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 Steering Damper for USS Highracer
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Leisesturm
Starting Member

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 02/21/2018 :  12:11:01  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Greetings:
I have had this Highracer:http://www.performercycles.com/new/product_info.php?products_id=235 since around the end of summer. It is my first ever recumbent, and I am 60y.o. I have learned to ride it and can do most cycling tasks on it, but I dare not do them in even light traffic. All my riding to date has been done in a very large parking complex near my home. I ventured on a rail trail last week but it involved an hour of riding on mass transit to access. Not something I can do regularly.

Anyway, I started thinking about steering dampers. Real steering dampers. I have steering dampers on my utility tandem that pulls a trailer but all it really does is center the bars when the bike is stationary. I have one on the Highracer btw and it does make walking around with the recumbent much easier than without it.

I raised the issue of a 'real' steering damper on another site but most responses were on the order of 'learn to ride the bike better'. One response though suggested using a worn out gas strut from a hatchback car! I immediately knew that poster was onto something.

I reasoned that I didn't really want a gas strut but https://www.asraymond.com/dual-direction-dampers.html has actual dampers with no gas loading and the only question now is which one do I try! I sent AS Raymond an inquiry with a picture of the bike and they sent back a short "we do not provide engineering solutions" reply.

So... anyone with any idea of how much damping would be a good place to start? Even a WAG would be better than nothing which is pretty much what I have at this point. Well, not nothing, I have Saki, and I love her to pieces. Thoughts? Thanks.

alevand
human power expert

USA
3201 Posts

Posted - 02/21/2018 :  12:23:46  Show Profile  Visit alevand's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Setting the seat back higher would make it easier to balance.

C:
Tony Levand
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warren
human power expert

USA
6254 Posts

Posted - 02/21/2018 :  12:59:01  Show Profile  Visit warren's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi Leisesturm,

Do you have the underseat steering model pictured?



As Tony Notes, there are things you can do to improve the bike control like making the seat upright. That will help you train your inner ear to improve the balance/handling. Also changes to the steering can help. I like above seat steering better but that's a personal preference.

The dampener may help too but nobody I know uses them. Something easy to try to test the dampener is to use a bungie cord and wrap it around the steerer a few times to add some resistance.

Warren
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Leisesturm
Starting Member

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 02/21/2018 :  13:01:49  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by alevand

Setting the seat back higher would make it easier to balance.


I already have the seat at min recline (28*). I used a thick pillow for the first week or so to get my back more upright but the seat itself doesn't go very high. But thanks. I do try to sit up as much as possible in tight turns but it is easy to feel the total lack of steering feedback and the immediate response to the slightest wobble. In my 20's I could ride no hands for miles and miles. I don't even remember when that ability was lost but I know that I can't ride even a cruiser no hands anymore.
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Leisesturm
Starting Member

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 02/21/2018 :  13:16:08  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by warren

Hi Leisesturm,

Do you have the underseat steering model pictured?


Hi Warren (the Warren B? Pleased to meet you. I've followed your exploits for years) Yes, that is Saki. USS 26" Highracer. It's hard to explain but it really isn't my balance per se. It is the overcorrections that happen when I am starting off and stopping. I have no doubt that I will get better with practice but... ...

I have a spring damper fitted already btw. The bungee... is it wrapped so that the hooks pull the bars to center? I pretty much have that with the steering stabilizer from Velo Orange. The dampers that motorcycles use actually slow the steering down by putting resistance into the feedback loop. Just trying to get a feel (nyuk) for how much resistance would be appropriate.
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warren
human power expert

USA
6254 Posts

Posted - 02/21/2018 :  15:12:24  Show Profile  Visit warren's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Nice to meet you too!

Yep, that's me but I don't usually use "the" in front.

On the bungee, no just wrap it around the frame and then around the steerer a couple times just to make some friction. you can vary the friction by varying the tightness. It's something to try anyway.
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Balor
recumbent guru

Russia
524 Posts

Posted - 02/22/2018 :  12:43:20  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
"Return to center" spring can be very useful, too - it counteracts wheel flop at slower speeds and makes steering much easier, especially for designs with slack angles/lots of trail, like on this MBB:
http://velomobile.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=108&t=14705

Builder reports 'night and day' difference in ride comfort and this is not exactly a damper (though rubber band does provide some damping).
For real effect, not just 'parking' purposes it must be pretty strong and preloaded rather tightly, though.

Real steering dampers you can install on a bent are:
chinese moto dampers you can retrofit, they are cheap and said to work well, but you will need fit them to you steering somehow and it is not an easy project:
https://ru.aliexpress.com/item/Titanium-plus-orange-MT07-MT09-YZF-R3-R6-CNC-Damper-Steering-StabilizerLinear-Reversed-Safety-Control-MT/32817039041.html

Hopey steering damper that is expencive and out of production

Cane creek viscoset that is somewhat tuneable and extremely simple (and light), basically a (viscous) friction damper:

https://www.canecreek.com/product/viscoset/
http://www.jensonusa.com/Cane-Creek-Viscoset-Headset

Not *that* cheap too, but quite affordable.
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Leisesturm
Starting Member

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 02/23/2018 :  11:29:21  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
So I tried Warren's bungee suggestion. The bare bungee did not affect the steering at all. I got an industrial rubber band and wrapped it around the juncture between the fixed steering head and the moving fork tube just above the crown. Then I wrapped the bungee over that. I got some friction from this arrangement. Weather is bad here. I took it for a very short ride. MUCH more dampening needed. However, when I decided to turn back for home I was able to make a U-turn on the (wide) street even though I had planned to stop and walk across and remount once facing back towards home. The wrapped headtube is an improvement.

@Balor, I do have a spring damper on this bike. It is set for the maximum tension it can generate. This isn't all that much and I can still steer the USS from the headrest while walking just by leaning the bike. I knew about the Hopey damper and its price. I didn't know it was out of production. Their site is still up. The moto dampers are interesting but, maybe overkill on a bicycle? Did you look at the AS Raymond dampers I linked? I really think one of those could work but I need to understand the units of resistance that they use to classify them and how that translates to finding one that could work.
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Speedbiker
human power expert

USA
3835 Posts

Posted - 02/23/2018 :  12:51:36  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Firstly, I don't think a spring damper dampens. It centers. Gaylord Hill used to sell hydraulic dampers through Cyclopedia decades ago. I've seen adjustable motorcycle style dampers on streamliners, so they are out there. Keep looking, I'm sure you'll find them.
Also, can you convert to above seat steering? That is a very stable and popular(and fast) setup.
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