To effectively simulate a motor race at home, of all the constituent parts of a sim racing rig, no element bears greater dependence than the chair. It’s from the chair that your entire sim racing experience will take place – every crest, every bend, all the exultation and all the perspiration.
As with any other part of a sim racing setup, the more time and money invested into it, the more immersive experience is offered in return. However, if you’re building yours from the ground up and wish to focus most of your spending on a specific feature ASAP, we recommend channelling your efforts on the chair first.
Along with your racing seat, you may want to invest in some other racing kit to improve your drive. Check out our other articles on the best gloves, wheels and socks for sim racing.
How do racing chairs differ?
When it comes to new sim racing seats, there are a few important points to consider before buying. If you’re already a sim racing veteran and well-versed in the logistics of installing a racing seat into your home, the process of selecting an upgrade will be much easier. If this is your first time, here are some points to keep in mind:
When picking out your new seat, we strongly recommend measuring out the available space of your living room, bedroom or basement and then selecting accordingly.
Depending on the style of the seat, the entire unit could be anywhere from 60 to 160cm long, up to 50cm wide and 80cm tall. No one would want to perform a Cirque du Soleil contortionist act every time they have to get past, so your designated sim racing room should be commodious enough to comfortably accommodate the unit with enough enveloping space.
Measure twice and check the size of your racing seat before buying.
Along with the size of a seat, its weight should also factor into your selection process. Some seats are designed to be portable, easily moveable, or even collapsible to clear room space when not in use. Conversely, some racing chairs are so heavy that, once positioned, you’ll never want to move them again for as long as you live.
Figure out where your chair will reside first, determine whether its presence in that spot will be permanent or periodic and then buy accordingly.
Racing chairs are available in an array of different styles, based on the layout of the type of car one might find the seat in. For example, a Formula One-style chair would feature a reclined seat and raised pedals to better simulate the driving position of a top-flight pilot, while a rally-style seat would be positioned upright with flanking neck support.
Ultimately, your decision of style should come down to which sort of racing interests you, though there are many middle-ground examples out there fit to cater to most needs.
Not sure where to start with your sim racing seat decision? Here are a few of our favourites to help get you started.
Please note: All prices correct at time of writing. Prices, stock and deals subject to change without notice.
This example from renowned sim seat manufacturer PLAYSEAT is a good place to start for first-time
- Light and portable
- Great entry-level seat
- Cheaper entry-level options are available
Best for professional sim racers
This racing seat from Next Level Racing would make a great seat upgrade for those looking to take
- High quality
- Great adjustability
- Playseat example possibly better value
Fancy taking the immersion value of your sim racing to the next level? We've put together a list of the best audio for sim racing so you can.
Best for NASCAR simulation
For any NASCAR fanatics out there, it doesn’t get any more authentic than this. Playseat has
- Authentic NASCAR Design
- Fully adjustable
- Wider gamers may struggle
Best lightweight seat
Contrasting with the previous example, this racing seat is about as light and portable as they
- Easy to erect
- Won't offer the same back support as other racing chairs
If you’re building your sim racing rig on a budget or perhaps you’d like to ease yourself into the
- Great value
- Easy to set up and put away
- Won't be as comfortable as some of the other examples
- No gear shifter support
- Powerful direct-drive wheels will do damage
What is direct drive?
It’s been mentioned here, but what is a direct drive wheel? It’s something that’s seen on the racing wheels used by serious sim racers (i.e., expensive ones). Most racing wheels are connected to the motor shaft via a belt, which helps give the wheel more torque than its motor can provide. By using a belt, the system negates the need for a more powerful motor and keeps costs down. For most users, it’s fine.
Direct drive wheels are connected directly to the motor shaft. The intention is to give the user much greater feedback and detail than a belt-driven system can provide. It works but requires a more powerful motor, which means a direct drive wheel is more expensive.