Last updated: April 14th, 2023
It’s new pedal day today as we test the brand new SP01 sim racing pedals from our friends at Cube Controls. It feels like it’s been a long wait since the first announcement, but they’re finally here! So after a few weeks mounted to the rig and a lot of use in my current favorite car/sim software combination, let’s get on with the review!
About the Cube Controls SP01
When you first open the box, they’re visually striking, with their anodized blue machined aluminum bodies and multi-colored springs, elastomers, and hydraulic adjusters. Cube Controls have very clearly thought about the aesthetic. Technically, they are very impressive too.Table of Contents:
There’s obviously an outstanding level of craftsmanship, with ball bearings at every pivot point. The main structure of the pedal bodies is CNC machined from 6061 and 7075 aluminum, providing a robust and durable foundation, especially on the brake pedal which can take more load (200kg) than any other pedal I’ve used.
I must say, the brake pedal body is so strong (yet super light, which is nice) that at the maximum load, I could exert on them, I found they were flexing the 40×40 profile they were mounted to. That’s a big lesson learned for me: I’d definitely re-configure my brake mounting with some heavier-duty profile or a thick, solidly mounted pedal base for these pedals.
Finite Element Method (FEM) design
I had to Google “Finite Element Method (FEM)” which, is the design technique Cube Controls have used to produce this incredibly strong structure.
As a design methodology, FEM is widely employed in various industries, including automotive, aerospace, civil engineering, and even biomechanics, to analyze and optimize structures, materials, and components.
FEM is a heavy-duty and very specialist design methodology that, in the context of product design, allows engineers to create virtual models of structures and components to simulate their behavior under various load conditions. By analyzing these simulations, engineers can identify potential weak points, stress concentrations, or areas of excessive deformation, and subsequently modify the design to improve its performance, durability, or weight reduction.
Clearly you can see why this approach is beneficial to design engineers working on something like a 200kg brake pedal and my feeling is that in-house at Cube Controls a lot of investment has gone into making this happen.
So on with more technical detail about the brake pedal. One of the things you notice first is that there’s a die-cast faceplate featuring a very subtly textured grip on a black finish with the SP01 logo. I think it’s so subtly textured it actually feels very smooth, great with socks but grips well with boots, too. The throttle uses a carbon plate, but my guess is the faceplate on the brake has been through the FEM process too. Upon closer inspection, you can see the reinforcement in the design as well as threaded mounting holes should you choose to adjust the alignment of the plate.
You can fine-tune the spring preload on the brake pedal, which is a very easy and quick way to increase the overall resistance of the pedal. But there’s a lot more than just pre-load to play with as the brake pedal incorporates a custom-designed, fully hydraulic damper with twelve preload settings, ensuring adjustable damping characteristics for a variety of driving styles. I really like this feature and found for my purposes, the hydraulic damper setting at 4 gave me a nice feel on the compression and return of the pedal.
The brake comes supplied with a selection of color-coded springs and elastomers for different levels of stiffness. The color coding makes things so much easier – I’ve found myself staring for ages at sets of black elastomers trying to find the hard/soft markings. With the SP01 brake, yellow is soft, red is medium, and blue is hard.
As I understand it, my review pack came supplied with the SP01 Performance Kit which adds additional springs and elastomers. You also get 2 “Tuned Expansion Cups” (1 Soft Black, 1 Hard Red) that, when fitted, contain the elastomer expansion to add a little additional stiffness.
The Tuned Expansion Cups were specifically designed to stop the elastomer’s compression to alter the brake feeling to give a little extra customization. It’s worth noting that with or without the expansion cups, the elastomers themselves are manufactured in a special composite rubber that ensures much less deformation even after prolonged use over time.
There’s a huge amount of adjustment potential in the pre-load, elastomer, and spring combinations, and the adjustable hydraulic damper mechanism is so satisfying. The SimTrecs Pro Pedal GT has this feature, too but Cube Controls have nailed it by making the hydraulic interference level measurable by making the adjustment dial default to 12 preset positions.
Under the hood, there’s a high-precision 200kg load cell with a 16-bit load cell amplifier, so despite the forces being potentially huge, the sensitivity is high. While testing I had no issues with EM interference nor did the pedals need any sort of grounding.
This SP01 throttle pedal set showcases a sleek and very thick carbon faceplate with the SP01 logo embossed on it. You can adjust the pedal throw (the distance the pedal will travel) using an aluminum knob located on the main shaft. The spring preload adjustment is easily accessible, again with a blue anodized knob enabling quick and effortless fine-tuning of the pedal’s resistance.
The main shaft of the SP01 throttle pedal features “high wear resistance plating” which, aside from durability likely reduces any friction under compression. The throttle certainly feels very smooth! The pedal also incorporates a tolerance machined self-lubricating nylon sleeve and a 16-bit resolution hall sensor that accurately captures input for seamless integration into the sim racing environment.
On the back of the throttle, you’ll find a USB-C port for the USB-C to USB-A connection cable. The brake pedal connects to a small 4-pin connector that comes out of the throttle body.
Throttle are always simpler animals than the brake pedal however, I love the large pedal plate and the overall smoothness under compression. An adjustment I found very useful is the ability to set the spring pre-load (and more importantly for me the return speed) using the supplied HEX4mm L key on the screw in the front of the pedal. The return speed of the throttle just needed a tiny adjustment to make it suit my tastes.
The dimensions of the pedals more or less match those of the Heusinkveld Sprints – coming from a pair of SimTrecs ProPedal GTs this meant I needed to re-organize the pedal mounting on my rig, as I mount directly to the profile as you’ll see in the photos.
I used my own bolts and t-nuts to mount the pedals and felt that I needed to add washers when mounting. This was to protect the paintwork of the bracket (they’re not mine, so it’s nice to look after them!) and it just felt that the diameter of the holes drilled in mounting brackets was a little too large for an M6 bolt head.
Cube Controls supply M8 hex bolts and nuts with the intention of these pedals being mounted directly onto a plate. They’d fit the pedal plate on more or less any rig that comes supplied with a pedal plate – mounting to my favorite Sim-Lab GT1 Evo, for example, would be very easy. So if you’re mounting to profile you will have to come up with your own solution as t-nuts and shorter bolts for profile are not supplied.
It’s very much worth mentioning that the side brackets come in the package unattached to the pedal bodies. There is some pedal angle adjustment available via those brackets – with a 5-degree tilt on each one. I like mine at nearly 90 degrees, which is the first hole.
Calibration is always a necessity after any pedal adjustment, as we already know. Cube Controls have made this process extremely easy with their calibration software, currently available for download here (.zip).
Simply click “Calibrate” and give your pedal a full compress, decompress, and save. And that’s literally everything you need to do!
There’s more to the software than simple calibration, of course:
The ability to adjust pedal press linearity has always been helpful, particularly with cars that don’t have ABS! You can create a curve that will allow you to brake on the threshold without locking up or a curve that gently introduces braking before becoming a linear curve. Very helpful for Porsche racing, I always think.
You can also save and load profiles and upload new firmware for the pedals from this portable application.
I love the feeling of compression and decompression on the brake pedal. And, it’s hugely adjustable too. I found that the red elastomer (medium) with the hydraulic adjuster set to 4 was the sweet spot for me. It gave me just the right amount of pedal travel with a nice feeling of resistance. The rebound (lifting off the brakes) is a nice and smooth, easily controlled experience.
As I did the majority of testing in a Radical SR3 RSX in rFactor2 – I found myself able to brake in exactly the same way I do my own Radical SR3 – because of the downforce from the aero, the brakes need a sudden, high-force press followed by a slow and controlled trail off.
The brake definitely lends itself to aggressive inputs, such is the raw stiffness in the design. The amount of pressure needed for a full brake actually took me by surprise. Naturally all of this is adjustable but, if you’re interested in (real) sports prototype racing or you’re actually competing in this class of car today, you might find the SP01’s to make a really accurate representation of what a proper racing brake should feel like. The pedal will take fine inputs and, as a result, give you fine control over your corner entry, but it’s also great at the “big stops” too.
I think Cube Controls have hit this one out of the ballpark.
You’ve got a pedal body so strong that (in my case) my aluminum profile base needs some reinforcement! But it’s not just the feel of them, they really look the part too. It’s clear Cube Controls have agonized over getting these pedals just right and what they’ve delivered is very much a contender for some of the best sim racing pedals I’ve tested to date.