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Eight Things I Learned When I Switched to a Permanent Rig

Their rig is every sim racer’s pride, no matter the shape, size or form. It may not be an absolute necessity – you can be fast even at your desk – but a proper setup can improve the experience immensely.

After years of using a combination of a wheel stand and an IKEA Poäng chair, I recently switched to a Sim-Lab GT1 Evo and learned a few things that I did not think of beforehand. Those points that stood out the most I have written down for you – here are eight things that I learned when I switched to a rig.

Building a rig is easier than I thought
If you have never worked with aluminium profile before, building a rig using the extrusions can seem complicated. However, the opposite was true for me: Theoretically, it is possible to build the rig by just using different size allen keys and no other tools – I do recommend having a toolbox handy, though. For me, a ratchet with the proper bits made assembly much easier, also because you can secure the bolts more tightly. This makes everything more stable in the end.

Washers are your best friend
Sim-Lab includes an enormous amount of bolts, angles and washers – more than you would need to assemble the GT1 Evo. That way, you have lots of accessories in reserve for later upgrades. Most connections are made via T-Slot nuts and bolts, but for some, washers make all the difference. The wheel deck is a great example for this: Without washers, there could be some flex to it, but with them in place, everything is much more secure.

Be careful with your phone!
As mentioned, aluminium extrusions are very sturdy – which is why you should keep an eye on your smartphones or other mobile devices during assembly. Sim-Lab does not provide printed build instructions but rather offers them as a download, which is why my phone now has a permanent souvenir from when I put everything together after putting down a piece of extrusion while not being careful enough. Might have been smart to print the instructions before getting started, but I did not think of that.

You can adjust it just the way you like
Aluminium profile is extremely flexible to adjustments. The position of anything you bolt on to it can be changed relatively freely, be it the position of the seat or pedal plate. There are no pre-drilled holes for bolts to fit into on the GT1 Evo itself, only on the pedal plate and the wheel deck to ensure compatibility with various hardware. This also means that you should be very precise when you build your rig so the bolts are just where you want them in the to prevent anything from being bolted on crooked.

It is less of a hassle
Every time I wanted to turn a few laps, I had to rearrange half the living room while still racing on a wheel stand: TV, coffee table, wheel stand and IKEA chair had to be moved to get set up and race. This was one of the things that was most annoying to me with my previous solution, but with a permanent rig, things are much more relaxed now. Switch on the PC, sit down and go racing – that is all there is to do now. That way, even short sessions are worth it now.

Better body position
A big advantage of the adjustability of the rig: It can easily be set up in a way that is comfortable to its user. Using the wheel stand and IKEA chair, I had always been sitting a bit stretched, my lower back did not touch the backrest. Moving the stand closer to the chair was not possible, as the position of the shifter on the stand made contact with one of the armrests. From time to time, I got out of the chair with a slight pain in my left knee, which had been pressing the middle pedal to brake and was, therefore, not straight, unlike the right leg. After switching to a rig, I have not had this problem once.

No flex means better FFB
On the wheel stand, I have used a Logitech G920 for a long time before upgrading to a Thrustmaster TS-XW. While the difference was very noticeable on the wheel stand already, mounting the TS-XW to the rig was night and day once again: Due to the wheel stand flexing horizontally, a lot of FFB detail was muted – which gave the wheel an entirely new dimension on the rig. Also, quick counter-steer movements work better when everything is firmly in place all the time – if that was not the case, my most recent upgrade to a Fanatec Podium DD2 and Venym Atrax 3 pedals would have been unthinkable.

Better overall driving feel
Thanks to being able to position a monitor close to your POV and the increased FOV this makes possible, vision during racing is much better, especially since I switched to an ultrawide monitor for the rig, so the effect basically doubled. It is easier to see apexes now, awareness is higher in general. Additionally, it is a great feeling to have when you know you can really mash the brake peal or that everything will remain exactly where it should be even after quick counter steer measures. This inspires a lot of confidence, too.

What were your observations when you first got a rig? Were there other surprises than the ones I have listed? Let us know in the comments!

Interested in getting a Sim-Lab GT1 Evo yourself? Take a look at the RaceDepartment Store to find the rig and other hardware for all your sim racing needs while supporting RD with your purchase!
About author
Yannik Haustein
Life-long motorsports and racing game fan as well as racing history enthusiast. I write stuff here and on www.simracing-unlimited.com and try to be not too mediocre when sim racing with varying degrees of success :confused:

Comments

Myonly comment is that it is a better idea to have a better rig as better wheel / pedals.
If you can only do it step by step i will recommand to go first for the best rig you can offer you, then pedals, and the wheel.

A good rig is essential to maximise the joy and immersion in simracing.
A lot more than the best wheel or pedals.

Of course a nice wheel and pedals are a big plus too.
(I personally have Rseat RS1, clubsport v3 pedals, csl dd + MC laren v2 wheel, clubsort shifter. Alimentaire wide monitor)
 
At the moment, having a rig like this is not possible. I live in a rather spacious condo, but there's no room for a rig, unless I make a switch and put my bedroom in my home office and my home office in my bedroom! :D
 
After driving a desk for what felt like forever, I'm into my second week of owning a fully assembled Trak Racer TR160 cockpit. I won't go into too much detail about the assembly process (yes the instructions aren't great - some guide measurements would be useful). but it came together fairly quickly and I'm happy with the end result. It's definitely worth saving up and buying the best you can. My plan was to buy once and never again which is why I've gone with the 80/20 solution as it's so configurable and built like a tank. If the house falls down, I imagine the rig will stand unblemished on top of the rubble.

While I'm yet to see any tangible improvements in my driving times, it's fantastic being able to apply greater braking force knowing that the LC pedal isn't going to slide away. I can definitely feel more detail in the FFB too as mentioned above. I've spent some time this week making adjustments to the posture and I've landed on something that feels comfortable and gives me full control. I found that driving upright at a desk made me adjust my real world car seating to match as I'd been spending more time driving virtually than for real (thanks COVID).

I've got a Butt Kicker on the way and I'm looking forward to installing that at the weekend. My last update to the set up was adding Philips Hue lighting so I can sync the bars behind the G9 to the on screen action which definitely adds to the immersion (especially at sunrise and sunset with the Sun moving across the display).

Anyway here it is in its current configuration. I call this lighting scheme 'Lava Level':

TR160_Rig.jpg
 
@Yannik Haustein IKEA Poäng chair? How did you manage to drive in that chair? I've tried and it always lifts from the floor when I push the brake pedal.
Hm, I never had that happen, but it was set up on a rug, so that might have something to do with it. Only issue I had was the chair moving backwards and away from the stand when I braked too hard :roflmao:
 
I got my first rig last year during lockdown after racing at my desk for 6 years... And my time racing has decreased ever since

The experience is bar none though... Maybe it me but one thing that doesn't get mentioned alot is how th ffb vibrations travel through the rig which really adds to the immersion when going over bumps or curbs!
 
I'm using a Wheel Stand Pro and Poang Chair with G29 and I don't have issues, it doesn't lift up and I don't have problems with it sliding away. I used to have a different chair but Poang gives a better position and is just overall more comfortable. Obviously a rig would be better but buying a Poang made for a bit of an improvement for me. I think the worst thing about a temporary rig is that you need to set it up every time you play and then there are times where I can't find a good position behind the wheel after previously having it good.
 
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I have a GT Omega Apex wheel stand and when I use it, I ratchet strap my gaming chair to it. It's decent, but I do get left knee pain every now and then. I am toying with the idea getting the tail end of the wheel stand or going with an aluminum chassis. Both options would have to be on casters, because; I do more than just run racing simulations on my PC so, I need my setup to be versatile.

I am not too convinced that the aft end of the GT Omega Apex stand is the way to go. I'd still be dealing with small amounts of flex in the wheel and pedal deck. And it may not be the most comfortable arrangement. Then after all is said and done, I would have spent enough to get a decent Aluminum rig and a seat from Summit Racing. Might as well spend that money on something much better. I wish I knew that I'd be wanting a cockpit before getting the stand. I would have saved some money. Live and learn, I guess.
 
I'm using a Wheel Stand Pro and Poang Chair with G29 and I don't have issues, it doesn't lift up and I don't have problems with it sliding away. I used to have a different chair but Poang gives a better position and is just overall more comfortable. Obviously a rig would be better but buying a Poang made for a bit of an improvement for me. I think the worst thing about a temporary rig is that you need to set it up every time you play and then there are times where I can't find a good position behind the wheel after previously having it good.
I use a wheelstand pro for my Fanatec CSL elite and it’s really great. I never fold it, I have found a setup that works for me. These wheelstands are really well-made.
 
I've said this to some friends, but sometimes having a rig with a correct and comfortable seating position can make strides to improve massively you performance and consistency.

Don't skimp on the rig!
@RockettSally
I've lost count the number of seconds I've lost on laps because my desk rotated an inch or so halfway through a lap and I start fidgeting and drop some focus from driving :rolleyes:

I recently got rubber wheel squares to put the chair wheels on and thats worked great instead of using shoes or string lol, but a rig is calling my name...
 
I use a wheelstand pro for my Fanatec CSL elite and it’s really great. I never fold it, I have found a setup that works for me. These wheelstands are really well-made.

Yeah, I don't fold mine at all either. I just put it away and put the pedal part in a bag so that the pedals don't collect dust too much. Gotta protect those potentiometers lol
 
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I was a 10 yr user of Sim-Labs, fantastic rigs. I had 2 over the years but I must say now that Im getting older and the aches and pains become more frequent, I have decided to go a different direction and will order the LC Series rig from MotionSimulations. I like the ergonomic approach they took and hope it will give me more comfortable sim sessions.

I hope it meets my expectations and will be happy to share them with the community when I receive it and have had some time using it.
 
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After 5 years of good use, my Playseat challenge collapsed and I found myself on the floor... I made the switch to a Sim-lab Evo too (and moved as well to a bigger place, so now I have more room, that was the key point :D ), and it increases so much the experience, with the same wheel and pedals! Ok, I have a CSW 2.5 and CSL Elite pedals, they are nice. But like you mention, the rigid rig makes me feel much more of the ffb, it's almost like a new wheel!

And after dropping down my iRating at the beginning of this year (like I said, my Playseat was aging and getting flimsy), it grew up incredibly in the past months, I've never been that high before!

I used to leave my stuff up in the middle of the room sometimes so it was all ready, but I now feel extremely lucky to just fire the PC, slide in the rig and go!
 
The rig boosts ergonomy, modularity and updates.
Bodyshakers are mandatory. Even a harness to keep yourself more in contact with your seat.
Possibility of 5.1/7.1 surround system.
Button boxes
Shifter and/or handbrake
SimWinds
Shakers for pedals
LEDs lighting.
 
is there a reason people use aggressive bucket seats for sim rigs? i could see if you have a crazy motion setup but most dont. you arent experiencing g-force, so why be less comfortable? use a comfy stock seat from a car. personally, i found a seat from an nd miata. even has the sliders and tilts so it can easily accommodate other people, and i can slide it back to give me more room when im just chilling on the pc.
 

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