Last updated: January 23rd, 2023
Picking the perfect racing seat for your sim rig is undoubtedly a crucial factor when putting your cockpit together.
Without knowing what you’re looking for, it’s pretty easy to spend too long looking for the right seat for your simulator. In this guide, I aim to help you with the otherwise lengthy task of choosing a seat that will fit your body shape, match the comfort or sportiness you’re looking for, and fit your budget.
I’ll be covering five racing seats from professional automotive brands, and I’ll go over what sort of mounting solutions you’ll need and what you should look for when you’re ready to buy.
If you’re looking for an actual sim racing rig that includes an integrated seat, frame, and base, then be sure to check out my other guide to the best sim rigs on the market, or our guide to F1 rigs as today I’ll purely be focusing on stand-alone seats to go with a cockpit you’ve purchased without the seat.
Our top sim seat recommendations:
- SimLab Speed 1
- SimLab SF1
- Cobra Monaco
- Sparco EVO-XL Gaming Seat
- Sparco Grid-Q
- Cobra Sebring GT
- OMP Racing HTE-R Seat
- Seat Mounts and Sliders
How to choose a sim racing seat
The biggest thing to remember when picking a racing seat is that the process will have a certain amount of personal relevance. There’re a few things that I’d consider to be cardinal buying rules such as something that caters to both comfort and the practical side of sim racing, but otherwise, it all depends on your budget and preferences.
Probably the most important thing you should consider before committing to any particular model is whether or not your seat will fit you. It’s good practice to measure yourself much like you would for new clothing, and have these sizes handy when you’re browsing online for a new seat. All seats have a measurement guide like this:
The point is that you want your sim experience to feel as real as possible, so make sure to check out the adjustability of all seats to ensure that you’ll get the best seating position that makes you feel like a racer.
As with any sim racing equipment, I recommend that you spend ample time researching a variety of trusted brands, but a bonus in this department is that you are not only limited to sim racing brands. You have the option of selecting real racing seats that are built for use in real-life race cars, which can be bolted onto a frame with the right seat mount.
Of course, some people are happy to play sim racing games from an office chair, but if you’re looking to step up your immersion levels, you can’t beat a proper bucket seat for the bolstering hip support they can provide, which is especially important if you race for more extended periods. It will pay dividends, in the long run, to invest in a good seat.
When you start your search for a new racing seat, here is a quick checklist of items to keep in mind:
- Frame/shell materials (steel, fibreglass, carbon fibre)
- Upholstery materials
- Ergonomic and adjustable design
- Lumbar support
- Secure mounting system
- Style: F1 / Formula racing, Hybrid (LM prototypes) or GTE?
A collection of brands that I always consider trusted and worth their salt within the seat market are Sparco, Recaro, and OMP. They all offer a wide variety of products at various price points, making them suitable for absolute quality. Of course, there are a lot more companies out there producing great seats, and I’ll cover a couple of them here, but you can’t go wrong with a seat from one of these three reliable brands. Naturally, the market is evolving very quickly and we’ve seen, in the past 6 months or so, sim racing rig manufacturers begin to expand into the seat manufacturing universe. So look out for the Next Level Racing ES1 and offerings from SimLab for both F1 simulation and GT racing too.
Even though my advice here is founded on a lot of avid sim racing enthusiasm, I will always recommend doing more research before buying anything for sim racing. If you haven’t done this already, make an account on Reddit and find the sim racing subreddit where people share stories and recommendations about all things sim racing-related.
You’ll find people who have similar preferences to you, for example, and these individuals can be valuable sources of information as to where you can find useful upgrades or whether you should try out certain sim racing products. So, let’s take a look at what I consider to be five of the best seat options available to buy right now put in order of cost.
SimLab Speed 1 Sim Racing Bucket Seat
This low budget sim racing seat from SimLab is made of fiberglass with a black gel coating and can support a 5-point harness for extra authenticity or a motion rig. It is side-mounted using a bucket seat bracket set and comes with M8x20 screws.
The seat has removable high-density foam cushions for comfort during prolonged driving sessions, and a pocket for a mobile phone. It is designed for drivers of medium and large sizes, but is not FIA approved despite having an identical design to FIA-approved seats.
SimLab SF1 sim racing bucket seat
This very professional-looking offering from Sim-Lab is called the SF1, and it’s one of the newest products available from this well-known sim manufacturer.
The SF1 is a hybrid sim racing seat intended for F1 and comfortable LMP2 / endurance racing. The SF1’s outer shell is manufactured in GRP which is very stiff and light. The seat fabric has been made from “3D” – a very breathable, lattice-style material. You’ll note the sides are tightly stitched and shaped to avoid wear.
F1-style seats and rigs are very, very popular in sim racing thanks to the influence of F1 drivers who are also very prolific in the simulator. It’s a non-FIA approved (which makes it less expensive, but without impacting quality) fibreglass seat with the kind of developed, ergonomic shape you’d expect from such a well-respected sports manufacturer, which makes it ideal for sim racing drivers. There are two mount points on each side that are compatible with standard side mounting seat brackets. Mount to your sim racing rig (including those on offer from SimLab themselves) using standard side mounts.
We think this will be a very popular seat with sim racers this year. If it’s out of stock, check out this alternative from Sparco:
Cobra Monaco Sport
If price is a concern, I think this is the cheapest sim racing seat money can buy: the Cobra Monaco Sport.
This seat from Cobra is priced at entry level at around £199.17 excl. VAT. It is “valued oriented” without compromising on rigidity, flex or comfort. Cobra’s Monaco Sport features tubular steel frame construction making it extremely rigid. This is a standard-width seat and will accommodate a 5 or 6-point harness system should you wish to add that feature later on. Mounting options are quite flexible, in that it can be mounted either from the side or base mounted.
Sparco EVO-XL Gaming Seat
If you’re a “larger sized” driver then the EVO XL QRT is designed for you up to a waist size of 38 inches. This makes the EVO-XL the largest sim racing seat in the Sparco collection. For a slightly smaller waist size (up to 34″ which would fit me very snugly) then the Sparco EVO L QRT is the little brother of the XL QRT:
The EVO QRT series is known for its comfort with the highest level of “back angle rake”, giving you a comfortable driving position and allowing your body to open up that little bit more, seating you lower and giving you the leverage for better, more immediate and stronger pedal control.
Sparco’s EVO XL QRT uses their latest QRT Technology significantly lightening the whole seat. This seat is intended for sim racers and is EVO XL and is not FIA-approved.
Sparco Grid Q competition seat
If it’s bang for the buck you’re looking for, I think the Sparco Grid-Q Competition would make for an excellent all-rounder. It’s very reasonably priced, again at around 300 Euros, but despite the low price, it’s FIA 8855-1999 approved for Motorsport. What’s nice about this seat is that the cushions can be moved around for you to find that perfect fit.
The seat has that very low profile base giving you quite a low, racing seat position which makes it an excellent hybrid for Formula and Prototype racing. This one’s a real favourite owing to the flexibility of the fitting options and the low price.
Cobra Sebring GT
The Cobra Sebring GT looks and feels like a proper racing seat. It comes with a motorsport look and feel, and the breathable fabric outer with Cobra embroidery really looks the part:
This is a side mount-only seat, so you’ll need brackets to fit (standard size – see below). It’s a tiny amount wider (30mm to be precise) than its narrower counterpart, the Sebring.
Personally, I think this is an ideal fit for the average body size. It comes with Cobra’s PRO-FIT padding, offers 6-point harness capability and it’s supplied with high tensile bolts pre-installed.
The material outer has integrated wear patches to help it look good for a long time, at a weight of 12.3kg.
OMP Racing HTE-R Seat
If you’re a really serious sim racer who wants to replicate a life-like, immersive racing setup, then take a look at the OMP Racing HTE-R seat, a genuine, FIA approved racing seat.
The OMP Racing HTE-R Seat is a high-performance racing seat designed for actual competition use. With FIA homologation (8855-1999), it has been tested and approved for use in motorsports events around the world. The seat is constructed with a gel-coated fibreglass shell that is lightweight (9.4kg) and HANS compatible.
The large shoulder harness slots accommodate various driver heights, and the shaped security headrest limits the lateral movement of the helmet. The seat also features removable back and base cushions, as well as a split leg rest cushion that allows for maximum individual seating comfort. Rubber dots on the seat improve grip, and the seat is side-fixed (Type W) for easy installation.
The OMP Racing HTE-R Seat is upholstered in a new high-breathability Airtex material, which keeps you cool and comfortable even in the most intense racing conditions. It is the winning seat of the 2013 World Touring Car Championship, which is a testament to its superior performance and durability.
How to mount your sim racing seat with sliders and brackets
There are a few different ways you mount your seat to your rig, can do and generally it is recommended to buy mounts from the same retailer as the seat to ensure compatibility.
The three most common ways to mount a seat are; side mounts (fixed position), runner kits (adjustable), and base plates (fixed position). Depending on the brand of your seat, you may be able to choose between any of the three choices, or you may be forced to choose one. It’ll also be dependent on what type of cockpit you’re using, so before you click to buy, make sure you’ve covered all your bases.
Sparco steel side mounts
These steel side mounts are multi-drilled to provide lots of scope for adjustment, allowing you to
position your seat in the most suitable position.
A good thing to note is that these mounts will fit side most mounted seats including those from Sparco, OMP, Cobra and Corbeau.
Cobra universal seat runners
These seat runners from Cobra are universally designed to give shell seats some adjustability.
They sit between the standard steel mount (mentioned above) and will mount on an 8020 style aluminium rig easily.
One thought on “The Best Sim Racing Seats – Buyer’s Guide”
Great article, Ryan.
I have a Motordrive seat in my MX-5. Fantastic bit of kit – I sat in all the major manufacturer’s offerings at the Autosport Show and they were the best for me. And that was before they measured me and provided cushions that made it perfect.
If anyone is looking to get a seat, I would recommend going and trying a few first.
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