I’m a huge fan of all types of racing, and if you combined all the time I’ve spent in various driving schools and weekend race retreats I’ve probably logged more hours behind the wheel than I have playing the video games that mimic the sport. Admittedly, all of my real-world racing has been of the four-wheel variety; NASCAR, Formula, Indycar, and Rally, and I can say with certainly that I have never once entertained the idea of straddling a high-performance motorbike. After several hours playing RiMS Racing that opinion hasn’t changed.
On the surface RiMS Racing appears to be much like any and every other racing simulation you can play on PC and console. You get all the classic modes, real-world venues, meticulously detailed career mode that puts you in charge of much more than just driving around a track, and all those other extras you associate with the sport like sponsors, liveries, and character customization. RiMS Racing offers up the standard Career mode; the meat of this motorbike buffet, as well as Single race where you can customized every element of the race from bike, track, weather, track conditions, and rules. There is a Private Testing area where you can customize your training and drive laps with no AI opponents and an Academy mode where you can replay challenges from the main Career calendar and try to earn Gold, Silver, and Bronze helmet rewards.
I knew I was in trouble when I crashed seven times on the single-lap tutorial, and then I realized most of this was due to poor controls. 90% of my video game racing takes place with my Logitech wheel and pedal combo while sitting in a racing chair. This doesn’t translate very well to a motorbike game, so I ended up playing from a normal chair with an Xbox Elite II controller. The problem that remains is the lack of variable input with the triggers used for braking and gas, plus the fact that by default you have independent brakes for front and rear; something you can combine in the options for simplicity. I quickly learned that if you are mashing the LT while going into a sharp turn you are going right over those handlebars, and similarly, if you mash the throttle coming out of a turn you are going to wipeout. There is so much finesse required for something as simple as brake and throttle and the LT and RT don’t seem to have an adequate range of motion to express that.
It turns out there are actual handlebar controllers out there for motorbike games such as this, and if you are the type of gamer who takes this niche sport that seriously then you should probably invest in one. For the rest of us, you can muddle through the options and game assists and eventually find something that works, plus it doesn’t hurt to be using a controller such as the Elite II with additional buttons, as you will eventually want to split those brakes up for optimum racing and switch to manual transmission where downshifting proves to be more effect than braking in many instances. I will admit that even after eight hours of playing this game I am still never totally comfortable riding these bikes. There is always this uneasy feeling that at any moment I could apply too much brake or throttle and dump my ride. Part of this is due to a lack of tactile feedback in the controller; something that could easily be remedied with haptics such as those in the DualSense controller for PS5. Sure, you get some rumbly bits with an Xbox controller but nothing that informs your racing situation in real-time.
RiMS Racing delivers up eight superbikes that have been meticulously researched and collaborated on with their respective manufactures to create some of the most accurate and realistic bikes you can drive in a video game; a fact you quickly realize when you start to explore the interactive Pit Stops and incredibly detailed garage mechanic area…more on that in a bit. And to experience these rides to their fullest, RiMS Racing offers up nine real-world circuit tracks and five road tracks that are reversible for a total of nearly 20 racing venues.
Diving into the career mode will not only present you with more than 70 seasonal calendar events, you’ll also be in charge of every aspect of your racing career as you explore your giant two-story facility that is home to Lodging, Management, Settings, Research, Calendar, and a Motorbike Stand. The actual racing is handled through the Calendar that either has assigned events or lets you choose from a few options. Events come in several flavors including; Academy events where you race for cash and helmet trophies, Brand events where you race for parts, Manufacturer events where you race for bikes, Cup events where you race for cash, Face Off events where you race for fame and respect, World Championship events which are the culmination of the other race events, Task events where you must complete various challenges, and Rest events where you just take the weekend off. Your HQ is nicely laid out and reminded me of similar garage menu systems found in WRC and F1 racing sims.
One area of racing I have never cared enough to pursue beyond simple tuning configurations is the garage/mechanic elements. RiMS Racing takes this to a whole new level and actually makes it fun. At any point in a race you can pause the game and bring up a detailed status of eleven key components on your bike. These are color-coded to show real-time wear and tear that can be addressed during pit stops or in much greater detail between events at the Mechanic area in your HQ. Here you can buy new parts and sell off your used/old parts in what is perhaps one of the finest garage simulations I’ve ever experienced in a racing game. It is so cleverly detailed and interactive right down to these mini-QTE’s where you spin the analog stick and perform simple button combo presses to remove and replace parts on your bike.
Other key areas of your HQ are the Research area where you can hire guys to research new tech to learn about parts or even learn about opponents’ racing setups – sounds a bit like spying to me, and even hire someone to track future weather and track conditions for upcoming events; again, very similar to the WRC and F1 tech trees. There is also a Management area where you can unlock skills with Team Points to help you rise up through the career calendar.
RiMS Racing did have some performance issues; something I wouldn’t expect from a new release running on my particular setup using an RTX3090 card. As trivial as it sounds, the splash screens during the loads are low-res and frankly a bit ugly with blurry images and jagged edges; almost as if it was a 1080p image being stretched to a 4K space. Eventually the game switches to in-game graphics for the final part of the pre-race segment and things get better, but once the game was in motion there was plenty of poor performance in both dropped framerates and visible stuttering. I was running with all options set to their highest settings and even after dropping to 1440p I still had performance dips with multiple bikes on screen or on more complex areas of some tracks. As I was wrapping up this review I did read somewhere that playing the game in Borderless Window mode can fix this issue. I haven’t tested myself, but it seems odd since dedicated Full Screen is always supposed to offer the best performance. Clearly something needs to be patched or updated.
Some other visual observations included the poor perception of speed. I even left motion blur active in hopes it would help, but I invariably was always going too fast into turns causing me to drift wide or turn too tight and flip the bike. What looks and feels like 40mph is often 80-90mph. I ultimately relied way too much on the color-coded drive line and even that wasn’t entirely accurate as my momentum would often send me into the gravel pits. Other issues included some very long load times; some well over 30 seconds and this was with the game installed on a Samsung SSD drive. At least it appears to be loading in the entire track because any future restarts or resets are near-instant.
Visually, the game is quite stunning, both in the HQ and all the racing bits including the TV-style presentation. Weather effects are fantastic with realistic water on the pavement as well as drops and streaks on external camera views or on your helmet’s face shield. You have six race views ranging from chase, fender, handlebar, and inside the helmet; the latter even realistically muffling the engine and track noise. You get some great reflections in your side mirrors and some really immersive screen space reflections on wet tracks. The audio is also quite nice with realistic engine noises and a phenomenal soundtrack that I typically don’t care about, but this was really good. It also has a streaming option to filter out licensed tracks if you decide to broadcast your gameplay.
Races generally have 10 bikes and they all look distinct and are driven with reasonably intelligent AI. There is also support for online PvP and local shared/split-screen racing, but I didn’t really get into those modes. I might report back later if I do, and there is anything worth mentioning. I was just happy to get a podium finish after a few weeks into my career. Thankfully you can adjust the overall AI difficulty any time between races and you can always go into driving options and adjust a variety of assists to create something playable and hopefully winnable.
Much like F1 and WRC, RiMS Racing isn’t for everyone. It’s a hardcore realistic simulation that asks you to do a lot more than just drive, and when it does come time to actually race you’ll find that having half the number of wheels can make the experience twice as challenging. Aggressive throttle and brake might work with auto racing, but motorbikes require much more finesse just to stay upright let alone actually win races. This is a whole different world of racing, and if you think you are prepared for it then it doesn’t get much better than RiMS Racing, especially if you love tinkering about in the garage.