narrow path.

At first I attributed this to the unique front end the bike has. Now I have something new to look at.

That being said, this bike is probably the most rock-solid handling bike I've ever owned. However, I have never experienced any issues riding around semis.

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post #10 of 44 Old Dec 25th, 2019, 12:04 am
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

The simple solution to the damper would be to go back to yesteryear. Not sure when they changed but my 1976 R90/6 had an adjustable damper 0 - 1 - 2 by rotating a knob center of steering yoke. It worked very well. 0 for around town slow speed and 1 - 2 for speed.

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post #11 of 44 Old Dec 25th, 2019, 8:24 am
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

BMW put it on there for a reason. I would NOT take it off. I think they know better then us
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post #12 of 44 Old Dec 25th, 2019, 12:05 pm
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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Originally Posted by N00bie RT Gawd View Post
This '16 RT has to be the worst slow-handling bike I have ever had. I dread being caught in stop-and-go traffic, not because that sucks, but because the RT absolutely sucks when riding it at these speeds.
Interesting--I find my '16 RT is so well balanced I typically time my stops in stop n go conditions to where I'm barely moving and still don't need to put a foot down. How the heck can you do better than that? Using the clutch and throttle are always required unless you have a sidecar or a 3rd wheel, no? Perhaps you're losing some balance awareness? This happens as we age as a function of how well our vestibular system functions and as we age the 'endolymph' in our semicircular canals becomes less fluid and so balance suffers--it's often why people are at higher risk for falls. I've always thought the time to give up the moto is when I start losing balance and other awareness since fortunately riding does not require strength per se, just balance and awareness.
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post #13 of 44 Old Dec 25th, 2019, 1:04 pm
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

Didnít BMW add dampers to all bikes after the launch of the GSW when that journalist died during one of the launch events?

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post #14 of 44 Old Dec 25th, 2019, 1:05 pm
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

It is interesting, some of you find the RT hard to handle at slow speed, I find it to be the easiest in its class. Previous tour bikes were much harder to ride at very slow speeds. These include FJRs, Connies and tour buses like the gl1800

As to the steering damper, I believe the steep rake of 26.5į is the reason BMW saw fit to have one. Usually tour bikes are in the 29į - 30į range. The RT is closer to what sport bike have.
In any case, I usually ride my RT with 39 lbs front which makes for a much lighter steering. If you run it at the prescribed 36 lbs it does feel a bit heavier.
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post #15 of 44 Old Dec 25th, 2019, 2:29 pm Thread Starter
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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Interesting--I find my '16 RT is so well balanced I typically time my stops in stop n go conditions to where I'm barely moving and still don't need to put a foot down. How the heck can you do better than that? Using the clutch and throttle are always required unless you have a sidecar or a 3rd wheel, no? Perhaps you're losing some balance awareness? This happens as we age as a function of how well our vestibular system functions and as we age the 'endolymph' in our semicircular canals becomes less fluid and so balance suffers--it's often why people are at higher risk for falls. I've always thought the time to give up the moto is when I start losing balance and other awareness since fortunately riding does not require strength per se, just balance and awareness.
I find the 2017RT very easy to handle at all speeds. Iím not talking about it being hard to ride as much as it has (for several riders whoíve commented) an-unnaturally sticky entrance into a slight turn such as a lane change at low speeds. Since the damper is fairly stiff, and since removal of the damper removes that characteristic, I donít think itís a great leap to say that the damper has negatively altered low speed handling.

After I ride the bike long enough (without getting back onto my 1150GS or 1150RT) I donít notice it so much. But after coming off an 1150, there it is again.

Without the damper itís a-okay.

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It is interesting, some of you find the RT hard to handle at slow speed, I find it to be the easiest in its class. Previous tour bikes were much harder to ride at very slow speeds. These include FJRs, Connies and tour buses like the gl1800

As to the steering damper, I believe the steep rake of 26.5į is the reason BMW saw fit to have one. Usually tour bikes are in the 29į - 30į range. The RT is closer to what sport bike have.
In any case, I usually ride my RT with 39 lbs front which makes for a much lighter steering. If you run it at the prescribed 36 lbs it does feel a bit heavier.
I havenít heard anyone say the bike is hard to handle, just that it has certain subtle characteristics.
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post #16 of 44 Old Dec 25th, 2019, 2:32 pm Thread Starter
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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Didnít BMW add dampers to all bikes after the launch of the GSW when that journalist died during one of the launch events?
Yes, thatís the sequence. But they shipped the 2013 for a year before adding it and never had a recall. So how big an issue was it or is it? And was the addition even related to the crash?

BMW will never explain their rationale nor explain what condition the stiff damper was meant to fix.
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post #17 of 44 Old Dec 25th, 2019, 2:39 pm Thread Starter
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

German riders found that a small percentage of the bikes between (I think) 2016 and 2018 had fork bridges with bearings that are too tight. Iím pursuing that with the dealer.

I will also try other tires than the PR4s that the bike came with.

I donít find that the characteristics Iíve mentioned change at all with tire pressure. But who came up with the idea to make correct inflation pressure a function of ambient temperature? Never in my over 50 years of driving, riding or flying have I had a vehicle whose ďcorrectĒ tire pressure as measured by my gauge varies with the thermometer on the garage wall.
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post #18 of 44 Old Dec 25th, 2019, 3:41 pm
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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Interesting--I find my '16 RT is so well balanced I typically time my stops in stop n go conditions to where I'm barely moving and still don't need to put a foot down. How the heck can you do better than that? Using the clutch and throttle are always required unless you have a sidecar or a 3rd wheel, no? Perhaps you're losing some balance awareness? This happens as we age as a function of how well our vestibular system functions and as we age the 'endolymph' in our semicircular canals becomes less fluid and so balance suffers--it's often why people are at higher risk for falls. I've always thought the time to give up the moto is when I start losing balance and other awareness since fortunately riding does not require strength per se, just balance and awareness.
I'm only 50 and can balance very well on my two feet. LOL

This bike also sucks when starting from a stop- definitely needs way more clutch/throttle than any of my previous I4s.

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post #19 of 44 Old Dec 25th, 2019, 6:06 pm Thread Starter
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I'm only 50 and can balance very well on my two feet. LOL

This bike also sucks when starting from a stop- definitely needs way more clutch/throttle than any of my previous I4s.
Add an AF-XIED. It makes a big difference at start off.
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post #20 of 44 Old Dec 25th, 2019, 9:17 pm
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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I will also try other tires than the PR4s that the bike came with.
Roger, my '16 had PR4GTs and while they were okay the front tire cupped rather quickly and as you probably also learned you need to run them around 40psi to help reduce the rate cupping. I have used Metz Z8, Pirelli Angel GT, and found problems with both of those. If you want to lighten up turn-in very significantly try Angel GT. To me, I found them much too light--not in keeping with the weight of the machine. I don't want the front steering to outrun the kinetics of leaning the bike back and forth that doesn't work well. What I discovered is Continental RoadAttack 3 GT--this tire for me has had absolutely no problems, and a big list of positive attributes the other 3 tires tried do not have. I find handling to be the best with this tire be it slow or high speed behavior. I can hold lines effortlessly, and don't have a need to make mid-turn corrections. The Pirelli's were too responsive, again for the 620lbs of the bike and my 200lb body. The other tires were certainly decent in that regard, but not as good as the conti's.

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post #21 of 44 Old Dec 26th, 2019, 1:55 am
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

I've only owned 4 bikes (Vstar 1100, CTX700, Super Tenere, and the BMW) and I don't find slow maneuvers difficult on the BMW at all. In fact I find it to be quite the opposite as I find being slow on the bike is quit fun. You do have to counter balance and not just sit in a normal riding position, but you should be doing that on any bike. As far as balance goes, its absolutely amazing. I could get my Tenere pretty slow, but the RT I can legit stop and hold it for a two maybe three seconds. I've actually had people stop me at work when I was getting my stuff put away and ask me if it was a bike equipped with the gyroscope lol

All that said, I don't have a wide range of bike experience and have only ridden for about 5yrs so I don't have a lot of experience to really tell if the RT is worse than others.
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post #22 of 44 Old Dec 26th, 2019, 4:16 am
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

Again if you can feel the quoted 3 lbs of drag on a bike sitting still you sitting on it turning the bars left or right you are a better man then me or most men and women I know.

The purpose of the steering damper is it get harder at speed IF the shaft moves back and forth to a certain point creating the resistance the damper is set to.

I can not believe anyone going down the road at 75 or 80 miles an hour can feel this 3 lbs of invasive handling.

I had a tank slapper on a '10 FJR 1300 that came out of no where and left just as suddenly. I do think the damper helped and as ws said even slowing down it took its good old time to stop the oscillation.

I dont buy the tire issues at all. I dont think it is tire or wear dependent.

Harmonics and oscillation are some strange things and while I have only had one I have seen other report them.

If I was doing anything if it bugged me I would go with a Purple color dampener and see if I could tell.

And since I am on a GS I will keep mine on, and I never gave it a though on the 15 RT except to keep that shaft clean from bug guts.
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post #23 of 44 Old Dec 26th, 2019, 7:44 am
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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I've only owned 4 bikes (Vstar 1100, CTX700, Super Tenere, and the BMW) and I don't find slow maneuvers difficult on the BMW at all. In fact I find it to be quite the opposite as I find being slow on the bike is quit fun. You do have to counter balance and not just sit in a normal riding position, but you should be doing that on any bike. As far as balance goes, its absolutely amazing. I could get my Tenere pretty slow, but the RT I can legit stop and hold it for a two maybe three seconds.
Fully concur with this assessment.
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post #24 of 44 Old Dec 26th, 2019, 9:02 am Thread Starter
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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Roger, my '16 had PR4GTs and while they were okay the front tire cupped rather quickly and as you probably also learned you need to run them around 40psi to help reduce the rate cupping. I have used Metz Z8, Pirelli Angel GT, and found problems with both of those. If you want to lighten up turn-in very significantly try Angel GT. To me, I found them much too light--not in keeping with the weight of the machine. I don't want the front steering to outrun the kinetics of leaning the bike back and forth that doesn't work well. What I discovered is Continental RoadAttack 3 GT--this tire for me has had absolutely no problems, and a big list of positive attributes the other 3 tires tried do not have. I find handling to be the best with this tire be it slow or high speed behavior. I can hold lines effortlessly, and don't have a need to make mid-turn corrections. The Pirelli's were too responsive, again for the 620lbs of the bike and my 200lb body. The other tires were certainly decent in that regard, but not as good as the conti's.
Thanks for this input on tires. I was leaning toward the Metzler Z8 mainly because I had test ridden a 2018 with Z8s and it’s on of the tires on a BMW list that I saw on a European BMW site, I forget where. I’ll reread the tire thread here with your RA3 comments.

There’s a sharp right bend in the road just down the street from my driveway. I notice that once established in the turn, the bike wants to turn-in more. Is that the PR4s expressing themselves?

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Again if you can feel the quoted 3 lbs of drag on a bike sitting still you sitting on it turning the bars left or right you are a better man then me or most men and women I know.

The purpose of the steering damper is it get harder at speed IF the shaft moves back and forth to a certain point creating the resistance the damper is set to.

I can not believe anyone going down the road at 75 or 80 miles an hour can feel this 3 lbs of invasive handling.

I had a tank slapper on a '10 FJR 1300 that came out of no where and left just as suddenly. I do think the damper helped and as ws said even slowing down it took its good old time to stop the oscillation.

I dont buy the tire issues at all. I dont think it is tire or wear dependent.

Harmonics and oscillation are some strange things and while I have only had one I have seen other report them.

If I was doing anything if it bugged me I would go with a Purple color dampener and see if I could tell.

And since I am on a GS I will keep mine on, and I never gave it a though on the 15 RT except to keep that shaft clean from bug guts.
I take the warnings about damperless tank slappers very seriously.

I’ve got the damper in my hands now. It’s resistance is high even at slow rates of motion.

You’re thinking wrongly about the 3 lbs. of stiction. You never notice it while riding, but you can feel the consequence of it. One never consciously thinks about turning the bike, I’m not even sure exactly the mechanics involved in a slight lane change. A subtle weight shift and the front turns in slightly and the bike starts turning except the stiction of the damper means that my 17RT needs more than a “natural” nudge. The bike feels very slightly resistant to turn sometimes. It never feels that way without the damper. That’s the best description I can provide.

For those who never notice it, or never notice the RTW’s squirrellyness over a thick white-painted line (Bandytales has written about it many times and I notice it too), then it’s not an issue.

In any case, without the damper, the characteristics change for the better.
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post #25 of 44 Old Dec 26th, 2019, 11:48 am
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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Originally Posted by N00bie RT Gawd View Post
Prior to my RT, all of my bikes have been Kawasaki's, from the 250 Ninja to the ZX-10R and C14. This '16 RT has to be the worst slow-handling bike I have ever had. I dread being caught in stop-and-go traffic, not because that sucks, but because the RT absolutely sucks when riding it at these speeds. I have never needed to play with the clutch and throttle with any other bike as I do with this one in order to keep it upright...and it only gets worse when carrying a squirming photographer passenger amidst 100s of bicyclists on a narrow path.

At first I attributed this to the unique front end the bike has. Now I have something new to look at.

That being said, this bike is probably the most rock-solid handling bike I've ever owned. However, I have never experienced any issues riding around semis.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger 17 RT View Post
I find the 2017RT very easy to handle at all speeds. Iím not talking about it being hard to ride as much as it has (for several riders whoíve commented) an-unnaturally sticky entrance into a slight turn such as a lane change at low speeds. Since the damper is fairly stiff, and since removal of the damper removes that characteristic, I donít think itís a great leap to say that the damper has negatively altered low speed handling.

After I ride the bike long enough (without getting back onto my 1150GS or 1150RT) I donít notice it so much. But after coming off an 1150, there it is again.

Without the damper itís a-okay.



I havenít heard anyone say the bike is hard to handle, just that it has certain subtle characteristics.
Noobie does.
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post #26 of 44 Old Dec 26th, 2019, 6:53 pm
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

My first thought was that your hands were fighting each other, a phenomenon Lee Parks wrote about.
My second thought was that you should take slow handling training.
My 2008 required a firm counter-steer. My 2016 steers itself when I just think it. But, I added one thing: that slow speed, big bike training. And, I practiced those slow straight lines and slow figure eights circling in a parking spot. This bike is amazing. I would suggest the number one upgrade be training or read the book and actually do the drills in the book Maximum Control and then see what you think. See a review of the book here: webbikeworld com maximum-control-wbw-book-review]Maximum Control: Mastering Your Heavyweight Bike - webBikeWorld
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post #27 of 44 Old Dec 26th, 2019, 9:12 pm
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

I recently moved from a 2017 RT to a clean, low mile 2013 GS, mainly for heat issues here in the Southwest. The GS gives me a lot more airflow, plus I feel more comfortable taking it on forest roads for camping. It does not have the damper fitted to 2014 and later GS's.

The reason I mention it is I was surprised at how light the front end is, especially when accelerating hard through a curve. The front end gets light and you can even feel a little bit of bar waggle. Needless to say it is getting a steering damper, and it is already waiting to go on. I was spit of a bike once decades ago from a high speed tank slapper and don't want a repeat.

My RT in comparison was stable as a brick. I do think it is a bit heavy in low speed steering but attribute that to the weight on the front end. I would be cautious removing a component like that but it sounds like you know what you're doing.

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post #28 of 44 Old Dec 26th, 2019, 11:07 pm Thread Starter
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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My first thought was that your hands were fighting each other, a phenomenon Lee Parks wrote about.
My second thought was that you should take slow handling training.
My 2008 required a firm counter-steer. My 2016 steers itself when I just think it. But, I added one thing: that slow speed, big bike training. And, I practiced those slow straight lines and slow figure eights circling in a parking spot. This bike is amazing. I would suggest the number one upgrade be training or read the book and actually do the drills in the book Maximum Control and then see what you think. See a review of the book here: webbikeworld com maximum-control-wbw-book-review]Maximum Control: Mastering Your Heavyweight Bike - webBikeWorld
Training is always a good thing, something that all riders benefit from. However, I have a 610# 1150 and a 620# 1200, they have different handling characteristics. Iím a common denominator, itís the handling that varies.

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I recently moved from a 2017 RT to a clean, low mile 2013 GS, mainly for heat issues here in the Southwest. The GS gives me a lot more airflow, plus I feel more comfortable taking it on forest roads for camping. It does not have the damper fitted to 2014 and later GS's.

The reason I mention it is I was surprised at how light the front end is, especially when accelerating hard through a curve. The front end gets light and you can even feel a little bit of bar waggle. Needless to say it is getting a steering damper, and it is already waiting to go on. I was spit of a bike once decades ago from a high speed tank slapper and don't want a repeat.

My RT in comparison was stable as a brick. I do think it is a bit heavy in low speed steering but attribute that to the weight on the front end. I would be cautious removing a component like that but it sounds like you know what you're doing.
You are right to be concerned about varying the steering, suspension or stability. And many riders Iíve met have a stability story. That doesnít seem to stop riders from: changing shocks, changing ride height to make it easier for shorter riders to reach the ground, experimenting with tire pressure and running tires not tested on a particular model. Why is testing different or no steering damper more of a concern?

BMW surely knew that a damper would affect stability AND handling. Perhaps they should have added an even more resistant damper.
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post #29 of 44 Old Jan 2nd, 2020, 7:34 am
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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... This '16 RT has to be the worst slow-handling bike I have ever had. I dread being caught in stop-and-go traffic, not because that sucks, but because the RT absolutely sucks when riding it at these speeds. I have never needed to play with the clutch and throttle with any other bike as I do with this one in order to keep it upright...and it only gets worse when carrying a squirming photographer passenger amidst 100s of bicyclists on a narrow path.

At first I attributed this to the unique front end the bike has. Now I have something new to look at.

That being said, this bike is probably the most rock-solid handling bike I've ever owned. However, I have never experienced any issues riding around semis.
Hi N00bie, totally agree with all those sentiments.
My previous 1100/1150Rt were (relatively speaking) a real treat to ride at super slow speeds.
I think Roger, N00bie and I all agree the normal riding is OK to good. It is the walking pace stuff that this bike let's itself down. It also let's itself down (with anything other than nice new tyres) when the bike is upright and crossing road irregularities.

Roger, what about variable rate steering dampers such as the Hyperpro RSC Steering Dampers?

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Last edited by bandytales; Jan 2nd, 2020 at 7:43 am.
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post #30 of 44 Old Jan 3rd, 2020, 9:56 pm Thread Starter
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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Hi N00bie, totally agree with all those sentiments.
My previous 1100/1150Rt were (relatively speaking) a real treat to ride at super slow speeds.
I think Roger, N00bie and I all agree the normal riding is OK to good. It is the walking pace stuff that this bike let's itself down. It also let's itself down (with anything other than nice new tyres) when the bike is upright and crossing road irregularities.

Roger, what about variable rate steering dampers such as the Hyperpro RSC Steering Dampers?
Hi Andy,
Iím still evaluating no damper but am thinking about the HyperPro variable rate. Iíve made some measurements that Iíll post tomorrow that are making me wonder about stiction in the steering bearings.
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post #31 of 44 Old Jan 5th, 2020, 12:06 pm Thread Starter
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

Iím still working on this issue but thereís no doubt to me that the low speed handling has improved. I made some more measurements recently.

Of the 3 lbs. starting force that the steering seems to have with the damper connected, 2 lbs. is in the steering (about half is stiction), and 1 lb is is in the damper. The damper seems to have almost no stiction but the minimum force to move it at a very slow rate is about 16 oz. When loaded with 16 lbs. the damper moves end to end in about 1.5 seconds.

Based on these measurements, Iíve asked EPM Performance:
óShould the stock damper be considered Reactive?
óOn the lowest setting, what is the minimum force to move the HyperPro steering damper?

Iím also trying to get some info from BMW through the dealer.
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post #32 of 44 Old Jan 6th, 2020, 5:09 am
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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Iím still working on this issue but thereís no doubt to me that the low speed handling has improved. I made some more measurements recently.
I really think you are on to something here. I am not ready to ditch the damper. However, as a research route, it does need to come off to establish a baseline to work from. In the long term, I do feel that this bike has the potential to need a damper though.

I do think the damper is impeding and contributing to some of the negative low speed traits we are experiencing, and a better (tuned) steering damper may well be the solution. So, as they say, keep up the good work!

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post #33 of 44 Old Jan 6th, 2020, 9:47 am
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Pardon my lack of knowledge on this, but...
Is there such a thing as an active damper? The RT has active suspension, so one would think the dampening level could be computer controlled, if they wanted. Obviously, different.levels of dampening are more or less desirable, based on speed.

Cars have speed sensitive power assisted steering, do the car is easy to turn at low speed, but tighter as you go faster. Why can't a bike have that?

Again... I am no expert, and maybe this already exists?
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post #34 of 44 Old Jan 6th, 2020, 10:01 am
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

I would be concerned about removing the damper if you run a top box.
When you place a large weight on a long lever; like a loaded top box, you have added a lot of mass that can flex the frame and setup a wobble.
The damper helps dampen the potential standing wave that can result in a tank slapper.
If you do not have a top box and don't heavily load your side cases, my guess is the stock damper is stiffer than it needs to be.
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post #35 of 44 Old Jan 6th, 2020, 11:34 am
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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I would be concerned about removing the damper if you run a top box.
Hi John. I think both myself and Roger would agree with you. However, it is doing the footwork to establish if we can improve things. So, identifying causes of 'the problem' is what we are aiming at. Then resolving it. We have played around with tyres, tyre pressures etc. We now have another variable and by taking it out of the equation will simplify things.
As I said earlier. If we can establish that the steering damper is dulling the low speed handling performance of the bike, than we may be able to do something about it.

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post #36 of 44 Old Jan 13th, 2020, 8:04 am Thread Starter
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

Hereís my response to another rider of a 2018 RTW, who is testing no-damper riding. He has measured a no-damper, front wheel up, breakaway force of 1 lb, using a scale and also by using a sensitive torque wrench on one of the front fork nuts.. Since my scale test yields 31 oz. at 17.5Ē which translates to about 34 inch-lbs. He is measuring 17 in-lbs with the scale but 24 in-lbs. at the nut.

Since the nut is offset from the steering centerline, I think his torque measurement needs to be scaled up. If we do that, itís about 36 in-lbs., which is what Iím getting with the scale. Maybe Iím wrong about the need for scaling it up?
ďItís in the 70s and 80s here and I measure 2 lbs. breakaway on the same test you measure 1 lb. That will be useful information when I finally get around to reconnecting with the dealer.

The more I ride without the damper, the more I notice whatís going on. With the damper, I often felt like the bike didnít want to initiate a slight turn, like a low speed lane change. It would always turn, it was just that it seemed I needed to apply conscious effort.

Without the damper, it doesnít happen but at times (mostly 10-20 mph) I can definitely feel that bit of stiction just before it starts to turn.

I agree that it wants to drop into a turn faster without the damper. Iíve always felt I needed to hold the handlebars up a bit to keep it from over-turning and without the damper Iím even more aware of that.

Klaus at EPM Performance (HyperPro) has warned me that the biggest risk for a stick-shaker is hitting something that jars the wheel, like a pothole or curb. With my mostly conservative riding, I feel at little risk of that. So far the bike seems rock solid without the damper.Ē
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post #37 of 44 Old Jan 14th, 2020, 8:53 am
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

Your last two issues are enough for me to leave things as they are, "I agree that it wants to drop into a turn faster without the damper. Iíve always felt I needed to hold the handlebars up a bit to keep it from over-turning and without the damper Iím even more aware of that. Klaus at EPM Performance (HyperPro) has warned me that the biggest risk for a stick-shaker is hitting something that jars the wheel, like a pothole or curb. With my mostly conservative riding, I feel at little risk of that. So far the bike seems rock solid without the damper.Ē
Everybody will someday hit that huge pothole, imho.

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post #38 of 44 Old Jan 14th, 2020, 11:33 am Thread Starter
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

By all means, stay safe.
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post #39 of 44 Old Jan 15th, 2020, 8:20 am
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

Well I paid a bit more then 300 bucks for the Hyper Pro damper on my 07 LT. The other 1900 went to the shocks. To be honest I have no clue if it really was better or not. The shocks so far overshadowed everything that I would and did not notice the Damper.

I set sag, and after that the shocks and the damper were pre set for me from EPM. It was a group buy from here I believe for the LT right when EPM came onto the scene.

Roger with your methodology I am surprised EPM did not offer you one to play with. Since the have such a large rang of adjustment I would think in 20 clicks you could find the magic one.

My understanding is at slow speed these are supposed to be all but inert, then as oscillation, or, in and out movement of the damper rod, increases the resistance applied, stabilizing the lower bridge and forks, and bars.

I have never been there but just thinking about the steering head nut/bearing and any role it may play in this.

Again this is one of those back in the day it was a simple process of checking fall away. Also it was a torque value and then a set amount of flat or degree to torque to correct specs.

I keep watching this as I find it interesting.

Since I ride a GS I am never taking my damper off, however if I could gain a bit better handling by just making a few clicks that would be worth the cost.

Can you say Group Buy?

Oh and I am wondering if this is a contributing factor to front tire wear? I have never seen tires wear to a trapezoid on any other motorcycle I have owned over my 50 years of driving them.

Keep at it Roger I hope your persistence helps us understand some stuff here.
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post #40 of 44 Old Jan 15th, 2020, 10:50 am
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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Oh and I am wondering if this is a contributing factor to front tire wear? I have never seen tires wear to a trapezoid on any other motorcycle I have owned over my 50 years of driving them.

Keep at it Roger I hope your persistence helps us understand some stuff here.
Plus 1.

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post #41 of 44 Old Jan 16th, 2020, 6:06 am
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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BMW put it on there for a reason. I would NOT take it off. I think they know better then us
I second that.

It's interesting to hear largely US comments on this, I think. It doesn't seem to be an issue in the UK from what I can make out.

Another aspect that would seriously weigh on my mind is insurance implications. Our insurance industry are as hot as nails for finding ways not to pay out on a claim.

Most insurers will have asked you to state that the bike is in standard condition and not modified. If you tell them what you've done you'd be fine, although they may hike the premium or even decline to quote. On the other hand if you haven't owned up and you are involved in a serious moving vehicle incident, whether your fault or not, the assessors would be over the bike with a fine tooth comb and you could find yourself up sh#t creak without a paddle!
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post #42 of 44 Old Jan 16th, 2020, 6:41 am Thread Starter
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

Stay legal, stay safe.
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post #43 of 44 Old Jan 16th, 2020, 6:47 am Thread Starter
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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Well I paid a bit more then 300 bucks for the Hyper Pro damper on my 07 LT. The other 1900 went to the shocks. To be honest I have no clue if it really was better or not. The shocks so far overshadowed everything that I would and did not notice the Damper.

I set sag, and after that the shocks and the damper were pre set for me from EPM. It was a group buy from here I believe for the LT right when EPM came onto the scene.

Roger with your methodology I am surprised EPM did not offer you one to play with. Since the have such a large rang of adjustment I would think in 20 clicks you could find the magic one.

My understanding is at slow speed these are supposed to be all but inert, then as oscillation, or, in and out movement of the damper rod, increases the resistance applied, stabilizing the lower bridge and forks, and bars.

I have never been there but just thinking about the steering head nut/bearing and any role it may play in this.

Again this is one of those back in the day it was a simple process of checking fall away. Also it was a torque value and then a set amount of flat or degree to torque to correct specs.

I keep watching this as I find it interesting.

Since I ride a GS I am never taking my damper off, however if I could gain a bit better handling by just making a few clicks that would be worth the cost.

Can you say Group Buy?

Oh and I am wondering if this is a contributing factor to front tire wear? I have never seen tires wear to a trapezoid on any other motorcycle I have owned over my 50 years of driving them.

Keep at it Roger I hope your persistence helps us understand some stuff here.
The dealer has said this is too subtle for him, that I should learn to ride as is and that I should call BMW technical service. BMW Customer service says I have to go through the dealer. The dealer is 2.5 hours away. Does anyone know how to reach a BMW Tech Support rep directly?

I may try a closer dealer (whom I’m wishing I’d bought from rather than saving a couple thou).

I’m thinking now that damperless steering stiction is at the root cause of my observations. The dealer did mentioned a front bearing torque spec. Does anyone know if there’s a way to reduce the torque on either of the steering bearings, possibly reducing their stiction?

Once I have a point of view on how to proceed with the stiction issue, I will likely try the HyperPro reactive damper.

Also, I did get some tech back channel info suggesting that the damper is there for “liability” issues ...

Last edited by Roger 17 RT; Jan 16th, 2020 at 6:53 am.
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post #44 of 44 Old Jan 16th, 2020, 7:07 am
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Re: RTW Steering Damper

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. It doesn't seem to be an issue in the UK from what I can make out.
It's on both sides of the pond. I am one of those that believes the low speed rideability could be much better. Also the tyre wear, also the bikes' reaction to road irregularities with partially worn tyres.


The low speed stuff I talk about is the very low speed (walking speed) where you are using balance and body english to keep the bike tracking perfectly.

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