• 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. onisyndicate's Avatar
        onisyndicate -
        The only thing good that was worth while from dinan was the E39 M5 S3. 11.7 on the 1/4 mile and handled like a beast. I mean don't get me wrong the stroker kits for the s65 and s85 were pretty cool but way over priced.
      1. Puerto Rican 335d's Avatar
        Puerto Rican 335d -
        Dinan overpriced and I believe not enough bang for the money. My experience with FLASHES been great I CANNOT attest for piggybacks so I cant say ANYTHING about them
      1. litxus's Avatar
        litxus -
        DINAN is way overpriced compared to competition. I mean at $1299 for an intake, give me a breakClick here to enlarge
      1. Group.america's Avatar
        Group.america -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by litxus Click here to enlarge
        DINAN is way overpriced compared to competition. I mean at $1299 for an intake, give me a breakClick here to enlarge

        DINAN = cry much

        Welcome to competition Mr Dinan.... overpriced middle of the road quality products from Dinan at Rolls Royce prices... I'll take Mr BMS Burger (read BMS, AA, RB Turbos, etc etc) anyday and his exemplary customer service over DINAN and the Nancy badge any day and everyday
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Dinan is welcome to build an M3 or any car for that matter that can run with the big boys. They haven't.
      1. BuraQ's Avatar
        BuraQ -
        Not defending Dinan, how else to put it about the "lieing" as to how piggybacks communicate with the ECU ? Was it a choice of words, perhaps he should have used the word "false" or better yet "manipulate the DME to see something that is not" would be better?

        I am shocked to see the article says that no one at bimmerboost has not seen a piggyback resulted in a "transmission slipping", prior to Terry finding a way to "fool" the TCU the DCT had slippage issues with his method of tuning. Currently, Shiv has not been able to find away around it. Maybe Dinan was illaborating on old news and does not know about the progress Terry has made even though I reject his method of tuning. Props go where they should...


        Other than the above I agree with everything else the article says, and also people should consider who teh article was authored by ;-)
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by BuraQ Click here to enlarge
        Not defending Dinan, how else to put it about the "lieing" as to how piggybacks communicate with the ECU ? Was it a choice of words, perhaps he should have used the word "false" or better yet "manipulate the DME to see something that is not" would be better?
        Change, alter, modify, vary, etc.

        Lying has an excessively negative connotation. The words deceiving and modifying have a different impact and connotation. I think he chose the more negative word for a reason.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by BuraQ Click here to enlarge
        I am shocked to see the article says that no one at bimmerboost has not seen a piggyback resulted in a "transmission slipping", prior to Terry finding a way to "fool" the TCU the DCT had slippage issues with his method of tuning.
        The AT has issues but how often are these attributed to torque values? The JB+ is pretty mild right? So who gets some huge slippage issues from it? The slipping we've seen is due to the power levels isn't it?

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by BuraQ Click here to enlarge
        Other than the above I agree with everything else the article says, and also people should consider who teh article was authored by ;-)
        Hey I'm not disagreeing that flashing takes more skill which I mentioned I'm just saying there are plusses and minuses to both. Dinan essentially implies the piggybacks are cheap and dangerous saying his approach is better. That's because that is what he sells. He doesn't provide the complete picture just a very negative stance going one way. Personally, I'm a bit disappointed with his so called 'tech lesson.'
      1. APC Australia's Avatar
        APC Australia -
        I don't agree completely with what Dinan is saying but the fact is that if you have a flash tuning solution that gives you total control over the DME then yes it is better but the issue is cost and what is available. We had the same issue years ago with Subaru and Mitsubishi Flash tuning simply wasn't available in the beginning so piggy back or standalone engine management was the only option, we developed our own software for these cars and overcame the issue allowing us to offer custom tunes on these cars for $1200. But flash tuning also has its limits and depending on how well you want a car to be tuned and the level of modification. The piggy backs available currently for the BMW such as the JB4 are streets ahead of what was available then and offer a very affordable and effective solution. The other issue with some mail order flash tunes is that a tune from one car in one place does not necessarily work on another car in another climate regardless of weather the modifications are the same.

        In conclusion each method has its own merits and short comings and as with anything as time passes and technology develops new and more comprehensive soloutions will be released.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by APC Australia Click here to enlarge
        but the fact is that if you have a flash tuning solution that gives you total control over the DME then yes it is better but the issue is cost and what is available
        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?
      1. APC Australia's Avatar
        APC Australia -
        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?
        I Agree, as I said I don't agree with what he is saying which is why I mentioned that flash tuning has its limits. We for example wouldn't build one of our 800hp evo engines the flash tune it because there are certain parameters that you cant manipulate and tune for a perfect result. As I said each method has its good and bad points. And im sure as many are aware development costs for flash tuning software are huge, when we developed ours we had to buy two cars just for a start lol.
      1. alex@ABRhouston's Avatar
        alex@ABRhouston -
        not impressed with their stuff. I was a dinan installer at the dealership and the S3 M3's damn near felt slower lol

        ive installed a few of the S54 superchargers- way less than impressed.


        there was a F10 fully "dinan'ed" out 550 that moved pretty good- but it also was like 30,000 in crap
      1. 135pats's Avatar
        135pats -
        His big picture arguments are “correct”, it’s more the language I take issue with (as you noted). Piggybacks blindfold the DME and relay biased signals, calling that “lying” to the DME is probably an over-statement. No need for language like that IMO.

        And yea Dinan is reputable, well thought out, well built, all that good stuff. It’s also stupid expensive in comparison to superior vendors from a performance standpoint.

        Their stroker kit? I’m not an S65 expert but the blown stock motors would absolutely trounce it, no?
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by 135pats Click here to enlarge
        Their stroker kit? I’m not an S65 expert but the blown stock motors would absolutely trounce it, no?
        Absolutely.

        I mean the stroker is awesome but he just carried over the S85 parts. The real difference was just the crank and that's only because it's a V8 crank instead of V10. You can tell he overpriced it tremendously with how he continually has dropped the price over the years.

        Over $30k for a stroker? LOL srsly?

        Also aftermarket tuners have gotten more power out of his strokers than his tuners have so I don't know about all that tuning prowess considering how mild the Dinan tunes are.
      1. APC Australia's Avatar
        APC Australia -
        $30k for a Stroked BMW engine would be reasonable here in Australia lol. I build evo engines that are $35k and 2000hp 2JZ drag engines that are around $80k. You guys have it too good there hahaha
      1. 135pats's Avatar
        135pats -
        Their stroker kit is $30 large? Stop Click here to enlarge

        I feel like one could shoot for the S65 WHP WR with $30K properly invested.
      1. leveraged sellout's Avatar
        leveraged sellout -
        Oh Steve...getting scared because for $400 you can have a 700 hp M5? And your inevitable $2600 flash tune that gives similar results won't look so appealing? Come on. It's one thing to admit having difficulty with a product, while also acknowledging the drawbacks of a piggy back. But to basically go after your competitors with excessively negative (and borderline false) alarmist statements while having no product of your own seems a bridge too far. I respect the company...but this reeks of insecurity.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by 135pats Click here to enlarge
        Their stroker kit is $30 large? Stop Click here to enlarge

        I feel like one could shoot for the S65 WHP WR with $30K properly invested.
        It was. The S85 stroker was almost $40k at one point I think. The S65 was priced at an absurd point considering basically all the parts carried over.
      1. Sered's Avatar
        Sered -
        I'll bet money right now that given full DME control, that there's quite a few tuners out there that would blow away Dinan. Hell, the N54 world they already can using the Cobb and that's still not full control.

        Dinan's products are overrated and overpriced. The only thing that it tells me is someone was dumb enough to pay big money for mediocre gains.
      1. APC Australia's Avatar
        APC Australia -
        When we first entered the modern European market we had no end of trouble with some of the flash tunes that a so called reputable company supplied, they basically had no dyno testing or proven results past the fact that the driver said it felt faster. The pricing was ridiculous for example a tune for a c63 AMG was $3600 and required the ECU being removed and opend up on the bench to flash directly to the board. We had all sorts of issues with many cars almost every one made less power than stock and then issues with fault codes for seatbelt pre tentioners and the like due to the maps being for LHD cars. In the performance game reputation is a big thing and we refuse to sell our customers something that we cant prove gives them a worth wile gain.

        We promote products like the JB4 and COBB because they deliver period
      1. blkclk550's Avatar
        blkclk550 -
        lol my BS Stage 1 piggy back ripped every stage Dinan car that ran me Stage 3-5