There may not be a better time to get into Sim Racing. With sport in general on hold, racing categories like Formula 1 and our very own Supercars are turning to eSports during the coronavirus shut down. Sim racing represents a great opportunity for professional drivers to keep their skills sharp and engage the fans at the same time. For up and coming drivers, it can be a way to demonstrate you’re quick, competitive and ambitious, without the cost and risk of going after a full-time drive. Racing simulators are also a natural extension for gaming enthusiasts who quickly outgrow the controller and are seeking a more realistic feel to their racing.
While the professionals spend tens of thousands on racing sims, the great news is, you don’t have to. You also don’t have to choose a single setup, with new racing sims being more versatile, it’s possible to play both GT and F1-style gaming titles.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to try out Next Level Racing’s latest racing simulator, the F-GT Lite. This sim offers a great array of features at a great price. Perhaps this sim, more than any others I’ve used, demonstrates how well it understands its potential customers.
Design that’s functional. the best kind of design
There’s a lot new here, like really knew, namely the concept of being able to adjust the sim quick and easily, without any tools. This makes a serious difference to the number of times you’d be willing to make the change between the GT or upright position and the Formula position, the more reclined, closer to the ground position.
The new Next Level Racing Hubs took over 2 years of engineering to master. Tested to withstand withstand up to 150kg of force, these hubs are unlike any other joint I’ve seen. The Next Level Racing Hubs allows for different angles in both the seat and back angles, enabling a wide variety of positions to get you in the most comfortable racing position.
Switching between Formula to GT literally takes less than 2 minutes, much faster than even the F-GT model that was fast at around 5-6 minutes.
Formula and GT Racing Position
I’ve raced comfortably in both the GT and Formula racing positions with games like F1 2019, Assetto Corsa Competizione and Grid 2019. Having the ability to rapidly transition between these styles of racing really is great, meaning you can achieve a greater level of immersion when you’re physically positioned to match the racing category on screen.
While it’s definitely possible to race a Formula 1 race in the GT position, the whole goal of investing in a simulator is to trick your brain into believing you’re there, in the car, on the race track and fighting for position. Being seated correctly is a huge part of that. If you want the ultimately in immersion, adding VR like the Rift or Vive is always an option.
When it comes time that your significant other wants the living room back, you’ll need to put the simulator away. Moving your sim into the spare room, or cupboard is normally a massive headache and the teardown can take ages.
Thankfully Next Level Racing designed the F-GT Lite with all types of use cases in mind. This means those without the luxury of space for a permanent setup, will really appreciate the ability to fold up the sim for easy storage. The key difference to most here, is that you can even fold this up, with electronics (wheel and pedals) still attached. This allows the F-GT Lite to be a quick setup when you have a spare night, or weekend to race.
Step in, step out
Getting into the F-GT Lite is really made simple thanks to a unique hinge and clip system. Just unclip the locking mechanism on the right, then rotate the entire wheel out of the way. This makes for a super simple, super fast, step in and step out experience. After using a number of simulators over the years, they’re definitely not the easiest thing to get in and out of, so this is really appreciated.
This simply design aspect makes it simple to get up for a drink, bathroom break or to grab a snack. Again this is one of those decisions that really feels like the designers were thinking seriously about how the end users would use this simulator.
Stand out features of this display.
The F-GT Lite simulator by Next Level Racing features include the following:
- Change between Formula to GT racing positions
- NLR hubs allow for quick adjustments and durability
- Adjustable wheel, gear shifter, pedal positions and angle
- Seat made with high-breathable fabric seat for maximum comfort
- Foldable for easy storage (with accessories)
- Supported Height – 120 – 200 cm or 4ft – 6ft 6 inches
- Supported Max Weight – 130 kg or 287lbs
- Product Dimensions – (GT Position: 175 X 75 X 127cm, 68.5 X 29.5 X 50 inches. Formula Position: 164 X 75 X 94cm, 64.5 X 29.5 X 37 inches. Folded: 75 X 40 X 87cm, 29.5 X 15.7 X 34 inches)
- Product Weight – 19kg or 42lbs
- Color Box Dimensions 77 X 67.5 X 22cm or 30.3 x 26.6 x 8.7 inches
- Boxed Weight – 20kg or 44lbs
Compatible Next Level Racing Products
The sim alone is great, but you also have the option of selecting from a number of accessories. These include single and multiple monitor stands and keyboard and mouse stands which are able to be used with multiple NLR sims, so if you every chose to upgrade your sim in the future to a higher end or flagship sim, these would still work well.
- Next Level Racing Free Standing Single Monitor Stand
- Next Level Racing Free Standing Triple Monitor Stand
- Next Level Racing Free Standing Keyboard & Mouse Stand
Not everything’s perfect
While this racing sim is targeted at the entry level sim racing, it’s actually really impressive in its features, comfort and usability. My only criticism, which is really light, is the velcro strap on the left that secures the rear upright backrest to the frame support to the left of the wheel. Perhaps I like symmetry too much but not having something on the right to match felt a little strange.
My only other complaint is a mild one, perhaps something NLR could consider in a future update. The steering wheel mount allows great vertical angle adjustments with a quick knob underneath, but I’d love some forward and back adjustment as well, particularly being a taller guy (about 6’2).
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
How much and when can you get one ?
The Next Level Racing F-GT Lite Formula and GT Racing sim is available now for pre-order for A$549.00 from Pagnian Advanced Simulation. This price includes delivery to anywhere in Australia, which as you can appreciate, can add up for something of this size and weight.
The sim is scheduled to start dispatching to customers around the middle of May 2020. You can find more information at Next Level Racing.
This is the fourth racing sim I’ve reviewed from Next Level Racing and each time, I continue to be impressed with their understanding of their customers and how they engineer a product to best service them. The F-GT really started to answer the diverse racing setups required for sim racers, between formula and GT racing. The F-GT Lite takes that fundamental adaptability and makes it even easier.
The first time you use one of these new joints, it takes a little to get used to, but once you know how, you really can transform this racing sim from one mode to the other in a couple of minutes. One of my favourite parts of that transformability, is the fact you don’t need to bust out any tools, no alan keys, no philips head screwdrivers, just flip the lever, make the adjustment, flip the level back and rotate to tighten.
I’m fortunate enough to have a decent sized home office to maintain a permanent racing simulator, but many don’t. Again NLR understand this and have made this sim setup foldable. While that’s not entirely new in the industry, it’s amazingly rare to be able to do this with your steering wheel and pedals still attached. This means packing it up and unpacking it for a Friday night, or weekend race, is a breeze. It’s this simplicity that means you’re far more likely to use it, making the return on investment, or just fun on investment, a much better return.
The F-GT Lite by Next Level Racing is a great entry level racing sim that offers multiple configurations, support for many wheels and pedals, a mesh seat so you stay cool during a long enduro and best of all, it comes at an a very affordable price.
Check out Next Level Racing for more information.
- No-tool change in design
- Step-in, step-out hinge
- Store away with equipment still on
- Velcro strap could be improved