Last updated: September 6th, 2023
A few weeks ago I tested an SW20 v3 20nm direct drive wheelbase.
Anything that isn’t Fanatec might seem a little off the beaten path for most of my readers, however, I thought it might make for an interesting read to document my experiences.
The result, is an impressive though little-known alternative to some of the bigger manufacturers in the sim racing gear space.
Sim-pli.city have been around for 4 or so years. They’re based in London, England where they design and produce direct drive wheels.
They’re probably best known for their MiGE 130 motor-based SW series DD wheelbases, and the one I tried is the SW20 V3 priced at a really, really reasonable £589.99 ex VAT.
The objective of my test with this wheel was to assist its owner (my Dad!) to find a good setup in Assetto Corsa. We were starting from scratch with no *meaningful preset applied. *By meaningful I mean I couldn’t feel what the car was doing well enough to be fast!
My notes on the first session were as follows:
- Counter rotation too strong, a resistance to turning at all times
- Wheel seems laggy – delay between the car starting to rotate and the wheel letting me know
- Would not accept fast, aggressive inputs
- Very resistant to inputs
Don’t take any of this as negative feedback. We were simply in a situation where we were trying a wheel for the first time and getting ready to tune it to a more accessible and accurate representation of our chosen chassis: the Global MX5 Cup car in Assetto Corsa.
With pretty limited support (the wheel was purchased on eBay and therefore comes with no support), the goal was simply to make the wheel feel right.
Despite the initial impression, one thing was very clear. The SW20 felt like a really smooth, high quality item.
SW20 settings for Assetto Corsa
This is where we ended up:
I found the process of tuning the wheel extremely rewarding. As we got closer with each setting in the wheel config, the wheel started to feel better and better.
I think there’s a moment where every wheel stops overly coloring the force feedback and starts accurately describing how the chassis is working in the simulation. As a driver myself I have a very clear idea of the feedback I need to drive the car properly.
This was certainly the experience I had. As we worked through each of the settings above I came to realize that the settings are really intuitive. The variables you’re dealing with are very close to the variables you experience in the driving seat of a real track car.
Here are my notes, this time with the solution:
Counter rotation too strong, a resistance to turning at all times: reducing the Weight solved this problem. The “Weight” setting is the resistance you feel on the motor when you’re making an input – a higher setting will give you a slow, heavy feeling in the steering rack, a lower setting makes the steering rack feel light and easier to manipulate.
Wheel seems laggy – delay between the car starting to rotate and the wheel letting me know: I *think* the key to this was in the Weighted Center setting. “Weighted Center” can produce an initial resistance to turn in from the wheel in its centre position across a certain range “Angle”, and “Gain” is how significant that resistance is. My gut feel is this setting might be extremely helpful in emulate a car with lots of caster – lots of caster can make that initial turn and the overall resistance on any steering angle higher. I believe this went a long way to resolving the “Very resistant to inputs” feeling, too.
Would not accept fast, aggressive inputs: this was solved by adjusting the Max Speed setting, which allows for faster rotational inputs.
Tuning the wheel to the car took all of 30 minutes to make really good progress. And the result was a highly accurate and smooth experience. I’m a Fanatec DD2 owner and genuinely, my initial sense after spending 2 hours with this wheel is that setup well, the SW20 can beat it. And there’s scope to improve on my experience with a bit more tuning.
There’s something about the intuitiveness of the settings (if you’re experienced with DD wheels, and sim racing generally) that the Fanatec software doesn’t offer. Further, there’s a detail in the SW20’s FFB that just seems to be far higher resolution than the DD2.
The DD2 can be a bit, notchy and twitchy sometimes. The SW20 tackles this beautifully with an experience that is much more easily reconciled to actually working with the setup of the car. It described the chassis of the sim car accurately and made the car easy to drive (as I like to put it) – properly!
I’d have loved to spend more time with this wheel and in different cars as I conclude the proposition is far more flexible and able than a lot of other, more expensive wheelbases I’ve used. There are some useful pointers on the manufacturer website including a presets installation tool located here and there’s a helpful Facebook group here for owners.
If you’re looking for a DD wheel that doesn’t follow the crowd, but does deliver a smooth and realistic representation of the chassis you’re driving, give this wheel some serious consideration.