The Next Level Rac­ing F1GT and mon­i­tor stand

Cross­ing the line in style

PCPOWERPLAY - - Pcpp Hardware & Tech Special - Price $ 699; $ 199 ( mon­i­tor stand) www.pag­ni­an­im­ports.com.au

After­look­ing at ev­ery rea­son­ably priced op­tion, this fairly new prod­uct stands alone. It’s unique in some ex­cit­ing ways, as well look­ing sexy as heck. For me, space is a fac­tor and this has a rel­a­tively nar­row width. The seat isn’t the huge over­sized sort that is so com­mon - it doesn’t have the wide shoul­der sup­ports that look like a real race car seat but you never need sit­ting still. It doesn’t waste space, ei­ther, on big holes for seat­belts be­cause seat­belts on a sim rig is ridicu­lous and we all know that to be true.

THE SEAT­ING OF THINGS

The seat is mirac­u­lously com­fort­able. I could se­ri­ously fall asleep in it. But the big prize is that you can po­si­tion things so the seat is ei­ther For­mu­lastyle ly­ing back a bit, or more up­right (the ‘GT’ po­si­tion) with the bum higher off the ground. Fur­ther­more the ped­als can also be set up high, or down low. And you can mix and match, hav­ing, for ex­am­ple, up­right GT seat­ing with For­mula-style pedal place­ment. This po­si­tion is ap­par­ently quite pop­u­lar but for me, as you can see in the pics, it’s For­mula all the way. With the ped­als higher you can ex­ert more pres­sure on them with less ef­fort, and thus have more pre­cise con­trol, while hav­ing the seat bum down and the back more re­clined than it would be in GT style cre­ates more room for your arms, let­ting you bring the wheel closer.

Swap­ping po­si­tions be­tween GT and For­mula isn’t triv­ial, though. While Next Level talks about swap­ping po­si­tions as you please, based on my ex­pe­ri­ence build­ing it all, you re­ally do need to de­cide what you want and keep it that way for­ever. Bolts need to be un­done and ex­tra steel bits put into po­si­tion to swap things around. It would take a good cou­ple of hours to make the change, so screw that.

CUS­TOM FIT

As with all but the cheap­est cock­pits al­most ev­ery­thing is ad­justable. The re­cline an­gle of the seat can be set just-right, and it sits on run­ners so can move for­ward and back. This, along with the height-ad­justable steer­ing wheel base make it easy to get your hands ex­actly where you want them for per­fect wheel-hold­ing er­gonomics. The wheel base it­self can be set for­wards or back­wards too, and higher or lower, though the fur­ther back you set it, the fur­ther back in turn the mon­i­tor stand must be, as it’s mounted on a com­mon rail just be­hind the wheel mount. For­tu­nately the clos­est wheel stand po­si­tion worked best, mean­ing I could also have the mon­i­tors nice and close too, as they should be.

The pedal base can go to any an­gle or dis­tance, which again is com­mon. It doesn’t look it, but you can vir­tu­ally stand on the top edge of the pedal base and it won’t flex a bit. This was my main con­cern be­fore I bought it go­ing off the pic­tures, but no wor­ries, it’s as solid as can be.

The frame is ex­cep­tion­ally strong and rigid. That’s the key thing about this rig. I’ve used ones that cost as much and they can flex. Not this model, though. Big heavy steel bars and many thick bolts en­sure to­tal rigid­ity. As a re­sult it’s damn heavy – 43kg all up, and to­gether with the op­tional ex­tra mon­i­tor stand I bought separately the com­bined weight is 55kg. With the bolts done up as tight as pos­si­ble this thing isn’t mov­ing a mil­lime­ter. I dread ever hav­ing to dis­as­sem­ble it if I ever move house…

ACCESSORISING

the big prize is that you can po­si­tion things so the seat is ei­ther For­mula-style ly­ing back a bit, or more up­right (the ‘GT’ po­si­tion)

It’s matched with a mon­i­tor stand that sells for $199 (though is cur­rently bun­dled free with the base!), which has arms to sup­port triples, which I need. That’s well un­der half the price of a triple mon­i­tor stand of the sort sold at Of­fice­works, and again is very sturdy. Ad­just­ing the height of the two out­side mon­i­tors is its Achilles Heel, though. There re­ally isn’t any way to po­si­tion the mon­i­tors other than to twist and bend the sup­port­ing bars un­til things are right, and in my case, use a whole lot of Gaffer tape and bits of heavy left­over pack­ing card­board jammed in places to get it just right.

It also comes with a bolt-on arm to mount a shifter. This, too, mounts on the same rail as the wheel and mon­i­tor stands, which is a poor de­sign be­cause to use the shifter arm the wheel stand and mon­i­tor must then be mounted sev­eral inches fur­ther away from you than you likely want. I don’t use a shifter, but for many this could be a deal breaker.

Apart from that it’s a to­tal win­ner and I ex­pect to be us­ing it for many years. It took me sev­eral hours to as­sem­ble; I wasn’t rush­ing things and the doc­u­men­ta­tion is excellent, and I thor­oughly en­joyed that part of it. It’s un­usual to have to as­sem­ble ev­ery sin­gle bit – there are many parts. Most rigs are sim­pler, but none can match this. Ben Man­sill

This rig can be con­fig­ured in mul­ti­ple seat­ing and pedal po­si­tions

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