BMW Smart Suspension’s Dynamic Damping

July 6, 2011
Bryan Harley
Bryan Harley
Cruiser Editor |Articles|Articles RSS|Blog|Blog Posts|Blog RSS

Our resident road warrior has earned his stripes covering the rally circuit, from riding the Black Hills of Sturgis to cruising Main Street in Daytona Beach. Whether it's chopped, bobbed, or bored, metric to 'Merican, he rides 'em all.

BMW Motorrad continues to pioneer the motorcycle riding experience. From the company that gave us technology like the K1600GT’s adaptive headlights, which compensate for a motorcycle’s lean and pitch, comes the new Dynamic Damping Control (DDC) system that tabulates input from numerous variables and automatically adjusts the suspension to reportedly provide the smoothest ride at all times.

BMW’s active suspension system will

BMWs Dynamic Damping Control System
BMW wants to take the motorcycle riding experience to the next level of smoothness with its Dynamic Damping Control system which will automatically adjust your bike’s suspension settings depending on road conditions, speed, lean angle and other data.
BMWs DDC system utilizes a variable ring aperture for compression and rebound damping adjustments.

react automatically to braking, accelerating, and cornering all while taking into account road surfaces. The motorcycle’s engine and ABS control units translate the input from various sensors and sets the correct level of damping at the electrically-actuated proportional damping valves. Similar technologies have been used in cars for years, like BMW’s M3 and Ford’s Mondeo, but converting it for application to two wheels has been a slow process.

BMW’s DDC sources a variable ring aperture for compression and rebound damping adjustments. It takes data from the motorcycle’s ECU, ABS sensors on the wheels, spring travel sensors at the fork and shock, tilt and roll sensors, and makes adjustments to the suspension accordingly. Damping is proportional to the acceleration and deceleration forces on the motorcycle. Acceleration brings valve actuation of the rear strut to prevent the bike from squatting. When you let off the gas, it reduces. When the motorcycle is leaned over, valves on both the front and back are actuated. As the bike stands up, the levels drop back down. Valve actuation rises proportionally to lean angles. When the front spring travel sensors detect bumps, both the front and rear suspension will loosen up to provide the smoothest ride possible over the obstacle. When the brakes are applied, the system applies more damping to the front to counteract nose dive. The DDC system is reportedly even smart enough to detect a rider’s posture and will automatically make adjustments to make them as comfortable in the saddle as possible. How fast these calculations and adjustments will be made remains to be seen, but BMW is aiming to provide the smoothest riding experience around.

BMW has long been an innovator of motorcycle suspensions. It launched its Paralever swingarm back in 1986. The Duolever front suspension, designed by Norman Hossack, was introduced on the K1200S in 2004. The Bavarian marque has already established an Electronic Suspension Adjustment System (ESA) which allows rider to adjust the bike’s suspension at the push of a button, a system it introduced in 2004. In 2009, the ESA II went a step further and was the first to include adjustable spring rate variation, too. 

BMW states its DDC system will be introduced to its motorcycle lineup in the near future.

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