Who doesn’t love a good E90? Especially nowadays when you can pick one up for a tenth of what they cost ten years ago, they have become one of the go-to, budget-friendly 3-Series. Throughout the E9X model range, BMW introduced some of their most popular models of the 2000s and 2010s. The E9X 335i, E9X M3, and many of the lower tier E90/E92 models helped push the boundaries of the 3-Series formula to new heights.
While the E90, E91, E92, and E93 were all fantastic-looking cars as soon as they rolled off of the assembly line, they lack a bit of character in the modern world. In most people’s eyes, the E90/E92 blends in with the surroundings in most cases, drawing no eyes and grabbing no attention. With that being said, that problem is an easy one to fix with a few simple modifications. One of the most standout modifications is a set of new E90 wheels.
Due to the fact that the E9X chassis makes use of a 5×120 bolt pattern, there are tons of wheel choices available. That stands for both OEM and aftermarket options. Additionally, the wheel arches of the E9X chassis can also accommodate a decent range of wheel sizes, ranging from 16 – 20 inches in most cases. Obviously, a large part of wheel selection is also based on your E9X suspension setup as well.
In this guide, we’ll cover some of the most common E90 and E92 wheel setups, including both square and staggered setups, and also provide some suggestions for our favorite wheel choices for the E9X chassis.
E90 Wheels – Considerations
Before pulling the trigger on the shiniest and best-looking wheels for your E90, you’ll need to think about a few things first. Outside of making sure that the wheels are the right diameter for your BMW E9X, you’ll also need to consider some other factors including offset, wheel weight, build quality, tire choice, and price. It is important to consider all of these factors beforehand to prevent the dreaded situation where you have to return the wheels that you have been waiting on patiently for weeks.
In the next few sections, we’ll break down some of those considerations in slightly more detail.
E90 Wheels – Sizing
Unquestionably the most important part of purchasing new wheels for your E90 is ensuring that they’ll, you know, actually fit. That sounds like a no-brainer, right? Well, there’s actually quite a bit to consider when looking for the right size wheels for your E90. Of course, wheel diameter is the first dimension that most BMW owners think of.
Typically, E90s, E92s, and E93s can fit wheels with diameters between 16” and 20” fairly comfortably. Of course, those numbers aren’t set in stone, especially if you are running an aggressive suspension setup. Width is also a very important dimension to pay attention too as well, as wheels that are too wide can also cause your tires to rub on the inside of your fenders. 8.5″-10” wheels are the most common sizes that are usually run on the E9X chassis. Additionally, offset is also vital to consider, as an E90 wheel choice with an incorrect offset can cause issues with brake clearance and suspension clearance.
When purchasing wheels for your E9X chassis, you’ll also have to keep in mind that BMW changed the track width between early model and LCI versions of the E90/E92 sedans and wagons. As a result, rear wheel clearance was decreased by 8mm between the generations, necessitating a smaller wheel size. The cut-off point between the generations was 08/2008. Any E9X chassis manufactured before that point has slightly more wheel clearance than those made after 09/2008.
E90 Wheels – Weight
Weight is also another important characteristic. Typically, this doesn’t matter so much if you don’t do any performance driving. With that being said, even a casual driver can recognize the performance enhancement from lighter wheels. Because wheels count as both rotational and unsprung weight, reducing their weight can have some of the most dramatic effects.
The benefits of lighter wheels come from improved handling characteristics, faster braking, and marginally better gas mileage. The lighter the wheels the better. Once again, it might not be the reason that the majority of enthusiasts choose to swap wheels, but it is another important reason.
E90 Staggered vs Square Setups
There are also a few options when it comes to what kind of wheel and tire setup you choose to run. Breaking down your two options, you can either run a “square” or “staggered” setup on your E90/E92. There are both performance and practical differences between the two options, with one being better for aggressive performance driving and the other being the superior option for practicality and daily driving.
Starting with E90 square setups, that is when the wheels are the same width and diameter on both the front and the rear of the car. The primary advantage of a square E90 wheel setup is slower and more even tire wear. As all four corners of your E90 are making equal contact with the ground, they’ll wear evenly. Additionally, with a square setup, you’ll also be able to rotate your tires from side to side, as well as front to rear; that’s something that you aren’t able to do with a staggered setup. It is possible to run an aggressive square setup to provide good on-track grip, but E90 staggered setups tend to perform better on the track.
By contrast, staggered E90 wheel setups tend to maximize both front and rear tire grip at the sacrifice of tire life. Since the front and rear tires are making unequal contact with the pavement with a staggered E90 setup, the front and rear tires tend to wear unevenly. As a result, you’ll have to replace tires more frequently than you would with a square setup. You also won’t have the benefit of being able to rotate your tires from front to rear due to the difference in wheel and tire size.
E90 Wheel Build Quality
Just like anything else that you’d purchase, you should make sure that the E90 wheels that you are interested in are high quality and built by a reputable manufacturer. When you opt for the cheap E90 wheel route, you open yourself up to all kinds of potential problems.
Most significantly, if the wheels that you purchase turn out to be made of inferior materials or with an unfavorable production method, they have a much larger chance of bending or cracking. If one of your wheels does end up cracking, you’ll not only be looking at a new wheel but potentially new suspension components as well. It’s better to skip that headache entirely and just get a quality product to begin with.
Obviously, you can’t go wrong with an OEM BMW wheel option that is guaranteed to be quality. Other reputable BMW wheel manufacturers include BBS, Apex, Advan, and Work wheels. We’ll go over some of the reputable brands and their most popular E90 wheel options in a later section.
Common E9X Wheel and Tire Setups
Now that we’ve covered the basics of what you should look for in a quality set of wheels, we’ll move on to some of the most popular wheel and tire setups for an E90 /E92. While this list is a good starting point as a reference point, the right setup for you is entirely dependent on your build. That is especially true if you have E9X coilovers or lowering springs.
The following setups are based on an E90 with stock suspension. Some of the following setups will also require additional modifications to your E9X chassis in order for the wheels to fit properly.
Direct Fit E90 Square Wheel Setups
- Front & Rear: 18×8.5″ ET35 or ET38 with 235/40-18 tires
- Front & Rear: 19×8.5″ ET35 with 235/35-19 tires
- Front & Rear: 19×9″ ET28 or ET30 with 245/35-19 tires
Aggressive E90 Square Setups
- Front & Rear: 17×9″ ET30 with 245/40-17 tires
- Front & Rear: 18×9″ ET30 or ET31 with 255/35-18 tires
Popular E90 Staggered Wheel Setups
- Front: 18×9″ ET30 or ET31 with 235/40-18 tires
Rear: 18×9.5″ ET22 with 255/35-18 tires
- Front: 18×9″ ET30 or ET31 (EC-7) with 245/40-18 tires
Rear: 18×10″ ET33 with 275/35-18 tires
Our Suggestions For The Best E90 Wheels
E90 wheels come in a variety of styles from a vast number of manufacturers. At the end of the day, choosing the right E90 wheels for you truly does boil down to a combination of personal taste and desired function. If you are looking for E90 wheels that will improve the handling and performance of your BMW, lighter wheels are generally the way to go. If aesthetics are your main concern, build quality and overall design might carry a bit more weight.
Either way, in the list below we cover a bit of everything. Some wheels like the Apex ARC-8 and BBS CH are performance-focused wheels, while the OEM wheels listed below lean more towards aesthetics and visual appeal.
1) Apex ARC-8 E90 Wheels
Price: $412.00 – $665.00 per wheel
Purchase Here: apexraceparts.com
Apex is a wheel manufacturer that has firmly established their place in the BMW aftermarket wheel market. While they manufacture wheels for more than just BMWs, they have a very good reputation in the BMW community on chassis ranging from the E30 to the G80. Apex offers both flow-formed and forged wheels for the E90 and E92 with the forged options being slightly more expensive.
The Apex ARC-8 is one of Apex’s best-selling wheel styles and it isn’t hard to see why. The design in truly classic and works well on practically any BMW chassis. The split-spoke design compliments the E9X chassis very well, adding some visual intrigue to the lower part of your 3-Series.
For direct fitment on the E90/E92, Apex offers the ARC-8 in both 17” and 18” diameters and in widths ranging from 9.0” to 10.5” on Pre-LCI models. Options are slightly stripped back for LCI E9X models, retaining both 17” and 18” diameters but only 9” and 9.5” width options. While Apex does offer some flow-formed E90/E92 wheels, the ARC-8 is only available in forged form.
2) BBS CH / BBS CH-R E90 Wheels
Price: $3,060.00 – set of four
Purchase Here: turnermotorsport.com
BBS needs no introduction as one of the most premium wheel manufacturers in the world. BBS has been a part of BMW history, as well as racing history as a whole, for nearly a half-century. They have been responsible for some of BMW’s most famous wheel designs and wheel production. As a result, they truly know what they are doing. Nearly every BBS model looks fantastic on nearly every BMW chassis, so you truly can’t go wrong.
While BBS is famous for their multi-piece, basketweave design, they also produce some very attractive and lightweight single-piece wheels as well. The BBS CH and CH-R are perfect examples of that. The BBS CH and CH-R are designed to emulate some of BBS’s most popular performance motorsport wheels yet at a lower price point.
A big reason for their lower cost is their cast construction as opposed to a forged construction. With that being said, they are still exceedingly strong and quality wheels. The BBS CH features a slightly less concave design, while the CH-R is slightly more aggressive.
Both the BBS CH and BBS CH-R are available in either 18” through 20” diameters with the 19” option being the most popular choice for E90 and E92 applications. They are available in widths ranging from 8” to 12.” Both wheels are available in silver, black, and gunmetal finishes allowing for some additional individualization.
3) BMW Style 219 E90 Wheels
Price: $1,500 – $2,000
Purchase Here: N/A
In my humble opinion, the OEM BMW Style 219 wheels are some of the best-looking wheels that BMW has ever put out. Style 219s originally came on the E90 M3 as the standard wheel option. The split 10-spoke design is a classic look, tailor-made to accommodate the body lines and overall figure of the E9X chassis.
Style 219s came in a single color from the factory, gunmetal gray. They also came in a single size as an 18”x18.5” and 18”x9.5” staggered set. That can make them a bit tricky to fit on LCI E90 and E92s. They will work on pre-LCI E90s with light rubbing in the rear and LCI E90s with a rear fender roll. They’ll also fit E92 models with a rear fender roll as well.
You’ll also have to pick your tires carefully with a smaller sidewall being preferable to clear up a little more space. For a factory product, Style 219 wheels are somewhat light at 27 lbs. That is due to the fact that the wheels are made entirely from aluminum alloy, providing both great strength and a light overall weight.
Due to the fact that the Style 219 is no longer available for purchase by BMW directly, it can be a difficult set to get your hands on. While there isn’t a consistent supplier of the wheel online, there are often sets floating around popular BMW forums. They also spring up from time to time on craigslist and eBay, so if you are looking for a set, those sites are likely your best bet.
4) BMW Style 95 E90 Wheels
Purchase Here: ecstuning.com
Sticking with another BMW OEM option, the Style 95 is one of the most popular wheel shapes ever released by BMW. As more of a sophisticated and luxury-focused design, the Style 95 is a departure from most of the other performance-aiming designs on this list. Due to the fact that sportiness wasn’t high on BMW’s priority list with the Style 95 wheel design, they are heavy, weighing in at 32 lbs in the front and 36 lbs in the rear. While they might not be the look for everyone, those who love Style 95 wheels love them passionately.
While Style 95 wheels are very popular, they were surprisingly only available on a single BMW model, the E65 7-Series. Like the Style 219s, Style 95s only came in a single-size set. Style 95s were only available in 19”x9” front and 19” x 10” rear sizes, limiting fitment somewhat.
With that being said, Style 95s do fit on both LCI and pre-LCI E90s and E92s. Like the Style 219s, you’ll need to roll your rear fenders to accommodate the large wheels. Tire selection is important, yet again, as a large sidewall will cause Style 95s to rub on the inside of your wheel wells and potentially against suspension components as well.
As with many other older OEM BMW wheels, Style 95s offered by a BMW parts supplier are astronomically expensive. Genuine new 19” Style 95s can fetch $650 per wheel from some suppliers. For that reason, it makes much more financial sense to source them from a second-hand supplier. While there isn’t a reliable and consistent source, BMW forums and second-hand sites like Craigslist and eBay often have sets for sale.
Best BMW E9X Wheels Summary
Choosing new wheels for your BMW E9X can be one of the most reading modifications that you can do, both from a performance and aesthetic standpoint. While it might be tempting to roll with the best-looking wheels that you can find, it is important to consider build quality, weight, and sizing. Sizing is obviously the most essential part of the equation, as having wheels that rub is not only extremely annoying but can also do damage to your suspension components and fenders.
There are plenty of options available if you are looking for performance-oriented E90 wheels or wheels that will simply make your E9X stand out in the crowd.
If you enjoyed this post and are looking for more E90 content, check out our E90 E92 Suspension Upgrade Guide which goes hand in hand with this one. As always, safe driving!