While airing down your tires is a common off-roading practice in order to gain additional contact with the terrain, it can also cause the bead of the tire to separate from the wheel. Beadlocks can help prevent the tire’s bead from getting detached from the wheel, which is not a problem that is easily fixed on the trail. A flat tire can be repaired with a patch kit, but the same cannot be said for fixing an unseated bead. Reseating a tire bead on the trail is not going to be a simple task. If you do any hard-core off-roading and frequently drop down to single-digit PSI numbers, then you may want to consider getting beadlock wheels for your rig.
What are Beadlock Wheels?
Beadlock wheels, frequently used in both off-roading and drag-racing applications, secure the tire bead together using both an inner and outer ring. The inner and outer rings clamp the tire bead in place and keep it secure. The outer ring attaches to the inner ring using bolts, which have to be installed according to the correct torque specifications. Said to originally be used on military vehicles for extreme road conditions, beadlock wheels are now frequently seen on the streets. Since beadlock wheels give off a menacing, aggressive appearance, many opt to install imitation beadlock wheels that are just for visual enhancement. Faux beadlock wheels don’t actually do anything other than look cool.
How Do Beadlocks Work?
Beadlocks work exactly how they sound like they work. Basically “locking” the bead in place between the rings, the beadlocks keep the tire attached to the wheel at all times. Because the bead is locked into place, it will not become unseated even if you significantly air down your tires. Beadlocks will prevent any tire slippage by clamping the bead to the wheel itself. Because airing down your tires is sometimes necessary for certain off-roading conditions, having beadlocks can be extremely beneficial out on the trail. Bolts should be tightened using a crisscross pattern in order to reduce putting too much stress on the beadlocks. Be careful not to over-torque the bolts. Using hand tools is recommended as it gives you more control and helps prevent tightening too much.
Pros of Beadlock Wheels
- They look cool: There’s no denying that beadlocks simply look cooler than wheels without beadlocks. Why do you think so many imitation-style beadlock wheels are on the market? Even if people don’t necessarily need beadlocks on their rigs, they can still achieve that same aggressive style.
- Great for hardcore off-roading: If you are someone who frequents the trails and regularly airs down your tires, you may want to consider investing in a set of beadlock wheels. No, they aren’t necessary for off-roading by any means, but if you are a serious rock crawler, then they are definitely worth the consideration.
- Keeps tires more secure: Whether you are an extreme drag racer or avid trailblazer, beadlocks are going to keep your tires attached to your wheels no matter what. Leaks can happen, but they are easily prevented as long as you properly install the beadlocks and regularly check on them.
Cons of Beadlock Wheels
- Heavier: Because they involve more components overall, such as the inner and outer rings as well as the bolts, beadlock wheels are quite heavier than regular wheels. More weight means a heavier vehicle, which in turn leads to slight speed decreases.
- More expensive: Just as more components cause beadlock wheels to be heavier, they also cause them to be considerably more expensive than average, run-of-the-mill wheels.
- Requires more maintenance: Not only do you have to be really careful not to over tighten the bolts, but they constantly need to be re-torqued and adjusted so they fit properly. Chances are if you break a bolt out on the trail, you may need to replace the entire set, depending on what setup you’ve got.
- Typically not street-legal: Depending on your location, there's a good chance that beadlock wheels are prohibited from being used on public roads and highways. The main concern is that, at a high rate of speed, improperly-tightened bolts could lead to a catastrophic failure.
If you are really passionate about off-roading, then purchasing a set of beadlock wheels for your rig could be beneficial. However, if you don’t really do any performance driving, then you may want to consider just getting some faux beadlock wheels instead. You still get the same killer look without splurging on extra capabilities that you probably don’t really need. Since beadlock wheels aren’t the best for regular driving, you may not want to put beadlocks on a rig that also doubles as a daily driver. If you do decide that beadlock wheels are for you, then be sure to check if they are street legal in your area. Some beadlock wheels are going to be designated for off-road use only, so you may not be able to drive them on the highway at all, depending on which type you get. Whether you opt for beadlock wheels or not, find all the parts for your rig at CJ’s. From wheel and tire packages to lift kits, CJ’s carries a huge selection of items for the Ford Raptor, Chevy Silverado, Ram 1500, Toyota Tacoma, Jeep Wrangler and more!
Installing Beadlock Wheels
Unlike most tires, there are different methods for installing beadlock tires onto beadlock wheels. In case you are concerned about this, rest assured. Not only is it not too bad (you just have to tighten more bolts) Matt from CJ Off-Road will show you how to do it in this video.
Sources: The Pros and Cons of Beadlock Wheels and Airing Down Tires, MotorTrend | Image Credit: Ford, FCA
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