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      03-19-2012, 03:44 PM   #1
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Quick xi Suspension Review - Bilstein + Eibach

I had my 50k mile OE suspension replaced last Friday (2008 335xi), and I thought I'd post up some comments on my new setup. I went with the Bilstein Sport Shocks/Struts + Eibach Prokit Springs based on the reviews here.

The goal was a sportier daily driver setup than OE that left the car much flatter in hard cornering and heavy braking situations, but was not overly stiff on typical Boston roads including potholes and freeze joints. I wanted the car lowered, as the xi's rake is too much for me aesthetically, and generally the car sits too high for a sport coupe. Alternatively, I did not want the "slammed" look, as I'm a professional and use the car for work, and am regularly seen in road meetings with public officials, consultants and financial partners. I also did not want to be constantly scraping on my driveway entrance and other hilly areas I frequent.

Essentially, I wanted the Goldilocks solution to modifying the xi's suspension. Lower, better performing in all areas, but not too much lower, and still comfortable enough to drive my wife around.

The verdict is simply that I think I got exactly what I wanted and hoped for. While the car hasn't completely settled, the stance is much lower and more even front to back (though there is still a small amount of rake). When driving, the car is very flat at speed on ramps and in twisties, and has a much more precise turn in and feel. On the highway, the floatiness and vagueness is gone at speed, and braking is dramatically flatter in stance, and more balanced and controlled.

With that said, I did some good driving this weekend to the south shore, and mixed in some good back road driving on hilly twisties and highway driving as well. My wife joined me, which is relevant if you're married, as I'd say the car definitely has a high WAF. Overall, I'm very, very pleased with the setup. My only two negatives at this point are that the rake wasn't completely removed (I'm not terribly bothered by this, as the improvement is so substantial, but there's a 0.25" rake left I think), and secondly that I already can tell I need an alignment. I did have some tracking issues during certain speeds on hard corners, and occassionally on different pavement types on the highway. I'll probably get the alignment done later this week when the settlment is most of the way completed.

Here's a quick crappy before and after. Apologies, as this was just a quick cell phone shot, but I think it's illustrative. The before shot includes my winter setup just after I purchased the vehicle in early 2008 (18" Star spoke 189s w/ Nokian rubber) and the after shot is my summer setup - 19" VMR CSL reps with Yokohama S Drives.
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Last edited by AWD Addict; 03-19-2012 at 04:12 PM.
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      03-19-2012, 03:59 PM   #2
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why is the need to get an alignment a negative?
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      03-19-2012, 04:02 PM   #3
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Just a negative point of the driving experience. The ride would have been even nicer and more fun had the car been properly aligned.

Fair challenge. Maybe rating it as a negative wasn't fair. I'll definitely report back once the alignment is done and confirm that was the issue.

Here's another non-comparo shot.
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Last edited by AWD Addict; 03-19-2012 at 04:11 PM.
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      03-19-2012, 07:21 PM   #4
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Reviews like this are helpful but you'll have a lot more insight a month or two down the road. The problem I had writing a review immediately after installing my suspension is I was still really excited about having a lowered car and it clouded my judgement of the suspension's actual performance. The real test will be if you're still pleased with it two months down the road. Hopefully the "i" specific springs hold up well for you.
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      03-19-2012, 11:51 PM   #5
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How much did it lower the ehicle front and rear?
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      03-20-2012, 09:27 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MassBimmer View Post
Reviews like this are helpful but you'll have a lot more insight a month or two down the road. The problem I had writing a review immediately after installing my suspension is I was still really excited about having a lowered car and it clouded my judgement of the suspension's actual performance. The real test will be if you're still pleased with it two months down the road. Hopefully the "i" specific springs hold up well for you.
Were you disapointed with the setup after 60 days? Right now, I'm attributing some of the negatives to the alignment (occasional squirrelly feel, tracking, etc.) Hopefully you're not speaking to a degradation in dampening and stability.
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      03-20-2012, 11:10 AM   #7
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I have been running the same setup as you since May 2011 and have zero complaints. The ride quality is great and have noticed no degradation at all. I am running 19" staggered setup with Hankook tires and the cornering is great. Overall I am very pleased with the setup. I did wait two weeks before getting an alignment to let everything settle.
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      03-20-2012, 01:20 PM   #8
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Thanks Amused!

I want to get the alignment now. Can't imagine it'll settle much more, and I can tell the handling is comprimised.

Would love to hear from MassBimmer on his longer term experience.
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      03-20-2012, 02:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AWD Addict View Post
Were you disapointed with the setup after 60 days? Right now, I'm attributing some of the negatives to the alignment (occasional squirrelly feel, tracking, etc.) Hopefully you're not speaking to a degradation in dampening and stability.
Absolutely. Of course I went only with H&R Sport Springs the first time. Was so happy my car was lowered that I ignored the terrible ride quality. As the "
newness" of my suspension wore off, I slowly came to realize that I hated it. After that, I swapped out my stock dampers for Bilstein Sports. It's definitely better now but you'll notice that small things will begin to bug you weeks after the honeymoon period has worn off. People who tell you there aren't trade offs to lowering your car are blowing smoke...aesthetically it looks awesome but there are absolutely sacrifices to ride quality and comfort.
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      03-20-2012, 02:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MassBimmer View Post
Absolutely. Of course I went only with H&R Sport Springs the first time. Was so happy my car was lowered that I ignored the terrible ride quality. As the "
newness" of my suspension wore off, I slowly came to realize that I hated it. After that, I swapped out my stock dampers for Bilstein Sports. It's definitely better now but you'll notice that small things will begin to bug you weeks after the honeymoon period has worn off. People who tell you there aren't trade offs to lowering your car are blowing smoke...aesthetically it looks awesome but there are absolutely sacrifices to ride quality and comfort.
I'm sorry, I'm having a little trouble following you. After you matched up the springs with the bilsteins, it's much improved (as I would expect) compared to stock struts and aftermarket springs, but you were still unhappy a month down the road? What were the small things that bugged you? What were your sacrifices? When you say ride quality was reduced, do you mean from a performance standpoint, or the fact that you feel bumps in the road more? For me personally, I wasn't ever disillusioned that I'd not have a bit of a stiffer ride, as I've been on aftermarket suspensions before. I'm actually kind of surprised how minor the increase in stiffness is so far.

For the record, I think it's pretty well established that going with springs on stock struts is defintely going to degrade performance, and like the life of the stock struts. As mentioned above, I did the bilstein sports, which are designed for a lower spring (as opposed to the bilstein HDs) with my springs.

I don't deny I'm on a "honeymoon" of sorts, but I upgraded this suspension for performance and ride quality first, and looks second. Based on that goal, so far (4 days), I feel like I got what I bargained for, but I'd love to know more about what bugged you after the newness wore off

Last edited by AWD Addict; 03-20-2012 at 02:55 PM.
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      03-20-2012, 03:46 PM   #11
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Yeah, I guess I'm coming from a different place as this is my first aftermarket sport suspension and I wasn't sure what to expect. I feel right now that the ride quality I have with H&R Sport and Bilstein Sport (ride quality mostly meaning comfort and ability to handle imperfections in the road) is a further drop from stock than I anticipated (issues with runflats aside). Maybe it's because the Bilsteins characteristically ride harsher than most aftermarket shocks. I've considered switching to Konis but I'm not sure yet. The handling is markedly improved so I have no complaints about that - just wish the set up was a little more compliant is all.
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      03-20-2012, 04:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MassBimmer View Post
Yeah, I guess I'm coming from a different place as this is my first aftermarket sport suspension and I wasn't sure what to expect. I feel right now that the ride quality I have with H&R Sport and Bilstein Sport (ride quality mostly meaning comfort and ability to handle imperfections in the road) is a further drop from stock than I anticipated (issues with runflats aside). Maybe it's because the Bilsteins characteristically ride harsher than most aftermarket shocks. I've considered switching to Konis but I'm not sure yet. The handling is markedly improved so I have no complaints about that - just wish the set up was a little more compliant is all.
Okay, glad to hear that it's not just me. A couple of months into similar mod Eibachs plus Bilstein HD's, (you responded to another post of mine on the subject) I'm having the same reservations. Seems like too much compression damping and not enough rebound damping. Handling is great- ride quality did suffer. Wondering about Koni as well, but I've heard that they are actually a bit stiffer than bilstein ?
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      03-20-2012, 04:55 PM   #13
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Interesting MassBimmer, I think more of your problem is H&R related than bilstein related. Most people claim the H&R are stiffer than the Eibach, which is a big part of the reason I stayed away from them.

If I remember correctly, someone described the H&R race as "welded to the frame," with the Sports being more compliant, and hte Eibach being the softest.

As for you black 335xi, you've mis-matched the struts with springs against the manufacturer's suggestion. I think you're fooling yourself comparing it to MassBimmer's situation. Your problem is pairing incorrect parts, and the solution is simply to follow the directions provided by bilstein.

Last edited by AWD Addict; 03-20-2012 at 05:09 PM.
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      03-20-2012, 05:13 PM   #14
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As for you black 335xi, you've mis-matched the struts with springs against the manufacturer's suggestion. I think you're fooling yourself comparing it to MassBimmer's situation.[/quote]

Yeah, well I was thinking that at first, but there are numerous others running the same combo with 0 complaints. I think it's more my perceptions and/or expectations. I made a call out to Bilstein in CA, and the tech rep out there said that there should be no problem running the HDs with such a minimal drop. For a detailed explanation of why, look at a follow up to my original post on the subject in this section. Essentially, Identical valving with both, which is constant throughout the stroke of the shaft/piston. (i.e. not position dependent was how he put it) In fact, he told me that I might even find the sports feel a bit stiffer, simply due to the 1/2 shorter shaft.

Also, it's worth noting that both of us are running springs that aren't even rated for the xi--if you really want to talk about "mfg. recommendations" right?

So, I don't know- either try Koni's or move to coilovers I guess.

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      03-20-2012, 08:02 PM   #15
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OP - did you ever consider going with coilovers? What made you go with a shock/spring combo over coils? I'm debating what setup I want to go with and I'm leaning towards TC Kline coilovers for the adjustability benefit.
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      03-20-2012, 11:05 PM   #16
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I rode in a 335xi with Bilstein sport shocks/struts with H&R springs and the ride was horrible. You could feel every little bump in the road and if you rode in the back seat your head would be bounce off the roof going over bumps or down a wavy road. The Eibach Pro Spring set up, even though they are not for the xi, is far superior for ride quality.


Last edited by Amused; 03-20-2012 at 11:19 PM.
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      03-21-2012, 07:36 AM   #17
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OP - did you ever consider going with coilovers? What made you go with a shock/spring combo over coils? I'm debating what setup I want to go with and I'm leaning towards TC Kline coilovers for the adjustability benefit.
No. Coilovers would be too extreme for my daily driving needs, and given my winter driving conditions, weren't going to be worth the trouble like corroding components.
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      03-21-2012, 07:44 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by black 335xi View Post
Yeah, well I was thinking that at first, but there are numerous others running the same combo with 0 complaints. I think it's more my perceptions and/or expectations. I made a call out to Bilstein in CA, and the tech rep out there said that there should be no problem running the HDs with such a minimal drop. For a detailed explanation of why, look at a follow up to my original post on the subject in this section. Essentially, Identical valving with both, which is constant throughout the stroke of the shaft/piston. (i.e. not position dependent was how he put it) In fact, he told me that I might even find the sports feel a bit stiffer, simply due to the 1/2 shorter shaft.

Also, it's worth noting that both of us are running springs that aren't even rated for the xi--if you really want to talk about "mfg. recommendations" right?

So, I don't know- either try Koni's or move to coilovers I guess.
I haven't seen numerous others riding on HDs with lowering springs. The only other person doing it that I've seen had the same complaints you did.

http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=660404

I'm not sure who you spoke with, but I'm doubtful the "minor differences in valving" he talked about obviates the clear intent of Bilstein to engineer one product for a lowering spring, and one for a stock ride height spring. The website is pretty darned clear about the products being specific (B6 for stock height, B8 for lowered). 1.25" is a lot of travel distance for a shock absorber piston to not matter.

http://www.bilsteinus.com/products/p...enger-car.html

And no, I'm not against any mfg recommendations. I bought the struts designed for a lowering spring. They don't specify spring rates, only the lowering and assumption for a stiffer spring rates, which is what I have. That's a lot different than buying the wrong parts.

You can deny that using the wrong product and getting bad results are related, but I think it's pretty obvious they are. I know it's not what you want to hear, but I'm not sure what else to tell you. Pair up the products correctly, and my guess is you'll have a better experience, one much closer to all the other reviews that properly matched up the bilstein sports and eibachs.

Last edited by AWD Addict; 03-21-2012 at 07:54 AM.
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      03-21-2012, 10:48 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by black 335xi View Post
Okay, glad to hear that it's not just me. A couple of months into similar mod Eibachs plus Bilstein HD's, (you responded to another post of mine on the subject) I'm having the same reservations. Seems like too much compression damping and not enough rebound damping. Handling is great- ride quality did suffer. Wondering about Koni as well, but I've heard that they are actually a bit stiffer than bilstein ?
I've actually heard the opposite, that Bilstein Sport is one of the stiffest riding dampers on the market and that Koni is considerably softer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AWD Addict View Post
Interesting MassBimmer, I think more of your problem is H&R related than bilstein related. Most people claim the H&R are stiffer than the Eibach, which is a big part of the reason I stayed away from them.

If I remember correctly, someone described the H&R race as "welded to the frame," with the Sports being more compliant, and hte Eibach being the softest.
Very well could be. I'm anal when it comes to make sure products were made specifically for my vehicle though, which is why I went with H&R and not Eibach.
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      03-21-2012, 10:52 AM   #20
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Thanks for chiming in MassBimmer. I'll definitely post up after the honeymoon is over to round out the review. I think that's a good idea. Hopefully, I'll still be happy!
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      03-22-2012, 10:29 AM   #21
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I have the bilstein and eibach for about a your now and still love it. Did also add upgrades sway bars front and rear and M2 rear subframe bushings.
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      03-22-2012, 12:21 PM   #22
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Do you have a review of the swaybars and bushings? I was thinking about doing those as well.
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