Review by Doug Horton. What’s a wheel stand? It’s a device that holds Saitek rudder pedals and yoke system, including throttle quadrant, and optional accessories. It’s been tested for this review with added Saitek Cessna trim wheel and two accessory panels. According to the U.S. distributor:
“As flight simulators continue to bring more flying realism to your experience, a limiting factor to immersing yourself in the game becomes the interface. Playing today's flying games with standard controls, attached to a desk or table, makes it impossible to immerse yourself fully into the game. To help get the full immersive benefit of the Saitek system, our wheel stand systems put each control element in the ideal position for experiencing a realistic flying experience…., and it makes your controls portable and convenient for storage.”
This is a story of necessity begets invention, a product is developed and launched, entrepreneurship increases the market, and the expanding market spurs adaptation for additional uses. The story begins with the recognition that parallel to the computer flight simulation hobby is computer (auto) racing – both hobbies with worldwide participation and markets for add-on products.
At the end of this review we’ll share the history of this product, and meanwhile, I’ll relate my experience assembling and using the product.
Out of the Box…
I received the sample product in a 20-pound carton with dimensions of 22.5 x 17.4 x 3.7 inches. The product was packaged well, and the contents were intact and undamaged. Three instruction sheets were included, two of which were printed on thick glossy paper. There was also a smaller box in the package, which contained smaller parts and connectors.
Wheel Stand Pro in package, with furnished instructions above
My first impression, after opening the carton and folding back the protective packaging materials, was that the wheel stand is very well made, including the selection of tubing, chroming and powder coating, and the included supply of various parts, connectors, and tools.
Collection of parts for Wheel Stand Pro
After removing the partially assembled stand from the carton, and sorting out the small parts, I consulted the instructions to learn that the first step was unfolding the upright tube and yoke mounting plate from the base, as shown in the drawing below. Note that there are lever operated compression clamps at the base and mid-point of the vertical shaft.
Wheel Stand Pro: unfolded and ready for mounting controls
The next step was to mount the Saitek Cessna rudder pedals on the two chrome tubes of the base, near the end opposite the vertical tube, which is the right hand side of the base in the above image. I hoped the sample Cessna pedals would mount the same as the original model of Saitek pedals, which were shown in the instructions, and they did.
The method of mounting the pedals is to insert four long bolts through four particular holes in the base of pedals, and then though holes in the two furnished silver-colored bars, as shown below in the photo of the underside of the pedals and stand base, after mounting. Note that there are four black rubber collars that are positioned between the yoke base and the tubes.
Photo showing how the base of the pedals is mounted to the base of the wheel stand
I noticed that the furnished means of mounting the pedals might have a slight disadvantage for some users. This is related to the fact that the pedals are furnished with two plastic parts, presumably for resting heels while feet are not pushing on the pedals.
These parts each have two black plastic studs that insert into the two holes on each side of the front of the base of the pedals, but one of the holes on each side is used for mounting the pedals to the stand base, so the two “heel pad” parts can’t be used, unless one of the long plastic studs is removed.
Without the heel pads, there’s no convenient place to rest your heels, other than the top of the round chrome tubes or on the floor, but these surfaces aren’t lined up with the pedals, so it’s slightly awkward. This is more of an issue for the Saitek Cessna pedals than it is for the original Saitek pedals because of the protruding lower part of the Cessna pedals, because feet can be rested on the original Saitek pedals.
I’m looking at purchasing slightly longer mounting bolts that extend through the base of the pedals and sliding a piece of thin (~3/16” to 1/4”) plywood onto base tubes, between the vertical tube and the pedals, to create a simulated flight deck floor.
Top view of Saitek Cessna pedals
Attaching the yoke system with its included throttle quadrant to the stand was relatively simple after examining the yoke mounting plate and other included parts. It was clear that I needed to attach the two “side bars” for holding other accessories, before attaching the yoke. This took some “try and fit” actions to identify which of the pre-drilled holes would be used for the accessories, as the details of this step were not clear in the instructions.
The accompanying photo shows a downward view of the yoke plate and side bars, with pedals below, before attaching the yoke and accessories.
Downward view showing yoke mounting plate and accessory mounting bars with holes pre-drilled for Saitek Pro Flight accessories.
Courtesy of MadCatz, U.S. distributor of Saitek products, I was able to configure the Wheel Stand Pro to match what’s shown on the product website at www.wheelstandpro.us. In addition to the Cessna rudder pedals and yoke system with included throttle quadrant, I also attached a Saitek Cessna trim wheel on the right hand sidebar, inward from the throttle quadrant, and I attached Saitek Multi and Switch panels to the left hand sidebar.
The trim wheel, and the Multi and Switch panels, along with the yoke, throttle quadrant and pedals, significantly increase the realism of flying small general aviation airplanes, such as Beechcraft, Cessna, Maule, Mooney, Piper, and others.
The photo images below show the front and back of the assembled Wheel Stand Pro with Saitek controls and accessories attached. After matching the group of controls and accessories shown on the WheelStandPro website, I also added a Saitek Radio Panel above the other two panels, the radio panel is not shown in the photo, and I’ll be covering all four types of Saitek accessory panels in a future review.
Front view of Wheel Stand Pro with Saitek controls and two accessory panels
Back view of Wheel Stand Pro with Saitek controls and two accessory panels
The tested Wheel Stand Pro for Saitek products is durably built and is a moderately priced, handy means of positioning flight simulation controls and accessories. It’s very well designed and manufactured, and it’s customizable in terms of the angle and height of the vertical tube and mounting plates.
Though far from a full fledged home cockpit, the Wheel Stand Pro provides a cockpit feel, particularly with the Saitek controls and two accessory panels I tested. The cost is a small fraction of what might be spent on a full-size home cockpit.
It’s quite portable, and even with controls and accessories attached, it can be folded for storage with the aid of two quick-release clamps that otherwise hold the height and angle of the vertical tube and attached components.
Overall, it’s a very nice product!
About the Inventor and U.S. Distributor
The Wheel Stand Pro gaming stand was designed in 2007 by an avid gamer, Dominik, a computer racing enthusiast in a small Polish town not far from Krakow. Dominik’s father owned and operated a metal fabrication facility, and its primary business was renovating parts for hydraulic pumps, servo motors, and other equipment.
As an avid computer racing fan, Dominik was looking for a practical solution to a vexing problem: he wanted a stable computer racing platform to mount his gaming wheel, gear shifter, and pedals, but he didn’t have the space for a cockpit solution. Voila! The prototype Wheel Stand Pro gaming stand was born. Compact, versatile, strong, and stable, the stand provided Dominik, the gamer, the solution he’d been seeking.
Soon after, with an entrepreneurial spirit, combined with the resources of the metal fabrication facility, Dominik’s idea became a thriving business. The stand was then patented in Europe and the United States.
From the beginning, Wheel Stand Pro, as a company, had plans to expand into the computer flight simulation market, but ever increasing demands of a growing business delayed this plan. Instead, flight sim users were buying the stands and modifying them for their equipment, the most popular of which were Saitek yokes, pedals, and accessory panels. According to Dominik, the “drumbeat for a manufactured product was loud and continuous,” but manufacturing wheel stands for racing, and shipping orders, continued to delay expansion plans.
In 2009, avid racing gamers Dale and Lucy, residing in Dallas, Texas, heard about the Wheel Stand Pro product line and they ordered one from Dominik in Poland. Having previous experience with online sales, the Dale and Lucy approached the Wheel Stand Pro company about becoming the U. S. distributor, and after mutual agreement, the business relationship began with an order for 35 wheel stands for the U.S.
In 2013, the idea of expanding into the flight simulation market came true with the development of the stand for Saitek products and then the Thrustmaster HOTAS WARTHOG™ joystick and throttle stand. There are now several models for computer racing and flight sim enthusiasts, and business on both sides of the Atlantic has expanded. Wheel Stand Pro commands a gaming presence worldwide, orders are now shipped by container, and work is underway to provide compatibility of wheel stands with joysticks, plus other controls, and accessories.
From Dale and Lucy, for those flight simmers who might also be computer racing fans: “Yes, we are the distributors, but foremost, we are fellow gamers, racing enthusiasts, driving simulation fanatics! We love our racing games, and sometimes we're in the mood for the carefree Burn Out series, or we need the gritty realism of the Need for Speed, Dirt, or the authenticity of Forza or GT5.”
Wheel Stand Pro products are Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved.
Saitek, Thrustmaster, Mad Catz, Burn Out, Need for Speed, Dirt, Forza, and GT5 are copyrighted and/or trademarked by their respective manufacturers.
Wheel Stand Pro has no affiliation with these brands.