One of the greatest perks of simulation racing is the huge variety of products racers can choose from according to their budget, setup (PC/Console), peripherals, and racing games. However, when it comes to the core for your modular steering wheel, we recommend you spare no expense and opt for the best available options in the market, such as the Fanatec Podium Hub, which we’ll review in this post.
So, keep reading if you’re looking to build or customize your simulation rig’s modular steering wheel system.
Fanatec is among the leading sim racing brands in the market that have made a name for building enthusiast-grade racing simulation hardware using the best materials and technologies, enabling sim racers of all levels and budgets to improve their performance.
The German brand develops force feedback steering wheels, controllers, pedals, connecting accessories, and high-end cockpits for PC, Xbox, and PlayStation.
The Fanatec Podium Hub Sim Racing Wheel Adapter – An Overview
Costing around $200, the Podium Hub Sim Racing Wheel Adapter may not be the best option for beginners. However, it’s well worth the price for savvy sim racers with years of experience, considering the benefits it offers. However, it is important to understand what this core component does before we dive deeper into how it works, its features, and its comparison with other options in the market.
The Podium Hub is the relay component between your rim and your wheelbase’s quick release mechanism. If you like, you can also use it to connect button clusters or cluster packs wheel plates via a USB Type-C connection, such as the Fanatec Endurance Module. This product has been designed as an attack solution for connecting Fanatec/third-party rims and third-party USB wheels. However, it doesn’t come with any shifters or buttons, so you’ll need to purchase them.
Moreover, the Podium Hub is compatible with PC and PlayStation, so if you’re an Xbox user, you should consider an alternative, such as ClubSport Universal Hub. In short, this wheel adapter is an upgraded version of the ClubSport quick-release system that can accept third-party aftermarket rims thanks to a 60x70mm and 3x50mm bolt pattern.
This alone should entice most savvy sim racers to give the Podium Hub a shot. However, there’s more. The adapter comes with a removable cover that allows users to access different plugs to attach the Podium Advanced Paddle Module. You’ll also find two plugs for the button clusters and the USB C port for the Podium Button Module Endurance.
If you’re in the market looking for a hub that looks as good as it performs, you can’t go wrong with Fanatec. The hub features a Gold monocoque frame blended with a deep black inner body – almost like Bumblebee from Transformers dropped one of its parts. It weighs around 1.25 pounds, which might be on the lighter side for many advanced racers, but it doesn’t affect its performance in any way. Plus, when you attach the other components, it balances out perfectly.
So, if you’re intrigued by this wheel adapter but want to learn more, let’s dive deeper into its design and features.
Sturdy Aluminum Monocoque Design
Monocoque is structural technique manufacturers use for weight-sensitive components, such as a vehicle or airplane parts. This type of construction includes a thin membrane or shell of material like aluminum, which gives the component a lower center of gravity and facilitates better handling.
When it comes to the podium hub, the aluminum monocoque construction makes it extremely lightweight and visually stunning. At the same time, Fanatec made the central hub from a single piece of anodized aluminum for maximum strength and durability.
High-Performance Central Core
Advanced RISC Machine (ARM) processors generally work better in smaller, power-conscious devices or electronic components. They have a much simpler architecture than Intel processors and are often more compact. The Fanatec Podium Hub includes a dedicated ARM processor that supports 10 buttons, axes, and dual 16-bit resolution analog inputs.
Moreover, the adapter’s firmware can be upgraded to support future attachments. Furthermore, thanks to DataPort-C, users can attach more displays and buttons to customize their wheels further. The biggest advantage of the ARM processor is that it facilitates Force Feedback which can make you go faster.
The most notable advantage of opting for the Fanatec Podium Hub is its ability to mount a variety of steering wheels, modular components, platforms, and accessories from Fanatec and third-party manufacturers.
The Podium hub is compatible with Windows PC as long as users can meet the minimum specs requirements to support simulation racing hardware. For instance, the GPU should have 2GB RAM (ideally 4GB and above) and a minimum boost clock speed of 1400 MHz (ideally 1550 MHz or above).
As for the CPU, most sim racers recommend a minimum of 2.5 GHz processing power when starting. Meanwhile, Fanatec recommends 3.5 GHz and above for better performance, along with 8 or 16 GB RAM. Of course, other aspects are to consider, such as storage, cooling, and ports. However, these are secondary.
Nonetheless, these specs will play a crucial role in determining the type of sim racing hardware your PC can support and dictate the ease of installation and overall experience.
- PlayStation 4 and 5
Playstation 4 and 5 are the market’s most dominant sim racing consoles, especially for beginners looking for a more cost-effective solution to play games, such as Assetto Corsa or Gran Turismo.
The Fanatec Podium Hub is an officially-licensed PS4/PS5 product, meaning it will work seamlessly with both consoles and our peripherals. This makes it an excellent choice for console racers looking to incorporate direct drive into their gameplay and improve their overall experience with sharper, more precise turns and rotations.
Note: The functionality of this hub may vary according to your console’s firmware, OS changes, and developer support.
- Podium Wheel Base DD1, DD1 PS4, and DD2
These are fully-certified plug-and-play direct drive wheelbases from Fanatec designed to amplify the driving experience using high-quality integrated electronics within the housing. The DD1 PS4 is officially licensed by Formula 1 and perfectly combines Fanatec’s sim racing hardware experience and Direct Drive Technology with Sony Interactive Entertainment.
The DD2, in contrast, is a newer, more comfortable version with more peak torque that adds a few extras, such as a killswitch and extra warranty.
- ClubSport Wheel Base V2 and V2.5
The ClubSport Wheel Base V2 and V2.5 are both tabletop mount, plug-and-play wheelbases featuring a quick release system that enables users to change steering wheels within seconds. The V2 is an older version that suits racers with a modest budget.
However, suppose money isn’t a problem. In that case, the V2.5 offers a more lethal combination with the Fanatec Podium Hub, thanks to its new and improved brushless servo motor that enables more powerful force feedback. Moreover, this wheelbase features an advanced drift mode with more resistance thanks to a negative damper that minimizes wheel oscillations.
- CSL Elite Wheel Base, Wheel Base V1.1, and PS4-Licensed Wheel Base +-
The CSL Elite Wheel Base is one of Fanatec’s oldest wheelbases compatible with PC and PS4. Although the product has been discontinued, it’s compatible with the Podium Hub. Hence, you don’t need to upgrade your wheelbase to connect the hub if you have one.
Similarly, the CSL Elite Wheel Base V1.1 packs the same ClubSport technology but delivers more advanced force feedback via a single belt drive and servo motor. This has been the go-to choice for many PC users due to its moderate price tag and cross-platform functionality (Xbox).
Hence, Fanatec strategically designed Podium Hub to support all three versions, including the PS4-licensed CSL Elite Wheel Base. This exclusive design has been upgraded with full metal shifters, load cell pedals, ultra-low cogging for better force feedback sensation, and DirectSensor technology for minimum disturbance. s
- CSL DD Wheel Base
The CSL DD Wheel Base is one of Fanatec’s best-selling wheelbases due to its stunning design and performance. Its more advanced direct drive technology enables self-aligning torque which makes everything feel more real. You can enjoy crispier and more dynamic force feedback. Thus, this product appeals to professional drivers or sim racing enthusiasts looking for the best options in every aspect of their rigs.
Note: Before you opt for this wheelbase, you should know that it only supports Fanatec Podium Steering Wheels. Hence, we recommend opting for the Podium R300, which includes this powerful hub.
- Gran Turismo DD Pro Wheel Base
Fanatec’s Grand Turismo DD Pro Wheel Base is one of the brand’s most advanced wheelbases for PlayStation 5. It features a new generation of direct drive technology with no belt or gear drive to dilute the force feedback effects. It also includes a powerful 180W power supply to maximize the 100% custom motor’s performance.
Furthermore, it features an advanced tuning menu, using which racers can fine-tune the force feedback’s mechanical feel, strength, and smoothness. However, the menu isn’t accessible without an optional button module, which is where the Podium Hub comes in.
Note: Users cannot access the Tuning Menu via the Fanatec software if they’re using any discontinued bases, such as the ClubSport V2 or CSL Elite V1. The menu can only be accessed using a compatible display or button module that you can connect to the Podium Hub. Thus, another benefit of using the Podium Hub is to continue using outdated hardware models.
Several wheel rims are compatible with the Fanatec Podium Hub as long as they have 6-hole or 3-hole mount patterns. This includes popular brands, such as Sparco, Momo, and OMP Racing, to name a few. However, before you buy any wheel, we recommend checking the compatibility with the manufacturer. Our top picks include:
- Simucube’s Tahko GT-21 Steering Wheel
- OMP Racing WRC Steering Wheel
- Cube Controls GT Cube Pro Wheel
- OMP Racing Quadro Formula Steering Wheel (Undrilled Holes)
- Ascher Racing L Button Plate & Wheel Kit, etc.
Another great feature of Fanatec’s Podium Hub is that it supports a variety of high-end accessories that can add more functionality to your fingertips and improve the overall racing experience.
- Podium Advanced Paddle Module
The Podium Advanced Paddle Module by Fanatec is the company’s ultimate upgrade for sim racing rigs with paddle shifters or levers. It features automotive-quality Hall sensors and magnetic shifters made of carbon fiber placed on a CNC-machined aluminum cage.
This module is the go-to choice for racers looking to try different paddle modes – F1-style clutch bite point mode, mappable axis mode, brake/throttle mode, and clutch/handbrake mode. One of the key reasons to combine this module with the Podium Hub is the ease of mounting. Plus, if you opt for the Podium R300 Steering Wheel, you get the hub and module included in the package.
Here’s a quick guide to mounting shifter paddles on the Podium Hub:
- Using the Allen key provided in the package, you need to remove the three central M5 bolts in the front to remove the cover.
- Once the cover is off, you can attach the Podium Advanced Paddle Module from both ends (right and left) using the M5x16 bolts.
- Avoid over-tightening the bolts to avoid damage to the hull.
- Next, connect the P APM cables to the correct sockets to power the module.
- Finally, place the front cover in its original position while making sure you position the cables away from it to avoid damage.
- Tighten the three bolts you unscrewed earlier, and you’re all set.
- ClubSport Magnetic Paddle Module
Fanatec’s ClubSport Magnetic Paddle Module is another popular option for many sim racers as it provides the most authentic real-world shifting feel. Moreover, it uses the same connection as the Podium Advanced Paddle Module, meaning you can connect it with the Podium Hub seamlessly.
This module uses powerful magnets instead of springs for rapid shifting and quieter operation. Moreover, since this technology is used by real-world F1 and GT cars, most sim racing enthusiasts use it to amplify their immersion experience.
- ClubSport Button Cluster Pack
No Fanatec modular steering wheel system is complete without high-quality button clusters. These adjustable, 2 x clusters with 3 buttons each can be aligned and adjusted anywhere on the front rails of the Podium Hub according to your position preferences and functionality settings. Plus, they’re incredibly versatile, meaning they can go with a variety of rim shapes and sizes.
- QR1 Wheel-Side
Also known as ClubSport’s Quick Release Adapter, the QR1 Wheel-Side is a full aluminum body adapter that allows sim racers to quickly change steering wheels from their setup without disassembly. This product is supported by all Podium Hub-based wheels in the market and offers automotive-grade performance through a ball lock mechanism combined with a torque notch.
This clever combination achieves a more stable and reliable connection between the wheel and wheelbase. Users can also use a bolt to fix their steering wheels if they want to use the same wheel for both F1 and GT-style sim racing titles.
However, if you do opt for this accessory, you can enjoy optimal balance in the release mechanism thanks to a rigid steel spring which ensures quick exchange and seamless connection.
Non-Fanatec Wheels Compatibility and Support
One of the biggest problems with Fanatec hardware is that the force feedback doesn’t work if your wheelbase cannot detect the non-Fanatec wheel connected to it. If this happens, you should receive an error saying – “We’re not sure the wheel is connected properly, so we’re not turning on forced feedback for safety reasons.”
On the surface, this looks like a built-in mechanism to limit the number of compatible wheels so they can protect their own wheel sales revenue. However, many users suggest that this isn’t an intended restriction but a component issue. This is where Fanatec Podium Hub comes in to offer a viable solution for savvy sim racing enthusiasts looking for a cost-effective workaround to this problem.
How to Build A Wheel With the Fanatec Podium Hub
If you’re intrigued by the prospect of building a wheel with the Fanatec Podium Hub, we’ve put together a sample assembly featuring the basic components – the wheelbase, two-button modules, and wheel rim. You can opt for a variety of compatible components and accessories of your choice.
A typical Fanatec Podium Hub package includes the following items:
- The Podium Hub
- 2 mm Allen key
- Safety Bolts
- A Quick Guide
Note: The QR1 Wheel-Side (ClubSport Quick-Release Adapter) will be packaged separately, so make sure you check for two packages.
Next, place each component front and center and start by removing the protective cover. For the assembly, all you’ll need is the Allen key. The rest of the work involves careful positioning and wire connections. So, let’s get right into it:
The QR1 Wheel-Side
The ClubSport Quick-Release Adapter is the easiest component to install. All you need to do is remove the hub’s protective cover and line the adapter up with it. This should be fairly easy, considering the adapter will only go one way. Next, you’ll need to fit the screws and washers and tighten everything.
Tip: Start by screwing two opposite ends so you can use both hands to place and tighten the remaining screws.
Podium Paddle Module
Once you’ve connected the adapter, you can move on to attaching the paddle module. This process may vary according to the wheel you’re using. For instance, if you’re using the Podium R300 Steering Wheel, you’ll need bigger carbon plates for the paddle module to make a smaller inner and a larger outer paddle.
Once you’ve assembled the paddle shifters, the next step is to expose the PCB (the hub’s brain) to expose the button headers and panels. Carefully screw the plates according to your wheel position, so you don’t have any issues during the assembly.
The Button Clusters
To attach the button clusters, all you need to do is plug them into the button headers and put the plastic plate on. As simple as this sounds, it can become unnecessarily complicated when fitting all the cables into the plastic front. You can also do some cable threading to pass the cables through the plate to reduce clutter and make it more visually appealing.
Furthermore, when screwing the panel back on, make sure you use your fingers to keep the wires as far away from the holes as possible. The last thing you want to do is screw down on them and damage your components. The best way to do this is to push the wires down and screw two screws and then push them up before placing and screwing the final screw.
The Wheel Rim
Finally, it’s time to attach the wheel rim of your choice or the one that comes with the R300. Carefully place the six screws around and tighten them accordingly. Once it’s fixed, you should also double-check the button modules and make sure they’re tight, so they don’t move across the plate as the steering wheel rotates. From there, your modular steering wheel system using the Podium Hub should be ready to go.
Fanatec Podium Hub Alternatives
When it comes to steering wheel adapters, the options are quite limited in the market. This is mainly because these components are typically sought out by experienced or professional sim racers looking for custom build solutions. Here are our top two picks of the best Fanatec Podium Alternatives in the market today:
The SRM Fanatec Emulator
If you’re a PC user looking for a solution to activate Force Feedback or high torque on an unsupported wheel, the SRM Fanatec Emulator is a cheaper alternative to the Fanatec Podium Hub. While this device may not serve the same core functions as a steering wheel adapter, it makes Fanatec wheelbases think that a Fanatec wheel rim is attached. Hence, you don’t have to buy the Podium Hub to support the third-party wheel.
This powerful emulating device comes with male pins, which you can attach and connect to a Fanatec wheelbase using 6x M5 16mm Countersunk bolts and a male pin plug. Moreover, you’ll need a Fanatec Quick Release Adapter to use this emulator. Otherwise, you won’t be able to attach it to the wheelbase. To sum up, this is merely a DIY solution to activate Force Feedback and may not work for everyone.
ClubSport Universal Hub V2
If you’re looking for a simpler solution to connect any wheel rim to your wheelbase, the ClubSport Universal Hub V2 is a complete product featuring a host of components, including:
- Universal Hub
- LED Display Unit
- Button Cluster and Lever
- QR1 Wheel-Side (ClubSport Quick Release Adapter)
- FunkySwitch Unit and Lever
- Small and Big Shifter Paddles
As you can see, it offers a lot of components the Podium Hub doesn’t. However, it costs over 1.5 times its price (nearly $350). So, you can perform a cost-value analysis and decide which one offers a better solution for your use case.
With the ClubSport Universal Hub V2 features, you can attach any compatible wheel rim using the threaded holes in 6×70 mm or 3×50 mm patterns. Therefore, any wheel that’s compatible with the Podium Hub (Momo, Sparco, OMP Racing, etc.) will work on it. Plus, you don’t have to spend extra on attachments, such as shifters and button clusters.
Furthermore, you can access the Tuning Menu using a dedicated button to refine your force feedback and other hardware settings without connecting to your PC.
So, you have an in-depth review of the Fanatec Podium Hub. With this information, you can decide whether or not it’s worth the purchase. For $200, we believe this powerful steering wheel adapter is worth every penny if you’re looking to customize every aspect of your modular steering wheel system while ensuring compatibility with any wheel rim on the market.
You’ve got plugs to connect the paddles, a USB Type-C port to connect the endurance module, and adjustable button clusters to place buttons as per your preference. Moreover, as seen above, the Podium Hub can help save money on wheel rim or base replacements.
For instance, if you buy a high-end Momo steering wheel rim, such as the Montecarlo or Indy Black, that’s not supported by your wheelbase, you can opt for the Fanatec Podium Hub if you have every other component in place. This is a more cost-effective than buying a new high-end compatible wheel rim or wheelbase.
Yes, the SRM emulator can work for this particular use case. However, since it doesn’t work for PS4/PS5 and isn’t a guaranteed solution, opting for the Podium Hub is a much safer bet. Overall, this steering wheel adapter is a great product for veteran racers looking to attach virtually any non-Fanatec wheel rims.