The Next Level Racing F1GT and monitor stand
Crossing the line in style
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.
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…
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