No dates have been announced but as of today the NDA is up for the Clubsport Wheel community reviews.
Let me lay down the facts.
- Clubsport Wheel Base - $449.95
- CSW BMW M3 GT2 rim - $249.95
- Formula rim - $179.95
- Clubsport Pedals V2 - $249.95
- CSR Elite pedals - $149.95
- Clubsport Table Clamp V2 - $49.95
- Rennsport Wheel Stand V2 - $129.95 or 119,95
Price + VAT in Europe = price in dollars except for the Rennsport Wheel Stand V2
The neogaf community selected me as the community tester of Clubsport wheel, hereafter referred to as the CSW.
I have opted to keep all components that I tested. I am the proud owner of the:
- Clubsport Wheel Base
- CSW BMW M3 GT2 rim
- Formula rim
- Clubsport Pedals V2
- Rennsport Wheel Stand V2
Lets start with the subjective and move on from there. I didn't prepare an unboxing vid but I actually suggest avoiding them if you believe the purchase of a fanatec product is in your future. They have a way with packaging. Just opening the box is a small event meant to cause excitement and reward you for your purchase.
Driving with either of the clubsport wheels is amazing. There is ZERO cogging (cogging is that notchy feeling you get if you push an electric motor against its applied force). Or any existing cogging is so finely grained as to be basically imperceptible. The wheel is fast, I'll provide a graph of just how fast later. It's also strong, again just how strong... you'll see.
When playing iRacing, pCars, Race 07, rFactor 2 (can't comment much here, there was a bug that made is unworkable until a couple of days ago), you no longer have to anticipate or fight the wheel. It melts away. You can drive completely through the FFB and the seat of your pants. If you need a bit of countersteer, you don't have to force yourself into the proper position. Toss the wheel or let go and the FFB will guide you. Driving is more intuitive. The tactile feedback of the buttons is short and very clicky. The shifters are adjustable and easily removable. The entire thing can be taken apart if you have a set of metric Hex wrenches. You can adjust belt tension without opening the case. You can connect 2 shifters at one time. So you could use one shifter as a gated shifter and the sequential shifter as a handbrake. The hardware is beautiful, solid, and seems built to last. The wheel is also absurdly quiet. As far as I can tell the electric motors are silent. The only noise you hear is of the mechanism itself shifting and the belts gliding.
This was both a review and a beta test. They are still tweaking the firmware and developing the driver to respond how they want. The GT rim itself is heavy. Heavy enough that it slows the free spinning wheel slightly. The firmware is plainly not complete. Damper and Spring settings do not work. A problem with the shifter and firmware prevented me from digging into GT5 as much as I would have liked. While they are still adjusting, initially the wheel dropped or really really killed all force feedback below about 25-30% saturation. This has been corrected with the latest firmware.
What you get
The CSW base currently has 2 optional rims. Both are wrapped in Alcantara leather. The CSW base features a new bolt pattern if you want to mount it flush. If you are planning on a flush mount and have an old rennsport wheelstand or table clamp expect to either do some drilling or just use their metal adapter. They weigh as follows
- GT Rim: 4.75 pounds
- F1 Rim: 2.6 Pounds
The metal adapter comes pre-installed on the base and puts the wheel at a slight 15-20 degree angle. There are 4 female rj45 plugs along the back of the base. They are for Data, Pedal, Shifter 1, Shifter 2 respectively. The case comes with 2 male rj45 to ps/2 adapters so you can use the existing hardware with the new plugs. The CSP V2 pedals still have ps/2 plugs. I have no idea what the data port does, but I'm sure it's awesome. They have a quick release mechanism that takes a bit of strength to engage and disengage. I'll post some notes after this post that indicate that Fanatec have remedied some fitment issues people were having with the wheel quick release system. The LED shift lights work is developers or plugin writer have created the functionality for your favorite game. pCars for instance has a great shift light setup and it works perfectly.
The Wheel is compatible with PC and PS3 (any game that works with the G25 should work with this wheel, essentially when in PS3 mode it mimics being a G25. You can even use Logitech drivers with the wheel)
David Tucker from iRacing wrote an application that allows you to test some technical aspects of wheels. The test you see above is called the step test. It applies a force to the wheel for a period of time, reverses the force for the same amount of time then does it all again, while tracking the position of the wheel. It allows us to figure a few things out. To interpret the graph above, the wheel that dips the lowest is the fastest. So the top 3 are The CSW with F1 rim, T500, then CSW with GT Rim.
- The CSW with the F1 wheel is the fastest wheel on the market
- The GT rim slows it past the t500
- It's still fast as hell
- The wheel updates at 500hz (the same as logitech G series wheels and Fanatec wheels after the latest firmware)
- They need a lighter full Rim than the GT rim, for individuals who want the most speed possible. With a lighter rim it could easily outpace the T500
Here's another comparison that you shouldn't take too seriously, but is indicative of the power in this wheel. I used a fish scale to approximate the torque at the outer edge of each respective wheel when FFB was sending a fully saturated signal to the wheel. This is the force necessary to hold the wheel still Mind you the GT rim is very large so the forces are appropriately lower at the outer edge with that particular rim.
- CSW F1 rim: 12.5-12.7 pounds
- CSW GT Rim: 7-7.5 Pounds
So if you want to drive your CSW F1 rim with one hand... imagine having to hold a weight up in your hand that weighs 12 pounds. I work out a decent amount and do dumbbell front raises with 20-25 pounds. This wheel is strong.
Now I know this isn't directly comparable AT ALL because they use a different scale and were administered by a different person who did basically the same test.
- Logitech g25: 5.2 pounds
- Logitech g27: 4.5 pounds
- Fanatec GT3: 4.8 pounds
- Thrustmaster T500RS: 5.5 pounds
- Logitech DFP: 4.6 pounds
Linear Force Explanation
This test uses progressive force feedback saturation values to check and see what effect they have on the wheel. The values between wheels should not be compared. What we're interested in is any effects that are clipping(flat lines in the graph). One thing I found is that with different FFB or Force setting on the CSW the wheel actually changes how steep the force curve is. There is a drawback. Up until this latest firmware with the GT Rim only the CSW was dropping/clipping values under 25% or so saturation. With the latest firmware this was improved to about 10-15%. The graph above shows relative values from the GT Rim, F1 Rim and a Porsche Wheel Turbo S, acting as control.
I asked Sean the Community manager about this and he said they were trying to eliminate some resistance around the center that pulled you out of the game and the only way to do so was clip some of the lowest FFB saturation values. I'm not a huge fan of this as we're missing out on some aspects of what the designers of a game (even if it's not realistic) intended and there is no option to avoid this behavior. If you are playing a game that is trying to mimic power steering in a car, you'll find yourself feeling like you're in an old wallowy cadillac, at least until this latest firmware. The good news is that the firmware is constantly evolving.
The wheel is everything I had hoped construction wise. Having used it, it would be difficult to go back to another wheel. It is expensive. However it does provide and eliminate issues people might have with mid range wheels. Mainly cogging, speed, power, accuracy, and the wonderful tuning menu that can't be overlooked.
The issue then becomes one of software and customer service. Much has been said about Fanatec, and while they have given me a great opportunity to test their wheel, I cannot help but mention some downsides to dealing with a small company that is stretching to provide high end mass market niche gaming gear. Customer service can be slow, however I am the beneficiary of their customer service. They have replaced 2 shifter sets and a pedal set for me for free. If you are patient, have some spare change, and want the fastest, strongest, consumer wheel on the market, the CSW is only $880 bucks away, oh, you'll need some pedals too.
Clubsport Pedals V2
The Clubsport Pedals version 2 has a few small refinement and a larger price tag. There is a mechanism that provide a degressive clutch, and a shock from a large scale RC vehicle has been added to the brake. The clutch is a wonderful success. I wouldn't say it's worth the 50 bucks alone but it gives the clutch a distinct snappy feel that you might have in a modern sports car that's designed to be driven in anger. The Shock on the brake does a reasonable job of mimicking the hydraulic build up, but doesn't feel the same. It does have the benefit of smoothing the load cell brake input. I'm not sure that's worth the 50 bucks either. The one major benefit I found in the CSPv2? The pedal surfaces were polished and all the edges were rounded. This means driving barefoot or in socks for long periods of time is no longer a lesson in healing foot abrasion. I can drive barefoot!! If you have the CSP V1 you'll understand. They're beautiful, heavy, and tear at your feet a bit. The CSP v2 is however perfect in this regard. My suggestion is to try and figure out a way to get the CSP v1 with polished pedals for 50 dollars less... That's probably impossible, but well, you know.
Rennsport Wheelstand V2
The new wheelstand has some updates from the old one.
- You can have it set up at either 90 degrees or 110 degrees.
- The CSW is too heavy for it to be set up at 110 degrees, even with clubsport pedals resting on the base (it won't tip over, but if you pull down with 12 pounds of force while going around the hairpin at monoco you're going to drive a large wheelstand bar into your crotch with 12 pounds of force).
- It carries the new bolt pattern so you can mount the CSW flush.
- There is a metric hex insert on the knob so you can use a big ole hex wrench and a breaker bar to make sure there is absolutely NO wiggle in the wheelstand.
- It comes with a shifter adapter for a G series wheel, but no mount for a fanatec shifter.
- The shifter adapter/mount is stamped instead of thick aluminum so it's not quite as sturdy as the old one.
This is some quality stuff. If you're patient with customer service and a hobbyist with 800 bucks this is the wheel to get
Questions and Requests
If you want some more material, I'm more than willing to provide. Just ask. I didn't include impressions with particular games but am willing to provide feedback on any specific game. If you want me to play a PC racing game and I don't own it I will buy it just to tell you what it's like.