Project Big Bad Chevy: Wheels and Tires

Feb. 24, 2009 By Mike Lyon

Project Big Bad Chevy Returns!

Project Big Bad Chevy gets new Allied wheels and Pit Bull tires.

It’s been a while since we reported on our Project Big Bad Chevy. Once the new Dana 60 front axle with hydro-assist steering was installed, our project was neglected for a couple months waiting for the 14-bolt rear axle to be installed. With the addition of the new 1-ton axles we’ve out grown our old shoes (6-lug), and it’s time for something that fits better!

Choosing the right tire and wheel combination can be an unpleasant experience. There are hundreds of wheels and tires to choose from, and once you figure out what will work best you have to dish out thousands of dollars. We needed a very strong bead lock wheel that would be large enough to fit over our disk brakes and a tire that would hold up to heavy abuse and not leave us stranded.

We have had previous experience with Allied Wheels (also known as Raceline wheels) since we replaced a set of poorly designed bead locks on our project sand car with a set of Allied sand star bead locks. We were impressed with the design and craftsmanship when we installed them. Since installation they have been severely abused and we saw no sign of wear, and not even a hint of the tire spinning on the wheel like many other bead lock rims tend to do. So choosing bead locks for our current Chevy project was a no brainer.

Greg Mulkey at Allied wheels has over 20 years of wheel experience. He manufactures quality truck & SUV rims for your mall crawler, as well as hard-core off-road race proven rims that hold up to the nasty terrain of Baja. Our aluminum ‘Rock-a-thons’ are designed around Allied’s off-road racing wheel. Greg told us how their wheel is superior in strength over the competition, and it all starts with how the wheel is made. Allied uses a state-of-the-art casting process called “vacuum casting” where the molten aluminum is drawn up through the cast rather than forced down into it. This allows the aluminum to be much less porous (like many other cast items), and the grain of the aluminum is much tighter with better consistency, which ultimately leads to a very strong wheel!

Here’s a look at the center section of our Allied Rock-a-thon wheels.

Another feature that stands out on the Allied Rock-a-thons is the massive center section, which is close to two inchs thick! Many other wheels have a mere half-inch-thick center section and are prone to breaking under heavy stress. With such a thick center section, Allied can offer back spacing from 3.5 to 5 inches.

Allied’s Rock-a-thons also feature a superior locking ring and tire bead locking surface. The steel locking ring features a rolled outer edge for extra strength and also provides protection to the ringbolts. Allied uses 32 grade with eight bolts per wheel to lock the bead securely in place. To top off the ring design, a 5-degree angle is built in which insures a secure lock of the tire to the rim. This prevents any chance of the tires spinning on the rim at low air pressures.



The bead-lock lip of our Allied wheel for the Big Bad Chevy.

When it comes to the actual bead-lock portion of the rim, Allied surfaced the wheel to better match the tire and used a replaceable, hardened steel insert with 50 percent more thread than other manufacturers. Each wheel also comes with two extra inserts just in case something goes wrong. Other manufacturers either tap the aluminum rim itself or use heli-coil inserts.

To top off the Allied bead lock they built in a wider inner lip to help keep the tire on the rim and provide greater strength. They also set the valve stem near the middle of the rim for maximum protection. This rim flat out looks good. It gives your rig a whole new look while having the real beef that’s needed in extreme conditions!

For the tires, we needed something big, dependable, and inexpensive. After lots of research we figured we would try a relatively new company, Pit Bull Tires and its 39x14.5x17 Maddog tires. We wanted something aggressive on the trail and still semi-quiet on the road. After reading a few favorable reviews, the Pitbull Maddogs seemed to fit our already blown budget. The Maddogs have an aggressive tread and are a bias ply tire that, Pit Bull claims, are quiet on the road compared to other brands of bias-ply tires.

We decided upon Pit Bull's Maddog tire for the Big Bad Chevy, which the company says is quiet on the street but still offers great off-road capability.

Pit Bull’s Web site is almost comical in the way they describe the Maddog tire. The short description of the tire basically says that their tires kick ass, but Pit Bull doesn’t give up much information on the tires for fear of revealing trade secrets to its competitors. The aggressive tread design features “Tear it up” technology. What’s that you ask? Who knows, but according to Pit Bull, this is patented technology that makes the tires extra puncture, cut and heat resistant. They also feature “real side wall protectors,” “rim guards,” “all bite no bark” noise resistant technology, sidewall traction using “Fang” technology, deep lugs and sipes for maximum traction and easy cleanout, and, last but not least, “cool sidewall designs and other tire tattoos.” Wow, that was a mouthful, and we wish we could give you more details on what some of those fancy words and terms mean, but as the Web site says, see the pictures for what they mean.

Aside from all the secrecy and lack of description for the tire features, we know the tires feature four-ply nylon construction and have a very unique design. They also feature a very aggressive tread pattern with built-in siping with many edges for greater bite into the terrain, as well as aggressive sidewall traction. We are confident with the Maddog’s extra thick sidewalls and bias-ply construction that they should serve us well.

Project Big bad Chevy is still not road or trail ready so we have not been able to fully test our new Allied Bead locks or the Maddog tires. But you will be hearing more about them in our first trail report!

Raceline Wheels
12300 Edison Way
Garden Grove, CA 92841

Pit Bull Tires
314/621-8954 Newsletter
Join our Weekly Newsletter to get the latest off-road news, reviews, events, and alerts!