Yeah they look cool, and lots of people ask us: What do they do? Do they work? Are they worth it? Our answers always the same. For rockcrawlers like us, a beadlock wheel’s purpose is to keep the tire securely mounted to the rim during low air pressure driving. Basically a beadlock wheel starts life as a standard wheel (aluminum or steel) with an outer lip to hold the bead of the tire in place and provide a good seal once it is mounted. To create a beadlock wheel however, the outer lip of the wheel is cut completely off and a retainer ring is welded in its place (see picture). This retainer ring is flat and has threaded sleeves welded around its circumference. This retainer ring serves as the new sealing surface for the bead of the tire, albeit on the inside of the rim now, instead of the outside of the rim like a traditional wheel. The tire is pushed onto the rim, by hand, and an outer beadlock ring is bolted down over the outside of the tire to the retainer ring. The bead of the tire is now locked (pinched) between the inner ring and the outer ring by a series of bolts. With everything bolted down tight, there is no way the bead can pull off of the outside of the rim. Now that you know what they do and how they do it, let’s address your question of “do they work?” We almost always run our tires at insanely low pressures at the sand dunes to maximize floatation, how does 3-4 p.s.i. sound? For rock crawling we usually run our air pressures at around 6, 8 or 10 p.s.i. to maximize the footprint and the gripping capabilities of the tires for maximum traction. So our answer is yes, they do work and they work incredibly well. Are they worth it? Well that depends, they are not street legal anywhere that we know of, and they’re damn near impossible to balance. Although most 35″ or larger tires are pretty tough to balance, this just adds fuel to the fire.
If your rig is a daily driver and sees only limited trail duty then the answer is no. However, if you wheel your rig on hardcore trails several times a month and it sees little to no street use then the answer is yes. The picture to the left shows our beadlock rims in use in Arizona. Our tires were running roughly 7-8 p.s.i. for 9 straight hours of tire-folding-under-the-rim, sidewall-darn-near-puncturing-against-sharp-rocks type wheeling, with no problems. Since then, we’ve used our beadlock rims for about 9 months without fail.
MRT has been making beadlock wheels since 1980. They were originally created for circle track racers who were tearing the tires off their cars. Since then racers around the world have been using beadlock wheels to keep their tires firmly in place. It was only a matter of time before off road racers and hard-core 4-wheelers saw the benefit of using a beadlock wheel for the same purpose. MRT wheels are created from 3 separate parts, a center plate that has the bolt pattern cut into it, an outer shell, and the beadlock ring. Each of these components is welded together to form the wheel. MRT wheels are available in any size and bolt pattern for ATV’s, trucks, cars, racers, and even custom one-off wheels can be made to order. We have even heard that MRT has made entire wheels from carbon fiber. So if you want the ultimate in off road wheels, give MRT a call or visit their website.