those beadlocks sure are cool, wish I had a set"
is a comment heard all the time at four wheeling events across
the country. For a long time they represented the truly hardcore
among the sport, but like everything else, as time has gone
on, beadlocks have become so popular that many companies are
starting to produce "faux" beadlocks just so that
street vehicles can have the "beadlock look."
once told me that if I didn't know what beadlocks were or
how they worked then I didn't need beadlocks. Yet according
to just about every available off-highway magazine in print
and many of their advertisers, I do need them. But reality
usually dictates perception (at least in this case), and through
lack of funds or more pressing upgrades I refused to acknowledge
them for use on my own vehicle.
I finally started seriously looking at beadlocks my senses
were overwhelmed. Did I want aluminum or steel? Did I want
16 bolts? 18 bolts? 32 Bolts? 36 bolts or even 40 bolts?
Did I want a steel or aluminum ring? Did I want to send my
current wheels to someone and have them converted? Did I want
two sets of tires? Could I get them balanced? Would they even
be legal? Maybe I should just get the faux beadlocks. No,
I think I want the real thing.
looking for beadlocks I started to look around at the companies
that had been building them for years (yes people, long before
your 4x4 decided to go rockcrawling, beadlocks where built
for competition race cars).
I went through all of the catalogs and local race shops, talked
to many who had them and many who thought about getting them.
Then TXJEEPER asked me to take a look at a set of beadlocks
from company that was just started in the rockcrawling competition
Wheel Components has been building wheels and components
for just about every type of competition on four wheels and
has even made wheel centers for other well-known brands. Allied
ships 6,000 - 7,000 rims per week out of their two facilities,
which provide roughly 320,000 square feet of manufacturing
space. The Rock-A-Thons are being built in their newest facility,
which comprises 200,000 square feet of that total space.
new entry into the beadlock niche is called the "Rock-A-Thon
Steel Beadlock Competition Rock Crawling Wheel," or Rock-A-Thon
for short. The promise of performance given their
reputation in racing was enough to entice me and the coollook
didn't hurt either.
folks at Allied have over 20 years of experience in building
beadlocks. These years have helped to develop a top-notch,
unique beadlocking system, which helps the ring center the
tire better than other brands.
inside of the beadlock ring is angled at 5 degrees, which
matches the angle of tire bead on most tire brands. This angle
helps the ring slide itself, and consequently the tire, into
the proper position. It also provides a larger contact patch
than a straight cut.
addition to easier centering, the outer edge of the rings
are rounded instead of straight-cut like other brands. When
a tire is running at very low pressures, the sidewall will
overlap the beadlock ring. If the ring's edge is straight,
then the edge can cut into the sidewall and damage it. This
can eventually lead to a sidewall air leak and defeat the
purpose of the beadlock.
with my knowledge of what everyone either liked or hated about
beadlocks and all of the rumors good and bad that I had heard
about running beadlocks, I was anxious to get these mounted
up and try them out.
Mounting them on the rims is really pretty easy. No special
tools are required. The first step is to get a container for
all of the bolts and washers - if you have 5 rims like I do
that's 160 bolt and washer pairs!
remove the outer ring, and lay it aside. Then install a good
quality valve stem. I choose to go with a standard rubber
truck stem for two reasons - first, I have had good luck with
them, and second, you will notice that on these wheels the
valve stem is moved well back into the rim where it will be
protected and the beadlock ring will not interfere with it
when you are trying to air up and down.
you have the stem installed, place the wheel on a flat surface
with the valve stem up. Grab a tire, use a sponge with some
soap and water to lubricate the back bead (the bead that will
not be locked) as this will help the tire to both drop over
the bead and it will assist when setting the bead when you
air the tire up.
the tire (back bead first) on top of the rim and work it down
over the outer bead area until the front bead sits flush against
the outside of the wheel. Position the tire so that it is
visually even all around the face of the rim. Once you have
the tire even, lay the outer ring over the top of the tire
bead and visually align the bolt holes.
your first four bolts evenly around the rim, turn each of
them in only about 4 or 5 turns. At this point you should
have bolts in at the 12, 6, 3 and 9 positions. You may want
to use a paint pen to mark these locations as they will come
in handy later.
and install the rest of the bolts by hand in a crossing pattern
until all of them have been installed with 4 or 5 turns.
inspect that the tire is still well-centered on the rim, as
this will be your last chance to center it. If it is not centered
you will need to bump it on the opposite side with your knee
or even bounce it on the ground to get it re-centered.
If you can't get the tire centered, now is the time to loosen
the outer ring and work the tire around. If the tire
is not centered it may balance but might feel more like an
egg than a wheel when going down the road.
a ratchet and a socket, tighten the bolts using the same crossing
pattern that they were installed with. If you are using an
air ratchet keep it on it's lowest setting, as you do not
want to torque the bolts down at this point. Tighten only
to the point where all bolts are down flush to the surface
of the outer ring.
all of the bolts snugly tightened, take a torque wrench and
start tightening each bolt in the original crossing pattern.
Torque the bolts to at least 12 ft./lbs. but do not exceed
15 ft./lbs. I would do that first pass at around 8 ft./lbs.
just to make sure you pull everything down nice and evenly.
getting the bolts to the desired torque setting, it is imperative
that you follow the next step in explicit detail. Re-torque
all of the bolts to the proper torque 3 more times!
While this may sound redundant, each time you make a torque
pass around the ring it stretches the ring and compresses
the tire. In order to keep the wheel assembly balanced and
correctly shaped it is very important that these steps are
you have the beadlock attached to the wheel, it's time to
add air. I found it easiest to run the air hose through the
center of the wheel and then attach it to the valve stem.
This allowed me to put the tire face down on the ground and
push lightly on the back of the rim. This helped the inside
bead to start its seal. Each tire was aired up to 28 lbs.
and then the bead on both sides was coated with soap and water
to check for leaks. Having found none, I took them to be balanced.