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Review: Derek Speare Designs Pro Sequential versus Frex Shift+

Discussion in 'Sim Racing Hardware' started by Roy Visser, Oct 12, 2011.

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    Review: Derek Speare Designs Pro Sequential versus Frex Shift+

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    Introduction
    With a growing market for Sequential Shifters, but no possibility to try them before purchase (unless you happen to know someone who owns a device in your area), i hope my review will help out some of you Doubting Thomases

    This review is about Derek Speare's Pro Sequential and Frex's Shift+. Where Frex has been in this market for over 20 years, it is Derek Speare's first approach to a Sequential style Shifter.

    Sequential Shifter?
    Most of you people will know this and will have seen this style of shifting in action on several youtube video's. In short a Sequential Shifter allows you to Shift Up and Down in order of gears with the same simple throw. Every Throw is either an Upshift (Pull Backwards) or a Downshift (Push Forward). This allows for very fast shifting without any possibilities of missing a gear due to clumsy stick shift control. These type of shifters are mostly used in Tin Top style race/rally cars, although the entry level Formula Style cars like the Skip Barber also use this mechanism for shifting.

    Derek Speare Designs Pro Sequential
    Although Derek Speare Designs is a relative new contributor to the simracing market, he has concurred many hearts and has a big fanbase of users. His inventivity, craftsmanship and customer support are almost unseen in this branch. PM's, Emails and even Forum posts are answered within a day, and the continues updates on producing and delivery dates are extremly welcomed by the "i really can't wait to hold it in my hands" crowd.

    Now for his Pro Sequential Shifter...

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    The First thing you notice when unpacking this thing is the sheer weight of it. It just feels heavy for it's size, making for a direct "this is unbreakable" feeling. Something which video's can't show unfortunatly. Once in your hands the most obvious movement is to use the Shifter. After screwing the gearknob on the unit, this will be the first movement for all of its purchasers. Better sit down and hold the unit thightly though, this thing needs FORCE!!

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    The throw feels direct and long, the Gearknob is nice in size but could be a little longer providing for a better sideways grip. Fortunatly this can be easily fixed by using a Gearknob to your liking, since removing the standard one is as easy as unscrewing a light bulb from its socket.

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    After playing with this for a while it is time to use the coiled USB cable and plug it into the PC. This directly is one of the main advantages of Derek Speare's product. It is PlugAndPlay, The Coiled cable easily reaches out to 2 meters making it long enough for most users. The device will automaticly install and you would be ready to use it within a minute of opening the packaging if it werent for one minor detail.. In Derek's quest to make this affordable for all, something (in my opinion) crucial has been left out. There are no mounting options shipped with the device. Derek recommends the Ram clamp for use with the shifter, but this still means you need to get one yourself and are confident enough to alter your newly acquired device to fit this clamp. The other, in my opinion, better solution is to use the 2 bolts which run through the shifter and make some sort of bracket which can be hardmounted to a desk, or use longer bolts and hardmount the shifter to the side of a Desk or Rig (as i did). Using the 2 bolts will make it rocksolid, and I believe Derek has already provided some plans for making an easy mounting system out of some basic MDF and a Metal Bracket.

    Once you have done this it is time to unleash it on the track. It performs just as you would expect, the shifts are direct and you will not miss a single gear. This thing works perfectly due to its simplicity. The throw is long and needs a defenite work out making for a perfect companion for anyone seeking the raw and hard mechanical feel of an old school sequential gear box!

    Frex Shift+
    Frex has been pumping out extreme simracing products like Simcon Motion Simulators, Steeringwheels and Pedalsets since 1987. Their products are build to last but customer support is important to them too, providing spareparts and answers to questions send in by email. Frex is not active on community forums and waiting for answers can take up to a week. They will however always answer. Being based in Japan their English is not top notch, but it is understandable enough to get the right answer.

    now for their Shift+...

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    I have had this thing for over 3 years now, and its simplicity still amazes me. It all just looks really mechanical and you can see all parts from the outside.(unlike Derek's sleek looking boxed shifter) When looking at it you will directly understand how it works and all the bolts and threads have their own little function.

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    as you can see this also allows you to make small changes to the length of the throw and the strength needed to shift. But even in its hardest position, with the longest throw, it will stil not come even half as far in throw, and not even too 30% of the force needed to shift compared to the DSD Pro Sequential.

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    Once you are done playing with it, it is time to mount it to your rig. The Frex comes with its own mounting system which can be mounted to litteraly any desk up to 50mm thick! Once tightned it will not move or bulge, providing for an excellent standard mounting option. So once unpacked, you can have it mounted to your desk within a minute. But the Frex Shift+ also has one Big flaw.. Which is actually the same problem as with Derek Speare's Pro Sequential, you will have it unboxed and mounted within a minute, but where the DSD Pro Sequential is PlugAndPlay, the Frex Shift+ does not even come with wires! There is no way of making this PlugAndPlay without some basic soldering skills, a PS/2 cable and a Fanatec wheel. If you have a differnt wheel, you will have to order some sort of controller, Frex has a couple of these controllers in their shop, but at 40 dollars are rather steep in price. There are several other options like Leo Bodnar's Sli's or controller boards, but you will still need to order these and then carefully solder the wires..

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    Once all this is done, it is time to use it on the track. The mechanical looks also come back in the feel of the shifter. It has a nice short and direct throw, with a satisfying Click when shifting. The throw could be a little longer, but if you purchases some metal thread (M8) you can alter this yourself. The knob is perfect for using the sideways grip which looks and feels like the reall thing. Just as the DSD Pro Sequential, you can abuse this thing all you want, it will never break. The short throw makes it very direct and satisfying in use, making for more of a modern racecar feel in terms of action.

    Pro's And Con's
    First of all, the pricing. These are the prices for the shifters for someone located in europe, paying for shipping/importing costs in dollars.

    Derek Speare Designs Pro Sequential $156,70
    Frex Shift+ $200

    these prices are without the clamping solution for the Pro Sequential, or a controller board for the Shift+. These will be roughly the same in price, so the difference of $45 dollar will remain once both are ready to use.

    Derek Speare Designs Pro Sequential
    + Excellent Customer Support
    + Bullitproof
    + Pricing
    + Sleek Design
    + PlugAndPlay

    -No Mounting Option
    -Short standard Grip

    Frex Shift+
    +Bullitproof
    +Racey Feel and Look
    +Very Good Mounting Option
    +Slightly Adjustable in Throw and Strength

    -Even in Strongest position, the strength needed to shift still is nothing compared to the DSD Pro Sequential
    -Not PlugAndPlay
    -Customer Support could be faster

    Final Thougts
    As always in my reviews i will not state my own opinion about which one I think is best. You should be able to form your own opinion on which one you would prefer. But there is no doubt both devices are a very welcome addition to any Simracers Rig!!

    I would like to thank Derek Speare for providing a Review Example of his Product for me to review.
     
  2. Thanks for the review. Oddly weird timing since last night I was going to ask what people thought of the DSD Pro Sequential, having not seen a single post about it yet).

    Patiently awaiting my Frex Shift+ (it's somewhere out in the land of the international mailing system), and recently ordering a steering wheel adaptor from Derek, I noticed his new shifter (which is cheaper and plug and play, as you said) while browsing around his site.
    I'm certain I will be more than satisfied with my Frex, but now my curiousity is peaked as to the feel of the DSD compaired to the Frex.

    Happy racing. Cheers.
     
  3. The Frex looks like something i would make in my shed :)
     
  4. I just wish there was a table mount for the DSD shifter. :(
     
  5. Derek Speare

    Derek Speare
    DSD FTW!

    Hi Gang - many thanks to Roy for his thoughts on the Frex and my Pro Sequential - he has great insights and a clear, fair perspective. On the point of mounting, I leave that to the individual sim racer to decide what is best. Some have been looking to make a mount available with my help based on the user feedback from the iRacing forums. Keeping in mind the price I charge, I am offering a ton of value.

    Cheers,

    Derek Speare
     
  6. Hey Derek is there any way of seeing the internals of your shifter? Just out of curiosity and I have not seen any information on it whatsoever really. Like I said I had ordered my Frex before I knew you were making one. Thanks anyways.
     
  7. Do you have any pictures of how people have mounted them already?
     
  8. Derek Speare

    Derek Speare
    DSD FTW!

    Here are some photos my customers have posted to the iRacing forums:

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    An inexpensive mount I rendered:

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    Derek Speare
     
  9. Frex shifters are over engineered - will post my £14 joystick sequential shifter later.