Why You Need Beadlock Wheels

Maximizing your rig’s capability might be as simple as a set of wheels.

If you’re serious about wheeling, you need beadlocks.Zach Bowman

If you find yourself pushing your machine beyond the green trails at your local OHV park, it may be time to consider ditching your factory wheels for a set of beadlocks. These wheels use a bolt-on lock ring to secure the tire bead to the wheel, allowing you to run substantially lower tire pressure than you could otherwise. The lock ring keeps the bead in place so you don’t have to worry about unseating the tire.

Tire pressure is a crucial element of getting your rig’s power to the ground. The lower the pressure, the wider your tire’s contact patch and the more of the tire’s tread touches the ground. It also allows the tire to contour around uneven terrain, letting the rubber’s side lugs bite. That’s handy in all sorts of situations, including deep sand, snow, mud, and rock climbs. But on a normal wheel, lowering your tire pressure is a balancing act between getting the most traction and not unseating a bead. For most side-by-sides, that usually means running no lower than 11 or 12 psi. Beadlocks, meanwhile, let you turn that number down into the single digits.

Beadlocks mean better traction.Aaron Richardson

Beadlocks also help protect the tire. That big locking ring acts as armor, deflecting sharp stones and protecting the bead from tears. But it’s not all good news. As with anything, there are trade-offs. Beadlocks are expensive. The 15-inch KMC beadlocks seen here will set you back around $315 a corner. By comparison, non-beadlocks are about $100 cheaper. Beadlocks are also heavy, which means more wear and tear on your suspension, bearings, and CVs.

But for most of us, those tradeoffs are worth the extra capability. If you find yourself struggling for traction or eying a new set of tires, it might be time to treat your rig to the right wheels.

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