Last updated: October 11th, 2021
For quite a long time I’ve been frustrated by the flex in my old RSEAT RS1. It was a beginner rig and while it had served me really well with my Fanatec equipment but it wasn’t up to higher torque demands made by higher-end gear.
As soon as I started to upgrade my sim components, things started to change. With my Fanatec DD2, I noticed that the main wheel support (a single tube steel unit) had some flex in it. Not enough to bother me, but it was there. The pedal base what a different story. The higher brake forces possible with my Heusinkveld Sprints means I was experiencing as much as 4° of movement in the pedal base. You can see it in my heel and toe video here.
Upgrade: Sim Dynamics Pro-Sim-Rig
I shared my frustrations about sim chassis flex with Simon Mason, owner of Sim Dynamics in Manchester, UK. By the end of the conversation I was (I’m delighted to say) chosen as one of the first UK recipients of his brand new and in-house designed Sim-Dynamics Pro sim rigs.
Simon has been in simulation for years and in fact, introduced me to sim racing to help me improve my driving in the real world.
In the past 12 months, he’s completely re-invented his company to become not just a bespoke reseller and pre-built race simulation systems designer but a manufacturer of in-house designed and manufactured sim components.
My rig is a DIY variation on the design from his high-end Sim Dynamics Pro Bespoke:
For my build, I elected to port over my Fanatec DD2 and Sprint pedals, however with a Simucube side mount on the way I’ll likely be hot-swapping wheelbases on a regular basis. With my sim room cleared, the RSEAT gone, I set about installing my components.
About the chassis
This new cockpit from Sim Dynamics is an extruded aluminium “semi” profile consisting of 40x40mm, 40x80mm, 40x120mm sections, each with a nice powder coat finish in black.
There are various mounting brackets including some heavy-duty 10mm thick custom brackets in critical places such as the vertical steering mount towers and wheelbase mount brackets. These have a nice grey finish to them which compliments the overall aesthetic nicely! There’s no doubt, first impressions last – the chassis looks lovely, the paintwork really makes it look the part.
This is going to be a game-changing upgrade!
With an aluminium profile, you have the benefit of extendibility. In Simon’s words, “the proportions of ANY 4040, 8040, 12040 and 16040 aluminium profile remains industry standard so components in these types of sim chassis are interchangeable between brands”. The key there is the slot size at (in most cases with sim chassis: 8mm). So, if I choose to there are modifications and extensions to be considered for the future.
The chassis comes with a handy keyboard tray, which I elected to mount on the right for my right hand. This has a nice heavy-duty hinge which my 4-year-old has already taken delight in swinging on (until I asked him not to!). No damage done, it took his 20kg load in its stride.
It also came delivered with one of Simon’s bespoke “Racer” seats supplied by Motordrive. The head restraint has a real Motorsport vibe. It’s more “serious” to climb in and out of but so comfortable when you’re in situ.
Installation is relatively simple to anyone with a little assembly experience.
As with all things, it’s nice to take your time and think carefully about the installation process. Working with an aluminium profile meant getting to grips with some new assembly techniques using the slide bolts (supplied).
All very easy to do, though.
Upgrading to an aluminium 8020 style rig – what’s it like?
Firstly, I had to check this because a lot of people say “8020 rigs”.
Why “8020” when all of the profiles are either 40x40mm, 80x40mm or 120x40mm? Apparently in the USA, they state the measurement from the centre point for the bolt slot, which on a 40mm section is 20mm. You learn something new every day!
I’ve felt for a long time that sitting in a chassis with flex takes something away from you. It’s the loss of the mechanical feel of the components you’ve installed. Take my SQ shifter, for example. When I tested the shifter in my Dad’s sim racing rig earlier in the year, I could feel the mechanism between shifts, perhaps as the engineer intended it to feel.
In my old chassis, there was so much movement between shifts it was impossible to tell the difference between the mechanical movement in the shifter and the movement of the rig itself. There’s a lot to be said for accuracy, too. If (like mine) your old pedal base was moving 4 degrees on a pedal depression, that could be as much as a 5% error over the total pedal travel! On a rig with flex, 5% inaccuracy before you’ve even turned into the corner, doesn’t sound good!
Clearly then, removing flex entirely by upgrading to this Sim Dynamics item has made a significant impact on my driving.
The new chassis makes accurate driving easier, and therefore so much more consistent over a period of laps. I’ve been able to stiffen my brake pedal too, which has removed all of the sponginess I had to make do with. Now I have pedals I can jump on if needed, but 100% of my inputs are controlling the sim, not compensating for movement elsewhere.
I feel that pedal control and driving accuracy has been the biggest gain in terms of my driving. It made a big enough difference for me that I had to spend more time than I expected re-adjusting myself to my new environment.
I’ve also benefitted from having my new Samsung G9 closer to my driving position. It’s now mounted on the rig (rather than a separate monitor stand which was not ideal) using the single VESA mount supplied with the chassis. A solid aluminium plate rigidly bolted to the frame removes flex, I’ve got the monitor correctly adjusted to line up to my eye level, so I’ve gained in terms of vision and my ability to correctly judge a corner.
The cockpit is really comfortable. Clearly, the driver ergonomics have been taken into account – I’ve got the right amount of support from the seat and I’m sat precisely where I want to be to hold the wheel and reach the pedals without any of that causing fatigue.
Because I fit properly in the cockpit, and I have the right FOV setup thanks to better monitor positioning I’m feeling less tired through a race. Tiredness can be a killer for lap time, especially at the end of a race when you’re distracted, there’s much less of that and I’m a more focused driver.
Is it worth upgrading to this sort of rig?
It’s a huge yes from me. In fact, I wish I’d done this sooner.
The Sim Dynamics rig is aesthetically a work of art and very pleasing to the eye. But more importantly like that, I’m a more comfortable driver and I’m enjoying the racing again.
I think I’d run long past the expiry date of my old rig and Sim Dynamics have stepped in and renewed my enthusiasm in a big way. If you’ve got any questions about Sim Dynamics, get in touch with Simon directly here.