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It cushions the steering when the front wheel hits bumps etc, kind of like a shock absorber. It works all by itself. If you don't ride off-road you may never miss it.
 

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Most steering dampers are to prevent the "death wobble" caused by having too steep a rake/trail setup. Mostly used on sportbikes and race bikes. The Kawasaki 3 cylinder 2 strokes were in serious need of them, Kaw should have included it stock. Usually turning clockwise increases damping and slows steering.
 

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Most steering dampers are to prevent the "death wobble" caused by having too steep a rake/trail setup. Mostly used on sportbikes and race bikes. The Kawasaki 3 cylinder 2 strokes were in serious need of them, Kaw should have included it stock. Usually turning clockwise increases damping and slows steering.
This. It's not a shock absorber (up and down) but meant to stabilize the back and forth movement ("death wobble") that can occur at high speeds. The ones on the steering necks of ca77s, Cb160s, etc. are pretty rudimentary compared to the piston-type, but they can tighten things up a bit.
 
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