The edge of the tire that sits on the rim is known as the tire bead. Normally, wheels and tires are engineered in a way that when the tire is inflated, the tire bead pushes against the inside part of the rim and the two move together.

But what if you need to deflate or air down the tire? Typically, when off-roading, you may need to air down your tires to a single-digit PSI number for better surface contact. 

That way you will get more traction by making the tread of the tire spread out and increasing the contact patch of the tire. 

However, it also raises a new situation where the bead of the tire might pop out of the rim, as there is not enough pressure. That’s when the beadlock wheels come into play. 

Simply put, beadlock wheels come with a unique mechanism that securely clamps the tire bead on the wheel even if there is insufficient tire pressure. Now that you know what are beadlock wheels, let’s learn more about this unique wheel in detail below.

what are beadlock wheels

How Do Beadlock Wheels Work?

As the name suggests, beadlock wheels lock the tire bead to the wheels securely all the time with the help of two rings (outer ring and inner ring). Generally, the inner ring would be attached/welded to the rim, while the outer ring would be bolted to the inner rings. 

As a result, even if you drop down the tire pressures to a greater extent, there is no possibility for the bead of the tire coming out of the wheel. This type of wheel was first used in military rig applications.

You have to install the beadlock wheels correctly to prevent any accidents. For example, you should not under/over-torque while tightening the bolts. Plus, the bolts should be tightened in a crisscross pattern and much more. 

Many brands are offering beadlock wheels with different features. Some of them are designed for off-road use only, while some are actually illegal. So, you must make sure that the beadlock wheels you are going for are street-legal in your area. 

beadlock wheels explained

What are the Benefits of Beadlock Wheels?

Rugged Build Quality

Typically, the outermost edge of these wheels is made a lot stronger compared to standard wheels. As a result, these can withstand severe off-roading conditions and treacherous terrain better than a normal wheel.

More Traction While Off-roading

One of the most effective ways to achieve more traction would be to air down your tires when off-roading or drag-racing. 

Interestingly, using a set of beadlock wheels would allow you to lower the air pressure of your tires to a greater extent. So for a better off-roading driving experience, it is worth investing in a set of beadlock wheels.

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Aesthetically Pleasing

A beadlock wheel set will offer an aggressive look to your rig.

Securely Keep Your Tires Mounted

The beadlock rims will lock the bead of the tire to its place securely regardless of the level of air pressure on the tires.

What are the Drawbacks of Beadlock Wheels?

Pricey

Beadlock wheels are much pricier compared to standard wheels. Because they require more engineering, more parts, and more materials.

Heavier

Because of the same reasons mentioned above, these wheels tend to be heavy as well, which translates to increasing the overall weight of your rig.

Legality Issues

Normally, beadlock wheels are not street-legal. There are a few models that are DOT-approved. Yet, in most areas, you will not be able to use these on-road legally. 

So if possible, try to use DOT-approved beadlock wheels or you might have to face legal issues using them regularly.

More Maintenance

Beadlock rims are not like regular wheels. Rather, they need to be constantly monitored and maintained. You have to re-torque them frequently and they are also very expensive when it comes to repairing.

Installation Procedure

As they are not legal all around the world, the majority of the tire/wheel shops will not mount beadlock wheels. Thus, you will have to do it on your own. 

It is known that installing these wheels is a bit complicated, so if you don’t have prior experience with beadlock wheels installation, then you should avoid them if possible.

Are Beadlock Wheels Safe?

It depends. Normally, we can say that beadlock wheels are safe, but you should have a good idea of what you are doing with a beadlock wheel. First, you have to make sure that the wheels and tires are properly mounted onto your rig. 

The user should keep checking the condition of the wheel regularly, even when not in use. Otherwise, it could end up in catastrophe. 

If you are familiar with beadlock wheels very well, getting a high-quality one, installed, and maintaining it correctly, then it should be safe to use beadlock wheels.

Are Beadlock Wheels Legal?

Globally, beadlock wheels are not street-legal. However, there are a few DOT-approved beadlock wheels available that are suitable for the outdoors. Still, it is mostly illegal to use these on highways or public roads. 

It would be ideal to check whether beadlock wheels are legal where you have registered your vehicle or around the areas where you will drive your vehicle. In most cases, people use these wheels for off-road driving and drag-racing purposes.

fake beadlock wheels

Do I Need Beadlock Wheels?

It is a tricky question to answer for us because the answer will depend on your requirements. Will you use your vehicle off-road more? 

Will you air down the tires to a very low level (below 10 PSI)? Do you need more traction while off-roading? If the answer to these questions are yes, then you may want to opt for a set of beadlock wheels.

However, if you don’t usually off-road in a hardcore way, or even if you go you don’t usually air down the tires a lot, then you don’t need beadlock wheels.

If you just want the beadlock wheel for the aggressive look, then you can get the imitation beadlock wheels instead.

Ferenc Elekes overlandsite

Ferenc Elekes has been a devout Overlanding enthusiast for many years. During that time, Ferenc has explored 75 countries on six continents, with overland travel involved in 40 countries on three continents. From his trusty 2006 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado with a roof-top tent, he’s blogged about experiences that can only be found in the remotest regions on Earth. Along the way, he's gained in-depth knowledge of the novel challenges overlanders encounter and practical ways to meet them. On his website, he shares informed opinions about everything from the best overland gear to how to get a vehicle unstuck. Ferenc has also written for Ih8mud, the Expedition Portal, the Overland Journal, and he is often invited as a guest to outdoors-related podcasts.