If you’ve been paying attention to 4WD’s around the place, you might have noticed that there are a huge number of of 4WD’s, caravans and camper trailers running what looks like beadlock rims. You’ll tell by a decent sized lip on the rim, running all the way around.
Look a bit closer though, and you’ll realise that most of them are imitation beadlock rims, and are not the real thing. They are literally bolted on for aesthetics, and yet people are buying them by the dozens, so are they any good?
What is a beadlock rim?
For those of you who aren’t familiar with a beadlock rim, it refers to a type of rim that uses two pieces, and a huge number of bolts to physically secure the 4WD tyre to the rim.
They are used for more hardcore 4WD vehicles, and allow you to lower your tyre pressures significantly without the risk of the tyre coming off the bead (hence the name beadlock!).
What’s an imitation beadlock rim?
Imitation Beadlocks are exactly that; rims that are designed to look the same as a proper beadlock rim, but they are not.
We have two on our Reconn R2 (as that’s what it came with), and the ‘beadlock’ is held in place by 4 tabs, and 4 bolts. You can remove this piece of steel without it affecting anything, and in actual fact we ran them this way for a long time, before deciding to put them back on.
I actually have to remove mine on one wheel each time we come home in order to fit the Nemesis wheel clamp!
Are imitation beadlock rims legal?
Yes, they are, and this is the primary reason so many people run them. They look good, are fairly cheap and have no legal hurdles to jump through to run them (as a pose to running real beadlock rims, which are not easy to get legal).
What are the advantages of running imitation beadlock rims?
Some people will tell you that the imitation beadlock rims do actually make it harder for the tyre to come off the bead, and looking at mine I’d have to agree.
I don’t think they’d do a brilliant job of it, but it would certainly keep the tyre retained to a certain extent, on one side of the tyre only, and only in one direction, which is a huge reduction in benefit to real beadlock rims.
I’m going to suggest that they’d provide a mild increase in strength of the rim too, as you are tying 4 points on the wheel together, and making it less likely to buckle in a vertical orientation.
Disadvantages of fake beadlock rims
One thing you do learn pretty quickly running these styles of rims is that rocks and mud will get stuck in them, and then it isn’t able to flick out as easily as a normal rim.
This can make your tyres unbalanced quite easily, and each time I remove the beadlock part off our Reconn R2 I find bits stuck behind it, or if we’ve been in bad mud, it will be in between the rim and the beadlock.
Beyond this, they can actually be a pain to balance depending on how well they are made, and that can make life challenging.
These are also going to be heavier than a normal rim, which means your fuel economy is going to marginally decrease, as will your braking capacity, and your payload will also be affected. Yes, its a tiny amount, but it’s still something.
Why don’t people get real beadlocks?
In the USA, there’s a huge number of people running Beadlocks on normal 4WD’s. Unfortunately in Australia though, its much harder to do this legally. Yes, you can do it illegally, but there are very few ADR approved beadlock rims, and that makes it very difficult.
Beyond this, proper beadlock rims are much more expensive, and everyone likes to take the cheap way out.
Should you get imitation beadlock rims?
Honestly, that’s up to you. If you like the look of them, and think there might be a minor benefit, then go for it. I’ve put them back on our Reconn R2 to assist with running low pressures, and I’ll be honest; I like the look (especially over having black rims with 4 tags hanging off them!).