If you’re new to the world of PC based sim racing, buying a wheel and pedals is probably the most important purchase you’re gonna make.
But with so many options out there, it’s difficult to know even where to begin.
So I’m gonna make it easy for you.
I’m gonna give you my three favorite wheel and pedal setups at three different price points.
Meaning all you’ll need to do Let’s pick the one that fits your budget.
Now, before you even think about buying a will, you should take some time to think about where you’re going to actually mount the thing.
A lower end will you can definitely clamp right to your desk and that’s quick and easy.
I did that for years.
It works really well.
But if you’re thinking about going with something a little bit more high end or if maybe you want the luxury of having a dedicated space for swimming, then you should start thinking about getting a cockpit.
I looked at a lot of different options out there and I decided that I liked the offerings from a company called Next Level Racing.
They have a variety of different products from low end to higher end, and you can basically get the one that fits your budget.
For me, I decided to go with the GT track model, which I liked because it’s fairly narrow it only 21 inches, but it’s still very sturdy capable of handling all the torque that a higher end wheel can generate.
At 800 bucks.
It’s not cheap, but if that’s too much for your budget, they have a lot of different options again, going from the FGT which is only about $500, and even the folding FGT light.
Which is about $300 you can even fold that up and put it right in your closet.
Now keep in mind this is gonna take a while to put together took me about an hour just to get all the pieces out of the box, and then about another hour to get it configured exactly how I want it.
But that’s one of the nice things about having something like this is you can kind of begin to customize i,t and personalize it and make it the perfect setup for you.
For example, I’ve got a trackball here on the right so I can get through all the menus.
A keyboard here in case I need it for editing i&i files with a like I mounted a USB hub and the right and a power strip on the left.
So as I’m plugging in wheels and pulling them off again to test them out, everything will be quick and easy.
It’s a perfect setup for me.
But again, look at all the different options out there.
Find the one that fits your lifestyle, and the one that fits your budget, too.
We’re starting off with our most affordable wheel is the Logitech G920.
Part of the DrivingForce series.
There are actually two versions of this wheel in production right now the 920s you see here which is also an Xbox One compatible, as you can tell by the x right there.
Or there’s the G27, which is also PlayStation 4 compatible.
If you’re only doing PC racing, it doesn’t matter what you go with.
But if you’re doing some Forza Motorsport on the side, you want the G920.
Like, we have here.
Whereas if you’re more into the granturismo side of the equation, you want the G 27.
Again, if you’re only doing PC stuff, it doesn’t matter what you go with go whichever one you can find, although I will say that G 27 has a little bit better suited controls for PC setting.
But even here on the 920 we’ve got plenty of buttons on the face.
I use the D pad for example for looking left and right in the braking zones to make sure nobody’s dying bombing me Shorter buttons are useful for toggling through the onscreen displace and do things like setting your pit strategy.
There are plenty of other face buttons for adjusting brake bias and the normal sort of things you’ll need to do in most cars in iracing.
The overall fit and finish is quite good for the cost which is $400 for both the wheel and the pedals, making this the most affordable setup of the day.
But there are a couple of shortcomings.
The wheel is only about 260 millimeters in diameter which is less than 10 and a half inches, which makes it feel a little bit toy like as you’re diving into your races, but the overall experience is really good and you can definitely take this wheel and go to the upper echelons of iracing.
Without any problem there are people out there winning races every week on wheels like this and even more basic, older versions of the Logitech dragon four series.
So this is definitely something that you can get and grow with Without having to worry about having to spend a whole lot more money.
And if $400 seems like a lot, there’s actually a long history of these driving force wheels going back again, as I said about a decade, so if you’re looking at the used market something like a G 27, or a G 25 can be had for maybe as little as $200.
And those are really great wheels, with plenty of upgrade options as well.
There’s a strong modding community around this wheel series.
But if there’s one major complaint I have about this wheel, it’s actually nothing to do with the wheel itself.
It’s more about the pedals.
The Logitech G920 has a three pedal setup and each of those pedals uses what’s called a potentiometer.
It’s basically a way to digitally tell how far something has rotated.
That’s fine for the throttle and for the clutch But it’s less than ideal for the brake pedal.
Well, the hydraulic brakes in a real car don’t rely so much on how far you move the pedal, but how hard you press the pedal.
Since potentially amateurs don’t detect pressure only movement, Logitech had to resort to basically putting a rubber bushing behind the pedal to make it feel like a hydraulic system.
But in reality that just reduces the accuracy.
a better solution is to use a set of pedals that rely on what’s called a load cell.
Like these fanatic Club sport pedals.
load cells measure pressure so the pedals can accurately track how hard you’re stepping on the brakes.
These Club Sport pedals take it a step further, with extensive configurability and even a sort of push rod clutch pedal mechanism.
That more accurately recreates the feel of the real thing.
The load sale brake pedal on the clubs for pedals makes a major difference especially on tracks like Lime Rock.
For example, we have a heavy braking zone into turn one, but then you need to kinda lift off the brakes and roll into turn two.
You can do that so much more precisely on a more advanced pedal setup.
And that can actually make you faster which of course This is all about, but you can also find more speed and a higher and we’ll something like this which is the phonetic clothes for 2.5, which is my second wheeled choice.
This as you can see just by taking a quick look at it is a much more substantial piece of kit with metal construction that you can put a window on top here so you can see all the advanced mechanism built driven everything else going on inside.
But from a tactility standpoint, the big upgrade is right here in the front.
This is the BMW clubsport wheel.
The diameter is more than two inches wider than that on the Logitech so while the Logitech felt kind of tiny and toy like this feels like a real wheel because basically that’s exactly what it is.
You’ve got full controls here as well.
We’ve got a D pad on the left which is analog which is again, great for looking around the cockpit.
On the right, they call this the funky switch, which is what I use again for going through the different pages in iracing and setting my strategy and things like that.
And a lot of other buttons on the face as well.
But my problem with this field is that these buttons are all pushed really far out to the side and they’re kind of hard to get to.
I’ve got relatively long songs, but I can only get to really two or maybe three of them without having to take my hands off the wheel Which isn’t exactly ideal at 200 miles an hour.
But the great thing about this wheel set up is that if you don’t like this steering wheel, you can throw on another one.
Yes, when you buy into a fanatec wheel and pedal set up, your making an entry into big, wide, occasionally frighteningly expensive eco system.
And while you can definitely burn through your budget very quickly.
For those with willpower, it means you can start with an entry level wheel and pedal setup and then slowly evolved into a more advanced wheels, pedals shifters, hand brakes and all sorts of good stuff as you need it.
Fanatic has even divvy things up into categories to make a little easier.
Clubsport being their mid level to your products with a higher tier called podium.
Those can be truly eye watering the expensive.
Well this Clubsport v 2.5.
We will basically see her costs $540 which isn’t that much more than the Logitech G 920.
But that’s just for the wheel base.
That BMW steering wheel I was using earlier.
Is it for the $300 and a club sport pedals are 360 on their own.
Meaning this set up will set you back a cool $1,100.
Not cheap but a bargain compared to our next and final wheel, the Fanatec Podium DD1 Wheel Base, which costs a cool $1,200 on its own.
Yes, that may seem crazy, but ask any amateur racer how much a single race we can cost them just for fuel, tires, and entry fees And that may just change your perspective a little bit.
Here’s my third and final pick of the day the fanatic podium DD one wheel, this is their higher end expensive direct drive unit but instead of just sitting here and looking at it, why don’t we hook it up and actually take it for a spin.
Stepping up now to the fanatic DD one, the podium level of wheels and a little bit of disclosure This is my personal wheel.
The other two that we looked at those were both evaluation units.
This is the one that I actually paid money for.
This is the one that I’m racing every week.
Why did I choose this over the clubs four?
Well there are some significant differences between this and the closeable wheel, and some minor ones as well.
And frankly, it’s the more minor differences that matter more to me, but the big thing that everyone talks about with this wheel Is how much power it makes this thing can put out 20 newton meters of torque, which is more than twice as much as the club’s what that we looked at before.
Now that is a big, big difference.
And frankly a lot of people are buying these wheels because they think that a higher torque higher force feedback wheel is better, but it’s a bit of a secret and that’s more force feedback won’t make any quicker.
In fact, it can actually make you slower.
Because sometimes that means you’re fighting harder to get the car to do what you want it to do.
Whereas the car with little force feedback, or frankly even no force feedback, well that means you can make a much more quick response.
Yes, there are some situations like if you’re fighting a car with oversteer, trying to keep it from spinning a little bit more force feedback actually help you in that regard.
Short of that more forced feedback will not make you faster.
In fact it can hurt you quite literally.
This wheel has all sorts of warnings all over it.
Every time you boot it up, it warns you and says this is basically a dangerous thing and you need to be careful.
Go online and you’ll find reports of people with broken fingers and broken wrists from using wheels like this And that is a little bit intimidating.
But to be honest with you, I’m more worried about things like repetitive stress injury, you’ll find reports of people getting tennis elbow from sim racing.
That’s not really something that I want.
So what I’m using this wheel actually usually turn the force feedback down.
I run it about 65% for most cars.
That to me is definitely a good blend of realism.
But also with a more manageable amount of torque.
So, why then did I pay extra for a wheel with that much torque only to turn it down?
For me, actually, it’s more about the feel that this wheel can offer.
And it is a bit of a step above to close for in that regard.
This is again what’s called a DD wheel, a direct drive wheel.
Which means effectively, we’ve got a big old electric motor, and the shaft is directly connected to the steering wheel.
And that’s pretty much it.
In the other wheels, you’ve got a lot of gears or belts to basically handle the power and convert it from the motor over to the steering mechanism.
And that means you’ve got opportunities for that torque to be lost and for the field to be a little bit muddier In fact, you can feel the gears, you can feel the belts and those other wheels wrestle.
This, it’s just perfectly smooth and that for me is worth the upgrade.
But if you’re at all worried about how much this whole sim racing addiction can cost, I would actually recommend that you go to clubs for wheel because it is really, really good.
This is just that little bit better.
Now I’m in the Formula One, the Williams f w 21.
To show off this club sport form the wheel that I’ve got here I’m gonna stop so I can go through all the controls.
The Formula One cars in racing have all sorts of controls that you can change in the car that you should be changing lap to lap if you wanna get the most performance out of these cars And so you need a wheel that’s as crazy as this one to replicate that the way that I’ve got a match.
Here I’ve got my brake bias and this rotary knob in the right, I’ve got engine braking on the left, I can adjust my engine mapping here, my throttle map here.
I can adjust the differential for corner entry here and for corner exit here, and buttons of course for things like the pitch speed limiter for changing my visor.
I’ve even got a hand clutch so I get a proper form of the one style launch at the beginning of the race, that was not a very good launch.
Now I’ll be honest with you, I do not drive for the one in iracing because frankly, I find these cars just a little bit too finicky and a little bit too hard to drive.
For me to have fun.
I enjoy something with a roof and with doors.
But certainly that’s the only way to experience everything that this will have to offer.
And if you’re gonna do it will sponsor of course the best place to do so.
But spas also a great place to really experience what these force feedback wheels can do as we go up or rouges, we’re about to, you can feel the increasing grip as I go through here, the string gets Really really heavy from the compression of the car then I go over top and everything gets a little bit light at the top of the hill.
That’s a really great way to demonstrate just the sort of feedback that you can get from these wheels and the kind of value that they can offer.
So there you have it three great wheels to choose from if you are getting into iracing.
Again if budget is a concern look for an older used Logitech like a G 27 or a G 25.
If you get a little bit more to span if you can get into the fanatic ecosystem, you’ll find a lot of great products at a lot of different prices.
And hopefully you’ll find something that fits your budget.
If you’re new to the world of PC based sim racing, buying a wheel and pedals is probably the most important purchase you’re gonna make.