BMW Motorrad Dynamic Damping Control

07/01/2011 @ 4:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

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.

Source: BMW

  • Rob

    It begins…..soon gone are the days of real ‘sport bikes’ just as the days of the real ‘sports car’ are gone. Ive driven so many new cars that have this automatically adjusting suspension on the fly and its just ridiculous the way they feel underneath you.

    Drive a new m3, and with its paddle shifters and EDC suspension, it feels utterly vague compared to the old style with manual gearbox and ‘non electronic – static controlled’ suspension. This type of gadgetry I will admit, does make for a better every day use car/bike, but it will also make true enthusiasts look at late model stuff for real enjoyment of riding.

  • Richard Gozinya

    Yeah Rob, I hear ya. It’s just not the same since the days of hard tails and kick starters. All this “progress” making bikes “handle” better. Don’t even get me started on disc brakes. Or those damn kids always on my lawn.

  • BBQdog

    @Rob: had the same thoughts. Making bikes heavier and more powerfull so they need ABS, tracktion control, anti-wheely control, etc, etc. I am not against technic making bikes safer but for me bikes are steadily drifting apart from the basic fun they can give.

  • GeddyT

    FINALLY! I’ve been counting down the days until I could buy a 700lb. dual sport! Looks like I might not have to wait much longer!…

  • Richard Gozinya

    GeddyT, I doubt this stuff is going to add anywhere near that much weight. Sounds more like an evolution of their ESA stuff. If this sort of thing added that much weight, MotoGP bikes would be considerably heavier than they are, as they’re not exactly low-tech machines. Besides, the bike in the pictures is the R1200R, not the GS.

    As to the rumored liquid cooled boxer for 2012. It’s not happening. BMW only just recently updated the R1200 motors to DOHC, and are apparently set for Euro 6.

  • Jim

    Any weight gain is likely to be ounces. What I’m really interested in knowing is when the computer becomes confused, will the bike sink to the jounce bumpers, Land Rover style, and the motor go into limp home mode. And then will we need to take it to the dealer for a reset done by the unobtanium maintenance computer.

  • GeddyT

    Yes, shown is the R1200R, but read the last sentence of the article (which I would tend to believe, considering ESA and ESAII both first appeared on the GS).

    Yes, this particular system may add only ounces (a bit of a stretch, but still). Which, when added to this system and that system and that system, add up to many pounds. Want a bike to handle better? Cut weight. It’s the simplest way.

    As to MotoGP bikes being incredibly complex yet still lightweight… well yes and no. ABS is not legal in MotoGP. Honda’s sport ABS system on the CBR (the best there is from what I’ve read) adds 20lbs. to the bike. From the look of that honkin’ huge ABS control unit in the above diagram, I’m guessing BMW’s does likewise. Electronically adjusted suspension is also against the rules in MotoGP. The performance/weight benefits of such a system must have been worth it or Rossi would not have been using the system in, I believe, 2008. Still, whereas a MotoGP bike can just make yet another part out of carbon or titanium to compensate and stay at the minimum weight limit, this is difficult on a street bike that is trying to stay affordable. It’s apples to oranges.

    Nobody needs a 1200cc twin to dual sport. Even the 1% of people that put these bikes to use doing what they were made for would probably be way better off with a 500-650cc thumper, way less sophistication, and 200 fewer pounds.