• Steve Dinan takes shots at BMW piggyback tunes calling them poorly calibrated - Piggyback versus flash tuning

      Steve Dinan is a well respected name in BMW tuning. His products are well engineered, well tested, and backed up with his warranty. They also are overpriced and regularly from a pure performance perspective beaten by offerings from other tuners. There is a 'Dinan' tax so to speak on the parts and he seems to aim for the more casual BMW enthusiast rather than the hardcore market. There is nothing wrong with that and Dinan also has shown they are capable of building motors that power Grand-Am teams to victory in Motorsport so higher level skill is certainly there than what is displayed by the street car offerings. However, he also is given full control of those ECU's through BMW Motorsport.


      Dinan sells flash tunes. It is in his best interest to put piggybacks down and make them appear cheap or inferior. However, he is right that flash tuning allows a greater degree of accuracy and it is more difficult. Full control of a BMW DME through flashing is harder to achieve than using a piggyback to alter the signals the ECU sees.

      There are merits to both approaches including negatives to both approaches. BimmerBoost features vendors that sell products based on both tuning approaches. Steve Dinan does not mention any tuners using both approaches simultaneously omitting a vital area that should be included in his argument. He also does not mention any of the plusses to a piggyback that his flash tunes can not match such as changing boost maps on the fly or meth injection flow safeties. Some tuners are readily combining both approaches to get the best of both worlds so to speak.

      Steve says the ECU is 'lied to' by piggybacks. Saying it is lying rather than modifying the signal is excessively negative terminology that is not really appropriate from a professional. He also states when the boost is raised from 9 psi to 14 psi in his example the car is using fuel for 9 psi instead of 14 psi and timing for 9 psi instead of 14 psi. The ECU then is forced to compensate.

      The factory DME's are capable of adjusting fuel and timing on the fly with the piggybacks. This seems like an odd scare tactic from Dinan considering the amount of miles BimmerBoost members have successfully logged with piggyback tunes. Additionally, even without a piggyback tune the stock DME in modern BMW's is constantly adjusting timing and boost. What does he thinks happens when the cars go into high elevation?

      His points about the transmission slipping and the stability control not working are comments that are really reaching. BimmerBoost has yet to see a piggyback user lose their stability control or have the trans slip for any reason other than too much torque thanks to the tune.

      Steve is right that he has a large computer science department at Dinan. He hires some very talented students from top engineering schools to work for him paying them large salaries. He has some very powerful computers working 24/7 at cracking BMW DME's. However, even he does not have control of all the functions of the factory DME in modern BMW's so slighting piggybacks for not having full control either seems unfair. Why not let the DME do the functions it does best and alter only those that need to be altered? A piggyback does that and his flash tunes also do that. They just go about it in different ways.

      Dinan says they can do things others can not. BimmerBoost has yet to see Dinan do anything on par with other tuners in the street BMW scene. His offerings are consistently outperformed for less money. Yes, he cracked the N63 V8 quickly but since then so have others either thanks to help from someone inside BMW or by getting their hands on the codes in whatever manner they did. What is it Dinan can do that anyone else can't exactly? Where are their projects that blow everyone else away? What performance records do any of their street cars actually hold?

      Watch the video and come to your own conclusion.

      This article was originally published in forum thread: Steve Dinan takes shots at BMW piggyback tunes calling them poorly calibrated - Piggyback versus flash tuning started by Sticky View original post
      Comments 95 Comments
      1. APC Australia's Avatar
        APC Australia -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Flinchy Click here to enlarge
        You could probably build a stroked S54 for <$20-$25k? haha

        $8200 for a 3.4 or 3.5 stroker from VAC.. another $10k in work and misc parts?.. sounds good to me Click here to enlarge

        2000hp for $80k is also pretty cheap imo, and probably similar to over in the states... things like titan motors cost the same no matter where you get them.. that is to say, $$$$$$ haha... 2j's have such a huge following over there though, however the base cars cost way more.... and same for said built evo.. 2.4 stroker or something? those things are stout and make insane power, regularly see 800-900whp out of them, i think $35k for that is also a bargain haha.



        Yeah i find it strange that instead of taking the high road and going for a better product.. he takes the low road and largely baselessly attacks the competition.. because he's losing.




        Well the n54 is pretty decently controlled at least? not as full as it could be i guess, yeah, but they're constantly finding/trying to find new tables that are useful at least haha
        Better still our ones don't go bang haha
      1. Puerto Rican 335d's Avatar
        Puerto Rican 335d -
        The only GOOD side is that if the dealer installs it your backed up by them and THATS all you get. I called them for a tune for my DIESEL and they were like deer in head lights. And never came thru for us. ONLY JB RENNtech Evolve and now Ecotune for the US Version Diesel.
      1. alex@ABRhouston's Avatar
        alex@ABRhouston -
        AFAIK, Dinan will reimburse the dealer and BMW if the issue can be proven to their products- they don't have a warranty via BMW- just a "blind eye" so-to-speak.
      1. maxnix's Avatar
        maxnix -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Absolutely but even Dinan doesn't have total control of the DME so it's kind of BS. If he did wouldn't his turbo upgrade be out already? What is he waiting for?
        Anyone who breaks the encryption has total control over that DME.

        Dinan is overpriced, but it is conservatively engineered and is warranted. No one else does that.

        And he is 100% correct about native code vs. parasitic piggybacks feeding false sensor readings to the DME.

        Sorry guys, but his company knows more than most of us.

        Who else is supplying engines in DP that supports BMW tuning?
      1. maxnix's Avatar
        maxnix -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Absolutely but even Dinan doesn't have total control of the DME so it's kind of BS. If he did wouldn't his turbo upgrade be out already? What is he waiting for?
        The problem with tuning diesels is that the OEM emission system is not set up for the heavier loads tuned diesel settings (much richer) put on them.

        Anyone selling you a diesel tune and not telling you that is no being completely honest with you.
      1. lulz_m3's Avatar
        lulz_m3 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by maxnix Click here to enlarge
        Anyone who breaks the encryption has total control over that DME.

        Dinan is overpriced, but it is conservatively engineered and is warranted. No one else does that.

        And he is 100% correct about native code vs. parasitic piggybacks feeding false sensor readings to the DME.

        Sorry guys, but his company knows more than most of us.

        Who else is supplying engines in DP that supports BMW tuning?
        I would argue that you do not have total control over the DME unless you have the source code, or a whitepaper on it. DME does a lot of modeling vs referencing tables, which is why those who are flash tuning still don't have full control.
      1. m54b25's Avatar
        m54b25 -
        It totally agree with Steve Dinan about the piggybacks. They are just patches, no matter how advance they seem to be, they are way inferior to the logic of properly modified calibration softwares. An example, a piggy back can claim world record hp on Dyno, since a stock DDE/ME/ECU will never allow to exceed engine limitation (but it can be changed!). All this world record dynos w/piggyback, you have to question it in real world varied driving conditions, and long-term testing to ensure consistent drivability and engine durability. And, the worst part... piggyback would just develop exclusively on a chassis Dyno and go straight there to ends customer. For more advanced pigggyback, if check engine lights come on, they would just erase code. It's like it doesnt want you to know the reality what's happening.

        Why I never see ALL piggyback owners leave it on car & take it to service when they have an engine issue caused by installed item? It's because it's like having warranty fraud. Ask, how BMW NA how many engine got caught with failures from a piggyback vs. a properly tuned calibration.

        Piggyback does not compensate to monitor engine ambient air temp, barometric pressure, inlet air temp, A/F from upstream catalyst. And, worst it does not compensate for any thermal management, additional Lambda/spark/knock adaptation, engine oil temp, fuel pump duty cycle, etc. since it "tricks" sensors.

        In the end, ask for more supporting data & peak power Dyno numbers does not always tell the whole story.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by maxnix Click here to enlarge
        Anyone who breaks the encryption has total control over that DME.
        No they don't. The ability to flash the ECU and completely control the ECU are two different things.
      1. maxnix's Avatar
        maxnix -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        No they don't. The ability to flash the ECU and completely control the ECU are two different things.
        I hope you are drinking. Click here to enlarge

        If one can flash the DME, then one has control of the DME. To flash it is to program it, for better or worse. Adding on a system that gives altered sensor reading is not controlling it, only an attempt to fool it. And it only affects the sensor signal intercepted. A flash can alter everything and anything.
      1. lulz_m3's Avatar
        lulz_m3 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by maxnix Click here to enlarge
        I hope you are drinking. Click here to enlarge

        If one can flash the DME, then one has control of the DME. To flash it is to program it, for better or worse. Adding on a system that gives altered sensor reading is not controlling it, only an attempt to fool it. And it only affects the sensor signal intercepted. A flash can alter everything and anything.
        Sticky is correct. I'm curious, what kind of experience do you have flash tuning the MSD80/1 DME?
      1. dzenno@PTF's Avatar
        dzenno@PTF -
        Steve is right on, everything he said Click here to enlarge the thing he needs to change and that I disagree on is pricing..it'd help his business in a big way
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by maxnix Click here to enlarge
        I hope you are drinking. Click here to enlarge

        If one can flash the DME, then one has control of the DME. To flash it is to program it, for better or worse. Adding on a system that gives altered sensor reading is not controlling it, only an attempt to fool it. And it only affects the sensor signal intercepted. A flash can alter everything and anything.
        You don't know what you're talking about.

        Writing to the ECU does not mean you can do whatever you want with the ECU. We would have had stock DME turbo kits for the E46 M3 the day people could flash the ECU then and that was over 10 years ago.
      1. BlackJetE90OC's Avatar
        BlackJetE90OC -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        However, he also is given full control of those ECU's through BMW Motorsport.
        Steve is claiming in that Smoking Tire podcast posted early today, that Dinan spends $600k on hacking software a year. He has 6 people on his staff that spend all day hacking. He gave an arbitrary time to hack an ecu of half a year.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by BlackJetE90OC Click here to enlarge
        Steve is claiming in that Smoking Tire podcast posted early today, that Dinan spends $600k on hacking software a year. He has 6 people on his staff that spend all day hacking. He gave an arbitrary time to hack an ecu of half a year.
        That is absolutely true on the street cars.

        He hires Cal Tech engineers, gives them the best equipment, and just brute forces his way in there.
      1. Viet Tran's Avatar
        Viet Tran -
        I wonder why so many folks are complaining about their prices. The Dinan for e93 CAI intake is $1299.00 while Gruppe M Intake is $3487.00 MSRP. BMW M Performance Exhaust is $1683.00 MSRP while the Dinan Exhaust for the 2009 E93 is $1600 MSRP. Akropovich exhausts are even more astronomical.

        Anyone care to explain? Please don't bring in AFE or any of those cheap intake producers that make your expensive BMW look like a teenage hoodlum's car. Thanks for your thoughts.

        BTW...I do have the Dinan Stage 2 Flash and it works like a charm. Yesterday I had the M Performance exhaust installed by the dealership (surprisingly cheaper than all the independent shops I requested quotes from). I gotta tell ya, if you have the Dinan Flash...you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't get the M Performance Exhaust or the Dinan Exhaust installed. I did not realize it would make such a noticeable improvement. The wheels squealed more even as I drove the same way as before. And the sound is so addicting.

        Next install will be Dinan Intake and ditching the OEM runflats for Michelin Super Pilot non RTFs. Hope that the new tires will give me a mile or two extra MPG and better overall handling! Wish me luck.

        Happy Driving!
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Viet Tran Click here to enlarge
        The Dinan for e93 CAI intake is $1299.00 while Gruppe M Intake is $3487.00 MSRP. BMW M Performance Exhaust is $1683.00 MSRP while the Dinan Exhaust for the 2009 E93 is $1600 MSRP. Akropovich exhausts are even more astronomical.
        Because you don't have to go with Dinan or Gruppe M? Just because Gruppe M has insane pricing doesn't mean Dinan suddenly becomes a value.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Viet Tran Click here to enlarge
        Anyone care to explain? Please don't bring in AFE or any of those cheap intake producers that make your expensive BMW look like a teenage hoodlum's car. Thanks for your thoughts.
        You're talking down on AFE who does intakes for more cars than anyone you mentioned?

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Viet Tran Click here to enlarge
        BTW...I do have the Dinan Stage 2 Flash and it works like a charm. Yesterday I had the M Performance exhaust installed by the dealership (surprisingly cheaper than all the independent shops I requested quotes from). I gotta tell ya, if you have the Dinan Flash...you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't get the M Performance Exhaust or the Dinan Exhaust installed. I did not realize it would make such a noticeable improvement. The wheels squealed more even as I drove the same way as before. And the sound is so addicting.
        Wow. Now imagine if you experienced real power.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Viet Tran Click here to enlarge
        I wonder why so many folks are complaining about their prices. The Dinan for e93 CAI intake is $1299.00 while Gruppe M Intake is $3487.00 MSRP. BMW M Performance Exhaust is $1683.00 MSRP while the Dinan Exhaust for the 2009 E93 is $1600 MSRP. Akropovich exhausts are even more astronomical.

        Anyone care to explain? Please don't bring in AFE or any of those cheap intake producers that make your expensive BMW look like a teenage hoodlum's car. Thanks for your thoughts.

        BTW...I do have the Dinan Stage 2 Flash and it works like a charm. Yesterday I had the M Performance exhaust installed by the dealership (surprisingly cheaper than all the independent shops I requested quotes from). I gotta tell ya, if you have the Dinan Flash...you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't get the M Performance Exhaust or the Dinan Exhaust installed. I did not realize it would make such a noticeable improvement. The wheels squealed more even as I drove the same way as before. And the sound is so addicting.

        Next install will be Dinan Intake and ditching the OEM runflats for Michelin Super Pilot non RTFs. Hope that the new tires will give me a mile or two extra MPG and better overall handling! Wish me luck.

        Happy Driving!
        By the way man, I'm curious. You say you're from Texas, right?

        Why do you come up as Monrovia, California then?
      1. Viet Tran's Avatar
        Viet Tran -
        Yep. From Austin. I'm in Monrovia for the next month or so working on print and video projects.

        "You're talking down on AFE who does intakes for more cars than anyone you mentioned?"

        Yep, you're right, I am not a fan of these guys. No matter how much more intakes they make. To me, all their intakes are hideous and destroy the beauty of the BMW engine design. Just my opinion. No need to get testy.

        "Just because Gruppe M has insane pricing doesn't mean Dinan suddenly becomes a value."

        You're right. I just find it curious that people leave out other companies like Akropovich and Gruppe M and focus so much on Dinan. Seems a bit unbalanced. $1299 ain't nothing to shake a stick at and the AFE $295-600 price range looks delicious...until you see the rinky dink design. But more power to those who actually like the AFE designs. Just ain't my cup of tea.
      1. Viet Tran's Avatar
        Viet Tran -
        "You look like a retarded teenager discovering internet."

        How would you like me to respond to this? Should I even acknowledge this wasteful irrelevant and rude comment?

        I arrived here after spending timing searching for a particular question I had...that is: I wonder if an e93 ECU needs to be calibrated to take advantage of the Dinan intake. After hours of reading, I take it the Dinan Flash will take care of the adaptations.

        "Wow. Now imagine if you experienced real power."

        Yes, imagine if only I had "real power". I think I will wait until my warranty runs out to experiment with other piggybacks if I even feel like it. For now, the Dinan Flash is enough for me since I don't track or drag race. I just like the occasional urge for more acceleration when the road is clear.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Viet Tran Click here to enlarge
        Yep, you're right, I am not a fan of these guys. No matter how much more intakes they make. To me, all their intakes are hideous and destroy the beauty of the BMW engine design. Just my opinion. No need to get testy.
        I don't think I'm the one getting testy here.

        Really? AFE's stuff looks pretty sweet to me, have you actually seen or heard it in person? http://www.bimmerboost.com/content.p...deo-sound-clip

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Viet Tran Click here to enlarge
        You're right. I just find it curious that people leave out other companies like Akropovich and Gruppe M and focus so much on Dinan. Seems a bit unbalanced. $1299 ain't nothing to shake a stick at and the AFE $295-600 price range looks delicious...until you see the rinky dink design. But more power to those who actually like the AFE designs. Just ain't my cup of tea.
        The reason for that is Dinan is the only US company out of the ones you mentioned. If you compare pricing to others... well.