Simagic quick release
Changing steering wheels on your sim setup can be a bit of a pain, even with some of the more popular quick release systems on the market. I do realise that this is the most “first world” problem you’re likely to hear about today, but when you spend a lot of money on high end products, little details matter. Today I’m going to show you the Simagic quick release system and why it makes me smile every time I use it.
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The Simagic quick release system is pretty special, but I’ll start off this review by stating clearly that it’s not their invention or design. It’s a D1 Spec quick release system with some additional functionality added by Simagic. The design is actually relatively common, with several brands being compatible with one another. In its most basic form, It consists of 6 ball bearings at the top and 4 ball bearings at the bottom. A spring loaded collar locks the kit in position and that’s really all there is to it. The design is relatively simple but due to its simplicity, it’s actually very reliable and gets a super solid grip of the steering wheel base shaft. So much so that you can actually hold the rim and swing a DD base around with great confidence as shown. Obviously, I doubt it’s meant to be used in this way but it’s comforting to know that it’s possible as it gives a great indication of the strength of this system. I’ll go into more detail in the “How it works” section.
As the Simagic steering wheels connect wirelessly for communication, this quick release system is allowed to be relatively simple. However, the Simagic system does rely on little pins and contacts which are only there to transmit power to the steering wheel rims, as the rims themselves don’t have any battery or power source or their own. Only two of the pins are actually used for transmitting the power and the other 2 are unused.
- First impressions
The shaft of the Simagic steering wheel bases has a clear electrical contact which spans a larger area than it needs to. This it to allow for margin of error as the Simagic quick release will allow you to offer the wheel up to the shaft at any angle, however it will only lock in place when offered up at the correct angle. I recommend learning the ‘correct’ way to offer up the steering wheel before you try to mate the steering wheel as doing it incorrectly can potentially damage the little pins which transmit the power. The little pins are a little bit flimsy and I‘ve seen some cases where the pins have gotten bent and even failed due to improper quick release use. The pins get bent when you install the wheel at a rotation which doesn’t suit the 90 degree ‘window’ which Simagic affords you. I do think that if the contacts on the shaft were recessed and ‘flush’ with the rest of the face of the shaft, this, the only flaw of the quick release system, could be easily solved.
The likes of fanatec, thrustmaster and simucube are extremely opinionated about the orientation of your steering wheel when attaching to their quick release systems, for the exact reason of protecting pins. However, all three of the aforementioned don’t give me the rewarding feeling that the Simagic quick release gives. In fact, I wouldn’t consider the thrustmaster to be ‘quick’ and the fanatec podium system doesn’t feel very confidence inspiring and isn’t exactly ‘quick’ either . I mean, Even though fanatec has a slot which won’t allow you to rotate the wheel incorrectly, I hold my breath every time I push a steering wheel rim into place due to the number of pins and their length. The simucube wedge system just feels a little bit odd for me too. All of those quick release systems work, but none of them make me particularly happy.
- How it works
There are several ball bearings which get pushed into place when the collar is released. When the collar is pulled towards the rim, the collar moves the out of the way and the ball bearings move outwards. This clears the way for the wheel base shaft and once the shaft pushes the inner metal collar, the ball bearings are pushed inwards towards the shaft by the outer collar which is spring loaded. This is the cause of the satisfying “clunk” that i just cannot get enough of.
As mentioned, when the rotaion isn’t perfect, you can hold the wheel and rotate the shaft until it pops into place. However, only do this if you’re confident that you’re close to having the wheel in the correct position. You don’t want to bend those pins so if you’re unsure, take the wheel rim off fully and listen to the following instructions clearly. You’ll only need to learn this once.
- how to use – attach
It may not be entirely obvious to people, but the pins on the wheel rim need to line up roughly with the centre of the contacts on the shaft. The contacts on the shaft look like the WiFi symbol, so from now on in this video, I’ll be referring to that side of the circuit as the ‘WiFi symbol’.
For the standard Simagic rims, All you need to do is point the WiFi symbol 90 degrees to the left. When you offer up the steering wheel rim, then it will slot on perfectly straight without any issue. When you point the WiFi symbol left like this, the 6 ball bearing receivers are at the top and the other 4 are at the bottom, which is perfectly in sync with how simagic installs the quick release system on their rims. See section 7 for detailed instructions on how to achieve this when installing an aftermarket rim.
- how to use – release
When taking off the rim, simply make sure that your wheel rim is centered, then put one hand over the top of the rim’s button plate, and one underneath. Pull the collar towards you, and pull lightly towards you and the rim will slip off with ease. You don’t need to switch anything off before you do this, you can hotswap rims mid race if you want.
- Simagic QR types
There are two types of Simagic QR. Both fit the old style and new style Simagic shaft.
The Larger Simagic GT1 has my favourite version of the quick release. This is due to one subtle but brilliant detail, the collar locks in place when you release it. This means that it gives that beautiful clunk I was talking about earlier, when successfully attached to the wheel base. So you can offer up the steering wheel rim without even having to touch the quick release unit. The larger quick release will fit any 70mm and 74mm patterns, meaning that you can fit any Nardi or Personal wheel to the 74mm pattern, and any Momo, Sparco, NRG or OMP wheels to the 70mm pattern.
The other version is the smaller one featured on the GT4. The biggest difference is that this is a 50mm stud pattern as opposed to the 70 and 74mm patterns of the gt1 quick release. Due to space restrictions, it doesn’t have the locking mechanism for the ‘released’ state which means that you manually need to pull and release the collar when attaching and detaching. Again, first world problem but this is still so so much faster than having to screw things in place, insert pins or tighten anything. When you pull the collar, it simply allows the ball bearings to be pushed outwards by the shaft.
- Installing an aftermarket rim
If you’re fitting an aftermarket rim, or one which connects via USB, you wont be needing the power pins. You could simply disconnect these pins, or you can remove the entire power plate from the QR system, which is easily done with just 2 bolts.
When offering the quick release up to the new rim, I highly recommend installing the quick release at a very specific orientation as mentioned before. Line up the little dot to face upwards, and line up your wheel so that it is also as close to the ‘centered’ position as possible. Then it should be a simple case of installing some appropriate bolts and that’s all there is to it.
Furthermore, as this system is often used in real cars, a real horn button is likely to click into place without the need for additional hardware.
The simagic quick release system isn’t something that authorised distributors generally list in their product catalogs. This is probably with good reason though, as the simagic quick release comes attached to every simagic rim. If you do want to order a quick release, I highly recommend buying from an authorised distributor like Digital-Motorsports.com. I’ve linked to their product page in the description below. I’ve also included a full list of authorised distributors so that you can find your local supplier.
If you order a simagic wheelbase without a simagic rim, they do include a quick release with the wheel base. And the best news is that they provide the better/larger GT1 version. This means that you don’t need to worry about sourcing a quick release system yourself, and that you’re ready to mount any rim to your new wheelbase.
You may wish to use an aftermarket solution. Luckily plenty of those exist. After all, the Simagic quick release is just a rebranded D1 spec unit, as far as I’m aware. Each of the units I’m covering here will be linked in the description below.
D1 spec quick release systems have been available on eBay and Amazon for many years now. Many people use them without issue in their real life cars and if it’s good enough and reliable enough for a real car, then it will be more than enough for your sim rig and even the strongest of Direct Drive steering wheel applications.
The pick of the bunch is probably a little bit overkill, but that would be the NRG quick release system. The NRG 2.0 system closely resembles the simagic unit. NRG is one of the most trusted quick release systems for real life race and drift cars as their build quality and reliability is second to none. However, you pay a premium for the NRG unit, and it’s most definitely overkill for a sim setup. I happen to have 2 NRG systems as I interchange steering wheel rims between my real cars, and my nardi and nismo wheels look and perform amazingly on my sim setup. It was a pleasant surprise when I first offered up my NRG system to my M10 and it just clunked into place.
One major difference with the NRG system is that you need to press a little safety button in order to allow the wheel to release. This is obviously a last stop safety feature just in case you somehow compress the spring of the collar, or if the spring was to somehow fail. You can however unlock this feature with the larger Simagic Quick Release system as it does have a little button which is recessed into the housing. If you look closely at the side which mates to the wheel, you’ll notice a tiny hollowed bolt thread just near the button. If you unscrew this thread, the button should pop right out. I personally prefer to run my sim setup without the button as it’s one less thing to have to think about, and also means that i can use the quick release with one hand if i really want to pretend i’m cool.
The kyostar QR system will fit with a little bit of modification. There’s a handy guide on how to achieve this in the owners’ group on facebook, which i’ll also link in the description below. For those of you interested in this wheelbase, this group is a good resource to hear from the people who actually own these devices.
- Final thought
As i said from the get-go, I love this QR system. I can’t think of a simpler or more satisfying system on the market. It’s the one that looks most like it came out of a real race car. It never fails to impress my friends when i swap rims. They always want to see it again and again, and try it themselves.
Often a product locks you in to their ecosystem with compatibility options. Like the way fanatec or thrustmaster prioritizes connecting to their other hardware over connecting to USB. Other times, the sheer quality and feel of a particular aspect of a product is enough to make you consider the rest of their range before looking at other brands. This is one of those products that just gives me more confidence in the rest of the range. I’ve already been lucky enough to be the first in Europe to review the M10. I’ve had the GT4 rim for about 6 months and have also even been able to test the Simagic Alpha 15nm wheelbase for the past 6 months, despite it not even being released outside of Asia yet. But the consistency between the products makes me gravitate towards the Simagic brand.
This is a typical example of not re-inventing the wheel, at least, when it comes to the quick release mechanism. The D1 spec quick release already existed and is widely used especially in the drifting community. There’s no real merit in trying to come up with something better unless you have a better idea. You need to try this quick release system. Until then, you may not fully understand what I’m talking about in this video.
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I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, good or bad. I’m Laurence and I’ll chat to you later.