Steering damper or suspension

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#1
I'm a low budget H/S racer and really need to watch the money. Got a few bucks from a side job and was going to put it into our retirement fund but one of the fast guys at the last race started talking about how much his steering damper helped him---now I gotta have one, maybe.

I've been riding a while-I try to win but I'm not crazy agressive. 97 KDX 220- love it - stock suspension -fork springs .35-180 lbs plus gear-forks raised 5 mm-Florida sand and mud-suspension seems fine to me, but I really don't know -no particular problems, (except rider error), but I do get some scary head shake at times.

Finally the question- should I spend the money on a steering damper or spend it on some suspension mods if I can figure what those would be?
 

Midhigh

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#2
I am not a fast rider by any means. But I do go as fast as I think I can without hurting myself. I have the WER steering damper and did the KDX to KX front fork conversion. I did the WER first (about $320). I love it and would not ever ride without it ever again. I know this because during the KDX to KX fork conversion I rode without twice. Everything the forks did to help the handling of my KDX (and it is amazing what good suspension can do)was forgotten because I was used to the stable front end with the WER. Even with the KX forks I was very unhappy until the WER went back on.

Long story short - plan to do both, I would, however, do the steering Damper first.

My .02 worth
 
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#3
MIDHIGH, I take it you're happy with the KX forks combined with the damper. I'm contemplating doing the same mods to my bike. How much did the fork change help you? Do you have any issues with harshness if you get into wet, slimy. rocky conditions? I love my Fredette forks most of the time in the woods but they sure don't perform like my buddy's YZ426 when we get into any MX type conditions.
 

Midhigh

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#4
I am very happy with the KDX to KX conversion. I would do it again in a heart beat. combined with the damper I think it's the best deal. not to harsh, still very good in the woods and excellant on the MX track. I notice them the most going over big rock situations, past that I am very happy and I think they have help control the bike thus go faster.
 

Michelle

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#5
Bob, get your suspension sorted out. I'm pretty sure the 220 is about the same as the 200 - set up for a 180lb rider at the back & 130 or so at the front.
Even if you do the same as I did & just get the correct spring, it's worth the $. The previous owner of my bike had put gold valves in it, so it wasn't quite stock, but that was the first mod I did - softer rear spring - huge difference, even for someone like me who totally sucks.
My husband is 150-160 & would prefer a heavier spring, but rather rides it with the softer suspension than have it unbalanced with the stock spring.
I've got longer dogbones in my bike, so the steering damper helps with the headshake, but I know I've read 10000000 times that "once you've got one, you won't ride without one" & it's saved my butt numerous times - but I've also taken it off & not really noticed.
My previous bike was set up for someone my weight & getting on the KDX I did notice the unbalanced suspension, hence fixing that first.
Hope that helps in some way & if in any doubt, sort out the suspension first ;)
 

KDXNick

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#6
Michelle is right. Deffinitly do the suspension first. Steering dampers are great but they can't help when you nail g-outs, slam into woops, or dive into corners. I race HS too, at your weight you need to get your bike ballanced out first (I'm 190lbs.), then worry about power, and finally the damper. When I bought my KDX 200, I raced the first race bone stock. I was running mid-pack but DNFed on the last lap after breaking my clutch pearch. The next race I had the fork done by Pro-action (and put on Acerbis rally guards), and finished 2nd. The fork is the biggest weakness on the stock bike, especially at your weight. Get the suspension done, then pipe and engine, and worry about the damper later. Personaly I don't use one. I've ridden with them, and they are great, but I am worried about crash dammage, and the price just seems too high. If you were racing Hare & Hound, it would be different, but for HS your money will be better spent elsewhere.
-Nick
 

CaptainObvious

Formally known as RV6Junkie
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#7
Since you are on a budget I'd strongly suggest that you have proper spings installed in your forks. I'd also look into some revalving. In all you'll spend half as much as a WER unit.
 
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#9
For $70 max for Honda fork springs (read previous threads) you will be amazed at the improvement in handling. This will enable you to balance the bike and your riding will definitely improve. It is so easy and cheap that it is a no brainer for starts. Is your jetting spot on? Add power and damper as you progress.
 
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#10
Thanks for the replies folks. New fork springs seems like the first step - for $70 bucks, maybe I can get both(springs and damper, not two springs:)).

I think the jetting is spot on - it lugs like a four stroke, lifts the front whenever I want (sometimes when I don't), starts if I just look at it crosswise, and a plug will last half a season.

Off to do a little more research and order a set of springs.
 

CaptainObvious

Formally known as RV6Junkie
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#12
I think 70 Marlin means the Gold Valve Emulators.
 

70 marlin

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#13
Jeff Fredette built my 220 and he just said rac tech and gold valves. for my forks. I said make it fast! and gave him my visa number.
 

JCW

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#14
From your comments of "suspension seems fine" and "occasional headshake", I highly recommend the damper. You will ride much faster and safer with a good damper. Watch out for the WER, as they seem to develop problems after a year or so. I like the Scotts and I hear the GPR is very good also. It will eliminate the headshake and the bike will track like it is glued to the ground. It will save you in roots, holes, and rocks, etc.

If you were unhappy with your suspension, I certainly would recommend that first. But since it sounds like it's fine, I would recommend the damper.

JCW
 
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#15
try finding a used stabilizer. There are very few woods riders without them. Does that tell you something. No bc all of the bikes are also orange. They are good machines just like stabilizers do a good job. Stabilizers stabilize when the bars get a sudden jolt. When you get a stabl. your rides will be a lot less strenuous. A scotts or gpr is the way to go if its 3rd or 4th evn 5 but uve got 6 gear sand. If its real tight and rooty the wer(slow and technical). A stabilizer insure that those grips stay in your hands. Good suspension wont be as good if its not stabilized. Great suspension will still give you a dirt eating tankslapper.
Scotts are gold for a reason. bolt it on and you will never unbolt it unless you get another bike. im not an insurance salesman. but I am sold on these things. I can only ride at about 85% without one. Its almost like leaving your helmet and goggles off. They are really that good of insurance.