Built Tough - BTR Beadlockers & BFG Racin’ Trars!Posted in Product Reviews on December 31, 2015
Every 4x4 needs wheels, but not all wheels are created equal. We just slapped a set of BTR (Built Tough Racing) beadlocks on Clampy, our ratty wheeling Toyota, and we can tell you they are not like the vast majority of truck wheels out there. These wheels are designed for racing, and in fact have won a few big off road races over the years (ever heard of King of the Hammers?), but they are also great for wheeling.
What sets the BTR wheels apart from the competition are simple upgrades that make them tough, easy to use, and lightweight, all great racing attributes. These same attributes are true of a great trail wheel.
The aluminum BTR wheels have a 24-bolt bead lock ring, but 48 blind-drilled and tapped holes in the wheel. We noted that there were no steel inserts in the BTRs, unlike in some competing wheels. We concluded that rather than adding the minor weight of the inserts for longevity of reuse, BTR chose to add twice as many holes, effectively lowering the overall weight and offering a backup mounting hole if the beadlock bolts should strip out the tapped aluminum. The 17-inch wheels weighed in at 33 pounds.
The center bore of our 17x8 wheel is 4 1/4 inches, perfect to clear most 1-ton axle hubs. BTR offers a variety of bolt patterns besides the 8-on-6 1/2 that we chose. With a backspacing of 4 1/4 inches, the wheels clear steering components and brakes on most heavy-duty axles. But our favorite asset of the BTR wheels is the flat lug nut mounting surface, which means you can get to the lug nuts without any deep or special thin-wall sockets. True, 99 percent of the time this isn’t a problem, but that one time you need to remove a wheel on the trail and all you have is a set of vise grips in your 4x4, you’ll understand why a flat lug nut mounting surface is great.
We opted for a short steel valve stem on the BTRs that uses just a single rubber washer on the inside to seal against leaks. We also picked up a handful of valve stem caps with the built in valve stem removal tool. This is a must-have for any off-roader as a quick and easy air-down tool. Just don’t lose the valve stem at the trail head. Better yet, throw some spares in your glovebox. Note the large rear safety bead on the bottom of the rim in this photo; this requires high pressure to seat the tire bead but resists tire debeading on the non-beadlock side at low pressure.
Always use a dab of antiseize on the beadlock bolts or bolt holes when assembling your wheels and tires. This will defend against thread galling between the steel 5/16-inch bolts and machined aluminum holes.
We’ve touched on beadlock mounting steps before (“Living Room Locks,” February 2015) but wanted to remind you that using a spray bottle of soapy water always helps getting the tire over the rim. Also follow the torque specs for the beadlock bolts (usually 22 lb-ft for 5/16-inch bolts) and be sure the tire is centered under the ring and bolts tight before adding air to the tire. The 39-inch BFGoodrich Baja T/A KR2 tires we mounted on the BTRs are race-spec tires and not something you can purchase at your local tire store. But everything BFG learns from racing finds its way into the company’s daily use and trail tires, so expect to see some of these tires attributes on the store shelf near you.
This is why you want beadlocks. Wheeling at single-digit air pressures allows your tire to flex and wrap around obstacles, in effect giving you more grip and traction. Without a beadlock the tire can be pushed off the bead, lose all its air, and require an on-trail tire mounting seminar. The BFG racing tires have proven themselves tough and capable and, when combined with a set of beadlocks, now make our old Toyota trail truck feel a little like a trail trophy truck.