The Öhlins steering dampers supplied as original equipment on recent Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6Rs and ZX-10Rs are the genuine article, but they don’t work as well as the aftermarket units sold by the Swedish firm. The range of adjustment is limited, so that even at the slowest of their 18 settings the dampers fail to quell headshake on these powerful sportbikes.
While we appreciate Team Green’s inclusion of such a quality accessory as standard equipment, the dampers seem more like marketing gimmicks than perform-ance assets. The best explanation for this scenario involves parking-lot tip-overs, ambulance-chasing attorneys and product-liability lawsuits.
To fix this faux pas, we sent the stock steering damper from a 2009 ZX-6R to Race Tech for a simple valve modification that increased damping for better front-end feel and control.
Removing the damper from the bike was made difficult by the security Torx-head fasteners used to mount it. Heating the bolts to soften the thread-locking agent and then turning them with a set of vise-grips worked, but lay a towel down to avoid scratching the gas tank.
According to Race Tech’s Paul Thede, the OEM dampers are identical to Öhlins’ aftermarket units but are valved differently. For $100, Race Tech modifies them to offer about 70 percent more damping. As a result, the revalved damper is stiffer on its lightest setting than it was on its heaviest setting before the shop worked its magic.
In addition to subduing the Ninja’s tendency to headshake under power over ripples and rises, the modified damper contributes to improved front-end feel and, perhaps most importantly, rider confidence.
|Race Tech Steering Damper Mod
|Contact: Race Tech
|Verdict 4.5 out of 5 stars.
A simple, inexpensive mod that makes the Ninja’s steering damper work the way Öhlins intended.