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Beadlock Wheels Buyer's Guide

Aug 27, 2023

Extreme off-road conditions call for extreme off-road gear, and beadlock wheels fall right into that category. Running real beadlock wheels doesn’t only make your Jeep or truck look cool, but they allow off-roaders to run lower tire air pressures for maximum traction without fear of rolling the bead of the tire off the rim. We’ve found some of the best beadlock wheels on the market, that are the perfect upgrade for your ride.

When looking for the best beadlock wheels for your Jeep or truck, there are endless things to consider. Do they look good? What backspacing do you need? What rim size do you want to run? Finally, do you need to have a beadlock for the wheeling that you do? If you run on terrain that requires lower tire pressures for maximum traction, you’ll definitely want to use one of the best tire deflators on the market, and a set of beadlock wheels will help to ensure that you don’t end up stranded on the side of the trail with a tire that has come unmounted.

The advantage of running beadlock wheels is that they pinch the outer bead of the tire between the shell of the wheel and a special ring that is then bolted down to seal and secure the tire into place. This means you can now have more sidewall flex and contact patch from your tires without the fear of rolling the bead off the rim and just becoming another obstacle on the trail.

To make this list we considered everything from price, best sellers, wheels with D.O.T. approval, and various bead retention systems to give you the best options to consider as the next upgrade to your Jeep or truck.

While some off-roaders would feel comfortable taking on obstacles that you’d encounter at King of The Hammers with a conventional wheel, you run the high risk of rolling the bead off of your wheel with low tire pressures. If you’ve never done it, trying to reseat the bead of a tire to a wheel on the side of a trail isn’t fun, and running a set of beadlock wheels can prevent this from happening. Now does the average wheeler need them for their rig? That’s like saying mama needs a 100 hp shot of nitrous in her mini van. Is it cool? Sure it is, but it’s not really a necessity.

We’ve done some digging around on this and it’s hard to find a solid answer. We’ve yet to see a law on the books that says it is illegal to run beadlock wheels when you’re driving on the street, but MOST of them have not been approved by the Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) for highway use. Why? In the event that you have two or more beadlock bolts that break off next to each other, your tire could immediately lose all air pressure and leave you in a blowout situation. Having a tire instantly deflate is one thing, but when the wheel fails it’s an entirely different beast and companies don’t want to deal with the legal ramifications of such scenarios.

If you’re determined to run beadlocks on your daily driver that you wheel on the weekends, don’t fret. There are a few beadlock wheel options that are D.O.T. approved.

First and foremost, make sure that you’re looking at real beadlock wheels and not a simulated beadlock. The easiest way to figure this out is by looking at the price. Most simulated beadlock wheels for Jeeps or trucks run between $150 and $300 depending on the brand. A true beadlock for automotive use usually runs over $350 per wheel. Also, be sure that you’re not getting a wheel for a UTV. Once nailed down on the right wheel, look for the construction, material, and finally any offered warranties.

While the purpose of a beadlock wheel is universal, there are plenty of beadlock styles that are vastly different from one another. Traditional beadlock wheels feature an outer ring that mechanically clamps the outer bead of your tire to the body of the wheel. This is an effective design in locking the tire and wheel together minimizing the chance of unseating the outer bead, but does nothing to retain the inner bead to the wheel. Companies like Method Race Wheels, KMC, Raceline, Black Rhino and more have these style beadlock wheels available for purchase in various sizes and bolt patterns for popular off-road vehicles.

Now there is a multi-piece beadlock wheel that is D.O.T. approved, but you’d better be willing to pay top dollar to get them. The Hutchinson Wheels Rock Monster are wheels that are made off of the design you’d find on military Humvees but out of aluminum and a nicer design. The Rock Monster beadlocks feature a thick rubber sleeve that you place in the tire before mounting the inner shell and outer wheel face to each other. The inner shell has studs pressed into the wheel, which allows you to clamp the tire down with the outer face of the wheel, which is also the portion of the wheel where you mount to the hub of your vehicle.

By clamping the two halves together, the rubber sleeve compresses the beads of the tire against both sides of the wheel, essentially locking the beads into place. This design essentially makes them a dual-beadlock. What makes these D.O.T. approved vs. conventional beadlock wheels? Well, I’m sure that the government contract the company got to make the initial design of these wheels for military vehicles helped, and honestly I’ve not read anything that says any of the other beadlock designs can’t get the approval, but they’d have to apply for approval. I’m sure that there is plenty of legal red tape to go through and liability insurance that deters them.

Regardless, these wheels from Hutchinson Wheel are one of, if not the only, D.O.T. approved multi-piece beadlock wheel designs on the market if that is what you’re looking for.

Now not every beadlock wheel needs to be a multi-piece design. ICON Vehicle Dynamics recently released their Rebound PRO aluminum wheel that isn’t your traditional design beadlock wheel. The new Rebound PRO uses their patented InnerLock technology that utilizes a series of O-ring sealed bolts that are threaded radially on the inner side of the tire bead and essentially locks it into place against the wheel preventing the bead from coming unseated during extreme side loads. It’s a very unique design that doesn’t require constant re-torquing like conventional beadlock wheels and allows the wheels to be D.O.T. compliant due to their one piece nature.

An added benefit of this design is that the retention pins are strategically placed to provide maximum protection from damage on the trail since they’re located on the inside of the wheel itself and not on an outer face. The fact that these wheels also come in at a weight of 28 lbs. Means less unsprung weight and rotating mass to put unnecessary stress on your drivetrain. Combine this with a stout 3,200 lb. load rating and you’ve got a great “beadlock” option for weekend warrior off-roaders.

Method Race Wheels also has their own version of a bead retention system with their Bead Grip wheels available in the 701 to 707 design and color options. This wheel, like the ICON Rebound PRO, is intended for the weekend warrior who runs low tire pressures but doesn’t necessarily need a full fledged beadlock wheel. Although the Rebound PRO wheels do feature a mechanical locking method, the Method Bead Grip wheels feature “robust safety humps” on both inner halves of the wheel that are essentially channels for the tire beads to drop and seat into. To further minimize the potential for unseating the bead of your tire from the wheel when running low tire pressures, the Bead Grip wheels also feature a set of grooves that have been machined into the circumference of the wheel in the bottom of the safety humps. This design is intended to help keep the bead locked into place under extreme side load situations.

While this is a great wheel for the intermediate off-roader, we’d still recommend a traditional beadlock for extreme wheeling on advanced trails.

Now if you like the wheels you already have installed on your rig but want the benefit of a beadlock wheel, you do have an option. Coyote Enterprises has a boltless beadlock system that you can use with your existing rims with minimal modification. While this may seem like a new concept to you, internal beadlocks were invented around 1994 for use by the Swedish military and in 2005 Staun, now Coyote Enterprises, introduced them into the US.

How exactly does this system work? Essentially this is like having a tire within a tire. The Coyote Dual, Boltless, Internal, Pneumatic Bead Lock is an air bladder that you install inside of the tire and around the wheel. Once the tire beads are mounted on the wheel, you can inflate the bladder of the Coyote beadlock to 50 PSI, which then forces the bladder to take shape and force/pinch the tire beads against the rim. As stated previously, you do have to make some slight modifications to your wheel (drill an additional hole for the bladders valve stem), but other than that it’s a very simple process.

The Coyote Internal Pneumatic Dual Bead Lock systems are available to fit rim sizes from 14” to 17” in diameter and 7” to 10” wide, are 100% street legal, don’t affect wheel balance, and only add 6-7 lbs. weight to your existing tire/wheel package. Aside from the aforementioned features of this beadlock system, you also don’t need to worry about constant retorquing of beadlock bolts. If you needed an additional reason to consider these as your suggested beadlock option, the Coyote Boltless Beadlock system gives your rig limp flat ability. What does this mean? In the event you do get a puncture in your tire and lose all air pressure, this beadlock system will keep your tire on the wheel and allow you to limp off the trail or back to camp to make necessary tire changes or repairs. If you’re wondering how fast or far you can run on a flat tire with this system, Coyote claims that a user had run on a flat tire for 20 miles at 60 MPH. While the tire was destroyed, the beadlock system and wheel were still in good condition.

When you search for off-road beadlock wheels, don’t be surprised to Method Race Wheels at the top of the list. Their wheels are being used by some of the biggest names in motorsports by desert racers and rock crawlers alike. They’re considered to be some of the best beadlock wheels you can buy because of their quality solid aluminum A365, T6 heat treated construction, various finishes complemented by a number of design styles that give your rig a truly unique look. When you’re shopping for your wheels, be sure that you’re looking for their real beadlock wheels because they have some great looking simulated beadlock wheels at a much lower price point that don’t have the same function you’re looking for in the real deal.

Another powerhouse in the off-road beadlock wheel market is KMC and their beadlock wheels are one of our favorites in this list. Available in a variety of sizes, offsets, designs, and finishes, their real beadlock wheels are a favorite of off-road enthusiasts in both UTVs, Jeeps, and trucks alike. As pretty as they are, you might be hesitant to take them on the dirt, but rest assured that they are tough and can hold their own under extreme use without leaving you stranded.

The best D.O.T. approved beadlock wheel on our list is also the ONLY beadlock that is D.O.T. approved for street use. The Rock Monster Beadlock Wheels from Hutchinson are a two-piece design that utilize a stiff rubber sleeve that gets placed in the tire to put pressure against the tire bead to the wheel. As you bolt down the wheel face (outer shell) to the inner shell, this compresses the tire together against the wheel and that sleeve ensures tight pressure of the beads to lock them into place. If you’ve been in the military and think this design looks familiar to vehicles you may have driven, you’re right. These wheels were originally designed for use on Hummer H1 and eventually marketed for consumer use. While they’re stout and the only wheels that are technically legal for on-highway use, expect to pay a pretty penny for them.

While not a beadlock, this new bead retention wheel from ICON Alloys is still a great option for the weekend warrior who wants to run low tire pressures with minimal fear of popping the tire bead off of the wheel. Instead of being a two-piece wheel where the tire bead gets pinched between the shell and ring, the Rebound PRO features hardened steel pins that thread into and through the wheel to press against the backside of the tire bead forcing it against the wheel lip. While most beadlock wheels aren’t D.O.T. approved for street use, these wheels are street legal and a great option for off-roaders who want to run low pressures without having to run a true beadlock.

If you’ve been wanting to add beadlocks to your rig but don’t want to replace the wheels you already have, this boltless beadlock system from Coyote Enterprises is just what you’re looking for. This system utilizes a special beadlock case and heavy duty inner tube to essentially force the beads of your tire agains the wheel lips. By keeping the tube inflated to 50 PSI, it places constant pressure against the tire beads and allows you to air down as low as you want without fear of rolling the bead off the wheel. Aside from not having to completely replace your wheels, these are legal for street use, provide a “limp” flat capability, and are the fraction of a cost of replacing all 4 wheels. They’re available for 15″ to 17″ wheels and only require minimal modification to your existing wheels for installation.

Beadlock wheels are great when you want the maximum performance out of your tires in low-pressure situations. The downfall is that the wheels can be extremely expensive, and when you pay that much for wheels, a little piece of your soul dies with every scratch they incur on the trail. Not quite the case when you’re running the Raceline RT81-Rock 8 steel beadlock wheels. If you’re looking for some of the best beadlock wheels at an affordable price, these wheels can’t be beaten.

The Raceline RT81 wheels feature a classic 8 hole mod window design, constructed of carbon steel, come in a wide variety of sizes and bolt patterns to fit the most popular off-road rigs, and are made in the good ole U.S. of A. The wheels are protected with a high-quality gloss black powder coat finish and utilize US-made grade 8 zinc hardware to secure the beadlock ring. Since they’re constructed from steel, they’re half the price of some aluminum wheels on this list making them much more affordable, and less likely to make you cringe when they get a scratch or dent.

As a contender for the best beadlock wheel in the business, you can’t overlook a company like Raceline Wheels. As the official wheel of the SCORE International Off-Road Racing, and various other premier off-road racing groups, you know that their wheels have to be one of the best in the business. Their RT233 real beadlock wheels are constructed out of heavy-duty A356 aluminum and feature their iconic 8-spoke design. The forged 6061 beadlock ring gets secured into place by grade 8 zinc hardware on a wheel that can be custom drilled (hub and bolt pattern) to your needs.

A beadlock wheel from manufacture you may or may not know, Black Rhino wheels are definitely worth considering as one of the best beadlock wheels available. Just like most others on this list, Black Rhino beadlock wheels are offered in a variety of designs, finishes, and bolt patterns to fit the most popular Jeeps and trucks. The wheels also feature solid construction with a 3300-pound load rating making it perfect for extreme off-road use. Making these wheels even better is the 5-year warranty on structure and 2-year warranty on the finish.

We’ve done some digging around on this and it’s hard to find a solid answer. We’ve yet to see a law on the books that says it is illegal to run beadlock wheels when you’re driving on the street, but MOST of them have not been approved by the Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) for highway use. Why? In the event that you have two or more beadlock bolts that break off next to each other, your tire could immediately lose all air pressure and leave you in a blowout situation. Having a tire instantly deflate is one thing, but when the wheel fails it’s an entirely different beast and companies don’t want to deal with the legal ramifications of such scenarios.

If you’re determined to run beadlocks on your daily driver that you wheel on the weekends, don’t fret. There are a few beadlock wheel options that are D.O.T. approved.

1/25/2023: Updated product links, added new options (Hutchinson Rock Monster, ICON Rebound PRO, Coyote Enterprises beadlock rentention systems) added technical info.

12/9/2021: Ranked products, updated product descriptions, updated product links, added new product (Raceline RT81 Rock 8 wheels), added additional resources.

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