heusinkveld ultimate+ pedal set

Heusinkveld Ultimate+ pedals review: a look at Heusinkveld’s latest flagship sim pedal update Leave a comment

The famous Sim Pedals Ultimate from Heusinkveld have always been a more professional product intended for discerning sim racers who put function over form, and high quality componentry ahead of price. For many years, if you wanted to simulate higher brake forces at around 140kg (close to Formula 1 brake loads!) then the Ultimates were the best and only viable choice in a professional sim setup.

Our brand new Ultimate+ pedal set is ready for installation and test (image source)

Of course, things change and the sim racing pedal market has really moved on over the past few years. The engineering components on arguably newer pedal designs such as those from VRS and my current pedal of choice, the Simtrecs GT ProPedals make a set of Ultimate+ a slightly harder sell. Then again, the choice is much less difficult when you reflect on the fact that the expertise contained in the design of a set of pedals from Heusinkveld spans decades. They also have incredible customer support – a feature that goes a long way for me.

So, what’s the difference with the new Ultimate+ pedals?

There are various small differences across the pedal manufacture and components used. For example, the use of coloured springs, elastomer stack shaft and pivot and a change to the way damper preload is adjusted on the throttle. The brake also now comes with a very different elastomer set which is black instead of clear or green depending on the stiffness you’re using.

Close up of new elastomers and 2 way damper on Ultimate+ brake
Close up of new elastomers and 2-way damper on Ultimate+ brake

There’s also a new shaft for the elastomers and the spring that simulates the pad to disc gap is located at the bottom of the arrangement rather than the top which makes them look closer to the Sprints now.

These are all small changes and aren’t all that noticeable in use. A larger and quite obvious difference is the change of hydraulic damper manufacturer. They’re visually different and feel ever so slightly different to the generation 1 originals. That’s not meant to be critical, they work well with smooth damping on the compression and some rebound, I’m just certain they feel slightly different compared to the originals.

The big news of course is that we finally have Smartcontrol compatibility on the Ultimate+ pedal set via the new custom made 12-bit USB controller. This is packaged in a steel enclosure with mounting lugs that are compatible with the gap spacing in your aluminium profile rig. So instead of a little plastic box floating around you can now mount the controller properly. If you own a set of generation 1 ultimates, the controller and fittings to enable the use of their brand new elastomers are available separately.

Some of the Ultimate+ features include:

  • Manufactured in CNC precision laser cut stainless steel
  • 1-way hydraulic damper on the throttle with a load cell
  • 2-way hydraulic damper and 200kg load cell on the brake
  • Adjustable coil spring simulates the initial pad-to-disc gap on braking
  • Elastomers: Heusinkveld’s new injection moulded thermoset elastomers
  • The clutch features a 2-way hydraulic damper and a regressive spring mechanism simulating the “concave force curve” you experience on a real clutch
  • Brand new 12 bit USB controller enables Smartcontrol configuration, profiles and calibration

How do the revised pedals feel compared to the Gen 1 versions?

They’re almost indistinguishable in terms of feel. If you place the old and new pedals side by side, of course, you’ll see a few visual differences. But the Ultimate+ are still fundamentally the same product.

As I’ve written before in my original review, the Ultimate+ brake has a very convincing compression and rebound. The fluidity in the movement of the hydraulic damper makes it really easy to “feel” where the pedal is underfoot and the sense of realism when modulating brake pressure is excellent. Stiffer pedal settings take away a lot of the hydraulic feel, however – perhaps because the damper isn’t adjustable there’s always only going to be a narrow operational range in terms of stiffness settings.

The throttle pedal is super smooth and you feel like you have a huge range of adjustability to control the simulated car in the exits.

The clutch has always been one of the best clutches in any sim racing pedal set; the “concave force curve” designed into the mechanical movement of the clutch simulates a real clutch very convincingly.

I own a set of Ultimates. Should I upgrade?

If you’re lucky enough to own a set of first-generation Ultimates then really, the upgrade is down to you. Personally, I would buy the update kit and use the Smartcontrol interface without a second thought. Being able to set the brake, throttle and clutch curves is a fantastic new feature:

I’m not on my own feeling that the Ultimate+ pedals aren’t really much of a step forward from the generation 1 pedals except for the smartcontrol feature. Sim Racing SK puts it well:

“Ultimate plus pedal set is a bit behind its competitors and hasn’t seen as much updates and improvements as I would have liked multiple competitors have ball bearings now with better tolerances and smoother movements”

Sim Racing SK (source)

A fair number of commenters on Sim Racing SK’s review all feel very the same that in today’s market, there are other options. I recommend watching this review:

Something that the reviewer notes that left me really wondering “why” is all of the movement and play when the pedals are wiggled with a bit of lateral load. If you’ve just spent more than 1000EUR on a set of pedals, this isn’t ideal.

Summary

The Heusinkveld Ultimate+ pedal set is, as you’re no doubt aware, a slightly modified version of the originals. The addition of Smartcontrol is in my humble opinion, long overdue and brings this pedal set a new lease of life.

For your money, you are buying an excellent hydrualic pedal set, with the feel and load tolerance for some seriously high-end rig builds. You’re also buying Heusinkveld’s amazing customer support and expertise. But, I had expected more from such a long-awaited release – frankly, these pedals are a continuation of the original, brought up to date. They’re a phenomenal pedal set, but in today’s market, they face stiff competition from other manufacturers.

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