Beadlock wheels are awesome for off-roading. They allow you to air down your tires to single-digit pressures and get gobs more traction as the tires’ contact patch spreads wider. But there are two common issues with beadlocks. One is the legality of driving on the street with a two-piece wheel, but even more annoying is a leaky beadlock that won’t hold the pressure for long. When you have a wheel that clamps the outer bead with an external bolt-on ring, it is all too common for the bolts to work loose from abusive off-roading, and the next thing you know the tires go flat while sitting in your driveway waiting for the next wheeling trip.
We just tested some new beadlocks from B.A.D. (Bead Assist Device). Although they are a little tricky to install, we are excited that they should cure those two common beadlock dilemmas. Unlike most other beadlocks, which use a two-piece wheel, the B.A.D. beadlocks use a one-piece wheel like most every other wheel on the road, but then have a unique internal clamping component that keeps the front-side (outer) bead seated when down to single-digit pressures.
We spent a Saturday morning mounting our new beadlocks and were running dirt obstacles by that afternoon with traction galore. They always say the bad ones are more fun.
“They always say the bad ones are more fun”
Unlike most beadlock wheels, which have an outer bead ring that bolts onto the wheel, the B.A.D. wheels are a special casting that works just like a normal wheel but uses a three-part bolt-on system inside the wheel to clamp the outer tire bead.
The aluminum clamping components are held on with two large nuts that thread onto studs seated into the aluminum. Step 1, remove all the clamping components.
You must start by putting the tire on the B.A.D. wheel and seating the bead, unlike with a normal beadlock where that is done last. We used a set of tire irons (spoons) from Extreme Outback Products to wrestle the 40-inch Nitto Trail Grapplers onto the rims.
Next we aired up to about 40 psi until the tire was seated on the bead of the rim. Soapy water is your friend when it comes to installing tires on a wheel. It also helps to leave the tire out in the sun to get more pliable.
Once the tire bead has been seated on the rim you must then break just the back bead, the side that will be towards the vehicle or the mounting side of the wheel. It’s easier to have all this done at a tire shop; just tell them you want the tires mounted, not balanced, and the rear bead broken down afterwards, but leave the front mounted. We just used a pair of Tyreplyers Beadbreakers from Extreme Outback Products.
Once the rear bead is broken you need to get the clamping components (aka internal locking elements) down inside the mounted tire. Using a pair of PVC 45-degree elbows helps a lot in holding the tire down to work inside the small opening. These beadlocks are recommended for 33-inch or larger tires since you need some sideway to work with.
The three clamping components (aka internal locking elements) are tricky to get inside the tire and mounted on the internal wheel studs. But again, some soapy water and dexterity can get them in with a little elbow grease.
With the components inside and mounted you’ll want to put the flat washer and nut on the two studs that hold them in place. The studs are pinned in place on the wheel so they will not spin.
A socket with a swivel joint and an extension helps get them tight. Torque spec is 20 lb-ft.
With the nut torque down, the clamping components are clamping the outer bead to the outer lip of the tire and you need to install the small snap pins through the holes in the 0.625-inch studs. There are small holes for the pins so the nut cannot back off. Keep a small extendable magnet or a magnet on a string handy; we can almost guarantee you will drop a snap pin inside and need to fish it out. We did so about 10 times.
Once all three components are bolted in place and clamped tight and pinned you can reseat the inner bead. Since the tire is not being held to the bead by a two-piece wheel, leaks are a lot less likely.
We added an external rock ring (aka Rock Defense System, RDS) to protect the finish of the wheels. There are 18 button-head cap screws that hold the ring in place; find the six short ones first because they line up with the wheel spokes.
Under each of those short bolts you’ll install a set of Nord-Lock washers. This is a washer system that uses two interlocking washers to keep the button-head cap screws from backing out. You only use these under the short bolts that align with the spokes, and you always use both of the washers together.
With the rock rings installed you’re ready to go demolish some trails with your low-psi tires. Each wheel weighs about 50 pounds, so they’re not light, but their new design makes them DOT-compliant for using on the road.
One item we really like is the Rapid Air Deflators (RAD) on the wheels, which help you air down fast at the trailhead. Plus, by having a second opposite valve stem, you can monitor pressure as it’s dropping and shut it off at the perfect pressure.
To use the RADs, just remove the outer valve stem cap and turn back the large knurled ring. This O-ring–equipped air cap releases pressure through multiple holes near the wheel face for quick air drops.
Though mounting the BAD wheels is tricky, we didn’t really find them any more time consuming than a normal beadlock with a ton of little bolts. We do have two complaints about the wheels. We like the 17x10 size, but we really wish there was an option with more backspacing than 31⁄2 inches. We like wheels with 41⁄2 to 6 inches of backspacing to help wheel bearings and turning components with less scrub radius. Our biggest complaint though is that the lug nut holes are too small. We find wheels that require a thin wall socket, extralong lug nuts, or both to be annoying to install. Especially if you’re on the trail and don’t have special tools with you other than a lug nut star wrench.