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, as today I’ll purely be focusing on stand-alone seats to go with a cockpit you’ve purchased without the seat.
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, and I’d suggest not to get too hung up on your budget as a solid, unshifting figure. Sometimes, an extra £50 or £100 can get you something way better in terms of quality and longevity, so it becomes worth that additional spend at the time.
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
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.
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 sub-reddit 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.
Cobra Monaco Sport steel frame seat
The Monaco Sport is my first recommendation and my most budget-friendly option in this guide. It’s an excellent choice for anyone looking for a bucket-style racing seat, who is not quite ready to invest in a fibreglass or carbon shell.
The Monaco is actually a non-FIA approved version of the popular Monaco Pro seat offering a more cost-effective alternative for where FIA homologation is not required. The Monaco is based around a fully steel plated design, for both outright strength and incredible rigidity.
This seat can be side or base mounted and is trimmed in a body cooling spacer fabric to reduce perspiration, with colour options including black, grey, red, and blue for the upholstery. Both the black and grey options are available in cloth and vinyl, while red and blue are only available in cloth. Being constructed of steel, the major downside to this seat is its weight coming in at 10.3kg, but for the price, this is to be expected.
Probably the least known brand on my list, Motordrive is somewhat a hidden gem in the world of sim racing seats. The small yet highly professional manufacturer make superb seats that offer a lot of aspects you would typically pay a lot more for, meaning the Pro Seat from Motordrive is an exceptionally great value seat and provides a hell of a lot of bang for your buck.
The seat features FIA approval, with a life of up to 8 years with the manufacturer’s re-certification service and is one of the few seats (if not the only!) at this price range that includes a carbon homologated shell.
This seat weighs just 4.2kg, is side-mounted, available in various breathable fabrics, and each unit is made to a bespoke size, meaning it is fitted to match your height. You simply need to inform the company of what dimensions you require during the checkout stages of your purchase. This seat is also compatible with an optional bolt-on head restraint and the company can offer optional personalised embroidery which is a great added touch.
OMP HTE EVO fibreglass seat
Next up is an offering from OMP, a world leader in the field of design and manufacture of safety components for race cars. The Italian firm who have been producing seats since 1973 now offers the HTE EVO Fibreglass Seat which has a black gel coated shell with a built-in padded head restraint. This seat is upholstered in velour and Airnet for improved breathability and padded with high-density materials with grip-enhancing dotted fabric on the side bolsters and shoulders.
Another FIA approved racing seat; this is a very professional choice which offers removable split leg cushions and an adjustable lumbar cushion for added comfort. It has high-profile side bolsters for increased lateral support and has been designed to accommodate various heights of drivers. The seat is side-mounted, is compatible with all types of FHR devices, and weighs 6kg.
Recaro Profi SPG fibreglass seat
The Recaro Profi SPG is a timeless classic in the world of motorsport. The original and most popular Recaro seat, this model is used by clubman and professional racers alike, as well as a collection of sim racers. Constructed from a strong and lightweight fibreglass reinforced polymer (GFRP) shell featuring deep side bolsters and a high grip surface on the shoulders to give optimum lateral support, this seat is the perfect choice for those of you who take part in longer races as it maintains a high level of comfort for multiple hours but is still stiff enough to offer the support where needed.
This seat is FIA approved and features anti-slip material on the shoulders to reduce body movement. With regards to the size, you have two options: standard or XL. Again, you will need to purchase additional side mounts for this seat.
Sparco QRT-C Carbon seat
My top-shelf offering for this guide is the Sparco QRT-C. It’s a carbon shell competition seat which has been designed using the latest CAD technology.
This innovative design process increases the structural rigidity of the seat without increasing the overall weight. While there are many other seats priced way above this one that you’re likely to come across when browsing, I recommend this as a reasonable top end seat for sim racing as you’re not going to run into the same real-world issues as actual racing drivers, so paying more for unnecessary features doesn’t make any sense.
FIA approved, this seat from Sparco is lightweight at only 5.5kg and can fit into narrow cockpits. However this seat is built to one size only, so again, make sure you measure yourself first! There’s also a non-slip covering in strategic areas for increased body retention and better comfort. A new lower leg cushion offers additional support whilst medium lumbar support allows for a snug fit around the legs.
How to mount your sim racing seat
There are a few different ways you mount your seat to your rig, can do this 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.