In brief, if you ride the 954 fairly hard you will find the "need" for a steering damper. Not because there is anything wrong with the basic design of the bike, but because it is light with lots of power.
I'll make you a good deal on a Scotts damper a week from tomorrow if you're interested in getting one at that point. I'm using the bike this weekend for track days, but then the bike and parts will be sold. Just let me know if you're interested.
Just my opinion...
It took me about 2-3 months of reading post after post of people saying what a difference it would make to put a dampener on the 954, so finally after hitting a small bump while going around a corner and having the bike go into some moderate headshake and nearly riding off the road ... I decided it'd be worth a try. I got a scotts dampener and honestly.. I would pay twice the retail price for the difference it makes.
You won't regret getting one.
How you ride your bike will make a big difference to the probability of having/severity of a slapper, i.e. keeping a light grip on the bars, using your knees to grip the tank and keeping your lower legs loose to absorb shocks. Having your suspension set up correctly will also help a lot.
Having said that, I'd still rather have a damper than not - I've found it really reduces front end flightiness, and I feel a lot happier laying down the power knowing it's there- I had a few minor shakes upfront before I got mine, and I was always a little wary, especially as I ride a lot of twisty bumpy roads.
I reckon it's worth it for the peace of mind alone.
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