The online racing simulator
The Wheel Review Thread
(10 posts, started )
The Wheel Review Thread
As lots of questions in this forum are about steering wheels and recommendations, I'd like to invite you all to post brief reviews of any wheel/game combination you want. Hopefully, this thread will be a guide for all those out there with intentions to buy a wheel.

So, lets start with my first FF wheel:

Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback Wheel (USB)


Being my first FF wheel, the Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback Wheel (in short: MSSWFFW, in even shorter: MSFF), I was quite astonished.
The wheel and the pedals are robust, as I used them for 5 years, and I have only recently found the shifting paddles not to work properly anymore. The pedals and the wheel both work with the same precision as they did in 2000, without me having opened them to repair or cleanse anything.
The force feedback (being extraordinary with GP3 back then) is quite dull however. The forces lag a noticable bit behind the action on screen, and they are quite rough, not managing to generate smooth transitions between different force inputs. Don't know though, if a newer, less used wheel has this problem too.
The wheel itself I find small in radius, but it is quite comfy to hold. All of the eight programmable buttons (of which two are small shifting paddles at the backside) can be easyly reached, and they have well defined pressure points. The rotation of 240° is pretty much the industry standard.
The pedals work great, allthough they have very little resistance and are really a pain to set up as seperate axis in WinXP.
The wheel is quite easily attached to the desk and remains there unmovably. With a lever you can quickly detach it without fiddling with screws or anything like that. This lever though needs quite a lot of room below the desk, which can disturb a little.
Also, if you don't use it for a few weeks, make sure to wrap it up and protect it from any kind of dust. The two times I stored the wheel over a longer period of time (in different places) the rubber-grips on the wheel got quite uncomfortably sticky, which would not go away with washing the wheel. This wears off over time though, so either be tough or use gloves
EDIT Comment by 2WDinNZ:
Quote :I think the shininess with the rubber grips is actually a layer of skin cells and oils... I have disnamtled the wheel and cleaned it and they seem to be naturally sticky.

Now for the games:

Insane: Weak (in both force and quality) ff effects and the fast paced, very "un-racey" style of gameplay gives even keyboard drivers a huge advantage over wheel users. In this game being able to lock the steering very quickly in opposite directions is the key to success, so I generally prefer playing with my keyboard.

GTR: The force feedback is quite good, even with the old MSFF, but due to the small lag for the forces, it usually is too late to countersteer succesfully. In general, if you like the game, you will have a good time with the MSFF, as you should not drift anyways.

Richard Burns Rally: Because you have to be more cautious with gas and brakes than in any other game, playing it with combined axis really cripples your gaming experience. This problem can be solved though, if you google for the Sidewindersoftware 4 (if you happen to have lost the original driver CD) and DXTweak2.
The forces on the wheel actually give a good feeling for the road and the car, but again, due to lag, just a tad too late for you to really enjoy the quite unforgiving physics and damage model. I found myself to be quicker on the gravel when I deactivated the feedback and just set used the spring to center the wheel.
EDIT Comment by 2WDinNZ:
Quote :
I just use the Windows 98 Drivers under XP and they work great. Changing axes between combined and separate is easy.

GT Legends Demo: Generally, the GTR part also applies here. Allthough, the cars are a lot more tailhappy, so the force lag is even more an annoyance.

Live for Speed:
This game being the hardest to drive without proper force feedback to tell you what the car is doing, the MSFF performs quite well, although the transitions between the different forces are a bit too rough. It can render your car uncontrollable, if the force suddenly kicks in from another direction, if you have set the force feedback intensity too high.
Again also the little lag is a downside, but surprsingly not as much as in GTR, RBR or GTL.

Now for my second wheel:

Logitech Driving Force Pro Force Feedback Wheel (Rev. B00)


Having it for about 4 Days, i cannot tell how long the parts will work properly, so lets go into the first experiences:
This Wheel (in short LDFPFFW, in even shorter DFP) is a Playstation2 wheel, so you have to download the drivers and profiler software to use the 900° rotation and force feedback on PC
The radius of this wheel is about the same as of the MSFF. The wheel itself though is quite thin compared to the Microsoft Product, so it might be uncomfortable for people with larger hands. It hast a rubber cover all around, so even when you have to change your grip (and you will), you can get a good hold onto the wheel.
Buttonwise, there is anything you can whish for: 10 buttons, two shifting pedals, a gearstick, and an 8-way gamecursor, and all of these are freely programmable with the profiler software. Four of the buttons are placed below the wheel axis and are therefor not reachable during maneuvering a car around the track.
The pedals work great (at leats on short term). The gas is a little on the light side concerning resistance, but as long as I do not have to pull it back up myself, it's okay for me. The break pedal is quite easy on the first half, but then there is an additional restistance, making it noticably harder to push the brake further down.
The forces are smoothly and instantly put on the wheel, and when maxed out (profiler software 150% and any ingame maximum) you are really struggling to get the wheel turning.
For proper placement on the desk, this has no effect though. With two plastic screw clamps, it stucks firmly to the desk. Also, though the body behind the wheel is broader than the MSFF due to the gear stick, it needs less space. In addition, it occupies hardly any space below the desk. The downside is though, that while you would just flip the lever of the MSFF to detach it, you have to unscrew two plastic screws, which are not very grippy, especially when your hands are sweating after a tough racing session. Also, if your desk top is higher than 3 cm, you cannot attach it. This prevented me from testing it with GT4, as the table top in the living room is 3,5 cm high... d'oh!
EDIT: After some more driving, I have found the plastic cogs inside the wheel to be quite loud when turning against forces. It may even swallow some subtle noises in game. Using a good headset or simply setting the sound volums up will help this.


Now for the games:

Insane:
With a wheel rotation of up to 900°, it is even harder to steer those offroad beasts with the DFP than with the MSFF. So, again, lets stick to the keyboard...

GTR: With a setting of 240° rotation (being identical to the wheel animation in game), you have perfect control over the car. The forces are smooth, strong, and, more important, instantly give you the impression of what the car is doing. My first lap on Brno with this wheel was nearly a second quicker than with the MSFF, because I could corner much more efficiently.

Richard Burns Rally:
Setting the Rotation to 720°, this plays exactly as a rally should be like. frantically turning the wheel in tight corners, while fighting against the strong and good force feedback effects really adds some spice to this game. It hasn't improved my stage times though...
A downside of the large turning angle with this game though is the often useful handbrake. If you have turned the wheel halfway around, you definatly won't find it when needed. You could set it on the gear stick, but this would mess up gearshifting in corners. The best solution I have found so far is assigning handbrake to both shifting paddles via the profiler software.

GT Legends Demo: I don't care if the game is "realistic" or not, It drives extremely well with the DFP. You can feel the rear end of the car wanting to brake free before you have any optical indication, making the old beauties quite controllable in fast turns. Again, the turning angle is set to 240°, being based on the turning angle of the steering wheels in game.

Live for Speed:
Being a demo driver, I set the wheel to 720°, as all the cars I can drive ATM also turn the wheel that far. Again, due to the high precision of both the feedback effects and the steering input, it is a lot easier to drive clean laps without drifting. A downside is, that once your rear starts overtaking you, you can hardly avoid turning your car, as you need thrice the turning angle to countersteer effectively.
EDIT: Comment by Gunn:
Quote :The ability to recover from a slide is partly dependant on the car setup. Although the greater turning range of the DFP does mean a greater distance (therefore time) to counter-steer effectively, you can set the car up to respond quite quickly to your counter-steering action and thus improve that aspect of your car's behaviour.

NOTE BY EDITOR: I try to merge the most usefull coments, so reading the whole thread won't be neccessary for "complete reviews". I'd like to ask the other reviewers to "maintenance" their reviews too, so the interested readers won't have to browse through all the posts once the thread gains a certain length.

so, that's it for today
Pretty much agreed with the MS FF wheel, except:

I think the shininess with the rubber grips is actually a layer of skin cells and oils... I have disnamtled the wheel and cleaned it and they seem to be naturally sticky.

I just use the Windows 98 Drivers under XP and they work great. Changing axes between combined and separate is easy.

I also think the forces are fine, but - I've not used many other wheels.
#3 - Gunn
Great reviews Cloleus. One point I'd like to highlight...
Quote from ColeusRattus :Again, due to the high precision of both the feedback effects and the steering input, it is a lot easier to drive clean laps without drifting. A downside is, that once your rear starts overtaking you, you can hardly avoid turning your car, as you need thrice the turning angle to countersteer effectively.

The ability to recover from a slide is partly dependant on the car setup. Although the greater turning range of the DFP does mean a greater distance (therefore time) to counter-steer effectively, you can set the car up to respond quite quickly to your counter-steering action and thus improve that aspect of your car's behaviour. Of course in motor racing some compromise is usually required to create a set that is suitable for a racer's needs. Remember too that in LFS the feel of the Force Feedback is also setup dependant. The FFB feeling can change noticeably with different sets.

Great reviews, very helpful I'm sure to many in the community. Well done sir!
Quote from Gunn :Great reviews Cloleus. One point I'd like to highlight...
The ability to recover from a slide is partly dependant on the car setup. Although the greater turning range of the DFP does mean a greater distance (therefore time) to counter-steer effectively, you can set the car up to respond quite quickly to your counter-steering action and thus improve that aspect of your car's behaviour. Of course in motor racing some compromise is usually required to create a set that is suitable for a racer's needs. Remember too that in LFS the feel of the Force Feedback is also setup dependant. The FFB feeling can change noticeably with different sets.

Great reviews, very helpful I'm sure to many in the community. Well done sir!

Thx

The part about setups I do infact know, I just compared it with the MSFF wheel using the very same (racing_1) setup. But you're right, I should've mentioned it.

And now, start posting reviews/game experiences too, as I am sure, people use other wheels and games too
Quote from ColeusRattus :Thx

The part about setups I do infact know, I just compared it with the MSFF wheel using the very same (racing_1) setup. But you're right, I should've mentioned it.

And now, start posting reviews/game experiences too, as I am sure, people use other wheels and games too

I'm still using a Thrustmaster T1. Circa 1993. Really. It makes things a little iffy, as callibration isn't a science on that and WinXP! I'm also searching for a driving view out the windshield that doesn't waste time with dashboards but does have at least one rv-mirror.
But seriously, as a former Papyrus IndyCar/Nascar user, this is just a GREAT sim!
Perhaps someday I will try the online stuff. (I'm terrible)
Thanks,

"Crash"
RW

2006-Apr-14
I gave up and just purchased a Logitech Momo Racing wheel and after some confusion I think I have it set up correctly for LFS. It does take some getting used to the Force Feedback. Seems a little choppy to me. But at least I can do a lap or two!

I think that my 13-year old Thrustmaster T1 will be retired. It will take a while to get used to the FF, but I think it might help me keep off the walls and roof! Now if the thing lasts as long as the T1 and Logitech has decent customer service (Thrustmaster had sent me replacement springs years ago) perhaps I can bounce off walls in LFS for some time to come!
Quote from Gunn :The ability to recover from a slide is partly dependant on the car setup. Although the greater turning range of the DFP does mean a greater distance (therefore time) to counter-steer effectively, you can set the car up to respond quite quickly to your counter-steering action and thus improve that aspect of your car's behaviour.

I have switched to the DFP from my old Thrustmaster GT FF three days ago, and I must say that it took some time to get used to the greater turning range of the DFP. I am still not that fast that I used to be with the old wheel, but this is a normal learning process.

More turning range actually feels more natural while driving the car. Small corrections are more precise with the DFP while I didn't get the feeling for counter steering yet. Partly this may have to do with the pedals of the DFP, as the Thrustmaster pedals felt way better in the resistance and the pedal travel.

I always try to get fast setups (thanks for all guys out there sharing their sets) and many fast racers use the DFP, so I think that counter steering problem is really a matter of getting used to the greater turning range.
MOMO Racing
I've had my Logitech MOMO Racing for more than two months now and I've used it very intensively, so here are my thoughts.

The shape and material are perfect for my slightly larger than average hands. It feels robust, it doesn't slip when wet from all the sweat and there are no uncomfortable edges.

There are only six buttons, but they're well placed and I only really use 4 of them anyway (look left, look right, horn, pit limiter) so it's more then enough and it keeps things clear and simple when you need to be concentrating on the road.
Personally, I like the low rotation-range (240 degrees), it makes for a responsive ride, but of course it's not that realistic in the road cars...

The only trouble I've had with it was some calibration stuff with the pedals,
but a Logitech patch took care of that. The last week or so though, I've noticed the steering column becoming a bit loose. It's not annoying yet, but it does have to stop getting worse or I'll be a bit disappointed with the quality. I expect it to stay this way however.

Pedals are fine, altough they could do with some more resistance (especially the accelerator). The carpet-grip system is perfect. I can kick it as much as I like, but I've never experienced the pedals sliding on the floor which is great.
The 3-point clamping system on the wheel is great as well, although the protective cap you're supposed to put over the top two screws when you've attached the wheel has been collecting dust somewhere right out of the box...
#8 - Dimos
Quote from ColeusRattus :
Logitech Driving Force Pro Force Feedback Wheel (Rev. B00)

session. Also, if your desk top is higher than 3 cm, you cannot attach it.

Hello first post
I find out found out that you can attach the wheel at desk tops 4,5-4,7 cm high, there are removable parts on the components that touch the table from underneath.
Quote from Dimos :Hello first post
I find out found out that you can attach the wheel at desk tops 4,5-4,7 cm high, there are removable parts on the components that touch the table from underneath.

Hehe, thx alot... once I loosened one during a race, but I dared not to remove them completely, as I didn't want to wreck my wheel. But perhaps I'll give it a try (and can finally play GT4 with it)
Quote from ColeusRattus :Hehe, thx alot... once I loosened one during a race, but I dared not to remove them completely, as I didn't want to wreck my wheel. But perhaps I'll give it a try (and can finally play GT4 with it)

It is totally safe, it is part of the design, if you look closely you see the "teeth" on the main components, just as they exist on the removable parts.

The Wheel Review Thread
(10 posts, started )
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