Tough Dog's adjustable steering damper provides tunable off-road steering feedback.
I’m happy to admit that this product test is not necessarily the most appropriate component that has been fitted to my 100 Series Cruiser. It’s not that it doesn’t work as suggested or simply shouldn’t have been installed in the first place. Nope, the Tough Dog adjustable steering dampener (or stabiliser) is a tops idea, but, perhaps is more at home on 4x4’s with larger, harder-to-control-rubber than these puny (in comparison) 33 inch all-terrain Cooper rubber on alloy CSA rims. 35-inch and upwards tyres would probably be more capable of being able to show off these dampeners to its full potential, especially when the rim is packed with off-center globs of mud!
I first got wind of this SV Series 9-stage adjustable steering stabilser, complete with 35mm bore and 22mm piston rod, several years ago and figured that being a world first, I’d grab one and bung it on the big Cruiser for long term evaluation.
The 9-stage adjustability of this steering stabilser is capable of having its valving (read reluctance to move… or firmness) set to ‘pull’ out any shimmy or wobble from running imperfectly balanced wheels. It can also aid in off-road use to prevent steering wheel ‘kick-back’, which, again doesn’t apply as much as yesteryears 4x4’s with no power steering. This happens when your road going wheels strike a rock or other immovable object, sending the force through the steering components and up into your wrists. A softly valved steering stabilser would allow the steering wheel to give you a good old jolt, as compared to a heavily dampened one would help to absorb the shock, hence saving your wrists.
The ability to match this (essentially a) shock absorber to your individual vehicle is a massive advantage, in that you have nine stabilizers in one, to help fine tune to your exact requirements – just like the big bore Tough Dog adjustable shocks that are being run on the Cruiser.
The higher the valving is set, the firmer the shock is. That’s all very well until you swing around a corner, allow the steering wheel to slide back to its central position to continue driving straight ahead… well that’s what you’d expect to happen, isn’t it? The above mentioned ‘firmness’ translates into a steering system that needs to be pulled back to central – one that won’t do it automatically if set to high (firm), which can be a little daunting the first time it happens. You’ve been warned!
Other than the first few months testing on all nine settings, I’ve set-and-forget it to suit exactly the tyre size and weight on the front end of the Cruiser. I’d figure this would be the same situation most users would experience; get it right, set it, forget it.
Set correctly, this adjustable Tough Dog should not be felt as being too light or too heavy – just like factory settings. The advantage is that it’s of a larger volume and has more than enough settings to suit most 4x4’s
For more information see www.toughdog.com.au.