Well, it seems forever since I last wrote anything sim-racing related. Jon Denton has rallied some of the troops from AutoSimSport Magazine to begin a new blog-style medium for presenting all things sim-racing related. My first assignment? The HumanRacing GT Chassis.
After working out the details to get the unit shipped to me for reviewing, the chassis arrived in a rather large box – sufficiently large to hold what appeared to be a fully assembled unit. Upon opening this treasure chest, I soon realized that this was genuinely the case. Essentially, the only assembly required is mounting the chair to the rails, and mounting the shifter mount to the side of the chassis unit.
Getting the GT Chassis unpackaged – it is securely held in place – took longer than actually putting it together for racing. Granted, I was attempting to save the packaging so that I can send this unit back, so I took some extra care. If your unit arrives with any damage whatsoever, I would be blaming the carrier.
Within 10 minutes of getting it out of the box I had the HumanRacing GT Chassis set up and ready for wheel mounting. For this test, I decided to mount my Logitech G25 – which has been modified with the ARC Team “E” mod. The goal in using this wheel was to determine how stout the wheel mounting system is on the GT Chassis.
The GT Chassis is configured for mounting several of the more popular racing wheels, and the G25 was no exception. I mounted quickly and easily. HumanRacing has even been thoughtful enough to provide the proper metric hardware to mount the wheel, shifter, and pedals. I can’t speak for all wheels, but the hardware fit the Logitech G25 perfectly. Within another 10 minutes, the wheel was mounted and my HumanRacing GT Chassis was ready for a few laps.
If I had to find some flaws with the setup and mounting, it would be cable management. While it is simple enough to apply stick-on cable tie mounts, the clean look of the chassis would be compromised with such gaudy attachments. Some cable tray underneath, or other means to mount the cables so they aren’t a tripping hazard – and therefore potentially damaging to your wheel – would make this rig look much cleaner. Cable management is important to me because I have big, clumsy feet. Catching the shifter cable with my foot as I exited the chassis could potentially render the shifter permanently broken (until such time as it was re-wired). This has happened to me with a set of Fanatec Club Sport pedals… I ripped the cable from the unit, destroying the cable and socket where it attached to the PC board.
Having raced in the HumanRacing GT Chassis for a couple of months at this point, I can tell you that it is mostly a comfortable rig to race in. Comfort in a sim racing rig is more than just how your backside feels. Additionally important is the angle of the seat, wheel, pedals, position and shifter, and the relative position of each to the other. In this regard, the GT Chassis is quite comfortable. The wheel position relative to the seat is fully adjustable, which leads to less arm fatigue during long stints. The pedal angle isn’t adjustable, unless you design your own shims, but it is a an angle that is quite comfortable as is. Regardless of whether you have short or long legs, the seat rails allow adjustment so that your legs experience maximum comfort during racing. The shifter mount, also adjustable, will allow the user to locate the shifter left or right, and at practically any angle you wish. The positioning can be made such that it is possible to place the shifter in the same physical location as your full-sized ride.
My one complaint about comfort comes not from any driving positions or padding of the seat. Rather it comes from space – specifically the space for my rather large frame. Being 6 feet tall, and 320 pounds means I am just a bit larger than the average racer. Translation? My hips don’t fit comfortably in the racing seat. This isn’t the first racing chassis I have tested that has this problem. I have a wide frame, and therefore need a wide seat. I need wide shoes, wide shirts, wide hats, and wide gloves too… so the need for a wide seat doesn’t surprise me in the least. Racing for more than an hour at a time becomes uncomfortable for me. Frankly, I expected this, as it seems to be a common thread – there just isn’t much out there for bigger racers. I did happen to save a 6-way power seat from a Nissan Maxima my son wrecked… perhaps I will mount that to a racing chassis someday. HumanRacing sells what they call a ‘Player Frame Set’ which is made for just this purpose – add your own seat and other accessories to suit your needs.
As tested, I have been using the basic GT Chassis, which comes with the seat and rails, a wheel mount, and a shifter mount. I would highly recommend and additional shifter mount and mouse/keyboard tray (both sold separately). Reaching for either on the floor is impractical, and unless you have a nearby low-profile table, there isn’t a practical place to locate either of these essential human interface devices.
The chassis itself is very sturdy. There isn’t any indication of movement from the wheel or shifter, regardless of how drastic the action is. The rigid construction of the frame itself provides a secure platform for all of the racing components. There are also threaded mounts on the bottom of the chassis. It is conceivable that someone would mount this rig to a full-motion simulator, or even just on castors for portability.
In its present location, the GT Chassis sits in the ‘Man Cave’ adjacent to my computer desk. When I want to race, I simply move the keyboard and mouse from the desk’s tray, slide the monitor onto the keyboard tray and the chassis nose under the desk. Its not an ideal arrangement, but it works fairly well. Currently, HumanRacing does not offer a monitor stand as an accessory for the GT Chassis. If a monitor stand is ever offered as an accessory to compliment the chassis, the look of the setup would be greatly enhanced. Lets face it, we all care about what our rides look like.
One last noticeably missing feature is the ability to mount a shaker. I have tested and reviewed several iterations of ButtKicker shaker amps. Mounting any of them is not a viable option without considerable modification of the chassis. There isn’t much room under the seat because of the seat slide levers, and I am not sure that the back of the seat is robust enough to support a heavy, constantly shaking speaker magnet without causing the seat to fail.
I have ridden in several race frame type chassis over the years. Some of them low-end, some middle, and some high-end. The HumanRacing GT Chassis is on the high end of the spectrum. It retails for US$1442 ( according to their website – http://www.humanracing.co.th/?file=gtchassis ) which is probably the most costly static chassis I have tested. The coolness factor of the GT Chassis is way up there, but I’m not so sure it is on par with the price differential. As far as something you can rely on being there, without fear of breaking something, or stripping threads, the GT Chassis is on the forefront. Lesser products – a wheel stand for example – are more prone to having a mechanical failure. I cannot envision the GT Chassis EVER failing… period.
The last thing I want to address is entry and egress of the seat. Comparing the GT Chassis to something like the Virtual Roadster by Ted Heys, entry is about the same. Step over and ease into the seat. Egress is a different story altogether. Perhaps it is just my size, but the GT Chassis is difficult to get out of. I find myself propping up on the edge of the seat as a halfway point to getting out. Granted, some of the time consumed in exiting the seat is due to the lack of cable management and the concern over ripping cables from their home, but the majority of it is because there is nothing to grab onto while pulling yourself up. With a real car, you have the sides of the cockpit to get started extricating yourself, and the Virtual Roadster has the monitor platform. Here, there is only the seat and wheel itself.
Overall, the HumanRacing GT Chassis is a nice ride. It is fully adjustable to most racers dimensions, with the exception of seat width. The wheel, pedal, and shifter mounting are solidly mounted and worry free. The GT Chassis is very stylish and doesn’t take up your entire race area – which by comparison the Virtual Roadster does. Its solid construction means that this would be the last racing chassis you’ll ever purchase. If you are in the market for a stylish, high-end, durable racing seat, then the GT Chassis is something you should strongly consider.
- Solid construction
- Easy, quick assembly
- Popular Component Mounting holes pre-drilled
- Great deal of adjustability
- Compact design
- Stylish – will add to the decor of the Man Cave
- No cable management
- Difficult to get out of
- No place to put a monitor