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Suspension & Braking
Have some questions about suspension or brake setups for your E46 BMW? Get all your answers here!

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Old 12-17-2010, 08:01 PM   #1
kuksul08
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: California
Posts: 2,108
My Ride: M3
Dinan Stage 1 Suspension (M3) Full Review

Let me start off by saying I was a Dinan hater for a long time. Most people online are the same way I've found - that it's overpriced for something you can build yourself for cheaper. I actually agree for a lot of their parts, but I think the suspension is one of their better products.

I weighed my options and did a ton of research, eventually deciding on the Dinan stage 1 suspension - it includes 'custom' valved Koni sport dampers, and Dinan springs. They were having a 25% off sale, which was also some incentive, so it ended up costing me about the same as Eibach's/H&R's and off-the-shelf Koni's (Less than $1k).

Initial Impressions
The whole kit is pretty straightforward, so I won't go into a ton of detail. I would expect Dinan to package the springs a littler better than plastic bags, but I guess it doesn't really matter. The fronts rubbed together and some of the paint came off in one or two spots. The dampers came in Koni packaging so all was good there.

They include a setup sheet with all of the recommended shock, swaybar, and alignment settings. The recommended Koni settings are:
Front: 1/4 turn from full soft
Rear: 1-3/8 turns from full soft

Dinan has put stickers on each damper saying something like "this shock has been adjusted to the recommended settings from the factory". The front struts were at 3/8 turns from full soft. The rears were FULL SOFT. Don't trust the sticker - I called them and they basically said "oops". :thumbsdown:


Rear Springs


Front Springs


Packaging


Installation
Install went perfectly with no issues. I did not need any special tools for any of this. The rear springs came out almost by hand, with a screwdriver to help them along. The struts require a little twisting but they came right out as well.

The Dinan front springs are 'keyed', so they sit in a little different position than the OEM springs. The rear springs have ground ends, so orientation does not matter. Check out the DIYs here on the forum before trying anything - they help with special things like disconnecting the DSC sensor, or making sure the wheels are both dropped to avoid swaybar pressure.

At the same time I also replaced my original RTABs with new OEM ones from Vorshlag. The car no longer twists when accelerating and feels much more planted. A+!


Dinan vs OEM rear springs


Rear spring in place


OEM vs Koni shocks. Not as drastic difference as Koni vs non-M dampers :laughhard:


Strut in position


I'm also happy to say my JTD RSM's with 10-12k miles are in perfect condition still. Good quality product.


OEM RTABs. New design compared to what was in there (05 M3)


Ride Height
I couldn't find much precise info regarding ride height when researching. Here is what I have (measured center of the wheel to fender edge).

BEFORE:
Front Left: 14.375"
Front Right: 14.375"
Rear Left: 14.125"
Rear Right: 13.875"

AFTER:
Front Left: 13.75" (-.625")
Front Right: 13.5" (-.875")
Rear Left: 13.75" (-.375")
Rear Right: 13.5" (-.375")

I drive primarily on the street on bad roads, so I couldn't be slamming the car down. The 'drop' is barely noticeable even to me, but I am happy with it.


Driving Impressions
My major complaints with the OEM suspension were harshness over bumps and bouncing during hard cornering. For 60k miles, it actually worked quite well... you have to give it to Sachs.

Now the car is just great. It is very stable through bumpy turns - no bouncing at all. Body roll is decreased - the car doesn't roll as much, but yaws as it should. Also, during hard acceleration the car used to squat and feel like it was going to wheelie . Now it's completely flat and solid as it should be.

Ride quality is improved, but definitely still firm. Larger bumps are not as harsh, but you still feel them. Honestly, I loved the Koni FSD shocks I put on my 330Ci. I could fly down a crappy road and not feel a thing, yet it still handled with amazing control. The Koni sports are much more performance oriented.

Overall, I am totally satisfied with it and can't wait for this weather to clear up to do some real driving.


Before


After. Not the best comparison due to different lighting and wheels, but there isn't much to see anyway. I need to take some better pictures.

Feel free to ask any questions. I'd be glad to help out.
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Look at that subtle jet-black coloring. The tasteful thickness of it. Oh my God, it even has a 6mt.
S54 Valve Adjustment Spreadsheet & Info: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/28231781/S54...ent%20info.zip
S54 VANOS DIY Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SkT2j3jsU0
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Old 12-28-2010, 07:55 PM   #2
mb1
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: GA
Posts: 1
My Ride: e46 M3
Still liking it??

Now that you have had more time, still liking it? The stock suspension seems to have to much body roll for me and seems to rebound strangely on challenging roads at a good speed. Maybe I'm too used to my S2000s suspension. Trying to decide if I'll remedy it on my M3.
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Old 12-29-2010, 03:25 AM   #3
kuksul08
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: California
Posts: 2,108
My Ride: M3
Quote:
Originally Posted by mb1 View Post
Now that you have had more time, still liking it? The stock suspension seems to have to much body roll for me and seems to rebound strangely on challenging roads at a good speed. Maybe I'm too used to my S2000s suspension. Trying to decide if I'll remedy it on my M3.
Yes, I am still loving it. I have had a chance to drive several backroads at a good pace and it greatly outperforms the stock suspension.

The most noticeable difference is in the damping control as you mentioned. The stock suspension tends to bounce a lot in the turns even if the road is very smooth due to being underdamped for progressive springs. The Koni's are much more solid and provide more stable cornering. Ultimate grip is probably similar because that depends more on tires, but handling confidence and turning response is much better. Body roll and pitch is also reduced by a good amount.

Ride quality is similar but not as harsh over small bumps. The bumps feel more muffled - but you definitely still feel them. The ride gets smoother at higher speeds. I still recommend it, but wish this weather would dry up!
__________________

Look at that subtle jet-black coloring. The tasteful thickness of it. Oh my God, it even has a 6mt.
S54 Valve Adjustment Spreadsheet & Info: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/28231781/S54...ent%20info.zip
S54 VANOS DIY Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SkT2j3jsU0
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Old 12-29-2010, 02:50 PM   #4
///Miller325ci
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Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Agoura Hills
Posts: 255
My Ride: 2005 Dinan-S2 325Ci
yeah I love my dinan suspension... haha i have stage 3 on the 325ci its awesome... haha it was funny when my friend drove it he was driving in a straight line and was like oh it feels kinda like stock then he took a turn and was like woah it just turns... the best way i can describe dinan suspension is as if its variable... like its comfortable then when you get on it it sorta feels like its a different animal and is like lets take this turn faster.... haha... i actually took it up to 140 and was taking tightish turns on the freeway and it just feels like the suspension sorta adjusts itself for the situation... and the balance between the springs and shocks...its like so fluid... like in a corner you can feels like all the parts are working in harmony that's the best way i can describe it... at least thats how i feel haha
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