What are beadlock wheels? All the cool rigs seem to have them, right? Well, there is no arguing that they are cool; however, that is not the only reason why you may want them.
The internet is filled with questions such as what is a beadlock? What do beadlocks do? Do I need special tires for beadlock rims? Benefits of beadlock wheels? And even, how to make beadlock wheels!
I would say making your own beadlock wheels is taking it a bit too far, but the rest of the questions can certainly be answered.
So, in this article, we will be covering everything you need to know about beadlock wheels.
Editor’s Note: To provide examples of beadlocks, we feature wheels from Black Rhino, a favorite among overlanding and off-road enthusiasts. I run 17-inch Black Rhino Armory wheels on my Jeep Gladiator, and they have proven to be a good-looking and very valuable asset to my rig.
How Does a Tire Stay Mounted on a Wheel?
To understand what are beadlock wheels, we first need to go through the way a tire stays mounted on a normal wheel.
Let’s start from the basics. What is a bead?
The bead is the lip around the hole in the middle of the tire. Or in simple words, the bit that mounts on the wheel.
Normal wheels have a groove on each side; that groove is where the tire bead will sit in. When both beads are in place you then need to inflate the tire, the air inside it will push the bead against the lip of the wheel; therefore, keeping the tire bead in place.
Great Then, Why Do Beadlock Wheels Do, and What are the Benefits?
When a tire is inflated to normal pressures, there is no fear of the bead coming unseated. However, as you have probably seen, reducing tire pressures when off-roading leads to more grip and better ride quality.
The reduced tire pressures mean that the bead is not being pushed against the lip of the wheel with as much pressure. Therefore, as soon as you end up in a situation where lateral forces are put on that tire, the bead will come straight off and you will lose all air pressure.
So, the benefit of beadlock wheels is that they hold the tire in place when tire pressures are low. When thinking about “what are beadlock wheels,” this feature should be foremost in your mind.
What are Beadlock Capable Wheels? Any Visual Differences?
A bead lock wheel is a normal wheel with an outer ring that bolts onto the lip of the wheel; therefore, sandwiching the tire and preventing it from coming off the bead.
That ring is visible on the outside of the wheel, as shown above.
What are Beadlock Wheels Used For?
The purpose of them as the name suggests is to lock the bead. By locking the bead in place you can run very low tire pressures without worrying that the tire will come off. This will lead to greatly increased off-road performance.
Do You Need Special Tires for Beadlock Rims?
The answer is no, they don’t. Any tire will work with a beadlock wheel.
What about the benefits of beadlock wheels?
Apart from keeping the bead in tact, there aren’t really any other benefits of using these kind of wheels
But, just like with all upgrades, there are some drawbacks.
Firstly, they are more expensive to buy as they are composed of more parts.
Secondly, they do require some maintenance like checking the bolts are tight and replacing the bolts when they start getting old.
Finally, in some areas they may be illegal to use on the road; therefore, before you buy them make sure you can use them on the road.
So, What are the Benefits of Beadlock Wheels for Overlanding?
In all honesty, there aren’t many. Bead lock wheels have their place on the tough trails of Moab or on a battered rock crawler Jeep.
Granted, there are some cases where we might lose a bead while overlanding due to sliding into a rut or whatever the case might be. However, I would say it rarely ever happens and you do need to be on challenging trails for it to occur.
To also answer the question of “do I need beadlock wheels?” An overlanding rig needs beadlock wheels only if it will be tackling challenging trails. However, even the odd challenge here and there is still not enough to justify having them.
The wisest thing to do is experiment with your vehicle on a few trips. If rolling tires off the bead is a common issue, then go for beadlocks. If it never happens, then there is no need to get them!