What Is a Beadlock? Definition, Meaning and Concept

A beadlock is a feature found on a high performance automotive racing wheel. The beadlock is a device that securely attaches the tire to the wheel bead, by means of a screw-in locking ring, to prevent the tire from slipping off the rim. Available on both the inside and outside of the wheel, the most common beadlock wheel has a single lock on the outside bead. Popular in a wide range of motorsports, from drag racing to rock crawling, the most common form of competition using a bead wheel is dirt track auto racing. While pearl lock dummy wheels are popular on street driven four wheel drive vehicles,

Many racing vehicles operate with reduced air pressure in their tires to increase traction. This often leads to tires coming off the wheels when sliding sideways into a turn or dragging along the side of a steep rock face. In drag racing applications, the wheel often spins inside the tire due to the enormous amount of horsepower applied to the tires as you hit the throttle. When using a bead wheel, the tire is attached to the wheel by sandwiching the bead between the wheel and the bead or locking ring and securing the ring with bolts around the entire perimeter of the ring.

Most racing wheels that incorporate a bead are made from spun aluminum, but there are many steel wheels that also work with a locking bead. Steel wheels are more durable in some environments where weight is not as significant a factor. Dirt track racing in some of the lower classes often allows the use of beaded steel wheels on the right side rear axle. Higher performance classes such as late-generation models and sprint cars often use aluminum wheels fitted with lockers on both the inside and outside rear tires, with late models often running with the locks on the four wheels.

Small versions of the beadlock wheel are manufactured for use on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in competitive racing applications. In order to properly install a tire on the wheel, the locking ring must be precisely fitted to the manufacturer's specific specifications. Failure to properly tighten the lock ring bolts can cause tire sidewalls and tire beads to break. A loose lock ring can also cause severe vibration and punctures.