The Best Bikes with Direct Drive Wheel for Sim Racing
High-end bikes with direct drive Wheels, which are intended for SIM races, once cost over € 1000 for a complete kit, but times have changed, especially last year. So now we are away from the very first impeller for SIM races for a few years, wheels with direct drive are getting cheaper, whereby fanatics CSL DD is extremely affordable.
So what is on the market and what is the best impeller with direct drive for your skills, your budget, and your experience?
What are the top-rated wheels with direct drive for SIM races?
Go to the wheel stalls in the following list (in approximate the budget) or read on to learn more about how bikes with direct drive work.
- Simucube 2: Sport / Pro / Ultimate
- Fanatec CSL DD
- Fanatec GT DD Pro (PlayStation)
- Logitech G Pro
- Fanatec DD2
- Simagic Alpha Mini
- Simagic Alpha
- Simagic Alpha-U
- VRS Direct force Pro
- Moza Racing R16 Direct Drive Wheelbase
Today we dive deep into the topic of SIM – racing bikes with direct drives.
Which direct drive wheel is best suited for Simracer?
Before I start, I would like to tackle the standard discussion under Simracern. If you ask for a recommendation in most forums, you will end up with a small competition among the owners to explain your impeller.
The truth is that if the Force feedback is set correctly, there is hardly a significant difference between the wheels that would fundamentally impair their fun or performance in the simulator. This does not mean that these different manufacturers have their properties, but they are so subtle differences that they would hardly disturb even the most professional and demanding drivers.
If you want to jump directly to the wheels, use the links right below. Otherwise, read on!
Much of the development in bike technology is actually in the drivers and integrated DSP algorithms-the technology that interprets the output of the simulation package in strength feedback and the entries from the driver’s actions.
This is a flowing thing, software and drivers are constantly updated.
So there is no “best” DD steering wheel for SIM racing. You could waste a lot of time choosing. You could be unimpressed by a wheel because it was not set correctly by the owner. You could waste more time after a “better” bike that would better use for your technology and tuning setup.
I compared the Fanatec DD2 and the Simucube 2 Pro (the DD2 and SC2 I own). I can honestly say that the strengths and weaknesses of the individual products are more likely to determine by external factors such as the hub, impeller compatibility, the driver software, and the intuitive operation of the tuning menu.
Factors that are important for the typical SIM racer
My DD wheel must work! If you have spent enough time in the simulation, you know that something can go wrong from time to time.
If you are more technically versed (maybe you build your OSW bikes or are only interested in the software and technology), then occasional problems are not a big deal. But if something no longer works shortly before qualifying, it can be frustrating.
Mainstream device providers such as Fanatec and Simucube are well-developed and extremely reliable.
This is because they are not a particular niche and offer good support. You sold enough volume to iron out the problems. In comparison, we found it difficult in the past to receive support from less well-known / smaller manufacturers, although some smaller manufacturers offer better customer service as a whole.
Hub compatibility could also be a problem. Since I have several fantastic bikes, they are only compatible with fanatic wheel stands. My Simucube Formula Sport wheels are wireless, which is only supported by the Simucube 2. I particularly mind the rigidity of the fanatic hubs when I compare them with the Simucube SQR hub. So much so that I found a modification for the fanatic hub called Z-ring that fixes this problem.
What is a direct drive wheel?
A direct drive wheel is a SIM racing bike in which the wheel itself is installed directly on the engine via a quick-tension.
This is different than with belt and gear-driven systems, in which there is always a mechanism between them and the engine.
Belt and gear-driven systems generally have lower quality parts and are unable to deliver the same forces (a few up to 30 nm) as direct drive systems. The systems with the lowest budget hardly have Force feedback.
Direct drive is mechanically more manageable, but bikes have a lot more complexity in their electronics. They are usually heavier and made of metal, which often feels like industrial quality. They are more expensive, but offer advantages over low-budget systems.
Why is direct drive better?
Cycling engines with direct drive have no game…. This temporary, albeit subtle relaxing and tensioning strap, is in most conventional belt-driven Sim Leneclary systems. The lack of game in a direct drive wheel leads to the possibility of cranking the steering weight up without losing the feedback quality. With enough time, we can fine-tune the steering to achieve the expected feeling.
To understand why wheels with direct drive may be better suited for SIM races, it is a good idea to look at what makes a good wheelbase for SIM races.
The entire cycling movement is intended as provided by the simulation software. There is less delay in the system and no mechanical game. The speed at which a direct drive wheel can deliver feedback means that you can react faster to slides so that you have the feeling that you can manage slides and sudden events quickly and competently. As soon as you have got used to the forces that are connected to a DD SIM steering wheel, you will probably feel safer, make fewer mistakes and finally find an ideal point where you enjoy driving.
All wheels rotate over 900 °, which means that your steering input matches exactly with the simulated wheel rotation. This has been a feature for a long time.
Force feedback strength and force feedback effects
Direct-drive wheels can deliver higher peak and nominal torque (holding torque). The Fanatec DD2, for example, has a holding moment of 20 Newton meters (NM) and a peak torque of 25 Nm. This peak value is a lot – almost five times higher than the belt-driven fanatic CSL elite.
The availability of torque gives the opportunity to achieve more concise force feedback effects (see: what is FFB?)-As a driver, I like to feel when the car loses its available grip, and I like it if this feeling manifests one Counterforce, especially in the middle of the curve. Direct-drive wheels do this exceptionally well, while something like a Logitech G29 would hardly let them know in comparison.
Detail at high frequencies
I love to feel the route details while driving. Curbs and rumble strips show you that you are at your limit with your car. Feeling the vibration through the bike is great. The engine and engine control electronics can naturally operate the engine with very high frequencies. In fact, high enough that the Simucube 2 Pro can be popped by simply sending a high frequency through the engine.
This availability means that sawing effects such as vibrations and lane details are reproduced in exquisite detail.
Stiffness and processing quality
Through high moments and heat, plastics are practically out of the question. A real SIM steering wheel with direct drive has at least 4 M6 threads for assembly in an aluminum cockpit. Everything has to be strong and taut to finish with a top torque of 25 Nm.
Most DD bikes feel heavy and industrially and therefore feel as if they are withstanding the hardships of the time.
Define torque characteristics
Torque is the most important aspect of direct drive systems. Manufacturers tend to speak of two types of torque values:
- Peak torque
- Holding or constant torque
“Torture torque” refers to the maximum performance of the wheel engine in short bumps. When driving over a high curb, when changing direction at high speed, or in the event of an accident, torque tips can occur.
“Holding gem” refers to the resistance of the engine for rotation.
In the SIM race, the driver regularly opposes the self-oriented torque of the car by a curve, which heats the engine. A high gem is crucial for a consistent driving experience.
“Torque swelling” is a very subtle vibration that you would feel when rotation in the steering wheel is constant
What is in a Direct Drive Wheelbase?
Most of us would never think of dream of unscrewing our suitcases with a wheelbase to find out what is in them.
In each DD wheelbase, you have a motor, a power supply, a motherboard, a digital engine drive, and a USB converter:
Types of engines
In a DD wheelbase, you will encounter some different types, instructions, and manufacturers of the engine. Here is what they will come across frequently.
The stator coils have conventional in-running engines on the inside of the housing, and the magnets are attached to a rotor in the middle. The wave turns with the magnets. This typical engine arrangement can be found in a DD wheel.
Outdoor runner engines have attached their magnets to an outer housing that revolves around the stator.
The motor shaft would also turn the outer motor housing when turning. The outer runner’s permanent magnets are placed on the rotor and the rotor turns on the outer housing. The stator windings that do not rotate are located on the inside of the engine, they are fixed in their position.
Outside runners can generate more torque but have a lower speed per volt. The Fanatec DD1 and DD2 use external runner engines as the preferred component selection since they believe that the outer runner can deliver more torque at low speeds.
Stepper motors are direct stream motors that move in discrete steps. They have several coils organized in groups that are referred to as “phases”. By exciting every phase, the engine rotates step by step. The advantages of stepper motors are low costs, high reliability, high torque at low speeds, and a simple, robust construction that works in almost any environment. The main disadvantages when using a stepper motor are the resonance effect, which often occurs at low speeds and the decreasing torque with increasing speed.
A servo motor is not an engine type itself, but an engine in which an encoder is installed to measure position, torque, and rotation. This is crucial for the fine control of the output rotation and the record of the driver’s entries (resistance forces, steering inputs, etc.) by the digital motor drive.
Mige is a popular servo manufacturer in the SIM racing community, and its products usually form the basis of most OSW cycling sets. This special article is delivered with an optional fanatic hub adapter, which means that you can start building your SIM wheel with a direct drive with a USB conversion board like this quite cheaply.
So if you have the right engine at hand, what do you need to build a direct drive wheel for your SIM?
Digital motor drives
A digital engine drive is designed for the drive of servomotors and stepper motors. This product from Ioni enables the control of motors with position control, speed control, and strength/torque regulation, which makes it an ideal component for a self-construction project.
Motherboard with built-in Force feedback controller
Simucube once offered a motherboard (for placing the digital motor drive blades) with a combined Force feedback controller for Simucube 1:
The Simucube board offered a slot for a digital engine drive, connections for engine power, E/A, and a USB adapter. With this device, you have almost everything you need, except for a power supply and a USB converter called Simple motion V2. Although this hardware is unfortunately out of date today, bikes with direct drive became available for the first time for consumers and therefore this is an important part of the story.
Since we now know how bikes work with direct drive, we look at what is available on the market today …
Simucube 2: Sport / Pro / Ultimate
If you can afford a Simucube 2 Sport, Proof Ultimate, this is the wheelbase with a direct drive that you should have. I am a very happy owner of a Simucube 2 Pro, it is my daily companion and I see no reason to change that in the foreseeable future.
The brushless direct drive goal engine from Simucube is super smooth, and you can determine that the processing quality and components of this impeller are of an exceptionally high standard. Driving with the many profiles available in Truedrive Paddock is child’s play so the FFB setup for your SIM software is completely easy.
The SQR-hub does not leave any scope, and there are only many amazing functions, including its latest ARM CPU and engine control electronics that make this thing so quickly and react so quickly and react quickly.
I use my Simucube as my only wheelbase after selling the DD2. It simply exceeds the other bikes with the direct drive that I tested, both in terms of the details and on the running rest of the FFB.
Personally, it is the SQR hub that does this for me. I always found the fanatic hub too little stiff-there is always a little bit of play between the wheel and hub. The SQR quick-clamping system is rock-solid and I love it for it.
For more information about the Simucube 2 family, I have written instructions on this popular direct drive unit, including installation and furnishings. If you can afford you, this is the DD wheelbase you should own.
Fanatec CSL DD
Fanatec has shaken the SIM racing industry with its new CSL DD wheelbase. As a device below $ 500 /500, it plays directly in the usual areas of Logitech and Thrustmaster. When the CSL DD came onto the market, the wheelbases of the club sports and CSL elite series with belt drive were also obsolete. Fanatec has set its future on pure direct drive devices:
Fanatec makes bikes with direct drive more affordable in a clever way, and since the competition comes onto the market earlier, there is a good chance that this small direct drive device will become an entry device. If I were building a budget SIM RIG, I would choose this wheelbase and a similar GT1 EVO-SIM racing rig, which is a strong starting point for hardly more than $ 1,000!
The idea of a $ 1000 wheelbase and cockpit would have been pure imagination just a year ago. But here we are. But is the CSL DD good? I had my doubts, but when I tried it, I found it very smooth and surprisingly detailed for a wheelbase with a maximum torque of 8 Nm. This is a brilliant starter wheelbase and is recommended by me. If you have a limited budget, but (rightly!) With the direct drive experience, this is a fantastic and inexpensive entry point for serious SIM races.
Fanatec GT DD Pro (PlayStation)
Just in time for the commercially busy time of the year, our friends of Fanatec launched a complete direct drive system, including CSL pedals, for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. It’s called GT DD Pro:
This market launch will be a turning point for our friends of console racing, as it is the first directly driven steering wheel on the market that costs less than £ 1500 (the fanatic DD1 is also PS compatible, but has a higher price). It has a button layout on the steering wheel, which will be very familiar to Playstation owners-and it was specially developed with the developers of Gran Turismo so that this software will immediately feel great.
Logitech G Pro Wheel and Pro Pedale
With the successor to the G923, Logitech has finally relied on a direct drive. And they grew up! It is a new design compared to the G923, for example, the housing, size, and key arrangement – it is a completely revised beast.
There is a front panel made of brushed aluminum, and the wheel arrangement will be familiar to Logitech owners, but this has certainly moved with a much higher emphasis on ergonomics. On the back of the wheel, you have switches that use neodymium magnets, and the device has two analog double clutch rockers that can be configured for the double clutch mode, or you can use one as a handbrake if you play a rally game, or if your requirements for accessibility are different for any reason.
The wheel unit with the direct drive itself can hand in a torque of 11 Nm, which is somewhere in the middle between a CSL DD to the base level and a Simucube 2 Pro.
The size of the thing is quite large, although it is a DD wheel stand with basic assembly and therefore very easy to install and is compatible with most SIM rigs. You can also assemble it on your desk with the included table brackets.
Concerning the connections, everything is now USB which makes things much easier. The pedal cable is connected via a USB connection with the base, from which I expect that it also works directly with the PC.
Logitech G Pro pedals
The new Logitech G Pro pedals are included in the scope of delivery. In contrast to your predecessors, they are adjustable – simply solve a few hexagon screws and simply move the pedals to -position them. There are different elastomers if you want to adjust the pedal stiffness. Logitech True Force was also improved with this device; Users report that they feel far more details on vibrating strips and beautiful stretch details.
All of this may seem expensive for the money of about £ 1000, but the setup is delivered with a bike and pedals. So if you save hundreds with a bike and hundreds of pedals, this makes a lot of sense.
Fanatec DD1 and DD2
When I owned one, I was a big fan of my fanatic DD2. The DD2 is extremely easy to install and set up, which makes it ideal for the first-time user of DD wheels. I upgraded the DD2 from a CSL elite and always had the feeling that this was a good choice.
The DD1 is pretty much the same device but is out of tune to deliver a peak torque of 20 Nm. It is also a console.
Fanatics motor in the southerner style is unique in SIM racing and enables a really convincing torque development over the entire torque range.
I think your drivers are particularly strong. My DD2 conveys a feeling of realism that I can (not impossible!) To reproduce on other wheels, especially in the MX5 and Ferrari GT3.
If you are new to SIM racing and want simplicity and an overall high-quality experience, this is a great steering wheel.
Simagic Alpha Mini
On the heels of the CSL DD release is another approx. £ 600 / $ 650 wheelbase with direct drive: the Simagic Alpha Mini. The Alpha Mini is the “baby” of the Simagic family, which was very busy improving and developing its ecosystem all year round in 2022. They now offer wheels, steering wheels, hand brakes, and sequential gear levers. This is the alpha-mini:
The Alpha Mini offers a CSL DD stroking torque of 10 Nm and offers wireless functionality via a 2.4 GHz WLAN connection. As with most wheelbases with direct drive, the alpha mini is dependent on a servomotor. The housing dimensions are fairly small 110 mm x 167 mm!
Simagic claims to have developed its already excellent physics models to improve the authenticity of your Force feedback, including an AI function (artificial intelligence) for Force feedback optimization! This could also be the first choice for those who are interested in drift races since Simagic offers “exclusive settings for drift and rally mode”.
Technically speaking, I think that the Alpha Mini is one of the best budget wheels with the direct drive that you can buy for SIM races. And there are now many packages available from which you can choose a wheel you like and still get a small discount.
Simagic Alpha DD Wheelbase
In the somewhat higher price range of € 865.00 – € 920.00 (approx. 1000 $), the Alpha from Simagic is quite a favorite and a good competitor of the Simucube 2 Sport with a top torque of 15 Nm.
This DD unit is larger than the Mini and offers an additional 5 Nm torque. Here, too, it can be configured via the alpha manager, so firmware updates and tuning settings should not be a too big problem.
This direct drive unit with aluminum housing includes advanced electronics: a “3-CPU” tri-core acceleration smart basis, Simagics’ own 3-phase service engine, and a quick refresh rate of 1000 Hz (or 1 kHz) for keys and 40,000 Hz (40 kHz) for Force feedback. A powerful device at a reasonable price and indeed a very nice thing!
Simagic Alpha-U Wheelbase
This is Simagic’s flagship with direct drive, the Simagic Alpha-U. This is a functional competitor to the best bikes with the direct drive that you can buy for money:
Technically, the alpha-u is very impressive. 1 23 nm top torque, <1 ms reaction time, and an encoder resolution of 262144 per. I don’t think you will miss a lot when you drive this thing!
The direct drive service of the Alpha-U is a customer-specific 5-pin element with practically no latency. It has a CNC milling aluminum housing that is sandblasted and anodized black.
The Force feedback electronics itself are also very impressive, with Simagic’s CPU architecture, 262144 PPR encoder resolution, 40 kHz response rate, and a “3. Gen “filter with optimized algorithms. It supports wireless bikes and can be optimized in the SimPro Manager.
Just to show them how good Simagic stuff looks, here is one with the attached FX Pro-Rad:
VRS Directforce Pro Wheel Base
The new VRS Direct force Pro Wheel Base costs around € 899.00 and consists of the VRS controller, a small Mige engine with 20 Nm, 3 m long motor cables, a high-quality USB cable, and a power cable.
The VRS Direct force Pro is a 20-NM-SIM-Racing DD wheelbase of the top class at a competitive price and has received strong reviews so far.
The unit can be ordered here and I suspect that this will be one of the most popular Mige-based bikes with direct drive on the market over time. Since its original market launch (approximately 2 years ago), VRS has worked on the thorough improvement of the hardware and software. There are also indications of a steering wheel that you want to release at some point in early 2023.
Moza Racing R16 Direct Drive Wheelbase
The R16 Racing is a directly driven wheelbase made of aluminum alloy from Moza, which delivers an impressive torque of 16 Nm, which makes it an impressive part of the kit. Overall, it has a rock-proof processing quality, and all the materials used give the wheelbase a robust, yet well-sophisticated finish.
The slim design of the R16 is inspired by modern super sports cars, and the outer shell has a two-tone painting with stylish Moza branding on the sides and the front of the base. In addition, a progressive cooling system ensures temperature control in the entire device and ensures that all components do not overheat even after long use.
One of the best aspects of the R16 is its wireless technology without latency, with which you can connect a rim to the base without disturbing or disturbing cables in the way. It also accelerates if you want to switch to an alternative rim for various motorsport disciplines.
Another state-of-the-art feature that takes off the Moza R16 from its competitors is its ability to support mobile cloud-based commands. In this way, you can adjust things like your Force Feedback or your pedal settings via the mobile Moza app in no time at all, which makes the fine-tuning of your wheelbase easier than ever.