What is a steering damper?
A steering damper is a device designed to prevent unintentional steering reactions. It helps reduce/prevent the scary and famous tank slappers or speed wobbles. Think of it as suspension for your steering.
Do I need one?
The average rider has little use for a damper. It is mostly used by racers and riders with high-performance machines. It is used to prevent uncontrollable steering reactions during heavy acceleration. Under fast acceleration, the front tire of a motorcycle starts lifting off the ground; rough terrain, and/or incorrect steering inputs can make the handlebar move back and forth initiating a speed wobble. A damper can help prevent or reduced this reactions by imitating a suspension shock. It makes the handlebar hard to move back and forth.
Why would I want my handlebar to be hard to move?
Steering Dampers are adjustable. Normally the stiffness can be adjusted from 0 to very stiff. It can make low speed maneuvers a little more challenging but not impossible. Keep in mind that dampers are designed to increase their stiffness under fast and uncontrollable steering inputs; it shouldn't give you much trouble when providing gentle steering inputs.
My bike has a strange shake/wobble. Should I get a damper to fix the shake/wobble?
Motorcycles are very stable machines. You shouldn't be experiencing strange shakes or wobbles under normal riding conditions. The point of a steering damper is not to hide mechanical issues nor extend needed maintenance. Get your bike checked out by a professional and correct any underlying issues that might be causing the shake/wobble.