For anyone who takes their sim racing rig seriously -one of the essential ingredients is a wheel stand. Wheel stands are sometimes standalone products, other times built into a chair or integrated into other hardware, but always built from the ground up to securely keep your chosen wheel at arms’ length comfortably.
Today, we’re going to take an in-depth look at wheel stands for sim racing. Our aim is to aid our readers in determining whether they need a wheel stand and, if so, which direction they should go in pursuit of a better and more immersive sim racing experience.
What Is a Racing Wheel Stand?
A racing wheel stand is a is a functional piece of furniture that’s meant to serve as a mount for a sim racing wheel. Wheel stands often come pre-built into racing chairs and sim racing cockpits, in addition to existing as standalone products.
Standalone wheel stands are perhaps the most common and practical, as they are relatively affordable and easy to use with a wide variety of seating. Rigid rigs that are meant to be used in one configuration are the cheapest; adjustable height, positioning and other features add to cost as well as functionality, so it’s important to do your homework and ensure that you’re buying a product that will serve as an improvement to your rig that will lead to next-level racing performance.
No one needs a wheel stand that does everything, but your needs may be simpler or more complex than others; the following are common features as well as reasons you might want them on your wheel stand:
Mounts for pedals and shifters
In addition to a simple wheel mount, most users will also use pedals in their rigs; some will add a dedicated shifter as well. Most racing wheel stands do have standard pedal mounts, but shifter mounts are somewhat less common. Though uncommon, some rigs even feature additional mounting points for users who need to mount nonstandard pedal configurations (such as an inverted brake pedal).
Some users will want a stand that they can simply add to their rig and leave it as-is for months or years. Other users will be doing their sim racing in a shared or mixed-use space – it is for these customers that many wheel stand makers have created stands that can be collapsed for easy moving and storage. Some collapsible mounts are even designed such that you can fold and store the stand without even dismounting the wheel first!
The vast majority of wheel stands feature pre-drilled holes that facilitate easy mounting of wheel and pedals from major manufacturers such as Logitech, Fanatec and Thrustmaster. Because mounting dimensions are somewhat (but not officially) standardized, any recent products from these mainstream brands will typically fit right out of the box – if you’re unsure, or if you’re working with gear from a different brand, check to see if your equipment follows industry guidelines; if not, make sure you shop for a wheel stand made for use with your peripherals.
Speaking of adjustability, there are more potential points of articulation than you might expect from something as seemingly straightforward as a steering wheel stand – but customers have varying needs and these manufacturers like to deliver! Some other things you should consider when shopping:
Adjustable racing position
Racing position comes in two flavors – F1 (as in Formula One racing, wherein the driver is practically in an “L” shape for the sake of aerodynamics and load distributions) and GT (as in Grand Touring, akin to the seating position one would take in a standard sports car, stock car or rally car). While most users will prefer one over the other, some gamers play games of each type and want to be able to change their driving position on the fly for optimal simulation experience. Very few mounts have this feature – and it doesn’t come cheap – but it’s probably worth going out of your way to get a mount that has this feature if you think you’ll want to take advantage of it.
Pedal plate adjustability
Another relatively uncommon feature, pedal plate adjustability provides a solution for those who can’t seem to get their pedals in just the right position. Most wheel stands come pre-drilled for standard Logitech, Fanatec and Thrustmaster pedals – adjustable plates are especially useful for anyone using other brands or even non-racing accessories such as flight rudders.
Gear shifter mounts
While it is relatively common for wheel stands to have a designated place for a gear shifter to mount, it is less common for a racing wheel stand to cater to the left handed, ambidextrous or those using nontraditional shifters. The more options for mounting a gear shifter, the better. Some users like to take advantage of the additional, customizable real estate offered by some mounts – opting to mount handbrakes and even flight stick accessories.
Especially important to consider if you’re using a less-than-ideal seat in your cockpit, adjustable wheel height and angle will allow the customer to get everything feeling just right without having to tweak every aspect of their rig.
Benefits of Using a Wheel Stand
As you have likely come to realize by this point, there are many benefits of using a wheel stand, but many of them only come to be when paired with the right products in the right way. Due to large size and considerable heft, wheel stands and steering wheel mount products are a shipping nightmare; even if purchased from a retail offering “free shipping”, you’re definitely paying for delivery in the form of a markup!
We only mention shipping and delivery considerations to highlight the fact that wheel stands are one of those categories of products that you really ought to research heavily prior to making a purchase; whereas we recommend reading reviews, comparing total price and investigating whether users have found a huge problem in design or manufacturing – wheel stand customers are especially encouraged to take their time making a purchase decision. Furthermore, play testing is something that the average customer can’t realistically consider, nor are you assured to find reviews that tried any specific product with your specific rig.
Those caveats out of the way, the right wheel stand can make a massive, positive difference in your cockpit in many ways such as:
Promoting better posture
This is especially true if you purchase a unit that includes a seat. Adjustability is essential to maintain a healthy posture while playing in order to minimize strain that can lead to repetitive stress injuries and other nasty side effects. Keep all of your equipment in good condition – especially your body!
Reducing noise and improving stability
Force feedback steering wheels produce a lot of torque with their motors, and one of the biggest customer complaints seen regarding racing products is that they are loud and disruptive. Wheel stands can go a long way towards alleviating this problem when used correctly, as wheel stands stabilize wheels and distribute excess force across their frames. The end result is a simulation experience that is more immersive and less obtrusive.
Improved functionality and longevity
If you’ve been using table clamps and carpet to keep your wheel and pedals in place during races, you’ll be amazed by the way your cockpit feels and performs once securely mounted! As with other electronics such as your keyboard, Xbox One console or mobile phone, your racing wheel is meant to be kept off of the floor and subjected to as little outside force as is practically possible. Plus, you’ll have less things to trip over!
As with most sim racing peripherals, wheel stands come in an increasingly-vast array of form factors – and there is sure to be a design that is perfect for your cockpit or possibly even replace it outright.
While the article to this point has primarily focused on traditional standalone racing wheel stand products, there are other form factors that are definitely worth considering when you’re shopping for the perfect solution to your racing wheel stand needs.
This may come as an unexpected recommendation given the subject of this article, but it must be said that some users simply do not need a racing wheel stand for their wheels! If you’re a casual racing fan who doesn’t intend to spend a lot of time and money on the hobby, it’s perfectly acceptable to mount your entry-level peripherals to a desk or table using the included clamps! Virtually all entry-level wheels from Logitech and Thrustmaster have these features.
If you need a full racing cockpit, you’re in luck – many racing seat products in the category combine a seat with a wheel stand (and sometimes other amenities such as monitor mounts) into a comprehensive package that ends up providing a better experience at a lower price than buying everything piecemeal.
DIY Racing Wheel Stand
If you fancy yourself something of a craftsman and would rather spend sweat than cash, there are innumerable tutorials across the web that can help you build a scrappy stand from assorted garbage, a glorious cockpit rivaling those in professional racing simulators or anything in between.
If you’re a sim racing enthusiast or just someone who wants to get a more comfortable or authentic racing experience in your life, racing wheel stands are among the best products on the market in terms of taking your game to the next level.
Last Updated on March 2, 2021