(How to) upgrade to Fanatec’s Magnetic Paddle Shifters

clubsport wheel with upgraded magnetic paddle shift
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The Clubsport steering wheel and Xbox One Universal hub ships with a micro-switch only mechanical paddle shift. They’re basically sprung levers on hinges and they’ll feel very familiar indeed to all of us. As time move forward of course, things improve so, I thought it might be nice to remove those and upgrade them to Fanatec’s *new ClubSport Magnetic Paddle Module.


The micro-switch paddle units we’re going to replace

I say these magnetic paddles are new, they’re the same neodymium magnetic units that come fitted on the CSL Elite Racing Wheel F1 2020 Ltd edition wheel:

Behind the CSL Elite Racing Wheel F1® 2020 Limited Edition features a magnetic paddle shift. They do feel very nice!

The magnets are so strong that they’ll attract your tools while you’re building them!

Having had my hands on the F1 wheel for a while, I found myself enjoying their clacky, sprung-only brethren somewhat less. Thankfully Fanatec have packaged these magnetic upgrades into their own little box. You can order them from Fanatec here!

Firstly, the conclusion

Let’s just get the review out of the way. Are magnetic paddles worth the money? Yes, I think they are. You immediately gain a sense of quality and weight from using them. Inputs are much smoother and positive than their micro-switched predecessors, and they’re far quieter in use. There are aftermarket magnetic upgrades available for the existing paddle switches, but for the money and convenience, this is a nice and simple upgrade. You could, for example, justify an upgrade on an older Formula wheel to make it much closer to the current F1 Podium range.

How to upgrade to the Magnetic Paddle Module

Installation is pretty easy. As with all things sim racing, a bit of patience, prep and the right tools means you can do a nice job.

Clubsport steering wheel on xbox universal hub ready to upgrade
Clubsport steering wheel on Xbox universal hub ready to upgrade

Start by removing the wheel from the hub by removing the 6 Allen screws from around the centre of the wheel. Then, turn the hub so it’s sat with the hub end pointing upwards:

turn the hub so it's sat with the hub end pointing upwards
Turn the hub so it’s sat with the hub end pointing upwards

Remove the four locking bolts with a 3mm Allen key. This will loosen the front cover (the one facing your worktop with all the buttons on it). Lift the entire unit carefully and gently pull the cover away. Some of the connector cables will come with the cover. Separate the two gently.

xbox universal hub cover removed
The Xbox universal hub cover removed

Don’t worry if a wire or two pops through the rubber gaiters, they’re deliberately able to open – you can put all of the cables back later if a few fall away.

Disconnect the existing shifter wires. Then, using a 4mm Allen key, remove the mounting bolts holding each switch module in place:

Removing mounting bolts.
Removing mounting bolts.

My mounting bolts were very tight. I used a pair of pliers to help me unscrew the bolt, holding the hub with my left hand to keep it steady. Put the old modules and mounting bolts in a safe place.

Assembly of the shift paddle to the shift module is a little bit fiddly but very simple. Depending on the wheel and hub combination you’re using, you might choose a longer paddle or a short one:

mounting the module to the Universal hub.
Very self-explanatory paddle assembly, with new 4mm bolts mounting the module to the Universal hub.

Mount the module to the Universal hub using the 4mm bolts, then attach the connectors to the PCB. Note that the new connectors use a different socket, also labelled “shift L” or “shift R”.

Alternative socket location for magnetic paddle modules pictured
Alternative socket location for magnetic paddle modules pictured above. Lots of interesting spare sockets in here!

Once you’ve relocated all of the wires, replace the cover and reassemble your wheel.

Completed Universal Hub with magnetic shift paddles!
Completed Universal Hub with magnetic shift paddles!

Here’s the finished item, I gave the paddles a good shake-down in Assetto Corsa in the Ferrari F138. Incidentally, I set a PB lap time at Silverstone, but that’s just a coincidence…

Fitted magnetic shift paddles and ready to go...
Fitted magnetic shift paddles and ready to go…

Pros:

  • Quality and Feel: The high-quality materials and solid feel of the Fanatec Magnetic Paddle Shifters, emphasize the premium aluminium housings and shift levers.
  • Tactile Feedback: The magnetic mechanism provides a significant improvement in tactile feedback during shifts, making the shifting experience far more precise and enjoyable.
  • Quiet Operation: The shifters are designed to be quieter than traditional spring-based systems, which is beneficial for not disturbing others during gaming sessions.
  • Ease of Installation: Installation is straightforward, with no significant issues reported, making it accessible for users to upgrade their setups.

Cons:

  • Price: The cost of the shifters is noted as a consideration, although it is generally perceived as fair for the quality and improvement in experience they provide.
  • Rubber Dampers: The shifters come with rubber sound dampers installed, which some users might find dampens the crispiness of the shifting feel. Removing these dampers is not straightforward and could potentially void the warranty.

Issues Other Reviewers Found:

  • Preference for Crispier Feel: Sim sim racers prefer a “crispier” feel to the shifters and noted that achieving this by removing the rubber dampers is not simple and could risk voiding the warranty. This indicates that while the quality and performance of the shifters are generally praised, personal preferences regarding the feel of the shifters can vary, and making adjustments to suit these preferences might not be straightforward for all users.

For more shifter options for your sim, visit our Buyer’s guide.


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(How to) upgrade to Fanatec’s Magnetic Paddle Shifters