The Choosing Best Steering Wheel: A Buyer’s Guide. Most automobile enthusiasts place a high value on interior modifications because that is where they spend the majority of their time. There are numerous interior upgrades you can make to improve your driving experience. Everything from your shift knob to your seats, gauges, and steering wheel can be included. Installing a high-quality aftermarket steering wheel can improve the responsiveness of your car’s steering while also infusing some personality into the cabin.
Aftermarket steering wheels are available in a variety of designs and sizes. Literally. As a result, it is critical that you examine your preferences ahead of time. Are you looking for a steering wheel solely for its looks? Do you need a wheel for a track-oriented build? Is it more pleasant to have a squared or round wheel? How many spokes are sufficient? All of these are questions you should be asking yourself.
Of course, building materials and quality are also critical factors to consider. First and foremost, an aftermarket wheel must be durable enough to withstand some punishment. Some low-cost steering wheels can actually bend when stressed. That is something you want to avoid at all costs. Some wheels are made of wood, leather, alcantara, or fabric. Remember that some materials wear out faster than others, especially when exposed to heat.
Considerations for Choosing the Best Steering Wheel
As we previously mentioned, there are a few things to think about when purchasing a new steering wheel. The majority of the critical factors come down to building materials and strength. Obviously, you’ll want a wheel that’s comfortable in your hands. Material preferences and steering wheel size vary greatly between manufacturers and applications.
Materials for Construction
In high-performance driving scenarios, your vehicle’s steering wheel must withstand a significant amount of force. Whether you realize it or not, your hands are directing a lot of force towards the front of your car on the track. Particularly when braking. As a result, it is critical that you pick a wheel with a high-quality metal base to prevent it from bending under force.
It is critical to select the appropriate grip material for your application in addition to having a strong core material. On performance steering wheels, a few common grip materials are used. Alcantara, leather, laminated wood, and plastic vinyl are some of the most common.
Alcantara has the most grip, but it requires the most upkeep and fades quickly. Leather is also incredibly sticky and has a longer lifespan. Laminated wood wheels normally do not provide the finest grip, but they do provide a lot of visual appeal. Plastic vinyl gives the least degree of traction and is commonly featured in lower-cost steering wheels.
Size of the Best Steering Wheel
The majority of aftermarket steering wheels are available in diameters ranging from 300 to 400mm. Both a smaller and larger steering wheel have advantages. Smaller wheels are ideal for the track because they take up less cabin space and let the driver to make faster and more direct steering inputs. However, because of the additional steering input required, they make everyday driving a little more difficult.
Larger steering wheels are more suited for street driving since they need less turning of the wheel to achieve the appropriate steering angle. They are more unwieldy in the interior, though, and can take up too much space for heavier drivers.
Another size-related characteristic that varies greatly depending on personal choice is grip thickness. In terms of performance, there isn’t always a correct response. Some drivers like a thicker steering wheel, while others prefer a thin one. Choose the wheel that allows you to grip it most comfortably.
Shape of the Best Steering Wheel
Steering wheels, like their sizes, come in a variety of shapes. While most cars are built with round wheels, different-shaped steering wheels have some advantages. For example, open-top wheels with a flat bottom were commonly used in classic Formula One cars. Open-top wheels are intended to improve gauge vision on the track and can serve a similar purpose on a specialist track car.
Flat bottom wheels make it easier for drivers to get in and out of their vehicles. This is especially beneficial for larger and taller drivers, as flat bottom wheels provide for greater leg room than rounded options. That is typically the case with square or rectangular wheels. However, squared wheels can be difficult to maneuver in tight spaces and aren’t the best option for a street car in general.
Another feature of aftermarket steering wheels to consider is wheel depth. Some steering wheels have a concave design, which means that the grip section extends beyond the face of the steering wheel. Other wheels have a flat face, which means the spokes and grip are flush. Choosing between the two is, once again, a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer wheels with extended grips so that the spokes do not interfere with hand movement. Others prefer flat-faced wheels because they don’t extend as far back into your seating position and save a little space when getting in and out.
Quick Release Steering Wheel Aftermarket
A frequent topic with steering wheels is finding one that fits properly inside your vehicle’s cabin without impeding your ability to get in and out. Regardless of your option, clearance can be an issue if you have a smaller chassis and are a larger or taller person. If that is the case, there are still a few methods to help you get in and out.
A quick-release steering wheel adapter/hub is a popular option for track-oriented setups. A quick-release hub is a bolt-on hub that attaches to the back of your steering wheel and allows you to remove it with the touch of a button or the turn of a collar. The advantage is exactly what we were discussing earlier. It allows you to effortlessly remove your steering wheel when getting out of your vehicle and easily replace it once you seat down.
Quick-release hubs are reasonably affordable and can be extremely useful for individuals who need to remove some space. If you’re thinking about getting a quick release, check sure the bolt pattern matches the bolt pattern on your steering wheel.
Our Top Picks for the Best Steering Wheel
By this point, it should be clear that there are numerous aftermarket steering wheel options available. As a result, it is difficult to condense them into a concise, all-inclusive list. Having said that, our recommendations include a little bit of everything in terms of construction materials, shapes, and sizes. All of the wheels we recommend are from manufacturers who have established themselves as reliable and trustworthy.
1) Steering Wheel OMP Velocita
Black suede is used for the grip.
30x25mm grip thickness
Bolt Size: 6 x 70mm
Competitionmotorsports.com is where you can buy it.
The first thing you’ll notice is a circular, flat-faced steering wheel with some history. OMP is one of the most well-known names in motorsport, having supplied premium Italian racing parts since 1973. OMP components have appeared in Formula 1, World Rallycross, Formula E, and even NASCAR. That should cover everything you need to know about OMP’s quality control.
In terms of diameter, the OMP Velocita perfectly bridges the gap. It has the steering responsiveness of a smaller wheel while not compromising too much visibility or legroom at 350mm. The black suede grip is ideal for drivers searching for a really sticky wheel that will stay in your hands even during difficult maneuvers. While the Velocita will undoubtedly keep its grip for a long time, suede fades over time, especially when exposed to the sun for extended periods of time.
The Velocita’s grip thickness of 30x25mm is on the narrower side, which is preferable for performance driving with racing gloves. The OMP bolt design is shared by a number of other performance wheel manufacturers, including Sparco, Momo, and Sabelt. That means you won’t need a new hub or adapter if you already have one that works with those wheels.
2) Steering Wheel Nardi Classic Deep Corn Wood
Mahogany Wood is used to make the grip.
Thinner-Style Grip Thickness: N/A
Bolt Size: 6 x 74 mm
Nardi, like OMP, is a steering wheel maker with a long history. Enrico Nardi, the company’s founder, was the first Ferrari test driver and engineer in the late 1930s. He established such a rapport and reputation for quality products that Ferrari began employing Nardi steering wheels in their own road and racecars. That legacy lives on today, with Nardi regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious steering wheel manufacturers.
That is certainly evident in their wood grain wheels. While the Nardi catalog is extensive, with options for both racing and aesthetics, their wood grain wheels truly stand out. A Nardi wood gain can be used in a competitive context, but we chose it because it is really stunning. Look no further if you want a wheel that will complement and enhance your interior.
our Nardi wood grain is relatively large at 360mm in comparison to some of the other options on our list. As a result, larger drivers may struggle in a smaller chassis. Nardi does not specify the grip thickness, however it is typically assumed to be on the thinner side. Because the high-gloss mahogany grip isn’t the stickiest, it might not be ideal for high-intensity applications. Having said that, you will almost likely receive compliments whenever you attend a car meet or function.
3) Leather/Suede Sparco L360 Steering Wheel
Grip Material: Suede / Leather
Thickness of Grip: Medium Thickness of Grip
Bolt Size: 6 x 70 mm
Wow, there are a lot of reputable steering wheel manufacturers out there, don’t you think? Sparco is not an exception. Sparco is yet another Italian racing parts manufacturer that has been producing high-quality parts for nearly 50 years. They are well-known for their seats, harnesses, racewear, helmets, and, yes, steering wheels.
The L360 is a street-car-oriented steering wheel that is equally at home on the track. The L360 has a flat-faced, 3-spoke design that exudes high-performance. The L360 also has a flat bottom, which, as previously said, makes getting in and out of your vehicle easier. The L360 is a smaller wheel with a diameter of 330mm that is more suited to racing uses.
The L360 comes with either a leather or a suede grip. Choose suede if you want maximum grip. Just keep in mind that it will not be the most long-lasting. Otherwise, if you want a better grip and a longer lifespan, go with the leather grip. In terms of grip thickness, the Sparco bridges the gap between the thinner grip found on Nardi wheels and the broader grip seen on OEM wheels. In either case, it should feel good in your hands.
4) 330mm Vertex “King” Steering Wheel
Stitched leather is used for the grip.
Thickness of Grip: Medium Thickness of Grip
670 mm Bolt Fitment
Vertex occupies a highly distinct niche in terms of overall style and appeal. To understand Vertex’s attraction, consider their history. Takahiro Ueno, a professional drifter and businessman, launched Vertex in 1996. Since then, he has extended into the Japanese performance aftermarket industry, designing body modifications and steering wheels that are “simple yet aggressive.”
The Vertex “King” 330mm steering wheel has a concave distance of 90mm and is deeply concave. That means the wheel grip extends 90mm beyond the face of the wheel. It has three metal spokes as well as a special Vertex horn button. Vertex is a well-known brand in the drifting community, thanks to its concave wheels. Because the grip protrudes from the face, the spokes do not get in the way of the wheel spinning freely while connecting tracks. The medium grip thickness is ideal for gripping in the middle of a corner.
Aside from the practical benefit to the drifting community, all of Vertex’s wheels are visually stunning. While the black edition of the “King” wheel has difficult-to-see black stitching, some of the other models feature vibrant stitched lettering and symbology that is a visual treat. Vertex has you covered if you need a final touch for your JDM build.
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5) NRG Innovations 3″ Deep Dish 350mm
Suede is the grip material.
Thickness of Grip: Thick Grip
670 mm Bolt Fitment
NRG is a relatively young producer on the market, having started making steering wheels and related products in 2003. While they lack the pedigree of the other names on this list, they have made a name for themselves since their inception. NRG is one of the most cost-effective producers available. Despite being less expensive than OMP, Nardi, or Sparco, they are still good wheels.
The NRG Innovations 350mm Deep Dish is another concave steering wheel with three split-spoke spokes. The NRG, like the Vertex, is ideally suited for drift applications because to its extended grip. That being said, it would be an excellent addition to any streetcar in need of a more precise steering feel. Unlike the other wheels on this list, the NRG has a noticeable thick grip, which is ideal for drivers with large hands or who prefer to have more to cling onto.
Because NRG Innovation wheels have a 6x70mm bolt pattern, they are compatible with a wide range of steering wheel components from other manufacturers. OMP, Sparco, and MOMO are some additional brands that use a 6x70mm bolt design.
Summary of the Best Steering Wheel Guide
Steering wheels are one of those upgrades that may either start or conclude a beautiful build. A good aftermarket steering wheel can be the focal point of your interior design. Aside from appearances, a quality wheel can significantly improve your vehicle’s steering feel and provide you with more hand grip on the track.
Steering wheels are available in a range of designs and sizes. Traditional round wheels are ideally suited for street automobiles that must maneuver through city streets. Taller drivers may benefit from square or flat-bottom wheels. Wheel diameter is also very important. Smaller diameter wheels provide a more direct steering feel while also necessitating more effort for greater steering angle. Larger wheels need less effort to achieve a greater angle, but they are less direct and responsive.
Choose a wheel with a suede or alcantara grip if you want the most traction. That is, if you don’t mind a little shorter lifespan because suede degrades quickly. A leather grip wheel, on the other hand, is an excellent compromise between grip and lifespan. Other materials, such as wood, are nice and solid, but they are unlikely to provide the grip required for more intensive applications.
Finally, keep in mind that most aftermarket wheels will require a specialized hub to allow them to fit on your vehicle. Make a note of the bolt pattern on your chosen wheel and purchase a matched hub. Some hubs are interchangeable between brands, which means that as long as the bolt pattern is the same, the hub will most likely work.