BEADLOCKED AND LOADED
“DEPENDING on the degree to which one is involved with off-roading, things like true beadlocks can aid in the ability to traverse difficult terrain at lower tyre pressures without de-beading the wheel accidentally,” Longstreth told us.
A beadlock is a device typically used in competitive and extreme off-roading to secure the bead of a tyre to the wheel of a vehicle. It’s so that in situations where a tyre’s low pressure can’t hold the bead of a tyre, the beadlock will keep the two rotating together. Typically you’ll find it’s a ring with bolts clamping the wheel and tyre together.
“A beadlock is designed to be used to hold the tyre on the wheel, when low pressures are being run on your wheels. The ring is designed to hold tyre on so it doesn’t roll off the rim,” Tonkin said. “Low pressures increase surface area of the tyre for traction in the dirt. It’s not really necessary on most applications, it will just mean pressures can be down as low as 1-5 psi for extra bag.”
They might look the bee’s knees beneath your decked-out tourer, but it’s important to remember that they aren’t legal for road use in Australia.
“Beadlock wheels are strictly for off-road use only and not legal for road use in Australia,” Helgeson told us.
Across the ditch in the USA, Longstreth confirmed that certifying beadlocks for street use is also not possible as there’s currently no federally approved method for testing.
Why are they illegal? Well, safety reasons mainly, as problems could arise from interfering with the structural rigidity of the vehicle.
However, Longstreth reckons times are changing: “The old fear and misconception that beadlocks don’t balance well or tend to leak comes from an era where manufacturing technology and economies of scale simply didn’t apply,” he said. “Too many makers of old beadlocks were simply cutting apart wheels and welding in new parts. This method was, at best, mildly accurate. With the invention of tighter manufacturing tolerances for OE and non-oe parts and automated machines, manufacturers can (now) build wheels that meet most applicable standards.”