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Well i experienced my first NASTY head shake today and i dont know what i did to cause it.... here was the situation...

I have an S2R 1000 with about 5700 miles on it.

I was travelling aprox 60mph entering a left hand turn. The speed limit was 55mph in the area and the corner was not sharp at all (cages around me didnt even brake as we went into the corner...). As I leaned the bike into the corner i felt the front end shake (kinda like a tank slapper, but not nearly as violent.) I was neither accelerating or decelerating. I was on a constant throttle about 5500 rpms in 3rd gear as far as i can remember. The road surface was consistant (same concrete through the whole corner and entering it.) It was about 45 - 50 degrees outside. I assume my tires were warm because i was just on the freeway a few minutes earlier in the ride and it was about 15 min into the ride...but i could be wrong ??? I am running bridgstone 014 on the fron and 020 on the back. front tire has about 5700 miles on it ( barely showing wear) and the rear has about 1300 miles on it.

I didnt go down, (knock on wood). It gave me a good scare though. :eek: I have had the front head shake before but it was coming across two diff surfaces on the freeway from one lane to the next. But it never shook as bad as it did today.

what could i have done wrong? Any ideas? And would a steering dampener have helped in this situation or with any head shaking in general??
 

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Usually you'll know what caused your head shake but it sounds as though there wasn't any obvious cause. It's possible that there was a bump in the road that you didn't notice or maybe there was something on the road that caused the front to slip and then grip again. I'd be surprised if that caused it but I guess it's possible. If your bike is stock, you could have more than 50% of the bike's weight on the rear wheel. You might try raising the rear if your inseam will accommodate it.

Get your suspension adjusted to your weight and riding style, that's the first thing to do, then if you still have problems, try a steering damper.

Headshake isn't fun. :(
 

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Another thing that tends to cause headshake is holding too tight on the bars. I make a concious effort to keep my grip light. Another possibility or two could be the bike wanted a little more weight on the rear tire or it could be loose steering head bearings.
 

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My theory on headshake is that you're turning slightly and applying a bit of bar pressure to counter steer into the turn, when the tire suddenly goes light due to a bump or acceleration. When the front end goes light, the bar pressure that held you into the turn now turns the wheel a bit more and when it regains traction you get the headshake until it sorts itself out. If you blow it bad enough, you get a tank slapper and get tossed off of the bike, like I did three years ago.

Back when I crashed, I couldn't understand what I had done wrong for a long time afterwards. As I continue to ride I get more understanding and now think that I know what went wrong and how to prevent it from ever happening again. There are two main situations when you're in danger, while accelerating, usually uphill, on a bumpy surface, and while leaned over in a bumpy corner.

Being aware of when you're in greater danger of headshake is often enough to prevent it or at least reduce it. But if you ride fast on twisty roads you can't avoid a little bit of headshake once in a while. Watch any road races at the top level and you'll see those guys dealing with it almost every lap.

Since I have a background of riding dirt bikes, it never used to really bother me, but now strong headshake brings back unpleasant memories, so I do all I can to avoid the situation. If it's really a concern, get a steering damper and you'll greatly reduce your odds of serious headshake in the future.
 

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I would swear that this is a mechanical issue. The bike just shouldn't be that sensitive to rider input. Before you put a steering damper on the bike rule out mech issues, as it would mask any problem. I have a steering damper on my monster, and it was probably a waste of money.
 

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Ctrain said:
what could i have done wrong? Any ideas? And would a steering dampener have helped in this situation or with any head shaking in general??
A steering damper will stop head shake. After the first time you get off by going over the bars at speed, been there, done that, I consider it a necessary piece of equipment. It is though one of those things that you don't need untill you REALLY need it. Kind of like seat belts and air bags. But it will save your ass. And you might never know when it does. ;D
 

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I know this is really picky but a steering damper doesn't stop headshake. It hides it. Your bike is still unstable in those circumstances, just the steering damper stops the bike expressing this instability in a violent manner.
 

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Does the damper reduce the intensity of a violent shake? If yes, it sounds like it is being effective.
Should I get one? Also, is steering damper something I can get now for my S2R and later move it over to a S4R when I upgrade my bike?

Any particular brand highly recommended?
 

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stik said:
Does the dampener damper reduce the intensity of the violent shake? If yes, it sounds like it is doing more than simply hiding it.
Should I get one? Also, is steering dampener damper something I can get now for my S2R and later move it over to a S4R when I upgrade my bike?

Any particular brand highly recommended?
I know of several people who have crashed due to tank slappers on Monsters, including me just over three years ago. A steering damper would have prevented the crash. The newer Monsters are a little more stable than the older ones, but I would put a steering damper on any Monster, if I ever get another one. And yes, you should be able to move it from one Monster model to another.

I haven't heard of any bad steering dampers, so get whatever you feel is the best deal. I would expect Ohlins to be the best.
 

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I just got a M900 and it feels very twitchy compared to my 748. Ill probably end up getting a damper just for insurance. Also, I need to set it up for my height/weight compared to the last owner.
 

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I have an S2r which I recently traded off one evening ride for my riding partners ST3, we came into a bumpy section of road and in a sweeper right turn and my bike did a stop to stop tank slapper on my partner, fortunately he remembered to gas it and made it out. Both of us entering the turn at equal speed and lean angle, the ST3 stayed stable the entire time. The next day he called to tell me he had ordered me an Ohlins stabilizer from our favorite Ducati dealer. I have taken the bike on the same bumpy road and feel incredibly more stable. I highly recommend a steering dampener for Monsters, it really does tame the beast.
 

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EvilSteve said:
I know this is really picky but a steering damper doesn't stop headshake. It hides it. Your bike is still unstable in those circumstances, just the steering damper stops the bike expressing this instability in a violent manner.
I hate when people start debating this. EvilSteve is right. The damper will mask the real issue which is the stock geometry and suspension of the monster...period. There should be no debate on this. A damper MIGHT save you from crashing but the monster is just not set up for real aggressive cornering in stock form. You need to get more weight over the front of the bike. To do this, The rear needs to be raised and I would recommend clipons. Also, set the suspension up for your weight. I race a monster along with several others (ten total locally), and NONE of them use dampers. We don't because we have all set up our bikes for track use, not cruising around town and moderately cornering which is what the monster is set up for in stock form.
In general, just bolting on an accessory to solve problems is a very bad idea. I try to ignore these posts because I get tired of hearing all the bad advice but sometimes I can't just ignore it.
There are some reasons to use a damper on a monster but not for just aggressive cornering. If you wheelie alot or get the front end light coming out of corners, you need one. Or if you are riding bumpy corners, you need one. You see it is designed to reduce the shake that occurs when the front end gets light, or off the ground then gets back down at an angle (not in a linear direction with the bike)
So, to sum it up, damper will reduce the shake and MIGHT save you from a crash. However, If you are getting it to fix the unstableness from cornering, I would fix the problem instead of trying to put on a magic band-aid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I have an s2r1k
my understanding is that the bike comes set up for a rider around 210. Im 215 so if that is the case would a suspension tweak be needed? and being that im not by my bike right now... is it hard to raise the rearsets?
 

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fasterblkduc said:
I hate when people start debating this. EvilSteve is right. The damper will mask the real issue which is the stock geometry and suspension of the monster...period. There should be no debate on this. A damper MIGHT save you from crashing but the monster is just not set up for real aggressive cornering in stock form. You need to get more weight over the front of the bike. To do this, The rear needs to be raised and I would recommend clipons. Also, set the suspension up for your weight. I race a monster along with several others (ten total locally), and NONE of them use dampers. We don't because we have all set up our bikes for track use, not cruising around town and moderately cornering which is what the monster is set up for in stock form.
In general, just bolting on an accessory to solve problems is a very bad idea. I try to ignore these posts because I get tired of hearing all the bad advice but sometimes I can't just ignore it.
There are some reasons to use a damper on a monster but not for just aggressive cornering. If you wheelie alot or get the front end light coming out of corners, you need one. Or if you are riding bumpy corners, you need one. You see it is designed to reduce the shake that occurs when the front end gets light, or off the ground then gets back down at an angle (not in a linear direction with the bike)
So, to sum it up, damper will reduce the shake and MIGHT save you from a crash. However, If you are getting it to fix the unstableness from cornering, I would fix the problem instead of trying to put on a magic band-aid.
You just listed several valid reasons why a damper might be needed. So, not everyone looking to put a damper on their bike is trying to mask a problem or doing something wrong. Even on a superbike with clipons and a heavy in-line 4 cylinder hanging over the front wheel, the front end can still get light and get some headshake. The professional riders who reviewed the new ZX10 criticized it for its lack of a damper and its tendency to headshake.

You are 100% correct that getting more weight over the front will help reduce most headshake, but it may not eliminate it for the reasons you stated. My bike lifts the front in 3rd while laying on the tank and I have raised the rear spring too.

Also, not all riders will be riding in attack position all of the time. On the track you will keep your weight forward and ride aggressively. But, on the street you may be more laid back. You are also more likely to encounter rough pavement and unexpected situations that may cause you to make unplanned maneuvers.

So, I look at it this way. If a bike is more prone to headshake due to a high power to weigh ratio, a short wheelbase, a steep rake, or a high rear weight bias, the more it needs a damper. It is not necessarily masking a problem. My old R1 would headshake under the right conditions, but my Warrior would never, due to the long wheelbase and rake. I would not say my R1 had poor geometry or suspension compared to my Warrior.

Again, I agree with your technical points. Some bike geomtries are more prone to headshake. I just don't see them as wrong. There is always a better chassis.

Finally, if it saves your butt, it is worth it.
 

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silentbob said:
Again, I agree with your technical points. Some bike geometries are more prone to headshake. I just don't see them as wrong. There is always a better chassis.

Finally, if it saves your butt, it is worth it.
I agree with [not so] Silent Bob's post.

I only really needed a steering damper once in six years and 20,000 miles, but I didn't have one at the time, so the bike went into a tank slapper and was totalled. It would have protected me from the one extreme case that I hadn't considered.

THAT's why you should consider adding a steering damper to a Monster.
 

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I would definitely make sure the suspension is sorted and the tires are in good shape (i.e. not squared off) before, or in conjunction with, a steering damper. Also check some related things like your steering head (hold the front brake and rock the bike forward and back to see if there's play) and make sure your chain isn't too tight (can limit the travel on the rear if it is).

From a riding technique standpoint it doesn't sound like you did anything wrong.
 

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I'll pile on. You can have a very well sorted bike and still get head shake over certain road/track irregularities. You shouldn't necessarily get tank slappers, but enough head shake to make you want to do something about it. Head shake is simply your bike's inability to damp violent forces acting on it and transfer them back to the ground.

My last track day bike was a very well sorted F4 (Computrak, Fox, Lindemann) and I had to add a damper specifically for the bumps going up the hill at Laguna between 5 and 6 (as well as certain roads I rode on weekends). When you're on the gas and your front end gets light and you hit a series of sharp bumps, you're gonna get head shake on a sport bike. I would get it every time up that hill. Added a rotary damper and it was totally eliminated. I could power right through there.

The idea that you shouldn't add a damper because it's not solving the root problem is misguided. A damper is nothing more than a shock absorber that's there to respond in situations where a force is too violent for the suspension of the bike to dissipate/rebound back to the ground. It is essentially like having a second stage suspension device to respond at the extreme end of the spectrum, because there is no way to set up a suspension to do that and still be compliant in normal riding situations. Dampers are an integral part of any sport bike set up and riding hard without one is really being penny wise and pound foolish. Note their presence as standard equipment on some of the new sportbikes.

Now if you're getting tank slappers in every day riding situations, you've got a serious suspension set up problem. One common cause is putting sticky tires on a bike with too much flex in the frame or suspension. I'm not gonna think about putting stickies on my S2R until I get my suspension sorted out. I think it's just asking for trouble.

Just my $.02. YMMV.
 

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Well, I just came in from a nice ride except for the last 5 minutes when my S4RS went into a terrible tank slapper while I was going at a moderate speed into a moderate corner. I didn't accelerate out of it; rather, I let off the throttle and applied the brakes. Maybe this wasn't the text book solution to the problem - but it all happened pretty fast and this saved my ass. Needless to say, this was a pretty scary event and makes me unsure about riding the bike going forward.

Now here's the thing - I have an Ohlins adjustable steering damper on the bike. It was cranked all the way to the stiffest setting. The fact that I still had a pretty violent head shake in what I consider to be a routine corner and at a "slow" speed (approximately 60-70 mph) is more than unsettling to me. I can't believe that Ducati (or any manufacturer) would design a bike that would do this. The bike came out of the box with nearly every top of the line component, which is why I wanted it. Then I rode it and noticed how squirrelly it was. Relative to my R6 it felt REALLY unstable at higher speeds and in corners (the Monster "wobble"). I didn't like the way the bike handled, so I added the damper. And to no avail.

I just had the scariest experience I've ever had on a bike. My S4RS is real pretty, but I don't think I want to ride it anymore. I just don't want to be on a bike that I know has a tendency to do this type of thing. The riding position, power, and light front end all add up to a very uncertain experience.
 
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