2004 KTM 250SX triple clamps

Dear MXA,
My KTM 250SX suffers from headshake when the track gets rougher. I can’t afford to buy one of those expensive aftermarket steering dampers, but I heard two Vet riders at my local track talking about the “poor man’s steering damper.” What is that? How much does it cost? Where can I buy one?

The poor man’s steering damper is not a product, and it isn’t for sale. It just refers to tightening the steering stem nut to create extra drag on your handlebars when you try to turn them. The standard setup on the steering-stem nut is to tighten it until your triple clamps will flop gently from side to side when you turn the handlebars. With the poor man’s steering damper, you tighten the steering stem nut (after loosening the top triple clamps pinched bolts)  to add more drag so that the triple clamps don’t flop from side to side as easily. You can set the amount of drag you want with a wrench. It’s free, which is why it’s called the “poor man’s steering damper.” Many famous factory riders—most notably seven-time AMA Supercross Champion Jeremy McGrath—have raced with very tight steering head bearings.

However, you might also want to try sliding your fork tubes down in the triple clamps a couple millimeters. This will slacken the head angle and make the bike more stable in a straight line and less likely to headshake.


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