Product Review of:
HyperPro Steering Damper
courtesy of: Jon Lewis


Recommendations I got were for the Scott steering damper.
I went with the Hyperpro (http://www.hyperpro.com/) because the set-up of it made sense to me. Also, I felt confident about mounting it to the bike myself. No special tools or know-how required.

You get:

Requires an alan wrench or, preferably a torque wrench fitted with an alan key.

The brackets are CNC aluminum with gold anodized finish; the damper body comes in either Black or Purple. Everything fit perfectly and the finish is excellent. Cost: $370 plus shipping.

The only things missing from the instructions were torque values for the bolts (10 ft/lbs for the tank mounting bolts, 8 ft/lbs for all the other bolts) and clear directions for where the o-ring goes. If you look at my diagram you will see where it belongs (although I don't see that it matters.)

It took me about twenty minutes to install, mostly because I'm anal about this stuff. Everything is pretty self-evident. It was really easy to put on.

It fits the F4 behind the steering head so it's out of harms way if you drop the bike.

It has a variable damping rate. The faster the bars move from side to side, the more damping you get. Just how much damping you get at full damping and the curve from none to full damping, is adjustable with the knurled knob at the end of the piston rod. This means you don't have to adjust it much after you find the settings you like and you don't have to figure out a high-speed setting and a low speed setting. This works. It's explained better on their web site. (http://www.hyperpro.com/)

I get no noticeable damping at parking lot speeds so it doesn't affect steering ability around town at all.

On my commute there are some ruts that used to make the front end shake quite a bit. This damper controls that very well. The bike feels rock solid now. I can corner much better because the feel instills confidence. I don't have to worry about uneven road surfaces at full lean. This thing is great!

After 3 weeks I'm way happy with it.


UPDATE


After somewhere around a year, the damper blew its seals. Not a happy thing. I noticed a few spots of oil on the triple-clamp at first. It got progressively worse. After a week of wiping it off and scratching my head wondering where it was coming from, I figured it out. The damper was just spewing out its oil.

I took it off the bike and checked it. Sure enough, the rod did not move smoothly anymore. It moved with approximately normal resistance (imposable to feel when mounted on the bike under normal movement), then no resistance, then back to normal maybe two or three times in the course of a full stroke.

I called Freddie Spenser's to ask for a seal kit to rebuild it. They were unable to locate one. This was just at the time that Micron became the US distributor for Hyperpro and they did not have anything in stock yet. It took me a week to figure out that Micron was the US distributor (it's clearly indicated on the Hyperpro website, I just didn't think to look there at first, duh.).

They now have a seperate website for Hyperpro products at www.hyperprousa.com. There is a note on the website that the mounting bracket does not work with aftermarket clip-ons and that a new bracket will be available soon. In fact, it works fine with clip-ons as long as they are mounted above the triple-clamp. What you have to go through to mount clip-ons below the triple-clamp is absurd on the F4 or F4i in any case, so unless you are building a streetfighter, the old clamp is fine.

Once I called Micron/Hyperpro to ask for the seal kit things went better. I found out that this was not a unique problem, got a return authorization number, and sent the damper (sans mounting brackets) to Micron for inspection.

Micron inspected it.

They pronounced it defective and sent me back a brand new one. The new one is an updated model. It looks and works the same but has a new, better double seal design.

I still think that this damper has by far the best features of anything on the market. I love the way it works and really hope that the new seals are reliable. I expect that they will be. If the long-term reliability issue is indeed worked out, this is the one to buy. I'll try to give you a thumbs-up or thumbs-down update at the end of the year (it's now Feb. 28, 2002)

The conclusion so far is, great damper but make sure you get the new model with the improved seals. Kudos for really great customer service on the part of Hyperpro and Micron.


UPDATE 2 (2 months later)


Well, the seal problem is not worked out. After a month with the brand new replacement damper, I noticed that the steering had become notchy. The head bearings and all were fine, and so was everything else. It took me a little while to find the problem because it was intermittent.

It was the damper again. The piston no longer traveled smoothly even at slow, steady input. I tried adjusting the resistance up. As you might expect, that made the problem worse. Also, at a little more than halfway towards maximum damping, it now gets almost impossible to steer the bike at all due to excessive damping. Some problem with the valves apparently, or maybe there are foreign particles in the oil?

I tried reducing the damping, which reduced the problem, so I rode it like that for a little while. Not ideal. Now the damper is leaking oil again. Not as bad as the first time, but it's there, and the damper is not working properly.

Micron authorized return for inspection/replacement. I'll be getting another new one. It should be here in about two weeks.

Final conclusion - If you bought one of these, save your receipt. If you get a replacement under warranty, save the second receipt too. If you haven't bought one, look into Matris, Scotts, Ohlins, Toby, maybe some foam blocks wedged in between your tank and clip-ons. It's a really great damper when it works, but it does not impress me as reliable.


Pics


Tank bracket


Fork bracket