Installation of the steering damper mechanism is straight forward. One thing that you can get wrong is aligning the number on the damper rod with the correct position of the damper rack it adjusts. I show how to get that orientation correct.
I replaced the damper itself with a new one (part# 31 42 1 232 361) and also the white plastic bushing (part# 31 42 1 232 556) that fits on the damper rod to keep the damper knob from rattling.
Here is a short video showing the installation and how adjusting the steering damper works.
VIDEO: 1983 BMW R100RS Install Steering Damper Mechanism
Assemble Damper Mechanism
The picture below shows the parts used in the steering damper mechanism.
The damper has cups on the ends that connect to a ball pin on the bottom of the damper rack and to another ball pin mounted on the frame. The cups are secured on the balls with a locking clip.
The damper rack has teeth that engage teeth on the end of the damper rod. When the rod turns, it moves the rack back and forth. There are three notches in the rack that spring loaded pins engage to hold the damper rack in a fixed position.
The damper adjusting knob changes the offset between the damper and the steering axis; more offset provides more damping. It has three positions noted on the top of the damper knob indicating the amount of steering damping; “0”, “1”, “2”. The knob is secured to the end of the damper rod with a Phillips screw. There is a notch inside the damper adjusting knob that mates with the flat on the end of the damper rod.
Install Damper Mechanism
I grease the teeth of the damper rack and the bottom of the damper rod with wheel bearing grease. I slide the damper rod up the center of the steering stem and out the hole in the top nut. I put the plastic bushing on the end of the rod. I have the damper rack in the “2” position which is where the ball on the rack is at the edge of the cover and farthest from the center. So I install the damper knob with “2” at the 12:00 position which also puts the flat on the damper rod at the 12:00 position.
I slide the cover plate with the damper rack over the bottom end of the damper rod so the teeth on the rod engage the teeth in the plate. I secure the cover and damper rack using the two Allen bolts with some blue Loctite on the threads since there are no wave washers and these bolts are on the bottom and I don’t want them to back out and fall off.
I put a little grease in the cups of the damper for lubrication. I attach the damper to the ball pin in the bracket on the frame rail the oil cooler is mounted on and the ball pin on the bottom of the damper rack using the locking clips.
The damper is in the “2” position after I install the mechanism. I rotate the damper knob to the “1” and “0” positions to be sure the rack moves freely inside the cover.
Hi, Please can I ask what does a new steering damper action feel like? I am familiar with the feel of hydraulic steering dampers used on modern racing bikes. Is it a linear rate of slow damping in both directions on the BMW damper? Thanks
It’s a linear resistance. There are three settings, no damping, low damping, high damping.
I hope that helps.