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FTS TC-R1 Review

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Let me start with saying that this is my first and last sim chassis that I will ever have to purchase. When I say last, I mean it is the positive sense that I will never have to purchase another static sim chassis as long as I live for the fact that the Fast Track Sims TC-R1 chassis is really built to last. I personally come from a mechanical background so I can appreciate this unit from an engineering point of view.

Ever since I started sim racing years and years ago, I have always admired those who went to the effort of setting up a purpose built sim racing “rig”, and I seriously never thought that I would I would have the need or desire to purchase one for myself as I had been racing on a pretty substantial office class full wrap around computer desk and another thing that deterred me was that most that I have seen were not really any better than my current setup. I heard the concerns with other sim rigs on the built quality and the compromises that seemed to affect literally every one that I read about or read reviews on.

Then a couple of years ago, I picked up some racing shoes from Fast Track Sims as I needed a set to deal with the pressure required to make the brakes work on the CST pedal system I purchased. I noticed some of the prototype chassis’ that Mark had started to create, but these were in there infancy at that point and kind of forgot about them until I saw the thread on iRacing forums and when I saw where he was with the design of the chassis a year and a bit later, I was like ‘wow’ that really has evolved from what I had previously seen.

I started researching the TC-R1 chassis and in all the reviews that I had come across there was nothing but positive other than price. But I am a true believer in “you get what you pay for” and although it seemed like a premium price to pay for the TC-R1, the build quality, adjust-ability and ability for Mark to custom design certain aspects and accessories where to deciding factors that pushed me over the edge to trade in the old computer desk for a “real deal” purpose built sim racing chassis.
I use the word chassis versus rig, because every time I climb in and out of the TC-R1 it is just like climbing out of my racing kart, and the built quality is that of a real racing car. Everything about this unit breathes robust high end built quality and attention to detail.

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Chassis:
Well after about three months of use, I have no regrets spending the money on the TC-R1 chassis. It has transformed the sim racing experience completely from my old computer desk setup. Amazingly the thing I notice the most is that I can remain focused and laps are far more consistent since racing in this chassis.

The chassis is solidly built, no wheel flex, no brake flex. Everything is adjustable so I was able to setup the chassis with five monitors, three 30” Dells and a 21” running iSpeed, 23” touch screen monitor running system status indicators and a custom designed multi-screen touch screen button box, and tablet running Dashmeter Pro all to my liking.

Mark custom built the over slung monitor stand specifically for the Dell 3011 monitors. The monitors are about 24 pounds each, but the stand is so well built that there is zero sag. The cockpit with these monitors fully encloses me and I use the left monitor like a car door that I have to swing open to enter and exit the TC-R1 cockpit. There is plenty of adjustment fore and aft, up and down so that you would be hard pressed not to be able to adjust the monitors to exactly your personal preference. All the monitor support mount points to the main chassis are all isolated with anti-vibration mounts which would be a real plus for anyone running Buttkickers or Dbox setups on the chassis.

All the hardware which was separately bagged for each of the parts and modules of the chassis were all clearly marked which made assembly of the chassis a breeze. All the hardware is top quality. All the various accessory monitor arms are more than strong enough to support anything you would wish to attach to them. It appears that Mark went to great lengths to make sure that all the hardware fasteners were the precise length for all the various fittings and mounts. Most all the nuts and bolts were the exact length for the fittings and mounts provided.

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The adjustable wheel platform allows perfect positioning of the Club Sport steering wheel as well as the brake mounts allow for perfect positioning left and right, fore and aft. I was also able to adjust the brake and clutch face up about an inch from the stock height to allow perfect placement of the pedal faces for my size 14 shoes. I was able to adjust my brake/throttle pedal spacing horizontally to exactly where I have always wished it would have been with every other pedal system I had previously owned. With all the various adjustment available in basically every aspect of this chassis I would find it hard to believe that anyone could not setup their chassis exactly to their liking. I took a few days to get everything setup to my basic liking and then about another two weeks to tweak everything into perfection. I was not that I was spending every minute adjusting, it was more like I would run a few races and think about how something could have been here instead of there and with this setup I was able to find the “here” spot every time.

I was worried at first whether the chassis would be big enough for my 6'5" frame and Mark reassured me on numerous occasions that it would fit me fine, but after setting everything up, this chassis could easily fit a 6'11" driver with no issues. I would recommend purchasing the adjustable seat sliders as I can set my seat to the exact distance from the wheel and pedals depending if I am running oval or road. My seating is slightly different for both oval and road as I like to be about a inch closer for road racing as braking becomes as important as the throttle in that discipline. Oval racing from me is much more relaxed and braking at least most cases in the IndyCar oval only really comes into play one or two times a race. The seat sliders also allow for ease of entry and exit from the chassis. Having raced myself for about eight years, it really feels like you are climbing in and out of you race car. I just love it! It certainly adds to the immersion factor.

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Brakes & Throttle:
After having used G25, TR500, Clubsport V1, Clubsport V2, CST GT-3B pedals, I must say that the Wilwood/Joe's Racing brake and throttle setup is the best that I have used to date. The throttle linkage system that Mark has developed is so customizable and adjustable I can't see anyone have a problem getting it setup to their exact liking. With the linkage system the pedal movement is so very smooth and natural and the automotive grade potentiometer that has about 3000 points of resolution the way I have it setup, which provides the best throttle pedal feel that I have experienced to date.

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With the Joes Racing pedal and Marks linkage system you can adjust the pedal face tilt forward and back to virtually and degree that you desire, as well you can adjust the pedal swing throw from 1-5 inches. I have set mine for a slightly farther throw than I had used in any previous pedal setup I have owned and it allows for a smoother more progressive application of the throttle which certainly is a big help with the Dallara IndyCar’s hair trigger throttle. Throttle return spring can be set for any tension you desire, with solid mechanical stops for forward and return motion of the pedal. After that just calibrate and forget about it as it will not change.

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The brakes are simply the best that I have experienced. The CST load cell pedals that I was previously using were very nice with the stiff brake pedal setup, but cannot hold a candle to the feel and repeatability of this hydraulic braking/clutch system. Once I dialed them in with the brake bias adjuster and slave cylinder dampeners I was able to set it up for exactly the brake feel I was looking for. You can adjust them to whatever feel you prefer, whether it is soft or hard or anywhere in between. My threshold braking is second to none now in the Dallara IndyCar. I can drive about 5-10% deeper into the corners in a testing at Road America. This is a large improvement for me allowing me to run my previous qualifying lap times with full race fuel. I am impressed! Even racing the iRacing BMW my braking is consistent lap after lap. I am watching the competitors in front and watching their braking mark as this car has brake lights, some are starting their braking at the 100 sign were as I am braking at the 50 sign as making up ground on them in every braking zone. Until you experience this yourself it is hard to believe but it is almost like a machine in consistency. I have had this feeling several times before with the CST load cell system, but I now have this consistent feel every time I racing with this hydraulic system. I apply on average about 350-400 pounds of internal brake pressure according the brake pressure gauges, so given the 5:1 ratio of the Wilwood brake pedal linkage, I am applying 70-80 pounds of actual force. You can dial this harder or softer by changing slave cylinder bump rubbers or adjusting the brake bias dial.

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The pedal swing arms have adjustment rods ahead of the master cylinders so that the pedals faces on the clutch and brake can be adjusted forward or backwards, so that you can independently offset the pedal faces if you so desire.
The Wilwood braking and Joe’s Racing throttle system just feels so natural, and with the brakes once you go hydraulic there is no going back! It is really what I have been searching for in terms of pedal control for all the time I have been sim racing. How could it get any more real than using the real thing?

Accessories:
The mounting hardware for all the accessories on the TC-R1 chassis is well designed and very strong and should easily hold up to daily use with ease. The articulating arms for my Samsung tablet and 23” HP touch screen monitor are so strong that you would swear that they are mounted to a desk or table. It is really up to your imagination on what you can add to the chassis to help facilitate your sim driving experience. Mark supplied me with a special tablet holder mount, in which I just slide my Samsung tablet under a couple of tabs in the mount. It is nice because I can just unplug the tablet power cord and remove it in seconds for when I need the tablet of other things. Shifter mount, mouse pad, keyboard tray, and button box mounts are also included.

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Since I am running a touch screen based button box, I ended up using this mount to support my overhead air cooling system tubing and since I will not be running a shifter as I prefer my paddle shifters for quickness and convenience I ended up using the shifter mount to accommodate my collapsible drink cup holder which I placed for ease of access during the race.
I opted for the Bimarco Futura seat after reading several reviews on it. It is a very reasonably priced seat for FIA homologated race seat and also had available custom mounting brackets which fit the pre-mounted seat mounting screws. The seat is firm yet very comfortable and was put to the test during the iRacing Indy 500 and ISOWC’s Iowa 300 in which both races lasted about two and half hours plus practice before each race. I found this Bimarco Futura seat more comfortable than sitting in my Ford FX4 F150 seat for the same amount of time.

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As other reviewers may have mentioned it is hard to find any faults with the TC-R1 chassis, especially with Mark’s ability and willingness to listen to concerns and the ability for him to customize just for you to your exact liking.
If you can call it a con, the price is premium compared to some other sim rig offerings out there, but once again you do really get what you pay for with this, and really for comparison sake, you cannot really compare the others because this TC-R1 chassis is really in a class of its own. If you can afford it I would not hesitate to recommend this to anyone who really wants to buy their last sim chassis. It is really that good!

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Awesome review and an awesome chassis.  Probably will get one soon. Two questions:  what size monitors are you running? I was thinking about running three 50 or 55" monitors.  I'm sure they could custom build the chassis to accommodate this monitor size. and....have you ever tried the Heusinkveld Engineering pedal set - very high end with great reviews from isrtv, "the best they've ever tested"? Wondering how they would compare to the pedal set ur running in the TCR1 chassis. Thanks for your input!

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The monitors are Dell 3007 30". Fast track sims builds custom monitor stands for 60" screens if you need. There is a guy in Australia running a triple 52" inch setup. A friend of mine just bought this chassis and he is running triple 40" screens.

 

I have seen those pedals on the Iracing forums. They look very well built, but I have not personally tried them. I believe they use load cell technology, the FTS pedal system is 100% hydraulic using Wilwood Race pedal components.

I have used CST load cell pedals and they were very good, but they just do not have the feel of hydraulic.

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Great review man...

 

I've been eyeing those TC-R1's for quite some time..but after watching these recent videos showcasing the lack of 'attention to detail'..I'm not so sure I want to have a similar experience given the costs involved!

 

I assume your rig was flawless and that this one customer's issues were just 'one-offs'?

 

Thanks!

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Great review man...

 

I've been eyeing those TC-R1's for quite some time..but after watching these recent videos showcasing the lack of 'attention to detail'..I'm not so sure I want to have a similar experience given the costs involved!

 

I assume your rig was flawless and that this one customer's issues were just 'one-offs'?

 

Thanks!

Those vids are from Thirsty, in Australia. Mark is in the USA, and shipping cost $2000... plus taxes and import fees etc.- let's just say Thirsty wasn't very happy. I don't know the whole story so I can't comment on that, but all the other people that own TC-R1s have only said good things about it- I assume because it wasn't damaged when they got it. You're in the US, so I wouldn't hesitate in buying it. 

 

IMPORTANT: I'm not trying to slam anyone. There was a heated debate in a thread that was closed a while ago. 

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I hear you thirsty. He may have a fantastic business with a million happy campers, but after reading the whole thing that happened with you I decided to get my own rig professionally designed and haven't looked back.

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I bet you are a Happy Camper  ;)

To bad about hearing that story Thirsty must be a nightmare. 

 

Otherwise it does look like a serious competitor to the Nixim Racecraft. Pedal plate looks stronger though maybe not that adjustable?

 

Exactly how adjustable is it? Can you increase the height of the wheel and tilt it? Pedal plate you can´t adjust height or tilt just the position of the paddles? Can you tilt the chair beside slide it?

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Glad to hear you're happy with the route you went. Spending some pretty decent money it should be an enjoyable experience in the end.

I guess FTS was pretty successful - plenty of admiring posts on iracing - and I think that success has turned Mark's head. He thought 'hey, I'm the big man here - you simply have to accept what I consider satisfactory in regard to build quality'.

Mark wasted so much of my time, money and effort - I'll never forgive him that.

Cheers

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Pedal plate looks stronger though maybe not that adjustable?

 

Exactly how adjustable is it? Can you increase the height of the wheel and tilt it? Pedal plate you can´t adjust height or tilt just the position of the paddles? Can you tilt the chair beside slide it?

I was curious about how adjustable the fts stuff was too, I was under the impression for some reason it was built as per someone's build/height etc

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I bet you are a Happy Camper   ;)

To bad about hearing that story Thirsty must be a nightmare. 

 

Otherwise it does look like a serious competitor to the Nixim Racecraft. Pedal plate looks stronger though maybe not that adjustable?

 

Exactly how adjustable is it? Can you increase the height of the wheel and tilt it? Pedal plate you can´t adjust height or tilt just the position of the paddles? Can you tilt the chair beside slide it?

 

 

I was curious about how adjustable the fts stuff was too, I was under the impression for some reason it was built as per someone's build/height etc

 

The wheel plate can be adjusted in height and angle. However, although my seat was mounted as low as physically possible the range of adjustability  wasn't sufficient for me and my G27. It was approx. 40mm / 1.5" too low.

There's only one way to raise the wheel plate further and that was by changing the angle to a more horizontal one. Maybe ok for truck racing, but not for GT and formula cars. 

I put a timber plate on the wheel plate which gave me 17mm in height and changed the angle of the wheel plate in order to find an acceptable compromise between wheel height and angle. It's certainly not ideal, but with some diy you should be able to get it right for you.

I can't say anything about other wheels as the G27 was the only wheel I mounted. 

 

The seat plate and the way it is mounted is not ideal imo. Of course I had the issues with it being on the piss, but that was in the end 'just' a cosmetic problem.

I've done some tapered pieces of timber in order to get my seat on the right angle. Mounting the seat with the sliders was very difficult and because of the plate the longitudinal adjustability was restricted. However, that's because I wanted to mount the seat as low as possible. The aluminium plate is certainly a solution which is cheap and easy to fabricate and very universal, but it's not really good for my recliner.

 

The way the pedal plate is mounted makes clear it's not supposed to be adjusted. I still think with some diy you should be able to mount all the pedals. If you're a big/tall guy and depending on what pedals you use there's a chance that the rig will be too short for you. I know someone who had to cut out the top rear cross member which certainly would piss me off...using an angle grinder on a brand new $2500 rig...not good.

 

Cheers 

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I see a couple concerns mentioned above and would like to quickly address.

 

Tsfc...adjustability is such that we really do not have to build for a specific driver. The exception would be  the turn key rigs which we do assemble and set up prior to shipping according to measurements given to us to match a drivers real world race car. The adjustabilty is massive.

 

A couple other questions and concerns were brought up.

 

The seat and pedal trays are on the same horizontal plane allowing for proper ergonomics with the seat approximately 3" or so above your heels. the seat angle is dependent on two things: the actual layback angle of the seat and the range of adjustability in the seat side mount plates. The chassis has no bearing on the angle of the seat, nor should it. The seat and pedal tray on the 2016 model are also now adjustable fore and aft...seat by 8" and pedal by 5" for maximum adjustability. Simply loosen 4 bolts on each to adjust. No need to adjust the angle of the pedal tray either. This chassis is designed for properly designed pedals with more of a straight up pedal positioning as used in real world race cars. Again...ergonomically correct.

 

The steering tray bulkhead has several inches of angle adjustment that captures the sweet spot of nearly any driving position and with this one exception mentioned above, we have not run into a hieght issue with any other customers that I can recall. The unique thing with the tray itself is the possibility to supply a custom tray to compensate for any out of the ordinary heights or wheel to driver reach.

 

We have only run into one issue with length and that was a rather tall guy (I think 6'4") coupled with the Frex pedals which were exceptionally long and they forced the customer to modify the rear crossbar.

We have numerous customers in the 6"5-6'7" range with ample room.

 

 

Regards

 

Mark Lutes

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I used to have one...substandard hardware in many aspects and on top of that in regard to customer support.

Edit: Just noticed I posted here before...forgot...ok, so it's clear I owned one. My first post was made before I received mine...jumped the gun obviously.

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