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      07-14-2020, 02:39 AM   #1
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I love my F30 xDrive, but my biggest issue from day 1 has been the suspension. Too tall, too soft, too floaty, etc. This is my 5th BMW, and (besides the X3) it's by far the softest, most Buick-like ride I've experienced, even with the EDC in Sport mode. I had planned to flash the Dinan Shockware, but sadly, my car was one of the [supposedly] rare cars that wouldn't accept it so my options were:
A) do nothing and be miserable
B) lower it on springs but that wouldn't fix the dampers
C) do springs and EDC compatible dampers (like the Bilstein B6, etc) but that would give a potentially uneven drop front-to-rear
D) do non-EDC-compatible coilovers (KW, PSS10, etc) but lose the EDC functionality
E) use an EDC-compatible coilover (B16 Damptronic) and tick every box

After a TON of research, I decided on the Bilstein B16 Damptronic coilovers which is the B16 version (similar to the PSS10) that plugs directly into the OEM EDC and is activated by the center console's Comfort/Sport button, exactly as the OEM dampers do rather than having to turn the knob under the car like the PSS10.

https://www.bilstein.com/us/en/produ...67944709395141

I haven't seen any first hand reviews of this kit so I suspect I may be one of the first adopters, at least in the Bimmerpost community, so I feel compelled to do a thorough write-up.

Cost: not cheap. $2,586 shipped from www.shockwarehouse.com

Installation: relatively straight forward. Biggest issue was the strut nut where the top of the damper inserts into the top hat. It takes a special socket attachment, but the one I purchased (I think it was 18mm?) only fit the rear OEM strut. The front was larger (19mm?). To make matters worse, the new dampers used an even different, larger size (21mm?) so if you really want to do this right, get a full set of these stupid sockets. I ended up just tightening them down with an open ended wrench with an allen wrench stuck through it. Unfortunately, I was unable to torque them with that method. Oh, and you have to remove the entire front fender liner to get to the OEM EDC plug, but that was no biggie, just a minor surprise.

It's hard to explain the strut nut so here's how it works:
https://bimmertips.com/how-to-proper...que-strut-nut/

This is the one I bought which only worked for the OEM rear
https://www.ecstuning.com/b-schwaben...3046sch01a-01/

This is the set you'd (probably?) need to do the whole job:
https://www.ecstuning.com/b-schwaben...e/003046schkt/

You'll also need a spindle spreader b/c the spindle his held on via tension:
https://www.ecstuning.com/b-schwaben...-tool/scw3435/

Performance: I've put about 1000 miles on them so far so over the course of about two months I've got a very good idea of how they're doing. I'm not going to lie like so many others around here and say "THIS CAR NOW HANDLES LIKE IT'S ON RAILS!!!", but what I will say is that handling is dramatically improved. Gone is the floatiness, the dive with hard braking, the squat with hard acceleration, and much of the lateral body roll with cornering (but not all of it). There's still a noticeable difference in Comfort vs Sport. It's hard to quantify, but I'd definitely say that Comfort is tighter than OEM Sport used to be, and Sport is even tighter still. But neither of them are uncomfortable whatsoever, even on shitty midwestern roads, and although I haven't driven them back-to-back yet, I'm pretty sure my car is still softer in Sport than my dad's F80 ZCP in Comfort.

Generally speaking, it's a very good, compliant yet firm, sporty ride. Basically this is more-or-less what you might expect from a proper OEM sport suspension in a German sedan (rather than the joke of a suspension that came on the car). My only complaint is that they sometimes feel underdamped, but this is only noticeable upon braking. It's not overly dramatic, and my indy mechanic didn't even notice it. This is not noticeable whatsoever in any other driving condition over potholes or other bumps in the road...only when coming to a complete stop. Not a huge deal and not a deal-breaker, but the kit was expensive enough that anything much short of perfection is mildly annoying.

Drop: Here's where it gets interesting. Bilstein *suggests* (more on that later) a 30-50mm drop and in order to accomplish that range, and they recommend adjusting the shock collar to specs from a fixed point on the damper within a given 20mm range. One would assume that the upper end of this range would give the 30mm drop and the lower end of this range would give the 50mm drop...but that didn't happen. I initially set them up at the highest recommended level, assuming this would be around a 30mm (1") drop...but the front barely dropped at all while the rear did drop about 1 1/8". I then lowered the front all the way down as far as I could possibly get the collar on the threads of the shock body (obviously this was far below their recommended range) and only then got about 1.5" of drop. At that point, I was noticing much more harshness in the suspension and some mild clicks/clunks when I'd do a full lock turn at slow speeds so I raised it back up after just a few miles. I assumed I had done something wrong during the installation, so after several emails and phone calls to the techs at Bilstein, the answer I finally got back was:

"Bilstein does not give minimum and maximum drop ranges, it is more or less optimal performance range. These kits have been tested and built in Germany then re-tested on US spec models before they are cataloged. Do you have measurements of the vehicle prior to the install? My assumption would be that the kit is installed correctly if the dampening stages are working correctly. We recommend on all adjustable kits be corner balanced prior to alignment. The corner weights of the vehicle are not the same on all 4 corners which means it will require different preload per corner for the vehicle to sit correct and level. This will also allow the alignment tech to give it a once over to determine if everything has been installed correctly.

Not sure how to get past the part of you feeling our optimal performance range is not correct, again we have tested these on US spec chassis and populated our catalog notes to reflect our chassis measurements.

We have sold quite a few of these kits in the US and have had no issues to date."


I didn't bother responding once I got that answer b/c I got the sense they were blowing me off.

Long story short, after even more adjustment, where I ended up was lowering the front halfway between the lower end of their recommended range and the very bottom of the threads, and I left the rears at the upper limit of their recommended range. This ultimately gave me about a 1 1/8" drop overall, very even front-to-rear. It looks good, and, to be honest, I'm not really sure I'd even want to go any lower if it were possible, but I do feel somewhat let down that I didn't get the range I expected, even if I didn't plan to use it to the max.

So would I get them again? Yes. I absolutely wanted to keep the EDC functionality and have the ability to fine tune the ride height. Am I 100% satisfied? Not 100% but maybe 95%. The lack of *suggested* lowering is a bummer and the underdamping of the rear when coming to a full stop is mildly annoying, but not enough to give me any level of buyers remorse. I was so unhappy with the car before I installed them that I was considering selling it. But now it's just about right from both an aesthetic and performance standpoint, and with FBO/Stage 2, it's a freaking blast to drive. Had I not done the suspension, I don't know how the in the hell his car would handle that level of power so I'm very glad I went this route.

Hope this helps some of you, and I'd love to hear any feedback you may have!

P.S. The one thing I didn't do during install was loosen and retorque the preloaded rubber-steel interfaces so I had my indy shop do this later. Kind of annoying that this key piece of info was buried in the British version of Bilstein's website and not in the instruction manual nor even the American website. You'll see what I mean about halfway down this page:
https://www.bilstein.com/uk/en/blog/...tion-mistakes/
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      07-20-2020, 08:17 AM   #2
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Great review brother. I'm on the hunt for a good EDC compliant suspension set-up myself.
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      07-20-2020, 09:35 AM   #3
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I'm surprised the front body is yellow instead of stainless steel.
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      07-21-2020, 11:55 AM   #4
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This review sets a new standard for completeness and practicality. Thank you!

The response from Bilstein about the drop was puzzling at best.
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      07-22-2020, 04:39 AM   #5
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Thank you for the write up!

How do you use your car? more like daily driving, taking family and sometimes have fun on weekends, or some track use as well?

I was on KW DDC before but removed them because they were too stiff, could feel every bump on the road. I read the bilstein tended to be similar, FaRKle! also posted their dampening curve and they seem rather stiff. Your experience leans more towards them being a bit underdamped (or oversprung )

I'm now on a set of passive Koni sport with sport springs and quite like them and the option to tune the rebound to my liking, but miss the EDC so keeping my options open for the future.

What I would love is *adjustable* EDC dampers where you could adjust at least the rebound for both sport and comfort :-/
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      07-22-2020, 04:49 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lancelot View Post
Thank you for the write up!

How do you use your car? more like daily driving, taking family and sometimes have fun on weekends, or some track use as well?

I was on KW DDC before but removed them because they were too stiff, could feel every bump on the road. I read the bilstein tended to be similar, FaRKle! also posted their dampening curve and they seem rather stiff. Your experience leans more towards them being a bit underdamped (or oversprung )

I'm now on a set of passive Koni sport with sport springs and quite like them and the option to tune the rebound to my liking, but miss the EDC so keeping my options open for the future.

What I would love is *adjustable* EDC dampers where you could adjust at least the rebound for both sport and comfort :-/
Hi there
How would you compare the KW's to the OEM dampers in sport?
KW's in comfort as stiff as the OEM's in sport or?
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      07-22-2020, 08:02 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anielsen71 View Post
Hi there
How would you compare the KW's to the OEM dampers in sport?
KW's in comfort as stiff as the OEM's in sport or?
Difficult to explain, i'd say kw in comfort were stiffer than oem in sport but also different ;

I would describe KWs as tight - not dealing well with slight road imperfections, but good with low frequency movements ; no oscillations at all, car braking and cornering was clearly improved and more stable, but the ride quality became annoying.

I'd say KW is a good choice for track duty but not for a car where you're looking to improve street handling.
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      07-22-2020, 08:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lancelot View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by anielsen71 View Post
Hi there
How would you compare the KW's to the OEM dampers in sport?
KW's in comfort as stiff as the OEM's in sport or?
Difficult to explain, i'd say kw in comfort were stiffer than oem in sport but also different ;

I would describe KWs as tight - not dealing well with slight road imperfections, but good with low frequency movements ; no oscillations at all, car braking and cornering was clearly improved and more stable, but the ride quality became annoying.

I'd say KW is a good choice for track duty but not for a car where you're looking to improve street handling.
Thnx for the info.
I was considering the KW's for my dd when the current adaptives is due for change.
I have had Bilstein adaptives and they are clearly more firm than anything else I have tried.
That's why I'm considering the KW's.
But sounds like I'm going to go OEM with my current ACS springs
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      08-14-2020, 11:52 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lancelot View Post
Thank you for the write up!

How do you use your car? more like daily driving, taking family and sometimes have fun on weekends, or some track use as well?

I was on KW DDC before but removed them because they were too stiff, could feel every bump on the road. I read the bilstein tended to be similar, FaRKle! also posted their dampening curve and they seem rather stiff. Your experience leans more towards them being a bit underdamped (or oversprung )

I'm now on a set of passive Koni sport with sport springs and quite like them and the option to tune the rebound to my liking, but miss the EDC so keeping my options open for the future.

What I would love is *adjustable* EDC dampers where you could adjust at least the rebound for both sport and comfort :-/
For now, the car is strictly a DD. There's a chance I may track it at some point, but I have no plans for that yet. We live in the middle of Indianapolis which has almost zero hills but does have tons of potholes so 90% of my driving is 50mph or less. I barely get to do any smooth highway driving, let alone anything resembling spirited canyon runs.

Regarding the stiffness/comfort, I don't have any experience with KW, but I don't find the Damptronics too stiff or uncomfortable for a DD whatsoever, but obviously that's a personal preference issue. While it's tough to quantify stiffness/comfort, I can say that the car is definitely not as stiff as my 997 base (non S and on 18" wheels) nor is it as stiff as my dad's F80 ZCP (ie, his F80 in Comfort is stiffer than my F30 on Damptronics in Sport)...bottom line is that if you don't mind the ride of a 911 or an F80, I doubt you'd find this kit uncomfortable.

As for the dampening (or, rather, the sprungness!), here's some info just for the sake of discussion:
OEM: 160F/486R
PSS10 Comfort: 289F/428R
Damptronics: 330F/566R
PSS10 Normal: 399F/565R

When you compare the spring rates of the Damptronics on my car, the fronts are ~2x the stiffness of the OEM fronts and right in between the PSS10 Comfort and Normal variants. The rears are ~1.2x the stiffness of the OEM and the same as the PSS10 Normal.

Obviously there's more to dampening than spring rates, but since the dampening properties of this particular kit are fixed/preset, I wonder if maybe there would be less oscillation if I moved down to a lower rate in the rear...maybe a rate more like the PSS10 Comfort? That's contrary to what FaRKle! has suggested was needed in previous posts, however. He says the delta between front and rear needs to be much greater than even BMW has it from the factory. IIRC, he was even running 1000lb springs in the rear at one point . I'm not sure I'll actually try softer rear springs (in an attempt to balance the intrinsic dampening with a more appropriate spring rate), but it may be worth considering b/c the oscillations, although subtle, are literally the only thing I don't like about the setup. Oh, and I guess it's also mildly annoying that I didn't get the drop I expected, but that's more of a principle issue since, as I mentiond above, I doubt I'd really want to go lower anyway.
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      08-15-2020, 10:59 AM   #10
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Anyone riding these rates in the rear with a car seat? Is it compliant enough?
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      08-16-2020, 12:27 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LYTSOUT View Post
Obviously there's more to dampening than spring rates, but since the dampening properties of this particular kit are fixed/preset, I wonder if maybe there would be less oscillation if I moved down to a lower rate in the rear...maybe a rate more like the PSS10 Comfort? That's contrary to what FaRKle! has suggested was needed in previous posts, however. He says the delta between front and rear needs to be much greater than even BMW has it from the factory. IIRC, he was even running 1000lb springs in the rear at one point . I'm not sure I'll actually try softer rear springs (in an attempt to balance the intrinsic dampening with a more appropriate spring rate), but it may be worth considering b/c the oscillations, although subtle, are literally the only thing I don't like about the setup. Oh, and I guess it's also mildly annoying that I didn't get the drop I expected, but that's more of a principle issue since, as I mentiond above, I doubt I'd really want to go lower anyway.
It's not about the difference in spring rate, but rather the difference in ride frequency. Increasing the front spring rate by so much necessitates really high rear spring rates (due to the motion ratio) to maintain flat ride frequencies. Going even lower in the rear will increase your pitch even more.
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      08-16-2020, 09:34 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FaRKle! View Post
It's not about the difference in spring rate, but rather the difference in ride frequency. Increasing the front spring rate by so much necessitates really high rear spring rates (due to the motion ratio) to maintain flat ride frequencies. Going even lower in the rear will increase your pitch even more.
Are you saying that I may need stiffer rear springs rather than less stiff? While counter intuitive, I suppose that could make sense. If that is what you're saying, what range are we talking about, and how would I determine what is optimal? Also, can you plz provide a link to some info about the motion ratio concept you mentioned? That's certainly new to me. I'd ask you to explain it, but I suspect that'd require a several page diatribe, and I don't expect you to type all that up! I'm certainly happy to read about it myself.

Thanks for the input!
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      08-18-2020, 03:45 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LYTSOUT View Post
Are you saying that I may need stiffer rear springs rather than less stiff? While counter intuitive, I suppose that could make sense. If that is what you're saying, what range are we talking about, and how would I determine what is optimal? Also, can you plz provide a link to some info about the motion ratio concept you mentioned? That's certainly new to me. I'd ask you to explain it, but I suspect that'd require a several page diatribe, and I don't expect you to type all that up! I'm certainly happy to read about it myself.

Thanks for the input!
Yes, I'm saying that to achieve flat ride you'd want stiffer springs. Softer springs likely won't help your pitching/rocking/oscillation.

Motion ratio determines the springs effective rate at the wheel. The more in-board a spring is, the less it's actual rate at the wheel. A 1000lbs/in rear spring on this chassis only equates to a 350lbs/in spring at the wheel.

You can take a look at this thread and calculator to see how different spring rates affect your ride frequency.
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      09-29-2020, 10:28 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FaRKle! View Post
Yes, I'm saying that to achieve flat ride you'd want stiffer springs. Softer springs likely won't help your pitching/rocking/oscillation.

Motion ratio determines the springs effective rate at the wheel. The more in-board a spring is, the less it's actual rate at the wheel. A 1000lbs/in rear spring on this chassis only equates to a 350lbs/in spring at the wheel.

You can take a look at this thread and calculator to see how different spring rates affect your ride frequency.
Follow his advice!
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      10-07-2020, 05:23 PM   #15
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How would the pairing work then if you used the comfort front springs with the normal rear springs so based on above 289f and 565r.
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      10-08-2020, 01:25 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Stu101 View Post
How would the pairing work then if you used the comfort front springs with the normal rear springs so based on above 289f and 565r.
I recommend plugging the spring rates into the Ride Frequency Calculator. If it doesn't produce flat ride, it isn't likely to be any better ride quality-wise (and that tends to be more dominated by the rear IMO), but if you feel you have too much understeer, then it will change that bias more towards neutral.
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      10-09-2020, 06:36 AM   #17
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Thanks Farkle great tool there big help.
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      10-09-2020, 10:11 AM   #18
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I’ve never been impressed with KW. Twin Tube shocks that seem like they are in perpetual need of being rebuilt.

And they are expensive.
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      10-12-2020, 07:34 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmuroRay View Post
Follow his advice!
I don't doubt that it's solid advice. But I think this point has been somewhat blown out of proportion. This is a very minor issue and, in all likelihood, probably entirely insignificant. The kit handles very well, stiffens up the chassis nicely without any harshness like some other kits create, reduces the horrible OEM body roll, works nicely in both comfort and sport mode, etc.

I also think I may have overstated this effect at the get-go. I was more-or-less comparing it to my 997 which probably isn't really a fair fight. That chassis is FAR tighter, rear engine, etc. The very subtle bounce is no more pronounced than that of our ML550 and really maybe only one more oscillation than the F80 I just bought.

My point is, this is an interesting academic discussion, but I'm not sure going through the hassle, time, and money to trial and error various rear spring setups is worth the effort to obtain a very minimal benefit (and that's assuming I'd even be successful which I highly doubt would be the case).

P.S. for those concerned about the stiffness, I can honestly say with authority that this kit (even in sport mode) is NOT as stiff as an OEM F80 in comfort mode. As I mentioned above, just last month I bought an F80 (non-ZCP) and I've driven both cars back-to-back many times already.

To put it a different way, here's how I'd rank the stiffness, from softest to stiffest:
OEM F30 comfort < OEM F30 sport < F30 Damptronics comfort < F30 Damptronics sport < OEM F80 comfort...
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      10-12-2020, 09:17 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LYTSOUT View Post
I don't doubt that it's solid advice. But I think this point has been somewhat blown out of proportion.
Funny enough, I just had another forum member come over this weekend to swap rear springs on his B16 Komfort kit because the ride comfort and handling weren't satisfactory. After changing just the rear springs to achieve to flat ride, he's much happier.

I will say that EDC systems are able to compensate for not having flat ride to some extent (this is my own experience testing various springs when I had EDC) than static systems, so that may be a contributing factor to your experience.
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      10-14-2020, 09:58 AM   #21
AmuroRay
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Mine aren't on the car yet, so it makes the conversion easier. As always, I enjoy the well written review.
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FBO - Stage FP Custom tune with MHD.
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      10-14-2020, 04:47 PM   #22
LYTSOUT
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Drives: F80 M3 6MT
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmuroRay View Post
Mine aren't on the car yet, so it makes the conversion easier. As always, I enjoy the well written review.
Oh so you're also getting them? That's awesome. It'll be nice to have another data point around here...I was getting a bit lonely being the sole guinea pig! Can't wait to hear your thoughts as well.
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-F30 EWG N55 M Sport xDrive 6MT, FBO, BM3 Stage 2 93oct, Bilstein B16 Damptronics
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