Last month we chatted about steel rims vs alloy rims, and pointed out that steel rims are preferable in extreme off-road situations where damage to the rim is likely to occur. In these cases, an alloy rim is more likely to crack due to impact, whereas a steel rim can be bent or hammered back into shape in emergency situations.
This month, we’re talking about beadlock rims: what are they, how do they work, and who should fit them?
WHAT IS A BEADLOCK RIM?
Once again, if you’re driving extreme off-road trails where vehicle-, tyre- or rim damage is likley to occur, you may choose to deflate your tyres to extremely low levels.
However, in the case of a standard rim (steel or alloy), the bead area of the tyre is seated against the rim with the help of internal air pressure. If the pressure inside the tyre is deflated too low, the force necessary to seal the bead may not be enough, and the risk of de-beading the tyre is high.
If a tyre does de-bead (also known as ‘break its bead’), it will continue to leak air until the tyre…
- Is completely flat
- Runs off the rim entirely
- Sustains permanent friction damage to the bead/seal area
What’s more, a tyre that has broken its bead is a difficult thing to re-inflate, and may require an air volume that’s beyond the abilities of most 12V air compressors. Lastly, even if you do manage to pump enough air into the tyre for the bead area to re-seat, there’s a good chance that dirt and sand will get trapped under the seal and continue to leak air as a slow puncture.
In short, the more you deflate, the greater the chance of de-beading your tyres and having to endure all the hassles listed above. So what’s the solution?
ENTER: THE BEADLOCK RIM
In the case of beadlocks, the rim features a bolted outer ring that clamps the tyre’s bead area. Meaning, the tyre is no longer reliant on air pressure to seal the bead, but rather, it’s “locked” in place by the bolted ring. With the tyre now clamped down, there’s far less chance of the bead breaking under extremely low air pressures. This allows extreme off-roaders to deflate their tyres for better performance over loose, slippery, or wet terrain.
On that note, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of fitting a beadlock rim…
- Better off-road traction
- More comfort
- Less tread belt punctures
- Tyre moulds to the contours of the terrain
- Many people love the look of a beadlock rim
- The tyre should remain on the rim in the event of a high-speed blowout (Information credit: Allan Venter)
- Beadlocks may help to prevent sand and mud from forcing their way between the tyre and the rim (Information credit: Allan Venter)
- Far more costly than a standard rim (sometimes double or triple the price)
- Difficult, costly, and time consuming to install
- Due to the additional work, some tyre dealers may refuse to fit a tyre to a beadlock rim
- Very hard to balance
- Extreme deflation will forfeit your tyres’ warranty
- Beadlocks are heavier than standard rims, leading to less fuel economy and potentially less engine performance
- Maintenance, you may have to re-torque the beadlock’s bolts several times a year
- Harder steering response from significantly aired-down tyres
- At extremely low air pressure, structural tyre damage is likely to occur
- Greater chance of sidewall tyre damage due to rock pinching
Although beadlocks certainly look the part, unless you’re an avid off-roader who frequently drives grade 5 trails and suffers regular de-beading problems, there’s little to no reason for fitting a beadlock rim. It’s also important to realise that any extreme tyre deflation will void your tyre’s warranty, regardless of what tyre make or brand you have.
If you like the look of a beadlock rim, but don’t want to deal with the maintenance issues that come with owning a set, you can also fit an imitation beadlock rim. TyreLife Solutions distributes a wide range of alloy rims, steel rims, imitation beadlock rims, and genuine beadlock rims. Follow the link for more information: www.tyrelife.co.za