What Is A Direct Drive Wheel & What Makes Them Better?

In sim racing, a direct drive wheel is mounted directly onto the motor by way of a quick release hub, making them different to wheel systems that are gear or belt-driven, in which a mechanism exists between the motor and you. 

Generally speaking, parts of a lower quality are used in both gear and belt-driven wheel systems, and they’re unable to deliver the same degree of force that direct drive wheelbases such as the Simucube 2 Sport are able to, with some lower priced systems barely having any force feedback. Heavier and costlier, they do however, offer several important advantages over lower priced systems, such as those listed below:  

  • Precision

With a system that has less lag and an absence of mechanical play, a direct drive wheel is able to deliver feedback that gives you quicker response times to slides, enabling you to handle them more competently when racing. When you’ve gotten used to the level of force involved with a direct drive steering wheel, you’ll soon gain confidence and find yourself making fewer mistakes.

  • Rotation

Matching the simulated rotation of the wheel perfectly, all wheels go further than 900° of rotation.  

FFB strength and FFB effects

Able to deliver peak and nominal levels of torque that are higher than other wheel systems, direct drive wheels offer racers more rounded and precise feedback effects. 

Detail at high frequencies

Many sim racers love to be able to feel the details of the track as they drive, and direct drive wheels enable you to do exactly that and in incredible detail, right down to the vibrations. 

Rigidity and build quality

When you invest in a high quality direct drive sim steering wheel, it will have a minimum of 4 M6 threads for mounting into a cockpit made of aluminium, enabling strength and rigidity when dealing with 25nm torque at its peak. While direct drive wheels feel a lot heavier than their belt or gear driven counterparts, this gives them the strength to cope with the torque, and you the opportunity to race at your very best. 

Torque in a little more detail

When choosing a direct drive steering system, torque is a crucial aspect, with manufacturers typically talking about the following two torque type values:

  • Peak torque
  • Holding or constant torque

When referring to something known as ‘peak torque,’ this means the highest output the wheel motor can give in short bursts, and you might experience this as a sim racer during a change of direction at high speeds, driving over a particularly high curb, or even in a crash. 

When referring to ‘holding torque,’ this means motor’s strength when resisting rotation. During racing on a virtual track, the driver is often resisting the self-aligning torque of the car through corners, for example, which can cause heating up of the motor. For a more consistent and smooth driving experience, high holding torque is imperative.

Direct drive wheelbases might be more expensive than other alternatives, but if you want to get the most out of your sim racing experience, you’ll want to invest in one. To get your hands on a direct drive steering wheel that will give you an electrifying race experience, head to your nearest simulator hardware store in the UK and test one out before buying.