Until recently, all single bead lock wheels adhered to a common format whereby the outer bead of the tire is sandwiched between two flat flanges, which is then locked in place by up to 48 bolts. This technology was originally developed by drag racers looking to keep slicks from rotating on their wheels during hard launches on asphalt. While effective for drag-racing applications, this locking method leaves several problems for the off-road enthusiast.
First and foremost is the vulnerability of the outer bead lock ring, which is integral to the seal of the pneumatic chamber. If you damage the outer ring and compromise the seal, the tire can quickly go flat. Secondly, the fasteners that secure the locking rings in place can loosen up over time. If these bolts are not re-torqued regularly, clamping force is diminished and the load is transferred to the adjacent bolts. If ignored altogether, the clamping force can become concentrated in a particular area where bolts remain tight. These over-stressed bolts were never designed to handle the pressure and snap, usually in the least convenient scenario, leaving the pneumatic chamber and user at risk.
Another issue with traditional bead lock wheels has to do with the Department of Transportation, the guidelines governing how wheels are made, and the so-called DOT legal aspect. With a lack of clear information available to consumers, and law enforcement for that matter, the issue of DOT legality is often overlooked—until an accident occurs and an investigation ensues.
Bead Assist Device (B.A.D.) Wheels is a new player in the wheel game and promises to make all of the above issues a thing of the past thanks to innovation and a smart design. Their first offering is the Eklipse 17, a cast-aluminum wheel aimed exclusively at the daily driver/weekend warrior segment, with wheeler-savvy attributes such as Rapid Air Deflators, dual valve stems, a beefy casting, and a new unique internal bead lock design. The Eklipse wheels are approved for up to 42-inch-tall tires and cost about $300 each to start (price increases with finish options). That's a pretty good deal for a U.S.-made failsafe bead lock wheel.