Monday, July 14, 2014

Steering Damper Upgrade

Based on a lot of things I've heard, the hydraulic steering damper on the 2014 Urals are a lot more effective than the older friction damper. Ural offers the hydraulic damper as a kit to retrofit onto older models. I picked one up from Heindl Engineering, a Ural dealer in Ohio, and it came with no instructions. Fortunately, there were postings on ADVrider and SovietSteeds that showed the install. Both slightly different and just to throw another wrench into the mix, Ural New England posted a video that showed yet another permutation.

The first step was to remove the original friction damper. The original damper was attached to the triple tree with a ½" pin. Removing the pin was supposedly the most difficult part of the installation as it is pressed in and the end mushroomed to keep it in place. Ten second with an air hammer and the pin was out. So much for that challenge. In place of the pin, an allen head bolt, a washer and a lock nut us used to hold the new bracket in place. The other anchor for the triple tree plate is the long bolt used to apply tension with the original friction damper.

Another bracket is attached to the sidecar upper strut bolt. The hydraulic cylinder is then attached to this bracket. Heim joints are used on the damper to prevent binding as the front forks are moved and the cylinder is centered by moving the forks lock to lock without bottoming out at either end. The damping force is adjusted by turning the knob on the end of the rod and there are sixteen clicks or levels of damping available. As an initial setting, I am starting out on the eighth click or about half way.

Here you can see the attachment of the other end of the damper to the triple tree bracket with a bolt through the hiem joint. Total time for the installation was about ten minutes or less than half of what I've read on the forums. This included pausing to take a picture or two. Maybe most folks don't use pneumatic tools.

The Ural NE video had you leave the pin installed and modifying the bracket to fit over the pin and relying on the original damper bolt to hold the bracket in place. This would have worked just fine but I opted to remove the pin and use the provided bolt, washer and lock nut.
Not that it's bad or even annoying but there is more yaw with the Ural than the Beemer/Cozy rig. By yaw I mean a change in direction when accelerating, decelerating, braking, shifting, etc. The hydraulic steering damper is supposed to be much more effective dampening this than the older friction damper. Is this a farkle?

Tuesday Morning Update - With the steering damper set at the middle point, there is still more damping than there was with the friction damper. I can also feel the resistance in the steering. Definitely much less yaw almost to the point of not being there at all. I'm surprised at how well it works. It was pouring rain this morning and even with the Beemer I would feel a strong pull to the right when going through large puddles on the road at 50mph. With the Ural I could still feel a slight pull but it's pretty mild. All in all, a great upgrade.


  1. Sounds like a very worthwhile addition Richard. Riding in Dave's car was interesting the other day. I knew, having heard numerous times about the push/pull of changing speeds but it was pronounced, possibly more so with me in the car?

    1. I'm satisfied with the upgrade. You really do feel more yaw (i.e. push, pull) with the addition of a passenger or even just the extra drag of a sidecar windshield. Plus, a passenger will compress the sidecar suspension and decrease the lean out of the sidecar.

  2. Richard, you need a fitting Alaska / Yukon / Klondike burly-name.

    How about 'two-hack-Jack'?

  3. Richard:

    I think a shock can return variable rebound (cushioning) rates depending upon the level of vibrations so it would be better than friction. Also a shock is double acting so would absorb on the rebound . . .

    My R1200R also has a shock damper

    Riding the Wet Coast

    1. The the damping force for the hydraulic damper would increase by some power of the movement velocity versus the completely linear response of the friction damper. So, you are right, it should be far better than the old friction damper. My old Beemer even has an adjustable steering damper and it looks to be hydraulic.