best sim racing pedals - heusinkveld sprints

Why Heusinkveld Sprints are the best sim racing pedals you can own 11

I bought a set of Heusinkveld’s Sim Pedals Sprint back in April 2019. I’d upgraded from the Fanatec CSL Elite LC pedals, upon which I’d been introduced a few years before as a beginner to sim racing.

The limitations of budget sim racing pedals

I was very happy with the CSLs initially. They’re a very good starter pedal with and vitally, they have a Load Cell brake. But I was struggling a bit to use the heel and toe technique (a core principle of driving any manual racing car chassis!) because of the pedal layout.

You’re quite limited in how you can adjust the pedal arrangement meaning it’s difficult to get the individual pedals in precisely the position you want. I was driving in a compromised way that wasn’t benefitting me in a real-world sense.

You could change the “feel” of the pedals to some degree, by changing the elastomer rubber dampers behind the brake, but I didn’t feel that pedal mods were for me. It just felt like I was outgrowing these very good, but beginner targeted lower budget pedals. It was time to move on to something a bit more “high end” so I could continue to develop as a driver.

best sim racing pedals - heusinkveld sprints
Heusinkveld Sprint pedals mounted on a 8020 rig

Heusinkveld Sim Pedals Sprint

After talking with a few friends, I ordered a set of Heusinkveld Sprints. They were lower in price than the more expensive Ultimate pedals at 582€ (not including VAT). For good measure, I also bought the pedal base plate. At the time I was using an RSEAT RS1 cockpit, which had its own flat pedal plate. I came to the conclusion that the pedals without the base plate might feel a little below my preferred driving position. It turns out that using the base plate was a good idea, although now I’m using an aluminium 8020 rig, I no longer need the base plate.

Brand new Sprint pedals mounted to (my previous) RSEAT RS1 Cockpit

Brand new Sprint pedals mounted to (my previous) RSEAT RS1 Cockpit

I was so impressed by how industrial they looked. They have a distinctly Formula racing look to them, you can visually inspect the manufacturing, and if you do you will find a neatly finished and very sturdy looking pedal design.

Almost 2 years down the road, I still use my Sprints. This is despite having spent significant amounts of time testing other pedals including the hydraulic Ultimates. After testing is finished, I’m always very happy to return to the Sprints.

So, in my opinion, the Sprints are the best sim racing pedals you can own. And in the rest of this article, I’m going to explain why.

Easy to mount

The pedals arrive ready to mount on your pedal plate of choice. These days cockpits like the Trak Racer TR80, the astonishingly good (for the money) Sim Lab GT1 Evo, or the mighty P1-X all come with compatibility for the Sprints, so you won’t need to drill any holes.

Sim pedals Sprint mounted on 8020 rig (rear)

Sim pedals Sprint mounted on 8020 rig (rear)

As you can angle the pedal plates and/or adjust the height of the pedal base, you don’t need to consider an additional base plate so carefully either. Easily mounted with the nuts and bolts (or slider bolts) which are included in the box.

Inside the box, you’ll also find the manual and a selection of rubber packers and spacers which make adjusting the brake pedal stiffness possible. The tools (a selection of Allen keys) are the best Allen keys I have in my sim racing toolbox!

Plugin and drive

You can, in principle, plug the installed pedals into a USB port and after calibration in your sim software, they’re ready to go. That’s because (like most USB game controllers) Windows will detect and install the device driver. Your pedals will appear in the Windows USB game controller settings. And that’s about it! Calibrate in your sim software of choice (mine is iRacing, pictured below) and away you go:

iRacing config

 

Smartcontrol opens up a new world of threshold braking

Naturally, you’ll want to learn how to calibrate your pedals in Heusinkveld’s Smartcontrol (download here) software. Smartcontrol gives you the ability t oestablish throttle, brake and clutch curves, deadzones, ranges for maximum pressure and so on. You also have the ability to save profiles for each car you drive.

Heusinkveld Smartcontrol

Heusinkveld Smartcontrol

It wasn’t long after moving up to the faster GT Endurance cars in iRacing that I realised I had problems with braking without locking up. I discovered this useful technique to set the maximum brake pressure perfectly on the threshold where your tyres start to under rotate (the moment just before a lock). Smartcontrol makes individually tailoring profiles for maximum brake efficiency really easy.

Non-Linear throttle curve for better control of rear traction in corner exits

Non-Linear throttle curve for better control of rear traction in corner exits

Fine control of the throttle

Something that really stands out with a high end pedal upgrade is just how much finer your pedal inputs can be, which translates to better car control. The electronics in better gear tend to be more sensitive, higher resolution components. In the case of the Sprints, you get a sense that a car is easier to balance with carefully modulated throttle inputs. Same with the brake pedal; I found a big change in how easy it was to trail brake.

Trail braking is all about gradually lifting off the brakes as you approach the apex in a corner. The idea is that you’re using the brakes to maintain rotation in the car while being as efficient as possible by managing a maximum entry speed to the apex in the corner. The “trace” (the total brake pressure in use over time) looks something like the green line in this chart provided by Racers360:

brake data trace

Thanks to the sensitivity of the load cell in the brake pedal and the adjustability of the brake elastomers, you can tune a pedal setup that allows you to trail off the brakes smoothly. This technique accounts for most of the lap time a professional driver will have as an advantage over you on your fastest lap. Better brake pedals make mastering this technique easier.

 

Half as expensive as Hydraulic pedals, but 90% of the benefit

It’s no secret that the Sprint pedals are cheaper than most Hydraulic pedals. It’s also fair to say that Hydraulic pedals, brakes in particular, “feel” nicer than brake pedals that use an elastomer or rubber stack. But it is only feeling on the pedal and not pace, which is why I think your driving will benefit almost as much by upgrading to Sprints as it would the Ultimates.

Rear view of Heusinkveld brake pedal with rubbers and spacers for stiffness

Rear view of Heusinkveld brake pedal with rubbers and spacers for stiffness

 

Bigger brake forces teach you how to brake like a pro

The maximum brake force available on a Sprint brake pedal is 65kg. I don’t go that far, although mine is set to 35kg. Some of my friends go further. 35kg on the brakes of an F1 car would do nothing. 35kg on the brakes of an LMP2 car would be a light brake press. Real racing cars need huge brake pressures to actually work. And, while I’m not advocating that we all start stamping on our pedals at maximum force, I am saying that higher brake pressure will make you learn better brake technique. And, it’ll be more realistic.

 

Conclusion

I hope I’ve made my case that, if you’re thinking of a pedal upgrade, in my opinion, the sim pedals Sprint are the best you can buy for the money. Have all of the adjustability that far more expensive pedals give you, with the sensitivity to help you trail brake properly and control the balance of your car like a Pro.

11 Comments

  1. In your last photo in the article, the brake stack is not configured correctly. You need to put each rubber separately between a larger spacer. The smaller gap hard plastic spacers should be on the other side of the larger spacer (per the manual). This will help to prevent damage when compressing the brake and allow the rubbers to expand but not exceed the width of the larger spacers. Using the brake configuration in your photo could damage the rubbers over time. Hopefully that makes sense.

  2. I think you are leaving out a very formidable competitor in the Meca Cup1 pedalset. To me they are built from better materials, are much easier to make adjustments and they are widely considered more reliable than the Sprints. In fact they are more comparable to the Ultimates but for less money than the Sprints… Just sayin!

    Richard Breton
    1. I looked up the meca cup1 pedals and for a 3 pedal set it was $1,091. the sprints are significantly cheaper at $679. I run my csl elites at 65kg now so max pressure in the sprint will be perfect for me. I do not desire hydraulics to keep up with. the only negative I see is the inability to add dampers (which I’ve never tried). I am in the market for pedals sometime in the next year probably. am I looking at the wrong set? or is this the set you were speaking of?

      Russell Gallant
  3. Hi,

    Nice review, I personally opted for an hydraulic pedal set, no regret but the oil leaks…

    You could put the emphasis on that, as why a non hydraulic set is not for everyone.

    But again great review.

  4. @Patrick – agreed. Very, very fiddly to put together that HE baseplate. And, if you’ve messed up the pedal spacing after assembly it’s very difficult to adjust after the fact.

  5. Im looking to add the Fanatec Damper kits to my pedals as it adds an extra measure of feeling for me personally. Nice review.

    CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON
    1. Are you using the brake performance kit already?
      I was using the BPK already And felt I needed something extra too. Added the damper and felt it did nothing for feel on the brake pedal, because the travel is too little. (Upped the preload from 1 to 3 and like the BPK a lot more now)
      I added it to the gas pedal, to give it a bit more resistance.
      If your not using the brake performance kit yet , get that in stead of the damper. Better feel and more bang for your buck.

  6. I found the base plate a bit lacking, especially when put on rails (so split and non solid underground) and with a motion platform, screws are not so secure, some play happens on the heel plate. Vibrations (eg from transducers) rock the heel plate.
    I recently switched to sim-lab base plate and sold the heusinkveld plate, and I’m very happy 🙂

    The pedals are impeccable though!

    Patrick Roza

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