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Fanatec’s CSL Elite wheelbase – should I upgrade to one?

Logitech's G29 wheel and pedals

Thinking of upgrading to the Fanatec CSL Elite wheelbase?

As you progress through your sim racing career, you might find yourself wanting to take a leap from the less expensive budget wheelbases such as the Logitech G29 to something that is considered a little more high end, and in particular, Fanatec provide some really easy upgrade options with simple compatibility between their wheels, hubs, wheelbases and pedals.

But other than people saying the benefits from upgrades to the better belt and direct drive wheelbases are worthwhile, what are the benefits?

What are the limitations of cheaper wheelbases such as the G29

With the Logitech wheel, the FFB (force feedback) is very simple and not very strong. So on track, it’s hard to tell where the grip levels are making it difficult to tell what the limit of grip feels like. Driving at the ultimate pace therefore becomes more of a trial and error process rather than something a track driver would do (look for the ultimate grip level by taking the feedback into account, and learning to use this information at the corner entry and exit).

This all makes being consistent much harder. Because the feedback isn’t significant enough for you to really get a feel for what’s happening in real time. This is especially true when you’re having an accident, it’s like you don’t get the information fast enough to be able to respond in time.

The G29 can be a very fun bit of entry level kit but I get the sense that the faster drivers are doing it from memory and pure practice alone, rather than responding to a dynamically changing car, circuit and overall level of grip. So if you don’t have 10 hours a day to practice (like me!) you’re probably never going to improve past a certain point with your G29.

So if you don’t have a lot of time to practice, a G29 might be holding you back from finding your ultimate pace efficiently, and might be preventing you from learning to drive in the sim more dynamically. Learning new circuits and cars will be much harder and will take more time.

If you want to feel the wheel as it should in a real car, you need proper force feedback from a more serious wheel.

What does upgrading to a Fanatec CSL Elite Wheelbase feel like?

When I upgraded for the first time myself, I was immediately blown away not just by the strength of the force feedback in my Fanatec CSL Elite, but also I was able to gather a genuine understanding of what the car was doing, the overall grip level on the track and the track details such as riding the kerbs and rumble strips.

Freshly upgraded sim rig to Fanatec CSL Elite wheelbase (image source)

With the Fanatec, the car is easier to drive. Making oversteer corrections became far easier because I felt like I had better warning of what the rear of the car was doing in corners – when you’re in a slide, the opposing rotation in the wheel is clear and strong. It’s something you fight, physically, to save the car – just like you would in a real situation. It’s more addictive and quite simply, more fun!

The Fanatec equipment feels heavy, the metallic casing and build quality make the gear feel much more serious than just a games controller.

What about Pedals?

Obviously, you’ll want to ditch the pedals that come with the G29. I run Heusinkveld Sprints, but on a lower budget, the Fanatec Clubsport Pedals LC (“LC” stands for Load Cell) are excellent.

Check out our pedal buyer’s guide here or check out Fanatec’s full range of pedals here.

Should I buy the CSL Elite or Clubsport Wheelbase?

Frankly either of these wheels are such an improvement that as someone new to styronger wheels you won’t notice much of a difference, so buy based on budget.

Will I need a better cockpit for the higher forces?

Yes, you will. If you’ve been mounting your steering wheel to your desk or a fold-able Playseat style mount, then you’ll want a new rig. Check out our buyer’s guide here!