Reviewing the new Cube Controls SP01 Sim Racing Pedals

cube controls SP01 sim racing pedals
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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 favourite car/sim software combination, let’s get on with the review!


pedals SP01 boxed

About the Cube Controls SP01

When you first open the box, they’re so visually striking, with their Cube Controls Trademarked blue aluminium features and multi-coloured accessories – the SP01s are supplied with colour-coded elastomers. Straight from the outset, you know the stiffness without studying the elastomer for ages to work out which is which. That alone (along with lots of others) is a handy feature. Cube Controls have very clearly thought about the aesthetic. Technically, they are very impressive too.

Table of Contents:
  • Finite Element Method
  • SP01 Brake
  • SP01 Throttle
  • Installation
  • Calibration
  • Pedal Feel

  • There’s an outstanding level of craftsmanship as my pictures make very clear. I suppose as we move forward, more complex manufacturing techniques, such as 5-axis CNC machining (in 6061 and 7075 aluminium) are becoming more accessible to more manufacturers. There’s a lot to this manufacture and design technique as you’ll read later in the article. Ultimately they’re designed to tolerate 200kg of load. I can’t get anywhere near that level of pedal load but I suppose it’s a good way to say “I’ll last a long time!”.

    Brake body close up
    Brake body close-up

    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 slightly flexing the 40×40 profile they were mounted to. This has since led me to modify my pedal base with an 8040 profile at the back. Problem solved.

    Finite Element Method (FEM) design

    “Finite Element Method (FEM)” is the design technique Cube Controls used to produce this incredibly strong structure.

    FEM isn’t new to the world of engineering, it’s a particularly powerful way to simulate how a design will likely react under extreme loads – to use FEM on sim racing equipment is a relatively new development however. To the best of my knowledge, FEM use is more common for pedal design and some wheels have had this treatment during the design phase too.

    Finite element analysis of an aircraft bearing bracket
    Finite element analysis of an aircraft bearing bracket (example from Simscale.com)

    SP01 Brake

    Let’s look at the brake pedal first. Straight out of the box, the pedal face plate catches your eye. It has the SP01 logo printed on the top and bottom of a textured, aluminium plate. The texture is nice – grippy; like skateboard grip tape but incredibly fine.

    The brake pedals “work” with boots or socks – I bother far less with gloves and boots these days because the plates tend to be grippy enough but designed with rounded or bevelled edges – causing next to no wear and tear on the soles of your feet. I wear plain, ordinary socks with pedals these days.

    Cube Controls have made it very easy to make simple adjustments to the stiffness of the pedal. You could just adjust the preload with the large aluminium knob on the elastomer/spring stack. There are also various elastomer options and a hex screw adjusts the pre-load stiffness. You can adjust the height of the pedal plate too – look at the picture below and you’ll see threaded holes for different plate mounting heights.

    SP01 Brake Pedal close up (rear)

    As I mentioned earlier – a “feature” I really like is the coloured elastomers. With the SP01 brake, yellow is soft, red is medium, and blue is hard.

    close up view of the coloured elastomers

    If you buy the “brake performance kit” you also get additional springs, elastomers and cups that stop the elastomers from over-expanding under pressure. That’s quite a smart thing to add; because limiting how far an elastomer can compress laterally is going to give them a longer shelf life. Very clever.

    Elastomers and tools supplied
    Elastomers and tools supplied

    All of this just makes these pedals very adjustable – from the damper stiffness adjuster (pictured below) to the various pre-load and rebound stiffness adjustment options. You could (without a doubt!) spend weeks perfecting the feel of the brake alone.

    Brake pedal (rear)
    Note the engineering detail – ball bearings, multi-coloured elastomers and anodized adjustment dials

    The electronics (load cell amplifier in this case) are hidden away from view and each pedal daisy chains together to interface with a USB port on your PC. All very simple to the eye, but it’s very clear just how much effort Cube Controls put into this design.

    SP01 Throttle

    Throttle pedals are only exciting when they’re fully depressed… Just kidding; as you can see below the SP01 throttle is a simpler affair than the brake for obvious reasons. But with that said, I liked the carbon faceplate which is very thick – the bevelled edges make it comfortable to use. You’ll see the faceplate isn’t *as* adjustable as the brake but it can be relocated. I don’t see why you’d need to, though: out of the box the entire pedal set was ready to go with no adjustments or calibration needed.

    Throttle with mounting brackets fitted
    Throttle with mounting brackets fitted

    The materials used on the throttle shaft have a special coating that makes them feel physically smoother. Cube refer to it as an “anti-wear” coating. I’d put money on it being ceramic-based – much like you can ceramic coat your car to protect the paintwork.

    Throttle from the rear with USB-C and expansion sockets for brake and clutch

    The throttle is the USB endpoint for the brake and clutch – you can see in the image above the choice of sockets – USB-C for the PC connection and those little 4-pin plugs for the throttle and brake.

    Adjusting throttle pre-load
    Adjusting throttle pre-load

    An adjustment I found very useful (image above) is the ability to set the spring pre-load (and more importantly for me the return speed) using the supplied HEX4mm L (we call these Torx in the UK) located on the front of the pedal arm (very convenient placement). It changes the resistance to pressure and slows the pedal rebound a little too; this is an adjustment I needed to make as the pedal felt quite loose on arrival – the adjustment gave me a bit more feel and helped me come to terms with the pedal set just that little bit quicker.

    Installation

    Mounting pedals is my least favourite part of sim racing. There, I’ve said it! There’s seemingly no standard size for any of them; my SimTrecs ProPedal GTs are a wider, longer size than the SP01s which are about the same length as a Heusinkveld Sprint, but the SP01’s are wider. Inevitably (and because I don’t use any sort of “universal” mounting plate) I had to reconfigure my sim rig before getting started with the actual installation.

    The installation itself, well – we’ve all done it by now. It’s easy. 4 bolts and t-nuts for each pedal, make sure the spacing will suit you before really tightening them down and you’re done.

    Pedal plates and installation directly on to aluminium profile

    The SP01s come with a mounting kit (the bolts) but not the t-nuts. I used my own spares for this – the other factor is that as soon as you tighten the bolt down it will damage the anodization of the mounting brackets on the pedals. I didn’t want to damage these pedals (as they’re not mine; they were going to be returned to Cube Controls at some point) so, I used a washer for each bolt.

    It would be nice if each manufacturer put some more thought into the installation process for pedals – from issuing a standard size for the footprint of the pedal to supplying washers (even little plastic spacers would suffice) – it’s a little painful tightening a bolt down on a brand new pedal set *knowing* it’s destroying the paintwork. At least it is for me.

    The side brackets you need to mount the pedals are supplied uninstalled or unattached to the pedal bodies. Cube Controls have drilled several holes at the back of each bracket to give you the opportunity to play with a potential 5-degree tilt for each one. I like mine at nearly 90 degrees to the ground – that’s hole number 1 for what it’s worth!

    Calibration with CubeSet

    Cube Controls have made calibration a breeze with CubeSet (currently V1.19). You can download CubeSet here. It’s incredibly self-explanatory if you’ve ever installed anything on Windows! Here’s the calibration procedure.

    cube controls SP01 calibration software

    Open the app, click “Calibrate” and give your pedal a full compress, decompress, and save. And that’s all you need to do!

    There’s more to the software than simple calibration, of course:

    create new profile for SP01

    If you want to make further adjustments, CubeSet will allow you to change the linearity of each pedal curve in “profiles”. As I say regularly, some cars in iRacing like the 911 GTE RSR have no ABS (why I don’t know) – and I’ve always found that a curvature on the brake pedal force prevents me from locking the wheels too easily.

    Pedal Feel

    I think for all of us, it’s the brake feel that matters most. As I’ve already mentioned, the throttle is smooth but the brake pedal is where this pedal set shines. I found that the red elastomer (medium) with the adjuster on the back of the hydraulic damper set at 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 smooth, easily controlled experience.

    Not a simulation: my Radical SR3
    Not a simulation: my Radical SR3

    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.

    If you drive the faster, aero cars (like the Radical in rFactor2) this brake pedal is for you. As you may know, the initial brake force in an aero car can be quite violent and very sudden, followed by trailing off the brakes. As a rookie, this pedal set would be overkill (although who am I to judge what you do with your money?) but if you’re in that intermediate to advanced sim racing sweet spot, I can recommend the SP01’s – *checks notes* they’re on our sim racing pedals buyer’s guide.


    Conclusion

    Pros:

    • High-Quality Materials: The pedals are made from CNC machined 6061 and 7075 aluminium, ensuring durability and a robust foundation.
    • Aesthetic Design: The anodized blue machined aluminium bodies with multi-coloured springs, elastomers, and hydraulic adjusters offer a visually striking appearance.
    • Advanced Technology: Utilization of Finite Element Method (FEM) for design, ensuring a strong structure capable of handling significant load (up to 200kg for the brake pedal).
    • Customization and Adjustability: The brake pedal features an adjustable spring preload, a fully hydraulic damper with twelve preload settings, and comes with a selection of colour-coded springs and elastomers for different levels of stiffness.
    • High Precision: Equipped with a high-precision 200kg load cell and a 16-bit load cell amplifier for sensitive and accurate input detection.
    • Smooth Operation: The throttle pedal boasts a sleek carbon faceplate, adjustable pedal throw, and spring preload, along with high wear resistance plating for smooth operation.

    Cons:

    • Mounting Requirements: The pedals might require a heavy-duty profile or a solidly mounted pedal base due to their strength, which could flex standard mounting setups.
    • Potential Overkill for Casual Racers: The high level of stiffness and the need for aggressive inputs might be more suited to experienced or professional sim racers, potentially making it less ideal for casual users or beginners.
    • Complexity in Adjustments: While the adjustability is a pro, it could also be seen as a con for users looking for a simpler, plug-and-play solution.

    Reviewing the new Cube Controls SP01 Sim Racing Pedals