Fanatec Club Sport – Wheel Base, Formula CSW, ClubSport Pedals – Summary
Whew. So this is the Fanatec Formula CSW wheel, a dream coming true for everybody who has grown up watching Indy Car and Formula 1. This review highlights the Fanatec Wheel Base, the Club Sport Pedals, and the Formula Rim.
Conclusion for the busy Racer
This is the Hardware of Greger Huttu, probably world’s most renowned record sim racer; the Schumacher and Loeb in virtual racing, in one person.
Here in the video, Huttu is using a Wheel Base V2 and a Beta BMW Rim.
In this review, I am talking about a complete ClubSport setup, including the ClubSport Wheel Base, the ClubSport Pedals and the ClubSport Formula Rim, i.e. a setup for the IndyCar or Formula 1 fan (or more generally, fans of Open Wheel Racing). Detailed Reviews for the separate components might be added later.
Each part, and especially the setup as a whole, made my driving way more consistent. The process of learning braking- and turn-in-points on a new track accelerated vastly. While I previously needed 3 or 4 sessions to get to the point where I optimize single corners on track, it now only takes me 1 or 2 sessions before the fine tuning starts. Even with new cars I have never driven, I am up to speed within hours, and competitive after a few days.
Apart from the better driving, the Wheel Base has enough force feedback to brake your finger, and you may need to improve your fixation of the wheel if you want to make use of so much power. It is distributed as not being a toy, and it really isn’t (okay, it depends on your definition of toy, but it should be kept away from anyone unintroduced and who is too snoopy ;)).
The material is awesome and there is only metal, apart from the plastic in the buttons and LEDs as well as the look-inside window of the wheel base: It feels robust and mighty, and it really is. You got to turn it on using a nice, red “starter button”, and it has a medium sized fan inside (unlike the Logitech G27), so there are no heating issues.
Sorry, I tried to keep above short review within two paragraphs, but I found it impossible, with respect to the whole ClubSport line.
Shopping the Fanatec ClubSport Wheel Base
The ClubSport setup is currently not available on Amazon, but at Fanatec and its distributors.
Greger Huttu, long time Alien Racer and multiple iRacing Formula 1 world champion:
— Greger Huttu (@gregerhuttu) October 21, 2012
The Wheel: Fanatec Formula Rim
I am in love with the Formula Rim: It has a quite small and sportive diameter; all buttons are easily reachable (though the analog stick is a bit hard to use during racing) and there are plenty thereof; it fits tightly and rock solid onto the wheel base.
There is also the Formula Rim’s brother made of carbon. I haven’t tested it yet, but most of this test should apply to it, too.
The Fanatec Formula Rim is tough. It feels tougher than the Logitech G27 wheel. However, I love the direct and immediate, unadorned and brutal feel. Those IndyCars and Formula 1-cars do not pet their drivers, and this rim doesn’t pet you. The grip is mantled in Alcantara, which unfortunately is not too durable w.r.t. its look. You may want to wear gloves to conserve it better. Personally, I never wear gloves, and apart from the aesthetic side, the grip did not wear for me until today.
There are plenty on the wheel: Three buttons for each thumb on the top left and top right, two more for the thumb on the left and right, plus three more at the bottom to be used by any thumb. Furthermore, there is an analog stick on the left and a D-PAD like stick on the right which can be turned around (really nice for any kind of setup or pit stop adjustment) and pressed. Apart from that all, there are two shifter paddles, which you can adjust a bit to enlarge or reduce the travel-before-click.
- 11 Buttons:
- 6 Top Buttons, with 3 Buttons on the left and 3 Buttons on the right
- 2 Side Buttons, with 1 Button on each side
- 3 Bottom Buttons
- 2 Shifter Paddles
- 1 Analog Stick
- 1 pressable “D-Pad-Stick” which is also a Rotary Switch
Very robust, and the travel-before-click is adjustable. My right paddle feels a little bit more soft after a year of use, but the click is still explicit.
Mighty. When upgrading from Logitech G27, it’s heavy. The Fanatec Wheel Base is the transparent tombstone of your rivals. It has a fan to cool down its powerful force feedback, and thanks to the cooling, it does not fade even throughout long races.
With the table clamp, you can also fit it to a Speedmaster V2 rig, though you have to be careful with your knees during boarding (but not a big deal). I squeezed a table plate between the clamp and the rig-wheel-plate, such that I could place a screen right on the rig; it shakes a little bit at times, but the screen stands its position, and real life racers would just smile about such small amount of shakery.
Powerful and straight. The Version 1 wheel base has a “micro-rubbing” feel that you will immediately get used to (really no problem). It feels different to the G27 force feedback, but you’ll soon be friends. Sometimes, the feedback feels more subtle, like magic, which is good. There’s a lot of subtlety in racing, and so is in the Fanatec Wheel Base.
As said, thanks to cooling, it does not fade during long sessions, and my personal long term test (about a year) shows no aging issues, yet.
Pedals: Fanatec Club Sport Pedals V2
Robust. Still not as strong as in my real car (a Ford Fiesta), but rather just so strong that I can still use it with socks comfortably; I have feet trained by hiking, though. The brake and throttle plate’s positions are adjustable by a few centimeters. The pedals are highly precise, and to date I never had calibration/deadzone issues. Potentiometer based pedals (like Logitech or Thrustmaster) may sometimes give trembling results when they are dirty inside, and then require some cleaning. Not so, to date, the Fanatec ClupSports.
The shape of the plate supports you with Heel-and-Toe shifting. There is otherwise not much to say.
An oil damped brake. The pressure of the oil is adjustable, as well as the sensitivity of the load-cell. It feels real, because it is (disregarding for now that the hydraulic lines in my real car are longer). And compared to linear potentiometer based brakes (like in the unmodded Logitech G27) you’ll have an easy time remembering the correct braking points and forces.
A special multipart, indirect spring mechanism simulates a real clutch very realistically. Personally, I do not drive with clutches (as I tend towards IndyCars and other modern Open Wheelers), but that clutch is highly awesome. It accurately simulates the required, increasing strength and sudden fall-off when it engages.
No separate shifter was tested in this review.
The wheel base comes without any holding mechanism in itself, apart from screw holes (if you tend towards tools and building stuff, no problem, then it’s more than enough). I use the Fanatec Wheel Base Table Clamp, again made of solid metal. I wish they would deliver a shorter set of bolts, as it is easy to screw your knees during rig-boarding in the beginning. Also, the clamp bends a bit if you fix it really tightly; some additional stabilization metal in the angle would be nice from Fanatec.
The pedals can be fixed robustly on the Speedmaster V2 either by drilling appropriate holes (drilling template available), or by just using three cheap screw clamps, which is seriously more than enough if you only use Throttle and Brake anyways, and which is what I personally do as I have no drilling machine around.
You see, mounting it is a bit harder than the Logitech G27, but by far not impossible. In that price class, I recommend a real rig anyways. Many Simracers build nice rigs themselves; you’ll find a lot of blueprints by passionate fellows. Or you do some kind of permanent installation.
Gimmicks, Tips & Tricks
Maintenance & Cleaning
Of course I dedust the wheel every now and then just for the looks and hygiene, but there were no maintenance issues to date; no opening of parts was required. This is in contrast to the G27, which may need some potentiometer cleaning after some 200-500 races.
Okay, this one might not be in the category “popular”, but extremely useful. After a longer break from racing, or for less often used buttons, you may want to mark your configured functions, such that you can just relax in the heat of racing without panicking over the wrong buttons.
Typically Top 2%-5% racer. Tries to not be slow.