Is a direct-drive wheelbase worth it?

We wrote previously about whether a load cell brake pedal is worth it, as well as discussing the value an aluminium profile rig plays in sim racing. The next item in our Top 5 sim racing hardware items to consider is a direct-drive steering wheel/wheelbase.

What is a direct-drive steering wheel?

We wrote previously about direct-drive steering wheels and mentioned that it's basically a very powerful motor that has a steering wheel attached directly to it without using belts or gears.

This results in precise feedback with powerful forces that improve immersion and feel, with the added benefit of being able to swap out steering wheels. These types of steering wheel systems are available from most of the popular brands like Logitech, Fanatech, Simucube and VRS, as well as newcomers like Moza and Cammus.

Pros and cons

Direct-drive steering wheel systems are amazingly powerful and detailed, but they don't come cheap. Their belt-driven and gear-driven counterparts tend to be much cheaper, but prices are dropping all the time as demand increases and more manufacturers enter the market.

Ideally, you will need a strong sim rig, preferably made from metal. An aluminium profile rig would be ideal. Unfortunately, this also doesn't come cheap.

We've already covered the pros of having better, more detailed and powerful feedback with the added ability to change wheels. Most direct-drive wheelbases allow for a quick-release system, making changing wheels quite simple and fast.

Is it worth it?

The simple answer is: yes. It is definitely worth it, especially now that the prices of direct-drive wheel systems are lower than ever. If you're a casual racer and mainly play Need for Speed or the odd F1 game now and then, a gear-driven wheel is more than sufficient.

However, if you're really into sim racing and plan to improve your driving and compete at a higher level, then a direct drive wheel system must be considered. It won't make you a lot faster, but your consistency will improve, as well as your ability to feel changes to the tyre wear, fuel loads, grip levels in the wet etc.

Final thoughts

We've used a direct-drive wheel for a couple of years after upgrading from a gear-driven wheelbase. It cost a lot and needed a bit of time to get used to it, but it's so much better than the old Logitech that we had that we can't ever go back.

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