You may know Asetek as a global retailer of all-in-one (AIO) CPU and GPU cooling systems. They offer products and services for domestic sim racing PCs to fully professional cooling systems found in data centres.
A move into eSports by such a large and well-established company is perhaps a little bit of a surprise, although the Founder (who we’ll hear from in a moment) is a huge Motorsports enthusiast. So the move into sim racing accessories for a company like Asetek is what you might refer to as “horizontal integration”, which makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
Asetek build good gaming PC parts, why not start broadening the product range to grow their business?
As a business, Asetek is already a big success with a reported $80m turnover in 2021. Not only does that kind of scale give them the opportunity for a lot of R&D (research and development), it gives them scope to build a lot of very nice sim racing gear. According to their most recent investor relations report, Asetek is a company that, revenue-wise, is at least twice the size of Fanatec. On that note, I suspect Asetek will be stealing away Fanatec’s market share as more sim racers look for better build quality.
We like market competition, better prices, better stock levels and always a good alternative to choose from for your next sim rig build.
So today, we’re looking at their Invicta brake and throttle pedal set. There’s a clutch available too, which I recommend as an addition to your setup if you prefer a manual shifter setup rather than a clutch assignment via the steering wheel.
This pedal set is priced at €707,50 (ex. VAT), some €1300 cheaper than their flagship item: the Asetek Pagani pedal set. Here’s the secret: they’re the same except for the pedal covers! So don’t lose too much sleep over the Pagani logo unless you’re a really hardcore, money-no-object kind of sim racer.
This particular sim racing manufacturer works with real-world motorsport and automotive organizations to get feedback about their pedal feel. I must say the hydraulic brake (which we will come to in a moment feels excellent – I’ve been driving with these pedals for over a month now and really like them. Among the stakeholders involved in Aseteks sim pedal development, Kevin Magnussen is a brand ambassador. No wonder this is such a stiff brake pedal! Kevin is also contributing to developing the Asetek current and future product lineup, including a forthcoming Asetek direct drive wheelbase. Some exciting things are happening with new sim racing equipment released again!
Asetek packaging is fully recyclable. The box is carefully designed in cardboard, with no foam or anything of the sort. The packaging arrives with the following contents:
- Pedal set
- Mounting kit – M6 bolts and T-Nuts
- Spare elastomers (of a different hardness)
- Replacement spring for the throttle
- Allen keys for fitting
- Manual / Warranty cards
The contents of the package are of a very high quality as you’d expect, with all of the spares and tools (Allen keys) included in the package:
- Softer spring for the throttle
- 3mm Allen key
- 5mm Allen key
- 4 M6x20mm Screws
- 4 M6 bolts
- 4 M6 slot nuts (slide bolts / t-nuts depending on what you call them)
- USB C to USB C and a USB C to USB A cable
- 3 Elastomer types: black (softest), white (medium – comes installed in the brake pedal), and green (hardest)
I must point out that once installed, these pedals do not require tools of any sort to carry out the adjustments – pedal stop, pedal throw and stiffness – none of these activities requires tools. Pre-load and end stops are all beautifully anodized orange adjusters.
I mentioned earlier that Asetek describes their hardest elastomer as feeling like “kicking a wall” in their manual. This is the default setting when you unbox the device – and I haven’t felt the need to make any changes. This is an important point that comes up when you read the manual. Asetek’s view is that they have designed their sim racing pedals to match the feel of Formula, prototype and other GT class high-performance racing cars.
In cars like that, brake pedals are rock solid, especially when they’re running on slicks and have high levels of aero downforce. Why a stiff pedal? It’s all about saving tenths in the braking phase of a corner. You can quickly and efficiently ramp up to maximum braking force, which makes your brake pressure trace ramp up quickly. There’s a lot of time to be saved in braking, something Micheal Schumacher took full advantage of.
So why is the pedal so stiff other than “because it’s fast”? Well, it’s quite an innovative new hydraulic system. It’s called T.H.O.R.P (Twin Hydraulic Opposite Rapid Piston), and to explain how it works, here’s André Eriksen (CEO, Asetek).
The clever thing about T.H.O.R.P is that the system is developed to mimic how an actual racing car brake feels. There are two stages to the braking process:
Firstly, there’s a “soft stage”: When you first apply pressure on the brake pedal, the pedal will move a few mm – this stage is designed to simulate the pedal putting pressure on the pads and the pads making contact with the discs. As soon as that happens, you’re building up the all-important hydraulic pressure. The calliper pistons are travelling to and pushing the brake pads against the brake disc, which is exactly what happens in the first stage of braking in a real racing car setup. For the sake of not losing time to your competitors, a very short period of travel is the optimum setup.
Secondly, there’s a “hard stage”:
As you build hydraulic pressure, the brake pads squeeze the discs as hard as you can push. All mechanical play has been lost. In this stage, your foot is basically “kicking a wall”, as the manual puts it, as your muscles are fighting against the hydraulic fluid, which does not compress (the brake fluid). Since the fluid cannot be compressed, you will feel the pedal is hard.
While you can still modulate this pressure, all of your efforts are going towards pushing the disc against the brake, you’re not wasting any energy at all. It’s worth noting this process happens very quickly – the brake pedal is so responsive to input!
In real Motorsport, the best braking systems communicate any potential under rotation (wheel locks) of the tyres, especially at the front of the car. One of the best cars I’ve ever driven for this feeling is the Radical SR3. Despite the pedal stiffness, the information is there for you to work with as a driver. In the simulated world, I use a Buttkicker to give me a small cue that a lock may be coming, but sim racers can also set up the brakes, so the maximum pressure is at the threshold (where the tyres are giving you maximum stopping power but not locking).
Simply put, T.H.O.R.P has been designed to mimic real-world braking. The outcome is that your technique would be no different with this pedal set compared to driving a Radical, a Formula single-seater, or a sports prototype. Pretty cool!
Installation is so easy compared to some of the other sim racing pedals for the simple reason that they come pre-installed on a pedal base. Slide (t-nuts) are included with the required bolts, of which there are only 4 mounting points. You can mount on a flat pedal plate (a little drilling may be required, but Asetek provide the template for this, or, if you’re running a profile rig, you shouldn’t encounter any problems at all. There’s a single USB for your PC and some software to install to quickly calibrate the pedals before you get going:
Calibration couldn’t be easier, and of course, the pedals (being PC only) work with all major sim racing platforms.
I’ve been using these for a while and really appreciate them for GT3 racing and a bit of Formula iR-04. I expect to see these pedals appearing a lot over the next year, and I also expect other manufacturers to take note! Recommended!