The electric BMW i3 has peculiarly narrow, yet tall 19 and 20 inch wheels. Being that it’s a BMW and thus German, this is of course for a very specific reason. The reason is two-fold and involves a very energy efficient design that lends patent BMW handling despite the very narrow tire. Though the efficient design called for a crazy narrow 5 and 5.5” width, the tall wheel design adds to the overall contact patch preserving that BMWness of the i3’s handling.
Now comes the tricky part. If you are interested in an extra set of wheels for your BMW i3 as I was for our long term i3’s snow tires, the options are extremely limited because of 5 or 5.5” width wheel. Once I realized that ordering a set of OEM i3 wheels from the dealer would run in excess of $1800 without TPMS, tax or even center caps, I went to my go-to source for info on what wheels fit on any given car in the aftermarket, TireRack.
If one searches TireRack for what’s available for the BMW i3, you find one option the RIAL X10-I. At least you do get two different finish options silver and black. Desperate times call for desperate measures as I was not paying $1,800 for a set of OEM wheels, so I ordered up a set of RIAL X10-I 19×5 from Tire Rack. They were a very reasonable $239 a piece as it’s hard to find a decent after market wheel in any size for less than $200.
I added four TPMS sensors from TireRack at $80 each to the wheels. This is so I wouldn’t get the constant warning lights on the dash of the i3 that all the tires were flat, not to mention that these can actually communicate the actual PSI of the tire too. The total with shipping was $1,354.20, at least $800 ahead of OEMs. If you are smarter than me, you can order the tires with the wheels and TireRack will mount them at no additional charge.
I must admit that this is the first time I’ve ever bought wheels solely on the price and wished for more choices. Having said that, once I unboxed these wheels and realized they were made in Germany instead of China, I perked up. The weight of the wheel wasn’t bad either at just 22 lbs each. I elected to go with the black finish because, well, they look bad ass on the Solar Orange i3 of ours. Being as they were painted wheels, I was worried they might get scratched easily when the winter tires were installed or during their use during the winter. Nope. No scratches even where the lug nuts go. The finish has remained perfect.
If I had it to do over again, even if there were more choices, I would still order the RIALs. They are a quality product and as they are a square set up (all four the same size), I can rotate my snow tires easily front to back and on and off the i3 as weather dictates.