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    • Dinan responds to piggyback tuning criticism - Steve Dinan official statement on piggyback tuning boxes and their upcoming Turbotronics unit

      BimmerBoost would first of all like to state it appreciates that Steve Dinan and the employees at Dinan read and enjoy BimmerBoost. As the emphasis of BimmerBoost is BMW tuning and performance modification the work Dinan does falls under our niche. Recently, BimmerBoost raised the question of if there was hypocrisy on Dinan's part regarding criticism of piggyback tuning devices and Dinan releasing their own piggyback tuning devices.

      What you are about to read is Dinan's response to those questions. Additionally, BimmerBoost is not a BMW enthusiast website that shies away from strong opinions or raising awareness of controversial topics. That said, we also believe in providing the complete picture and that is why Dinan's request of being able to address the topic is gladly granted.

      You are an intelligent human being capable of deciding for yourself. BimmerBoost will strive to bring you all the information and sides to a story as we always have so you can come to an informed conclusion.

      Additionally, BimmerBoost is happy to take Dinan up on their generous offer of touring the Dinan facilities to see firsthand what takes place. These arrangements will be made in private and a report of BimmerBoost's visit to Dinan headquarters will be posted at some point later this year.


      Steve Dinan:

      Hi Joseph,

      We recently saw your post regarding our new Turbotronics project and wanted to clarify a few points to make sure your readers have the correct information. I stand by my comments on "Tech tip Tuesday". Even though we are making an ECU we are still believe software has superior performance and reliability when compared to an ad on ECU. Having said that the new Bosch ECU has proven more difficult to crack than previous models so we have been forced to go the ECU route. BTW this is Dinan's 16th Turbotronics ECU because we used to make them a long time ago but when we got very good at software we went away from them because of the obvious advantages.

      “Tech Tip Tuesday” was also referring to the existing piggy back boxes on the market. Our goal wasn’t to imply that a piggyback box wasn’t a viable tuning solution, but rather the current ones lack sophistication in which is why they make less power, have more drivability issues, are more prone to setting faults and are not emissions legal. I also mentioned that a box would have to be much more sophisticated in order to work properly and not risk any damage or malfunctions with the vehicle long-term.

      The reason our software is more expensive than current piggyback systems on the market is the level of work and research that is required to “crack” BMW’s factory computers, the additional cost of the 4 year 50k mile warranty and emissions certification. The cost our R&D, warranty and emission testing when compared to manufacturing the piggy back boxes I see on the market it is more likely they are making more money than Dinan soit is not about money as the person implied it's about doing it right. Most people assume that BMW gives us complete access to the computers, but that is not the case.

      We have a team of 5 engineers that do nothing but read through every line of code on each ECU to make sure that all of our software allows the car to function properly, doesn’t interfere with other electronics and keeps factory system safeguards in place.

      As far as the new “Turbotronics” units are concerned, (still in development) they essentially are more than a piggy back box they are a powerful ECU that has many more capabilities that the existing piggy back boxes. To help you understanding the additional capabilities as I said in "TECH TIP Tuesday" the existing boxes send a an adjusted signal to the BMWECU telling it he boost is too low and the ECU then raises the boost to what it thinks is the correct value as does ours. This false value creates errors in Fuel mixture and ignition timing. This can causesmore faults, high catalyst inlet temperatures and a loss of power.In addition when you increase power exhaust temperature will increaseand this must be countered with a slightly richer mixture. Our ECU will have the capability of setting a richer target lambda (fuel mixture) as well as correcting short term trip which is the difference between target and scheduled fuel mixture just to mention a couple of it's capabilities. By matching these two correctly we can reduce knock sensor activity which will make smother performance,protect the catalyst, increase power and allow us to make it emissions legal.

      We have a lot of exciting new product in the works for N55 powered cars along with products being created for the M235i. Keep an eye on our social media channels for announcements on sales, new products and more of our Tech Tip Tuesday series.

      Thanks again for your time and we hope this is helpful. If you’re interested, we would love to have you out to the facility to see our operation first hand.

      Sincerely,

      Steve Dinan
      This article was originally published in forum thread: Dinan responds to piggyback tuning criticism - Steve Dinan official statement on piggyback tuning boxes and their upcoming Turbotronics unit started by Sticky View original post
      Comments 51 Comments
      1. BlackJetE90OC's Avatar
        BlackJetE90OC -
        Steve does sometimes get some heat on the forums. But he truly is an enthusiast at heart. Good to see the myth busted that they get access to ecu's by BMW. I remember reading they spend upwards of $600k a year on hacking software. Joseph I am sure you will be impressed by their facilities and operations. Make sure to ask them about their motorsport engine programs, what engines are currently in development and for what racing series.
      1. leveraged sellout's Avatar
        leveraged sellout -
        This is very interesting. Very fair point, and really glad to see a specific response.

        However, I haven't seen that anyone using an existing piggyback solution has had problems. Of course it is early too. Sounds like Dinan's box could be a great mod, although it is expensive. Might be worth it if it's as good as they say. Also, with more parameters being modified, perhaps there is more power potential.

        Overall very excited to see what happens with this. And thanks to Steve for getting a response back to the community.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by BlackJetE90OC Click here to enlarge
        Steve does sometimes get some heat on the forums. But he truly is an enthusiast at heart. Good to see the myth busted that they get access to ecu's by BMW. I remember reading they spend upwards of $600k a year on hacking software. Joseph I am sure you will be impressed by their facilities and operations. Make sure to ask them about their motorsport engine programs, what engines are currently in development and for what racing series.
        Nah they try hard to force their way in. Who said they just get the codes?

        I'll ask them about everything.
      1. R.G.'s Avatar
        R.G. -
        I like the fact Dinan is stepping deeper in to the sub culture of highly modified cars. I have a lot of respect for the quality of Dinan products, not his tunes, but they do have their place as well.
      1. mjmarovi's Avatar
        mjmarovi -
        How much is it? I can see wanting the piece of mind on a new car and buying a Dinah tune, but on the other hand, how many catastrophic engine failures have we seen from other tunes piggy or not on n54/n55? I'm sure not many. Also, if I'm not mistaken, piggyback tuners hold all the records and it's been proven time and time again make more power, especially over a dinan tune. Dinan has its place, but if you're really a performance enthusiast it's just not worth the coin.

        I appreciate the work they put in, and I do believe their upgrades are top notch quality and reliable. Just wish they'd offer some more aggressive stuff without warranty and other crap for less money as an option for other enthusiasts who just don't give a $#@!, and also for Dinan to show what they can really do without pointing at their track cars.
      1. rawad1017's Avatar
        rawad1017 -
        i like how he pays attention to the forums and does what he can to protect his name. that guy is definitely someone who takes pride in his business.
      1. litxus's Avatar
        litxus -
        All good points by DINAN, and I was even surprised he responded, he must care about his business.

        But, on another note DINAN is the most expensive, stage 1 at $1,399!!! And if you are out of warranty, that really doesn't sound appealing at all. DINAN, why not offer these at 50% or lower prices, as N54 cars are getting cheaper and nobody wants to pay close to 10% of cars value for a tune, let alone closest competition (GIAC?) charges $800. You might have the best tune out there, but if it is prices much more than competition nobody will buy it.

        Now with BT cable you can get some tunes for free, at $179 for cable. I think if DINAN wants to stay viable for years to come they need to figure out a balance between competition and pricing. That gives me an idea Sticky (Joseph?), why don't we have a poll something like "at what price you would by DINAN tune" ($400 -$600, 600-800 and so on) or maybe something like "what do you think of DINAN tune" (expensive, not enough power, value for money etc..).
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by litxus Click here to enlarge
        That gives me an idea Sticky (Joseph?), why don't we have a poll something like "at what price you would by DINAN tune" ($400 -$600, 600-800 and so on) or maybe something like "what do you think of DINAN tune" (expensive, not enough power, value for money etc..).
        I understand where you are going with this but it's up to Dinan to set his pricing. If the tunes were not selling at his set price point he'd lower the price just like he did with the stroker kits.
      1. Remonster's Avatar
        Remonster -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by litxus Click here to enlarge
        All good points by DINAN, and I was even surprised he responded, he must care about his business.

        But, on another note DINAN is the most expensive, stage 1 at $1,399!!! And if you are out of warranty, that really doesn't sound appealing at all. DINAN, why not offer these at 50% or lower prices, as N54 cars are getting cheaper and nobody wants to pay close to 10% of cars value for a tune, let alone closest competition (GIAC?) charges $800. You might have the best tune out there, but if it is prices much more than competition nobody will buy it.

        Now with BT cable you can get some tunes for free, at $179 for cable. I think if DINAN wants to stay viable for years to come they need to figure out a balance between competition and pricing. That gives me an idea Sticky (Joseph?), why don't we have a poll something like "at what price you would by DINAN tune" ($400 -$600, 600-800 and so on) or maybe something like "what do you think of DINAN tune" (expensive, not enough power, value for money etc..).
        Dinan has never catered to the value-seeker. We get people in our shop all day long wanting Dinan stuff, it sells very well including their engine tunes. My best friend's father has a Dinan tuned E34 M5, it was tuned in 1992 and has driven over 150,000 miles while tuned without issues. That's the level of quality you're getting with their products and it's also why their products rarely make the most power, they're conservative for sure but if you drive your car often, drive it hard, and want it to last I really do think Dinan is a pretty decent value.
      1. BlackJetE90OC's Avatar
        BlackJetE90OC -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        I understand where you are going with this but it's up to Dinan to set his pricing. If the tunes were not selling at his set price point he'd lower the price just like he did with the stroker kits.
        Exactly. He knows what he is doing, his business model has been successful for a very long time. He caters to customers that want oem+. Customer can buy a brand new BMW then take to Dinan, let them breath on it and still have a warranty. They don't go for dyno numbers or internet records. They could if they wanted to, they have engine programs that run in major racing series.
      1. inlineS54B32's Avatar
        inlineS54B32 -
        Cool that he replied. I recently watched a video on Steve Dinan, and he seems like an interesting and cool guy. The response fortifies my original thoughts on him.

        If he's reading this - I have money. However, I too think that the DINAN markup is just absurd. I understand it comes with a warranty, your product is probably better than most others - it has been well engineered (can go on and on) - and this is VERY important. However, the pricing is sometimes so over the top it's literally nonsensical. TL;DR? - I won't buy something if I feel like I am being treated like an idiot, and this is what your prices imply; buy this if you are an idiot.

        I like your product, but most of your offerings are just absurdly priced, and I am not a badge whore.
      1. manbeer's Avatar
        manbeer -
        It actually makes me really happy that he responded. As others have stated, nobody is setting any records with a lot of these upgrades and they definitely cost more than many options out there but they DO have their place.

        When I first got into BMW's back in '95 my dad got all sorts of dinan upgrades on his e36 and I remember that some were better values than others but everything was always great quality and they worked well together. That was before there was such a huge market for BMW parts and you had pretty much the "top tier" performance parts (Dinan, Alpina, Schnitzer, Hartge, Racing Dynamics, Hamann) and the less expensive but usually just as effective house branded offerings from many mail order parts retailers like BMP Design, bavarian autosports etc. Bavarian autosport sold their "power flow intake" which was basically half a DCI for 150-200 dollars. Times change along with supply and demand. Back in the 90's all the ACS/Hartge etc stuff had an exotic appeal because it was from overseas and you didn't see it often. As the years went by BMW tuning became more lucrative and overseas production became cheaper. In '97 you couldn't find a chinese made catback for 300 bucks. Now they probably outsell the 1000 dollar american made one 10 to 1. Its sad but it's the way of the world. In the case of things like DME tuning more and more people have invested time and other resources into it and there are now many viable options. We should be happy for that. Dinan is for the guy who buys the car and wants a bit more than factory can offer, values warranty etc. There are a plethora of options for everyone else and all have their positive and negative attributes. My mother in laws X5 is at the dealer right now for a bunch of crap with a $#@!ty aftermarket warranty. I forgot how much BMW charges for EVERYTHING. If the dealer honors one warranty claim for a moderately priced repair during your period of ownership then the difference in price is worth it to the average driver. Lets not forget that there are people out there that can't even figure out how to pump their own gas. These dealers can give you hell if you aren't prepared to fight sometimes so if i was someone who wasn't experienced enough to install/remove a piggy i would want a company like dinan to have my back for peace of mind. Let's not forget that he is still making everything in the states, giving jobs to americans.
      1. litxus's Avatar
        litxus -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        I understand where you are going with this but it's up to Dinan to set his pricing. If the tunes were not selling at his set price point he'd lower the price just like he did with the stroker kits.
        I agree to all points that everyone makes in regards to reliability of the tune. But from pricing perspective it makes more sense to go DINAN if you are buying a car new or still have lots of warranty left, as otherwise the warranty doesn't really matter later. At this point how many N54 (07-10) cars are there with less than 50k miles, it is at lest 4 years old already. What I'm trying to say, the car is getting there in age, development for the software was already done (only collect money at this point), why not discount tunes based on age of the car/platform and use that money towards development of new products for new cars where you can charge more $$$? In other words, let's say Joe gets a used 335i in 2017 (at this point it is 10 year old car), gets a tune for $400 or less from DINAN, loves the tune, later at more mature age buys a new car (435i lol) and gets a DINAN tune for $1799.
      1. Brey335i's Avatar
        Brey335i -
        I just want to point out that Evolve sells their e46 M3 tunes for $800 when you can buy the car itself for 10K. Obviously you'd be stuck with a beat-to-s*** M3, but my point stands. Just because a car is falling in price doesn't mean that owners of the nicer examples aren't willing to part with considerable amounts for quality parts.

        However, I don't agree with his statement that piggybacks don't make as much power... I prefer flash tuning too, but the piggybacks on the market for the 335i actually drove better than my Dinan Stage 2 and made a lot more power.
      1. Sered's Avatar
        Sered -
        the existing boxes send a an adjusted signal to the BMWECU telling it he boost is too low and the ECU then raises the boost to what it thinks is the correct value as does ours. This false value creates errors in Fuel mixture and ignition timing. This can causesmore faults, high catalyst inlet temperatures and a loss of power.In addition when you increase power exhaust temperature will increaseand this must be countered with a slightly richer mixture.


        ....

        Steve Dinan is full of $#@!. Maybe he thinks the current state of piggybacks is the JB+? Maybe he should research the thing he's criticizing before opening his mouth?
      1. BuraQ's Avatar
        BuraQ -
        PHP Code:
        .....Even though we are making an ECU we are still believe software has superior performance and reliability when compared to an ad on ECU.....

        ....
        To help you understanding the additional capabilities as I said in "TECH TIP Tuesday" the existing boxes send a an adjusted signal to the BMWECU telling it he boost is too low and the ECU then raises the boost to what it thinks is the correct value as does ours..... 
        The first part started to lead me to think that Dinan's ECU was not an "ad on ECU" ie a standalone ECU, but yet in another paragraph he discribes the that Turbotronic function is doing the same damn thing of "sending an "OFFSET" signal to the DME for boost. This makes the Turbotronic also an "ad on ECU".

        Your still "LIEING" to the ECU making it think something that is not. AFR etc that was mention will also need an OFFSET.

        I wouldnt be to suprised next we hear that the DME also needs a Dinan flash to work with the Turbotronics ie another stack tuning method
      1. singletrack's Avatar
        singletrack -
        I think it's cool he replied, but I come away thinking - "ok prove it". I mean, first of all - taking the MSS60 as an example - that code is for sale from Ruben, so why would anyone bother cracking it? So there should have been no additional cost to Dinan there. They do have to figure out the calibrations and such, as do all the other tuners, but Dinan should have no additional cost. Perhaps they chose to crack vs. buy? I do agree that the warranty bundling is worth a lot to many. If there is no hope of cracking the new code, then that cost goes away and those resources are allocated to tuning their piggyback-ECU.

        On the piggy-back front - I'm sure there are some simple ones and some more advanced ones. Just like anything, a lot of it is trial and error and not doing something stupid. There is no reason you cannot modify boost, fuel, and any other critical values with a piggyback - if you know what you're doing. Also, the ECUs have trim and adaption, so some can safely adapt various parameters to modified values elsewhere. Again, it means ensuring that things are safe.

        I'm confused about reading code. If they haven't cracked the ECU, they have no insight into the code other than with external signal processing and experimentation - and official documentation off TIS. Perhaps they have more people on staff working on this than others, but whether that yields a better product, and performance, will remain to be seen.

        Dinan clearly makes high quality products (I use a number of them - camber plates; EDC springs soon), but I don't think people will buy the distinction here as stated. Perhaps some real world examples of failures of piggybacks vs. how the Dinan piggyback-ECU would not allow this would drive home the point. As it stands, those are just generalizations which are not always true, or no one would ever run any piggyback.
      1. singletrack's Avatar
        singletrack -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by litxus Click here to enlarge
        All good points by DINAN, and I was even surprised he responded, he must care about his business.

        But, on another note DINAN is the most expensive, stage 1 at $1,399!!! And if you are out of warranty, that really doesn't sound appealing at all. DINAN, why not offer these at 50% or lower prices, as N54 cars are getting cheaper and nobody wants to pay close to 10% of cars value for a tune, let alone closest competition (GIAC?) charges $800. You might have the best tune out there, but if it is prices much more than competition nobody will buy it.

        Now with BT cable you can get some tunes for free, at $179 for cable. I think if DINAN wants to stay viable for years to come they need to figure out a balance between competition and pricing. That gives me an idea Sticky (Joseph?), why don't we have a poll something like "at what price you would by DINAN tune" ($400 -$600, 600-800 and so on) or maybe something like "what do you think of DINAN tune" (expensive, not enough power, value for money etc..).
        Why though? That is Dinan's job, and it is not a democracy. Setting prices for any product is a tough task, but you can bet that if no one was buying, they would go out of business. Clearly the price is not hurting them.

        You can't legally get a "free" tune from a real tuner, since no tuning shop is in the habit of giving away their work. Dinan actually tests their stuff a ton, and there is value in that for sure.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by manbeer Click here to enlarge
        ACS/Hartge etc stuff had an exotic appeal because it was from overseas and you didn't see it often.
        ACS, Hamann, Hartge, etc., were all considered to be the absolute best. Now their stuff is overpriced garbage and mostly wheels and body kits. They can't compete with any serious tuners. Do they have ANYTHING at all these days other than cosmetics for people who chase what their name used to represent?
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by litxus Click here to enlarge
        I agree to all points that everyone makes in regards to reliability of the tune. But from pricing perspective it makes more sense to go DINAN if you are buying a car new or still have lots of warranty left, as otherwise the warranty doesn't really matter later. At this point how many N54 (07-10) cars are there with less than 50k miles, it is at lest 4 years old already. What I'm trying to say, the car is getting there in age, development for the software was already done (only collect money at this point), why not discount tunes based on age of the car/platform and use that money towards development of new products for new cars where you can charge more $$$? In other words, let's say Joe gets a used 335i in 2017 (at this point it is 10 year old car), gets a tune for $400 or less from DINAN, loves the tune, later at more mature age buys a new car (435i lol) and gets a DINAN tune for $1799.
        To me, personally, the warranty is meaningless. I'm not interested in BMW's weak and cheap parts. Everything they put on the car that was a cost cutting measure I have replaced at this point soo.... what would be the point?

        It's up to the individual to decide. How scared some people are of voiding their warranty cracks me up. We have guys asking about filters and exhausts. If you are scared to change an air filter clearly modifying a car isn't for you.