Can someone explain how they help in woods riding? If you hit a root that is sorta parrallel to the trail will it help to keep the front wheel from sliding along the root and making you fall? How else does it help?
It really helps in "deflection". In other words, say you were clocking along a trail at about 40-50 and caught the edge of a rock. In most cases it might cause you to crash or at least go off the trail. With the steering damper it won't do that, or at least not to the same extent. Another scenario is if the bike you ride had head-shake, the damper will cure that. I rode for years without one, but since getting on about 4 years ago you couldn't catch me without it again.
It also helps the bike track straighter in mud and sand as well as not letting it clang against the steering stops if you clip a tree, etc. I won't ride without one but all I ride is woods. I'm sure there'd be some benefits to MX, too, but probably not quite as many.
Many riders use them to race MX. Check out the latest Motocross Action test on Dowds bike. A good thing about the Scotts damper is you can adjust the degree of how far it dampens as you turn the bike. Dowds is a custom GPR that replicates this, I believe. You could still run the setting stiff for straight line stability for MX. This really helps in straight line ruts. They also seem to help arm pump. It cuts back on your death grip. I run mine in MX and in the woods and love it for both.