E92 Build Blog – Bilstein Dampers
By John Thorne – Wed, 28 May 2014 12:55
Generally most of our suspension upgrades are straight to track or high speed road function but with a lot of modern cars now fitting tricky electronically adjustable dampers the after market has had to develop new ways to extract performance beyond just fitting a wiring kit to turn the dampers off. If an owner has specced EDC then seems fair that he gets to use it and it maybe they dont want the car to be any lower or the ride firmer or to use the car on track.
With this in mind our suspension partner, Bilstein, have developed a range of EDC compliant dampers to fit the BMW range and we got the first set in the UK to test. First off this is not a race damper and nor does it lower the ride height, its simply an uprated damper designed to replace the stock unit with one with better ride and damping control so the car looks the same height (although it can be fitted with a set of H&R lowering springs to drop the height) so OEM springs are retained.
Fitting is a strightforward process, well fitting is but removing the stock dampers from a 2008 car can be anything other than straightfroward when nothing has been touched under there since the car was buit but once the OEM items are off the process to fit the Bilstein dampers is simple enough. After that we conducted a full geometry set up and put the back to stock settings (we wanted a proper before and after test).
Full geometry set up
Overall the cars ride is dramatically improved, theres no adjustment to the dampers but the engineers at Bilstein have got it pretty well perfect, ride over smooth surfaces is controlled but its over bumpy surfaces that the dampers show their enhanced internals over stock, bumbs are controlled and there is no bounce from rebound (a common issue with uprated dampers).
Full EDC function
Importantly the dampers work well with the EDC system, no error lights (always a good sign) and changing from comfort to sport to sport+ changed the ride and handling in a similar way to the stock dampers but somehow less harsh. Handling on Sport mode felt about 20% firmer than stock but about 20% softer when in comfort mode so the range of the dampers is a lot wider than the standard items – nice.
Overall the whole car just felt more planted on smooth roads and more compliant on bumpy roads, down my regular test run road there is a mixture of sweeping bumpy A road and the car took these extremely well, the surface is too bumpy to use the full extent of a track day set up (you get launched out of your seat at one point) but in sport mode the M3 on the Bilstein dampers seems very planted and took the undulations perfectly.
Ride height unchanged
Go for the Bilstein dampers if you simple want more of the same on the your EDC M3, softer comfort mode, firmer sport mode and a nice range in between and with OEM dampers usually on their way out after hitting 70k miles or so these are a the perfect replacement.
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