Level of Difficulty: Expert
Tools Required: Mounting & Balancing Machine Required
Installed By: OC Motorsports
Install Time: Approximately 4 hours
For Jeep enthusiasts, wheels, tires and a lift kit are the major components determining the type of trails you can tackle. As we learned from Dan Fresh and the OC Motorsports trail team, how and where you position your tires on a challenging trail will separate the rookies from the advanced class quickly. In addition to a bigger, wider, more stable footprint, larger tires afford more ground clearance to navigate obstacles without damaging the vital bits under your rig. With our Rancho 4” lift in place it was time to upgrade our wheels and tires to compliment the look and off road performance of our Unlimited Rubicon Besides enhanced trail capabilities, larger tires come with some other factors to consider. Unsprung weight is increased and can have a major impact on handling, primarily on the road. Also, since we typically air down tires to as little at 10 psi off road a tough tire featuring a strong sidewall is an important consideration. To ensure that the bead of our tires remain seated on the wheel through all conditions we decided to go with a beadlock rim that fixes the bead of the tire to the wheel to endure low psi conditions without having to worry about the tire coming off the wheel.
As we surveyed the wheels available to fit our JK we found a brand with all of the features we were seeking; and to top it off they are made in America-Kansas City, Missouri to be exact. The Weld Wheel brand has an extensive competition resume and has proved their design and manufacturing talents in multiple forms of racing including drift, drag, off-road and oval motorsports. We wanted a unique looking wheel that would be light and strong with a beadlock rim. Weld Wheels have recently been added to the JC Whitney catalog and the REKON XT jumped out as the answer to all of our requirements. The REKON XT is a light, forged one piece aluminum wheel produced for most popular trucks and this specific model is designed for the Jeep bolt pattern so no adaptors or centering rings are required. Its 2600lb load capacity is more than adequate for our Unlimited Rubicon and the REKON XT can accommodate up to a 40” tire. With our wheels selected we moved onto the task of selecting tires for the Jeep. Again Dan Fresh at OC Motorsports helped us navigate the waters, as we saw in our initial OC Motorsports trail ride the stock Rubicon tire and wheel set up is very capable but has its limits. Dan was kind enough to loan us a set of wheels mounted with 35” tires while we waited for our Weld REKONS wheels to arrive. We noticed a big difference off road, with increased ground clearance and a bigger foot print that made it easier to pick a line to navigate on the trail. Once again we experienced a tire coming off the bead which just reinforced why we wanted the beadlock design of the Weld REKON.
With the Weld Wheels on the way to OC Motorsports we turned our attention to tires for the Jeep and were surprised to find so many options available. We discussed tires with Dan and he was adamant that if we wanted real off road performance we should select a 37” tire to mount on our 17X9 wheels. Here’s where it gets interesting, Weld Wheels sponsors racer Justin Pawlak and Justin resides in Southern California near our offices. Weld connected us with Justin so we could discuss his experiences with Weld Wheels, it turns out that Justin is an accomplished drift racing champion, loves off road racing and does lots of his own project car building and fabrication too.
As we discussed our plans for the Centennial Jeep with Justin we talked about SoCal trail rides and our Moab and Jeep Beach adventures, then Justin suggested that his sponsor Falken Tires offers the perfect tire for our needs. Justin put us in touch with Nestor Cabrera at Falken and he confirmed that the Wild Peak M/T could handle all of the terrain we had in mind.
With our wheels and tires sorted it was time to visit OC Motorsports to get everything mounted and balanced. Junior was assigned to our project as he has the most experience with beadlock wheel mounting. While the basics of mounting the tire are the same, the beadlock rim requires special handling with the installation and tightening of 32 hex bolts securing the ring and tire bead to the wheel. Junior started with our stock wheels and removed the original TPMS sensors from the wheels to swap them onto the Weld Wheels. The Rubicon has a cool feature where we can monitor air pressures from the instrument cluster; it’s really handy as we are airing tires up with our Innovative JK Products on-board compressor. From there it’s a slow process to seat the tire on the Weld Wheel and start the hex bolts securing the beadlock to the wheel by hand. Following Weld’s detailed instructions, Junior dabbed a bit of anti-seize compund onto each bolt to ensure that they don’t back out. Weld recommends tourqing bolts to 18ft/lbs and checking torque after every 5th off road run.
After tightening all of the hex bolts by hand, Junior set his impact wrench to Weld’s spec and torqued each of the 32 bolts, then we are one wheel down just 4 more to go! (don’t forget the spare) That’s 160 hex heads to tighten in a very specific pattern per Weld’s instructions to ensure complete seating of the tire bead to the wheel face without warping or distortion. Here you can clearly see the big difference the Weld Wheels and Falken Tires will have on the look and capabilities of our Centennial JK. We have already proved that the Centennial Jeep can tackle the challenging trails of Moab and we look forward to more off road adventures soon.