Suspension Setup E28


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Suspension Setup - E28

What sort of Suspension do you want?:  
                                                                   A slightly firmer setup for:  Sports Driving.
                                                                   or a Harder:  Track Setup.

Other things you need to know:  Best Rake SettingOffset Front Strut BushingSpring Part Numbers,  

                                                 Spring DiscussionsSwaybarsDinan SuspensionToe-In Setting.  

Sports Driving

Date: Fri, 22 Jan 1999 
From: "Nott, Richard"
Subject: Re: E28 Suspension Setup

What can you do to make your E28 handle like an M5 ?

1. Fit 205/55/16 Front, 225/50/16 Rear, or F/R: (225/50/16, 245/45/16) 

    Soft Compound Tyres as done by Alpina and Hartge (AVS Sport, S02, Pilots).
    Very safe in the wet. See #1 
2. Get a Camber/Toe Correction (eccentric) Bush for Rear Susp.(BMW,
    KMac) Removes excess negative camber. (I suspect this gives better
    adhesion on off camber bends)
3. Install Koni Top Adjustable Strut inserts with M-Tech or 535is springs
    in front. The springs are the same. See #2 below.
4. Install Koni or cheaper Bilstein HD's in the rear. HD's are
    stiffer than Boge. In Australia Bilstein sell Sport or Comforts (HD's)

     (Comforts are set to the rate BMW uses for their factory Bilsteins).

    Sport is available for lowered cars.
5. Install thicker Swaybar for front ( 3-4 mm thicker )
6. Keep the standard rear Swaybar as fitted to M535i, 535i. They are the same.
7. The standard factory Front Springs on the 535i are the same as the M5).
    Lower springs will bottom out all the time. See #3.
8. Install Strut Brace (benefit is debatable on a car with stiffer suspension/wider tyres).
9. Carry a bag of sand in the boot if your going on a fast trip,
    especially if it's wet - These cars are light in the back !

#1. Fit 225/50/16 Front, 245/45/16 Rear if you like Fast Mountain Roads or Taking 

      Offramps at speed. Personally, At the moment I'm using Bridgestone S02's on the rear 
      and Yokohama AVS Excellead (not sold in USA, equiv: Yokohama dB) 
      The Excellead are a product of Yokohama's Advanced Vehicle System, which is 
      a division that concentrates on high performance tyres.  These tyres are great.  They 
      are the quietest tyre you can buy, so I don't get the road noise, and they have a special 
      construction which absorbs all the pounding you feel when you hit cats eyes on the road.
      Also, about 70% of the vibration and harshness you normally get through the steering 
      wheel disappears... DISAPPEARS.  THESE TYRES ARE GREAT!.  Normally, I 
      have 225/50/16 Front and a wider rear tyre, but the Excellead TW1's have slightly less 
      tread on the road than the S02, and the S02's have more grip because their a softer 

      compound (Treadware 140) .  So even though I'm running 225/50/16 all around,  

      I still have quite a bit more grip at the rear... which is exactly what you need on wet roads 
      with the E28's notoriously light rear end.  
      Apart from that, 225/50/16 or 245/45/16 tyres are shorter diagonally than the original 
      equipment tyres and hence affect speedo accuracy, even though they are the correct 
      Plus 2/3 upgrade.  Your true speed at 100km/h is 92km/h.  The Trip Computer confirms this.

#2. In stiffness, Koni is between Bilstein (harsh) and the standard Boge (soft).

      Bilsteins are too rough and make the car unpleasant to drive around town.
      They are only good at high speed! - like on an Autobahn. Just drive an M535i,
      compare it to a 535i and tell me what you think. The M535i has Bilsteins with 
      slightly firmer coil springs - Every bump on the road jars the car.  It's not 
      a nice setup.  The 535i uses Boge shocks - not sporty enough for many, 
      however the Turbo Boge Gas struts are highly recommended as an alternative 
      to Koni, however you don't get the adjustability and thus, they can't be set as firm.

#3. Not only do lower springs bottom out all the time and make your BMW:

      "The Ultimate Unpleasant Driving Machine", but most will sag about 1.5 - 2cm in 
       a year.  BMW Springs are almost impossible to drill a hole through,
      after market "highest quality hardened chromium grade steel" can be drilled
      through easily (don't ask me how I know). But this proves they are much
      softer than genuine springs. Personally I think their all inferior to "Genuine

      BMW Parts", but if you know one that's good after 3 years... let me know,

      Hell, let everyone know!.

# Note:  This setup is not for drivers who Race or Autocross.  It is the perfect

setup for very fast daily drivers on normal roads (120-180 km/h), providing a
setup which is stable at high speed, but still remains pleasant to drive around
town or on rough roads when harsh spring rates would make driving unpleasant.
Even more importantly it provides outstanding high safety and stability reserves 
in the wet, through the use of staged front and rear tyres.

Of course each person has an individual preference for springs and shocks. I'm

sharing my experience mainly for other E28 owners who are interested in a proven
daily driver setup that works brilliantly. It's been learned after the mistakes that only
experience (building three 5'ers) can give you with Lower Springs/Firmer Shocks,
etc.  If you want a great ride that's not as firm as this, caused by the M535 (535is)
springs and low profile tyres another great alternative is to use: Standard 535
springs all around with Koni Struts/Shocks, 215/60/15 Tyres, and thicker front 
swaybar only.  This is the ultimate softer, yet still sporty ride for people who don't 
want any harshness transmitted to them, but still want a lot of control for fast 
driving... you can upgrade to even wider 225/60/15 Tyres if your so inclined.

It would be great to get some other contributions from people on how they set up

their E28s, and combinations that worked well for them. Does anyone know what
else they did to improve the handling and chassis dynamics of the E28 M5?.



74 3.0S (Since New!)

86 535i
This info and more can be found at:
Richard Nott's BMW Database:

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Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999

From: Richard Nott
Subject: Re: 535is springs

> Date: Sun, 21 Feb 1999

> From: "R M"
> Subject: WTB- 535is springs
> Hello,
> I'm looking for '87-88 535is springs (M-Technic) for my
> wannabe-M5 '88 535i. 
> Thanks,
> Ron

Hi Ron,

The springs fitted to the M535i are EXACTLY the same as those fitted to the
 535iS.  The M535 uses Bilsteins (really harsh on the front but okay on the rear), 
whereas the 535i uses Boge.

I used Koni Sport (Top Adjustables) on the front and Bilsteins from the M535
on the rear, using (10% firmer) M535i Springs. This is a beautiful suspension setup 
when combined with a thicker front sway bar. You won't be disappointed. The only 
other thing I'd add is a camber/toe correction bush to remove the excessive negative 
camber on the rear.  Then you can choose tires to set the ride quality.  Firm or Soft.

Contrary to many, I believe there is too much negative camber on the rear of the

E28 cars. I wonder if this is one reason why so many auto magazines criticised
their tail happy tendency in the wet. (Apparently Toyota agrees, looking at their
latest Camry rear-end setup).

The net result is a car that's firmer than the standard 535 for fast driving...

but not so much as to make it unpleasant. It is softer than an M535i which in my
opinion is way too harsh.

I've put a lot of research into the E28 M5 Suspension Setup and learnt quite a few

new things since my post to the old digest about a month back.

You can view it at:

Richard Nott's BMW Database:
and look under the Technical Section: Steering/Suspension: "Suspension Setup - E28


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Subject: E28 Stuff

Date: Mon, 25 Jan 1999
From: "Hunt, Reed (CAP, GEFA)"

Richard asks E28 535i suspension questions:

Reed, I'm glad you've had good luck with the RD springs.
I'll put em in my green book : ) What shocks do you recommend with them
and what's the ride height like?
Has anyone had the H&R or Dinan springs for a similar period
of time to know if their good in 3 years time? It would be great to find
out whose springs are good and whose are bad.

While I won't necessarily recommend one shock over another, there are

differences worth mentioning. First I should say that I have Bilstein HDs

(heavy duty) in the rear and Koni Sports in front. Why.........?

I got a great price on the Bilsteins, and, when I bought them, still wasn't

sure that I wanted to lower my car. The HDs can be used with either stock
or shorter springs IN THE REAR, and therefore made for an easy purchase.
Actually, I kind of bought the Konis for the same reason, although I DID
lower the car with the RD sport springs.

According to Koni, their struts can be used with either spring (unlike the

Bilstein Sport) so I STILL wasn't forever locked into the stiffer suspension
if I hated it (which I don't). Another plus is the fact that the Konis are
adjustable, from sort of (but not really) soft to quite stiff - supposedly
stiffer than the Bilstein Sport, but I don't have a direct comparison
I purchased the springs in part because of the price I received on them.
They were taken off another 535, with the owner complaining that they were
just too stiff. He was in the Northeast, so maybe....

He was a club member and represented them as basically new, which, upon

inspection once they arrrived in Seattle, they were. He had only had them
on his car for about 3 mos. If I had not received the price break, I
probably would have gone with the H&Rs. They have a great reputation
worldwide and they are now located (U.S.) in the Northwest to boot!

The RDs lowered my car by about 1.25" in front and a bit less in the rear,
partly because I chose the highest perch on the shock body for better tire
clearance. I like the look - aggressive but not slammed to the ground...


1985 535i


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Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999

From: Richard Nott
Subject: Re: What made M5 Handle (Part 1)

Scott, Thanks for the Stir : ) I think I can answer most of them ; ) wrote:

> Boy, Richard, trying to start a flame war while so many others are still

> going on, that's brave!
> >Snip...
> NO BMW since at least the mid-'60s has had a 65/35 weight distribution,
> that's more like what you'd find in a front wheel drive car. The E28
> chassis is very close to 50/50.

Sorry Scott, your Wrong!. To quote Autocar, 20 June 1981:...While we were

witnessing a quick run up the wind tunnel at BMW's Ismaning R and D
establishment outside Munich, a BMW engineer produced figures to show... -
distributed in a virtually unchanged 65/35 front to rear" They were comparing
it's weight distribution to the recently replaced E12 5 Series. The
distribution did not change throughout it's life, infact in a much heavier 535
with bigger engine and gearbox, it got worse. For more information on the
weight distribution and poor wet weather handling buy a copy of "BMW 5 Series
Gold Portfolio (81-87) It's a great book and a real eye opener, well worth the
read. Lots of articles on the M5, M535i, 535i, 533, 528i, Alpina B10, Hartge,
etc. Quite a few different magazine articles point out the poor 65/35 weight


In another article by Autosport, June 20, 1985 regarding the 535i and it's

tendency in the wet, for the back of the car to swing around in front of you
without warning states: "in the wet... instead of going off backwards" (like the
E12) "you find that strong understeer builds up. Lifting off under such
conditions, however, brings back the good old BMW trait - the tail comes out. I
suspect this model, like the 3 series of old, could be great fun and quite
spectacular on the track, but by the same token it is a bit hairy for the road."

In the wet the E28 can be dangerous if your unlucky enough to meet an 'unusual'

road condition. It will bite you before you know it. This tendency is made
even worse with 225/50/16 tires all round. In the wet the problem will leap out
in the most dangerous places: Over the crests of hills in the middle of a bend,
or off camber bends especially if there are one or two little bumps. And it
isn't nice progressive oversteer, it's violent oversteer without warning . See
the book above.

This is why German Firms like Alpina and Hartge fitted 205/55/16 Front and

225/50/16 in the rear, to fix this problem. Or for people wanting more grip
225/50 F, 245/45 R.

> I had a 1988 535i with Dinan Stage 3 suspension, so it was lowered and

> had more negative camber than the stock cars. When the rear broke
> loose, it did so gradually and controllably. I did not find this to be a
> problem.

Yes, the E28 is great in the dry, very predictable and controllable. I don't

think I'd like a Dinan Stage 3 though. A bit too harsh for me.

> >What can you do to make your non-M5 'Touring Car' handle great?:

> >1. Fit F/R: 205/55/16, 225/50/16 Soft Compound Tyres as done by
> >Alpina.
> Larger rear tires will decrease oversteer and increase understeer. If
> understeer is how you define "great" handling, go ahead.

It depends on whether you want a track car, or a car that can be driven 'very'

quickly and very safely under all conditions. I think BMW's M3 defines "great"
handling as slight understeer at the limit with the possibility of oversteer
with applied throttle. Mine is the same, so I'm in good company.

I think you try to play up the "understeer" theme in your email, but this is

not the case.  Basically compared to an M535, I'm softening up the front
end which gives more grip by going to a softer strut (less understeer), 
then neutralise it with firmer swaybar (more understeer).  Then on the rear,
I'm making it slightly stiffer, but then neutralise it with wider rear tyres, which 
stops the back coming out.  Net Effect: Higher Levels of Adhesion, better 
handling, but definitely safer in the wet, through higher rear adhesion.

> The Konis I've seen (here in the U.S.) are pretty darn stiff, even when

> adjusted to their softest setting.

I agree. Way too harsh if you use Koni's on sport springs. I know on a previous

528i I owned I tried this and found the Koni's way too harsh. The fix was to
have the gas let out of them with Sports Springs. But on BMW Springs 
they are simply brilliant.

> I'm not familiar with Bilstein "Comforts". I've seen 3 levels:

> Street, Heavy Duty and Sport.
> It isn't clear whether your suggestion of Comforts would

> be more like HDs or like Streets.

Yeah, different names, different markets... Sprint, Comfort, etc, etc, Semantics... 

I have one step down from the Sports. Street's I think you'd call them. They make
the back of the car firmer, the idea being to reduce understeer a little and
make it a more sporting drive, but not Rock Hard like the Sports.
Continued Part 2...


Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999
From: Richard Nott
Subject: Re: What made M5 Handle (Part 2)

Part 2. Continued....

> >9. Carry a bag of sand in the boot if your going on a fast country
> >trip, especially if it's wet - These cars are light in the back.
> With weight distribution nearly 50/50 (according to the factory published
> materials), I don't feel they are THAT light in the back. Sand bags for
> snow and ice, maybe, but not for roads that are just wet.

Snow, Ice and Driving Fast. Even for a weight distribution of 50/50

which the E28's don't have, it's a good idea. I can tell you a true
story about someone who had a sheep run out in front of them at 160km/h
(100mph). The animal rolled under the car, the car bounced from one
side of the road to the other, (This is where you either catch it or
die) he caught it and the car bounced back to the other side of the
road, where he caught it again. Try that without a couple of bags of
sand in the back...

> >#1. Fit 225/50/16 Front, 245/45/16 Rear if you like Track Events or

> >Fast Mountain Roads.

> Again, more understeer.

Well, not completely. The firmer shocks at the back tend to neutralise this a bit.

But the point is to make it a safe car to drive fast in the wet, on public roads.


> Personally, I like my car's handling to be more neutral.
> Then I can induce a little oversteer or understeer by playing with the
> throttle. This way the balance can be enjoyed. I highly recommend
> changing both the front and rear sway bars with stiffer adjustable bars.
> The adjustments are used to fine-tune the balance. Then you can set up
> a little more understeer for the track, and a little more oversteer for
> autocrosses. Neutral for the streets. A little understeer for snow and ice.

Yes, This sounds good if you use your car for other things. I prefer to

keep the rear end firmly attached because the E28 rear will come out with
no warning. On the way to work one rainy morning I saw a guy with a 5
Wrapped around a telegraph pole. It had only just happened and the pole
was pushed 1 foot into his side of the car exactly where the dashboard
met the door. Fortunately the speed limit on the road was 80km/h so he
was probably only doing 70 when he hit it. He was okay, just looking
around wondering what had happened... and wondering how the hell to get
out. I called up the Highway Patrol to find out about it because I had
a 5 and knew about it's tendency in the wet, the Officer said to me he
was just going a little quick up the hill... I've had the back of my 5
come out on me once when I had 225/50/16's all around, only doing 70km/h
at the time, but the road was damp and the bend was off camber with a

few slight bumps, just enough to unstick the back. This 'free' lesson

bought home to me just how big a problem it is in unusual conditions.
Get the book above.

> So in keeping with your "flame war" theme, I think your ideas suck!

> (Or in more friendly language, your set-ups are not for me.)
> Scott Miller
> Golden Gate Chapter

ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. : ) Don't knock it till you try it Scott. It's interesting

that the guy you sold the car too totalled it... wonder if the back came
out?.  Of course the other benefits of this setup are low cost, because
your not replacing the Springs or Rear Sway Bar, and it offers a
beautifully refined ride, just like a BMW should be: Firm for fast driving
and good control, yet compliant and refined around town. If I built
another five I'd do it exactly the same, would you?.

Thanks for your good suggestions. It sounds like a nice setup. Although

the Dinan Stage 3 would be too firm for me, especially on town roads
with lots of patched up potholes, etc. 


74 3.0S (Since New!)
86 535i

Track Setup

Date: Mon, 8 May 2000
From: "rabmw"
Subject: Re: [uuc] Which struts/springs for '91 325iC?

If you spend most of your time on the street, only occasionally doing

autocrosses, you may find the Bavauto springs, in conjunction with the shorter
piston Bilstein "sports", a very stiff daily ride.  Consider the Bilstein
HD (heavy duty) with Bavauto springs, or the "sports" with Eibach springs. A
stiffer ride than now, but shouldn't rattle your teeth.  I run

Eibach/BilsteinHD combination for my E28 and E34 cars on track, and in many

instructor's groups am not out cornered.  I also have a great road ride.  For
autocrosses, you haven't mentioned larger swaybars, which should also be
looked into.

Put the brand of wheel you have on here, the length of lug bolt you
need, and it will be easier for someone to help you with the problem.  I may
have two extra sets here for you, but don't know what fits yet.
"RA"/Bob G.
"RA" (remove EX)

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Date: Mon, 17 May 1999

From: Mark Conley
Subject: Re: ride heights

I'm running Bilstein Sports with Eibach springs. I
measure from the lower lip behind the front wheel and
in front of the back wheel. Right now I have 7" at
the front and 7 3/4" at the back.
If I go much lower
in the back, the car will bottom out (or top out) on
slow sharp bumps. The klucks went away when I got the
ride height up in the back. The car also seems to
autocross better with about 3/4" of rake.
I wasn't
happy with the predefined seat heights on the shocks
so I got threaded sleeves to go over the shock and
modified the spring seat to sit on the adjusting nut.
That allow me to dial in the ride height with my but
in the seat.

Keep in mind that the lazy eyebrow of the rear fender

will make the car look like it is squating in the rear.

The factory camber correction upper strut bearings
will give you any extra .5% of negative camber, this

will help some with understeer. Springs and sways

also help, but I don't know if you want to start down
that road.

e28's don't have a lot of suspension travel, for
street use I would stick to the stock springs.

Mark Conley
'87 535is

>>Walter wrote<<

Date: Mon, 17 May 1999
Subject: e-28 Ride Height ?s

After a month with new Bilstein HDs, I realize I've upset the rake of the

car. (1986 535i).
The rear strut cartridges were preset at the lowest of the three positions,
so I left them there. The fronts have no apparent adjustment so it's a bit
squatty towards the rear.
I measured ground to body distance just aft of the front wheel and forward
of the rear and got 8 1/4" and 8 1/2" respectively. Almost level.
For comparison, a stock 535is measured the same way came in at 8 1/2",
9 3/4" (3/4" rake).
A Dinan lowered M5 measured 7 3/4", 8 1/4" (1/2" rake).
I don't know what it should have been originally, nor optimally, in either
ground clearance or relative F/R heights. I do know it looks good in the
rear but strangely high in the front and exhibits more understeer than I would
I understand fronts have no adjustability (correct me if I'm wrong) so the
questions are:
Must I readjust the rears up to middle or upper notch and tolerate the
stock heights?
or can I replace the springs around (w/o replacing the shocks) to get the
preferred lower overall heights? I am open to any recommendations for
primarily highway use.
....or pull a Jack Money and snip a coil!

Walt Suman

1986 535i

Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2001

From: Larry Franks

Subject: [uuc] [E30] Opinions -> Bilstein Sport


We went the Bilstein/Eibach route on one of our E28's; an
'86 535i with a couple of interesting results. First, it did not
significantly lower the car. We expected half an inch or so,
but no diff. Maybe the originals were saggy? At 230K,
quite possible.

The other result is that the car now rattles itself apart. We

sold it to a local buddy, and whenever possible I like to do
what I refer to as 'post-partem care' for cars we have owned.
It now has 262K on the clock, and the current owner brought
it in with a "terrible clunk" and suspected rear bushings. Well,
all four of the nuts had parted company that secure the rear
cross-member supporting the tranny, with the result of
everything hanging loose. !!! Four squished nuts and
***locktite*** (not antiseize ) later, much improved. The
new owner had not mentioned the shifter was sloppy and
could barely find reverse, also now improved. Some cracking
to the guibo, but does not give any of the unbalanced symptoms.
Also loose was one of the sway bar links. M5 bar prolly didn't
help on that score, either.

The driving result was problematic; excellent on the track,

which was our intention, but very, very wearing on the road.
But, the 21 year-old, testosterone-rich owner does not seem
to mind.

FYI, Larry F.

Larry Franks

Issaquah, Washington

>Date: Sun, 11 Feb 2001 19:22:11 -0800

>From: Chris Baisley
>Subject: [uuc] [E30] Opinions -> Bilstein Sport shocks with Eibach Pro-Kit 
>I'm considering buying a 1990 325is that has Bilstein Sport shocks with
>Eibach Pro-Kit springs installed. The car is obviously lowered, does
>anyone know how much the above products would have lowered the car? Will I
>be etching the pavement with my oilpan with such a setup?
>It looks good, but rides hard compared to my dear departed stock 1989
>325i. Has anyone lived with this suspension? Any comments?
>Regards to all,
>1989 325i RIP
>1990 325is (maybe)

Date: Mon, 9 Oct 2000

From: Tom Childers
Subject: [uuc] re: 88 M5 of answers and thanks to those who helped.

One of Josh's questions was about suspension changes. I have Eibach 

progressive springs with Bilstein Sport shocks in my E28 M5, and I 
like it very much. The ride is pretty stiff
, but not so tight that 
long trips are tiring. The Dinan stage III suspension is much 
stiffer, and uncomfortable in my opinion.
Of course, their stage 
I/II suspension might be fine, but I have no direct experience.

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Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2001


Subject: [uuc] Re: Dinan Stage 3 Suspension


For information: on an E28, Dinan's suspension comes in these four


Stage 1 - springs and shocks

Stage 2 - Stage 1 + adjustable sway bars front and rear
Stage 3 - Stage 2 + additional front camber
Stage 4 - Stage 3 + adjustable rear sub-frame (I believe this is NLA?)

The breakdown for other BMW applications may be different. I still haven't

seen which model this was intended for...

Scott Miller

Former owner of E28 535i w/ Dinan Stage 3 suspension

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Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2001

Subject: [uuc] Re: e36 dinan stage 3 susp questions

Jay, you didn't say what car you have. There can be differences in the

Stage 3 suspension on different models.

I had a 1988 535i with Dinan's Stage 3, which included springs, Bilstein
Sport struts/shocks, adjustable sway bars at both ends, and offset upper
strut mounts for an extra half degree negative camber. The handling
improvement was phenomenal. The street ride was
still acceptable, though
very much stiffer than stock. I thought it was a well-engineered system.

After a while I broke one of the rear sway bar mounts (common if you
autocross, etc.). Dinan's shop welded in some reinforced mounts and the
problem was permanently solved.

I would do it again, if I had the money and actually wanted to spend it on

my car.


Scott Miller


>Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2001

>From: jay
>Subject: [uuc] e36 dinan stage 3 susp questions
>hey everybody...sorry for the cross post...i figure instead of mix and matching my
>suspension components, i'd just sucker out and go Dinan...what's your impressions
>of the stage 3 kit and by how much does it lower the car??? in the pix i've seen,
>it looks like the ride height didnt change, but i want the height to be a little
>lower than stock...all opinions appreciated...thanx in advance!!!

Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2001

From: "Kevin Kelly"
Subject: [uuc] Dinan Stage 3

Jay Guzman wrote:

>Hey everybody...sorry for the cross post...
>I figure instead of mix and matching my
>suspension components, i'd just sucker
>out and go Dinan...what's your impressions
>of the stage 3 kit

Have you ever driven a car with a Dinan stage 3 suspension?

Steve Dinan makes great stuff that works well together but
unless I had a car that was only driven on the track I would
get something a little more real world friendly. The stage
3 is great on the track
or on the rare (at least for me)
times whey you have a wide open twisty mountain road. The
stage 3 is not so great on city streets with pot holes
railroad tracks etc. or typically poorly maintained urban

Kevin Kelly

BMW CCA 50039
With about 10,000 miles behind the wheel of a Dinan Stage 3 E34 M5

With about 500 miles behind the wheel (and 2,000 miles in

the passenger seat) of a Dinan Stage 3 E36 328i

Other Things You Need To Know:

Best Rake Setting

Date: Mon, 07 Dec 1998
From: Jerry Chyo
Subject: Re: Bilstein rear sport shock settings help

Mark wrote:

>I have Eibach Pro-Kit springs and Bilstein Sport shocks on my e28. I
>have the rear spring seat set at the next to top ring. The spring
>doesn't compress very much on this setting and the rear of the car
>seems to set faster than I want. I'm thinking about moving the spring
>seat up to the top ring and wanted to know how everyone else has their
>rear shocks set. The rear is about a 1/8" higher than the front with
>the current settings(measured from the rocker panel behind the front
>wheel and in front of the rear wheel).


I have Sports with ST springs and mine are set at the 3rd groove from the top.
Most E28 gurus feel that a .5 - .75" rake front to back will give you the best
handling car. If you move the circlip up one groove it will raise the back
about 3/8". That with your already 1/8" rake will give you the recommended rake.
For some reason our car's don't get lowered very much up front by lowering springs
(or they don't appear to because of the big wheelwell opening).

FWIW, my car is at 7"/ft, 7.5"/rr and I like the way it handles (although for

aesthetic reasons I may lower the front another .25-.5"). I had the rears set at

the 4th groove but this made the rear feel a little too spongy. Moving the clip
up a groove compressed the spring a bit and gave me a much firmer ride.

Hope this helps.

Jerry Chyo
'88 M5
'72 tii

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Date: Mon, 17 May 1999

From: Matthew Yip
Subject: Re: ride heights

FWIS, the E28 factory spec is .75 inch rake, front to rear at the rocker

panels. With a lowered suspension, the rear DOES appear to be squatting -
IMHO, it's pretty damn agressive looking!!

Matthew Yip

Offset Front Strut Bushing

Date: Sat, 23 Jan 1999 
From: "Hunt, Reed (CAP, GEFA)"
Subject: E28 M5 wanab

Richard asks, with respect to the differences between E28 535s and M5s:

"Does anyone know what else they did to improve the handling and chassis

While not answering his question directly, I have modified my 535i a fair

amount, in a manner similar to Richard's suggestions. I agree with his
approach, although I will say that the RD springs (not RD Sport :-o ) I
have had on my car for 2.5 years are sag-free to-date.

I, too, feel that 225/50-16s in front is the way to go. I have had the

200mm TRXs, 205mm BFG Zs, and 225mm Dunlops and I like the feel of the 225s

the most, especially when tracking the car or hitting an off/on-ramp at speed.

One other modification worth mentioning is the offset front strut bushings.
These are stock BMW and can provide additional negative camber of .5
degrees. Somewhat pricier than standard, but if adding new suspension
components, probably worth it. I haven't noticed an inordinate increase in
front tire wear, either.


1985 535i

Spring Part Numbers

Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999
From: Jim Moran
Subject: Re: 535is springs


Actually, the 535is springs are different than regular 535i springs, at

least part number wise. Don't know about M535i (which is a slightly
  ( Note535is and M535i Springs are the same.  M5 Front and 535i Springs are the same.  Ed. )
different car than the 535is).  Ironically, it's the M5 that shares springs

with the 535i (though the _rear_ part numbers are different, the rates are the same).

>From a Pete Read post I archived:

E28 Front Springs

- -----------------

coil spring, all 535i and M5 31 33 1 126 024

533i from 3/83

coil spring, 528e 9/82-9/86, 31 33 1 125 726

528e bilstein from 9/86,

533i bilstein from 9/84

coil spring, 528e from 9/86, 31 33 1 126 904

533i to 3/83, 533i bilstein

coil spring, 528e bilstein up to 9/84 31 33 1 127 503

533i bilstein from 9/84

only applies to sports suspension:

coil spring, short red (535is Mtechnik) 31 33 2 225 645

coil spring, short (535is Mtechnik) 31 33 2 225 646

spring pad upper (3mm, all but short red) 31 33 1 128 523

spring pad upper (9mm, for short red) 31 33 1 128 522

spring pad lower (3mm, all) 31 33 1 124 322

E28 Front Shocks (535i/s, M5)

- ---------------------------

shock absorber-insert Boge (535i) 31 32 1 124 448

shock absorber-insert Bilstein (535i) 31 32 1 127 525

shock absorber-insert M Technik (535is) 31 32 2 225 662

shock absorber-insert Boge (M5 ) 31 31 1 133 517

absorber (not bilstein) 31 33 1 126 024

protection tube (not bilstein) 31 33 1 134 314

E28 Front Strut Housing (all)

- -----------------------------

spring strut front left 31 31 2 226 166

spring strut front right 31 31 2 226 167

E28 Rear Springs

- ----------------

coil spring, 535i up to 9/86 and bilstein 33 53 1 127 836

524td, 533i, 528e from 9/86

coil spring, 535i from 9/86 33 53 1 131 799

coil spring, short red, 535is M Technik 33 53 2 225 654

coil spring 528e bilstein 33 53 1 125 326

coil spring 528e bilstein 33 53 1 125 328

coil spring 528e 9/82 to 9/83, 33 53 1 127 849

524td and 533i bilstein

coil spring 528e 9/83 to 9/86, 33 53 1 128 708

524td and 533i bilstein

spring pad upper 33 52 1 124 507

spring pad upper (for short spring, red) 33 52 1 124 591

E28 Rear Shocks (535i/s)

- -------------------------

shock absorber rear (all but M5) 33 52 1 125 802

shock absorber rear, Bilstein (all but M5) 33 52 1 127 527

shock absorber rear, M Technik 535is 33 52 2 225 666

absorber 33 52 1 124 573

protection tube 33 52 1 124 575

E28 Rear self-leveling shocks (M5)

- ----------------------------------

shock absorber rear left (up to 2/87) 37 12 2 225 774

shock absorber rear right (up to 2/87) 37 12 2 225 775

coil spring (up to 2/87) 37 12 1 121 418

absorber (up to 2/87) 33 52 1 117 661

shock absorber rear left (from 2/87) 37 12 1 126 753

shock absorber rear right (from 2/87) 37 12 1 126 754

coil spring (from 2/87) 33 53 1 130 723

absorber (from 2/87) 33 52 2 225 023

Jim Moran

'88 M6

Spring Discussions

Date: Sat, 1 May 1999
Subject: Re: need info on E-28 springs

In a message dated 99-04-30, you write:

> I'm getting ready to install new shocks on my 87 535is and figure I might as
> well go with new springs too. I'm giving serious thought to Boge Turbo-Gas
> shocks instead of Bilsteins cause nearly all of my driving will be on the
> street. I just don't get the chance to get any driving schools in as much as
> I'd like to. As far as the springs go, I'm familar with H&R and Eibach which
> lower the car, but are there any replacement springs other than OE that
> maintain the original ride hight or close to it while offering a better
> overall handleing package? Thanks in advance.
> John Lassiter


I've had the same feelings and thought the solution *may* be to go with a set
of the H&R or Eibaich and use the thicker (9 mm) spring pads and a set of
camber plates.

It would seem that the H&R/Ebaich springs would probably lower the car 1 1/2"

so the 6mm thicker (stock is 3mm) spring pad and camber plate would maybe
bring it between 3/4" and 1" lower - not a much lower than stock, in fact I

kinda think 1 1/2'' ain't all that much...

A couple of months back a magazine did some E-28 mods and they used the Boge

turbo gas shocks with a set of Ebach springs, also I believe Beckers
recomends using Boge turbo gas shocks. One of Dinan's salesmen said (FWIW)
that they used to use Boge turbo gas shocks but they "didn't hold up" so they
stopped. I kinda think the price spread between Bilstien and Boge isn't
enough to make a decision based on but I've heard the turbo gas shocks have
the advantage of being able to self adjust and get firmer when the going gets
intense - I have no experience on the Boge shocks but Bilstiens seem to have
the vote by most people - remember in the '80s, BMW put Bilstiens on their
///M cars so you know what BMW thinks...

Best of luck,


Date: Sat, 1 May 1999

Subject: Re: e28 springs

H&R makes an OE sport spring. Only lowers the car about .25" but increases
stiffness and handling ability. I believe turner motor sports carries them.

They're URL is at the bottom of the digest.

Jeff Patch
'86 Alpine White 325es-Dinan/K&N/17"giovanna/215-40-17DunlopW10 <--- MY BIMMER SITE


Date: Thu, 7 Jan 1999 
From: Jefrem Iwaniw
Subject: Re: suspension

On Thu, 7 Jan 1999 wrote:

> You can always add swaybars after you have done camber adjustments and stiffer

> springs. Swaybars are merely a band-aid handling part. You should tune the

Matt, I'll bet you just knew somebody would object when you wrote that

band-aid sentence, didn't you? :=).

Sway bars are an integral part of a car's suspension whose primary purpose
is to help transfer load from the load-bearing corners (e.g. the right
side in a left-hand turn) to the non-load bearing corners when there is a
differential load being applied (e.g. while turning).
  ( Note:  Swaybars can be used to fine tune your suspension. 
               Eg: Stiff on Front and Soft on Rear can decrease understeer.
               See:  Suspension Fine Tuning - Handling Adjustments     Ed. )
With correct swaybars, you can get away with lower spring rates and still
have minimal (no) body roll, thereby increasing your car's suspension's
ability to do its job. Stiffer, while generally a good thing, is not
always the fastest way around a track (however, its probably safe to say
that "stiffer than stock will always be faster").

In the same way, mondo 40mm swaybars are not the answer, either. Its all
a matter of getting the right combination, for the right application,

Jefrem Iwaniw,, '72 2002, '94 525i

Keller, TX

Dinan Suspension Setups

Date: Thu, 7 Jan 1999 
Subject: Re: suspension

Jerry B. writes:

<struts/shocks, sway bars) for my E24. Since the E24 is based on the E28,

it seems this may work, but I thought I'd run it past the group. Any

experience in this area?

And while I'm at it, does anyone have experience with the Hartge setup?

I'm looking for less understeer and body roll than my current Dinan
Stage 1. The set in question reportedly came off the car at 60K miles,
and is in excellent condition. >>

Hi Jerry,

If you have the Dinan Stage I setup, all you need to decrease understeer is
some front camber plates. I would recommend the factory BMW camber
corrective mounts, they give you +/- .5 degrees. It is enough to make a
significant handling difference at the track and auto-x, but not totally destroy
the inside of your front tires. It was the best single upgrade I have done to
my E30 (haven't done it yet to either of my E12 based E24's though).

If your Dinan suspension has less than 50K on it, I would leave it alone. I

also wouldn't recommend buying a used suspension with 60k on it........unless
it was _dirt_ cheap (ie $200 tops). The only parts of that Hartge suspension
that won't be showing their age are the swaybars and even then you will want
to freshen them up with new bushings.

If you really must have less bodyroll, your ride quality is going to decrease
significantly. I would recommend H&R springs and stay with your current
shocks if they are <50k or so miles (if not, get some Bilstein sports).

You can always add swaybars after you have done camber adjustments and stiffer

springs. Swaybars are merely a band-aid handling part. You should tune the

handling with the above and if needed, tune the car with some adjustable


Good luck!

Matt Meakin
Tarheel Chapter / SCCA / ISOP
'88 325iS (club racer under construction)
'79 635CSi euro (my baby)
'79 635CSi euro (faaaaast daily driver)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Date: Fri, 08 Oct 1999 

From: Jerry Brown
Subject: Re: [uuc] Re: E24 Suspension wrote:

> I am considering installing a Dinan susp. upgrade maybe stage I, II or III.
> Anybody have any opinions on the pros and cons?

When I bought my E24, it came with the Dinan Stage I, with Konis up
front and Bilsteins out back, installed by Dinan to replace the
troublesome self-leveling system.

The spring perches on the Bilsteins were set on the middle groove,
making for a slightly nose-down attitude,
which in itself was not bad, I
suppose, but the handling and ride left a lot to be desired: loads of
understeer and a wallow at higher speeds.

However, by moving the spring perches to the lowest groove, the attitude
became nearly level, and the ride and handling improved. I added a set
of Suspension Techniques adjustable sway bars, a strut tower brace and
KMAC camber plates; with some tweaking between sway bar settings and
shock stiffness on the Konis, I have what most consider to be a pretty
neutral setup.

This works quite well for me, since with my staggered street tires
(235/45-17, front; 255/40-17 rear) I get a slight amount of understeer,

but with my 245/45-16 R tires that neutral handling is much appreciated

for autocrossing. I can tell you I fear very few cars in the twistys.

Dinan says the spring rates are 164/220, front/rear, making for a very

pleasant ride (atleast to this former Corvette owner); I'd actually
prefer it a little stiffer, especially the front. It is my understanding
that all Dinan stages use the same springs but add other components.

The KMACs are set at full negative camber, and I see no unusual wear

after 1000 miles or so, but I have been known to drive Highway 9 with
some spirit on occasion, which probably helps in evening the wear. The
rears have worn the inside shoulder in the past; I hope to cure this
with adjustable bushings that will let me adjust out some of the toe-in
due to the lowering.

FWIW, if I were doing it from scratch, I wouldn't be inclined to go the

Dinan route, primarily because of cost. For example, the Suspension
Techniques sways were substantially less than half what Dinan wanted for
theirs (they are the same diameter). This is not a slam on Dinan: I'd be
the first to admit I'm not in their target market group - it's not their
fault! :^)

Good luck,


_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Date: 28 Jan 99

Subject: Re: Re: M5 Suspension & Springs (wanab)

Hi Richard, I used to have a 1988 535i with a Dinan Stage 3 suspension

(springs, Bilstein shocks, offset upper strut bearings for more neg
camber, adjustable f and r sway bars). After about 4 years I sold the

car to a friend, who's son totalled it about 6 months later. Up until the

crash, the springs were fine, not sagging, still doing their job.

I have driven an E28 M5 which had had a Dinan Stage 2 suspension

(same springs and shocks). I could not detect any suspension problems,
although I had no experience with this car prior for comparison.
Actually, it felt a lot like my 535i, but with a lot more power.

Hope this helps,

Scott Miller
Golden Gate Chapter
BMW CCA #44977


>Date: Sun, 24 Jan 1999 
>From: Richard Nott
>Subject: Re: M5 Suspension & Springs (wanab)

>Has anyone had the H&R or Dinan springs for a similar period of time
>to know if their good in 3 years time? It would be great to find out
>whose springs are good and whose are bad.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Date: Sat, 09 Oct 1999 

From: Erick Baumeister
Subject: Re: [uuc] Re: E24 Suspension

A few years back, I was in the same quandry. I was going to go Dinan

Stage 2, but found out the front springs are different for Stages 3 & 4.  
This is not true on all models, I know it to be true for the E24/E28.
The front springs are a little shorter on 3 &4 to accommodate the
camber plates. The difference between 2 & 3 is very noticible, Stage 4
is barely discernable on the street from what I've heard. 

If you're going to drive this car on the street by all means get the

Dinan setup. 
The R&D that went into developing the setup for this chassis is
Passengers don't really notice the firmer ride but they do notice that
the car doesn't lean hardly at all in the corners! Very easy to "set"
Now if it were an E30 or E36 you could put together a good setup
yourself. But for the E25/E28 Dinan is the best of both worlds.

Erick Baumeister

'88 535iA Stage 3

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Date: Fri, 8 Oct 1999 

From: "Rob Levinson - UUC Motorwerks"
Subject: Re: [uuc] Re: E24 Suspension 

I can't vouch for Stage I, II, or III... but I can tell you that Stage IV on
my E28 M5 is incredible! It doesn't feel like one of those horribly harsh
that crashes and clanks over every expansion joint. The ride
feels very much like a stock suspension, but there's extremely little lean
or body roll. I'm able to put the M5 through tight sweepers just as fast or
faster than my Miata with Konis.

If anybody is familiar with the Garden State Parkway south exit 130 (to the

NJ Turnpike), I routinely come out from under the overpass in the middle of
the left-hand sweeper at 70mph, and that's without trying.

I'd say if you're going to do it, do it "full boat" with Stage IV.

- - Rob Levinson
'88 M5 Dinan Turbo

> From:

> Subject: [uuc] Re: E24 Suspension

> I am considering installing a Dinan susp. upgrade maybe stage I, II or III.
> Anybody have any opinions on the pros and cons?

Toe-In Setting

Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2000
From: "Gary Derian"
Subject: Re: [uuc] M5 vs 535i alignment

Actually, any tire that was not an original fitment may benefit by adjusting

the alignment settings. I can't tell you what works best without having
tested the exact combination of tire, wheel, inflation and suspension
condition. Toe-in is easy to adjust and should be set based on driving
feel, but keep an eye on the actual setting so you don't get too far off.
Rear toe is as important or more so than front. Start with the factory
specs, if you are not satisfied, try a bit more or less.

Personally, I think BMW specs too much toe. The tire wear is reduced with 1

or 2 mm total toe rather than the 3 to 4 that is specified. That works for
me but you have to decide for yourself what works for you.

On my car I started with zero toe at each end. The car wandered noticeably.

I added 1mm toe in at both the front and rear and the car tracked very well.
When I changed the front springs, the toe went back to zero and the
wandering returned. I have not finished making the adjustments.

This empirical method of alignment setting almost requires that you do your

own alignments. Its the only way to get it really right.

Gary Derian

> I have an '85 535i with 16" wheels and 225/50-16 tires (kuhmo).

> In general the car drives great, but it does tend to wander around the lane

> a bit when there is a lot of crown, ruts, a seam or ledge in the pavement,
> or some other imperfection.
> I have replaced the control arm bushings with the modified 750 version - new
> arms too. The idler arm seems OK tool. The car has 180k miles, but there's
> not a lot of slop in the steering.
> I think the 225/50-16 is the factory spec tire size for the M5. Does the
> alignment need to be tweaked when making a significant change to tire
> characteristics?. Are the alignment specs different for the M5 than for the
> 535i?
> Karl Zemlin
> zemlin@es
> BMWCCA 82366
> Indianapolis

> '85 535i 5 spd, 173,000 miles

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