Direct Drive tech is killing off new entry-level models. But if you cannot afford a €440 Moza R3 bundle, here is your guide to the best used sim racing wheels and how much to pay for them.
Note: Not all wheels in the header image appear in the article. They are representative for the topic.
Throughout sim racing’s history, there have been many different types of Force Feedback racing wheels. Centring forces kicked things off with cog-driven Force Feedback quickly moving into the frame. Belt-driven wheels have been the entry-level for some time now. But it seems Direct Drive is now taking over every level of the market.
In fact, at the end of last month, Moza released its latest model, the R3. In a bundle with pedals and a wheel focused on Xbox compatibility, it provides Direct Drive performance for just €440. Cutting into the lower-end of the market, it seems the majority of all new wheels from now on will feature this most recent tech.
But what if this still very steep barrier of entry is too much? Well, there is obviously the lowly option of the Thrustmaster T128. But as Champion Joe pointed out in his video some time ago, this is a wheel best suited to young kids. But there is another choice out there. Used racing wheels coat the numerous online market places around the world, and there are some absolute gems to choose from. Here is your guide to the best used models on the internet and how much you should pay.
Nearly 20 years ago, back in 2006, Logitech launched its latest contender to the sim racing market. The G25 was a very trusty and ever popular cog-driven force feedback wheel that took the community by storm.
Following on from the Driving Force GT, it continued Logitech’s momentum towards becoming the go-to brand for racing wheels. For entry-level audiences, it certainly still is today.
As aforementioned, the G25 features a cog-driven force feedback system, much like the current G29. Unlike the current model, it came with a lot of equipment in the box from new. Not only did one receive the wheel, it also came with three pedals and a shifter. Today, the G29’s shifter will set you back a further €60.
Available from as low as €75 or €80 for a well used model today, the better condition examples will set you back around €100. That being said, many sim racers describe these older models as being fairly indestructible. So if you do not mind some visual wear, there should not be any issue going for the cheaper offerings.
After the G25 came what is perhaps Logitech’s most famous model, the G27. Taking what its predecessor did best and building upon it, this model released in 2010 to equally favourable reviews.
Retaining the cogs for the FFB system, the G27 kickstarted the community’s fascination with buttons. Whereas the 25 featured just two buttons on its face, the 27 has six as well as a pair of paddle shifters. Akin to the previous model, it came with a three-pedal setup and shifter. The shifter also presented a D-pad and eight further buttons.
With the number of adjustments modern sim titles require on the fly, this is certainly the better option of the two from Logitech’s past. But for that, it does require spending a little bit more money. For the Logitech G27, one can expect to spend between €100 and €120. Near-pristine models are available for more than that, but we would recommend not paying above €120.
With a large community around it, there are several modifications one can make to a G27. From wheel adaptations to pedal spring reinforcements, this low-end model can easily gain a quality feel with some cheap additions.
Moving away from Logitech, Thrustmaster is a brand that many consider middle of the range in the racing wheel market. But today, the T150 certainly situates around the same level as the Logitech G27, as does its Xbox compatible sibling, the TMX.
Despite offering a hybrid Force Feedback setup with several gears combining with a small belt, it retains the same clunky, loud rotation of its Logitech brethren. However, smaller movements such as mid-straight corrections will be somewhat smoother with the belt taking some slack.
Whereas the Logitech models of the time came with their own shifters included in the price, Thrustmaster rarely offers bundles of that size. In fact, the T150 and TMX come as standard as a wheel-pedal combination. One will have to purchase an additional shifter if they want the full H-pattern experience. That being said, the standard bundle featured just a dual pedal set, so a T3PA will also be necessary. Luckily, PC racers are able to mix hardware from Fanatec, Thrustmaster and Logitech thanks to USB connexion in order to create the perfect rig.
Frequently, one will spot posts selling full sim racing rigs on the many sites. These often include the wheel, pedals and the shifter the previous owner preferred. These are certainly the best posts to go for as they require fewer headaches, though they will cost more. The T150 with its standard pedals alone can be purchased for a little over €100. Little used examples can creep towards €150 whilst full wheel-pedal-shifter sets will rise to €200-€250 depending on the equipment in use.
The previous trio are certainly the best entry-level used sim racing wheels for beginners on a budget. But for the more serious racer, there are still plenty of offers around for more high-end models from the industry’s past.
One great example is the Thrustmaster T500. Whilst the T300 is a more recent, just as capable wheel, it often reaches prices of over €400 having just recently been dropped by Thrustmaster. The T500 however offers the same modularity in changing wheel rims and software tweaking for a far lower price.
With sizeable bundles often including shifters and a collection of wheels, the T500 is available from as cheap as €250. In fact, this is the first wheel on the list that enables players to change the wheel style. If you plan on driving classics, modern formulas and NASCAR all in one day, the ability to switch from a wood wheel to a formula rim and then to a large-diameter model really helps preserve the immersion.
Fanatec CSW 2.5
This is something the final entrant to our list does just as well. The Fanatec Clubsport Wheel, or CSW, 2.5 benefits from the brand’s immense ecosystem of wheels. In fact, many units such as the famous BMW M3 GT2 wheel and McLaren MP4-12C GT3 rim are compatible with this older Fanatec base.
In addition to the Fanatec ecosystem, online ads for sale often provide third party wheels with this belt driven base. With countless options out there, one can truly immerse oneself in the act of sim racing when using something like this.
Coming in at around €200 for the base alone, and topping the €300-€350 mark with pedals and a wheel, the CSW can get pricey rather fast. In fact, only a small increase in budget will earn you a brand new Moza R3 or Fanatec CSL DD. However, torque figures sit below the 5Nm mark, stock is far from certain and delivery times exceed a few months in most cases. So the CSW is a great option for anyone serious about the hobby and anxious to join the Fanatec family right away.
Where To Buy Used Racing Wheels
Clearly then, there are plenty of options for each price point. But the big question is, where does one buy second hand sim racing wheels? Indeed, the old days of car boot sales and second hand stores are mostly gone, with everything moving to the internet.
Depending on each country and its online culture, the best places to look may differ. But in general, Facebook is a great place to start. The Facebook Marketplace is often seen as a lawless frontier requiring great skill at picking out the good from the scams. But in reality, that is not the case. Especially when it comes to sim racing equipment, the majority of posts are correct. Along with Messenger making it easy to get in touch with sellers, this is a great place to start.
If you do not fancy trawling through uninspiring posts, Facebook groups are a great alternative. There are many large collections of people all discussing sim racing that will certainly help out newcomers whilst other groups focus solely on exchanging hardware such as rigs, wheels and PCs.
Each country has its own second hand sales website. But in general, ebay and Vinted appear to be very popular around the world. More often than not, sites like these provide great buyer protection from secure bank account transfers to interesting return policies. These more professional sites are certainly best for those of a nervous disposition.
Every internet guru’s best friend, Reddit, is also a fantastic place for buying and selling second hand sim racing hardware. There are dozens of communities dedicated to sim racing in some form or another. Every single one is sure to feature for sale notices.
Finally, the forums of RaceDepartment also feature a Sim Racing Marketplace that receives new offers on a regular basis. Make sure to check the page out if ever you are in search of affordable equipment.
What used sim racing wheel would you recommend for beginners? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!