"In this Special Series about the CSL Redux Steering Wheel, I document my experiences sourcing 2x steering wheels from Germany and how it evolved into this new product.
In this journal entry: craftsmen get better with repetition. I unbox my new steering wheel, and compare it to my first commissioned unit back in 2022."
Looking up the rear view mirror.
Back in early 2022, I commissioned a steering wheel from M-Technic in Germany. It was good quality: the stitching was great, the Alcantara was genuine and the feel was proper.
The customization options made it attractive. You could spec a few different colors of center bands, and stitching.
Unfortunately, the upholstery shop was limited in sourcing Alcantara to the Deep Black (9040) whereas BMW uses 9002 (Charcoal Grey) across their interiors.
Their process was optimized for cost in a market flooded with cheap rewraps and Chinese offerings. They opted to wrap over the original BMW leather.
Could I tell? In a vacuum, no - you wouldn't know unless you compared it to a Genuine BMW CSL / ZCP steering wheel.
I have a steering wheel using the same techniques in my E60. We have no comparison for this generation of M5s - there's no way to tell.
A hustler's half-truth.
Pseudo-psychology and pop-hustle-culture will have us believe 10,000 hours, or roughly 2.6 years, are required for mastery in a complex skills.
Hard work, measured by time, will only get you so far. You either have talent or you don't, along with great teachers. Science tells us it doesn't work like.
I have zero talent for upholstery - I tried! However I can understand its dynamics to success and document its process.
A full year with no sleep isn't even 10,000 hours, yet guys at M-Technic have improved their processes since 2022 - drastically.
They reached out in the Summer of '23 with news: they could now source the proper 9002 matching Grey Multilayer™ fabric from Alcantara.
Still, I wanted a little bit more.
I spent too much time at Recovered Workshop learning the ins and outs of automotive upholstery: I sought a complete reupholstery instead of a rewrap - and they were up for it.
I also wanted to ditch the yellow center band. Long live Phoenix Yellow [...] elsewhere. The car is now San Marino Blue.
I ended commissioning a new steering wheel with Grey Alcantara, Tri Color stitching and black Nappa leather center band along with deleting the upper seam.
It showed up early October '23. I could immediately notice the differences - the Grey alcantara was proper.
I removed the former steering wheel to line them up and compare. Below you'll find my notes on the little details that - for me, made it worthwhile.
My previous unit had the gap and stitching in the upper section. My new unit isn't precisely the Genuine BMW spec - and that's fine with me. You can spec to CSL trim if you'd like.
The craftsmanship improvements were obvious. The center band was now perfectly straight.
My former unit tapered down. You can catch the extra thickness comparing these two pictures.
They also revamped their thread lines due to the fit over the original padding. My former unit had extra stitching to tighten it together.
The new unit has less threads on back surfaces, and keeps it clean, and tight.
The front section had also an extended stitching line across the lower trim.
The previous unit did not. We'll see if that shows through on installation.
This inner section where the thumbs sit lifted on my E60 unit. We had to redo the adhesive in that section.
It's a risk to rewraps that are less prevalent on complete reupholstery.
If a tactile difference was most noticeably felt, it was here.
The protruding section felt like my former Genuine BMW nappa leather steering wheel. It's a lot less padded than the subsequent M3 V8 units from BMW.
The Tri-Color stitching remained unchanged for the most part. It's crisp, straight - no signs of shaky hands.
Overall, the quality differences really need to be felt - pictures won't do it complete justice.
Up next: I document my DIY installation notes, and step back.
I'll give my final thoughts on fitment, aesthetics - and whether this is worth it considering the price premium.