If you're looking to buy a racing wheel, or own one already, you may have asked yourself 'what is Direct Drive?'
You've probably seen the term used before, but you may not know what it means, how it works, and whether it improves your sim racing experience.
Fortunately, we've put together this guide to talk you through what Direct Drive is and how it can take your sim setup to the next level.
What is Direct Drive?
Direct Drive refers to a racing wheel mounted directly onto the motor via a quick-release hub. This differs from a Force Feedback device which uses a belt or gear system in conjunction with the motor to deliver the added simulation aspect.
The result allows the user to feel the full feedback from the motor as there are fewer components involved between you, the wheel, and the mechanism.
As seen in the image of the LeoBodnar Sim Steering 2, the motors on Direct Drive wheels are generally much larger than those featured on Force Feedback devices like the Logitech G923 included in our list of the best racing wheels for Xbox, and often generate much more torque.
For example, the LeoBodnar generates 16Nm torque which helps it accurately convey the subtle handling characteristics, intricate road and surface details, and the shift of inertia while cornering. By comparison, the Logitech G923 creates just 2.2Nm of torque.
With higher torque generating more heat, most Direct Drive wheels are almost exclusively of metal so that it is strong and durable enough to deal with the added power.
How much is a Direct Drive racing wheel?
If you hadn't already guessed, Direct Drive wheels can be quite expensive, especially when compared to some of the best mid to high-end Force Feedback devices like the Thrustmaster T300 RS GT as featured in our list of the best racing wheels for PS5.
By comparison, a Direct Drive wheelbase from one of the top sim racing manufacturers around, Fanatec, will typically cost significantly more than the Thrustmaster T300 which is one of the reasons why most sim racers opt for a Force Feedback bit of kit.
Should you choose a Direct Drive racing wheel?
Deciding whether you should get a Direct Drive wheel is not an easy decision given their premium price tag and the fact they're often quite bulky and heavy, meaning you'll need adequate space and set up to fit your device.
With that being said, the main benefit of choosing Direct Drive is the level of immersion it can offer compared to gear or belt-driven wheels, resulting in a more accurate simulation of real-life racing.
Also, Direct Drive should mean you're more consistent as you're fed information on the understeer, oversteer, and other handling characteristics, therefore making the car predictable once you're used to the response.
Ultimately, we feel only the most dedicated and serious sim enthusiasts should consider picking up a Direct Drive wheel, or have at least experienced a Force Feedback device first to know upgrading to a Direct Drive bit of kit is the way to go.
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