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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Took my GT out for the first time after removing the steering damper - and I'm still alive to tell the tale. The bike steers so much better without the damper, no more rolling around at low speeds and better lines through the corners. I dropped the fork legs through the yokes as much as possible to increase the rake, and did not notice any sign of steering shake, but I was riding very gently, due to the combination of blustery winds and wet roads covered in muck. In spite of the conditions, I really enjoyed the ride; it was the first time that I have been able to get out and I was getting stir crazy!
 

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where did you go? I'm fairly new to town and I'm going a little stir crazy myself... any good rides not too far from here?
 

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Hi Duccout, which steering damper did you have? I was thinking about getting a damper on my monoposto just in case I get the dreaded headshake but it's intresting to hear that your bike feels better without one. I had my suspension set up at MCT in Stowmarket earlier this year and they dropped the forks down as you have done (so there is barely any fork tube above the top clamp); I guess for the same reason. MCT said don't worry about getting a steering damper now the spring and damper rates are sorted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi DGJ, I didn't go far - out to Ongar, A414 to Writtle and back via the back road, but I needed to ride!

Hi Stevos, I've got a Sprint damper, which I fitted a couple of years ago, not because I needed it, but because of all the horror stories about sudden loss of control. It is a complex subject and I don't think that sorting out the forks is the complete answer (although it helps) because some riders have had the shakes on Paul Smarts with Ohlins, and some with fully sorted Showas. There is something wrong with these bikes, otherwise Ducati would not have fitted dampers to the later Sport models. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
 

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I hope you missed the flooded patches of road this morning? I's been quite bad around Chelmsford.

I worry about getting a tank slapper too. I had a headshake on a Honda years ago and It's still stuck in my mind. Perhaps the combination of sporting geometry and heavy wheels is part of the reason; I think the Sport Classics are quite unique in that respect. MCT found the rear shock to be way too soft as well, its got more gas pressure and a stiffer/thicker spring now. Best upgrade per £ I've done to a bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
No floods, but a bit wetter than I'd hoped.

I guess that there are many things affecting the steering and they have all been discussed here before, but the rear shock(s) could be a prime reason for shakes. I read an article by Ron Williams from Maxton who said that most tank slappers start at the rear. Along with forks that are too soft, so reducing steering rake; poor damping and heavy wheels, I also wonder if the long tanks on the Sport Classics mean that the rider weight is too far rearward. Certainly my Multistrada sits the rider further forward and Multis do not have a reputation for head shake, in spite of razor-sharp steering.

I've got my forks sorted, YSS rear shocks and Sport wheels, so I'm hoping that I'm safe, but time will tell. I lost half a pound of weight from each wheel by having them rebuilt. Ducati's spokes and nipples are heavy!
 

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Like the 1997 Suzuki TL1000S, a poorly set-up Moto will/can be prone to head-shake.

Good to see your sorted-out and stable.
 

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I did wonder if the standard spokes were quite heavy. I was checking out Hagon for a stainless spoke wheel rebuild as they are local. Where did you get yours rebuilt? After 10k miles my spokes are starting to look a bit grotty near the hub (the part that's damn near impossible to clean!).

Very intresting as to what Ron Williams said. I was told the rear shock was miles off which I didn't expect; the bike being undersprung even without a rider on board. The bike/rider combined weight needing to be roughly -260lb less for the shock to be correct at the back. They gave me an active demo before and after as they sat me on the bike, bounced it and it didn't return to its original ride height. It certainly feels great now but I'll probably try a steering damper when funds allow just as a precaution.

The twin shock Sport Classics must be different again of course. Glad yours is sorted too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yes, Hagon's rebuilt my wheels for me, Very nice. As for the rear shocks, I'm guessing that the original twin-shocks on the GT were undersprung, because when riding, the rear seemed to get harder and harder, which seems to indicate that they were not extending quickly enough over bumpy sections.
 

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The bike steers so much better without the damper, no more rolling around at low speeds and better lines through the corners. ... but I was riding very gently...
Hi Duccout - Nice to hear you got out for a ride. :)

For what it's worth, I think you may have experienced some placebo effect related to your removal of a damper: riding gently would unlikely expose handling deficiencies, thus making your bike seem to ride more capably. In addition, I don't think the damper could account for "better lines through the corners." That's all you - you're riding more efficiently and precisely than you are giving yourself credit for!

What I think may also be possible is you discovered your damper was improperly mounted, functioned poorly or a combination of both. This, in turn, made the bike much nicer to ride when it was removed.

Just one Yankee's opinion, for what it's worth. Ride safe!
 

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I kind of agree about the placebo effect, but that is kind of like the person saying their car is faster because the "butt dyno" tells them so. Hey, whatever makes you happy :)

I set my damper at max-20 to test and i'll admit, it is insane overkill and you can barely even turn the handlebars. But at 0 (no resistance) vs 5, the difference to ME cannot be felt while riding, and yet if you try to very fast turn them when I have on the rear stand, you know the damper is doing it's job.

I've had a few tank slappers in the years past on my YZF-R1 and my GSX-R 1000, and I was freaked out. I bought one for my SC, just purely because I was scared and hope to never have another. I like the look with nothing, but probably will keep one always installed.
 

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I did wonder if the standard spokes were quite heavy. I was checking out Hagon for a stainless spoke wheel rebuild as they are local. Where did you get yours rebuilt? After 10k miles my spokes are starting to look a bit grotty near the hub (the part that's damn near impossible to clean!).

Very intresting as to what Ron Williams said. I was told the rear shock was miles off which I didn't expect; the bike being undersprung even without a rider on board. The bike/rider combined weight needing to be roughly -260lb less for the shock to be correct at the back. They gave me an active demo before and after as they sat me on the bike, bounced it and it didn't return to its original ride height. It certainly feels great now but I'll probably try a steering damper when funds allow just as a precaution.

The twin shock Sport Classics must be different again of course. Glad yours is sorted too.
My suspension specialist (spec out race teams..) had the same conclusion, it starts at the back and the standard sport 1000 setup (biposto here) is completely wrong. He literally changed the entire back end setup and changed front forks and oil which had a massive impact on handling. Obviously more can be spend but this will do for me :).


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Very intresting as to what Ron Williams said. I was told the rear shock was miles off which I didn't expect; the bike being undersprung even without a rider on board. The bike/rider combined weight needing to be roughly -260lb less for the shock to be correct at the back.
The monos are definitely undersprung for normal size people, but maybe not that extremely (?). A minus 260-lb target would equate to springing at barely half the correct rate. Stock spring is 183 lb / inch, and I doubt you would like it at 2x (366) (unless you are HUGE). I weigh 195 nekid and ended up with a 225 spring. However I generally prefer softer springing and more compression damping. Someone my size with a different preference might like as much as 275 on the spring. I tried that and it was okay. But 350 would ride like a buckboard.

Edit: oops, I take that back. I forgot that 60% of total weight is on the rear. The -260 target could be about right - applying that rule with a 225-lb rider, I calculate a 272 lb / inch spring, which is on the stiff side but plausible. My bad.
 

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I had my stock suspension resprung for my weight, 195lbs. They put .95 race techs up front and a ohlins spring on the back and set it up. Turned out pretty good. I still might get a street dampener though.

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The monos are definitely undersprung for normal size people, but maybe not that extremely (?). A minus 260-lb target would equate to springing at barely half the correct rate. Stock spring is 183 lb / inch, and I doubt you would like it at 2x (366) (unless you are HUGE). I weigh 195 nekid and ended up with a 225 spring. However I generally prefer softer springing and more compression damping. Someone my size with a different preference might like as much as 275 on the spring. I tried that and it was okay. But 350 would ride like a buckboard.

Edit: oops, I take that back. I forgot that 60% of total weight is on the rear. The -260 target could be about right - applying that rule with a 225-lb rider, I calculate a 272 lb / inch spring, which is on the stiff side but plausible. My bad.
I'm not very technically clued up but my rear spring has 35-215 written on it. At the time I weighed 196lb (171lb now :)). I naively asked how much weight I needed to loose for the rear spring to be correct and the reply was 'about 19 stone' (this is where I got the weight from but there could have been some jovial pee taking and exageration!) To be fair they were still measuring stuff and looking at charts when I asked. I wanted a softer ride so a 215 lb spring sounds about right I guess?

I don't know if its just my bike, a batch of bikes, or all monopostos that are so under-sprung and under-damped at the back? But going back to the steering damper issue I'd assume getting the rear set up properly is a pretty essential part of dialing out the chance of a tank slapper, at least as important as getting the forks sorted.

The chaps at MCT reckoned the stock suspension was pretty decent in terms of its build quality; it just needed setting up properly. I didn't even realise that one fork leg did compression damping and the other rebound damping so I have a different oil weight in each fork leg now. I certainly have a great deal of respect for their knowledge as the bike feels damn good now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Sounds like they do know their stuff. Don't talk to me about setting up the forks - I've changed oil more times than I can remember, but they seem to be OK now. The trouble is, I'm always being tempted by Showas, and the only way I'll know if they are better than I've got is to try them.
 

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I fitted a Sprint damper to my GT after crossing a sunken drain cover while cranked over at speed and experiencing my first tank slapper in years- something I had no desire whatever to repeat. I found to my surprise that set up with even a very light input (so light it barely even affects slow speed riding, which I hate) I was conscious of its steadying-effect when encountering similar potentially lethal road surface hazards. So much so that even with ST4 forks and Monster wheels now fitted, I have retained the Sprint damper.

I still think that with the rubbish standard suspension, a damper, and I can only speak for the Sprint, just might save your life.
 

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Took my GT out for the first time after removing the steering damper - and I'm still alive to tell the tale. The bike steers so much better without the damper, no more rolling around at low speeds and better lines through the corners. I dropped the fork legs through the yokes as much as possible to increase the rake, and did not notice any sign of steering shake, but I was riding very gently, due to the combination of blustery winds and wet roads covered in muck. In spite of the conditions, I really enjoyed the ride; it was the first time that I have been able to get out and I was getting stir crazy!
It is fun for me as an ex Gt owner (the crying will start in the Spring) to see that this discussion is still in vogue. Steering damper, schmeering damper. Yes, having one installed and properly adjusted will dampen left/right fork motion.So will leaving the bike parked on its sidestand.

Riding technique will serve the same function. -Much of which is simply letting the forks do their thing and stabilize themselves. Put another way: if you fight them one of you will lose. So stop fighting them.


But I tell the same thing to my younger married friends re their wives also to little effect.


-Ye Old Curmudgeon.


(Don)
 

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"...Steering damper, schmeering damper. Yes, having one installed and properly adjusted will dampen left/right fork motion...Riding technique will serve the same function. -Much of which is simply letting the forks do their thing and stabilize themselves..."
This is a pretty bold statement, considering it flies in the face of an awful lot of modern motorcycle engineering & personal experiences documented here by some seriously legitimate riders. Not to mention, how many modern, serious sportbikes come without a damper from the manufacturer? And how many MotoGP or AFM bikes are ridden without a damper? :think:
 
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