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OMF Performance Beadlock Off Road Wheels - Who Needs New Wheels

Posted in How To on September 1, 2009
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Photographers: OMF Performance

New wheels are great. However, in some cases the wheels that come with your ride are already a pretty strong set. In our case, we loved the size and look of the wheels our Polaris RZR-S came with. While searching for a new set we gave our friends at OMF Performance in Riverside, California, to see what they could do with them. Why replace them when we can make them stronger and last longer?

Our RZR-S spends 100 percent of its time in the dirt, which means a beadlock wheel is a great choice. We push our ride through various types of terrain including high-speed sand dunes and low-speed rock gardens. Keeping the tire securely locked to the wheel at all times is a need that goes without saying. We spent some time with Bones at OMF picking his brain about beadlock wheels and why we need them while they transformed our wheels.

The new version of our stock wheels look amazing. We chose a charcoal grey color for the wheel and a black scalloped beadlock ring. The added strength and security will give us a little peace of mind while wheeling and our new shoes also match the vehicle perfectly. Not only is modifying your stock wheels a performance choice it also may save you a few dollars compared to a whole new set of wheels.

One on One with OMF Performance
Off-road: How would you describe a bead lock wheel?
Simply put, a beadlock is a mechanical fastening device that clamps the tire's bead bundle onto the rim using mechanical force rather than air pressure. It holds the bead bundle firmly in place even under extremely low air pressure. Without a beadlock, running low air pressure could result in de-beading of the tire, which can be difficult to fix on the trail without an air tank. Beadlocks can be made a number of different ways, but in the case of OMF Performance Products this is done by machining off the outer lip of the rim and hand welding on the 6061-T6 billet aluminum inner beadlock ring. The inner beadlock ring has threaded steel inserts pressed into the backside of the beadlock ring for the beadlock bolts to thread into. By manufacturing the beadlock this way you can replace an insert if you have any issues, and there are no nuts to be held on the backside of the beadlock ring making tire mounting much easier. Once the inner half of the beadlock is welded to the wheel, the 6061-T6 billet aluminum outer beadlock clamp ring is than bolted to the inner ring, clamping the tire's bead bundle between the two halves of the beadlock. Once this is done, it is nearly impossible for the tire to become de-beaded from the rim.

Off-road: Can you tell us a little more about the process?
First, we machine off the outside lip of the rim in one our state of the art CNC machines. Once that is done, the wheel and beadlock ring are placed in a special fixture that centers the beadlock ring on the wheel. This is the same fixture used for all of our beadlocked wheels, including drag racing applications. Once centered, the beadlock is tacked onto the wheel in the fixture. It is then taken to one of our weld stations where it is welded by hand. Once cooled down from the welding process, the wheel will be assembled and then get a final quality check before it is sent to the customer.

Off-road: Why do we need a beadlock off road?
In many off-road motorsports, it is beneficial to lower the air pressure in the tires. Lowering the air pressure will cause the contact patch area (bottom, flat part of the tire) also known as the "footprint" to become wider and larger. This will provide you with better traction, flotation, control and a softer ride. However, lowering the air pressure too much increases the chance of popping a tire bead, which will in turn cause the tire to deflate and possibly peal off the rim. This is known as de-beading.

Off-road: What do you say to all the people who have never popped a bead?
Unfortunately, most people don't realize that they need a beadlock until it is too late. Buying a beadlock is like buying insurance: you don't need it until it is too late. If you were to de-bead or puncture a tire half way down a trail and you do not have a spare, you are in big trouble. With a beadlock you would at least be able to continue back to camp or to an area where you can change your tire. SBS

Pros Of Running Beadlocks:
1. No chance of de-beading tire on outside lip
2. Can continue driving for a reasonable amount of time on a flat tire
3. Beadlock adds significant strength to outside lip of rim
4. Rock Crawling Domes can be added to decrease tendency of "rock rash"
5. With some manufacturers beadlocks can be added to existing wheels, regardless of minor damage to lip of rim

Cons Of Running Beadlocks:
1. Additional weight of beadlock
2. Maintenance of keeping beadlock bolts properly torqued
3. May not be legal in some states

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