Last updated: November 29th, 2023
I’ve written about Simucube’s excellent DD wheelbase almost everywhere except on this website. That’s going to change today as I’ve recently managed to get round to mounting my Simucube on my (very nice) new Aluminium profile sim rig. Embark on a journey into the heart of sim racing with the Simucube 2 Pro. This direct drive force feedback wheelbase is a game-changer in realism and performance. It stands as a beacon for those seeking the ultimate racing simulation experience.
It’s good to be able to switch between my Fanatec DD2 and the Simucube 2 Pro as this gives me a really good sense of the differences and similarities.
I also own a CSL DD which I must say, holds its own in terms of FFB quality, despite being lower torque. But I’m not sure that people want to read *yet another* Simucube 2 Pro review, so, I want to start with something a lot of newer sim racers might not realise:
Simucube is a really accessible Direct Drive product, even for beginners
Upon unboxing the Simucube 2 Pro, its robust and compact design commands immediate respect. It’s heavy! Weighing a hefty 11.1 kg, it’s a clear statement of its professional-grade capabilities. This device is not just hardware; it’s a dedication to the art of sim racing.
The Rivalry: Simucube vs. Fanatec DD2
In the world of direct drive systems, the Simucube 2 Pro and Fanatec DD2 are giants, and even after a few years: dominant. While both are exceptional, the Simucube 2 Pro stands out with its smoother force feedback and more detailed road feel. This distinction becomes increasingly evident with each virtual lap.
If nothing else, Paddock is evidence of a really strong community. That’s actually a real advantage of the Simucube 2 Pro is its helpful community and support network. The Granite Devices forum and support channels provide invaluable resources for optimizing settings and troubleshooting. This community aspect adds an important layer of value to the Simucube experience.
If you’re thinking of upgrading from a DD1 or DD2, or you’re on a Logitech G29 or Thrustmaster wheel, then I’d like this post to be for you. Particularly if you think that Simucube is too much of a step from a lower-priced belt or gear drive wheel. Or, that Simucube is not for beginners. In my opinion, that is wrong.
If I knew now what I didn’t know back then, and I was just starting out building my very first, beginner simulator – I would try to skip the “low-end” gear altogether and find a tiny bit more cash to build this:
- Simucube 2 Sport
- Heusinkveld Sprint Pedals (or since the time of writing, I’d consider Conspit pedals or SimTrecs GT Pro).
- Sim Lab GT1 Evo chassis (this being one of the cheapest cockpits.
You could buy that list for around €1500 / $1800 if you really looked for a deal. On that note, I went on to spec a high-end simulator on a budget in this guide.
Don’t be put off, either, by the price of high-end steering wheels for Simucube, there are ways to attach far less expensive items. For example, with the right QR hub and a USB conversion, you could attach the relatively inexpensive Fanatec Mclaren GT3 v2 wheel to a Simucube 2 Sport.
So with all that said, what does Simucube DD wheel ownership look like, what’s involved with the installation, setup and naturally, the drive?
How to Install: Simucube 2 Pro
The SC2 Pro, Sport, Ultimate and Mige 130 Motors all have a universal, front fitment. That means you need a front mounting bracket, either designed to fit directly to your aluminium profile chassis or onto the flat mounting plate if your rig was intended to be compatible with Fanatec equipment. It’s easy to know what to buy, so it’s just a matter of where you buy from. On that note when you’re selecting a mount adaptor for your Simucube wheelbase, you should take torque levels into account.
Quality is so important.
That’s why a front mounting bracket like this one from Sim-Lab is a wise choice. It’s a solid lump of metal, and definitely won’t flex! If you’re a Sim Lab GT1 owner, or otherwise have a flat mounting plate for a wheelbase on your rig, then you need a particular design of bracket.
Some brackets are really not worth the money – they’re flimsy, aluminium items that have been cheaply made. So, be warned. Personally, I would choose a Simcore bracket, like this.
Installation is very simple with the right components. The Simucubes all use M8 bolts (x4) mounted on the front like this:
I’m testing a prototype mount for Simucube from SimDynamics – with this mounting bracket installed I can swap between my Fanatec DD2 or Simucube relatively simply. When you’re installing the only advice I can give you is to tighten those bolts up as tight as you can!
Here it is, fitted in my rig. As you can see, this prototype mount uses spacers to account for the additional width that the Fanatec needed. This collection of M8 bolts and 10mm thick aluminium means my Simucube is rock solid:
Once you’ve got it mounted, it pays to check that you’ll be happy with the positioning so that the angle of the steering wheel makes sense. Sit in your cockpit with a wheel attached (we’ll come onto mounting the wheel with the SQR hub ins a moment). You should be able to change the angle so that you’re comfortable with the wheel in your hands.
I’m not sure how the cable tidy professionals do it. No matter how hard I try, I’m never very happy with the outcome. A few tricks and parts have helped my installations become a bit more bearable over time though.
I’m sure you’ve seen worse! What’s hindering me with this installation is that I own the earlier, 2xPSU Simucube 2 Pro. The newer models ship with a single power supply. Alas, this Simucube PSU mounting bracket works very neatly and an IEC Y-Splitter mains cable will reduce your mains cabling burden a fair bit if you’re running an earlier 2 PSU Simucube.
You’ll notice I’ve mounted the E-Stop to the aluminium profile. That’s because the case has two small holes on the back. If you take the lid off, you’ll find them. Using a screwdriver, you can carefully open them up enough to get a bolt through. If you turn the box on the side those two holes (luckily) mate with the profile slots. Easy!
SQR Hub installation
The Simucube SQR hub comes fitted to the Simucube range. And for good reason – it’s a simple, solid little unit. Unlike the Fanatec QR mount, there is no play or flex whatsoever. If I only ever had one QR hub for the rest of my sim racing career I’d be more than happy to stick with the SQR.
There are 3 parts to an SQR hub, and I can tell you from experience it pays to loosely attach it together first, just to make sure you know how everything is going to align when it’s tightened up.
You mount the centerpiece to the wheel adapter plate first, tighten the bolts with spring washers (they can come loose if you don’t do a good job of this!). Then, attach the hub adapter at the end. It pays to check how this will all line up on the steering wheel so that the QR pin can’t foul a paddle shifter.
The diameter of the SQR hub body means that it’s too easy to scratch the anodized aluminium with a hex key. If you’ve got a ball joint style hex key, this is a great use case:
Here’s the wheel mounted to the Simucube with everything ready for setup:
Simucube runs on TrueDrive software. TrueDrive is really easy to install – download the latest version from Granite Devices, extract the zip file to a folder and run the exe file. I have a shortcut set up on my Streamdeck too.
When you first run TrueDrive (making sure your Simucube is powered), it’ll run through the firmware update process. Again, it’s completely pain-free:
Once your firmware is updated, you can more or less start driving. For a primer on Simucube’s settings, I recommend you read my article on G-Performance:
Here are my settings, which I think work really well with the GT3 class cars:
What is the Simucube like to drive?
Every time I go back to the Simucube I’m delighted. There’s something about the detail – not just the smoothness and the rest of the things most reviewers write. It’s the little details, like when you have a front lock with a steering angle, the wheel will pull slightly in the direction that your wheel is turned as if the tyre walls are folding. The DD2 doesn’t deliver anything like this level of information. It’s not because of the hardware, as such – more the driver software and firmware. Some real thought has been put into the FFB interpretation, and to me, it just works. The information you get as you drive around the circuit just seems so convincing, detailed and relevant. Fanatec’s FFB is good too, but it’s noisy, grainy and more binary in some way.
As I’ve already mentioned I much prefer the SQR hub – it genuinely does not flex. It’s beautifully machined and looks the part. Finally, there’s a nice feature when peak torque is causing a clipping event; an audible beep – which is super useful when you’re setting up the correct torque settings in your sim software FFB.
The Simucube 2 Pro is a revolution in sim racing technology, despite it being some 4 years old now (the software / firmware are more like weeks old – it’s updated often!). It represents a significant investment but delivers an unmatched experience for serious racers. It’s a gateway to experiencing the closest thing to real racing in the virtual world. If I were to choose between the Fanatec DD2 and the Simucube, I have to say, it’s the Simucube for me.