The Best Sim Racing Pedals – Buyer’s Guide

simtrecs propedal gt up close

Last updated: September 23rd, 2022

If you’ve been following some of our recent posts, you’ll be up to speed with our view on the best sim steering wheels, wheelbases and frames available on the consumer market. We’ve also gone over how to assemble a rig from scratch, which we covered with a broader look at some of the vital information you need to understand before spending a penny.

Of course, a sim rig isn’t complete without a set of racing pedals, so here I’m going to give a detailed breakdown of what pedal features you need to know about, and what the best pedal choices out there might be when it comes to performance, feeling, and overall quality and design.

Our best sim racing pedal recommendations:

Check out our recommended sim pedals with the links below or read on for more details:

How spending a bit more budget on your pedals can yield big benefits

Pedals are, as you might expect, a crucial interface between you and your car’s attitude on the track. Trail braking and good throttle control are the name of the game when it comes to faster lap times. That’s certainly the experience I’ve had over the years; and, with every pedal upgrade I’ve had I’ve found two main issues tend to surface:

  • That I have better brake control and can trail into a corner more precisely
  • That I can control the car with the throttle more accurately

Generally speaking, you’ll find in “high end” sim racing pedals that the components (and the mechanical design of the units) tend to lend themselves to being able to handle the kind of brake forces you’d expect in a real racing car. They also, critically, have the electronics onboard to measure the input on the throttle, brake and clutch with load cells (check out how excited these guys get about the quality of the load cells they use in their STR Pro pedals). The electronics get quite sensitive the further up the development (and cost!) spectrum you travel, but the benefit of this is that you can notice just how fine your control is over the simulated environment.

What are load cells and how are they used in pedals?

A load cell is also known as a “force transducer”. Unlike, say, a potentiometer you can put very high loads through a load cell, measuring the force as an electrical signal that is then amplified in the pedal electronics. The benefit aside from dealing with very high forces associated with the brake pedal is the mechanical aspect of the overall pedal design can be simpler. A potentiometer would need some sort of leverage reduction to remove the forces (50kg would physically crush a potentiometer!). The drawback is that the electronics required are arguably more complicated; although of course in an engineering sense, the work required to build a good load cell amplifier with a USB adapter is pretty trivial stuff.

A load cell diagram from SimTrecs for their ProPedal GT with a snapshot of their configuration software.

None of this is to say that “potentiometer-based pedals are bad” because they aren’t. You can do a very nice job of dealing with the pedal signal by using potentiometers too; in fact, the Vishay potentiometers mentioned in the diagram above are considered to be very high quality indeed.

Adjustability to suit your style (or real world race car!)

Something that I really value in a sim pedal set is having adjustability; my Heusinkveld Sprints (below) are separate units, so you can control the spacing from side to side and forwards to backward. This allows me to set up my pedals in a similar way to the pedals in my race car:

Heusinkveld pedal gap adjustment
I matched to pedal spacing to my Mazda race car on Heusinkveld Sprints – I like about 10cm between the throttle and the brake which helps me to heel / toe in the sim

If you use the heel and toe technique in your driving, this adjustability issue, in particular, can be very important. Most cheaper pedal sets don’t allow for any adjustment of the spacing between the pedals, whereas higher-end 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 and adjust the pedal angle.

Regarding entry-level pedals; I’ve decided to no longer cover the beginner-level Logitech G29 and Thrustmaster TCLM pedals. If you’re a beginner and you just want to test the water, or you’re looking for a good starting point, these potentiometer-based pedals are OK. You can gather what you need to know by checking out our beginner’s guide to sim racing here.

But if you’re ready to start taking sim racing seriously, read on:

Hydraulic pedals

At the very top of the budget range, you tend to find pedals with hydraulic dampers installed. I’ve tested the Heusinkveld Ultimate and Ultimate+ pedals on several occasions, and as we speak I have a pair of SimTrecs GT Pros fitted to my cockpit.

What I’ll say about hydraulic damping is this: When it’s done well, it feels awesome. Go and sit in your road car outside and compress the brake pedal. That hydraulic compression is something that elastomer/rubber dampers simply can’t emulate. As you release the pedal, you might find the pedal return is smooth and consistent.

Fanatec's Clubsport V3 pedals with their Hydraulic Damper kit fitted on the brake and throttle
Fanatec’s Clubsport V3 pedals with their Hydraulic Damper kit fitted on the brake and throttle

That’s a feature of a two-way damper; compression – when you press the pedal down and rebound when you release. A good two-way damper on a brake pedal is unbeatable for control, provided it’s a good quality item. For what it’s worth, Heusinkveld does this very well although I’ve never personally felt the need to upgrade from my Sprints.

Pedal base mounting and flex

For a long time, I ran with an RSEAT RS1 which, was great with Fanatec pedals but the base started to flex under the sort of 25-30kg brake forces I was using with Sprints.

rseat rs1 pedal base mount tipped at an angle for access
RSeat’s rs1 seat with pedal base mount tipped at an angle for service access

But check out this video and watch for the pedal base moving:

Flex in pedal base plate (check out this heel and toe guide)

If you think about it, a mount that flexes even a few degrees is only serving to introduce an inconsistency in your brake technique by making the pedal response different every time you brake. This is far from ideal when you’re trying to be a competitive sim racer, where ultra consistent driving is the key to any kind of result.

Eventually, I upgraded to a nice 8020 style rig, which is completely solid. You’re looking for almost no (preferably none!) chassis flex under braking from your sim rig.

My current pedal installation with a SIM3D rumble kit installed

One last thing I’ll mention is my love affair with Heusinkveld Smartcontrol:

HE Smartcontrol

Having a nice graphical user interface for pedal calibration and response curve management is nice. I’ve written about a technique I use to set up my pedals for improved threshold braking (where you set the maximum pedal force at just under the wheel lock limit or threshold) – having the ability to set this is a must-have for me. Notably, the Heusinkveld Ultimate pedals are not SmartControl compatible (yet).

With all of that out of the way, here are some recommendations for you to take a look at:

Fanatec CSL V2

The V1 version of these pedals were my first sim racing pedals, and I loved them. So, great news that this popular pedal set from Fanatec returns in V2 form with an overhauled load cell brake, brand new Hall sensors on both the throttle and the clutch, and as you wuold expect, many refinements to the original design.

Fanatec CSL sim racing pedals V2
Fanatec CSL sim racing pedals V2 – ideal for a high quality but entry-level simulator build

These pedals are a fantastic way to learn the art of sim racing. We’ve covered budget and higher-end sim builds before. I would be very pleased to add these V2 CSL pedals to the budget build to save on cost without compromising quality.

Load cell brake with adjustable elastomers for pedal stiffness
Load cell brake with adjustable elastomers for pedal stiffness

The V2 is priced around the 299EUR mark, making them (in cost terms) around half of the price of a pair of Heusinkveld Sprints. But (as my experience tells me) when you put these on eBay, provided you’ve looked after them, you’ll be surprised how little they depreciate. What a great sim pedals kit from Fanatec.

Fanatec ClubSport V3

The bigger brother pedal set from Fanatec, the ClubSport V3, is currently one of the most popular and widely used on the market, and for good reason. They have all of the full metal pedigree as the earlier Clubsport pedals, but they also have a nice adjustable load cell feature behind the brake pedal.

You can upgrade these with hydraulic dampers and there are a number of mods available for them on the market.

Fanatec Clubsport V3 pedal
Another great pedal set from Fanatec, the ClubSport V3

For value for money (normally being sold for £330 new), I think these are a really good starting point too. The V3’s offer enough feel and sensitivity to see you through many years of sim racing.

Heusinkveld Sprint Sim Pedals

On the next rung of the ladder in the sim pedal market, coming in at a considerable £520, the Heusinkveld Sprint Sim Pedals are a perfect choice for the serious hobbyist and eSports professional aspirant. New for 2021, Heusinkveld have now updated the Sprints with a lovely new paint job: the Heusinkveld Team Redline Sprints.

Whichever version you choose (they are technically identical), these pedals have a strong, compact, and highly adjustable design with custom electronics and, they’re compatible with SmartControl. If you’re looking for pedals that help you to be both quick and consistent in GT or F1 style racing, these are a great choice. I’ve had mine for coming up to two years. I’ve tried modifying them with hydraulic dampers and really can’t see that this mod improves them.

I think they’re so good they’re just pretty impossible to improve upon, and in my humble opinion are among the best sim racing pedals you can own.

my brake pedal
The brake pedal of my HE Sprint pedal set

One modification I have enjoyed (and stuck with) is a rumble kit mod that uses Simhub’s wheel slip and lock filters to give me more information on the grip levels underneath me. You can read the how-to on that kit installation here.

Heusinkveld Ultimate+ Pedals

At the top end of the market, the Heusinkveld Ultimate+ Pedals have historically been the go-to for commercial simulators, enthusiasts and Pro drivers.

heusinkveld ultimate+ sim pedals
Heusinkveld Ultimate+ sim pedal set (review here)

These pedals from Heusinkveld Engineering are suitable for high-end professional Motorsport simulators, and their strong, stiff, compact, and durable design allows for an instant and accurate response.

smartcontrol controller heusinkveld
Heunsinkveld’s new controller for the Ultimate+ pedals allow for Smartcontrol compatibility

They can be used in the most demanding environments, and they’re capable of simulating the pedal forces as experienced in F1 and LMP-cars. The two-way hydraulic damper in the brake is in my opinion, delivering the best sim pedal feel you can get in the market at the moment.

We’ve recently reviewed Heusinkveld’s latest update to their flagship pedal set: the Ultimate+. You can read all about them here.

Simtrecs ProPedal GT

This is the pedal set I have installed on my rig. They’re wonderful things: careful CNC machining throughout, Vishay potentiometers and 200kg load cells with custom-made electronics and dampers. Most of the manufacturing takes place in-house at Simtrecs in Budapest, Hungary. Their RC car roots allowed them to make their own dampers and created a Smartcontrol-Esque calibration software package called SmartDrive.

simtrecs sim racing pedals
Simtrecs ProPedal GT are currently our pedal of choice

Aside from the presentation (which is detailed and beautiful throughout), the pedal feel is also really good. The throttle is smooth and it feels very easy to control oversteer and rear traction. The brakes benefit from a nice and highly adjustable elastomer set and a 1-way hydraulic damper.

Read more about these pedals in my review here.

Asetek SimSports™ Pedal Sets: Invicta and SimSports™ Pedal Set Pagani Huayra R Edition

Oh boy did I enjoy reviewing the Asetek SimSports™ Pedal Set Pagani Huayra R Edition pedal set. Asetek is a relative newcomer into the sim racing space but is a very well-known data and gaming systems cooling manufacturer. Their turnover is in the region of twice that of Fanatec, so we expect their pace of development to begin leading the sim racing industry in 2023.

These are the Pagani Huayra R Edition pedals with their T.H.O.R.P dual hydraulic system on the brake pedal. With pedals available from their growing stable

asetek sim racing pedals
Pagani Huayra R Edition pedals (review here)

If the Huarya R Edition pedal set is a bit too pricey for you, I recommend the Invicta variant with uses the same T.H.O.R.P hydraulic system and hall effect sensor in the throttle. The only difference is the pedal plates and the Pagani branding.

If you’re really into a stiff pedal feel for Formula and sports prototype racing, these pedals are for you. Not only do they have a realistic feel (from the perspective of a driver) but they’re a single unit and very, very easy to fit. There’s a clutch option which again, is as simple as adding two threaded pins and tightening with a grubscrew to add the third pedal to the unit. Since reviewing these pedals I’ve kept them on my rig. I like them a lot, as do many other influential sim racers!

SIMTAG Hydraulic (Ultimate Black Edition)

If money is not an issue, and you won’t settle for anything but the best, you’ll want to grab yourself a set of SIMTAG Hydraulic pedals (below and featured image) that have been fully optimized for strength and weight using their Finite Element Analysis (FEA) process.

Simtag Hydraulic Pedal: Tilton 600 forged aluminum 3 pedal floor mount assembly modified by SIMTAG

Currently considered by many in the sim world as the holy grail of pedals, these bad boys will set you back a cool £1,800.

For that amount, you’ll get race-proven automotive technologies that include a Tilton 600 forged aluminum 3 pedal floor mount assembly modified by SIMTAG, a hydraulic brake pedal with an adjustable pedal ratio that enables the brake pedal to be tuned to driver preference, and throttle position sensors and pressure sensors made by Bosch.

Plus, it also comes with Cosworth dust and moisture-proof connectors for maximum reliability, plug-and-play electronics by Leo Bodnar, a fixed balance bar manufactured by SIMTAG for precise pedal control, PTFE coated aluminum clevises for increased durability and reduced friction, and oil-impregnated bronze bushing pedal pivots. This is an exceptionally high-end piece of kit; though be warned – you could spend an awful lot less on a pair of Ultimates and get (in our view) pedal feel that is just as good.

HPP – JBV Series Hydraulic Sim Racing Pedals

HPP’s new fully hydraulic transducer pedal system is designed specifically for sim racers, rather than being based on components originally intended for Motorsports.  It’s the brake (as usual) that is the most compelling in the set, although it’s plainly obvious that this pedal set is of a new generation of completely custom-designed, fully hydraulic, transducer-based systems.

Rated for 50 million loads, HPP uses an extremely high-quality transducer to monitor hydraulic pressure, instead of a load cell. All of the usual adjustments are available via adjustable pre-load, with interchangeable poly bushes.

If you can get a set of these (they have a 4 to 6 week lead time as they’re custom assembled for each order!) then you’ll own the latest generation pedals available in the market today.

Featured image (top): SIMTAG hydraulic pedals with a modified Tilton 600 series pedal assembly.

SimCraft PRO Sim Racing Pedals – 2 Pedal Set

These built to order racing pedals from SimCraft are based on the Tilton Engineering 600 Series Racing Pedal set that you will find installed in the cockpits of real Touring, Formula and Sports prototype racing cars. Pitched as “advanced sim racing pedals with the developed feel of an actual race car”, the adjustability of the brake (a 100 kg Load Cell and damper unit with adjustable travel and resistance) appeals to drivers who find themselves driving Formula sim racing one day and touring style or GT3 cars the other:

SimCraft PRO Sim Racing Pedals
SimCraft PRO Sim Racing Pedals (more details)

The pedal feel has been developed with real-world Motorsport drivers and comes supplied with everything you need to install and go racing.

STR Pro Pedals

These black powder-coated units have a handy Simucube connection variant (the alternative being standard USB) so if you’re a Simucube 2 owner, you can connect these directly into the back of your wheelbase.

Unlike a number of other manufacturers, STR have developed their own load cell amplifier electronics, and given the rack style mounting of the rear connections, they’ve given the design of their pedals a lot of thought. I particularly like that the mounting template matches the Fanatec V3 pedals, STR is aiming squarely at the Fanatec upgrade path, which is smart!

STR Pro - detail
STR Pro – detail

The maximum brake pressure is 200kg, which is well beyond what I’d ever be capable of. However, if you’re a Formula driver in training, 200Kg is actually a good peak. There are 4 Brake spring rates via the 2 springs supplied with the unit. A “True linear output” is made possible with the Mavin load cell they’ve chosen, all bearings are oilite bronze bushes with Lumberg screw connectors on the rear. This is clearly a very professional grade bit of kit, priced at a very reasonable £899.00.

Meca CUP1 pedals

Meca’s CUP1 sim racing pedals are a somewhat new entry in the sim racing universe – but the product attracts a lot of positive feedback in the forums and groups. These are load cell-based pedals, and, as you can see are machined from stainless steel. These pedals ought to look brand new for years:

Side view - the Meca Cup1's exquisite attention to detail in an all-stainless steel assembly
Side view – the Meca Cup1’s exquisite attention to detail in an all-stainless steel assembly

Meca uses the tried and tested Leo Bodnar electronics Load Cell Amplifier and all moving parts are very carefully chosen including bronze swivel and sliding bearings. Barry at SimRacingGarage was extremely complimentary about them:

Barry’s review of the Meca Cup1 load cell pedals

Of course as time goes on, refinement and design evolution happens, birthing MECA’s lastest EVO01 set:

You can see the design evolution in MECA's upcoming EVO01 pedal set release (expected late 2022)
You can see the design evolution in MECA’s upcoming EVO01 pedal set release (expected late 2022)

As you’d come to expect with a premium pedal set, the MECAs come with the highest grade components such as Mavin load cells. Here’s a nice close up of MECA’s latest iteration, the MECA EVO1 pedal set:

Nice close up of the Mavin Load Cell on a Meca Cup Pedal
Nice close-up of the Mavin Load Cell on a Meca Cup EVO1 Pedal new for 2022

If you’re upgrading for the first time: go for the pedals first

I always advise a sim racer looking to start upgrading their rig: go for the pedals first. In my humble opinion, a pedal upgrade can be the most significant update you can make on your racing rig. Better control and easier manipulation of the car is all done through the pedals, and in such a competitive environment it’s OK to want to exploit every potential advantage there is.

Coming soon: SP10 pedals from Cube Controls

One more thing to note; of all the components you can buy for a simulator, at the moment it’s pedals that seem to be coming on to the market most frequently. A good example of this is the recent announcement about the new SP10 pedals from Cube Controls:

SP10 pedals from Cube Controls
SP01 pedals by Cube Controls

At the moment, no launch date is set for the Cube Controls pedals. I suspect they’ll be priced in the €1300 region to compete with the SimTrecs pedals. Clearly, the design is very nice and even in real life they look exquisite, with CNC machined aluminum bodies and adjustably hydraulic damping:

SP01 pedals by Cube Controls at ADAC (source)

Frex Sim3PEDAL Sim Pedals V5

“FREX Sim3PEDAL V5 is a pedal of carbon everywhere”

Frex Sim3PEDAL Sim Pedals V5 (via Frex)
Frex Sim3PEDAL Sim Pedals V5 (via Frex)

Frex is perhaps lesser known in the sim racing mainstream but, to the high-end specialist, this company, based in Japan is one of the best manufacturers in the business. Perhaps better known for their beautifully machined shifters, they actually offer a very complete range of gear including the latest revision of their sim pedals, the carbon V5’s.

Frex Sim3PEDAL Sim Pedals V5

I don’t think I’ve come across carbon in the construction of sim pedals so far, until now. Made with CFRP real carbon plates, the 10kg Sim3PEDAL unit v5 has a novel approach to simulating “real” pedal feel using adjustable hydraulic damping.

The unit comes as a 3 pedal unit with hydraulic brakes, a hall sensing throttle, clutch, and a carbon footrest! Priced at ¥145,000 / $1,259.91 USD / €1,113.30, these are among the higher-priced sim pedals you can buy. But – they are seriously cool!

In terms of cost, the thing to remember is if you’ve looked after your equipment then selling on eBay should be very easy and will minimize losses. There are, for example, very few Heusinkveld Sim Pedals Sprint on eBay, despite their huge popularity. So any used sim gear you list will sell quickly, letting you upgrade to your next set of sim racing pedals. Whatever you choose to do, always remember to enjoy the process of improving your driving and always race clean!

Racewerk S1 Hydraulic Sim Racing Pedals

Available from our friends at Digital Motorsports, the German-engineered Racewerk S1 hydraulic sim racing pedals are tested and approved by Audi Sport Team Phoenix Racing – so, they’ve been raced hard in a professional environment during their development.

Racewerk S1 Hydraulic Sim Racing Pedals in orange
Racewerk S1 Hydraulic Sim Racing Pedals in orange or black

 Both the clutch and brake are fully hydraulic, with a master fluid reservoir and a custom-developed slave cylinder: these are automotive pedals, built for sim racing. They’re compatible with Simucube 2’s accessory port, so they can be calibrated via TrueDrive. The maximum brake force available is 150kg and, as you can see from the picture, they’re available in orange or black! The collection also features inverted pedal sets too.

The Best Sim Racing Pedals – Buyer’s Guide