Sparco Evolve Racing Cockpit – First Official Review by AussieStig
Back in December 2016, the Italian Sparco S.p.A company who are one of the world’s leading high-quality motorsport equipment manufacturers officially announced that they were setting up their own Sparco Gaming Division. The new sub-brand will develop sim racing products for both the casual and experienced user.
Good friend and Bsimracing regular, Mark Puc AKA AussieStig had the opportunity to be the first Sim Racer to officially review the new Sparco ‘’Evolve’’ Racing Simulator cockpit. We are very proud that Mark selected the humble Bsimracing website to present his in-depth product review.
The Sparco ‘’Evolve’’ Simulator:
By AussieStig – 05-05-2017
One of the most well-known racing brands in the world has decided to dive into the sim racing market, introducing a handful of gaming chairs, sim racing apparel and the ‘’Evolve’’ sim-racing chassis! I am very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to produce this first official review of their new simulator.
The Evolve chassis has been here for around six weeks now and what follows is a chronicle of my time with it. First off, the rather large box (which tipped the scales at 42 kg or 92,5 lbs) arrived by courier on a wooden Euro pallet. Its mass required the delivery bloke and myself to physically carry it from the truck to just inside my front door.
Once inside, I set about emptying the contents of the box and inspecting the various components. What struck me first was the care in which the individual pieces had been packaged. The carbon fibre seat was concealed in oversized bubble plastic, the chassis box contained packing materials in the form of polystyrene foam, along with foam bags for each component and packing peanuts. These effectively provided excellent protection during transit.
First inspection of the components:
On the first inspection, the main components showed no signs of chipping or damage to the high-quality satin-black and semi-gloss red finishes. In general, the finish was of a very good quality with no visible imperfections evident. All components depicted in the users manual were delivered with the simulator. The PDF user/instructions are currently in the Italian language only.
I assume there will be an appropriately translated version for each target market segment. The instructions were, for the most part, clear and concise with twenty-one pictorially depicted steps to
guide me through the assembly process. *Disclaimer: Since receiving the ‘’Evolve’’, some minor design changes have been made. These changes are mainly
cosmetic and consist of extra strategically placed Sparco branding, as well as a steering sub-assembly alteration and squaring off of the pedal deck’s leading or driver’s side edge.
What’s in the box and assembly:
Part of the excitement and anticipation of receiving any new sim racing rig is the prospect of unpacking and assembling it yourself and being able to tweak things to your personal taste. This is certainly true of Sparco’s efforts and they have allowed for a varied range of built in adjustability when designing the ‘’Evolve’’.
The simulator arrives semi-assembled, by that I mean the seat sliders are already mounted to the rear half of the frame. The rest of the separate components were easily recognizable when following the assembly instructions’ steps. In addition, there were several plastic bags containing all the nuts and bolts required to fasten everything together. Tip: If you are like me and want everything buttoned down as securely as possible, Sparco supplies enough bolts to substitute the hand-tightened knobs in key areas. I will elaborate more on this during the review.
Steps one to six begin with attaching the red mesh rosters to the front and rear frame sections, screwing the adjustable feet to the frame’s undersides and fitting the hinging system. Step six has the two halves of the simulator being attached at its hinging point making the frame whole.
Steps seven to nine call for securing the front and rear frame sections with hand-tightened knobs or bolts and the steering support sections to be attached to the main chassis.
At this point, the simulator has taken on its maximum width of 700 mm or 2 ft 3 inches.
The total length of the frame including mounted seat and pedal deck when adjusted to their maximum settings is 1620 mm or 5 ft 3 inches. The height of the seat when mounted can vary, but with it mounted in the highest adjustment holes, it is 995 mm or 3 ft 2 inches tall.
On to steps ten to fifteen, these steps concentrate on the wheel deck sub-assembly and attaching it to the steering supports. The steering sub-assembly comprises a total of three pieces which allow for height, rake and reach adjustments when mounting your sim racing wheel of choice. The major manufacturers are obviously all catered for
with pre-drilled hard-mount holes in the wheel deck itself.
Tip: When mounting your wheel, it is easier to mount the separate wheel deck plate to the underside of your wheel first, subsequently positioning the wheel deck and wheelbase on the already attached wheel deck sub-assembly.
Steps sixteen to eighteen concentrate on the pedal deck sub-assembly and mobility-wheels. The process is similar to the wheel deck sub-assembly. This time, there are only two pieces to be attached to the factory-welded pedal bracket located at the very front of the frame. The two small wheels are for easily transporting the rig when you wish to store or move it elsewhere in your home.
Tip 1: I substituted all the required hand-tightened knobs for nuts and bolts. Personally, I have no problem getting down on my hands and knees to adjust the pedal deck with an allen-key and spanner. Most owners will only need to adjust their rigs a handful of times anyway, so the extra secureness of using nuts and bolts is a definite advantage in my opinion.
Tip 2: Be sure when using the supplied stability legs/feet for the front of the pedal deck, the bolts or hand-tightened knobs are seated at the bottom of the hole they protrude through. The difference between the underside of the feet and the floor surface can be adjusted using the two locking nuts that secure the feet to the legs. Make sure to give the feet some positive adjustment, meaning the feet raise the front of the simulator by one or two millimeters.
After approximately two hours assembly time we come to the final steps, nineteen to twenty-one. These steps cover fitting the seat brackets and carbon fibre seat to the almost completed simulator. The seat mounting brackets offer pre-drilled holes for height and rake adjustments.
As the brackets are attached to the pre-assembled seat sliders, this also covers the fore and aft adjustment of the one piece seat. Note: There are two extra threaded lugs welded to the inside of each seat bracket, these lugs will facilitate the attaching of future add-ons such as a shifter and handbrake mount to the ‘’Evolve’s’’ chassis.
Fully assembled ‘’Evolve’’ simulator
Mentioned in the disclaimer at the outset of this review, there have been several minor changes to the Evolve’s final iteration. Most of these are cosmetic / strategically placed Sparco branding logos. There are however, physical changes to the steering wheel mounting sub-assembly and pedal deck.
Pictured left is the Evolve’s steering wheel sub-assembly as I have been testing it. Pictured right is the final iteration. The main differences are the ‘’S’’ logos on the hand-tightened knobs and holes in place of the ‘’C’’ shaped groove.
Pictured left is the Evolve’s pedal deck plate as I have been testing it. Pictured right is the final iteration. The main difference is the squared off driver’s side edge and an extra metal fold (not visible here) on the underside of the driver’s side edge.
Sparco has stated that their simulator has been designed using Humanetics® which guarantees that drivers up to the 95th percentile will be able to achieve a comfortable immersive driving position. To aid in this, the one piece real carbon fibre monocoque seat has been designed with removable padding.
The standard measurement between the removable side seat pads is 360 mm or 1 ft 2 inches. Removing these two pads adds 60 mm or 2.4 inches of width to the seat. Head, shoulder and seat pads are all removable, these pads are fastened to the soft breathable black seat fabric by means of very strong velcro strips.
Once the driving controls are mounted to the simulator, what you are left with is very close to a true GT driving position. The minimalist design offers excellent entry and exit access without having to contort your body when getting in and out of the cockpit. Sparco will be supplying some velcro straps for cable management as there are no provisions for concealing your peripherals’ cables. I utilized some black tie-rips, which do the job adequately.
Achieving a very good driving position for myself was quite easy and required minimum effort to adjust things to my liking. My adjustments were as follows:
- The seat is mounted in its lowest position.
- The wheel sub-assembly is set to its highest position with one hole lower on the driver’s side, thus allowing for the angle of the Thrustmaster TS-PC racer wheelbase.
- The pedal deck is set in a flat position, the Fanatec CSP v3s have the racing pedal faces as near to vertical as possible.
- Under-thigh seat padding removed, all other padding remains in place.
Very close to a true GT seating position
What’s it like to drive, mate?
As I mentioned earlier, I adjusted the simulator to how I like to drive. The result is an extremely comfortable seating position, one which belies the one piece seat’s rigid design. Many simulator manufacturers steer away from one piece seats, mainly because they are non-adjustable/reclinable. Sparco’s extensive racing pedigree is borne out in this seat, for me it is supremely comfortable to sit in. The seat is a snug fit and holds my lower body firmly in place.
In terms of frame rigidity, the chassis is torsionally stiff with zero movement. The steering support, wheel, and pedal decks offer stable foundations for your peripherals of choice, with no perceptible movement. Although depending on how strong your wheelbase and pedals are, you may experience minimal movement. I have the TS-PC Racer and CSP v3s settings quite strong, this results in around one to two millimeters of movement whilst sim racing.
The carbon fibre seat offers good support and like any seat, it does ‘give’ slightly with your body while sim racing. The wheel and pedal positions are very good, offering optimal immersion either using monitor(s) or in my case, VR. Actually, if you are using monitor(s), the ‘’Evolve’s’’ design allows you to literally place the screen mounted on a stand right up against the rear of your sim racing wheel! This is not the case with some of the other static simulators available on the market today.
Driving in the simulator, its relatively small footprint is not an issue. It is quite stable in all situations and reflects the thought and care that Sparco has invested in producing a simulator that accommodates so many differing body types while also fitting into the smallest of spaces. The biggest plus point for me is the GT-style driving position and how I am able to interact with the ‘’Evolve’’ in an immersive way. In VR, I feel just as at home in a GT as I do in a Formula car, this simulator offers a level of stability, comfort, and utility for almost all types of sim racing.
The retail price is fixed as of this moment, there are no add-ons available for the ‘’Evolve’’ although I believe there will be a shifter mount released at some point in the near future.
Price for the ‘’Evolve’’ as tested is €1390,00 including VAT in Europe. For additional pricing, delivery and shipping information please consult the Sparco Gaming website.
- Compact minimalist design.
- Good stability.
- Lightweight construction.
- Real carbon fibre seat.
- Good adjustability.
- Close to a true GT seating position.
- Accommodates almost any user.
- High quality finish to all components.
- Sparco quality throughout.
- Foldable frame – easy storage.
- Easy cockpit entry and exit.
- Removable seat padding.
- Side seat pads removed = extra 6 cm or 2.4 inches of seat width.
- Adjustable feet.
- Cool red / black color scheme.
- Clear PDF instructions.
- Allows for most control combos.
- Price point.
- No shifter or handbrake mount included. Shifter and handbrake mount will be released within a month or two.
- Cable management could be better.
- Compact design may be seen as unsubstantial.
- Hand-tightened knobs might work loose over time.
Final thoughts and Conclusions:
The elephant in the room will always be price and perceived value for money. Obviously, the inclusion of a real carbon fibre seat has a knock-on effect on the price point. Some prospective owners of the ‘’Evolve’’ may see it as a huge plus and others may see such a seat as nothing more than an unnecessary extra. Personally, I think the ‘’Evolve’s’’ real carbon fibre seat construction is a definite winner and is in keeping with the quality of the rest of the materials used in its construction.
The big question is, ‘’Is it worth the €1390,00 price tag?’’ My answer is ambiguous, as it is dependent on several key factors when deciding on purchasing an off the shelf simulator. Factors such as budget, available space, flexibility, and finish dictate what someone is willing to invest in a simulator set up. That said, Sparco has made a very solid entry into the sim racing market, regardless of the retail price.
There is always room for improvement, cable management could be better thought through, binding any cables to the frame requires tie-rips at a minimum. Sparco has told me there will be some Sparco branded velcro straps included with the simulator. A shifter or handbrake mount are, at this moment, not available for the ‘’Evolve’’. However, I am told there will be a shifter and handbrake mount released within a month or two of this review being published.
I have also learned, that a dedicated monitor mount is also in the works and has the same tentative timeline as the shifter and handbrake mounts. Sparco has produced a compact, comfortable, no-nonsense simulator which ticks many of the boxes on my immersion scale. The practical minimalistic approach conceals many fine details that will not be lost on people looking for a stable and flexible simulator with an extremely small footprint. Sure, not everyone will share Sparco’s vision of what a simulator should be, and that is absolutely fine. For me, Sparco has achieved a very clean design and executed it using high-quality materials and finishes.
signing off, Mark Puc aka AussieStig
I hope you enjoyed the review. For more AussieStig articles and videos, check out Bsimracing and the AussieStig YouTube Channel.
Official Webpage – www.sparco.it