- Huge number of inputs
- Great build quality
- Good ergonomics during use
- Outstanding quick release
- Too much plastic throughout
- Large quick release handle
- Poor clutch paddle positioning
What is the Asetek Forte Formula Wheel?
Today, I’m going to take a look at a pretty impressive-looking sim racing product, the Asetek Forte Formula wheel.
This wheel is a pure formula-style sim racing wheel that you can see has taken a lot of inspiration from real-world wheels. It’s quickly become one of our favourite sim racing wheels that we have in the studio, and in this review, I’m going to tell you why, along with some quirks and things that I’m not so keen on.
But before we dive into the design and performance of this Asetek steering wheel, I wanted to disclose that this steering wheel was sent to me for review by the guys at Asetek. With all reviews, this does not impact the outcome of this review in any way.
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Who are Asetek Sim Sports?
So let’s start with a very quick overview of Asetek Sim Sports as a company, because until recently, many sim racers may never have heard of them.
Asetek may seem relatively new to the sim racing space, however, this Danish company have been producing some of the best gaming hardware over the past twenty years. While the Forte wheel is the company’s first sim racing steering wheel, many gamers may have been using Asetek products in their PCs without ever knowing it.
Before delving into the world of sim racing, Asetek specialised in producing some of the best-performing liquid cooling systems in the market. Then in 2021, they jumped into sim racing with the launch of a selection of sim racing pedals.
You may have seen the uber cool-looking Pagani Huayra sim racing pedals around. These are Asetek pedals, as are the hardcore Invicta pedals. Both of these pedal sets utilise hydraulic pistons and both are the real deal.
So, as you can imagine, this impressive history had me and our guys in the studio incredibly excited when we got our hands on the Asetek Forte wheel and wheel base.
But you may be wondering where this Forte Formula Wheel sits in the sim racing space. Does it occupy the budget space, or is this Forte wheel going to be astronomically expensive like some sim racing wheels we’ve seen?
Well, it hovers right around the middle ground. It certainly isn’t cheap at $650 or just under €550. But it doesn’t stretch into the realms of having to sell your dog and remortgage your house to afford it.
This price range is about spot on for this level of sim racing wheel. While I’d always be happy to see this sort of product cheaper, if Asetek did lower the price, then some of the functionality that makes this wheel great would need to be cut.
- Buy the Asetek Forte Formula Wheel – $649.99 / €546.21
The design of the Asetek Forte Formula Wheel
Looking at the design of the wheel itself, it has a slightly unique shape with the dip in the middle and the raised top corners, and I have to say, I wasn’t a fan of this design choice initially.
You can really see the resemblance to the Williams F1 steering wheel, and I understand the choice for this central dip. In theory, it allows you to see a screen if you have one mounted on your wheel base, or you’ll have a less obstructed view of your monitor.
But the problem with this is that where the steering wheel mounts to the wheel base, both the quick release handle and the wheel base itself are the only things you get a better view of.
Unless you mount your wheelbase at a really extreme angle, this central dip won’t increase visibility at all. This leads me to believe that a straighter top edge design would have looked slightly more appealing, to me anyway.
Now you may think that I’m talking about this dip a little too much, and making too much of a big deal out of it. But, really, the only reason I’m doing this is because there really isn’t too much else about the design of the Forte wheel that I dislike.
Across the rest of the steering wheel, everything is incredibly well-considered and quite frankly, I really like it. Let’s jump into a quick list of five things I love about this wheel.
- First, the diameter is spot on the right size for a formula wheel at 290mm.
- Next, rubber grips on the handles is by far the best choice. Much better than Alcantara and leather. Despite not looking quite as nice as both those materials, it feels and performs brilliantly with or without gloves and wears better over time.
- Then there’s the sheer amount of inputs this wheel offers. 12 push buttons, 3 rotary encoders and 6 thumb encoders.
- And, the thumb encoders are positioned just right. The placement on the front of the wheel in the top corners is much better than facing your thumbs in the hand grips. This avoids any accidental knocks when turning the steering wheel.
- And to round out my top five things I love about the Forte Formula wheel, it has to be the quick release. Oh, that quick release is so silky smooth to use and is by far the best quick release on any sim racing product to date, but more on that later on.
Asetek Forte Wheel features
So now that we’ve had a super quick look at my top five features on this wheel, let’s slow things down and take a deeper dive into this wheel and everything it offers.
I’m going to start by looking at the design, the materials used and the wheel’s overall build quality because this stuff really matters when it comes to investing in a product that is going to withstand a good amount of punishment.
You’ll notice when you first look at the wheel that the front face plate is finished in carbon fibre. This is a 2mm woven carbon, and it adds a really nice reflection and gloss to the front of the wheel.
Around the back, the rest of the body and chassis is constructed from a unique forged carbon injection mould. This looks from a distance to be forged carbon fibre, but you’ll notice when you get up close, it feels much softer. When you touch it, it feels much more like a form of plastic or rubber, and that is due to Asetek using a combination of carbon, glass and plastic composite in the construction.
This injection mould adds a lot of rigidity to the wheel, and you will notice that during use, or if you undertake the very technical shake test. You could throw this thing at a wall and it would bounce right off it feels that sturdy and strong. Although, please don’t do that. I don’t fancy someone in the comments blaming me for a broken steering wheel!
Moving on to the inputs that are on offer here, you have a pretty wide selection.
Scattered across the carbon face plate, you’ll find 12 push buttons, all of which are conveniently located around your thumb grip, with a few slightly further down.
During the heat of a race, I had no issue with any of the positions of these buttons, and I could intuitively move my thumb to push an input without taking either hand off the wheel.
Each button features a blank face with no stickers or predefined labels, which I really like. So many sim racing wheels come with labels such as DRS or P for the pit limiter already printed onto each button. And I don’t like this.
This is designed to push sim racers into using the wheel manufacturers’ suggested layout. However, most sim racers have their own preferred layout, and that will almost always be different from the suggested label on each button.
The fact that Asetek has chosen not to include any labels on their buttons is a good move in my opinion. There is a sticker sheet included which lets you put stickers on whichever button you like if you need a reference and this for me is the perfect way to go about labelling inputs.
The buttons themselves are relatively stiff to engage, which is good if you’re prone to an accidental button press here and there. You need to apply a fair bit of force to activate any of the buttons on this wheel, but not to the extent where any button input feels cumbersome.
When you place your thumb on a button, there is a slight bit of movement or wobble, but this is rarely felt while racing so isn’t much of an issue. While feeling firm to engage, each button press has an incredibly short throw which I like.
Next to each and every button on this wheel is a little LED light to help guide your thumb into position. These lights are bright enough to be seen in your peripheral vision, but not bright enough to cause glare in a dark room.
You can run through the RaceHub software and customise the colour of each button as well to really personalise this wheel. Although the base orange colour is without a doubt my favourite as it works well with the orange accents that are scattered across this wheel.
Also on the front of the wheel are three front-facing encoders. Each of these protrudes a fair amount from the wheel making them easy to access. Although one little niggle I had was that I sometimes accidentally leant on the two joysticks when making an adjustment to an encoder.
These joysticks are positioned relatively close to the two topmost encoders leaving only a small gap between them. While wearing thicker gloves, this issue was more apparent, but after a bit of use and acclimatisation with the wheel, started to happen less and less.
And talking of the joysticks, there are two included on this wheel which is often a rarity. Both feature up, down, left and right movements, as well as both being able to be rotated and clicked.
They’re incredibly useful when controlling your MFD or black box in games like F1 23, ACC or iRacing, and they open up a lot of extra functionality that would sometimes have to be mapped to multiple encoders and inputs.
The encoders themselves, much like the push buttons feel intentionally stiff to use. You can really feel each turn of the encoder as it engages allowing you to make quick adjustments with real precision.
Each encoder has 12 individual positions and you can choose between either incremental or position-based inputs. This is important as some sim titles don’t work well with multi-position switches. When set to incremental mode, each left turn will activate a single input in-game, while each right turn will act as a second in-game input.
There are also an additional six thumb encoders which are positioned around the face plate. These are mounted 90 degrees to the main encoders, and allow you to make quick adjustments to in-game settings without requiring you to remove your hand from the wheel.
These encoders are slightly less stiff to activate than the front encoders, which is good as you have less strength in your thumb. But much like the front encoders, the thumb encoders are stiff enough to prevent you from scrolling too far and changing your in-game settings too much.
The thumb encoders are ideal for making quick adjustments on the fly such as brake bias and differential settings which can often be changed from corner to corner. A single change can be performed in under a second and required very little movement to perform.
It is worth noting that all encoders, along with the push buttons are made of plastic. This doesn’t affect the performance or how they feel in the heat of a race, however, the front encoders in particular reduce the premium feel of the wheel a little bit.
If the three front encoders had a little strip of metal on them or even a rubberised grip, it would instantly increase the overall build quality. But once you’re racing, as I mentioned, this has little to no impact whatsoever.
Now, if you’re a fan of LED lights on your sim racing products, then this wheel is going to tickle your fancy. I spoke about the individual LED lights above each button, but there are also a series of individually lit rev lights and flag lights.
Across the top of the wheel are 15 rev lights, and these can be fully customised. You can change the colour of each individual light along with the timing and the rev pattern.
You can choose for your rev lights to light up in batches, move from left to right or from the edge to the center. There is an absolute tonne of customisation here to allow you to set up the rev lights exactly to your own preference.
Just below the rev lights are 6 individual flag lights. These are fantastic while racing as they’ll flash different colours depending on what is happening on track. If you pass through a yellow flag area, they’ll light up yellow. They flash green at the start of a race and display a checkered flag when you approach the finish line.
These are fantastic, and if you find them distracting, or don’t need a certain flag light, you can disable or enable whichever combination you need.
Moving around the back of the wheel, you’ll find the shifters. As standard, you get two magnetic shifters included, but you’ll see here that I have the additional clutch and input paddles installed.
These extra paddles are an additional purchase but worth considering if you perform standing starts or would like some additional inputs. Personally, I use the top two input paddles to control DRS and ERS activations as it requires very little hand movement.
Both the main shifter paddles and the two input paddles above feature contactless magnetic activation and they both feel good. Continuing the theme from the front-facing inputs, the magnetic shifters feel firm to activate.
I would personally have preferred the shifters to feel a little lighter, as after a long race, you can feel a bit of fatigue in your hands.
I also think that the paddles could have been constructed from something other than plastic. The face of each paddle has this rather scratchy plastic material which just doesn’t feel very premium.
Looking at other steering wheels in this price range, you’ll often find carbon fibre or metal paddles, and this approach would have been nice. I’d imagine Asetek are holding their metal or carbon paddles for a more premium Invicta steering wheel if they make one. But having the option to upgrade to the metal paddles would be nice in the future.
A nice part of the paddle design through is the small lip on the inside. This moulds your fingers nicely into the paddle and avoids any chance of your finger slipping off during a shift.
Another big plus on the design is just how quiet these shifters are. On the inside of the shifter, just beneath the magnet is a small foam or fabric piece of insulation. This provides some noise dampening after each shift, and prevents the loud clicking sound that is often found in magnetic paddles.
Quick release design
The next thing I want to look at is the quick release on this Forte Formula wheel, and this is one area where Asetek have absolutely nailed the design and execution.
The quick release itself rather resembles the quick release found on the Simucube wheel base. However, unlike that quick release, the one on the Forte wheel features a lever which disengages the quick release mechanism.
You simply pull the lever, and the steering wheel will fall away from the wheel base. This is so smooth and easy to do, you can do it with one hand, and if you’re really feeling like you want to put in minimal effort, you can rotate the steering wheel 180 degrees and then pull the lever. This will let the steering wheel simply drop into your hand.
This all works by the two parts of the quick release interlocking as you lower the steering wheel onto the wheel base. Then, the quick release fully engages when you release the lever as this locks the wheel in place.
Once mounted, there is literally zero movement or give between the steering wheel and wheel base. This quick release has performed perfectly every time I’ve used the Forte wheel, and it is quite honestly the best quick release I’ve used.
The main downside of this design is the addition of the large lever on the top of the quick release. I touched on this earlier, but this lever can be seen while racing and it just looks a bit awkward and in the way. It doesn’t help that the lever is finished in a shiny copper material so your eye is naturally drawn to it.
This is the one downside of what is an incredibly impressive quick release design. If Asetek could make this lever smaller or less intrusive while racing, it’d be absolute perfection.
The ergonomics, much like many parts of this Asetek wheel are incredibly good. I’ve spoken about the performance of the buttons and other inputs while racing already, and just how easy things are to access. But I need to touch on the hand grips.
The hand grips are designed to really allow your fingers and thumbs to mould around them, and they do just that. There are channels and grooves across where your thumb and fingers go which make it very easy to keep a good grip on the wheel, even when used with the high-powered direct drive wheel bases that Asetek offer.
I can’t speak for everybody, but the hand grips are perfectly sized for my hands, but I’d imagine those with larger thumbs may find the cutout channels a little uncomfy. However, Asetek does mention some XL hand grips which can be installed for those with different grip preferences.
I also want to touch on the positioning of the clutch paddles, as during use, I found them awkward to use. You’ll see here that the shifter paddles are quite large and allow me to place all four fingers on each paddle if needed.
However, this leads to me being out of position to press the clutch paddles with my lower two fingers. For me to activate either clutch, I have to completely move my hand position down the wheel and really extend my fingers. This is both uncomfortable and awkward.
It would have been much better for the overall usability and ergonomics if the shifter paddles were a little smaller, and the dual clutch paddles slightly higher up.
In terms of compatibility, there isn’t too much to say at the moment. This Forte wheel works with all three wheel bases that Asetek currently offer from the La Prima up to the Invicta. Despite looking similar to the Simucube quick release, the Forte’s quick release can’t be used on a Simucube wheel base, but who knows what will happen in the future.
Should you buy the Asetek Forte Formula Wheel?
So with everything said and done, it leads onto the question of whether you should consider this steering wheel and would I recommend it? Well, I have to say I would certainly recommend it for those looking for a mid to high-end steering wheel.
There are certainly some areas where corners have been cut in order to keep the price down such as the use of plastic on the encoders, and the lack of metal or carbon on the shifters. And I don’t fully agree with some small design decisions such as the large quick release lever.
But in terms of raw performance, along with the sheer amount of inputs, the fantastic build quality and the outstandingly easy-to-use quick release, the Asetek Forte Formula wheel gets a huge recommendation from me.