Featured image: Heusinkveld Sim Pedals Sprint
Around 2 months ago, I upgraded from Fanatec CSL Elite pedals to the rather mighty looking Heusinkveld Sprints.
Right out of the box, they’re a serious upgrade from the entry-level Fanatec units. I found throttle control was markedly improved in the Global Mazda MX5 and braking was so much more accurate. To a real-world driver, suddenly the sim car just makes so much more sense – enough that you feel you can finally drive the sim car properly.
Heusinkveld Sim Pedals Sprint: Review
Here they are on day 1, positioned and ready for installation:
On build quality, the completed unit (brake, throttle and clutch) fitted to the base plate is really sturdy. They’ll easily handle more brake pressure from my right (and left!) foot than I’d care to use in a simulator. I’m set for 20kg brake force but they’ll go further than that.
They have a distinctly formula look and feel and the machine work of the individual components is really accurate. There are no sharp edges and everything is finished nicely.
The aluminium base plate has a lovely finish to it, and they provide plenty of grip for the rubber soles of my race boots.
Install and configuration
Pedal config is emphasised in two areas: the physical installation and pedal spacing and the software configuration.
The installation itself required building the base plate and positioning the pedals using the tools and bolts provided. It’s nice to sit at a bench or table to do the job and it’s worth taking your time. It can be a little fiddly, but really this is just an exercise in assembly; patience is a virtue.
As you might spot from the image above, I initially positioned the throttle much too close to the brake pedal. This had an unfortunate side effect: I would depress the throttle in the braking phase of the corner. Not good – and a situation that would have been entirely avoidable had I thought about the spacing and positioning of the pedals more during the build.
Fiddly, but well worth the effort, I positioned the pedals to match the spacing of my race Mazda MX5. I found that spacing measured from the centre of each pedal made sense, and it’s approximately 100mm between each pedal.
My advice at this stage would be to decide on your measurements and layout before constructing the pedal unit, as a mistake is time-consuming (although really enjoyable!) to rectify.
As I mounted the pedals on the base plate I have just the right amount of support underfoot to reach the pedal correctly. I recommend you use the get the base plate, it’ll save a few headaches! Installation onto the base of my RSEAT RS1 took some thought and the use of the schematics on the Heuskinveld website to double-check my thinking.
A good metal drill bit and some patience to make sure everything is square and positioned correctly is strongly recommended.
I drilled 4 mounting points for each corner of the base plate and used large diameter washers on the underside to distribute the load as much as possible. It was relatively easy to do, and I made sure to mark the holes first and check everything was level and centred before committing.
My mantra with the sim is to try and make everything as close to real life as possible so that all my practice in the sim benefits my real-world driving, and with this arrangement, I can really practise and refine my downshifts using a heel and toe technique that matches how I like to drive my race car. Unlike the CSLs, I’m not compromised in my technique to accommodate the sim hardware. These pedals just work.
Software configuration isn’t necessary, but I do recommend it. Out of the box the pedals are identified by Windows game controllers with no need to install separate drivers. It all just worked.
It is recommended though, that if you’re changing damper stiffness with different density packers (supplied) that you should re-run calibration in the Smartcontrol software:
I found a small percentage of deadzone at either end of the pedal range really helped with the overall controllability of the sim car. I think a lot of that stems more from lazy pedal technique than anything ominous. A bit of deadzone just helps to mop up any accidental brushes with the pedal.
I set max force at around 22kg. I think this is something I still need to refine for my own driving technique as I always feel I need more braking. Then again who doesn’t in an MX5?
Improving the brake feel
I mentioned earlier the brake feel wasn’t quite to my taste. Try this tip: remove the spring altogether and add more packers. This gave a slightly more immediate feel without adding stiffness. The spring simulates the pad-to-disc gap. You can also make it shorter or longer by changing the preload on the brake pedal.
After 2 months, they’re a little dustier but actually appear to be barely worn at all.
For the money, you’re certainly making an investment but it’s a good one. I think Heuskinveld are now *the* sim pedals to own – the impact of feel and driveability is such a game-changer that I’d credit these pedals with a huge improvement in my driving in iRacing.
Without a doubt, these pedals have enabled the biggest improvement in my sim’s driveability and my race results so far. For around $600 / £600 / €600 (plus whatever your local tax rate maybe), I think these remain the best pedals you can buy on the market today.