Test Drive: Reviewing the Stealth Sim Steering Wheel from VPG

VPG Stealth

As my regular readers know I’m a massive fan of the work VPG does in the sim steering wheel space.

Of all the companies I’ve worked with, both as a customer and a reviewer, no one owns the customer relationship better than VPG. Manny, the CoFounder, is always happy to jump on Discord to provide support, help solve problems with your sim and generally have a good chat about whatever you feel like. I own a VPG custom 911 RSR wheel, the predecessor to the V-RSPG and we recently reviewed the V-PF1, which you can take a look at, here.

Of course, when discussing their wheels, their energy and enthusiasm are set to 100% at all times. And, even though they’re a relatively small company compared to say, Cube Controls – size makes absolutely no difference to the quality of the gear VPG produce. In fact, I think they do things better. Yes, I really did say that.

Introducing: The Stealth from VPG
Introducing: The Stealth from VPG

So, once more I have the latest addition to the VPG stable, the Stealth. What a name! The design tells you everything about the way these guys think about their work. You’ll immediately see from the photos this is a very unique new design. VPG has really put some thought into the development of this wheel, from the way the wheel is balanced to the construction – the difference in the way they think is so clear to see.

They’re introducing us to their new Stealth lighting system, a fully configured RGB LED lighting system with presets supplied for SimHub, has some unique tricks up its sleeve which I think you’ll really like.

Installed, powered ready to go
Installed, powered ready to go

So, let’s take a look…

Installation

Like the V-PF1, the wheel arrives in its own heavy-duty carry case. This is the same design as the previous review, so I won’t go into detail other than to say that it’s very heavy-duty – your wheel will be more than safe in transit. Even if it gets thrown down the stairs, probably!

wheel is ready for installation
The wheel is ready for installation with my hub and extension ready. Nylon gasket, isolators and button caps in picture

Installation is simple. The wheel comes supplied with a 70mm PCD hub, upon which you can mount any 70mm QR and a further extension of your own choice if you wish. I have several BG racing wheel extensions and SQR hubs. This setup is absolutely perfect for me, easy to fit quickly with no fuss. You’ll need a selection of M5 nuts and bolts to mount your wheel, in my case I keep a small supply of these in varying lengths.

It’s good to have a high-quality selection of tools. Buy a known brand. Use good Allen keys and/or some good spanners, as the torque you need to set on some of the bolts is quite high and a slip would be a problem. Avoid unbranded cheap import tools – do that and you’re learning from my mistakes.

Highly original design work: Stealth
Highly original design work: Stealth

It’s wise to follow the installation instructions to mount the hub. I build the complete wheel side hub before mounting it back onto the wheel. It’s worth using the (supplied) nylon isolators and the nylon gasket between the wheel and hub mounting to make sure you’re not allowing any EM interference to leak through.

As I understand it, Fanatec wheels can be particularly prone to interference issues, so grounding and isolating have become part of best practices when you’re building your sim setup or upgrading.

Build quality and design

There’s something very clever about the Stealth’s design. Despite it weighing pretty much what you’d expect it to weigh at around 1.5kg, most of the wheel mass is in the centre of the wheel. So, during rotation, it feels like around half of that weight. The more centred the mass, the lower the centrifugal force which reduces inertia.

With less inertia at the wheel, your energy isn’t wasted on getting the wheel rotating. You can respond quickly and make fast corrections, so if you love hustling a Formula car around with minimal complexity, this is a great choice.

Obviously, the overall design itself really stands out. It looks very different to everything we’ve seen recently. The chassis design is the reverse of how a lot of other manufacturers build their wheels, it’s very unique but it is also very clever. The aluminium body is mounted at the front with a 5mm carbon plate acting as the spine.

Around the back: forged carbon paddles
Around the back: forged carbon paddles

There’s another machined aluminium plate on the rear that provides mounting for the hub and the paddles. You’ll see in the photos how it works. The design and manufacturing process must be painstaking!

The aluminium chassis itself is very special. What really stood out to me is that the wheel doesn’t have a single straight line on the face, sides and top. Everything has curvature and is really carefully thought out. It’s been machined in 5-axis CNC with interior partitions between each of the input mounts so that the backlights between rotaries don’t interfere with each other. This is good because each individual backlight is RGB configurable and mappable to events during the race. If you want the TC rotary backlight to flicker when TC is active, that’s easily done in the Simhub LED interface. We’ll come on to the lights in a moment.

Paddle detail
Paddle detail

The paddles, of which there are 6 in total are all a revised design. They feature 5-axis machined aluminium bodies with 5mm carbon paddles. The paddles have been machined with an inset to the switch mount so the whole surface of the paddle is flush. They’re very professionally made and have no play – they don’t wiggle from side to side. Aside from the shifters, there are two additional switched paddles above the shifter paddles and two adjustable clutch paddles below. The bite point on the clutch can be adjusted without any third-party software and can be done in-game. This is carried out in configurator mode by holding the funky switch pressed down for 5 seconds.

The manual comes with instructions on how to set the wheel to either use both paddles as a single clutch or as a double clutch system for proper launch control.

SimHub compatibility

This release marks quite an important update from the previous wheel releases – the Stealth is SimHub compatible and will appear as a detected device shortly after the release of the wheel. Perhaps by the time you read this, the latest release is done.

VPG Stealth will be detected by Simhub
Preview – VPG Stealth will be detected by Simhub

While I was testing the wheel Manny manually updated the config file on my Simhub installation and gave me the default preset setup for the LEDs:

LED light configurability (default settings in the table above)

Stealth lighting

Simhub controls VPG’s brand-new Stealth lighting system. I think this is an astounding new feature and gives so much more utility to RGB lighting.

Each one of the front rotary encoders has 4 individually controlled RGB LEDs that can be used to show in-game, real-time telemetry data like ABS/TC/Low Fuel level/Rev limiting and so on. So you can be in an endurance race and have critical feedback delivered to you in a really intuitive way.

There are a pair of side-LED strips that illuminate your hands. Each one of the side LED strips has 8 individually controlled RGB LEDs that can be used as ambient lights or to show telemetry data like green flag/yellow flag/blue flag/ white flag/in-pit-lane and so on. The default setup is really good: They’ll blink when the pit limiter is on and blink when there’s a flag (in the correct colour) too.

The 9 RGB LEDs on the top bar do what you’d expect – show your engine RPMs and blink at the redline to shift:

Turning RGB LEDs into something very useful
Turning RGB LEDs into something very useful – all configurable in Simhub

The 4 RED illuminated buttons are set to blink when there is a car in close proximity to you on the left or right of your car. While they’re not RGB and stay red, the spotter warning in the default setup is really helpful.

Of course, this is all configurable to your own requirements in Simhub, although you don’t have to know much about Simhub at all if you just want to drive. If you’re a more advanced Simhub user, then this Simhub LED editor guide will give you a good feel for what’s possible.

How does it feel?

There are some new post-processing techniques applied to the manufacture of the wheel that gives it that extra feeling of professionalism. It’s a very smooth feeling and nicely built thing to hold in your hands. The overall quality of the finish is very high. The grips feel silky smooth in your hands and, of course, I always recommend using gloves with a good silicon pattern grip on the palms.

Ergonomically, the grips fit my hands very well and the thumb rotary, paddles and side-mounted momentary buttons are all nicely within reach.

I felt that I got used to the wheel and its layout really quickly. Sometimes when you don’t notice something it’s no bad thing – I became comfortable with the wheel and its configuration within a lap or two. I stopped thinking about the wheel itself and started taking in any additional feedback I was getting from the LED lights. Which is absolutely ideal.

The push buttons and rotaries have a solid, heavy-duty feel. They don’t wiggle or move around, they just work. This wheel would not be out of place in a road-going supercar or a high-end GT prototype!

If you just want to drive without messing around with the configuration, screen layouts and firmware updates, and you’re longing for the simplicity of a well-engineered sim racing wheel, the Stealth would make an excellent choice. It’s such a unique item and gives you the opportunity to have your own fixed DDU dash display if you want to. Aside from the engineering smarts and driveability in this wheel, my favourite feature is the assignability of the LEDs – for me that’s a game changer and now the idea of integrated spotter and flag warnings is here, it feels like the industry has taken a big leap forward. Bravo, VPG Sim.

VPG Stealth: Specifications

  • 290mm diameter
  • Custom-injected moulded grips
  • Custom designed Electronics
  • 2 thumb rotary encoders
  • 3 front rotary encoders with 4 individually controlled RGB LEDs each
  • RED illuminated buttons (telemetry controlled)
  • Stealth Lighting system – 37 individually controlled RGB LEDs + illuminated buttons
  • M12 industrial-grade connector to USB
  • 5mm forged carbon fibre plate and paddles
  • 5mm Dual-clutch and shifter paddles
  • Billet aluminium front and back cover
  • Dual clutches – bite point can be adjusted in-game
  • 2 Additional paddles above the shifters
  • 12 UV-printed switch button caps (included in box)
  • 1.5m USB Coiled Cable (included in box)

Test Drive: Reviewing the Stealth Sim Steering Wheel from VPG

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