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True Bead Lock vs Simulated Bead Lock Wheels 

When beginning your adventure into the off-roading and overlanding world, you’ll notice many trucks, SUV’s, CUV’s and vans with performance upgrades: suspension systems, lift kits, larger tires, and different sized and styled wheels.  Some stock vehicles are well equipped and ready for adventure, but for many, upgrades are a must in order to ensure a safe and secure ride. In this article we’ll discuss what a bead lock wheel is, what they are made for and if it’s the right choice for you.  

Where to start? 

Generally, upgrading your wheel and tire setup is first on the to-do list. This can change the entire appearance of your vehicle, while also allowing you to handle and conquer terrain that your stock setup may not have been able to withstand. Before you make your purchase, you might ask yourself “what type of adventures will I be going on?” and “which wheel style is suited for what I will be doing?”. Popular choices seen on Jeeps and trucks may not always be necessary for the average adventurer and those same wheels may have specific uses that are necessary for those vehicles in order to properly handle off-road terrain. This brings us to the bead lock wheel. 

What is a bead lock wheel?  

A popular wheel style that is seen on many off-road vehicles is the bead lock wheel. A bead lock wheel is much like your standard wheel, but there is an additional ring that fits around the perimeter of the wheel’s face. This bead lock ring is equipped with bolt holes that match up with the bolt holes on the outer lip of the wheel. When installing a tire onto the wheel, the tire’s lip will be sandwiched between the lip of the wheel and the bead lock ring and locked into place by a number of bolts securing the tire in between. 

Why would I need a bead lock wheel? 

Bead lock wheels were designed as a measure of protection when airing down your wheels to go off-roading.  By sandwiching the tire bead between the wheel’s lip and the bead lock ring, an extra layer of protection is added. This method of securing the wheel allows for minimal air pressure in the tire when off-roading, enabling you to gain more traction through the dirt or mud and crawling over rough terrain without damaging or deflating your tires. If your tires were not locked into place, it’s possible that the tire would slip from the bead of the wheel with the tough turns and angles. 

Maintenance and Requirements 

Something to consider when purchasing a set of bead lock wheels is whether or not the wheel is necessary for off-roading. You may think to yourself that you do need a set, because you see plenty of vehicles out there with them, but if you’re not airing down to a super low psi and just doing some light off-roading, then you’ll be able to manage with a standard wheel. You may also consider that bead lock wheels are not DOT (Deparment of Transportation) approved and while bolting up, airing down and getting out there for an adventure sounds great, you’ll have to round up a set of DOT approved wheels to throw back onto the vehicle once you’re back off the beaten path and onto the road.

Bead lock wheels cost more than your standard wheel and require maintenance that can be quite time consuming. Might be a hassle having to torque your bolts every time you go out to make sure that nothing comes loose, when most bead lock wheels have an average of 24 bolts per wheel. If any bolts are missing or broken, it’s recommended to replace them all immediately. It’s a bit more work, but not impossible. 

However, there are options available that’ll provide you with the same rugged appearance without the extra time or work of having to haul an extra set around or that requires as much maintenance.

Simulated or “faux” bead lock wheels  

Simulated or “faux” bead lock wheels provide the appearance of a bead lock without the detachable ring. These wheels are a standard cast, forged or flow formed wheel with bolt holes drilled around the outer lip of the wheel. Some advantages of a simulated bead lock are how incredibly lightweight, customizable and less time consuming they can be, not to mention being DOT approved and completely street legal. With a chunky set of tires and good suspension, a simulated bead lock wheel will do the trick, even if airing down a bit. 


We’ve watched the popularity of simulated bead lock wheels rise and decided to get in on the game. We’ve designed and produced a simulated bead lock wheel with a unique design and are happy to share it with all of you this fall. Our R35 Rambler is a flow formed, simulated bead lock wheel, weighing in at 24.5 lbs. and will be available in 4 finishes, including Machine Clear, Satin Black, Bronze with a black ring and Graphite with a black ring. We will offer multiple fitment options, available for Toyota, Ford, Jeep, Lexus, Chevy and GMC vehicles. 

To bead lock, or not to bead lock, that is the question 

If you end up deciding to purchase bead lock wheels, it’s going to cost you a little more time and money, but they do look great. They definitely serve a purpose, especially if you’re heavy into the off-road game. If you’re not, simulated bead locks seem to be the way to go. A lighter weight, more cost efficient and less maintenance required wheel provides all the fun without the worry. Now that you have some insight as to what a bead lock wheel is, would you run a true bead lock or a simulated bead lock? Share your thoughts and connect with us on social media and stay tuned for the release of our R35 Rambler wheel this fall!  

The pursuit of adventure begins with you. REIKA is what gets you there.

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