So maybe you’re like me and have gone and gotten a shiny new racing wheel so that you can spend hours upon hours screaming along rally courses or lapping Silverstone in a Ferrari F1 car. They tend to come with handy clamps that you can slap onto your desk which is awesome if you just want to race on your PC or something, but if you want to play on console in the living room things can get a bit trickier. That’s where stands come into play. There are a number of them on the market and today I’m reviewing one from the boys and girls over at Next Level Racing.
Keep in mind this is the first one I’ve reviewed, so I’m not delving into comparisons between this stand and others that are available on the market, rather I’ll just be tackling this one using…common sense. Yes, a scary idea, I know, but I’m going to give it a whirl.
if you were hoping that the LITE part of the name indicated something easily moved around then you’re in for some stinging dissapointment and a sprained back; at around 13kg without a wheel and pedals attached and with no easy to grip areas the stand is a bugger to shift around. I reckon some simple handles on the sides of the square base could have helped a lot, but I did get used to shoving it around the floor quickly enough.
The upshot of the weight is that the entire unit feels sturdy and doesn’t slide along your floor unless you employ a small team of elephants to kick it. The metal bars that the stand is made of are chunky, and the welds holding them together are reasonable quality. This is a product that could certainly withstand your drunken mate tripping over it on a Saturday night, which is, as we all know, the true measurement of worth.
However, worth noting is that some people on Amazon report small allignment errors. I only noted one on my where the hole for the steering wheel didn’t quite line up exactly, but it was only out by a fraction and thus a little mucking about got it sorted.
Getting this beast out of the box and setup doesn’t take take too long as everything is pretty much ready to go. You just need to attach your chosen wheel and pedals.
The wheel gets held by a single column of metal that rises from the front of the whole unit that you lock into place by a slightly awkward latch. This proved troublesome as the fit was tight and took some considerable effort to lock into place, but at least I felt confident that it wasn’t going anywhere unless I wanted it to.
Atop this column you can mount your chosen wheel using the supplied bolts. In my case it was the Logitech G920 (review coming soonish) which went on without too much faffing around.
There are two things that bugged me about the column; first there’s no cable management points at all which feels like an oversight. Even a few hoops where you could loop a zip-tie would have really helped to tidy things up, especially since the G920 has a rat’s nest of cables poking out the back of it. In fact, there’s no cable management anywhere and that’s a real disapointment. Even a few points along the edges of the bottom could have let you keep everything a bit tidier. Instead, every time I set the stand up I had to spend some time making sure no wires were getting caught underneath the unit or in the pedals.
The other problem is that there is no angle adjustment on the column. That’s fine if you’re using something like an office chair, but in armchairs, especially deeper ones, it can force you to drive with your arms completely outstretched which in my case caused some shoulder ache during prolonged sessions on F1 2018, DiRT Rally and Forza 7. Being able to tilt the who column could have made it much more erganomical. Other stands on the market offer both tilt on the column for the same price, after all.
But you do get height adjustment that’s controlled through the magic of knobs! Ahem. Two black handles let you loosen and tighten the column so that you can raise or lower it from 4ft to 6.9ft. Again, it’s a little awkward as you have to hold the wheel and plate with one hand and loosen the two knobs with the other, but you probably won’t be adjusting height too much anyway.
There’s also tilt adjustment on the plate holding the wheel itself.
Surprisingly, I didn’t find the central column to be as annoying as I initially thought it might be when racing. Sure, having a piece of metal sitting between your legs does take some getting used to as you will inevitably brush against it, but it only took me a few minutes to adjust to it.
Sturdiness wasn’t an issue, either, which was something I worried about versus some of the other stands on the market that offer two supporting beams on either side rather than a single central one. Once I started wrenching the wheel around in DiRT Rally it became apparent the whole stand was perfectly stable. One of the stronger direct-drive wheels might be able to wobble it, but chances are if you own one of those you’ll be laying down more cash for a higher quality stand anyway.
Alongside the metal plate for the wheel itself is where you can attach another metal plate for the gear shift, assuming you have one. This plate sits about 2-inches down from the wheel plate, which obviously means that it faces the same problems when it comes to using it from an armchair. I’d loved to have seen a piece included with a longer arm so the gear shift could sit further down and closer if needed. I did, however, appreciate that you can add a slight tilt to the plate rather than just having it sit flat, and you can swap it from the left side to the right based on your preference.
Moving on down the pedals get attached to a thinner piece of metal that has more flex than than I would have liked. Like the wheel you hard-mount your pedals to the metal using the supplied allen keys and screws, which does bring me to another point; there aren’t as many screws in the box as I’d ideally like. I wound up with my pedals only being held by two screws, which was still solid but more is always better in this case.
Compared to the wheel mount there is a lot more adjustment options for the pedals. By undoing the same screws holding the whole sheet of metal in place you can slide it further along or closer to the steering wheel column which should accomodate most people pretty well. Loosen off another few bolts and you can play around with the angle of the pedals, shifting them from dead-flat to up to 45-degrees. The bolts keeping the plate in place obviously does mean that this isn’t exactly a quick system to change, but once you find the positioning for you that hopefully won’t be an issue.
If you decide to have the pedals as close as possible then they get held in place by screws located midway along the stand, but these means the end of the plate isn’t held by anything and makes some extra noise when you hit the brakes hard. If you can push the plate up a bit further you can hold it in place with the screw points there and that makes it much more stable and less noisy.
For storage, you simply undo the latch holding the wheel column in place and then fold the column down so that it ends up resting on your pedals, which at first made me a mite uncomfortable but in the case of the G920 the pedals are metal and thus more then capable of taking some weight sitting on them. With a little work you can flatten out the whole thing more by removing the pedal plate and pedals, though I wouldn’t call that a very handy solution.
Without any wheel attached the whole thing measures L 60 x W 48 x H 50-75cm, so it’s compact enough to hide under a bed. Obviously the height with a wheel and pedals attached will vary considerably.
In my view there’s a couple of design flaws that left my experience a little soured. Basic things like some cable tidying points and easier areas to grip for moving the whole unit around would have done wonders for practicality, and I also felt that while the weight helps keep it in place it could have been lightened by a good bit so that moving it around wasn’t such a chore. However, while I do think there is room for improvement this is still a solid solution to the problem of setting up a wheel in your living room, albeit a pricey one.
The point is the Next Level Racing Lite did its job rather well by allowing me to hook my wheel up to my Xbox and thrash some Formula 1 cars around Monoco, and that’s all I wanted. I