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  1. #1
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    Steering Damping

    I've done a search but either it hasn't been asked or my forum search abilities are poor.

    Rather than hijack mikesee's "Testing, One, Two" thread I thought I'd start a new one. In that thread or one of his blog posts linked from it he mentioned the Hopey Steering Damper as a means of improving bike handling in snow. But also from this post Big Wheel Building: End of an era--for me. he mentions: "
    In practice it works incredibly well--I swear by them for snow (and only snow) use. Also in practice? They aren't very reliable, ..." (I've omitted the bit about the company owner
    )

    That analysis obviously is from 2013 so possibly relates to a earlier version.

    Last weekend I was racing in northern Finland and by the end my shoulders felt like I'd spent the time wrestling a 200kg gorilla. Trail conditions were continuously tricky and the bars often felt like they were being wrenched from you. It wasn't just me - a friend who is a much better rider than me (and who podiumed) noted the same.

    Remembering the above discussion I did a bit of searching and came across three "solutions". The first, a spring between downtube and fork crown looks naff* and not very practical for a loaded fat bike so we'll ignore that.

    Next there's the Hopey at something like $250 for the unit and bracket. There's the cost of getting one in the UK so probably make that 250 or $400 The damping effect can be turned on or off or anywhere in between

    Finally there's the Cane Creek Viscoset which was developed to stop handlebar vibration in e-bikes. UK/EU price is somewhere around the $100 equivalent mark. Looks very neat being just a replacement headset. From the description it looks like it offers constant resistance both against deflection and returning the bars to the neutral position.

    So. Questions.

    1. Has the Hopey's reliability improved?
    2. Has anyone used the Viscoset on a fat bike in snow?
    3. If anyone has used both, which is better and/or is the Hopey worth the extra?
    4. Any downsides to either?

    *British expression for something that isn't very good. Not quite as bad as "piece of crap".

  2. #2
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    Another potential solution https://fasstmtb.com/

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by coke View Post
    Another potential solution https://fasstmtb.com/
    How would they work with my Jones Loop bars? Sorry, perhaps I should have mentioned my setup.

    Those look like they are for reducing trail vibration rather than oversteer, i.e. the damping is fore-aft rather than rotational. Interesting bars though.

  4. #4
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    The Viscoset appears to be for reducing higher frequency vibrations vs the large hits that the Hopey seems to damp.

  5. #5
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    Would a shorter stem not be better?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Would a shorter stem not be better?
    Maybe, maybe not. Resisting the torque generated by the front wheel wanting to twist the steerer is a function of the distance of one's hands to the steerer. The greater the distance, the bigger the lever to resist the twist. With sweeping bars like Jones, a shorter stem might increase the distance between the hands and the steerer. With a straight bar it would actually decrease the distance. One would really need to look at the geometry of the bars. I would not sacrifice fit for a little additional leverage.

  7. #7
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    I use both the Hopey and the Viscoset. Both set at max damping most of the time. For me, where I live and ride, that's still not quite enough damping -- I'd take another ~50% if I could get it.

    If I had to pick just one I'd pick the Hopey -- it has more damping, and it is able to be turned off in seconds.

    Learning to pack your bulk but not weight under the bars makes a big difference. Keeping crap off the fork legs also makes a big difference.

  8. #8
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    I'd sleeping bag and mat mounted up front, maybe 2.5kg with harness and bag, nothing on the (carbon) forks.

    Another question: at a rough guess how much more damping does the Hopey have than the Viscoset?

    Another factor to consider might be tyres and tyre pressure - I was running Vanhelgas with the rear pretty low, using the wrinkle test I'd two wrinkles in it, temperatures dropped about 15C during the event by which time I needed to put air into it. The front tyre was probably in the 5psi range as there were ploughed road sections where too low on the front would have seriously affected handling there. As ever - compromises.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueCheesehead View Post
    Resisting the torque generated by the front wheel wanting to twist the steerer is a function of the distance of one's hands to the steerer.
    Plus the distance they are in front of it. Never fitted a shorter stem and not experienced an increase in stability on rough ground.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob_w View Post
    I'd sleeping bag and mat mounted up front, maybe 2.5kg with harness and bag, nothing on the (carbon) forks.

    Another question: at a rough guess how much more damping does the Hopey have than the Viscoset?

    It's all relative, but 2.5kg is a lot -- and especially if the bundle was wide enough to be felt as swing weight.

    Hopey has ~double the damping of the Viscoset.

    Viscoset is worth doing if they make one that fits your frame. Just don't expect a bolt-from-the-blue change. More incremental.

    You'll have better luck by transferring that load to a rear rack or bag, and putting something both lighter and narrower under your bars. And *then* add the Viscoset.

  11. #11
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    The sleeping bag is just too bulky for any of the saddle bags I have, I had hoped to have it out back but in the end went for what I could fit it into and could fit it back into when out on the trail if I had to use it.

    I wasn't expecting miracles, more something akin to moving from a 2.3" front tyre to a 2.6" one. Definitely plusher and soaks up more trail chatter but it's not like suddenly jumping to a 4" tyre.

    The biggest problem really is that in the UK we just don't get the amount of snow to get practiced at it, we've had lying snow for maybe four days this winter for example . The only "grooming" of any trails would be the farmer heading out on his tractor to feed livestock Thus when we do head abroad it's a very quick learning curve and you don't get too many chances to test things out.

    Thanks for the input.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob_w View Post
    The sleeping bag is just too bulky for any of the saddle bags I have

    Yep. In order to have enough loft for real winter temps you end up with a lotta bulk. I love seat bags in summer but for winter trips, especially multi-day or when it's very cold, I always use a rear rack.

    I hate the way it looks but you just can't argue with the functionality. So much easier to pack -- which becomes important when your hands have already been numb for ~30 minutes.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Plus the distance they are in front of it. Never fitted a shorter stem and not experienced an increase in stability on rough ground.
    Forget the stem for a minute. Pull a string from the steerer to your hand position. That is the distance that matters. How you get there does not matter from a leverage point of view. If you have a 130 mm stem and bars that sweep back 70mm and put your hands in the same position as a 60 stem and straight bars the leverage to resist twisting is the same.

    The stability is likely because turning the bars with a short stem does not move your body as much. A longer stem does require your body to be pulled to one side or the other.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    Yep. In order to have enough loft for real winter temps you end up with a lotta bulk. I love seat bags in summer but for winter trips, especially multi-day or when it's very cold, I always use a rear rack.

    I hate the way it looks but you just can't argue with the functionality. So much easier to pack -- which becomes important when your hands have already been numb for ~30 minutes.
    Slight hijack--sorry-
    FWIW I have recently moved to a drybag on top of a rack system instead of the higher COG, constant wagging, and less room for body english 'issues' of the now standard seat bags. Despite 'uncool' rack look, its better in every way so far. Mid trip variability is nice if you need to load up on water for a certain section, also the dry bag comes off much quicker if you need to bring valuables with you, etc...

  15. #15
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    Wanted to chime back in to this to say that I recently ordered a new Hopey damper. Communication with Hopey over the past few years has been spotty -- sometimes they respond, more often they do not.

    Their site took my $$$, an hour or two later I got an email confirmation, and a ~week later the damper arrived.

    So, as long as you're actually spending $$$, it seems Hopey is still in business.

  16. #16
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