Reviewed: July 21, 2003
Type: Force Feedback Racing Wheel
Nothing is more sacred or precious to a serious PC sim racer than a good racing wheel. Many gamers spend their entire lives looking for that perfect combination of wheel and pedals to replicate their racing experience in the most authentic way possible. Iíve had the privilege of racing actual NASCAR and IndyCar vehicles, so it has become increasingly difficult to satisfy my PC racing demands let alone impress me. So you can be sure that when I tell you the Logitech MOMO Racing Force Feedback Wheel is one of the finest racing wheels you can buy for your PC, Iím not just blowing exhaust fumes.
Installation - 9
Installing the MOMO wheel is only slightly more complicated that your typical wheel. You have the standard AC power-brick that isnít very cooperative when trying to plug into a power strip. Once you get the AC flowing you need to connect the pedals to the wheel and the USB cable into the computer.
Attaching the wheel to the desktop is deceptively clever. The MOMO uses a triple clamping system that literally makes this wheel become part of your desk. Itís not as slick as the quick-release clamp on the Microsoft wheels but it is much more stable. There is a large plastic bolt that serves as the point of the triangular clamping system and the other two clamps are concealed beneath the removable top cover. Pop the top and adjust those two clamps for the perfect fit.
While a bit unrealistic the MOMO is friendly to left-handers, and you can easily swap the stick shift from the right to the left side. Once you have everything connected, plugged in, and mounted you can install the software and get ready to hit the track.
Aesthetics - 10
Damn Ė this wheel is cool! Thatís what all your friends will be saying when they see this thing clamped to your computer desk and thatís what I was saying as I unpacked my ďpreciousĒ. Created by the Italian racing professionals at MOMO Design, this wheel is a model of racing and design perfection that combines both form and function.
The main wheel body is compactly designed and the wheel is perfectly sized with an extra-thick rubber grip that is so close to leather you will want to apply some leather treatment. The flat black finish is accented with red buttons, green LEDís and a nice metallic red strip at 12 oíclock on the wheel. The MOMO features a large stick shift as well as twin paddles behind the wheel so you can replicate the Indy, Formula, or NASCAR experience.
The pedal base is large and textured so your heels donít slip. The bottom of the base has rubber feet to keep the pedals from slipping on smooth surface, but perhaps the most ingenious device I have ever seen on a pedal system is the retractable ďspike stripĒ. With a push of a button a long row of plastic spikes (not as long or dangerous as the word implies) drops down and will have these pedals stuck to your carpet like they were installed with a hot glue gun.
Durability - 10
The MOMO is meticulously designed and constructed for smooth and precise operation for countless hours of racing. Iíve only logged about 30 hours or racing with this wheel but nothing has broken or loosened up in the slightest. The stick shift is very firm with no lateral movement. The pedals all have a firm feel with a nice stopping point that will prevent lead foots from snapping off the gas.
My biggest area of concern on most modern wheels are the paddle shifters. These are often quite fragile and can be snapped off by an aggressive driver with a strong grip, especially when you are wrestling with the force feedback effects. The paddles on the MOMO are easily the best shifters I have seen on any wheel to date, and Iíd be hard pressed to snap these off unless I really tried. The six red buttons arenít raised very far from the surface but they are easily reachable and press down with a nice defined click.
Performance - 9
The MOMO wheel is second to none in performance. With 240 degrees of rotation you can get some really precise control. I fired up Grand Prix Legends, NASCAR 2003, Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed, and of course, Viper Racing, one of my favorite benchmarks for force feedback effects. The MOMO was a dream to calibrate and performed flawlessly with everything I test-drove.
The force feedback effects were stunning. I could feel every bump in the road (or off the road in some cases), and the wheel would twist around when I lost control or slammed into a wall. On the more intricate games like GPL and NASCAR 2003 you could actually feel when the wheels were about to break traction. Itís a wonderfully realistic experience that is bested only by driving these cars for real.
While the wheel canít be beat the pedals have some room for improvement. While the base is excellent and the carpet grip system is brilliant the pedals themselves simply donít have that realistic feel. Perhaps Iím still spoiled by the reverse-hinged pedals on the Mad Catz Andretti Wheel; nothing has ever come close to matching those pedals. I even talked to some fellow racers in the racing newsgroups, and while they were all unanimous that the MOMO was the best PC wheel going they were equally unanimous in that they were almost all using third-party pedals with this wheel. In all fairness, I did appreciate the smooth movement and the fact that the brake offered significantly more resistance than the gas Ė just like a real car.
Value - 10
Anyone who takes their racing seriously will have no trouble dropping a Ben Franklin for this rig. The really serious racers will probably go the extra mile and drop another $40 to get the aluminum pedals, steel paddles, and hand-stitched leather wheel.
I was a bit surprised that there wasnít a racing game included with the wheel. I canít remember a wheel that hasnít come with a game, but then again, I canít remember a wheel that came with a game I didnít already have. Logitech has provided profiles for nearly every popular game going, and you can easily customize and create your own profiles or download new ones. The MOMO racing wheel is a nearly flawless product and easily worth the $100 investment.
Overall Ė 9.5
If you are looking for your first racing wheel or wanting to upgrade to a force feedback setup or perhaps you just want to experience the ultimate in racing realism without climbing into an actual car, then the MOMO Racing Force Feedback Wheel is hands down one of the best, if not the best racing wheel you can buy in its price range. Once you get your hands on this comfy wheel itís going to take a rabid pit crew or a nagging spouse to pull you off.