In 2008 in Morocco I rode a KTM 625 which is a pretty heavy bike that more or less behaves like a freight train plowing through any obstacles and sandy courses so I didn't have any problems with driving without a steering damper. And when I'm at home I usually never ride for long enough periods of time that I will feel any fatigue caused by a nervous front wheel. But in 2010 I rode a KTM 400 during the Tuareg rally. The 400 is a much lighter bike that becomes quite nervous when riding at high speed in tough terrains. For the first time I actually noticed how much the front wheel was bouncing back and forth and during some stages when I was going flat out on loose sand roads I actually had to slow down because I simply couldn't hold on to the handle bars anymore. A friend of mine who was riding with me later described the situation as: "Ronnie has a steering damper, Danny has arms the size of my thighs, and I have nothing but pain". Ok, granted that I'm in fairly good physical shape but I was also getting tired at that stage so after last year's rally I promised myself that I would never race again without a steering damper.
|Öhlins steering damper
Now this will of course help you avoid some situations that might otherwise lead to a crash, but it will also save you a lot of energy since you don't have to do all the dampening yourself as you otherwise would when you are using your arms as steering dampers.
So this year I am not going to slow down on those loose fast tracks or in those tricky dried out river beds. I'm going flat out all the way... ;) And hopefully I can avoid crashes like the one last year when I hit a rock in the middle of a curve that lead to a face plant and a sprained ankle.
Or if nothing else, it will at least be a cool looking piece of gear on my bike.