As in real life, there are almost unlimited possibilities in sim racing when it comes to steering wheels: There is everything from vintage steering wheels with wooden rims to high-end formal wheels with integrated displays. Some entry-level models like the recently released G923 by Logitech do not offer the possibility to swap the steering wheel. Most of the more expensive setups and especially direct drive wheelbases in contrast offer a large variety of choices because almost any steering wheel can be mounted and used.
An essential part of the steering wheels in sim racing is the so-called button box. This collection of buttons, switches, and knobs offers the convenience of making various freely selectable settings via the steering wheel. The data then is transferred via Bluetooth or cable depending on the model.
(Symbol image: Ascher Racing B16L-USB Button Box)
Besides button boxes, many steering wheels offer the option of shifting gears on the backside of the wheel via paddles as well, which is known from Formula 1 and various GT cars. Although all paddles operate contact switches to signal shifts, there are two construction types to return the paddle into its original position: return through spring load or return through magnetic force. The first one only activates the contact switch to shift gears if the paddle has already been pulled a certain distance. The latter has two magnets built into the backing plate of the wheel and into the paddle to push both of them apart. The magnetic force then must be overcome when shifting gears, using a lot more force and resulting in a richer and more precise feeling due to the sturdiness and snapping of the paddle. It also prevents double shifting, a common source of error with spring-loaded mechanisms but is more expensive at the same time and can usually only be found in high-quality steering wheels.
(Symbol image: Ascher Racing F28-SC V2 with Paddle Shifter)
Regarding the steering wheels used in our simulators, we are proud to rely on high-quality Ascher Racing brand steering wheels. Nowadays those are even used in real motorsports and offer both high-quality button boxes and magnetic shifters. Ascher Racing brand wheels are available in two basic designs: the typical round steering wheel and the GT/formula-type steering wheel, which is flattened at the top and bottom.
(Symbol image: Ascher Racing F64-USB V2 Formula Wheel) (Symbol image: Ascher Racing B16L-SC GT-Wheel)