(EDITOR’S NOTE: This review of the Simucube 2 Pro was originally published on the Sim Racing Paddock Youtube Channel on September 17, 2019. I wanted to provide the written version of the review for people who would like to read it as well)
This is my review on the Simucube 2 Pro Direct Drive Wheel! This is the follow-up to the Simucube based Open Sim Wheel, but now fully designed in-house by Granite Devices, as opposed to the first generation Simucube utilizing different components to build a full fledged wheel. In addition, the Simucube 2 series adds some interesting new features, so does that add up to make a worthy successor of one of my favorite Sim Racing wheels? Let’s take a look!
I have been driving with the Simucube 2 Pro for around 3 weeks now, after driving with my Large Mige Simucube based Open Sim Wheel for roughly a year and a half. If I had to put my thoughts in a nutshell, it would be that this wheel takes the majority of what made the Simucube platform great, and takes it up a notch. It’s an improvement in nearly every way, and it is definitely one of the best Direct Drive wheels I’ve ever driven with.
Let’s first talk about what you get with the Simucube 2 platform. The Simucube 2 is split into three different models, the Sport, the Pro, and the Ultimate. The Sport is rated at 17 Newton-Meters of torque, the Pro is rated at 25, and the Ultimate tops the scales at 32 Newton-Meters of torque. The Sport retails for a suggested price of 1,270 Euros, the Pro goes for 1,470 Euros, and the Ultimate retails for a whopping 3,170 Euros. In this review, we will be focusing on the Pro model, as that is the one I am testing. I will mention features that carry over though.
One of the biggest differences between the Simucube 2 and its predecessor is that everything has been streamlined. When Direct Drive wheels started gaining in popularity, they were dual unit systems. The motor would be attached to the cockpit, and then the electronics would be in a different box, that would then connect to the computer. This trend has made its way through various wheels, ranging from the SimXperience Accuforce, to the top-of-the-line Leo Bodnar Simsteering units, and nearly everything in between.
However, starting recently, we have seen Direct Drive wheels start to be incorporated into all-in-one units, with the motor and electronics being housed in the same unit. The Fanatec Podium Series of wheels was the first mass-market Direct Drive wheel to fit everything in one unit, and the Simucube 2 quickly followed suit.
Out of the box, you will get the Simucube 2 Pro wheel itself, a Simucube Quick Release system, two 280 Watt power supplies, an Emergency Stop button, and the necessary USB cable to plug the wheel into the computer.
The Simucube Quick Release supports most 70mm bolt pattern steering wheels, and it works quite well. It’s a relatively simple design, but it is a rock solid unit, with no flex whatsoever in it. If you already have a quick release you would rather use on the wheel, there is an adapter you could purchase from Ascher Racing to allow you to use your own quick release system with the base. It’s slightly disappointing that you need to buy an adapter to use your own quick release on it, but it is nice that it includes a very well-made quick release if you want to go with that.
Another new addition to the Simucube 2 is built-in support for the Simucube Wireless Wheel system. The Simucube Wireless System allows you to utilize a compatible wheel to connect to base, without the use of a cable or a second USB port. Right now, the only available wheels that are compatible with the Wireless System are from Ascher Racing, but with the B16L I’ve been testing, it works very well. I haven’t had any missed shifts or non-presses of the buttons, so that is great. It is also worth mentioning that there IS a way to add the Simucube Wireless wheel system to an existing Simucube 1 system, so you COULD use a wireless wheel without having to upgrade.
With the Simucube 2, the entire IO system has been revamped, and it’s mostly for the better. As mentioned before, the electronics are now housed inside the wheel’s base, instead of in a separate box, which means things needed to be adjusted. Instead of two mini-USB ports on the electronics box, you now have a single USB A input that plugs into the back of the wheel. Also, for the Power Supplies and Emergency Stop, the wheel uses PSU cables. Note that I used the term “Power Supplies”, as in plural. As implied earlier in the review, the Simucube 2 Pro utilizes TWO 280 Watt power supplies plugged into the wheel. They are very large, so that is something that you may want to keep in mind.
Another change that leaves me slightly wanting is that the Simucube 2 decided to do away with the option to plug in other accessories via RJ12 jacks. The original Simucube baseboard included four RJ12 jacks, that could in theory be used to add on different accessories, like the Push/Pull Rally shifter I reviewed recently. Now, the Simucube 2 utilizes a single 15-pin Accessory Port, that can be used for components in the future. As of right now, I haven’t seen a product that uses the Accessory Port, but that should change in the future. It’s just somewhat unfortunate they got rid of a more universal system though.
Now that we’ve gotten that basic impressions out of the way, let’s talk about how the wheel performs, and it is a truly excellent wheel! The level of fidelity and precision that I feel through the Simucube 2 is a tangible increase over what I felt before with my Large Mige Open Sim Wheel.
One of the things that was clearly noticeable to me was how QUICK the Simucube 2 is. My OSW is still a very quick wheel, noticeably quicker than most other options on the market, but this wheel is just on another level. The way I’ve been able to catch slides and keep ahead of what’s going on with the car, it’s just awesome! The only Direct Drive wheel I’ve felt to be quicker is the SimSteering 2, but at roughly double the price, the performance increase on the SimSteering is downright negligible.
The next thing that became apparent to me is that the wheel really brings out the subtle nuances of the road, and it does it well. In sims that have the road feel simulated, you can get a great feeling through the wheel, even down to feeling out the difference between cracks in the track!
A big thing is that this wheel will still give you great definition and feedback, even under heavy load! With most of my testing, I’ve been running the wheel at between 40 and 50% strength. At 50% strength, you’re running around 12.5 NM of torque, which is around double of what is capable from Fanatec or Thrustmaster belt-driven wheels, and you still have a LOT of overhead available to you, if you want to better simulate particularly difficult cars, like older Formula One or other cars without power steering.
But even at the heavier forces that the wheel is capable of, you can still feel the subtle nuances that the wheel can put out. That’s one of the great benefits of direct drive wheels in general, but it just seemed even more pronounced with the SC2.
One other question I am bound to get is “How does this compare to the Fanatec Podium Wheel?” Well, as of the time of this review, I haven’t had too much time behind the wheel of a Podium Series Direct Drive wheel. But, with around 3 hours of seat time with the DD2, I would say that the Simucube 2 does outperform the Podium wheel. It’s just that much more powerful, a bit more smooth and quick as well. However, this was at a time before the release of the Podium software, so once I get more testing of Fanatec’s offerings in the future, I can try to do a more in-depth comparison.
The last thing that was apparent in regards to the wheel isn’t actually due to the performance, but it’s regarding the software and presets. Simucube 2 utilizes the new True Drive software, and it works very well. One bit of the software I really enjoy is that they do a better job creating presets for titles. Granite Devices has provided a few recommended presets for different titles, including Assetto Corsa, iRacing, rFactor 2, the DiRT Rally titles, and even more! They also give you tips on recommended settings to optimize the wheel’s performance for each title. This is a welcome addition, and should make things easier to set up properly, and get on track more quickly.
The software works quite well, for the most part. There are still some occasional minor issues and nitpicks I’ve had with the wheel, but it’s quite solid for an initial release. Already, since I started testing with the wheel, there were some issues I had that were resolved in the latest update, which was great to see.
The new TrueDrive software allows for more adjustments than what was possible in the first Simucube’s software. For example, one of the new settings is the “Torque Slew Rate Limit”, which can limit how quickly the wheel’s torque can shift. Turning the setting higher can help soften the driving feel. Another new feature is the “Ultra Low Latency Mode”, which helps reduce the latency between the wheel and the computer. That functionality can actually help prevent the Oscillations that you can get in some sim racing titles as well.
If I had to nitpick something that was slightly frustrating about the driver and software at this time, it would be how the wheel works when idle. If you don’t have the Emergency Stop pressed when you’re not using the wheel, there will be a loud beep every 4 minutes. While it’s a good reminder to have the Emergency Stop pressed, it’s just slightly irritating at times. Fun fact, initially it was set to beep every TWO minutes, but they EXTENDED the time to four minutes… I could just imagine how irritating the beep would be every two minutes though, so I’m happy they at least made the change.
Before we get onto my closing thoughts, let’s tough on some quick bullet notes:
- The Simucube 2 Pro comes with a 24 month warranty, which is also the warranty period of the SC2 Sport. The Ultimate features a 60 month warranty
- The complete wheel weighs in at 11.1 Kg, or 24 and a half pounds. While this wheel is more powerful than the Small Mige motor, this weighs in at almost half a kilogram LESS
- For mounting the Simucube 2 Pro, it has the same mounting hole pattern as the Mige 130ST motors, which were the most commonly used for the Simucube wheels. The mounting holes are threaded* this time around, it is a little simpler to mount this time around.
- I did have a couple instances where, during crashes in some titles, the wheel would cut out, and reboot. I was told they are working to dial in that fix, but it is something worth mentioning.
- The wheel uses a passive cooling system, which means there are no fans in the unit. However, even with multiple hours of driving at strong forces, I didn’t feel the wheel getting hot, or throttle its performance at all
So, with this out of the way, let’s talk about the question: Do I recommend the Simucube 2 Pro? Well, if you’re looking to upgrade to a direct drive wheel from a belt or gear driven wheel, I’d say this would be a great option for you to consider. However, this is a steep investment. For roughly $1,500 USD after taxes for the wheel base alone, you’d likely be looking at over $2,000 for a full solution if you’re looking to take advantage of the Simucube Wireless Wheel solution. However, with the benefits of the Simucube 2 wheel, I’d say if it’s a head to head comparison of the Simucube 1 vs 2, or Simucube 2 vs something like the Fanatec Podium Series or SimXperience AccuForce, this would be a no-brainer in favor of the 2. The only thing is that if you’re already in the Fanatec Ecosystem or are looking for console compatibility, that’s the only feasible reason right now I’d consider the Podium Series.
If you already have a Simucube based Open Sim Wheel. The Simucube is still an excellent Direct Drive racing wheel, and it’s one that still can provide for years on years of great driving. Also worth mentioning is that the Simucube Wireless Wheel functionality can be retrofitted to an Open Sim Wheel, so you can get that functionality in your existing wheel. So, while the Simucube 2 is a clearly superior product, if you have an Open Sim Wheel that’s working fine, I don’t really see an obvious reason to update.
Bottom line, I think the Simucube 2 is truly an excellent wheel, and is one of the best performing Direct Drive wheels when it comes to performance to price ratio. It is easily going toe to toe with Simsteering’s wheels, for roughly half the price! Add in the features like the streamlined design and wireless wheel support, and that gives us a wheel that is easy to recommend for someone jumping into the high end market.