Last updated: March 6th, 2023
The underlying assumption that racing simulator developers have always made is that the simulated car is probably generating more torque at the steering column than the hardware (your wheelbase) can deal with.
This is particularly true for older equipment, the G27 had a maximum output torque of 2.3 Nm peak. Even today; budget equipment can be limiting. The new Fanatec CSL DD has a maximum output of 5Nm unless you’ve paid for the upgraded power supply to boost that to 8Nm. And, some older gear used to get too hot to actually produce the maximum torque for all that long.
It’s also just as easy to feel overloaded by torque on higher strength wheelbases like a Simucube 2 Pro or a Fanatec DD2 and as a result, to feel a bit confused by your torque settings. If that’s where you’re at, don’t worry, today, we’re going cover how to set up your torque settings correctly, to get the best possible force feedback (FFB) quality possible. But before you get started make sure you’ve read my primer on setting up Force Feedback. Also, if you’re not sure what your peak torque is for your wheel, there’s a more complete list of wheels and their performance specifications here and for direct-drive units here.
I’m going to share my simple guide to torque settings in iRacing with a view to showing you a simple procedure that you can “set and forget”. It’s good to know that you’re getting the most detailed, linear FFB response from your wheel without too much messing around or worrying that you’ve set something incorrectly.
Firstly let’s cover a few terms you’re going to need to be aware of:
Clipping is an event where an analogue signal exceeds 100% of the power of the device amplifying it. If you hit the maximum power of the device (the wheelbase), any signal over that maximum limit top is “clipped” off leaving a sine wave with a flat top.
Whatever information that was above the 100% peak is lost. This can mean a loss in FFB detail – essentially you’re losing data that would otherwise be valuable. In sim racing terms, we’re looking to avoid clipping so that we can use as much of our available motor strength to give us the most detail possible.
This is a setting added to iRacing’s options in the Season 1 build in December 2018 to help prevent the “auto” function from overloading your wheel. It should be set to the maximum torque output of your wheel, for example; 25nm for the Simucube 2 Pro. Wheel Force also rescales the strength slider (explained below) so you can not manually oversaturate your wheel by accident. This is intended for drivers who own wheels that are as strong or stronger than the force feedback we are getting from the physics (about 10 Nm or greater for most simulated cars).
The “Max force” setting provides a Telemetry window that sets the clipping point for the in-game FFB in iRacing.
As an example, If you set the “Max Force” at 20Nm, everything above 20Nm in the in-game FFB that is generated by iRacing will be clipped:
A maximum force set relatively low also drastically increases the ramp (the rate at which you get to the wheelbase’s maximum torque). So, if the wheelbase output is 20Nm but the in-game Max torque is set too low then you will a) get to the wheelbase peak torque very quickly and b) lose all of the detail for any simulated car with a higher steering column torque:
This is why (somewhat counter-intuitively at first!) a higher Max Force allows for a more usable dynamic range for the FFB to work in:
How to set your torque settings in iRacing
Now we’ve been through the detail, we can get on with the job of setting the torque levels correctly for your sim steering wheel. It’s actually very simple. Head to iRacing’s options settings and look for the Force Feedback box:
To adjust the torque settings correctly for your direct drive wheelbase, set “Wheel Force:” to the peak output torque of your wheel (in the case of Simucube 2 Pro, it’s 25nm).
If you see a “Strength” label instead of a “Max force” label click it and it will change to “Max Force”. Set “Max Force:” to something at least a bit higher than your Wheel Force. I often set mine to start at around 50Nm.
For maximum “fidelity”, set your force feedback percentage in Truedrive / Fanatec’s properties manager or Fanalabs to 100%.
Next, get in the car and bring up your in-game FFB telemetry by clicking “F” when you’re in the car. You should see an ” as one of the data bars but if not, head to options and add “steering”. You should see a little graphic like this:
Drive the car – you’re looking for the FFB bar to the only peak (turn red) in very high torque situations. For example, by hitting a kerb or going slightly off track. If you’re peaking all the time (your Simucube will beep if clipping occurs – brilliant feature) INCREASE the max force.
Here is a brief session to demonstrate clipping. Take a look at how frequently the F bar clips (turns red). This is sub-optimal, and “Max Force” should be increased:
If you’re always clipping, you can increase the Max Force setting either via the options dialogue or in the black box:
Having started relatively lower, I’ve settled for something closer to 37Nm which feels good and never clips. The one clipping event in this video was when I took way too much kerb – an unusual event where you might say is ok to hit the red very briefly.
If, once you’ve got to a good place with the FFB Max Force settings for your car; check “Use custom controls for this car”. That way, if you jump in to say a Mazda MX5 or Radical, any changes you make to your settings for those cars won’t affect the others.
In summary: just set the FFB Max Force to whatever you feel comfortable with. Provided the wheelbase controller software is set to 100% FFB, and iRacing is aware of the real peak torque of your particular wheelbase with the “Wheel Force” setting, you won’t lose any detail by tuning the Max Force to your particular preference.
https://svappslab.com/iRacing/FFBAnalysis – great calculator from SVlabs for iRacing FFB Settings and Analysis
https://community.granitedevices.com/t/iracing-and-simucube-2/3049/9 – interesting thread discussion on Granite Devices
http://www.edracing.com/edr/Wheel-Torque.php – bit of a primer on wheel torque settings for older wheels
https://virtualracingschool.com/academy/hardware/vrs-directforce-pro-wheel-base-settings/ – setup for the VRS DD Pro