The Playseat Challenge may be the most popular first racing “cockpit” for those just diving into the sim racing world. Honestly, it is a great step up from an office chair and desk. However, is it better than an office chair and a wheel stand? I think so! Read on for the reasons why.
About the Playseat Challenge
For full transparency, I bought the Playseat Challenge with my own money. I have a cockpit in my basement that was supplied by Next Level Racing (you can read the review here), but it’s hard to spend a ton of time down there during the winter months. I wanted something I could store in the bedroom closet and set up at my desk when I wanted to race (every day).
The Playseat Challenge is unique in that it is one of the only folding cockpit systems on the market. Next Level now has a new offering, and there are some “off-brand” options, but Playseat tends to be considered the gold standard.
The Playseat Challenge can be best described as an x-frame folding chair. The construction relies on a sturdy tube frame with cloth seating attached as the seat. Much like a camping chair, the cloth material can only flex so far before providing a stable platform to hold you.
In addition, the seat is designed to have a race seat look and feel as well as offer a GT-style seating geometry. There is a u-bar that rotates over your lap with a plate to attach your wheel. To round it all out, there is a foldable “pedal-plate” that allows you to keep your pedals from sliding around as you use them.
Unboxing and Assembly
The Playseat Challenge came in a relatively thin rectangular box. The box was honestly heavier than I thought, which was great because I feared it might be a little flimsy. I have said it dozens of times, but it bears repeating; weight is not always an indicator of quality. However, metal often weighs more than plastic and lasts longer too.
I was a little surprised that, upon opening the box, there was not a completed seat waiting for me. After all, the whole point of the Playseat Challenge is how easy it is to store. I pulled out the directions and got to work.
I know I just complained about having to assemble everything, but it was super easy. Basically, I had to drape some cloth over the frame, adjust some straps, and attach the lap bar.
Setting the seat up with my equipment was a cakewalk, too. I mounted my wheel to the lap bar with the supplied screws and adjusted the angle with a few twists of a knob. Likewise, I extended out the “foot-plate,” which is just some tubing connected to the chair, and placed down my pedals. Playseat supplies a large velcro strap to help keep the pedals in place.
Use and Opinions
I have now been using the Playseat Challenge 10+ hours per week for six weeks. In that time, I have set up the seat and put it away countless times. I have also moved it from in front of my computer to in front of my TV half a dozen times or so.
The Playseat Challenge is a little awkward to climb in and out of, but it is super comfortable while sitting in it. The seat is also very customizable. I got it to fit my large frame with minimal tweaking. As a parent, I appreciate the locking mechanism on the lap bar. I don’t have to worry about my children accidentally lifting the bar and getting themselves caught in the mechanism.
The one knock I have against the Playseat Challenge is how the pedals attach. Again, they are primarily held in place by a big velcro strap. Unfortunately, this velcro strap can allow for some movement when using pedals that require decent force to apply brakes.
There isn’t a whole lot else to discuss, in my experience. The Playseat Challenge is the gold standard as a beginner cockpit for a reason. If you are just trying to dip your toes in the space or don’t have a lot of space for a dedicated rig, I have to recommend the Playseat Challenge.