You’re seemingly stuck with your 18-inch rims, Steve, which doesn’t exactly help the ride quality or the road noise. (I went back and asked Steve what size his tyres were, and discovered that they were 225/45/18.) BMW themselves were reluctant to give me a response on the question of the desirability and safety of fitting conventional tyres, but I can assure you that they have admitted previously that the change proposed is quite possible. BMW promote run-flat technology because of its advantages for driver comfort and safety. They say that when run-flats are fitted as original equipment, then the vehicle’s braking and suspension are set up accordingly, so changing to conventional tyres may affect the handling characteristics of your car. However, they do say it is quite possible to fit conventional tyres.
In many countries the whole concept of run-flat tyres has been largely rejected by the market, with the result that in many European markets conventional tyres are standard fitting on models and wheel designs that come with obligatory run-flats in the UK. Even BMW UK have been softening their attitude (and their ride comfort!) in recent years. For two full series of the 3 Series and 5 Series models, hard-riding run-flats were obligatory on all new cars, bar some base level ES model variants. BMW in Britain, some might say, sacrificed their traditional reputation for good ride comfort at the altar of the run-flat tyre until quite recently, with the introduction of their adaptive suspension which, at some cost, largely solves the problems.
With the previous 3-series, it was almost impossible to buy a BMW that handled well and also rode comfortably. More recently introduced family-oriented models, like the 2 Series, will normally come with conventional tyres, whilst those attracted to the option of large diameter flashy optional alloy wheels will find that they then come with run-flat tyres – and it’s one of these with the optional 18-inch tyres that apparently you bought. (Run-flat tyres are an optional extra on all 2 Series Active Tourer models in the UK at a cost of £180, but standard equipment on the M Sport versions – Ed). If you switch to conventional tyres when you come to replace the original ones, your car will ride better, more quietly, and save you money in tyre replacement costs! So find a tyre dealer who won’t try and stitch you up with (more profitable) run-flats and enjoy the vast improvement. You don’t sound like the sort of owner that is going to notice some mild reduction in steering precision (or twitchiness, as I would describe it) or possible loss of handling at near-suicidal road speeds, which are the only likely side-effects. Regarding the safety aspect and dangers of under-inflation, your car is fitted with TPMS tyre pressure monitoring and this will, just as with run-flats, warn you of any tyre losing pressure well in advance of any dangerous level of deflation. I would personally advise you to look at Goodyear EfficientGrip Performance tyres, which have very good noise level and comfort ratings, and are also very competitive on price, although other brands such as Dunlop offer similar low noise levels. Shop around on the web and locate an approved supplier/fitter in your area. Try Black Circles, MyTyres, and possibly Kwik-Fit (online only – they are much more expensive if you call in for a price). I bet you can’t wait for those tyres to wear out!