Discussion | Direct Drive Wheels: The Good, Bad And The Ugly

Discussion time! Direct Drive wheels are becoming increasingly common in sim racing, but which one should you get?

Long gone are the days of just one or two niche manufacturers developing DD wheel solutions for a hardcore few. In 2020, the discerning sim racer has a wealth of choice when looking to make the switch to Direct Drive... but with so many options, and such a high price point, what constitutes a good purchase?

I am not going to even try and pretend I am an expert on all the different DD bases available today, far from it in fact, so I thought it worth throwing up this thread for our community to discuss their own experiences, and offer up advice to those still thinking over their next steps.

For the record, I run the Bodnar SimSteering V2 and absolutely love it; however at the price point they are asking, you will probably want to follow the route I took and purchase it second hand!
 
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RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief, occasional YouTuber, commentator and broadcaster, with a passion for motorsport on both the real and virtual racetrack.

dave kirk

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Nov 8, 2016
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Simucube 2 but with the software of Simcommander would be my ideal, I have the SC 2 pro but much prefered the software for the Accuforce
 
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CC

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Apr 27, 2013
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Discussion time! Direct Drive wheels are be becoming increasingly common in sim racing, but which one should you get?

Long gone are the days of just one or two niche manufacturers developing DD wheel solutions for a hardcore few. In 2020, the discerning sim racer has a wealth of choice when looking to make the switch to Direct Drive... but with so many options, and such a high price point, what constitutes a good purchase?

I am not going to even try and pretend I am an expert on all the different DD bases available today, far from it in fact, so I thought it worth throwing up this thread for our community to discuss their own experiences, and offer up advice to those still thinking over their next steps.

For the record, I run the Bodnar SimSteering V2 and absolutely love it; however at the price point they are asking, you will probably want to follow the route I took and purchase it second hand!
Great stuff paul!
 
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giga1tr

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Jan 1, 2017
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I have the Fanatec CSW2.5 and would like to switch to the podium because I have a lot of Fanatec steering wheels. Unfortunately, the customer service and quality of Fanatec is very poor, I have had bad experiences. That's why I doubt whether I should buy a podium or switch completely to another brand. Maybe this survey will help me here.
 

eg01st

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Jul 28, 2018
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And maybe someone could tell the totally uninitiated: what IS a "direct drive" wheel? Does it give you the feedback forces directly? How does my "normal" wheel not do that? Can someone enlighten me in no more than five lines? I never dared ask ...
I don't have a DD wheel, but from videos I have seen you should think of it as a giant, powerful speaker vs the speaker in your phone. Both can produce sound, but the big one has a lot more range, therefore it can produce every little detail without distortion or affecting other tones. Same would be with DD - even mid corner with downforce and steering forces you will be able to feel small cracks in tarmec on top of that. But G27 will give you just a buzz or grinding of the cogs.
 

Andrew_WOT

3000RPM
May 11, 2014
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And maybe someone could tell the totally uninitiated: what IS a "direct drive" wheel? Does it give you the feedback forces directly? How does my "normal" wheel not do that? Can someone enlighten me in no more than five lines? I never dared ask ...
Direct as it does not use belt or gear to transfer motor rotation to wheel. Steering wheel is connected directly to spindle. Motor to wheel rotation is 1:1 ratio, no latency and 'direct' immediate feedback.
 

Shaun Clarke

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I went from a Logitech G27 to a Simucube very very kindly provided by SimTechRacing and WOW, what a difference, totally blew me away, that accuracy, the FFB (careful it doesn't break your wrists) and the more control you have.

I cannot thank Jed @SimtechRacing enough, just pure amazingnuss (if there is such a word) :)

Tip for anybody new to DD Wheels in AC at least, turn the Gain down, I mean WAY WAY down before you drive, as you might end up with some serious injuries LOL

I almost suffered those injuries
 

MarkR

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Feb 8, 2017
818
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And maybe someone could tell the totally uninitiated: what IS a "direct drive" wheel? Does it give you the feedback forces directly? How does my "normal" wheel not do that? Can someone enlighten me in no more than five lines? I never dared ask ...
[Please read to the end - this is not a love note to overpriced DD wheels]

DD wheel - a big industrial motor connected directly to the wheel you hold, no belts, no gears or anything else to interpret the signal you get all the feedback directly to your hands (unlike almost any power-assisted car available to buy today - excluding go-karts and some minor lightweight track/race cars).

Fidelity - DD wheels give a wider range of forces and feedback effects than the 'regular' Logi/Thrustmaster wheels. Feedback through the wheel, maybe, arguably, closer to the real car depending on the game and effects included.

Centre feel - the centre wheel feel of DD is immediate, neither belted TX nor geared Logi are able to produce this.

Wheel Weight - DD motors can produce huge forces that the gear and belt wheels can't. Trouble is very few real cars (classic F1/Indy car?) produce anywhere close to these forces through the wheel. If you are really tough you can crank the weight to 100% and make a YouTube video...

One-upmanship - having a DD wheel marks you out as a YouTuber who got one free top to promote, having more money than sense, 5 seconds faster than the other wheels owning the very best equipment available in sim racing today honestly not just a fancy desk ornament.

The bigger question - is DD really worth the money?

Full disclosure: I own a Fantec DD2 setup that I paid for with my own money, I also have a TX458 wheel for the Xbox One and a Logi G29 wheel for the PS4 and have owned a wide range of wheels before these.

The questions I've been asked most often:

Does a DD wheel make you faster? A DD wheel does not in itself make anyone faster, the nut behind the wheel still makes the difference.

How much difference does a DD wheel make? The last 5% and it really depends how much you value being able to feel those last few sensations and forces. I've driven enough real cars on track to know the subtlety of steering feel in a Lotus versus the tarmac pounding submission of an RS Audi. A DD wheel gives something closer to the Lotus levels of detailed steering feel.

Should I buy one? Only if you have disposable money that doesn't matter to you, this is an irreverent hobby. These wheels are not essential despite what paid YouTubers might claim. Yes, they are lovely desk art and feel fabulous to hold but the difference in performance is negligible if any. It really depends on how much you value that last 5% of feedback and feel. I bought one, I don't regret it but if I only had one choice of £2k toy I'd buy a large OLED TV, way more wow factor for your £2k.

You don't need a DD wheel to have fun or be fast at racing games. If you have the money and want that last 5% of the experience, by all means, go for it, just don't expect the revelation some claim. It will look good on your rig and impress friends (when they are allowed to visit again).
 

Stefano La Commare

25RPM
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Aug 15, 2017
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once you go DD you cant go back, I have a simucube best investment I've made in sim racing
Absolutely true. I have a Simxperience Accuforce V2. Coming from a G25 (..) words can't convey the difference in feel and response. Together with the loadcell pedals, surely the best money spent on my rig. The software (Simcommander) while quite a handful, allows you to really go nuts with the settings.
 

sbabb

25RPM
Feb 25, 2018
49
41
22
Quick Version

DD wheels are all worth the money for the quality and performe, atleast the Fanatec, Simucube, Accuforce, bodnar you name it, since atleast everything upwards of the Accuforce one are pretty much as good as the other, I haven´t tried those simmagic or feel vr or whatever they are called so cant say anything about those, but the rest is not really too different from each other, or rather hard to tell which is better, they are just different in a slight way



A bit OFF-Topic here (sorry in advance) -the Elephant in the room, aka Fanatec and Customer Support (can be ignored):whistling:
I have a Fanatec one because of the rims mainly, but also because it performs aswell as the others I know., so for me it was an easy decision.
Fanatec gets a bit of hate from people on the web, I have had very good experience with the support personally, but I also
don´t want to say that everybody therefor has aswell, because certainly as with everything there probably are people that have issues with support and those ones I don´t ignore, just browsing through sites like reddit (yes I know not the most believable or really a platform where you can express different opinions (unlike RD of course:thumbsup:)) however shows that alot of people are spoilt with Amazons etc (insert other big company here) handling of support cases where they do not care about the product and just throw out new ones the next day after contacting them, what I mean by that just pick a random complain, in the vast majority of cases its either out of warranty, broken because of missuse or support hasn´t been contacted yet or has been literally right before posting the post, like I said there definetly are real issues but those are 100% going to be resolved in one way or the other, because thats how law works (yes even big companys like one that starts with an A and contains SUS has to do something even if they appear to be unwilling to do so), same goes for any company, especially our smaller ones like in Simracing
Just don´t expect a response on the same day as the request (btw form the Endor page they have only 78 people working for them) and first atleast try to resolve the issue you have before complaining and also don´t expect an out of warranty product to be repaired or replaced for free

I could be seen as a "Fanboy" by some, but honestly I would be just as happy with the SC2 and Accuforce, because they are both just as good in theire one way

Back to DD´s in general a bit longer version of the short one

They all relativly similar, the Accuforce is definetly the "entry-level" DD wheel (software is amazing tho), has the lowest torque and the lowest price, fanatec and simucube are pretty much the same, like the ones that cost around the same are about as good, the main difference is the eco-system behind it, Fanatec has plug and play rims which are really really good and good in price, while simucube doesnt sell 1st party ones as far as I know, although you can get very good ones aswell, for my taste a bit too little features for the price those rims go, although some of those super high end ones are absolutly amazing.

I recommend any of the "Brand" ones for people with the cash for it and the "passion" for simracing (aka you are just as boring as me and racing/sim racing is your only real hobby) or you are a millionaire (if so I can help you spend some money if you share it with me;)), since those are really a big step up from belts and even more of an improvement from gear-driven ones, but are still very expensive so should not be Nr1 on the list (or even on that list), LC-Pedals for example are better to throw the money at first.
A sturdy rig is definetly a must tho btw, definetly not speaking from my own experience :O_o:
 

Valart

25RPM
Premium
Mar 26, 2016
25
21
Podium DD1 since 1/19. Replaced clubsport v2.5. CSL wheel. SQ V 1.5 shifter. Mention these because lately have been exp. Glitches with the paddles (on the up shift) and the H shift acting strange. The use of the CSL limits the total FFB output to 50%. That can be overridden with the incl key, which I have not done. This is to protect the wheel which is not connected to the shaft with a quick connect like the expensive wheels. (With vr all the wheels look expensive). The problems may have something to do with the the wheel losing connection through wear, or not. I have not yet contacted Fanatec but,
I had to send the V 2.5 in 2018 for warranty repairs and have no complaints, was kept informed of the status and the turnaround was 2 weeks total.
The DD1 is smooth, quiet and the feed back is detailed, the Fanalab software is ok but still in beta. I will probably try replacing the now 4 year old wheel with another CSL.
Like VR it would be hard to go back. gl
 

TheRealCeeBee

100RPM
Jan 4, 2020
111
139
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One-upmanship - having a DD wheel marks you out as a YouTuber who got one free top to promote, having more money than sense, 5 seconds faster than the other wheels owning the very best equipment available in sim racing today honestly not just a fancy desk ornament.

Should I buy one? Only if you have disposable money that doesn't matter to you, this is an irreverent hobby. These wheels are not essential despite what paid YouTubers might claim.
ahahhahahhahaha.. hahahahhahahahhaa.. this...
 

Schizzo

1RPM
Nov 11, 2017
5
2
39
[QUOTE = "giga1tr, post: 3149377, membro: 251749"]
Ho il Fanatec CSW2.5 e vorrei passare al podio perché ho molti volanti Fanatec. Sfortunatamente, il servizio clienti e la qualità di Fanatec è molto scadente, ho avuto brutte esperienze. Ecco perché dubito che dovrei comprare un podio o passare completamente a un altro marchio. Forse questo sondaggio mi aiuterà qui.
[/ CITAZIONE]
Ti sei trovato male con fanatec csw2.5?
 
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blueferrari

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Sep 13, 2014
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I have the DD1, which has been replaced once already, so yes, there have been issues with quality and durability, because it's a new product with limited real-life testing. I have to agree with many that a DD will not make you faster, nor do you need all that torque. I have driven most real-life modern Ferraris (488 GTB, FF, F12, 430, 612, 360 etc) along with all the Maseratis and they don't feel heavy at all like what the DD wheels can produce, so turn it right down to what you think you feel in your own car. In terms of being fast, we are talking about competitive online racing and in that case you can be faster by switching to T-Camera view. I prefer to be slower and race in Cockpit view for the overall experience. I can't understand why anyone likes T-Camera view, as the view feels like you are driving in a truck seat position. It's a competitive advantage though.