It seems there’s a new sim racing pedal launched every few weeks at the moment. Thankfully, the Sim Racing industry is full of small companies, all trying to build new and innovative products and improve upon what has been launched before. This means there are always lots of new products to take for a test drive! Today, we have a prime example of a great small company entering the space with the ProPedal GT hydraulic sim pedals from SimTrecs.
If you’re looking for a new set of high-end sim pedals and you want to find something better than say, Heusinkveld Sprints then set a budget at around £1000 or higher. A number that is almost twice the price of a pair of Heusinkveld Sprints and three times the cost of the beginner Fanatec Clubsport / CSL type items! At this price point, you really have to ask whether high-end sim pedals actually improve your driving enough to justify the expense.
For an answer to that question, you can read my article on this topic over on G-Performance. For more info about the ProPedal GT’s, read on.
Today we have (finally!) a set of the new ProPedal GT from SimTrecs. An astonishingly lovely looking set of pedals from a small manufacturer in Budapest, Hungary, the “must buy” factor is strong when you first see them. They’re clearly very thoughtfully designed and made – the manufacturer has opted for CNC machined aluminium throughout, with each piece unique for the job it’s designed to do. Rather than the usual laser cut aluminium plate, these pedals are very solid looking without losing any of their industrial looks. Refined, but heavy-duty.
Opening the box, you get an incredibly well-presented package with the tools, cables, grease and accessories you need to install and get started. The instruction manual, which I strongly recommend you read, is very well presented and exceptionally detailed:
Smooth is not the word – you can feel the machine quality all the way through the depression. Very smooth. Critically, the return of the pedal is nice as it stays attached to your foot as you lift. You can really feel that return and it’s a sensation I like – you always have a feel for where the throttle is because you can feel it through your foot! Controlling the car in the sim on this throttle is no problem at all. It’s excellent.
On the technical side, the throttle uses a sprung RC car style oil damper. It’s lovely and smooth, but could perhaps do with a small rubber o-ring at maximum compression, just to soften the bump as you fully compress the throttle. It would be interesting to dismantle the damper and experiment with different oil stiffnesses, just like we did in my RC car days.
The Vishay potentiometer mounted on the side of the throttle (in a small white case) is actuated via a small crank (directly behind the potentiometer in the throttle body pictured above) – a really elegant solution that probably protects the potentiometer from hard use. It looks good too.
The electronics for the pedals are all hidden inside the aluminium body of the throttle pedal, and the brake, clutch and USB connectors are all on the back of this pedal.
The clutch has two dampers (!), one underneath with a spring that has adjustable preload and another, unsprung hydraulic only damper on the top. The Vishay potentiometer is mounted on the side of the pedal body, with its 3 legs ready for a custom cable that connects it to the electronics in the throttle.
Again, the clutch feels lovely and smooth when mounted with the right range of stiffness depending on how far it is depressed. The adjustability on this pedal is immense – I recommend you read the (extremely detailed) instructions before you get started!
The load cell brake is an absolutely beautiful item of engineering. There are the usual overhead elastomer / plastic packers to adjust the pedal stiffness, with a two-way adjustable hydraulic damper located underneath. The damper’s stiffness on the bump (compression) and rebound (return) can be adjusted with a thumbscrew. If you loosen the screw, the compression and rebound is faster and the damping is less resistant. If you tighten the screw, compression and rebound is slower and the resistance to compression is higher.
Out of the box, the pedal is set up to be very soft (using large/soft elastomer packers). I prefer a stiffer pedal and made the necessary adjustments – I must say you can really feel the hydraulic damping in a softer configuration, but with a stiffer setup it’s much harder to tell the difference. It’s possible I’ve gone too stiff and just need to add 1 more small, soft elastomer packer.
As I learned, each elastomer’s stiffness is identified by a dot (or a missing dot) on the rubber. No dots is soft, 2 dots is the hardest, so you have hundreds of different combinations to work with!
The configuration software is extremely similar to the Heusinkveld SmartControl platform, except it’s called SimTrecs Smartdrive:
It’s worth configuring your pedals before going for a drive as dead zones are set quite high by default and naturally you’ll want to calibrate them in the rest position.
In much the same way I use settings in Smartdrive for better braking at the threshold, the same is possible with Smartdrive, setting a curved or linear brake response and by limiting the maximum brake force (brake output limit).
I actually had to reconfigure my pedal plate for these items because the bodies are longer than my Sprints but shorter than the Ultimates. Installation is extremely trivial, just pay attention to the pedal positioning and make sure they’ll be comfortable for you before tightening. I did find that the aluminium lugs with the mounting holes are slightly thicker than Heusinkveld Ultimates, so I needed longer bolts than I use with the Heusinkveld equipment to mount them properly.
Like any pedal set, you need time to come to terms with the feel of the equipment and, you also need time to get the feel quite right. The options are definitely there; I found myself removing the spring from the stack (just like I have done with my Sprints), adding extra packers to mop up the slack. For me, the ideal configuration is stiff (but not too stiff) that doesn’t completely overrule the sensation of the hydraulic damper returning the pedal. I’m gradually finding my way there and, with each drive, I become more and more impressed.
Obviously, there are many comparisons to be made with the Heusinkveld Ultimates. Technically they’re quite different, with the SimTrecs units opting for high-quality Vishay potentiometers in the clutch and throttle and a 200kg load cell in the brake. Theoretically then, the Simtrecs can handle a slightly higher brake force, although I’m not sure there are many people on the planet who need to apply a 200kg load with their left leg very often!
Feel wise, the throttle in the SimTrecs set is a nice improvement over the Ultimate pedal. There’s just that little bit more awareness of the pedal position when you’re “lifting off” with the Simtrecs. It’s a nice sensation and gives you certainty when you’re manipulating the car on and off the throttle. Perhaps over time, it might just be slightly easier to create muscle memory with the extra little bit of feedback.
I think the damping in the brake is slightly better in the Simtrecs but the difference is so marginal and applies a lot less if you run the pedal very stiff. On softer settings, the adjustable damper really pays for itself, especially on the pedal return.
Obviously, these pedals very much look the part and on a high-end rig they would definitely complete the build. They’ve been so thoughtfully made that in terms of build quality, they embarrass their nearest competitors. There’s no play or lateral pedal movement, and all of the components used are of extremely high quality. Out of the box, they do not disappoint!
If you’re looking for a more, alternative pedal set that you can look at, admire and enjoy adjusting until they’re absolutely perfect, this is a great pedal set and well worth a try. The SimTrecs ProPedal GTs have replaced my trusty Heusinkveld Sprints and seem to offer just that little bit more than the Heusinkveld Ultimates.