Being a sim-racing fan means several things: having a complete setup including peripherals that are sometimes state-of-the-art, and having a passion for cars. Well, it’s true that the second point is valid for many people, especially men. But the first is typical of sim-raceurs.
As you can probably imagine, there are many players in the sim-racing world, brands that have been in the game for over 20 years. Having such experience enables them to release discipline-specific products and peripherals, whether good or bad. And don’t get me started on the subject of ecosystems, because every brand has its own vision of things.
Being a driver always means being good at something. But to be good at one discipline, you have to try several to find what you really like. For sim-racing, it’s exactly the same thing: every good racer has his or her own preferences in terms of motor racing, and often the setup that goes with them. Except that, for the most part, sim-racing setups don’t change that much on paper, except for one thing: the steering wheel. Of course, there are disciplines that make full use of specific peripherals such as a handbrake, but that’s limited to drifting and rallying.
As a result, every good sim-racer has several steering wheels, or wheels if you like, so that you can race in different disciplines. You’ve got F1, GT3, Formula, Nascar, Drift, rally and more. Except that having several steering wheels is a good thing. Exploiting them is better. And to exploit them, you need a Quick Release. In what follows, I’ll give you an overview of the QR brands available on the market, with their strengths and weaknesses.
We start with a brand that has been in the game of sim-racing peripherals for over 20 years, Fanatec. The German manufacturer knows all there is to know about sim-racing products, and has been developing QRs throughout its existence. The latest are the QR1 and QR1 Lite.
So, the QR1 is a model that equips mid-range and high-end Fanatec steering wheels. Its construction is metal, with a ring that you have to pull towards you to be able to attach the steering wheel to the base, and the operation shouldn’t take more than 20 seconds, paying close attention to the connection pins. Inspecting the QR1, you’ll find 5 steel balls that are there precisely to enable the QR to be fixed to the base, without any movement or play in the center.
Having used several Fanatec flywheels with this Quick Release, I have to tell you that I haven’t really had any problems with it. But then, the QR1 has received a few revisions over the years, and that’s why the latest ones perform so well. This Quick Release attaches to the steering wheel with screws and the whole thing doesn’t move, nor does it have any play in the center, something that can’t be said of the QR1 Lite.
As for the QR1 Lite, well, it’s a “Budget Friendly” Quick Release, used on entry-level steering wheels (a large part of the CSL range). This QR is made entirely of plastic, with a ring that turns on its side to secure it in place. In practical terms, there’s a few degrees of play in the center, whatever base you have. It’s much more pronounced if you have a base of 8 nm or more. But if you’re going to go for the 8nm base, you’re not going to choose the QR1 Lite, which is just there to act as a gateway to the Fanatec ecosystem.
The Thrustmaster QR
Thrustmaster has also been a major player in the sim-racing industry for over 20 years, and the manufacturer has numerous peripherals in its range. Obviously, Thrustmaster has a QR that allows it to swap wheels quite slowly on the manufacturer’s bases. The principle of Quick Release in sim-racing is to change the steering wheel quickly, without having to use tools, as is the case on a racing car. Except that with Thrustmaster, you have to take out the screwdriver each time to swap the wheel.
Here’s how it works: you place the steering wheel on the QR and pull the plastic ring towards the wheel. Align the screw thread and tighten fully by hand. Once this is done, you take the screw and take out the screwdriver to tighten everything properly. The operation is long and a bit tedious, but at least it doesn’t move that much.
The Simucube QR
Simucube is a very premium brand of sim-racing peripherals, in particular Direct Drive bases. And where there’s a premium, there’s often a unique, bulletproof solution. And so it is with Simucube’s QR.
Unlike other brands in the Quick Release game, Simucube has taken a different approach to its product. The mechanism involves fitting a metal part of the QR into a slot or rail of some kind, and inserting a safety pin to ensure that the whole mechanism doesn’t move a muscle.
In practice, this mechanism is certainly unique, but very ingenious, and also very solid. The steering wheel will not move at all, regardless of the force exerted by the force feedback. However, not everything is perfect, and some riders tend to lose the safety pin. As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t had this problem, and in my opinion, it’s due to a lack of concentration on the part of the drivers.
The Simagic QR
Simagic is a rather young player in the world of sim-racing, but has nevertheless managed to revolutionize the discipline with innovative, high-performance products. As you know, sim-racing draws a lot of its inspiration from motorsports, and Simagic did the same when developing its QR: drawing inspiration from those used in competition steering wheels.
The system includes a ring to release the fastening mechanism, which is fitted with 10 steel balls. So far, it’s the first to use 10 balls, compared with Fanatec and its 5 balls. From a safety point of view, Simagic’s QR is very solid, providing an attachment that won’t plug in at all, no matter how you use your steering wheel. It stays in place, whether you have an 8 nm or 25 nm base. As far as I’m concerned, it’s an excellent QR, reliable and above all very sturdy. What’s more, the steering wheel swap operation takes no more than 10 seconds to complete.
The Moza Racing QR
To put it simply, Moza Racing has copied the design of the Simagic QR, so we end up with a product that’s similar in design, function and, above all, use. It’s an excellent QR, on a par with Simagic’s, so you won’t have any problems using it, whatever your setup. To swap a wheel, it’s all the same: pull on the ring, remove the wheel, put on another and you’re done. For duration, count on about 10 seconds.
Other available QRs
On this point, we have two entries: Logitech and Thrustmaster. With its new Direct Drive G Pro Racing base, Logitech intends to compete with Fanatec and other players in this segment. And to do this, the Swiss brand is developing a whole new ecosystem with steering wheels, pedals and all the rest. So far, we have a DD base, a steering wheel and pedals, and also a QR system.
Thrustmaster is doing the same with its T818 base. The QR is here, but the steering wheels haven’t arrived yet. As a result, the manufacturer is offering an adapter that will bridge the gap between its new QR and older steering wheels.
As far as these two brands are concerned, I don’t want to venture too much into their QR until I have them to hand, along with the steering wheels and bases.
Which one to choose?
To be frank, we’re sometimes limited by the platform and ecosystem we’re on. As a result, the QR is chosen according to your base, and this will dictate the choice of steering wheel/wheel. However, there are QRs that allow you to mix things up a bit, letting you have a base from one brand and a steering wheel from another, provided you have compatible peripherals of course.