Gadgets: hopey steering damper

Jason

JORBA Board Member/Chapter Leader
JORBA.ORG
Manufacturer: Hopey
Product: Steering Damper
How Long Used: 2 Weeks
Similar Products Used: None
Overall Rating [1-10]: 3

Positive: Great downhill control.

Negative: Price, LBS installation knowledge, climbing characteristics, insufficient torque specifications in directions

Comments: Flipping through one my bike rags, I came across an ad for hopey steering dampers. Being that I've been riding motorcycles with steering dampers for years, I can truly appreciate the added benefits. Or so I thought.

First negative had to do with the price. At $200+ for this bad boy, it's not cheap. Dropping that kind of money, you want to see miracles! I was confused about what model to purchase but a quick email to Tim Hopey cleared that up. I had the damper a few days later and off to the LBS for installation.

The LBS has never installed a steering damper before so the instructions would have to be crystal clear. Thankfully, hopey did a great job with his directions and documentation. I wasn't too happy with the initial install mostly because I was not familiar with the characteristics. We pulled it off and reinstalled it to find it handled the same way. Not 100% satisfied with the installation, I emailed hopey again and his response confirmed that we did everything correctly.

Time to take it on the trails! Climbing for "me" did not improve at all. In fact having the damper made it more difficult to climb. Dirt, rocks, fire road, I've tried them all and found the damper to be very awkward. The only thing left is to ride back down and this is where I felt the damper has all its value. The bike didn't wander or go where I didn't want it to. It was a great feeling for sure.

Unfortunately, my ride was cut short because my front end loosened up and I almost crashed. This was certainly my LBS' fault because it was the stem but upon further inspection, the steering damper started to pull out of the fork tube. I tightened everything up and followed the specified torque requirements but by my next ride, I had the steering damper coming loose again. Again, I tightened it to specs and added a little extra ooomph. So yesterday, the nicest day we've had in a long while, I'm anxious to get out on the trails and guess what came loose? This is the third time I have had a trip cut short because of technical problems.

In the end the product offers some benefits for those who need added downhill control. I can't speak to it's climbing potential because I didn't experience any benefits but that could also just be me. It's an expensive product and installation is a concern due to the lack of industry knowledge of the product.

If anyone else is interested in taking a crack at it, I'm taking it off my heckler this week.
 
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