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Test drive: Comparing Heusinkveld Sprints vs Ultimate Pedals

he ultimates rear

Improving the pedal feel in my sim was a massive step forward for my driving – when I upgraded from Fanatec’s excellent Elite CSL pedals to the Heusinkveld Sprints I found a vast improvement in my ability to modulate the brake pressure while trailing into a corner.

There was also a big improvement in controlling oversteer in the car with the throttle – I definitely improved with them.

My trusty Sprints – one of our recommend pedals in our sim pedal buyer’s guide

There’s no doubt then, Heusinkveld Sprints are a highly desirable item for your home simulator setup, and they’re probably good enough for 99% of sim racers out there.

The Sprints have a bigger brother, however. The Heusinkveld Ultimate pedal is a more expensive item pitched at the professional simulation market, experienced simracers or Esports professionals.

As Heusinkveld put it in their pedal selection guide, “Only choose the Sim Pedals Ultimate if the following applies to you:”

You want to simulate 1:1 brake forces for all race car types. Although the maximum brake force of the Sim Pedals Sprint (65kg) is already above most other commercially available sets, the Sim Pedals Ultimate allow for up to 136kg of force allowing you to simulate the actual brake force of F3/GP2/F1/LMP/Indycars.

You want to have hydraulic damping on your pedals. All Ultimate pedals feature a 1-way (throttle) or 2-way hydraulic damper (brake/clutch).

Heusinkveld Pedal Selection Guide

Interesting.

Heusinkveld Sprints vs Ultimates, what’s the difference?

I was lucky enough to test a set of Ultimates having come straight out of my sim running Sprints. A back to back test, if you will.

Except for the price there are two other clear differences: visual (engineering and build) and feel!

Visual

The Sprints are a nicely made and quite compact assembly as we know. The electronics are in-situ, leaving only the need for the pedals to be connected to each other in a daisy chain ready to be connected directly to your games PC. They’re a plug and play device that we know need very little configuration.

Conversely, the Ultimates come with a separate USB controller that all 3 pedals are connected via.

The Ultimate throttle is a significantly larger item compared to the Sprint. Ultimates are bigger, heavier and use a thicker plate throughout. The Ultimate throttle uses a 2-way hydraulic damper in tandem with the adjustable main coil spring. The throttle’s damper resists speed at the in-going stroke which helps with smoothing the throttle application.

The clutch, again is a heavier, bigger item. Again there’s a 2-way hydraulic damper on the Ultimate pedal, with a cam at the back to simulate the movement of a diaphragm spring clutch. The damper adds resistance depending on how fast the pedal is pressed or released

Heusinkveld Ultimate clutch with diaphragm emulation

The Ultimate brake pedal is bigger than the Sprint too, again with the hydraulic damper and a larger bump rubber damper system, with more scope (potentially) to adjust the pedal to simulate a particular brake feel.

Clearly there’s a physically superior presence to the Ultimates, there is much more design in the damping and clutch throw emulation. My sense is that the brake in particular is designed to give such a wide scope to adjust the feel that more or less any car can be emulated.

Hydraulic 2-way damper in an Ultimate pedal set
Hydraulic damper in an Ultimate pedal set

This is a full-hydraulic pedal set: each pedal features an adjustable hydraulic damper. As pedal assemblies in real cars have hydraulic flow through hoses, tubes and cylinders, Heusinkveld use these to simulate the damping effect that these assemblies normally provide. Professional feedback that I’ve seen mentions that this brake can easily beat the more expensive hydraulic systems.

Feel

There’s a certainty underfoot with the Ultimates that the Sprints get close to, but not like this. I’m not sure how that reads frankly, but I’ll try my best. Perhaps it’s the extra weight and maximum available pressure through the brakes but once adjusted to a max pressure of my liking, I found the brakes extremely smooth and fantastically easy to modulate. There’s just more usuable travel in an ultimate, particularly when you lift off the brake while trailing into a corner. The extra damping, especially the pedal return, makes it feel that much more realistic.

Something to be careful of, just because a pedal offers a higher maximum pressure doesn’t mean you have to use it! If you’re a professional driver preparing for an indy car race, go ahead and use 75kgs of brake force! But for an amateur home sim user this is much too much and it’ll ruin your ability to trail brake nicely (in my humble opinion). If I’d have spent more time with the pedals, I’d have used a stiffer rubber packer in the same way I did with the sprints. I found myself wanting the pedal just that little bit stiffer.

The clutch is extremely realistic – it has a nice smooth throw, and the weight on the pedal drops off when its fully depressed. That’s because the design of the pedal emulates a diaphragm clutch much like you’d find in the real car. The 2-way damper is responsive to how much speed you use to depress the pedal – I wonder how far this could be tuned to only allow a maximum speed of gear change (like some manual track cars do).

Finally, the throttle. Again a really smooth and certain response with absolutely loads of scope to adjust the weight transfer in the car, particularly on lift-off.

Summary

For me the big improvement in the Ultimates are the brakes and clutch for overall feel. If you’ve got the spare budget and you’re genuinely an enthusiast interested in high end simulation, or you’re in a racing car in real like that needs a lot of brake pressure (like a Radical SR3, LMP3, LMP2 or F3 cars and above) then go for the Ultimates.

Exquisite detail in the engineering of these pedals

If you’re on a budget or you’re new to simulation, the Sprints are entirely adequate and as I’ve said before are a game changing set of pedals with great configuration options in your home setup. Yes, the Ultimates are better but for my driving, the Sprints are plenty enough for now.

2 thoughts on “Test drive: Comparing Heusinkveld Sprints vs Ultimate Pedals

  1. A good review, many thanks. I have Sprints and they were a big step up from Fanatec V3s most particularly with the brake pedal. I say improved lap times and consistency as a result.

    Now I’m tempted to go hydraulic. But I wonder if there is the law of diminishing returns here at play and whether I’ll be disappointed with the improvements vs the investment….

  2. Depending on how long you’ve owned sprints I suppose. I decided to stick with mine for now because I haven’t stopped improving with them. Then again it may be that I’ll find some further improvement with the ultimates. As you know the difference between the fanatec and the sprints, I’d say its a similar step up from the sprints to the ultimates!

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