Having recently reviewed Next Level Racing’s Racer Wheel Stand, I was quite excited to receive their Challenger Racing Cockpit. If you’ve read that previous review, you might think that the following is be a bit repetitive. But – to be fair – that’s a positive thing.
At first glance, the Challenger looks like a chair add-on for the the Racer Wheel Stand. Truth be told, where that came pretty much fully assembled out of the box, here you can expect to take approximately an hour to assemble the Challenger. Again, Next Level Racing does not skimp on the tools. You’ll probably end up spending about half that time just unpacking all the pieces and getting everything sorted.
I just want to give a shout out to my wife, Ivanna, for helping sort the pieces and not flipping out about the size of it as it sits in our living room!
Everything about the Challenger focuses on adjust-ability. Everything is adjustable from the foot pedals, to the wheel deck and the seat. The assembly instructions are easy to read, and include links to handy help videos – just in case you need a little extra guidance. While the adjust-ability is great to have, making the adjustments isn’t necessarily all easy. Starting with the foot pedal, you can adjust both distance and angle as well as having a little wiggle room from left to right. For my set up I have it at a fairly steep angle, as far forward as possible but low to the floor. I also have my pedals set maybe an inch right off centre. This allows for easier switching from gas to brake without rubbing my leg on the centre column of the wheel deck support. It still leaves plenty of room for access to the clutch pedal.
Just like the Racer Wheel Stand, the Challenger allows for both height and wheel angle adjustments. Height is adjusted by loosening the two wing nuts on the centre column, raising to your desired height and tightening up the wing nuts again. Angle adjustments require the removal of one of the three bolts under the wheel deck. The two remaining bolts are sufficient to hold your desired angle. Unfortunately there is no adjustment for distance. I do look forward to when Next Level Racing solves that particular problem.
Finally, the seat can be adjusted forward and backward on a sliding mechanism much like a real car. There isn’t any seat height adjustment, but you could always add a pillow. On the subject of pillows, even though the seat is cushioned there is very little contouring and the cushions are quite thin. Being able to recline the seat does little to provide comfort as the seat back is little more than a fabric covered surf board.
There is also an included mount for a standard gear shifter. There are a number of locations and positions this could be mounted, so finding what works for you may be a bit of trial and error.
Still, for the price of $349.99, the Challenger is a solid bargain for the casual sim racer. Those who are handy could probably bolt on a real car seat on the cheap. Again, the black metal frame works with any room decor, even though the design of the cockpit makes for a permanent installation. If you don’t like leaving your cockpit in the middle of the room its light weight makes it easy to move to an unused corner, although the size of it means you’ll need a second pair of hands to help. Caster wheels can be purchased separately, but would have been a welcome inclusion with the rubberised no-slip feet.
I’m basing my score on the Challenger on value per dollar and a full cockpit – even with the minor discomfort of a very basic seat -for $349.99, is a no-brainer. It’s enough to get you started and Next Level Racing is one of those companies that does make individual upgrades. I’m sure it will be possible to upgrade the seat if you so desire.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.