Today we’re exploring Sim-Lab’s latest offering: the new (and beautifully designed) XP-1 Load Cell Pedal Set. Sim-Lab has been on fire this year, with a huge range of new items added to their roster. I was extremely impressed by the resolution and smoothness of the XB-1 handbrake, and, at the time, wondered if that research and development time might be shared with something like a pedal set. It’s nice to be right! The XB-1 handbrake and the XP-1 brake pedal share a very similar load cell and amplifier design, with the key difference being the brake pedal load cell is bigger and can handle much more load. So, how does this new sim racing pedal set stack up against some of our familiar rivals?
Sim-Lab New XP-1 Load Cell Pedals: Review Contents
- What’s inside the box?
- So Distinctive
- Race Director
- How do they feel?
- Concluding thoughts
Getting started with the XP-1 Pedal Set
Sim-Lab, who really have carved out a name for higher-end, high-quality sim-racing gear has designed a unit that mixes aesthetic appeal (I think they’re the best-looking pedals I’ve ever used), build quality, and the right functionality for the price.
They come packaged in Simlab’s trademark black box, with colour-printed graphics on top to set your expectations on what might be inside. When I opened the box (and I promise I’m not making this up), the first thing I said was “Wow, these are beautiful”. Take a look:
What’s inside the box?
As you can see, the core pedal set is a throttle and brake, with a clutch planned for release a little later in Q4 2023. There’s a separate controller box (which labels the correct throttle, brake and clutch sockets) with a series of “EXT” sockets for which I’m not entirely certain how these will be used.
My best guess is there’s more to come from Simlab next year.
All fixings (t-nuts, bolts, and nuts for a baseplate) are provided, so mounting options are about as broad as they can be. I mounted this set on my profile pedal base.
Using the M6 bolts provided is just about enough to get a good depth of thread into a T-nut. As I used washers (so as not to mark these pedals), I found I needed a few millimetres additional length on the thread to feel like I’d very securely mounted the brake, so I used my own, slightly longer bolts.
Simlab also provides additional elastomers, a spacer and springs for significant adjustments. Modifications to the feel of the pedals can all be done without tools.
The pedals connect individually via a control box, using either short or long pedal cables. These are RJ12 connectors on either end, and a USB-A cable connects the controller to the PC.
You can adjust the vertical placement of the pedal plates, the angle of the pedal arm itself, the pre-load set by the blue anodized and knurled adjuster on the spring (Clevis) shafts and the total pedal travel distance.
Pedal travel is modified with the blue adjustment knob visible at the bottom of the pedal arm hinge. As they’re separate units, pedal spacing is only limited by the width of your pedal base plate or profile pedal base. On this last point, note that the XP-1 pedals are a little wider than Heusinkvelds and my SimTrecs GT Pro pedals.
I did notice that a lot of the other reviewers made quite a big deal about the adjustability options, and to a large extent I do agree – everything is adjustable and it can all be done without tools. Entering reasonably late into the pedal market, Simlab look like they’ve had time to learn from the other products on the market, and where they can they’ve improved upon that standard. The pedal travel adjusters, I think, are quite a nice highlight.
For the brake pedal, there are four elastomers provided in different hardness (Shore A) ratings. Soft, Medium and Hard. There are also different preload springs provided for the brake to adjust the starting preload point. You can remove the preload spring altogether (much like I used to with my Heusinkveld Sprints) with a “preload buffer” (a spacer that fills the gap that the spring would otherwise keep tensioned). The throttle preload is set by the blue knobs located behind the pedal in front of the throttle spring.
Whether you’re changing the stiffness of the brake or the throttle, an adjustment always starts with the clevis fork and pin attached to the top of the pedal arm. You begin by removing a snap split pin ring located right behind the pedal.
There’s a lot of guidance for setup changes in the manual which I thoroughly recommend you read.
Note that where there are parts that rotate, they’re set in brass bushes. Brass has a low coefficient of friction and is often used in applications where low friction is required between the bush and the moving parts. There is also the use of Teflon in manufacturing; again, this is a friction-reducing material.
Engineering details like this are firstly, very thoughtful and show deep consideration on behalf of sim racers, but they’re also intended for longevity and preventing wear. Brass doesn’t corrode and with very low friction helps the pedals to feel smooth. Brass and Teflon rarely need maintenance, although there is a recommendation in the manual to very occasionally use WD-40 Specialist White Lithium Grease to lubricate moving parts.
My view is that regularly cleaned pedal units require far less maintenance, so I tend to work over my entire simulator with a brushed vacuum hose. That’s all!
At about €499.99/$539.00/£441.00, Sim-Lab is placing the “cat amongst the pigeons” (explainer here for non-UK residents) – firmly into the mid-price territory. For the money, particularly given the build quality and flexibility you’re given with adjustment – a cast-metal pedal set in this price range is, as far as I know, quite unique and more typical of pedals twice this price. If you’re looking for “the best” at the lowest possible price – the XP-1’s are strong contenders for a budget “high-end” build.
One of the standout aspects of the XP-1 is the departure from the conventional laser-cut sheet metal design, common amongst several, legacy pedals in its price category (Heusinkveld, Meca to name two).
The XP-1 embraces a nice aesthetic in its metallic construction, providing not only a visually appealing unit but also a sturdy-looking, reliable pedal set that doesn’t compromise in any way that I can find.
I’ve been using Race Director with my Grid Engineering (owned by Simlab) Porsche Cup DDU, and my MPX steering wheel. my XB-1 handbrake and naturally, the XP-1 pedals on review this week (which don’t belong to me).
Race Director is very easy to install, it’s easy to calibrate your pedals, set deadzones and pressure curves.
You can save these settings as profiles which might be handy to accommodate the differences in driving style between GT3 and Formula cars. I also recommend you update the firmware to v1.05 (at the time of writing) as there have been some improvements made for the deadzone and minimum/maximum value detection during pedal calibration.
How do they feel?
Discussing how sim racing pedals feel is an incredibly subjective, and sometimes argumentative issue between sim racers.
Some drivers think a stiff pedal is the correct way to go, while others prefer far softer pedals. In my opinion, a softer brake opens up a larger window for the driver to adjust brake pressure (trail braking) both in, and out of the corner. Because the load cell has a very high resolution, you can go either way and the brake output is very easy to manipulate.
There’s a significant difference in stiffness between the provided elastomers and springs, so, my advice would be to begin with the pedal default settings.
Get very used to how the manufacturer intended them to feel.
This is very much the tack Asetek take with their products (although for what it’s worth I think these XP-1’s are simply better than the Asetek Invictas I have tested. Everything on the XP-1s brake has been set to a medium level of stiffness. Again, just get used to these settings before making any big changes.
The brake has a lovely sense of compression resistance and is very smooth. You get used to them in a matter of corners. They’ve got a slightly “long” pedal travel, so I would suggest your first adjustment might be pedal travel (the blue knobs at the bottom of each pedal. See where that takes you before making fundamental changes to spring rate and elastomer stiffness.
Both the brake and the throttle are so, so smooth. Again, that’s an incredibly subjective thing to say, but it’s the best way to put the feeling into words. That, plus the fine car control the brake gives you is my favourite feature.
You may find yourself wanting to stiffen the throttle with the preload adjustment on the clevis shaft. That’s fine – the throttle is quite soft and has a long travel. But, like the brakes, my advice is to adjust the travel before the stiffness. Ultimately you want fine control over a broad range of travel if you really want to master the corner exit. Especially if you have no ABS or TC.
Comfort and texture on the pedal plates is also a notable highlight, the surface and pressure points of the pedals are well-designed, helping avoid discomfort over extended use periods. A lot of pedal owners start to want to buy aftermarket pedal faces for various reasons (grip, comfort, size) – I don’t see why I would want to change the pedal faces.
The XP-1 Load Cell Pedal Set, while potentially a significant investment at its price point for beginners or intermediate sim racers, presents a really compelling argument thanks to the feel and build quality, aesthetic design, and simplified adjustability. They’re the sort of pedals that will carry you from your very first setup all the way to pro eSports competition. Sim-Lab is carving out its own niche in the pedal market, providing a robust and visually appealing option for racers who are proud of the look and feel of their simulators.