Heusinkveld Buyer’s Guide

Heusinkveld Black Sprints and Magshift kit
This article contains affiliate links to carefully chosen products, which means I may earn an affiliate commission when you click and buy through sites such as Amazon and other sim racing retailers. Thank you for supporting our site! Read our affiliate and editorial policy here.

Featured image: Heusinkveld Black Sprints and Magshift kit

Established in 2012, Heusinkveld Engineering is one of the first companies to offer high-end, off-the-shelf hardware solutions suitable for professional race simulator use.

From its development and production facility located in Groningen, the Netherlands, the company manages to put out some of the best and true-to-life sim hardware on the market despite having a relatively small team of only 25 employees.


Since our last update, Heusinkveld has rolled out a few new products. A few noticeable changes include the newly-released Heusinkveld Ultimate+ pedals, Magshifter, a new version of the handbrake, and black-painted Heusinkveld Sprints.

A hydraulic damper in a Heusinkveld Ultimate pedal
A hydraulic damper in a Heusinkveld Ultimate pedal

With innovation at the core of its business, Heusinkveld’s product designs are based on integrated kinematic and force models, resulting in products that offer more adjustability and durability than merely converting standard automotive parts for simulator use.

Buyer’s guide to Heusinkveld – contents:

Heusinkveld has invested significantly in R&D over the years, giving it an enviable knowledge base upon which to design its products. The company takes great pride in the fact that its products are used by both hobbyists and professional racing drivers alike. The company develops its automated testing equipment, which simulates intensive long-term use in a short period, allowing it to validate prototype designs for the most demanding use cases rapidly.

Prototype Sprint clutch undergoing mechanical stres testing
Prototype Sprint clutch undergoing mechanical stress testing

Needing no introduction as one of the best-known pedal manufacturers in sim racing, Heusinkveld offers two fantastic pedal sets; Ultimate and Sprint. However, the company also makes other sim racing products that are generally lesser-known, like rigs, handbrakes, and shifters, so I’ll be going through Heusinkveld’s complete product catalogue in today’s post and talking about their benefits and features.

Sim Pedal Development

I want to kick things off by discussing what technologies go into Heusinkveld’s pedals that make them feel so real.

Developing a sim pedal isn’t a simple affair, and you don’t just put these things together and hope for the best, but it’s important to understand that regardless of how much money you spend, at this point, no set of sim racing pedals is perfect. That’s to say that no set of pedals currently on the market can reproduce the precise feeling of things like pedal shudder or the textured feel of brake pads interfacing with a spinning rotor. With this said, 2024 has seen an explosion of “pedal haptics” kits. I don’t know why it has taken the manufacturers so long to realise there’s demand for these – SIM3D have been making them for years and now they’re part of the design on the Conspit CPP.lite and they’re an available option for Simagic pedals too. Combined with a Buttkicker, Haptics can revolutionise your setup.

a Heusinkveld Sprint brake pedal with a rumble motor installed
A Heusinkveld Sprint brake pedal with a rumble motor installed (read about pedal rumble kits here)

There are all sorts of things that Heusinkveld has done to achieve a more authentic feel, (elastomer quality and the tuning of the hydraulic dampers) but certain things are not possible at the moment. This includes all the things that happen in a real-life race car or streetcar that are currently very difficult to simulate, such as the effect of brake fade due to changing fluid viscosity relative to temperature. Heusinkveld uses some technological trickery to achieve more realism, such as implementing hydraulic dampeners on its Ultimate pedals, which can provide valuable feedback, and I must say, the hydraulics in the brake pedal on the Ultimate+ pedal set are excellent.

As I update this post, we’ve had Simucube’s Activepedal for almost a year. Where static sim racing pedals need modifications to simulate a “real” feel; the Activepedal uses a direct drive servo motor to simulate these sensations. Clever, but enormously expensive. Priced at £3,000, I ask myself if that’s a step too far.

When something feels real, it’s easier to drive properly

The brake pedal in a real car generates an increasing amount of resistance against your foot as you push it down. The harder you want to brake, the more force you have to apply, and this is perhaps where most people will feel the most significant difference between pedal sets. Cheaper pedals tend to have a more consistent feel throughout the majority of the pedal stroke. They only really stiffen up right at the very end of the range of travel when you reach the bump stop, which, as you can probably guess, makes it a lot more challenging to establish muscle memory. Essentially, you’re having to teach your brain to move your ankle to a specific position to apply maximum braking force without locking up rather than using a more linear and consistent amount of force.

heusinkveld sprint brake pedal
Heusinkveld Sprint brake pedal fitted with rumble kit modification and (note the elastomers/plastic packers) it’s set to be very stiff

A better-quality pedal set is one of the largest contributing factors to faster and more consistent lap times, moving from “budget” to “mid-range” (the Sprints) was a game change for my driving, and to this day I still think upgrading your pedals first is the right approach.

Are these pedals potentiometer-based, hall-effect-based or do they use load cells?

Don’t forget that there are three types of positioning sensors used in sim racing pedal sets; potentiometer-based, hall-effect-based, and load cell-based, but since both the Heusinkveld Sprint and Ultimate+ pedal sets are at the higher end of the market, we are only concerned with the latter here.

For a closer look at all three technologies, you can head over to my in-depth pedal buyers guide.

Mounting and Spacing

One thing that’s often overlooked is the horizontal spacing between the pedals themselves. If you do a lot of heel and toe driving, this, in particular, can be very important. Most cheaper pedal sets don’t allow for any adjustment of the spacing between the pedals. In contrast, higher-end pedals like the Sprint and Ultimate+ pedals can be individually mounted to a pedal plate in whatever configuration you like, so not only can you move them from side to side, but depending on your mounting solution, you can even offset them front-to-back should you wish to do so.

Heusinkveld pedal gap adjustment
Setting pedal gaps before installation – you can mount on Heusinkveld’s pedal base or directly to the aluminium profile (my preference)

Speaking of mounting solutions, having a solid base for your pedals that won’t slide around on the floor, flex, or move relative to your chair is essential, so make sure that you’ve got this sorted first and foremost. You can buy separate baseplates for both the Sprint and Ultimate pedals, and unless you plan on constructing something yourself out of an aluminium profile, these are an essential purchase. Remember, the heavier the pedals, the more of an issue this is going to be.

Heusinkveld Sim Pedals Sprint

Heusinkveld’s Sprint pedals brought plug-and-play, USB “high-end” pedals to the market and they’re probably one of the longest-selling, most enduring pedal designs in the industry.

sim rig for racing
Sprints mounted in SRC HQ’s rig

As you’ll have read in my review – owning a pair of Sprints was quite a game-changer for my sim racing. Not to rubbish my previous pedals – the Fanatec CSL Elites, the Sprints were just so much more refined and gave me more “feel” for the car while driving.

Sprints in their box
My Sprints in their box – one of the first upgrades I ever made to my home simulator

As I mentioned in the image above, these were my first “proper” (as we say in the UK) set of sim racing pedals. Despite owning some pretty high-end gear, I wouldn’t hesitate to put these back on my rig. Love them!

SmartControl

Before Smartcontrol (Heusinkveld’s config and calibration software) arrived, all we had was DiView – which I still use from time to time should I need to diagnose a problem. But as you can see from the images below – Smartcontrol lets you set “deadzones”, re-calibrate your pedals if you’ve made a change to the elastomer stack, and set the curvature of the throttle, brake and clutch response:

I’m not sure if people new to sim racing realise just how big a step this software and the Sprints represented. I think to summarise they made high-end sim racing gear far more accessible to “ordinary” sim racers.

Heusinkveld Sim Pedals Ultimate+

Heusinkveld Ultimate pedals (that’s the review link, by the way) are “suitable for high-end professional Motorsport simulators”. That was the line from the manufacturer who had, yet again, redefined how sim pedals should feel by adding a customised hydraulic damper to the brake pedal.

heusinkveld ultimate+ sim pedals
Heusinkveld Ultimate+ (the latest version of the Ultimate – review here)

Hydraulic Damping

Hydraulic dampers are “par for the course” in 2024, but adding a hydraulic damper to a brake pedal when the original Ultimate pedals first arrived was an innovation that yet again, has endured ever since.

2 way damper in Heusinkveld Ultimate+ sim racing pedal
2 way damper in Heusinkveld Ultimate+ sim racing pedal

The brake and clutch both feature a 2-way damper which adds resistance depending on how fast the pedal is pressed/released. The throttle pedal features a damper that resists speed at the ingoing stroke. This helps with smoothing the throttle application, and it is also used on some real race cars for this purpose. Moreover, you can adjust the resistance of all the dampers using pre-load adjusters.

Finally, the Heusinkveld Ultimate+ pedals are now available in black colour as well which enhances their aesthetic appeal. The silver version is also available in case you’re not too fond of the dust-magnet black-coloured pedals. However, even in the black version, the pedals are silver so you won’t have to worry too much about keeping them clean and tidy. 

As for the price tag, you’ll have to pay a substantial sum of €1,197 to grab the 3-pedal set.

I have the original Heusinkveld Ultimate Pedals – Can I Upgrade them?

The OGs using the original version of the Heusinkveld Ultimate pedals can purchase the upgrade kit to transform their pedals into the Ultimate+ for just an additional €106. The upgrade kit comes with the new brake assembly, 12-bit USB controller, nuts, and screws, and most importantly, it enables support for SmartControl configuration software that ensures that you can easily adjust the configuration of all of your Heusinkveld pedals.

Should you buy the Sprint or the Ultimate Pedals?

Now comes the tricky question; which pedal set should you buy? This is, of course, very hard to answer as it comes down to factors like budget, your racing experience, and the amount of physical room you have to install the pedals. They’re both high-endurance, hard-wearing pedals – which allow you to drive hard in the sim. The difference is quite simple: the Ultimate+ pedals are slightly longer and wider with hydraulic damping, whereas the Sprints are slightly smaller and use an elastomer stack to simulate the compression and rebound of a brake pedal.

Sprints vs Ultimates
Sprints (left) and Ultimate+ (right)

This is the latest version of the USB controller for the Ultimate+, with a thick aluminium case to prevent any EM interference. Some manufacturers like Conspit and Simagic have a separate controller, where other pedals (including the Sprints) have an onboard load cell amplifier and all the electronics are neatly packaged away and, out of sight.

smartcontrol controller heusinkveld for Ultimate+
Heusinkveld USB control box supplied with Ultimate+ pedals (Sprint’s USB controller is mounted onboard the pedal)

So, the most significant difference between the two pedal sets lies in hydraulic damping. My suggestion for potential Heusinkveld pedal buyers is to buy the Ultimate+ pedals if you have the cash, as they are indisputably the better pedal. However, if you’re upgrading from, say, Thrustmaster, Logitech or Fanatec gear, the Heusinkveld Sprint pedals will feel like an entirely new universe. I’d almost recommend that you own a set of Sprint pedals before upgrading to the Ultimate+ pedal set so that you can appreciate what “good” feels like!

Heusinkveld Sim Shifter Sequential

Covered over on our sim racing shifters guide, Heusinkveld’s Sim Shifter Sequential is a very compact item, so if you only want sequential and no h-pattern, this is a pretty sturdy and compact addition to your sim.

heusinkved sequential shifter
Heusinkved sim shifter sequential

The shifter has the feel of a real sequential gearbox because of its ball spring resistance system. With a short throw action that has variable resistance depending on the position. This means that the lever requires a higher initial peak force before the resistance drops as the lever simulates the gearbox sliding into gear:

Heusinkveld's Shift feel approximation
Heusinkveld’s “Shift feel approximation”

The unit features soft bump stops which makes shifting a relatively quiet procedure compared to some of the other devices mentioned!

Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake V2

The Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake V2 improves on its predecessors and offers much better control over your handbrake with its CNC-steel build with a powder coat finish that gives it more durability. 

Laden with a 120kg load cell, the handbrake can handle a force of up to 22kg. The original version, the handbrake V1 only managed a force of up to 17kg, clearly a massive improvement in this new and upgraded version. 

One thing that impressed me the most is that the Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake V2 supports vertical orientation which makes it perfect for rally racing and drifting. And when you’re done messing around, you can switch back to the horizontal orientation by replacing a few screws.

Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake V2
Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake V2

The resistance of the handbrake is also adjustable and you can customize your experience using the native software. Finally, for this comparatively flexible handbrake, you’ll have to spend a chunky €280.

MagShift

Heusinkveld MagShift is a sequential gear shifter suited for rally games and drag racing and its forward and backward movement gives you the perfect immersive experience with its adjustable resistance.

The Magshift leverages the magnetic shift system to offer a racing car-like experience. The lever is perfectly adjustable and you can set the resistance to get an immersive feel. Likewise, with height adjustment options, you won’t have to struggle to find your sweet spot.

MagShift from Heusinkveld
MagShift from Heusinkveld

The build quality is top-notch, something that you always expect from Heusinkveld. Moreover, there’s a button box beneath the lever which has 3 total buttons that can be customized using the native SmartControl app to assign them to different functions.

Surprisingly, the lever can also be programmed to perform different functions. For instance, you can use SmartControl to customize the shifter to put the car into neutral when you’re pulling the lever for a specified duration, something that you generally don’t find elsewhere. You could use Smartcontrol Live to adjust settings on your brakes (if you own the brake kit, too).

Another attractive feature that’s offered here is that you can simply use hex keys to adjust the resistance of the shifter which makes the process of finding your sweet spot hassle-free. 

Finally, with a price tag of €371, this is a bit expensive when compared to similar GT-style shifters on the market.

Black Versions

Heusinkveld has moved on from the all-silver colour scheme and is now offering blacked-out versions of its products. Right now, Ultimate+ pedals, Sprint pedals, Magshift, and Handbrake V2 are offered with the black colour option. 

Heusinkveld Sprint Pedals - Black
Heusinkveld Sprint Pedals – Black

The combination of silver and black colour scheme gives a very premium look to each component and when you’re paying the top dollar, aesthetics are something that you shouldn’t overlook. 

Heusinkveld partnered up with Team Redline and occasionally offers special edition Sprint pedals that rock a medley of red and black colour schemes with hints of silver, making the pedals aesthetically pleasing. However, these special edition pedals are often out of stock and consumers have to rely on 3rd-party vendors to grab them. Basically, they’re the hardest-to-find pedals on the planet!

SmartControl Live

The Heusinkveld SmartControl Live software allows you to electronically control the output of each of your components and create a personalized experience. For instance, if you’re not satisfied with the default pedal configuration and want to make some tweaks, you can simply use the software to calibrate the pedals and make adjustments. 

Smartcontrol Live
Smartcontrol Live

In the pedals section, you’ll have the option to adjust the max force, curve type, elastomer, and a bunch of other features on your pedals. And since you can manage different profiles, switching settings is a piece of cake. And if you ever mess up, simply reset all the settings to default with a single click. 

For games like iRacing or Assetto Corsa, I’d recommend the following settings for each of your pedals:

Clutch

  •  Default Settings

Brake 

  • Max Force: 65kg
  • Bottom deadzone: 2%
  • Elastomer: Soft
  • Curve type: Custom (<90%)

Throttle 

Top deadzone: 5%

Bottom deadzone: 3%

Curve Type: Linear 

Obviously, you can create multiple profiles, each with different configurations, and try them all to see what works best for you.

Important note: Once you’re finished changing the settings, make sure to save them, otherwise they will automatically revert to the default setting.


Related Posts:

Heusinkveld Buyer’s Guide