A beadlock (bead lock) is a mechanical device that secures the bead of a tyre to the wheel of a vehicle. Tyres and wheels are designed so that, when the tyre is inflated, the tyre pressure pushes the bead of the tyre against the inside of the wheel rim so that the tyre stays on the wheel and the two rotate together. However, in situations where tyre pressure is insufficient to hold the bead of the tire in place, a beadlock is required.
Advantages of beadlocks
- You can air down, way down. We regularly see as low as 6 psi, but some folks go lower than that. This means more traction in sand, snow, rocks, and more.
- Beadlock wheel rims (the outermost edge) are inherently stronger and can take the abuse of beating them against rocks.
- They look cool (Cosmetics).
Disadvantages of beadlocks
- Weight; Beadlock wheels are heavy because there is more metal and more equipment.
- Budget; The cost of beadlock wheels is higher because they have more parts, that are meticulously engineered.
- With so many parts, the risk of something going wrong is higher. Most tyre dealers/shops won't touch a beadlock wheels, so that means you'll be mounting your own tyres and will have to worry about balancing your own tyres, as well.
Safety and legal concerns
Beadlocks may not be legal for on-road use in some countries. In theory, two or more sequential beadlock bolts could break, and the beadlock ring could partially or wholly leave the rest of the wheel. That means your wheel could deflate wholly in seconds—basically a blow-out. That's bad news when driving at 100 Kph on the highway. Best course of action is to only run DOT-approved beadlock wheels and/or get prepared to deal with failure consequences.