Ride Engineering 20 mm Offset Triple Clamps and Steering Damper Kit
Application: All bikes (tested here on 2018 Yamaha YZ450F)
Price: $549.90 (clamps) $59.95 (steering stabilizer bracket); $250 (Showa 20 mm steering stabilizer)
What It Is
Ride Engineering produces all sorts of billet aluminum parts for motocross bikes, but its specialty is triple clamps. Even though the 2018 Yamaha YZ450F has returned to 22 mm offset triple clamps, other changes in the chassis cause the big blue bike to still suffer from a vague feeling on corner exits, under power. We handed our test bike over to Ride Engineering and asked to have a set of 20 mm clamps installed in search of better cornering manners. Made of 2024 aluminum, the clamps come complete with a pressed in steering stem and lower bearing. A rubber-mounted handlebar clamp with a one-piece top clamp is designed to keep the bars from twisting in a tip over. Unbeknownst to us, Ride Engineering also installed its Showa steering damper kit on our bike. Originally an OEM Honda part, the damper is hidden behind the front numberplate and is bolted to the lower clamp, and also to a bracket that must be attached to the frame's headtube.
The clamps themselves are beautifully made and the blue anodizing is vivid and eye-catching.
Pressing the steering stem out of your OEM clamp and back into another can be a dangerous procedure if you don't have the proper equipment and technique. The Ride clamps come with everything you need, including a new lower bearing.
The 20 mm offset did improve the front-end traction on corner exits as it placed more weight on the front end of the bike, but not without sacrificing corner entrance stability.
The one-piece top clamp of the handlebar mount does reduce the chance of twisting in a fall, but it also negates some of the benefits of the rubber-mounted design. Furthermore, the eight-bolt pinch design is ridiculously over-engineered and a hassle to work with.
After several motos on the clamps, we decided to put the OEM clamps back on for comparison, especially since we weren't sure about the lack of feel entering flat, choppy corners with no rut or berm to bank off of. That's when we discovered the steering stabilizer and were shocked, not only because of the bike's lack of control in said areas of the track, but because three holes were drilled into the head tube of our brand-new test bike to affix the mounting bracket!
At the highest levels, we've heard of factory teams drilling tiny holes in strategic points of the frame to add flex to a chassis, per the rider's preference. Drilling holes in the steering tube of a frame are not only severely frowned upon by the Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki and Yamaha factory technicians we questioned about the product; it's downright dangerous! In fact, Yamaha immediately replaced our entire test bike with a new one, as they did not want us to ride on a damaged frame.
As a stand-alone product, Ride Engineering clamps are a nice product that are very well made and visually stunning. The eight-bolt handlebar clamp is an annoyance, but it wouldn't prevent us from selecting Ride clamps. In the case of the 2018 Yamaha YZ450F, we've found that sliding the forks up 5 mm in the stock triple clamps and running a little less rear shock sag helps cornering more than the 20 mm offset clamps do, as doing so does not affect the bike's stability. The Showa Steering Stabilizer Kit meanwhile, should be avoided at all costs, per the advice of all six motorcycle manufacturers. The proper way to mount the stabilizer is to weld a threaded mounting bracket to the frame, as the head tube of a motorcycle should never be drilled into for any reason. The liability associated with such a product is horrific.