MSC Moto RM3 Steering Damper Review [Project Yamaha Ténéré 700]


I consider myself an average lover of weekend motorcycle fun. Before adding the MSC Moto RM3 steering damper to the Ultimate motorcycling Yamaha Ténéré 700 Project Bike, I would muscle, grunt and wince over rough patches, looking ahead in hopes of smoother terrain. Mounting the MSC Moto RM3 made riding on rough terrain much less troublesome. It’s a nice $550 add-on that showed its worth as soon as I hit the first few rocky sections.MSC Moto RM3 Steering Damper Review: For SaleThe last time I had any kind of steering damper device was on my Yamaha Big Bear Scrambler in the 1960s. It was a big black knob that when tightened made bars more difficult to turn. I squeezed it when I rode it over the whoops of the Mojave Desert. I had no idea how it worked, but it got me going faster, so I used it. It was 53 years ago. What a difference half a century makes. The MSC Moto RM3 steering damper on the Ultimate motorcycling Yamaha Ténéré 700 Project Bike is a precision machined unit the size of a hockey puck that bolts easily to the steering gear. The bolting time for the RM3 unit itself is about three minutes, unless you drop the bolts, like I did, times. Take this part slowly, holding the bolts as you line up the mounting parts. There is a direct drop line down the skid plate from the steering crown!MSC Moto RM3 Steering Damper Test: Yamaha Ténéré 700 ProjectInstalling the Moto RM3 steering damper requires some mechanical experience, and all of this can be done with the Ténéré 700 on the side stand. To access the bolt-on location, you have to slide the gas tank out a few inches, and to do that, you have to remove the side panels. Start by removing the seat, then remove the screws from the side panel, removing the two screws that hold the gas tank. at the rear and pushing the tank back a few centimeters. From there, a 27mm wrench is needed to pull the steering crown nut for mounting the RM3. After that, everything went back together. The MSC Moto RM3 1.8 lb Steering Damper Kit is really easy to install. All in all, it’s just a bunch of screws to follow. I want to thank the Yamaha engineers for designing the tank, its tubing and connectors with lots of play, which made this installation a lot easier than I thought.MSC Moto RM3 Steering Damper Review: PriceI wasn’t sure where to adjust the damping, so I walked around my neighborhood, adding and subtracting clicks of damping on the glove-compatible button to see what was comfortable and functional. Zero does nothing, and heading towards 25 was too steep. I settled into 11 clicks and headed up the highway to head into the Coast Range for some off-road fun. I kept adjusting the amount of damping as I rode 35, 55, and 65 mph. On pavement, 11 clicks seemed to add stability without making it difficult to rotate the bars. I spotted a car transporter trailer ahead on the freeway and caught myself driving beside it for a while. Car carriers generate a lot of turbulent air, so I rode alongside while adjusting the RM3. Again, 11 clicks seemed the most stable to me.When I got to my first rocky section, I put the adjuster back to zero damping and added clicks from there. As I had felt on the pavement, 11 clicks out—about halfway through its 25-click damping range—is what felt right. The difference was obvious, immediate and quite surprising. The RM3 calms the strong deflections of the front wheel caused by rock strikes. The MSC Moto steering damper absorbs the jolts normally transmitted to my hands and arms. I rode faster over rocky areas and with more control and confidence with the active RM3. It is really a side suspension for the handlebars. I’ve done 100 miles of logging roads here in the Pacific Northwest, looking and over gravel, fists and a few rocky sections. Most of the areas I know of that have these troublesome surfaces are currently deep in snow, but I found long stretches to test both me and the MSC Moto RM3 steering damper at high speeds.I was surprised by my instant confidence boost. I’ve picked up this 460-pound motorcycle too many times. The front end starts to veer off with its own mind and points me toward something I don’t want to encounter, like a tree, rock, or cliff. I stopped abruptly without gaining a footing and tipped over. I use the technique of “squat with the buttocks against the seat” to lift the Ténéré, but it quickly becomes tiring. The voice in my head urged me to improve my technique or avoid rocky terrain. Of course, unless you’ve already hiked a section, you don’t know what interesting features a trail will reveal. The RM3 steering damper is the technical enhancer I needed. With it active, I kept the desired line better and had more control. The RM3’s unique design dampens steering deviations at trail speeds, while allowing for a quick, undamped return to center most of the time. When moving at higher speeds, the RM3’s internal hydraulic flow design also dampens return-to-center. This is all done automatically, based on driver input.Shock tuning is a matter of riding style and personal feel. That’s why the click adjuster is positioned for easy change while riding. Although I didn’t hit deep sand like I’ve ridden so much in the Mojave, I can see myself squeezing the RM3 in deep sand and hop and loosening it when hitting hard-packed dirt at speed.MSC Motorcycle is an Australian family business that has been manufacturing steering dampers for 27 years. Its only product line is steering dampers. Units are manufactured and tested in-house, and MSC Moto has a direct shipping warehouse for North America out of Miami. RM3 Series shocks are optimized for dual-sport and adventure motorcycles. MSC Moto also offers steering dampers for motocross bikes and pure dirt bikes. Wish I had an MSC Moto RM3 steering damper for my Big Bear Scrambler – luckily it’s a huge help on the Ultimate motorcycling Yamaha Ténéré 700 project bike.


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