You might have noticed that there has been a recent spike in new Sim Racing equipment coming to the market over the last few months, but not all of it is coming from the big players in the industry.
Luckily for us digital motorsport enthusiasts, the number of small companies building original products that can challenge the bigger manufacturers is on the rise, which means more for us to play with!
On that note, today we’re taking a detailed look at the excellent ProPedal GT hydraulic sim pedals that come from one such company; the family-run SimTrecs who are based in Budapest, Hungary.
Suppose you want some new sim racing pedals with higher performance than a set of Heusinkveld Sprints, then get ready to shell out north of £1000. That means you’ll be paying nearly double the cost of the Sprints and more than three times the price of pedals in the Fanatec Clubsport / CSL range. Of course, this begs the question; do professional-grade sim racing pedals really enhance your driving performance enough to rationalise paying that much?
To jump into that topic, you can take a look at this article, which explains how high-end sim pedals can improve the pace and of your driving. Those of you looking to find out more about SimTrecs ProPedal GT hydraulic sim pedals, keep reading.
The first thing we noticed when we received them was just how much attention to detail has gone into the design. Everything has clearly been well thought out, and they are astonishingly beautiful to look at. Even the packaging is top-tier and better than almost anything we’ve seen before from other sim manufacturers.
Inside the box, the first thing you are greeted with is an unbelievably detailed and well-illustrated instructions manual, which features an astonishing amount of information about setting up your pedals and fine-tuning them to your heart’s content.
If anything, it’s worth a read just to look at the amazing pedal schematics and diagrams. Under the manual, you’ll find yet more style and a luxury presentation, with all the cables, tools, and accessories laid out in an almost artistic fashion.
As for materials, Simtrecs has gone with CNC machined aluminum on all the major components, with bespoke designs for each pedal. This contrasts with what we usually see from other manufacturers where the same design template is employed across the brake, clutch, and throttle, showing how Simtrecs didn’t cut any corners when it came to building these heavily industrial, yet refined pedals.
When you’re trying to describe the action of this throttle pedal, smooth is an understatement! The quality of the materials and engineering is felt the entire way through as you depress the pedal. What’s even nicer is how the pedal plate keeps a firm, constant connection with your foot as you release, giving you complete awareness of the pedal’s position at all times.
Overall, the sensation while using the throttle is very pleasing, and all of this adds up a feeling of precise car control.
Now, to get a bit more technical, let talk about how this feeling is achieved.
The throttle uses a sprung 1-way hydraulic damper, much like the shock absorbers found on RC cars, which is no surprise if you dig into Simtrecs company history as an RC car manufacturer. It works very well, but it might benefit from the addition of a rubber O-ring to soften things up a little, as you do feel a slight knock when the spring hits maximum compression. This really isn’t a problem of course.
A touch of class is added to the throttle with the inclusion of a Vishay potentiometer, usually found in high-end electronics. You’ll find it neatly mounted in a white case on the side of the pedal, with a small crank located right behind inside the throttle body, which actuates the potentiometer. It’s a brilliant solution that will protect the potentiometer from dust or accidental bumps while maintaining the pedal’s engineering elegance.
Interestingly, the electronics board for all three pedals is concealed inside an aluminum housing on the throttle pedal. This means that the USB connectors for the brake, clutch, and throttle are all located on the rear of this pedal and theoretically, EM interference should be kept to a minimum.
On the clutch pedal, you’ll find the same Vishay potentiometer as the throttle, mounted and actuated in a similar fashion. However, on the clutch, you get not one but two dampers! There’s one upsprung damper that’s roughly the same size as on the throttle (except without the spring) and another you’ll find underneath the clutch pedal, which does have a spring but this time with a marginally smaller hydraulic sleeve. With this double damping, the clutch pedal has excellent, life-like resistance in much the same way you’d expect to feel in a real car.
The motion is incredibly smooth and offers just the right amount of stiffness under depression to give the feeling of a true clutch pedal. Furthermore, the clutch is extremely adjustable, and I highly recommend consulting the instruction manual to get the best results.
The brake pedal is a stunning feat of engineering. It uses a load cell that converts the physical load or pressure from your foot into an electrical signal which your sim racing game can interpret as a braking force, providing a very realistic feel and action.
Adding to the realism is a small spring situated just in front of the elastomer bumper housing that provides some ‘take-up’ replicating the small amount of travel present in an actual car’s brake that occurs just before the hydraulics are engaged. You can adjust the stiffness of the pedal by swapping the elastomer bumpers (check out the manual for the ‘how to’), and by adjusting the one-way hydraulic damper underneath to provide an ultra-smooth feeling of pedal compression. Adjustable damping is a big plus for me as it gives plenty of scope to get the feeling perfectly tuned for your driving style.
To adjust the damper’s depression and release stiffness, look to the side of the pedal for a screw that either restricts or permits the flow of the liquid inside the damper, making the resistance higher or lower.
Something to bear in mind while mounting the pedals to your rig is that both the brake and the clutch pedals offer adjustable faceplates which you can move to suit your driving position, but the faceplate for the throttle is fixed in place as in actuality, it’s all part of one solid piece that runs down to the pivot point.
SmartDrive Calibration and Configuration Software
If you’re familiar with Heusinkveld’s SmartControl platform, then you might notice the similarities when you boot up SimTrecs’ Smartdrive.
In my opinion, it’s worth taking the time to calibrate the pedals before any game time as the default settings for dead zones is relatively high, and configuring them first will help set the proper rest positions.
After that, it’s your choice as to how you make fine-tune adjustments for each pedal but bear in mind that if you want to adjust the load cell on the brake, there is a dial located on the side of the throttle pedal which increases and decreases the amount of force required to depress the brake.
Mounting the pedals is very straightforward, but as I mentioned earlier, just take the time to make sure you have set up the throttle pedal correctly before you tighten everything down. One point to note here is that the mounting lugs are considerably thicker than those found on Heusinkveld’s Sprint and Ultimate models, so if you’re swapping either of those out for a new ProPedal GT set, make sure to get some longer bolts to ensure a solid mount.
The Simtrecs pedals have a higher distance between the mounting points compared to the Ultimate+ pedals – though one tip I noticed in the SimTrecs owners page on Facebook if you reverse the lugs the fitting dimensions are actually almost the same.
As with any other set of pedals, you must take the time to acclimatize yourself to the feel and response of the equipment. With the ProPedal GT set from SimTrecs, the abundance of tuning and adjustment options ensures that no matter what discipline or type of cars you usually race in, you’re bound to find a set-up that suits your driving. One thing I think every sim racer will agree on is just how impressive these pedals feel, even under the toughest of racing conditions.
Clearly, they have many things in common with Heusinkveld’s Ultimate pedal set, yet there are enough differences, such as the inclusion of Vishay potentiometers and additional dampers, to set them apart; not that being compared to Heusinkveld Ultimates would ever be considered a bad thing! What’s more, with the brake pedals 200kg load cell, the ProPedal GT can theoretically handle a higher amount of force than the Ultimates, but not many people are going to need that much resistance unless they’re weight training for the Olympics.
The overall feeling with the ProPedal GT is, in my opinion, slightly better than the Ultimates, thanks to subtle things like the way the throttle sticks to your foot when lifting off and how the clutch pedal maintains its feedback no matter how hard you stomp on it while switching gears. As for the brake, I really liked the damping and how it responds when you release the pedal. Ultimately, everything just feels buttery smooth, but at the same, with its rock-solid build quality, you can sense the reliability, and over time this combination makes it easier to build up muscle memory as you drive more laps.
I’m equally impressed in the looks department, and the overall presentation of SimTrecs pedals is very high-end. It’s evident that careful attention has been paid to all the little details, and each pedal is designed specifically for its purpose.
So, if you’re in the market for a heavy-duty yet beautifully refined pedal set and enjoy taking the time to tinker with damper adjustments, spring rates, or dial in curved and linear settings on a well thought out software package, then this is the pedal set for you. If you’re looking for a sim pedal upgrade, you now know where to look.