On the general scale of things, you could say that playing racing games with a wheel, pedals and gear shifter is something of a niche market. What happens when you combine that niche market with the hustle and bustle of daily life (read: significant other), how do you keep it all balanced (read: out of sight of significant other)? After all, not all of us have space for a dedicated rig or Playseat style set-up. That’s where the Wheel Stand Pro fits in.
If you've found yourself wanting to take it up to the next step with your virtual racing and tempting yourself to buy a wheel, but you’re worried about having to attach it to your coffee table at your knees - or worse - rest it on your lap, then there are any number of solutions available. You could build your own mini rig, as many have with either wood or PVC pipe, or look into a pre-built solution, such as the Wheel Stand Pro.
Initially I was unsure of the stability it would manage, or whether the central pole would get in the way as I was racing. I got to setting it up with the Thrustmaster TX wheel which took no longer than 20 minutes, as it was light and more or less completely pre-assembled, but obviously built to last. I fired up Forza Motorsport 5 and went to town on the Nürburgring; if any track would test the stability of this thing, the constant twists and turns of the green hell should do it.
Because of the design of the Wheel Stand Pro, your feet act as additional anchors to the body of the unit, which in turn keeps the wheel incredibly steady. If you look at it whilst you're driving, you might notice the tiniest bit of wobble, but then you’ve likely planted yourself into a wall mid-race. It’s so small in fact, that during racing, you don’t notice it at all.
That follows for the centre pole too, which I initially thought was getting in the way. However, I realised that it was one of the the quick-release locks catching my leg; completely my own fault as I’d tightened it leaving it pointing the wrong way. A quick flick with the included spanner so I could redirect the locking handle and keep the tension, and I was back in business.
I flipped over to The Crew at this point, to try it on some more ‘arcade’ like racing, where you tend to be see-sawing the wheel a bit more, however, I was met with another strong showing of stability and started to wonder if ABITECH hadn't accidentally invented the world’s first portable desk that looks nothing like one.
The quick lock mechanisms mean that the entire stand can be folded down to reduce the amount of storage space it needs when not in use. This was the defining feature in ‘making the sale’ as it were. Because of this, I could easily pack it up at the end of a racing session and stow it away in nearby storage without it taking up the entirety of where it was being stored.
My only real gripe with the unit, is that when you attach a shifter (in my case, the Thrustmaster TH8A) using the included bar, it feels like the shifter is unnaturally far away from your hand. This could be down to the particular setup I have sitting on a sofa, but getting into first gear could sometimes feel like a stretching exercise for my arm. It’s nothing a small bit of DIY magic can’t solve, after all there's plenty of screws and bolts and whatnot that came with the model for the Thrustmaster TX that meant I could mount a small shelf between the wheel and the stand, so I could mount the shifter closer to me.
Since getting the Wheel Stand, my enjoyment of racing games has increased dramatically, so much so that this review is based on the second unit I own (the first was for the Microsoft Wireless Racing Wheel), and I highly recommend that anyone looking to get more out of their racing games look into these stands. I have to make special note of their customer services also being on top of their game, responding to emails, questions (and a small bit of banter) quickly and efficiently.
Wheelstand Pro Review
You want/have a steering wheel and want to enjoy it ‘properly’ without much space to store it or a significant other to keep happy. Get a Wheel Stand Pro. You won’t regret it.