Simulation Racing is a popular “digital motorsport” that’s become popular lately. It’s easy to see why! Racing enthusiasts of all types can experience an immersive simulation of real-life racing. Additionally, there’s less cost, danger and time than “real racing”. Central to sim racing is the “sim racing cockpit” which is a setup that simulates a real race car’s interior. Today we’ll dive into the options available on the market and give some advice on picking a cockpit that fits your needs!
What is a sim racing cockpit?
First off, let’s define what a sim racing cockpit is.
A sim racing cockpit is a dedicated station designed for sim racers to provide the most realistic and immersive driving experience possible. It has areas to mount a steering wheel, pedals, gearshifts, handbrakes and a seat. Steering wheels, pedals and accessories are not included in a sim racing rig. Sometimes sim racing rigs will come with a seat!
What types of sim racing cockpits are for sale?
The great thing about sim racing cockpits is that there’s loads of options for every price point!
Whether you are new to the hobby or want to dive deep into a fully customized sim racing cockpit, there’s an sim racing cockpit for you.
Wheel Stands and Desk Mount Wheels
First, while this option isn’t really a cockpit, we have to mention it. Most sim racing wheels come with a desk mount built-in that allows you to mount it to your desk and place your pedals on the floor. For a small upgrade from there, you can purchase a sim racing wheel stand that allows moving your wheel around without attaching and detaching it from your desk. This is a great budget-friendly option for new racers who may be just exploring the hobby. A wheelstand will run you anywhere from free (if you’re mounting your wheel to a desk) to under $200 or so.
Entry-Level Sim Racing Cockpits
Next up are the entry-level options. When I first got started sim racing, I bought a Playseat Challenge Sim Racing Cockpit. Many sim racers call the Playseat Challenge a “lawn chair with a steering wheel”. As a bonus, it folds up and can be stored out of sight.
The Playseat Challenge sim racing cockpit is a cheap entry-level option. It’s got everything you need to get started. You simply mount your steering wheel to the metal plate, place your pedals on the stand and hook it up to your computer or game console. These entry-level sim racing rigs can cost anywhere from around $200-$400.
There are lots of other entry-level sim racing cockpits with pretty similar features. Be sure to check out our article and short review on the Sim Lab GT1 Evo here.
Mid-Level Sim Racing Cockpits
Next are the mid-level sim racing cockpits. These options will typically cost $400-$1k and offer more features than the entry-level options. These rigs are heavier and might take up more space too! They typically have a metal construction and have a bit more comfort than the entry-level.
Some of the higher price point sim racing cockpits in this category are modular and built from 8040 extruded aluminium. They often don’t come with a seat included, so you’ll need to budget that in as well. These sim racing rigs can also take a lot of time to build!
Professional Sim Racing Cockpits
Finally, if you’re looking to go all-in and want the highest-quality (but most expensive) option, a professional level sim racing cockpit might be your speed. These rigs can mimic motion from the car with motors and moving parts that respond to the in-game motions. Professional level cockpits can go anywhere from $1000 and up to thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars for the most realistic and most immersive setups in the world.
Things to Consider when Purchasing Your First Sim Racing Cockpit
It’s important to take your sim racing goals into consideration when purchasing your sim racing cockpit. Consider what type of racing you’ll want to do: f1, gt, or an general purpose do-it-all option. For example, in f1-style racing, drivers are in an almost laid-back position.
Be sure to check what’s included with your sim racing rig, you’ll want to check if it comes with a seat included or if you need to buy that separate. Does it have parts to mount accessories like displays, shifters and handbrakes? Does the sim rig come with a mount for a monitor? Or will you have a separate desk or stand for your monitor?
Will your sim racing wheels and pedal fit your rig? Be sure to check in advance that your wheel will mount to the rig you plan on using. If your racing wheel doesn’t fit your cockpit and you’re handy, you could retrofit your gear to your cockpit with some caution!
Finally, consider the space you have to build your sim rig — will you need a compact solution? Or do you have plenty of space and can build anything you want? Be sure to take a look at the product sheet for measurements and compare it to the space you’re planning on sim racing in.
In conclusion, a sim racing cockpit is more than just a seat, it’s the centerpiece of your sim racing rig! Your sim racing cockpit can provide immersion, realism, and comfort. As sim racing evolves, the variety of sim racing cockpits for sale will change too, offering new features and thrilling ways to race. What’s your favorite sim racing cockpit?
There is no “best” sim racing cockpit, it all depends on your needs and requirements! Whether you’re just getting into the sport and want to take it easy or if you have a pile of money to light on fire, you’re going to have fun!