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SimRacing Hardware Quickly Explained: Pedals

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You want to follow in the virtual footsteps of Max Verstappen and Lando Norris? Your interest in SimRacing has been aroused recently? Just like a real racer, equipment plays an important role in SimRacing, so you can have as much fun as possible and get your best possible performance. In this article we will take a quick and compact look at pedals in SimRacing and what is important about them.

Since I train with my SimRacing setup mainly for real racing, a realistic driving experience is very important to me. Above all, you can get a more constant performance with the right pedals. Why this is so is explained by the technology in the pedal sets.

What the racing heart desires

In the early days of racing games, wheel base, steering wheel and pedal unit were typically offered as a bundled set. With a rapidly growing market and further development of technologies, numerous new products and segments were created. Nowadays, there is almost everything the racing heart desires: from inexpensive bundle packages with pedals and steering wheel units to professional hydraulic pedal designs that are in no way inferior to a real racing car pedal set.

Currently, three types of pedals have established on the market – potentiometer-based pedals, pedals with Hall-effect sensor and pedal units with a so-called load cell unit. Translated this means that basically the difference between cheap and expensive pedals lies not only in the quality of worksmanship, but especially in the feel and response of the brake pedal.

The brake pedal in a real car creates an increasing resistance against your foot when pressed. The more you brake, the more force you have to apply. In a real racing car, this can be well over 100 kilograms of brake pressure. Low-priced pedals, on the other hand, feel more even and only stiffen at the end of the stroke. This means that you have to remember the pedal travel on these pedals, whereas on more expensive pedals you hit the right brake pressure more intuitively and repeatedly with the so-called muscle memory.

All beginnings are easy

A potentiometer is essentially a position sensor. Using a mechanical resistance such as a spring or damper, the position of the pedal is measured and interpreted by the racing game as braking force. The progressive pedal suspension of the Logitech G923 as well as the Thrustmaster T300 RS even tries to imitate the behavior of a pressure sensitive brake system.

Fanatec CSL Elite Pedale * (UVP 99,95€)
Thrustmaster T150 PRO ForceFeedback * (UVP 249,99€)
Logitech G923 * (UVP 388,95€ )
Thrustmaster T300 RS * (UVP 399,99€)

Hall-effect sensors achieve a result comparable to that of a potentiometer, but measure the distance between a magnet and the sensor itself, which is then converted into an electrical signal and detected by the play as braking force. While still measuring the physical position of the pedal and not the brake pressure, it is less prone to error because we do not have to rely on mechanically moving parts.

Move bite through technologies

In higher quality, but also more expensive pedals, durable load cells are integrated into the pedal arm and measure the force exerted on the brake. In contrast to pedals with potentiometers, you can build up a realistic and strong brake pedal pressure and at the same time brake precisely and sensitively with muscle tension just like in a real racing car. They are insensitive to dust and dirt and wear very little, so they promise high accuracy and durability. In addition, various individual adjustments can be made to the pedals.

– Thrustmaster T-CLM (UVP 199,99€)
– Fanatec CSL Elite Pedale LC (UVP 229,95€)
Fanatec ClubSport Pedale V3 * (UVP 359,95€)
– Heusinveld Engineering Sim Pedals Sprint (2 Pedal-Set) (UVP 599,00€)
– Heusinveld Engineering Sim Pedals Ultimate (2 Pedal-Set) (UVP 1.079,00€)
– SIMTAG Hydraulic Pedal (Silver) (UVP 2.286,90€)

In general, these pedals are also much better manufactured and sometimes rely on stable aluminum and metal constructions to cope with the high braking forces. One or two pedal sets are also available as inverted versions.

Widely used are the price-performance Fanatec ClubSport V3 pedals *, which are equipped with a 90 kilogram load cell on the brake pedal and contactless Hall sensors on the accelerator and clutch pedal. The Fanatec CSL Elite pedals can be retrofitted with a load cell, while the Thrustmaster T-CLM pedals offer a 100 kilogram load cell and are comparatively new on the market.

Fottwork like the pros

If you are willing to make an even higher investment for SimRacing pedals, manufacturers such as Heusinveld Engineering or SIMTAG offer suitable pedal sets for the most realistic feeling in the SimRacing footwell.

These high-end pedals offer additional adjustment possibilities and are used in the most professional racing simulators. With a 120 kilogram load cell in Heusinkveld Engineering Sim Pedals Sprint and a 200 kilogram load cell in Heusinkveld Engineering Sim Pedals, they enable ultimate pedal forces that are otherwise found in formula and LMP cars. The gas and clutch pedals are equipped with hydraulic dampers. Of course, this also has its price.

However, a stable SimRacing Rig that does not bend backwards when the brake pedal is pressed harder is a prerequisite for use. From the Logitech G29 to the Fanatec CSL Elite LC pedals and Fanatec ClubSport pedals V3 up to the Heusinkveld Engineering Sim Pedals Ultimate, I have used several pedal units on my own SimRacing Rig at home over the last years.

With this experience I can confirm that better pedals can make you not necessarily faster, but certainly more consistent. Especially with pedals, a bigger investment in load cell pedals is worthwhile, because the driving experience feels much more realistic. For the Fanatec ClubSport pedals V3 I recommend the additional Brake Performance Kit. On the Heusinkveld Engineering Sim Pedals Ultimate, which I currently use, I left out the clutch pedal and did not miss it until now.