Beadlock wheels are a performance item that has grown in significant popularity in recent years. You'll find them on rock crawlers, sandrails, UTVs, and on some variety of trail vehicles. Do you need them? What is involved in using them and how can they help you go farther in your pursuits beyond the pavement? We'll take a look as we give you a rundown on the considerations of using beadlocks.
When venturing off-road, it is often beneficial to run fairly low tire pressures to increase tire "squish." The lower pressure causes a larger tire footprint and increases traction in most off-road situations. On the rocks, you gain better climbing traction. In sand, the increased floatation allows you to tackle dunes better.
On a regular wheel, the internal air pressure keeps the beads of the tire pushed outward towards the lips of the wheel and maintains a seal to retain the tire pressure. As long as the tire bead stays outward against the wheel, the tire stays normally inflated.
However, when pressure is dropped for off-roading, there are two concerns for the tire. One is that the tire bead can be pushed off the wheel bead and the tire loses air pressure. Second, the tire can slip and spin on the wheel and throw the combination off balance.
A typical beadlock wheel is one that has a separate bolt-on outer ring that clamps the outer tire bead between the main structure of the wheel (with a weld-on backing) and the bolt-on ring. Unlike a regular wheel where side force on the tire can push the tire off the outer portion of the rim, the beadlock ring mechanically captures the tire bead and holds it firmly in place.
With the addition of a beadlock, you can now air down to super low pressures and be confident that the tire will stay on the wheel and not spin about the wheel.
Beadlock wheels are not maintenance free. With a regular set of wheels, you can usually mount up tires and be good to go for many miles with occasional tire pressure checks. With beadlocks, it is prudent to check all the bolts regularly to ensure they are all still intact and staying tight. When re-torquing the bolts, tightening should only be done with the tire deflated! In fact, tires on beadlock wheels should always be deflated before any work is done on them other than checking air pressure. This is a very important protocol to follow to ensure your safety - you don't want to be anywhere near a beadlock that blows off. Even when checking pressure or inflating, it's also a good idea to do so with an extended air chuck that keeps your hands clear of the bolt-on ring.
Should you need to get a tire back off a beadlock wheel, we've found it takes some effort but can be done at home. As when mounting the tires, some soapy water can make the process a little easier. After the tire has been deflated and the outer ring removed, the outer tire bead is free. The inner tire bead can be unseated by placing the wheel and tire face down on a sheet of plywood and then carefully driving a vehicle tire over the tire to push it off the wheel bead.
Overall, beadlocks are a useful upgrade for those that need to run low pressures and want to push the limits of their tire traction. Given their other characteristics to contend with, you can decide if they are a plus for your vehicle.
Beadlocks At A Glance
1. Superior tire retention
2. Easy tire mounting at home
3. Ability to run lower air pressure
4. Ability to run narrower tire on a wheel
5. Strengthens outer wheel circumference
1. Greater weight
2. Higher cost
3. More maintenance
4. Might not be street legal
Here you can see an example of a beadlock ring that has been welded to the outside of an a
With a beadlock wheel, mounting tires yourself is quite easy. You'll just need to get the
When mounting a new tire on a beadlock wheel you'll want to ensure that the tire bead seat
In the case of OMF Performance wheels, they machine the counterbore in their outer rings t
Outer beadlock rings come in a variety of styles from slim outer rings to those that offer
Sometimes the thickness of the tire bead may be overly wide and prevent the outer locking
Any time a beadlock wheel and tire assembly is inflated, it's a good idea to keep clear of
Beadlocks are commonly used on high power sand vehicles where significant power is applied
Care should be taken when installing beadlock bolts. They should all be started and then t
Don't automatically expect to take your beadlock wheels to a regular tire shop for install
Beadlocks are commonly found in rock crawling applications where they serve several purpos
Running in deep mud and goo can be another situation where a beadlock can help. On a regul
When you squish a tire down this far you hope it hangs onto the wheel and keeps what littl
Hard cornering in the dirt can place a lot of sidewall pressure on tires, especially those
Wheels such as this have a particularly narrow outer bead area where the tire bead sits so
Beadlocks are typically only added to the outer face of a wheel and not to the inside, but
In recent years, faux beadlock wheels have come on the scene to provide the beadlock look