About 10 years ago the only people using bead-lock wheels were racers and nut cases. Since we don't race much, that puts us in the latter category. But through the years the concept of bead-lock wheels has been accepted wholeheartedly by the 4x4 world, even though such a product isn't DOT-approved for street use at this time. If you haven't figured out what a bead-lock rim is, it's simply a locking ring on the outer edge of the wheel which clamps the tire bead to the wheel. This prevents the tire from coming off the rim when great amounts of force are placed on the sidewall or extremely low tire pressures are used.
For our recent Ultimate Adventure (Nov. '02) we needed a new set of 17-inch rims to mount the BFGoodrich Krawler tires on the Ultimate A1. These 37-inch tires are only available in the 17-inch rim size, so we contacted Weld Wheels for its SS Sidewinder wheel to outfit the Jeep. The forged Weld wheels are rated at 2,200 pounds capacity each and are tough wheels. We talked to Leon Collins at OMF, who said he could easily turn these wheels into a bead-lock style. We trundled on down to the plant with the wheels to see what makes OMF bead locks so special, and came away mighty happy that they would be going on the Ultimate A1.
OMF has been making off-road products for more than 20 years and specializes in the ATV market. The experience gained in making dead-nuts-accurate bead-lock wheels for ATVs over the years has translated into the off-road racing and rockcrawling market.