Switching to Beadlocks

I’ve had my Jeep almost three years now, with three annual trips to Moab to wheel it. I’ve been running a simulated beadlock wheel, airing down (~14-16psi) when we hit the trails, with good results. Up until now, I’ve never owned a vehicle with beadlock wheels, as I considered them to be too much work for the amount of time I spend on pavement versus the time I get to actually wheel my Jeep.

So what changed my mind on beadlocks? Last year while I was in Moab I stopped in to see Dixie 4 Wheel Drives new shop. We had been wheeling pretty hard all week, and I wanted them to take a look at Rubi before the long drive back to Chicago. While at the shop we got to talking about my Jeep, and I asked them quite frankly what they thought would be next on my build. After taking a moment to consider that, their lead mechanic said this. “You’re built for 37’s, you’re armored…the only thing missing are beadlocks”. Beadlocks would allow you better performance on the trail. Hmmm.

Fast forward to this past Spring. I got a chance to attend Easter Jeep Safari. While there, I met Dr. Hank who not only has a superbly built Jeep, but also had an interesting story to tell me about running beadlocks. I did a feature video on this titled “Build It So You Can Get Home”, have a look at that video at some point. Hank’s trail experience really opened my eyes on the capabilities of beadlock wheels. Hank cut a side wall while running Kane Creek. This happened on Hamburger Hill. He not only finished Hamburger Hill, he also finished running the trail and drove his Jeep to Dixie’s shop for replacement of his blown tire. The ability to get back in, “Build It So You Can Get Home” was something that really resonated with me.

I knew I wanted to switch to beadlocks, so now which beadlock will I run? After a few weeks of research, I settled on Method’s 106 Beadlock. Here’s a look.

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This is the V.3 Forged ring. The details are beautiful!

This is the V.3 Forged ring. The details are beautiful!

M 106 Features

  • One-Piece Cast 356 Aluminum w/T6 Heat Treatment

  • V.3 Ring is 6061 Forged and is 53% Thicker To Reduce Deflection

  • Recessed Hardware Has 360 degree Bolt Head Protection

  • 17% Wider Bead Seat to Accommodate Larger Tires

  • Includes American Made Grade 8 Zinc-Plated Hardware Kit

  • -44mm/3.5” Back Space 17x9

Here’s a close up look at the actual beadlock surface…

The M 106 is from Method’s Race Series of wheels, in their words, “built for top-tier off-road race environments”. Method has machined two complete sets of beadlock ring mounting holes on the wheel. If you were to damage a hole, simply rotate the ring and you have a fresh set to work with. I like the thinking here, these wheels look like they are engineered to take some abuse.

I’m mounting new rubber on these wheels. I’ll be running Nitto’s Ridge Grappler, size 37x12.50/R17. These are a Hybrid thread design featuring the best of a mud-terrain and an all-terrain. I’ll do a separate write-up on them as I get some miles on them.

Nice to see these waiting for me at the shop!

Nice to see these waiting for me at the shop!

Here’s a look at the mounting process…

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The Nitto’s went on the wheel with very little muscle needed, and the bead sat down nicely. I was happy about this as I have watched quite a few videos of two guys jumping up and down trying to get the bead to seat. For this install, we didn’t need much muscle to bead them.

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Here we are ready to install the beadlock ring next.

Here we are ready to install the beadlock ring next.

There are 24 bolts around the ring. Starting at 12, 6, 3, and 9, you slowly start to bring the ring down in contact with the tire bead. Then you start working in a star pattern, bringing the ring down evenly. I finished with a torque wrench, tightening them to 20ft.lbs. As you can imagine, you’re going to be torqueing the bolts for quite a while…that’s 120 bolts to torque. I went around each wheel three times to insure there were torqued to spec. On the bolt install, anti seize was used. I was impressed that most of the wheel/tires need only 3oz to balance them, one took 7oz.

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Here’s the new set-up ready to be mounted on Rubi.

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The 106’s have a cool detail on the inner wheel. Is this done for strength?

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And here’s the new look. I had the rings powder coated Kingsport Grey to tie in the trim rings on my Pro6’s and door handle inserts.

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I love the new look and cannot wait to get these on the trail aired down where I can really take advantage of this upgrade. On the street the Nitto’s ride exceptionally well. They are incredibly quiet, with a very comfortable compliant ride. What really surprised is their quick turn and ease at the wheel.

I’ve been running the 106’s for about week now, and they have not lost any air at all. In fact, behind the wheel, you don’t notice any difference at all. They balanced out great, and are smooth up to 85mph cruising the interstate. The 3.5” back space is perfect for clearances, and give the wheels a fantastic deep concave. Look for updates as I live with my new tire and wheel set-up. Stay tuned for more!

-Steven