PRODUCT: It is a compact, fully adjustable, hydraulic shock-absorbing damper that mounts to your steering head area right above your handlebar mount. The Scotts steering stabilizer eliminates that sudden “thrust” effect of having the handlebars pulled from your hands after unknowingly hitting something unforeseen, like rocks, tree roots or rain ruts. One of the Scotts’ main strengths is the three adjustable circuits—low speed (for turning), high speed (quick movements, impacts and headshake) and sweep (arc of damping movement).
POSITIVE: This damper has actually improved with age. The newest version of the Scotts damper seems to have superior damping, with little to zero resistance as it only dampens as the handlebar turns away from the center. This is a really big deal as there’s little “muddy” feel when cornering, which is one of the biggest complaints about most steering dampers. By “free-valving” back to straight, there is no increase in turning effort. While there are numerous adjustments, we stuck with the main on-the-fly knob, running it two full turns out for MX, one and half out for enduro/trail and one out for desert. At two out, the majority of the damping targets only high-speed hits—meaning stuff that wants to rip the bars out of your hands. At one and half, it straightens out cobby trail, rocks and roots without any offending feel, and one out is our speed setting, where it helps keep the bike straight in ugly terrain and requires less of a death grip.
NEGATIVE: The Scotts damper is a pricey device—$449.95 with mounting kit. Also, it has great directions, but is not an easy process to install.
BOTTOM LINE: The Scotts damper is a wickedly adept tool for the versatile-minded rider. It does not offend your cornering prowess, but it does improve the manners of a softly suspended machine. It does let you navigate tough terrain with a more relaxed grip, and it lets you ride longer and harder with more confidence. Once you commit to purchasing the Scotts and the mounting kit, this damper is rebuildable and can be a part of your dirt bike luggage for years since you can take it from bike to bike, no matter the manufacturer. Perhaps the worst part of the system comes when you ride machines that don’t have one. The grip gets tense, the smile turns to a grimace and life in the off-road lane gets a little harder to manage