Fanatec CSL DD – what we know about Fanatec’s new Direct Drive wheelbase

fanatec csl dd

As the newest member of the Fanatec family, the CSL DD is already causing an almighty stir in the sim racing industry. Appropriately dubbed ‘The New StandarDD,’ by the manufacturer, this brand-new piece of kit is now available for pre-order, and at an estimated price point starting at $350, this wheelbase will be much cheaper than any of the other DD wheelbase options available currently. The full 8nm torque setup (with the “boost kit” power supply) is priced at 479.95 EUR (incl. VAT), 479.95 USD (excl. VAT), 829.90 AUD, 65,500 JPY.

What makes DD so special?

Until now, direct drive wheel technology has been reserved to the upper echelons of the sim racing community, with Fanatec’s flagship Podium series wheelbases fetching north of $1000, while other competing brands also put hefty price tags on anything with the highly sought-after DD moniker attached to it.

This is why the release of the CSL DD is causing such a storm. By making DD technology more affordable, Fanatec has forced the hand of every other manufacturer to compete with what is now undoubtedly going to be the best entry-level wheelbase on the market.

And anyway; how much power do you need?

I say entry-level because while the CSL DD is indeed a DD wheelbase the motor delivers around 5Nm of torque on the standard power supply, but this can rise to 8Nm with the optional “Boost Kit 180”. Fanatec says that there’s no need for active cooling, with the chassis — machined from aluminium — acting as a heat sink. For the small additional outlay, it seems to make a lot of sense to add the extra torque, which brings it past the maximum power of the very popular but now obsolete CSL Elite wheelbase.

CSL DD's hub is compatible with all Clubsport steering wheels
CSL DD’s hub is compatible with all Clubsport steering wheels

Obviously this is a lower-powered unit at about a third of the price of the flagship Fanatec Podium DD2, which offers 25Nm of torque. While it’s pretty clear that the CSL doesn’t quite match up to this level of power output, I would argue huge torque isn’t necessary most of the time!

It’s a widely known fact that most sim racers actually dial the power output of their ultra-strong DD2 machines down to 70%, 60%, or even 50% at times, as they simply do not need that much resistance. So maybe for those new to sim racing, which is precisely the market the CSL DD is targeted towards, 5-8Nm is more than enough.

CSL DD Breakdown

There’s a fair bit of marketing lingo in their launch announcement. The long and the short of it is there’s a new “custom motor” with a carbon fibre composite shaft. It looks pretty standard, really – and a move away from their preferred, outrunner style motors found in the DD1 and DD2 wheelbases. They say that reducing the motor shaft mass makes for a more responsive feel; although higher torque achieves this perfectly well in Simucube’s Sport and Pro units. They make reference to an idea called “fluxbarrier”. What they mean by this isn’t clear – perhaps it’s a method to reduce the EM interference associated with a budget level motor power and speed controller.

Inside the CSL DD wheelbase from Fanatec
Inside the CSL DD wheelbase from Fanatec

Expect the usual compatibility in the Clubsport steering wheel range, and naturally the ability to connect Fanatec’s shifters and handbrakes directly into the back of the unit via the usual RJ12 ports.

What we know – technical specifications:

  • Direct-Drive system
  • 5 Nm peak torque
  • Optional Boost Kit 180 unlocks maximum torque: 8 Nm peak
  • “FluxBarrier” technology optimises motor efficiency and smoothness
  • Fanatec SDK support ensures game compatibility out of the box for all major racing games
  • Standard and advanced Fanatec Tuning Menu
  • Hall-position-sensor, similar to Podium Series
  • Steering axis made from carbon fibre-enhanced composite
  • Fanless: wheelbase housing is made from aluminium
  • Automotive-grade QR
  • T-nut rail system on sides and bottom for easily adjustable hard-mounting
  • Ports:
    • Power supply
    • USB-C to PC / console
    • Fanatec DataPort-C
    • Shifter 1
    • Shifter 2 (Sequential only) o Pedal
    • Handbrake

With the announcement of the CSL DD, rumours and speculation on sim racing forums now point to the next product Fanatec will unveil. CSW DD, anyone?

Fanatec CSL DD – what we know about Fanatec’s new Direct Drive wheelbase