Last updated: November 4th, 2023
Sim racing wheel reviews always tend to take the same shape. You like the ergonomics, the grip, the positioning and feel of a rotary, and so on. While it’s good to be consistent in approach, most sim racing wheel revisions offer incremental improvements over their predecessors at best. This does not apply to how VPG think and what they build. And today I will tell you about their latest addition, the V-PGT.
What’s special about another sim racing wheel appearing in the market? This is the first one (I believe) that has a full carbon chassis available for use on home (i.e. non-F1 team) simulators.
This is a really big deal and a development that will get a lot of attention from other manufacturers, but hopefully – serious simulator owners too. This is a fun review for me; I get to learn, in exquisite detail, where the cutting edge of sim racing manufacturing is, which is nice. On that note, there’s some engineering coming up in this article, which I’ve hugely enjoyed putting together.
Firstly, “Full carbon” isn’t just a gimmicky bit of marketing jargon. The V-PGT genuinely is manufactured in full carbon. VPG has created a full, moulded carbon fibre-constructed sim racing wheel. Without wanting to spoil my conclusion, I can’t keep this to myself for much longer – there is a huge difference in how the body of the V-PGT transfers FFB from the wheelbase into your hands. It’s so overpoweringly obvious that you feel like you’ve bought a new wheelbase, or somehow, your force feedback settings have been radically altered.
Why on earth would a sim racing wheel manufacturer go this far? I’ll try an analogy. If you’ve ever ridden a carbon-framed bike (I have an old Specialized Cirrus Carbon), the frame is so stiff that it can get quite uncomfortable on the bumps!
Carbon fibre composite materials can be created to have characteristics that contribute transferrence of more detailed forces, especially when used in items like bicycle frames, (and, in our case a steering wheel chassis).
Carbon fibre composites are known for their high stiffness-to-weight ratio. They’re very light and incredibly stiff. This stiffness allows them to transfer forces very efficiently, which can result in a rider feeling more of the road or trail beneath them.
To dig deeper into this, we need to dust off our school physics textbooks. If you don’t remember Young’s Modulus, it is an indicator of the ability of a material to deform elastically (i.e., non-permanently) when subjected to stress.
We’re in full materials science mode here, which is not subjective – unlike me waxing lyrical about first impressions or the box it came in (the production version of which is very nice).
Comparing Aluminium to Carbon composites, the stiffness of the carbon composite can vary significantly based on the type of resin used and the layering used in production. As a general reference, the minimum HSE (Maximum High Strength Structural Carbon) Modulus for unidirectional carbon fibre composites is 200 GPa (gigapascals) or even higher if you’re a composites engineer and it’s your job to make the stiffest things ever.
Meanwhile, Common aluminium alloys (like 6061 or 7075) have Young’s Moduli in the range of about 69 to 71 GPa. So even the very best Aluminium manufacturing techniques will only get near the worst of the Carbon manufacturing techniques in terms of actual, measurable stiffness.
Remember I wrote about the RSR-21 a few months ago – a wooden cockpit, with layering designed by a composites engineer. With the right layering and resins, you can make more or less invincible composites that offer higher stiffness levels than Aluminium, be them made in plywood or (in today’s case) Carbon Composite.
As you’ll see from the photos, the hub adapter is mounted directly to the Carbon plate. Behind the carbon plate will be an additional internal plate to bolt into, but I hope you get the general idea.
Critically, the V-PGT is very light which produces a low rotational inertia. Couple this with the approach first taken with the Stealth (changing the centre of gravity by putting the internals as close to the centre of rotation as possible) and you’ve once more changed the potential for rotational inertia in the driver’s favour.
In pretty much any other sim racing wheel, the hub is bolted to aluminium. By my comparison the gain in FFB detail with the V-PGT carbon chassis is vast.
The only problem is that you need to try this wheel to truly understand what I’m saying. But the difference is enormous. At first, I thought something might be wrong with my wheelbase – but I quickly realised that I was experiencing my Simucube 2 Pro in an almost entirely different light.
The detail is simply indescribably better. You get information through the wheel quickly, and you can use this to make rapid, fine adjustments, slightly further ahead of time. The V-PGT changes the feel of my wheelbase so much that I find myself able to explore more FFB settings changes, which is a lot of fun.
VPG has got all of the basics I described earlier very right, as they always do. Their ergonomics are well thought out, making the wheel so usable.
The RGB LEDs can either be set to a default or be individually configured, depending on the option you select when you first install the device in Simhub (you’ll need the latest version of Simhub). Those of you who are eagle-eyed will see that the latest release does indeed already accommodate this new wheel.
The electronics are “automotive grade” isn’t just a phrase – it means something. The rotaries and buttons have validated high durability, for example: a Grayhill rotary switch is rated at 30k cycles while an Elma is rated at 1mln cycles. This depth of knowledge is something hard-won through research and development at VPG.
Note this IG post from GSI:
The statement that there are five custom rotaries is all well and good but in this post, GSI is (perhaps inadvertently) documenting a 10% tolerance on a critical component. You guys are buying this stuff, so look at it all with a critical eye.
The V-PGT represents all of the hard work VPG has been doing since the release of their previous wheel, and frankly, forget the massive R&D budgets the major manufacturers have; this is pure engineering and genuine passion for sim racing. I suppose the interesting bit for them is that they have an idea and can run with it in a very agile way, so development happens quickly.
This is a serious wheel for high-end sim racers who very likely want to push for a 992-spec GT3 R inspired cockpit layout. I’d expect keen interest from well-funded hobbyists, serious amateur racers and sim racers who want the latest in manufacturing concepts on their rig. I’d also expect some pushback on some of my comments which I’m fine with.
Please look at these items in engineering terms and let’s stop saying subjective things like “better immersion” – what is the SI unit for sim racing immersion?
While wheel reviews are entirely subjective (and I’m just as guilty of this subjectivism), physics is not a subjective thing and neither is materials science.
If you want an example of the very best in the sim racing industry, and budget isn’t a particular issue – then the V-PGT carbon sim racing wheel, priced at £1499.00 (Exc. VAT) is going to change the game forever.
Finally, here’s Race Beyond Matter’s excellent review on the wheel:
- 300mm diameter steering wheel with 62 inputs and 96 RGB individually controlled LEDs
- Full, moulded carbon fibre construction
- Injected moulded rubber grips
- Automotive Grade Electronics
- SimHub Device Compatible
- 12 Apem 5G 6.5N buttons
- 2 Otto P9 buttons
- (3+2) Custom ELMA rotary encodes
- 1 custom ELMA rotary switch
- Magnetic shifters and Third paddles
- Domed epoxy stickers and polycarbonate stickers
- Compatible with 50mm and 70mm PCD QR
- Shifters, knobs and button guards: CNC’d anodized aluminium
- Grips: Injected molded rubber
- Moulded carbon fibre – available in std carbon and forged carbon