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RD Tech Review | VPG Elemento First Impressions

Paul Jeffrey

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I’ve been fortunate enough to lay my hands on the upcoming Elemento high-end sim racing wheel from the team at VPG – and despite its pre-production status, the signs all point to this being a spectacular piece of hardware.
  • Standalone USB racing wheel.
  • Compatible with all quick release systems.
VPG Elemento 2.jpg


Firstly I will have to admit I’m rather addicted to sim racing wheels. Rally, road, oval or formula – custom-made or off the shelf – if it bolts to my wheelbase and I can go racing with it I’m usually pretty excited to get myself involved in the action.

Having now amassed a collection of wheels that constantly makes my wife both question my sanity and also my expenditure levels, I think it's reasonable to say I’ve got a fair idea of what a good piece of hardware looks like when I see it.

Normally I’m very much in favour of the replica race car design that you find so often within the sim racing marketplace, and when I started talking with the team over at VPG a few months ago, and they promised to send me over a wheel to review, I got pretty excited about the prospect of one of their Porsche or Ferrari rims coming my way.

Alas, as the weeks and months passed, the idea was floated to me about having a look at a new wheel currently in the design phase, that was broadly described as “a bit different, and based on the kind of style you might find in an aircraft”. Needless to say, at this statement my interest was piqued, but my heart sank a little. This was only ever going to go one of two ways – awesome, or awful.

VPG Elemento 11.jpg


Early renderings and teaser shots came my way in the following weeks, and I’ll readily admit I found myself surprised by how much I’d started to like the concept, from the flow of the lines to the obvious attention to detail that had been lavished on the wheel to ensure both form and function would be served in equal measure – however I’d still not seen the finished article in full – that would have to wait until a box arrived in the post a few weeks later.

VPG | More Information: Click Here.

While awaiting a pre-production prototype to be built, tested and shipped, I decided to have a little look at the company more closely, as it’s fair to say that I suspect many of the people reading this article probably won’t be aware of VPG, and frankly they certainly had all the right things to say about their products and goals, and in conversation everyone with whom I spoke to all came across as very warm and friendly, but in an age of home built sim racing hardware, promises of premium products aren’t always backed up when the money changes hands, and you take possession of the items in question.

Running through the various social media posts it certainly looks like the team have an impressive start to life as a wheel manufacturer, progressing from 3D printed designs to much more durable and solid aluminium and carbon fibre constructions with their previous Porsche and Ferrari products, with the Elemento representing the first attempt of the company to bring to the market their own custom designed wheel. It would be fair to say my level of expectation had already risen considerably ahead of receiving an early build version to review.

Then came the day of shipment…

Now, I’m not going to go into considerable detail here about the wheel itself, that I will leave to the full review video and article we will produce once the team send out the finalized public version of the rim in early April, however even in this pre-production state I was immediately hit by not only by the striking visuals of the design, but by the sheer quality of the materials and build of the rim – it really does immediately feel like a very high end and well build piece of hardware – from the inch perfect finish to the outer shell and backing of the wheel, to the virtually seamless and rock solid integration of the LCD that makes up much of the front of the design. Even little things like how the shifters and clutch are formed to complement each other in their shape – those little details, that small aesthetic touch really stands out the moment you lift it into your hands.

VPG Elemento 5.jpg


Damn pretty, customizable and solid as a rock – that’s a pretty fine foundation on which to start.

Having run the rim now for a week or so I’ve come across precisely zero issues in either the design or construction, although I did suggest to the team it would be nice to have slightly firmer buttons on the rim, which is feedback they have taken onboard and will be added to the public release version of the hardware.

VPG Elemento | Pre-Order: Click Here.

I’ve not had a significant amount of time with a formula style rim like this one before, and I really enjoyed the benefits of the LCD (powered by SimHub with the Elemento specific profile – although you can set your own if you so wish), and I’ve found it comfortable on both long and short runs in the rig, as well as it performing exactly as I expected.

VPG Elemento 8.jpg


Having spoken with the team just recently, the new version of the wheel will differ slightly from the one that I’ve been running up to now, as it will include a single USB lead that powers both the screen and the electronics within the wheel itself, it will have injection moulded rubber grips as opposed to the Alcántara on this version, changes to the buttons to add a firmer press will be applied and the rear of the wheel with the adapter for the quick release will be enhanced to give a more uniform and aesthetically pleasing finish. Oh and yes, folks who pick one up for themselves will also have a choice of colours to choose from, their name and number engraved on the back, and a unique model number that shows which of the planned 75 units they own (with this one being 00 for pre-production).

VPG Elemento 12.jpg


All in all my expectations have been surpassed with this wheel, and I can’t wait to give the finished version a try and share with you all my full final thoughts and review in the coming months!



Stay tuned to RaceDepartment.com in the coming months for the full VPG Elemento final version wheel review video and article – coming this April!

For more information on VPG, check them out here.



VPG Elemento 7.jpg

VPG Elemento 9.jpg
VPG Elemento 6.jpg
 
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CC

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A high price tag doesnt mean the quality is equally high.

I for myself use a Cube controls formula wheel since 2017 and i'm not really happy with the quality it delivers for its hefty price tag.
I feel really pleased with mine I can’t find nothing I would think of changing apart from the faulty cable but ordered a new one.
 
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I think the steering wheel is perhaps the single most important component of a sim rig.

It's the one thing in your field of view that you are in active contact with 100% of the time.

In my view, it's worth spending an outsized portion of your sim racing budget on at least one really good wheel, and the force feedback system behind it.

It won't make you faster, but it definitely increases your enjoyment, and for that alone it's worth it.

Interesting enough the thing that has made the biggest difference for me is not the wheel. What has made the largest impact is the way my pedals are mounted. I modified my pedal plate on my Obutto so that there are rods holding down the pedal plate to keep the pedals actually planted. Before that modification occasionally my pedals would lift up a bit when braking which caused me to be inconsistent and not have confidence in my braking.

I'm still not fast compared to a lot of these guys out here still rocking cheap wheels but I've become more consistent and I am getting faster with time. The pedals staying put has been so helpful in my case. When I eventually upgrade it will be nicer pedals than my Clubsport V3 pedals. I would love just a bit more feel in the brake pedal more than any other upgrade I would consider. Realistically I doubt this will help me gain more than a few tenths here and there when I do so though.
 

Andrew_WOT

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As we are talking wheels, stumbled upon this compilation of ACC GT3 wheels on Steam.
 
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As I said reasonably competent driver not aliens and if easier for consistent lap times means an overall faster race, so your faster. When I up graded from my G29 individual laps were not much faster but overall race time was faster so I'm faster. But there does become a point of diminishing returns of time gained against expense.

I remember an article written by I believe it was pat simmonds years ago telling how during one testing session one driver was tweaking the setup to no end at every stint because at some corner the car was unstable, so he started to have a suspicion about his setup problems being all just in the driver's head. After one stint, the driver called for another setup change, they told him that they had changed the setup but in reality the crew only had changed his tyres, he went out and beated his best time by 2 tenths and after the stint he said that the balance had been better.

You were faster because the new hardware gives more tactile feedback due to the hardness progression of the braking pedal and more detailed and inmediate ffb in the steering wheel, it hints you to drive smoother and more properly. A hard brake pedal with better force progression is making more difficult for you to lock brakes and makes the pedal release more progressive than a G25 stock pedal that has a very weak linear spring that demands from you a very high amount of muscular memory. It just takes more concentration and effort to hit the right timing and pedal smooth progression, but with proper technique, effort, practice and patience all comes together.

Also, when you test for first time new fancier hardware your subconscious makes you to drive in a way that you normally don't because psicologicaly you are predisposed to find an improvement, but it is not because the hardware is any faster. I always discovered that after months out of simracing I was always setting pb at the tracks, just because in the re-adaptation to be back to speed I was less agressive and overdriving slightly less and being more smooth and precise, driving differently as usual made those pb. If you go back to the old hardware and learn to drive with the same driving inputs the laptimes are going to be pretty close to the same.

With better hardware it is easier to be consistent, but that does not mean that it is impossible to be as consistent with old cheap hardware, it is just harder, needs more effort and concentration. So, no, it isn't faster even at a race distance. All what is needed is practice and effort, fancy gear makes it easier, but not faster if driven properly.

It's the same as what happened with ABS and TC until not that far ago: newbies could be faster and more consistent driving with ABS and TC, but experienced simracers raced with those aids deactivated because the car was simply faster without them activated. Now that is changing, but not so far ago the ABS and TC algorithms in most of the sims were simple slower for a skilled simracer.

At the end of the day the ultimate performance is what shows if a hardware is handicapped or not, aliens use the hardware properly, and aliens have shown that a stock g25 is enough to fight for a iracing world championship against other aliens with fancy gear.

Do I prefer fancy gear?, hell yes!. Do I find fancy gear easier to deal and to drive with?, yes. Do I think that fancy gear is faster?, absolutely not!.
 
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JohannesK

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Once you have at least a G25, any upgrade besides loadcells is unnecessary looking at the performance. And even that can be overcome if you train hard enough.
 
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It's meatware, not hardware, just sayin

I know you didn't direct this at me, but honestly I'm 2 - 3 seconds a lap off the best drivers - and that's with a tailwind going downhill, but I'm happy with my "meatware". I'm not into sim racing to be the best, I'm into it because I enjoy it.

I don't think it's fair to criticise somebody who maybe slower than you like that. A lot of us here are pushing a fair few years and don't have the reactions and precision we could demonstrate 30 or 40 years ago. Even back then I doubt I would be anything more than average.
Well said. It´s for the fun, the immersion, not the speed. I also know of guys doing record laps with Xbox controllers, but that is not not sim racing, thats video gaming.
 
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