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Next Level Racing F-GT Cockpit Review

Next Level Racing’s F-GT racing cockpit is a mid-ranged cockpit perfect for someone looking to add an edge to their driving. If you’re a driver that is currently using a wheel stand or diy racing rig, and are thinking about purchasing a dedicated cockpit, this may be the one for you.

The F-GT cockpit is one of the most capable full-sized racing rigs on the market. This setup features a comfortable seat with slider, wheel stand, and pedal platform made of carbon steel that can hold up to the most demanding peripherals and drivers.

In this review of the F-GT cockpit, I’ll go over where this rig fits in Next Level Racing’s cockpit lineup and how to build it. Then, I’ll talk about how to customize it for your preferences and what you can expect during even the most rigorous driving sessions.

About Next Level Racing

Next Level Racing is the leading provider in multi-function cockpit and gaming rigs for all kinds of sim drivers. While they’re probably most known for their lineup of racing cockpits and wheel stands, they also offer flight cockpits for gamers who want to take to the skies.

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As far as racing cockpits are concerned, Next Level Racing offers six different rigs, with the F-GT coming in the middle of the pack. Lower in the lineup are the foldable F-GT Lite, their most cost-effective cockpit, and the minimalist Challenger GT setup.

The more expensive cockpits that Next Level Racing offers are the GTUltimate V2, the GTTrack, and the GTTrack Playstation Edition. However, F-GT is the only chassis provided by Next Level Racing with a Formula 1 and GT-style driving position, a big seller for me. Further, the GTUltimate is not rigid enough to support direct-drive steering wheels, which I needed in a cockpit.

Admittedly, looking at Next Level Racing’s full lineup of cockpits, the F-GT isn’t the nicest looking one. The seat looks rather plain, especially compared to the GTTrack and the GTUltimate, which have aggressive-looking racing seats with seatbelts (while not functional, look cool!) However, it provides the most value for price among the lineup.

I bought the Next Level Racing F-GT racing cockpit nine months ago after trying to set up my sim racing rig in my living room.

Initially, I set up a spare computer chair on the floor with my pedals and wheelbase screwed into my coffee table. This proved very quickly that it was not a long-term solution, as pressing on the pedals moved my seat back, and the force feedback of my wheel twisted my body from side to side. Within a few weeks, I was looking for a dedicated cockpit.

When picking which of Next Level Racing’s cockpits would be best for me, I looked at some reviews (just like you are here) and saw that some reviewers had trouble with the Challenger model due to the single wheel support. Strong wheels can torque and twist the single wheel platform, making it seem like it wasn’t the best fit for me.

The F-GT Lite was another consideration, especially because it allows for both Formula 1 and GT style racing positions. Due to the foldability of this cockpit, I was concerned with long-term durability. I wanted a cockpit that could serve me for several years, and could accommodate upgrades to my current rig.

These limitations made the F-GT the perfect choice, and in the nine months I’ve been using it as my home base for sim racing, I’m so thrilled that I did. I have to say; I like this cockpit so much I’ve even used it as a regular gaming chair!

Constructing The Cockpit

When you purchase the Next Level Racing F-GT chair, the first thing you’ll notice when the box comes to your door is that this thing is big. I bought my racing seat at a local computer store and had a friend move it with me because it was a bit unwieldy (the box is about 100 pounds and over 3 feet long, so it’s a little challenging to carry on your own.)

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However, once you have the box in your home, you’re all set. Next Level Racing provides everything you need to put the cockpit together, including wrenches, Allen keys, nylon straps, washers, nuts, and bolts.

Once you get your cockpit home, I recommend setting up the chassis in the room that you will keep it because it’s a little hard to move on your own after it’s set up. The chassis is 4.5 feet long as a GT setup and over 5 feet long as a Formula rig.

Next Level Racing makes the cockpit of solid carbon steel, which is why it’s so heavy. However, that’s what makes it so durable. If you plan on moving the F-GT rig a lot, you can buy a set of castor wheels from Next Level Racing that make relocating it a bit easier.

Before you start, make sure the place where you plan to put your cockpit is already clear, so you can begin building where it will stay.

Ensure that whatever protective flooring you intend to put below the cockpit is ready and in the space where you’ll build your chassis. If you have hardwood, tile, or laminate flooring, a carpet runner or mat is a great option, as it will protect your floor from damage that can happen as a result of getting in and out of the rig or vibrations from gaming.

It took about an hour to fully set up the F-GT cockpit, although this was in part due to extensive testing to try and find the perfect driving position for me.

The entire rig is incredibly customizable, which makes it incredibly comfortable, but also a little fiddly. The steering wheel stand, seat angle, and pedal platform can all be adjusted. There’s even a seat slider to help you move forward and backward in the rig.

This customizability is actually a bit of a negative for this rig. One of the selling points of this rig is that it’s incredibly easy to adjust the seat from a GT to a Formula setup.

I keep it in the Formula position because, while lifting the rear of the chair is very easy (you only have to insert a bracket under the back of the seat and screw into place), I’d have to adjust the pedals and the wheel several times to find a perfect fit.

Overall, I plan for 15-30 minutes of fiddling with the entire system after changing the seat’s height, which isn’t a deterrent, just more of a minor annoyance.

Adjustments are made by loosening bolts in curved pieces of metal and easing them along the curve, tightening when you achieve the right angle for you. It’s important to tighten these bolts as tight as possible to make sure they don’t come loose while driving.

How I Have My Cockpit Set Up

As I mentioned above, I keep my cockpit set up in the Formula configuration, giving me an aggressive platform that goes perfectly with my Fanatec CSL wheelbase and pedals. I find that these peripherals have been great to test the limits of this chassis.

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The pedals are firm enough to push the fittings on the pedal platform, while the wheel’s internal motor is strong enough to provide sheering forces on the wheel stand to twist and turn it, which should reveal any weaknesses.

The good news is that the hours I’ve spent racing has exposed no construction deficiencies in the nine months I’ve had this setup. Instead, I’ve grown more and more excited about this cockpit’s capabilities and am encouraged that it can handle whatever I throw at it.

While Next Level Racing claims that this cockpit is durable enough to handle direct-drive wheels, it’s hard to be sure. I often don’t trust marketing claims until I test them for myself. Now, I know that it’s possible and feel that I definitely can grow with this racing rig.

One day, I plan to buy one of Fanatec’s direct-drive wheels, and I’m excited that I won’t need to reinforce or replace my cockpit to enjoy it.

This durability might be why the F-GT cockpit is so popular with professional racers. The F-GT cockpit is prevalent in many different sim racing championship circles, such as Denmark’s GTR Endurance eRacing World Championship.

Compatibility

While I use Fanatec products in my F-GT cockpit, Next Level Racing assures that the pre-drilled holes in the pedal platform and wheel stand are compatible with all popular racing brands, including Logitec and Thrustmaster.

The rig comes with a shifter holder for use in the GT setup (I don’t have it set up in my rig as I don’t have a peripheral gearshift.) The shifter is perfect for both right and left-hand drive configurations, as you can set it up on either side of the cockpit. Like everything else in the rig, the gearshift holder is also height-adjustable, so it’s straightforward for GT racers to use.

One thing that many cockpits don’t offer is a truly hybrid setup. Suppose you’re not sold on either a fully GT or Formula driving position. With the Next Level Racing F-GT Cockpit, you don’t have to commit to one. Instead, you can sit upright in the seat in a GT sitting position and elevate the pedals as they are in the Formula configuration.

This customization level gives the F-GT an edge on the competition, giving drivers an utterly unique driving experience that others can’t match.

Performance

I think the best thing that can attest to this racing rig’s performance is how much it’s helped me improve my driving.

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Before buying this cockpit, while driving in a standard computer chair on my floor, I could only race for an hour or so before I started to get sore. I found that keeping myself in a good driving position put a lot of tension on my back, shoulders and core muscles.

My first drive in the F-GT cockpit yielded a night-and-day difference. Not only was I able to go for longer, pain-free in this rig, but I was also able to be more precise with my driving lines and more intentional with braking. I felt more comfortable and confident when driving, which helped me race better.

After nine months, I had to tighten only one bolt. I found that when constructing the cockpit, I’d not fully tightened the pedal platform adjustment bolt, and it came loose during a race. After the race, I simply tightened it back to the original position, and it hasn’t come loose since.

Now, after hours of racing with no other mishaps, I can say that this is a very durable, and remarkably comfortable seat. Pictures of this cockpit next to others in Next Level Racing’s GT line make the seat look rather plain, which might make readers think it’s uncomfortable. This isn’t the case.

The high-density foam used to cushion the bench is accommodating to various body shapes and holds the driver in place very well. You’ll find you don’t need the bolsters that other seats have; they’re mostly just for show anyway.

The only practical drawback with the seat that I’ve found is that it’s a little hard to get out of while in the Formula configuration. It’s especially difficult after a long driving session where I’ve been sitting a long time and might be a little stiff. However, the entire unit is so stable, I’ve found that I can use the seat and wheel platform as hand-holds to lift myself out.

This cockpit has forced me to take my driving more seriously, as I made my racing cockpit a dedicated setup, away from my living room and distractions.

Now, I have a racing setup with a dedicated computer, TV, and Xbox, where I can focus on longer races on iRacing. While I wasn’t planning on it when I bought this cockpit, the F-GT was the first step I needed to take this hobby more seriously. When I plan to race, I can give it my full attention, which has helped me improve.

Next Level Racing does offer a few adjustments to the F-GT that I’ve considered purchasing, including the ButtKicker 2, an under-the-seat rumble pad that helps simulate traction problems on the road. Currently, the vibration offered through my Fanatec wheel and wheelbase is enough feedback right now.

As mentioned above, you can also add castor wheels to help move it around. To protect your floor, Next Level Racing provides a driving mat that can absorb any vibrations from the driving frame (although a piece of carpet works great!) If you race using a computer, it might be helpful to buy their dedicated computer and mouse stand to keep control at your fingertips.

Next Level Racing also has a monitor stand for 1-to-3 displays that bolts directly to the F-GT cockpit, immersing the driver in the game’s atmosphere. Because I placed my cockpit in the corner of a room against two walls, I avoided buying extra materials, and instead mounted a 4k TV to the wall with an extendable mount. This setup helps put the action almost literally at my fingertips.

Currently, the F-GT is not compatible with Next Level Racing’s motion platforms, which would be a significant upgrade I’d consider.

Their Motion Platform V3 is currently only compatible with the GTTrack and GTUltimate V2 packages. The motion platform is an expensive upgrade (it cost more than my entire sim racing setup), but it provides next-level realism to the driving experience and is something that I’d be interested in if one came out for the F-GT cockpit.

Final Thoughts

Next Level Racing’s F-GT racing cockpit is the best rig for a sim driver looking to get serious about racing. While it’s fit for beginners, it might be an expensive commitment for really new racers. In this case, you can get by with a wheel stand and pedal mount instead of committing to a full rig.

However, as a sim racer who still considers themself a beginner, this cockpit is accessible at a fair cost. When I was driving at my coffee table, I found it hard to focus on driving. I was in the middle of my living room, with my dog crossing my wires, far from the TV and the action. Buying this rig helped get me to get a dedicated area for racing to start to improve driving.

Having two available driving positions can help you also figure out what you’d like to specialize in as a driver.

I started sim driving because I wanted to explore F1 driving more and knew that was my goal as a racer. However, I’ve had a lot of fun in competition Miata and GT driving. While I prefer Formula driving, having a proper racing position for those other racing types greatly improved my enjoyment.

If you’re looking to spend more time behind the wheel, this rig can help you get there. If nothing else, having more comfort and control when driving is incredibly motivating and enables you to become stronger as a driver.

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