What is a tire bead gap

What is a tire bead gap

There is more than meets the eye when you dissect how a tire and wheel combo inflates, stays inflated and why some wheels and tires shouldn't be matched together. We take a deep dive into what makes certain wheel engineering superior when deciding your next combo.
What is a Dual-Drill UTV Wheel? Reading What is a tire bead gap 4 minutes

You may have heard someone referencing the tire bead or tire bead gap and thought to yourself..."WTF is that?". No worries, we're here to help explain what a tire bead is, why tire bead gap on your wheel matters, and offer some suggestions on how to choose the correct wheel and tire combos.

The Basics 

If you've never actually mounted a tire to a wheel (bike, car, utv, etc.), it's easy to assume you simply fill the tire with air and it magically inflates and stays on the wheel. What makes the magic actually happens is a combined effort between your favorite wheel and tire companies. There are a ton of safety measures both wheel and tire manufacturers take to ensure each product properly beads, has ample strength for side impact, and guarantees that the bead stays in place. 

What you need to consider is that if you alter the recipe of this process (lowering air pressure below suggested psi, or going speeds not recommended for both wheel or tire), you're going to test the limits of these safety measures and you'll be putting you and your passengers in harms way.

Let's address each of the parts and pieces that make a successful tire and wheel combo. 

Tire Bead

The tire bead is the term used for the edge of a tire where the rubber makes direct contact with the wheel. The tire bead is a super stiff loop of coated steel wires that are tightly wound to exert pressure on the outer lining of the tire. The function of a tire’s bead is to firmly adhere the tire to the outer surface of the wheel. It does this by using pressure from the wires to mold the rubber to the wheel’s frame. The bead forms an airtight seal against the wheel and allows for a more efficient transfer of forces as the vehicle moves. The rubber compound that surrounds the tire bead reduces the flexibility of the wires and deflects damaging forces, especially in harsh environments like rock crawling or hard turns under speed.  

what is a tire bead utv wheels tires

Wheel Tire Bead Gap

Now that you have a good foundation on what makes a tire bead so important, we need to look at how a wheel's tire bead gap is equally as important. 

Because each tire bead can vary in thickness (sometimes drastically), it's important to know the available bead gap on a wheel can vary as well. This presents a unique issue when deciding what tire to choose for your specific wheel. If the tire's bead is too thick for your wheel's bead gap, installing can be difficult and potentially dangerous once installed on a vehicle.

As the tire industry evolves, we're seeing larger and larger tire beads which is actually a good thing. Stronger beads means a greater force on your wheel when you want to air down. The problem with this evolution is that most wheel companies are slow to evolve at the same pace.

All Valor Offroad UTV wheels use a larger than industry average 10mm bead gap to ensure that no matter what tire you pick, our wheels can safely accommodate. Not sure how large your wheel's bead gap is? Use a micrometer and measure from the inside of the bead hump to the inside of the wheel's lip flange (or ring for bead lock wheels). This is the maximum space allocated for your tire's bead. If the tire's bead thickness is larger than the bead gap... you're asking for issues. We recommend you do a quick spec search on other brands and you'll likely find most are between 6-8mm.

beadlock vs standard wheel bead gap bead hump


In the example below, you can see where the tire bead sits directly between the wheel and the beadlock ring.
beadlock wheel tire bead wheel bead gap
What is a tire bead gap
Learn

What is a tire bead gap

There is more than meets the eye when you dissect how a tire and wheel combo inflates, stays inflated and why some wheels and tires shouldn't be matched together. We take a deep dive into what makes certain wheel engineering superior when deciding your next combo.
What is a Dual-Drill UTV Wheel?
Fitment

What is a Dual-Drill UTV Wheel?

A dual drilled wheel is a wheel that is drilled with two sets of bolt holes. With this additional set of holes, dual drill wheels can accept two different bolt patterns. On all dual-drill wheels, the larger hub bore of the two bolt patterns is used to ensure proper fitment.  
Wheel Backspacing vs. Offset
Backspacing

Wheel Backspacing vs. Offset

4+3? 6+1? 25mm? We put to bed the UTV industry debate on what measurement is better, why we use wheel offset and wheel backspacing in the powersports industry, and we do a deep dive into why each measurement matters.

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