BMW Motorrad has been working on its next generation of suspension innovations, and at the 2011 BMW Motorrad Innovation Day the Bavarian company debuted its new Dynamic Damping Control (DDC) technology. An evolution on BMW’s electronic suspension adjustment system (ESA & ESA II), BMW Motorrad’s Dynamic Damping Control goes beyond merely allowing the rider to adjust suspension compression, rebound, and spring settings on the fly, and adds a computer-controlled automatic tuning element to the suspension components that adapts to the road conditions on-the-fly.
For some background, BMW’s ESA II is the forefather for copycat systems found on other manufacturer’s machines, perhaps most notable of which is the Ducati Multistrada 1200, which boasts a “four bikes in one” tagline with its different riding modes that use different engine mapping and suspension settings to tailor the bike to the rider’s needs. DDC takes this idea a step further, as it goes beyond just changing settings in different riding modes (as seen on the Ducati), and instead ties in the suspension system to BMW’s ABS and traction control systems (DTC), allowing the suspension to react when a rider accelerates, brakes, swerves, and fords the river Oregon Trail style (you’ll likely lose all your oxen doing this).
In all seriousness though, according to the press literature DDC sounds pretty sophisticated, as BMW has put a lot of thought into how to implement the automotive-derived system into a two-wheeled locomotion platform. For instance, DDC recognizes the control activities by the other systems, and adapts the damping rate as the situation unfolds, e.g. adjustments to damping depend on whether the springs are compressing or rebounding, with each process being controlled separately. All adjustments are electronically actuated at the valve, and can react within milliseconds.
Unlike BMW’s ESA II system, DDC does not employ rigid characteristic curves (preset settings for different riding modes), but instead uses characteristic maps that provide the optimal damper tuning within a defined range. In laymen’s terms, this means the rider can select from the now obiquitous “Comfort”, “Normal”, and “Sport” modes, and DDC then takes that input, and employs a range of tolerances for adjusting the suspension based on each of those modes. This allows a rider to still set the tone for their ride, but let’s DDC handle the finer-point tuning to optimize that experience, and work in concert with the rest of the BMW’s electronic systems.
It’s all very clever sounding on paper, and shows the progress being made on the electronics side of the motorcycle equation. It would seem electronics are already more than the new horsepower, they’re the new chassis, and new brakes…that now just leaves the rider to replace. I, for one, welcome our dynamic damping overlords.
Expect to see DDC appear on the next generation of R1200GS motorcycle, due out in November, along with future BMW models.