Last updated: February 5th, 2024
Featured image: Push-Pull Rally Shifter mounted to my setup
Today we’re looking at Sim-Lab’s new Push-Pull Rally Shifter. It’s a clever add-on to your sim rig that has bi-directional movement, very unlike the paddles you find on your steering wheel. Put simply, you can push the paddle or pull it. As you can tell from the name, the shifter is aimed at rally enthusiasts.
The Shifter emulates a rally car’s shifting system in various ways:
Push-Pull Mechanism: In rally cars, quick shifting is a necessity due to the high-intensity, fast-paced nature of the sport. Many rally cars use a push-pull or sequential shifting mechanism, where you push to downshift and pull to upshift. This is exactly what the SimLab Push-Pull Shifter does.
Mounting: In a real rally car, the shifter is typically mounted on or near the steering column for quick and easy access. The SimLab Push-Pull Shifter is designed to be mounted on the steering wheel, right where the driver’s hands are, allowing for rapid gear changes without the need to move hands off the wheel. This not only mimics the position of a rally car’s shifter, but it also enhances the user’s immersion and effectiveness in a sim racing environment.
Quick Actuation: Rally driving requires frequent gear changes due to varying terrain and driving conditions. The SimLab Push-Pull Shifter is designed for quick actuation with a relatively light actuation force. This allows for rapid, precise gear changes up and down the ratios, mirroring the driving experience in a WRC spec rally car.
As I understand it, the idea of a bi-directional shifter paddle is new to sim racing, and the innovation itself may be a taste of things to come; Sim-Lab has clearly invested in building a unique new paddle shifter that feels precise and a very nice feeling to work with while driving, and I’m left wondering how this technology might find its way into other, new Sim-Lab products.
Building the Shifter
The box includes instructions for the different mounting options available – a different-sized, drilled bracket for Fanatec owners and one for MiGE-based direct drive wheelbase owners are the most likely candidates for new owners.
The shifter itself is a long, aluminium machined unit with a quick-release mechanism at one end and the shifter mechanism at the other. It’s clearly very nicely made, with a black anodised finish throughout and a nicely bevelled carbon fibre paddle.
Assembling the unit is very easy – choose your mounting bracket and fit that with the bolts and tools provided. Then attach the carbon fibre paddle to the other end. Done!
All of the tools and fittings you need to mount the shifter are included. I opted for the Simucube mount, which is a bracket that uses the same front mounting dimensions that my Simucube does. Sim-Lab provides longer bolts should you need them, but in my case, it was a very simple exercise of removing the front bolts and placing the bracket correctly.
Thanks to the clever quick-release feature, you can fit the mounting bracket and then attach the shifter later – this simplifies the operation a lot.
One small note on installation, my Simucube is mounted at a slight angle to the rig itself by way of an independently mounted bracket. I have this so that I can switch between Fanatec and other DD wheelbases for testing. This unique feature made mounting slightly tricky and I had to use washers at the top of the bracket to mop up any slack. I doubt anyone will encounter this problem as usually Simucube mounts for sim rigs are a complete, flat panel.
As soon as you’re ready to go, the shifter needs no additional software. It just works and you can assign it like any other paddle in your favourite sim racing software.
After a very short period of use, I decided that the shifter paddle was just a little too far away – two Allen bolts on the top and the bottom of the main body of the unit allow for this to be adjusted.
Overall the shifter is really adjustable and I can’t imagine a scenario where you’d struggle to get the paddle located in the right position.
Using the Shifter
As I began testing the SimLab Push-Pull Shifter, my initial impressions were very positive. The device has a sturdy build, and the paddles on the shifter felt tactile with a nice texture, which provided excellent grip, especially with my favourite F33L gloves.
The shifter produces a soft, audible clicking sound. Compared to most of the wheels with paddles I’ve used recently, this is very subtle, with less of a loud clacking sound and more of a slight, perceptible click. The shifting is precise and the weight behind the shift actuation feels about right to me. It’s very nicely designed and feels good.
After some racing (and getting used to sequential shifting on a single paddle) I can say that the shifter offers excellent ergonomics. When installed between the steering wheel and the wheelbase, you can handle all shifting operations with the shifter – I mapped push to change up a gear and pull to shift down – just like a proper sequential box.
It’s remarkable how quickly you can come to terms with a new piece of kit when it’s well-made – even if it’s as fundamental as changing how you shift gears! But on a serious note, it occurred to me that yes, this is designed for Rally and Drift enthusiasts – *and it makes a great sequential shifter for road racing. But it also offers accessibility to sim racing for those who might be impaired in some way.
- Bi-directional Movement: Unlike traditional paddles, this shifter allows for both pushing and pulling actions, enhancing the rally driving experience and making this shifter quite a unique idea
- Quick Shifting: Designed for rapid gear changes, mimicking the quick actuation required in rally driving.
- Easy Mounting: Can be mounted directly on the steering wheel, ensuring quick access and maintaining hand position on the wheel.
- High-Quality Build: Made from machined aluminium with a black anodized finish and a carbon fibre paddle, indicating a premium construction.
- No Additional Software Required: Works out of the box with sim racing software, making it easy to integrate into existing setups.
- Adjustability: Offers various adjustments to ensure the paddle can be positioned comfortably according to the user’s preference.
- Versatility: While designed for rally and drift enthusiasts, it’s also suitable for road racing and can provide accessibility for users with physical impairments.
- Installation Challenges: Some users with unique setups, like angled Simucube mounts, might find installation slightly tricky (I had to use a few extra washers to set the device squarely mounted.
- Learning Curve: Users new to sequential shifting on a single paddle may need time to adjust to the different mechanisms.
Whatever your use case, I think this is a great little add-on and in particular – for those that want to race with sequential shifting such as touring, rally, rallycross and drifting.