Get The Lead Out (it is all about balance)

No more shakes and shimmies, better gas mileage and longer tire life what’s not to like…

Spinning tires wobble if they’re not perfectly balanced.  To avoid having your off-road truck shimmy and shake while bombing down the back roads, usually means taping lead weights on the sides of the wheel until a bubble level reads top dead center.  The trouble with lead weights is that they are difficult to  place exactly right, they can fall off on an off-road adventure when wheels and rocks meet.  Additionally as the tire wears the weights are no longer in the right spot. Heavy mud terrain tires require a lot of weight in order to achieve balance.

We recently installed our Toyo Open Country M/T on new beadlock wheels and instead of the usual lead weights we decided on tiny high-density ceramic Dyna Beads from Innovative Balancing…  So how can a few ounces of tiny ceramic beads balance a 75 lbs tire?  Well for those of you who where eating pizza in Mr. Hand’s physics class when he covered centrifugal force, here is how the tiny beads dynamically balance a spinning tire:

  1. beads are placed inside the tire (big space filled with air…  not inside the rubber…  just want to be clear) and sit at the bottom tire when the rig is at rest
  2. as the rig begins to move the wheel starts to roll and centrifugal force distributes the beads all around
  3. every time a heavy spot on the tire goes up on the rotation it pushes the beads down and away from the heavy portion of the tire
  4. quickly the oscillation frequency reduces and the beads move less and less
  5. when the wheel achieves perfect balance centrifugal force holds all the beads in place

These little beads will work on 18 wheelers, RVs, trucks, cars, motorcycles.  If it has wheels, the laws of physics hold true… Ok that’s enough but this will be on the test.

Checking the charts, our 295/70R17 E rated tires required between 6 and 8 ounces of Dyna Beads for each tire. Innovative Balancing sells pre measured bags so we order up a bunch of 8 ounce bags.  The beads themselves come in two sizes, standard and bigger…  we went with the standard size since they offer a couple of installation options but you do need to install their filtered valve stem core.

Since we were mount tires onto new wheels, once the tire was on the wheel we place one 8 ounce EZ Open bag of beads inside the tire cavity and than set the tire and aired up…  yeah that is it.  The EZ Open Bag is designed to open and release the beads the first time the wheel starts to spin.  Your other option is to remove the valve stem core and pore the beads in.  A clear plastic break-bleed hose works well  to guide the beads into the valve stem or you can buy Innovative Balance’s applicator (little bottle w/ clear plastic hose).  Just keep tapping the hose and valve stem  (or tape a pocket rocket to the valve stem) to keep the beads flowing.

Regardless of how the beads get in, you will want to install a new filtered valve stem core, unless you have a tire pressure monitoring system(TPMS), to keep the beads from clumping in the valve stem.  If you do have a TPMS, Innovative Balance said the TPMS will block out the beads without a filtered valve stem core…  but it also means you wont be poring the beads down the core…  You win some you loose some.

One safety tip from the Dyna Bead guys…  if you use tire bead soap avoid getting any inside the tire or on the Dyna Beads.  We did not use any tire soap so no worries.

So the million dollar question is…  do they work?  We took the rig out on the highway to see if there was any wobble.  We did not notice any wobble or shaking as we drove the back roads tooling along at 35 mph, starting out or stopping.  And at 70 mph the ride was smooth as a Ken Doll.  Not a jitter or shimmy from the steering wheel as we sailed down I5.  Big heavy tires are notoriously difficult to keep in balance sending them into a death spiral – Tire out of balance leads to uneven wear which leads to the tire becoming more out of balance, leading to more wear…  These beads dynamically balance the tire each and every time reducing wear, increasing mileage and ensuring a smooth ride.

So the next time Boy ask “when am I ever going to use physics in the real world”…  I have the answer and a smooth ride.

Update: after tens of thousands of miles and a second set of tires using the Dyna Beads we can tell you that we are very pleased with performance and will continue to use them to balance tires for our off-road adventure truck.

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