Wheels and tires can be the soul of your project. In many regards, they define what you expect of your build. In our case, we want a jack-of-all trades that can cruise the highway at 75 mph, tear up a mud hole, or scale crazy rock boulders with nary a slip. Our selections needed to be civilized enough to serve on the street, yet brutal enough to bite back on the trail. We think we done good with our choice.
We've been fans of the Goodyear MT/R tire since it was introduced because of its extremely durable sidewall and exceptional road manners but also because of the enthusiast-friendly sizes offered. With everything from the miniscule to the mighty 40x13.50-17 version we chose, Goodyear has you covered. The 40x13.50-17 is the perfect size for a lot of hard-core vehicles. At a true 40 inches in diameter, it's tall enough to provide lots of room under the pumpkin of 1-ton axles. Yet its 13.50-inch wide carcass isn't cartoonishly huge. We also like the fact that the 40 is available for a 17-inch rim for a nearly ideal sidewall-to-diameter ratio.
To mount the tires, we went with a set of tried-and-true Walker Evans Racing bead locks. While nearly all bead locks on the market start out as a regular rim that has its lip machined off and a bead lock ring welded on, the Walker bead locks are an as-cast bead lock. The solid cast aluminum wheel uses a raised lip to center the tire bead on the rim and has replaceable threaded inserts for the bead lock bolts. The bead lock rings are knurled for extra grip and to prevent the tire from spinning on the rim at low pressures. We ordered five raw (unpolished) 17x8.5 wheels with a 4-inch backspacing and a 5x5.5-inch bolt pattern.
You'll need to check out the next installment to see them actually installed on the axles and newly built suspension.