Next Level Racing GTLite Pro Review: a step up for entry-level sim racing rigs

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A full review of Next Level Racing GTLite Pro, a foldable entry-level sim racing cockpit for under $300.
Next Level Racing GTLite Pro Review: a step up for entry-level sim racing rigs

The newest piece of equipment from Next Level Racing is yet another piece of inventory in the form of a sim racing rig, this one being called the GTLite Pro. Next Level Racing has previously offered the GTLite and F-GTLite cockpits, the latter of which we reviewed last year.

These cockpits are what one might call ‘entry-level’, at a lower price point with cheaper parts for those looking to get into something that resembles a real-world type of situation on a budget might be interested in getting. The GTLite Pro takes the GTLite adds improvements to the base, stepping up in many areas. Let’s see if the claims ring true.

What exactly is the GTLite Pro?

Next Level Racing’s GTLite Pro is a new, improved evolution of the existing GTLite. We previously reviewed something similar, Next Level Racing’s F-GTLite, a formula-style foldable cockpit. That rig left us a little disappointed, so we were hopeful that the new Pro would impress us further.

It’s an ‘entry-level’ sim rig, as explained before, and it provides users with a place for a wheel base, pedals, shifters and handbrakes. It’s something that isn’t a desk and is one complete piece when put together. That means users can push their pedals properly without moving either the seat or the pedals themselves.

Next Level Racing's GTLite Pro is an upgraded foldable sim racing cockpit

This rig is portable and can be stored away nicely when folded up. It also has a removable wheel base that you can take off or keep on, plus there are some flexible straps to hold it in place. With all that said, it also claims to be able to handle what would be a 13Nm direct drive wheel base, something in the mid-to-upper range of power.

We know that the GTLite is one of Next Level Racing’s biggest sellers, proving there is a market and a need out there for entry-level, affordable, portable rigs. One of our goals here is to see if this rig is an affordable option for sim racing fans to get something that may possibly be a better experience than just bolting a wheel to a desk.

What’s in the box?

Next Level Racing’s GTLite Pro comes included with the rig mostly pre-assembled inside a fairly compact box. The lightweight seat cushion comes folded up and compacted with the relevant tubing and plates, plus there was a bag of tools, nuts, bolts, straps and more to fasten everything all together.

For the seat itself, which the box claims is ‘designed for comfort’, it’s made of a ‘breathable fabric’ and is moulded to be used as a ‘fold-away design’. There are adjustment points for the seat angle and backrest height on the seat as well, and it says they are suited for different-sized users.

On the base, it comes ‘pre-drilled for Thrustmaster, Logitech, Fanatec and Moza products’ and again, it claims to be ‘compatible with bottom mounting direct drive wheels up to 13Nm’. There is an included gear shifter and handbrake support that can go on either side, and it should be compatible with most major products and easy to set up.

Opening the box and first impressions

When we opened it up for the first time, we noted how It all came in one fairly compact box, easy to move and easy to lift. The chair was folded up, but it was already together with the main frame. There was a bag of bits and bobs, but nothing too crazy, just the parts needed and not much more. 

We noticed that some of the pieces were marked and scratched, which is rare for most of the Next Level Racing products that we’ve previously reviewed and utilised. Normally, everything is well packaged and immaculate with plenty of padding and protection, however, this wasn’t.

Truthfully, if someone had saved up a lot of money to buy this rig, they would have likely been disappointed by the state of it. Of course, this may have been damaged during transit, maybe at some other point after it had been sealed, but it definitely wasn’t us doing the damage whilst unboxing.

Perhaps the lack of safety packaging is what caused this. Regardless, we kept going as no parts were damaged to a point of being unusable.

Being an entry-level product, it wasn’t too surprising to see a mixture of plastic and metal being one of the main compromises. We don’t know exactly which types of metals and plastics, but it was a clear tell that it was not like one of our more professional rigs. That’s fine, however, as this isn’t trying to be that.

The seat was nice with the breathable mesh. It felt soft and comfortable, no issues there. It’s a little thin and flimsy, but considering it’s a foldup, lightweight portable seat, this is as good as it realistically can be. Compared to the previous Lite-styled seats, this one has lumbar support, more cushioning and padding and more overall comfort and quality while maintaining that breathability.

Setting up the GTLite Pro

John and Piers managed to set up this Next Level Racing GTLite Pro in about an hour, although some extra time was spent grabbing additional footage for the preview. We reckon that this could be built by a professional in about 30 minutes or by beginners following the instruction book in about 90 minutes or so.

That’s part of it, too. Those who purchase this don’t need to have any specific set of skills to do it, the tasks to put it together are fairly straightforward. Use that instruction book if you need it, it really does a great job in explaining what a NLR Lite Series Hub is and how it works.

Those Instructions were pretty clear. John and Piers only had a book, and the process was easy enough to follow step-by-step, although a few sections did require a few extra looks to really understand what was happening. It provides pictures with numbers and diagrams, as well as short descriptive instructions.

Normally, one would also have a video version to follow along with, which has been very good to reference in the past. Unfortunately, John and Piers didn’t have it because they were filming before the product was even officially launched so the video wasn’t available yet. It is live now, though for customers and is, as ever, very useful.

    The instruction book’s main section is in English, but there are some pages towards the back with many different languages. Presumably, they’re a shorter version of the instructions for those who need it, which could be used in conjunction with the pictures in the main English section. 

    That included wheel mounting plate has all of the expected holes and options as stated on the box, like any other standard mounting plate, so it definitely should work with most bases. As for the shifter tray with the added handbrake mounting side, that was a cool thought, but it wasn’t too successful. More on that in a bit.

    Those who have a wheel and pedal set that’s a little less known or standardized may need to do a bit of work in order to directly mount it, but that’s the same with most of these types of rigs. The option to clamp should be absolutely fine too.

    Jumping into the cockpit for the first time

        One of the main things we wanted to check was if this one impressed us more than the F-GTLite we reviewed last year. It absolutely did. While not perfect, our initial thoughts are that it’s a big step up in many areas from the particular model we had previously.  

        Our testing duo bolted on the Logitech G PRO Direct Drive Wheel Base and Load-Cell Pedals. While we didn’t have a Logitech shifter to test out, we did grab an extra MOZA Racing one, didn’t hook it up, but bolted it on there just to see how it felt to grab from the sitting position.

            Unfortunately, while it was easy to mount, it didn’t feel like there was much that could be done in terms of adjustability, specifically in getting that shifter into a more comfortable spot. You can move the shifter plate left and right, but Piers had to stretch his arm fully to reach the lever, and although you can rotate the mounting plate to be closer or further away, this rotates in an arc, so it also changes the angle.

            For example, if one rotates it closer, it also tilts it towards them so it’s no longer sitting flat. Of course, with lots of mini adjustments, users can probably find a solution that works, but it’s just not straightforward at all. We also found another issue with the shifter when mounted.

            For some reason, the plate stopped us from being able to fully release the wheel plate bar since it was mounted on the opposite side of where we got in, therefore the main method for getting in and out of the cockpit didn’t work.

            In this scenario, we had to squeeze through a tiny gap, or climb over with our legs to get in and out and avoid moving the entire shifter plate. It’s a bit awkward, and it means that if one isn’t too mobile, they would probably want the shifter on the opposite side, and that will likely still get in the way when trying to get in or out.

            The good news is that the 11nm Logitech did not break the setup, which means the 13nm promise is likely accurate. The bad news is that there’s a noticeable amount of flex, and truthfully, Next Level Racing isn’t trying to hide that fact.

            In reality, despite how it looks, this is really not a huge problem.

            The overall flex is due to the compromise on material costs, the lightweight minimal construction and the nature of increasing portability. This shouldn’t be a surprise, it truly is an inevitable flex. We don’t see this as a true negative, because for one, you get what you pay for, and two, when driving with it, it really doesn’t cause any issues.

            The biggest flex point comes with wheel base movement tilting up and down when you push it a certain way. Again, it didn’t really affect us when we were driving. There is a little bit of side-to-side movement when we had some oversteer, for example, but that’s just the nature of this sort of rig.

            If you watched our preview video, the flex looks worse from the outside than it feels. The seat has some movement too, but we don’t mind that too much either as it’s foldable and lightweight, so it’s just inevitable. We were super impressed with it, generally.  

            The seat itself is such a massive step up from the older version. It’s got more padding and it’s definitely more comfortable but it still maintains its breathability. We felt snug and comfy, but it’s still light, folding down easily for putting it away. Lumbar support for the lower back is great too, it makes a big difference. Top marks here.  

            Collectively, John and Piers did about two hours worth of racing each on Gran Turismo 7 with zero issues. The seat doesn’t exactly ‘hug’ the person sitting in it, but also they didn’t find any discomfort or pain or pressure points.

            In-Depth Analysis

            Speaking of adjustability first and foremost, there are many adjustments that can be made to different parts of the Next Level Racing GTLite Pro, but they aren’t all super obvious or easy to do in a short amount of time, plus some do have knock-on effects, so users will likely want to set it up right first time and go with it.  

            The majority of adjustment options include the wheel plate angle (titled up and down to fix the angle of the wheel/base facing the driver) the Wheel plate distance (towards the driver, away from the driver length-wise), the angle of the back of the chair, the height of the backrest on the chair, the angle of the back legs of the chair, to change the overall sitting angle, and finally, the height of the front legs (distance from pedal tray to wheelbase mounting).

            If this rig is being shared by siblings or by people of different heights and shapes, then it’s a bit impractical to have to adjust everything each time. We recommend that users try and find a compromise if at all possible.

            Surely, the easiest adjustment would be pedals, as they are straightforward to understand and don’t take too long to loosen and move, maybe about 40 seconds for that and another 20 seconds to find a sweet spot, then a final 40 seconds to tighten back up… about a two-minute changeover is possible.

            Getting in and out is easy enough. There is a little clamp, as the older versions have, which releases the bar holding the wheel base, allowing users to rotate the whole assembly away from them to then be able to climb in from one side with zero issues. Agile users can also just keep it clamped and climb in if they prefer.

            When done using the GTLite Pro, it can be stored away pretty easily. It folds up pretty small with the wheel base and pedals on. Of course, it’s even better without the base and wheel. The seat folds, and users can use one of the provided straps to hold it all together. The best part, however, we think, is those two wheels on the back.

            This whole thing doesn’t weigh much for what it is, but we can’t exactly call it light relative to normal objects, especially with a wheel and pedals. Those little wheels act like the wheels of a suitcase, allowing users to roll it along and take most of the weight whenever there aren’t steps on the surface. Wheeling it in and out of the corner of a room works a treat.

            Conclusion

              The Next Level Racing GTLite Pro is available now and ships mostly worldwide. Those looking to buy can get it for $299 USD / £279 GBP / 329 EUR / $499 AUD or ¥‎50000 JPY.

                At under £300, this could be a gateway into sim racing for the masses who don’t want to spend £400 or £500 or more just to get started. This is an important price point. It’s like the rig or cockpit equivalent of buying an entry-level wheel like the Logitech G923 or any of the Thrustmaster belt-driven options. 

                We feel this is a stepping stone between a desk and a hardcore rigid cockpit or rig. It’s perfectly adequate for someone who enjoys sim racing and racing games for fun, maybe to sit in the living room or a shared space, and race from there whilst being able to move it neatly out of the way for their housemates.

                Combined with a monitor stand, this could make a lot of sense for the majority of casual sim racers. One of the biggest positives over a desk setup is the pedal support on the GTLite Pro. Having one piece, a seat attached to the pedal tray, means that users can use far more force without either part moving further away from the other. 

                Unless those prospective buyers are trying to become professional sim racers and want every single ounce of rigidity out of their cockpit, this will do anyone well. It’s a worthwhile upgrade from a desk and a perfect introduction to sim racing.

                Many people will likely skip this step if they have a bit more money and spend a little more for something that looks nice and is more solid, but at this price point, this may be a great option for someone on a relatively ‘tight’ budget.

                Truly, the biggest negative is that up and down wheel base flex mentioned above (as well as the fact that it arrived scratched up) and saying that, it seems like splitting hairs on a cheaper way to get a sim racing fix.

                That flex IS definitely a compromise, not one that’s being hidden by the manufacturer. It’s not as solid as something like a Playseat trophy, another lightweight ‘portable’ rig, and it also doesn’t look quite as nice as a piece. It’s half the price but it’s more than half the product.  

                The benefits of its adjustability and portability are enough on their own without any other comparisons to be made to justify this rigs worth beyond the potential money saving.

                Full disclosure: This product was provided by the manufacturer for review purposes. Here is our review policy.

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