Ascher Racing F28-SC Wireless Review
In our search for sim racing perfection, we like to use parts which look like they belong to a real race car. In my never ending search, I’ve recently spent some time with the F28-SC formula style steering wheel rim made by Ascher Racing. During that time I have used it on multiple sim titles and today I’m going to share my opinions with you. I’m Laurence, welcome to the channel!
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The F28-SC is one of the go to options for those buying Simucube Steering Wheels. The main reason being its seamless integration with the Simucube wireless system. I’ve spent a couple of weeks with it now, and enjoyed using it a lot.
- First Impressions
As I said at the start, this steering wheel looks exactly like it came straight out of an open wheeler race car. It’s pretty minimalist which is nice, and the Ascher logo is really beautiful. I’m delighted to see it sported with pride on the middle of this wheel. I think it fills the space quite well.
The size of the rim is good at 285mm. It’s great if you drive a mix of GT and formula style cars. The grips are made of a suede-like material although on their website it now says ‘leather’. I’m guessing it’s hyde or some variation of leather as it’s not the smooth leather you’d find in a luxury car. The grips don’t really cater for my hands correctly. If i place my hands as intended, my thumbs cannot reach the buttons. This means that I move my hands up and as a result i don’t really know what to do with my middle fingers. Larger grips would help, but ultimately, I think that the thumb buttons are just too far away.
There are rotary encoders built into the 7 way joysticks. The shifters are magnetic and the housing of the unit is black aluminium with a brushed finish on the front which is quite nice. The button presses have some travel and in general are pretty consistent. The wireless antenna at the back is discreet and the unit is powered by a long life battery.
This is a high end wheel. With Simucube Wireless protocol, magnetic shifters, good buttons and encoders. At 669euro, this is not a cheap wheel. However, it’s cheaper than competitors like the Cube Controls Formula Sport. I haven’t used the Formula Sport, but can definitely tell you that the Ascher has a major advantage having the 7-way directional joysticks. They make a massive difference to the sim racing experience especially when adjusting things on the fly, scrolling through menus or simply looking left or right if you’re on a single screen setup.
There are 12 buttons on this wheel. They have a decent feel, there’s resistance on them which doesn’t allow them to be pressed accidentally. Every second button has a raised collar around it to help you feel your way to the correct buttons and this works really well. I assigned my controls once and didn’t need to look at the wheel when remembering which buttons to press. I did find though that the progressive springiness of the buttons before they register a click is not to my liking, but don’t take my opinion on that with any weight as buttons are an extremely subjective thing.
The encoders have a lovely crisp detent. Their inputs are accurate and they’re the best thing about this wheel. I simply can’t fault them. They’re good with gloves, grippy and just feel top quality. These encoders also double as directional joysticks and even have a click down function. Directional hats like this are what sets sim racing equipment apart from real racing Steering Wheels. You see, where in a real race you may have a crew or no on the fly adjustments, In sim racing, you’re your own team and are usually responsible for everything that goes on. Having intuitive inputs to help you to navigate or adjust things can immerse you even further into your sim titles by giving you more control and a better experience overall.
- Gear shifters
The gear shifters are aluminium and have quite a long travel. You get different strength magnets in the box with the wheel but I still find that the throw is too long, or else the magnets aren’t strong enough. Several times over the past 2 weeks i’ve double shifted as the shift registers before the end of the travel of the shifter. It almost feels like an analog input. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear the shifter switch being triggered far before the end of the travel of the shifter paddle. This is a bit of a pain but it is something you can get used to. However, I’d expect more from a product of this price.
- Battery life
One of the things I don’t like about this wheel is that the buttons aren’t lit up. I usually race in a dark room and love to see my equipment. However, there’s one major reason for Ascher not including lighting on these buttons and that is of course: battery life. You see, where Cube Controls gets about 40 hours out of a charge with their Formula Pro wheel, The Ascher has a battery life of 2-3 years of daily use. That’s pretty incredible! There’s a battery indicator in the simucube software but after checking it once or twice, a buyer probably wont ever check the battery again until the day they get a low battery warning chime.
One thing of note, is the on/off switch. it’s located at the back of the rim. When switched on, a green light flashes on the front of the rim but doesn’t stay on. Several times i forgot to switch off the rim and I’m not sure what type of impact that has on battery life, especially because i was switching off the Simucube Pro wheelbase due to the annoying alarm chime that it plays when you leave it sitting idle. I don’t know if this rim has a sleep mode, but i would think that if it did, it wouldn’t need an on/off switch.
- Quick release
The Ascher doesn’t come with a quick release. This is because it is independent of the wheelbase you are running. However, it’s worth noting that it will not fit all quick releases due to the fact that the bolts need to travel into the aluminium housing of the wheel itself. Some competitors’ wheels come with a handy metal flange which allows you to fit both types. this is just something worth noting before you buy as it’s not something you want to discover the day you receive your wheel and want to start using it.
- Build Quality
When I unboxed this product back in February, it was new and shiny and all the build quality seemed extremely good. It has been in daily use since then but is starting to show some age. The hand grips are made of leather according to the website, but it kind of looks like unshaven hyde, which is still leather I guess. It’s just not the type of leather you expect to find on a steering wheel. The finish of how the grips are applied seems to have moved slightly over time, most noticeably at the points where the wheel gets the most friction. This definitely hurts the resale value of these wheels and makes them look old before their time. This wheel is only 7 months old.
The stickers tend to come loose and fall off and even when they stay put, they kinda look like cheap stickers. I can’t help but think that Fanatec have the right idea with their dedicated caps to put over buttons.
The little O-rings that are on the rotary encoders provide a great feel but they look perished and pretty horrible after only 7 months of use. You can pick up new ones at any hardware store, but I would have expected them to be higher quality.
- Final Thought
As mentioned are 12 buttons on this wheel. The 2 rotary encoders also have 4 way directional inputs and can also be clicked down. Add the two shifters at the back and you reach the 28 input upper limit of the simucube wireless system. More feature rich wheels tend to be wired for this exact reason.
This wheel is extremely VR friendly and doesn’t have too much or too little going on. there are enough buttons to manage everything and they’re all nice and easy to find. The shifter throw is too long for the switches, which is frustrating and did cost me some time in a competitive race while testing this product. Again, you can learn to use them properly and it may be a subjective thing.
I’m not too impressed with the build quality. Obviously, initially when I unboxed it it was a great looking product with no obvious defects. And despite only 7 months passing, time hasn’t been kind to this product. the perished O-rings and wandering hand grip materials are enough to make me warn others if they’re thinking of buying a product like this. It’s a lot of hard earned cash that we want to enjoy long into the future. I do know that companies like Ascher-Racing are constantly looking to improve so hopefully this feedback will be taken constructively.
If Ascher has fixed any/all of these issues, I’m more than happy to pin a response from them in the comments below. I’m not unhappy with this product as such, I just think it could, and should be better considering the price. Let me know what you think in the comments below. I’m Laurence, thank you all for watching, I’ll chat to you later.