Last updated: February 19th, 2024
Featured image: Fanatec DD2
Quite a long time ago, my very first wheelbase was a Fanatec CSL Elite. It was easy to install and the maximum torque was such that you couldn’t hurt yourself. It was feelsome, a bit “coggy” but served well as an introduction to sim racing. But things change and now, I have a direct drive wheel. The Fanatec DD2 direct drive wheel, is a definite step up, with more detailed force feedback, higher peak torque, and inevitably, a higher price tag.
The TL;DR: The Fanatec Podium DD2 wheelbase is Fanatec’s flagship wheelbase. It’s very nicely built, has regular driver updates and like most Fanatec sim racing equipment, needs very little expertise to install and get going. I’m delighted with mine and naturally, use it a lot! Find out more on the Fanatec website or, read on!Fanatec DD2 Direct Drive Wheel: Everything you need to know:
- The Podium DD2: High-end direct drive
- How to install a Fanatec DD2
- Fanatec DD2 driver Installation
- Fanatec DD2 settings for iRacing
- Review conclusion: What does the DD2 feel like?
The Podium DD2: high-end direct drive sim racing wheel
As I’ve mentioned in my guide to building a race simulator, the Podium wheelbase is a much higher end bit of gear. By “high end” I mean this wheelbase is for people who might already have experience of sim racing *or* for people who have driven a real track car around a circuit. And that’s for one simple reason, if you come off the circuit and hit a barrier while holding tightly onto the wheel, the DD2’s maximum torque of 25nm might be a bit much if you don’t let go!
I’ve twisted my wrist twice in a real track car – once when I was hit from behind by a driver in the MX5 Championship at Anglesey and once when I had a big spin in my Radical SR3. In both cases, the wheel suddenly rotated and I hadn’t the time to let go. Unfortunately, I’ve also made this mistake with the DD2. The injury is skier’s thumb and it can take a good few days or weeks to properly recover.
Anyway. I don’t want to be all doom and gloom about this, just know that with a direct drive wheel you can experience peak torque that could surprise you. Be careful, let go if there’s going to be a crash and you will be absolutely fine.
I’ve had the DD2 for about 3 weeks. Here it is:
How to install a Fanatec Podium DD2
The unit arrives in a really nice box (see featured image above). It’s heavy; I’d say around 20kg. It’s certainly heavy enough that you need to stay alert while you’re getting the first bolt inserted into your rig. It would be very easy to drop it while balancing the unit on its mounting plate. If someone happens to be in the house at the time (sim racers do have girlfriends, right?) I’d get them just to hold it in place for you, it’ll save loads of fiddling around.
To mount the DD2, use good quality M6 hex bolts. These are not included with the DD2. Choose a bolt length so that the thread does not reach more than 16mm into the wheelbase.
There are 3 hard-mount points located underneath that form a triangle. Use all 3 fixing points and use plenty of torque getting them tight so there’s no chance they’ll move.
Usefully, all Fanatec wheelbases use the same mount points and bolt thread size of M6.
Connections and software drivers
Before connecting the DD2 I made sure to uninstall all Fanatec software and drivers that were dedicated to the CSL Elite.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to cause problems with any new PC hardware installation (like not uninstalling your old graphics driver before installing a new GPU!) so, for best practice I remove drivers and software first.
Around the back of the unit, each port is marked. The PSU cable is very different from the supply that comes with the Elite CSL. It’s clearly a much higher voltage. The power supply itself is actually quite large and the power cable is very thick.
I’m using my Clubsport SQ shifter that connects to the back of the DD2 just like the other Fanatec wheelbases, the other RJ12 connection is the emergency stop/power button:
Once you’re all connected, plug the USB into your PC and install the drivers.
Fanatec DD2 driver Installation
After testing and extensive work to set up, the beta driver gives a much better feel than the current production version. Unless you’re familiar with occasional Fanatec driver problems and you’re happy to put a lot of time into setting up your FFB, just use the production drivers. If, however, you’re more inclined to get the latest version of Fanatec’s drivers, read my guide here.
I could not get the wheel to work with the driver at all. Firstly Windows wouldn’t detect the wheelbase in Fanatec’s wheel properties dialogue, *unless* I’d installed the driver without the Clubsport wheel attached. And no matter what I did, iRacing never felt right. When I have the time I’ll dissect what went wrong but for now, use this driver from the downloads tab on the DD2 page on Fanatec.com:
Once you have the drivers installed, the Fanatec wheel properties shortcut should appear on your desktop. Alternatively, search for “game controllers” and the correct dialogue should open:
If you double click your device, it’ll open this properties dialogue:
On first open it’s possible you’ll be alerted to a firmware update. Navigate to the “Update” tab and update the Podium base firmware, then the motor firmware:
Fanatec DD2 settings for iRacing
I have two setups. One for iRacing and the other for Assetto Corsa. They’re both exactly the same (as far as the wheel tuning is concerned) except the overall FFB wheel strength is vastly reduced for Assetto Corsa.
And this is how I’m setup in iRacing:
Review conclusion: What does the DD2 Podium feel like?
Weight: Approximately 20kg (as indicated by the review mentioning the unit is heavy and around this weight)
Maximum Torque: 25Nm, which is significant for a direct drive wheelbase
Power Supply: Noted to be quite large with a thick cable, indicating a high power requirement
Build Quality: The Fanatec Podium DD2 wheelbase is described as very nicely built, indicating high-quality materials and construction.
Ease of Installation: The review highlights that, like most Fanatec equipment, the DD2 requires very little expertise to install and get started.
Driver Updates: Regular driver updates are mentioned, suggesting ongoing support and improvements from Fanatec.
Force Feedback: The DD2 offers detailed and high-quality force feedback, which is a step up from lower-end models like the CSL Elite.
Peak Torque: The high peak torque of 25Nm provides a realistic and immersive sim racing experience, especially for those with track driving experience.
Price: The higher price tag of the DD2 compared to other wheelbases might be a barrier for some users.
Risk of Injury: Due to the high torque, there’s a potential risk of injury (e.g., skier’s thumb) if not handled properly during a simulated crash.
Weight: The substantial weight of the unit could make installation and handling challenging for some users.
Complexity for Beginners: While the DD2 is suitable for experienced sim racers or those with real track experience, it might be overwhelming for complete beginners due to its power and capabilities.
Driver Installation Issues: There are occasional challenges with driver installation and setup, which could be a hassle for less tech-savvy users, although at this point the odd firmware update isn’t going to make much of a difference to the “feel” of your wheel.
Looking back, as I gained experience with my simulator I started to feel as if the CSL I owned at the time was notchy and very binary in its feedback. That’s not the case with the DD2. The Podium is really, really good.
Once you get used to the torque you’ll find a very smooth and progressive wheel, with further improvements available with the newer drivers.
It’s sensitive to small adjustments but has real strength too. The force feedback is smooth, there’s no notchy-ness to it like there is with some belt drive units. The feedback is much more like a real car might feel in many ways. When the car is starting to rotate you get a much earlier warning – oftentimes with the CSL by the time the wheelbase was giving me feedback, it was too late to catch it. That made for a stressful experience and a lot of confusing sensations when driving the car absolutely on the limit. With the DD2 the feedback is finer, earlier and as the sensitivity is better it’s easier to react. You can catch a slide and really drive the car properly.
In my opinion, this was money very well spent. This upgrade, plus VR and the Heuskinveld pedals (which I have written about here) led to this fundamental change in my performance in iRacing:
Is the DD2 worth the money? In my opinion, it’s a definite yes.