Fanatec Club­sport 2.5 wheel base

The best of the belts

PCPOWERPLAY - - Pcpp Hardware & Tech Special - Price $ 829

As with the other Club­sports, the front panel fea­tures bolt holes for ac­ces­sory at­tach­ment...

Fanate­cis mid-way through split­ting its prod­ucts into three lines – CSL for the lower end (still far su­pe­rior to Log­itech and most TM gear), Club­sport for the midrange, and later this year the Podium se­ries for high-end rac­ing, start­ing with a new Di­rect Drive wheel. For now, the evolved Club­sport 2.5 base is the best the com­pany of­fers, and it’s the best base on the mar­ket un­til you move into multi-thou­sand dol­lar DD wheel bases like the Ac­cu­force range.

Hav­ing owned a v1 and raced with a v2, the 2.5 is a huge im­prove­ment, es­pe­cially over the v1. Us­ing a pair of multi-v-ribbed belts and a pow­er­ful mo­tor it’s silky smooth and mas­sively pow­er­ful. In­side are hall sen­sors that al­low pre­cise po­si­tion mea­sure­ment and they won’t drift over time.

The fi­delity and re­sponse speed is in­cred­i­ble. You feel bumps that just weren’t there in the v2, but mor e im­por­tantly it trans­mits car dy­nam­ics like weight shifts, tire- slip, lift- off over­steer, and brake- bite in­stantly and with no short­age of str en­gth. It’s in­cred­i­bly smooth with ab­so­lutely none of the cog­ging or ratch­et­ing feel of lesser wheels. Just pure smooth power. It re­ally does feel like a di­rect drive wheel but with­out the arm­break­ing torque. For ref­er­ence the cheaper Fanatec CSL Elite base ($ 499) uses most of the same in ter­nals but gen­er­ates less torque (6Nm vs 8Nm – the Log­itech G27 is 2.1Nm). With so much turn­ing power to play with and all in such a smoo th mech­a­nism, it has more power than it needs and won’t ever strug­gle to de­liver de­tailed track and rum­ble ef­fects at the same time as the mo­tor is work­ing hard with wheel re­sis­tance and car dy­nam­ics feed­back.

As with the other Club­sports, the front panel fea­tures bolt holes for ac­ces­sory at­tach­ment like the pop­u­lar Derek Spears CSW pan­els (which I have fit­ted and you can see in the rig pho­tos). The whole thing is heavy and the only plas­tic is on the top see-through case lid. It looks su­perb and the vibe is pro­rac­ing equip­ment, not cheap plas­tic de­signed to look that way.

Mount­ing it with­out a per­ma­nent rig to bolt it to is tricky but no t im­pos­si­ble. Fanatec sells a desk clamp for $89, and a clamp comes free with the CSL base. It’s big and ugly and sturdy, and while it holds it do wn, ev­ery time you use it you’ll wish you had a rig! For a long time I used mine at a desk into which I’d drilled holes, so I’d bolt it on each time. Very solid, but very in­con­ve­nient.

Fanatec reg­u­larly up­dates the driver and firmware to fur­ther re­fine the feel, and oc­ca­sion­ally adds new fea­tures like the re­cently added Force Ef­fect In­ten­sity con­trol. The driv­ers, firmware, and Win­dows soft­ware are very ma­ture. On track, with a wheel at­tached, it’s a pure de­light to ex­per­i­ment with the many set­tings and ad­just­ments in real time and ex­plore just what this fan­tas­tic piece of equip­ment can do for your rac­ing en­joy­ment. Ben Man­sill


Slightly less pow­er­ful – and costly – the $499 CSL base

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