Öhlins' Engineer Joakim Sundevall explains how the revolutionary Selective Steering Stabilizer, the S3, has taken the off-road world by storm...
The idea of monitoring which way a rider is steering arose from solving a problem created by the two-wheel drive system that Öhlins developed in conjunction with Yamaha on a WRF450F enduro bike. Due to the addition of the two-wheel drive system, which contained a lot of hydraulic fluid and pipes, the front end of the bike was very heavy. This necessitated the use of a basic form of power steering.
The movable handlebar clamp needs something like 0.5 degrees of movement before the damper is activated. A larger amount of movement gives a feeling of too much 'play'. The flex in front fork and front wheel is greater than the movement of the movable handlebar clamp so you do not notice the movement when you ride.
The movable handlebar clamp rotates around a torsion bar, and in front of the movable handlebar clamp a pin is located. The pin is connected to the valves in the valve housing. The valves control the damping level.
Therefore the S3 is continually 'monitoring' the way the steering is being applied in relation to the front wheel. The result is a damper that feels very natural at low speed and remains 'inert' over jumps, helping the rider with low speed control. However when there is a sudden input from an outside force such as a rock or tree root, the system instantly activates to increase the damping.
The system has a reservoir with a floating piston and is pressurised to reduce the risk of cavitation and maintains an effective damping force in a wide temperature range.
What is important to note is that the system doesn't use any electrical or electronic componentry- everything works mechanically and hydraulically. In these days of almost complete electronic control it is nice to know some systems rely on mechanics and 'feel'.
We believe the S3 will meet the demands of riders who like the benefits and safety of a steering damper in an off-road environment, but not the intrusive feel at low speed or during certain handlebar movements such as low speed turns, or whips or scrubs while airborne in motocross.
And professional riders have also tested it to the extreme! Yamaha France rider David Casteau used an S3 in this years Dakar Rally and reporting it worked perfectly even in the extremes of Argentina."