Posted on , by Rob

Fanatec Clubsport Pedals Review

Clubsport PedalsWhen it comes to controllers for racing games/sims, many people forget about the importance of the pedal set.  Much attention is given to the quality of the wheel, whether or not it has force feedback and if it does, how good it is.  A good pedal set however can not only add to the realistic feel of the game but can also decrease lap times. 

The Fanatec Clubsport Pedals are the top of the Fanatec pile with fully adjustable clutch, brake, and accelarator pedal positioning, including the must for any real racing sim fan: a load cell on the brake.  Use of a load cell allows the driver to use muscle memory rather than positional memory used when operating cheaper potentiometer pedals such as found on the Logitech G27. 

The pedals themselves also feel fantastic on bare feet. The drilled aluminium foot pads on each of the clutch and brake pedal are very comfortable on the feet and the default position of the pedals makes heel-toe braking (if you want to feel more pro!) much easier than the G27 set.

Each pedal also comes with more discrete values (1024) than the Logitech G27/G25 pedals (256).  I immediately noticed that slides and power oversteer was easier control with this pedal set and I think that's down to the larger range offerred by these pedals. That's nearly invaluable in a game like iRacing, with realist physics and where many of the cars are going much slower, giving more opportunity for mortals like me to react and correct a tail happy car.  I didn't notice any benefit in F1 2011, but spins there tend to happen much faster; or perhaps it's not so realistic - and it's true I don't lose the back as often.  It's not just useful in helping you get out of trouble; a more accurate accelerator will help you stay out of trouble by giving more precise input into corners and hopefully reducing oversteer moments.

It is uniformily agreed amongst serious racers (as found on iRacing) that load cell technology has enabled them to decrease braking distances, allowing for easier and safer overtakes, as well as faster lap times.The load cell also more closely mimics the feel of a real brake pedal, giving the driver a more realistic racing experience.  The Clubsport's load cell is adjustable, allowing the driver to change the firmness (pressure) required by the brake.  At it's hardest setting not even my considerable quad and calf muscles can provide enough force to consistently reach maximum braking force.  At the hardest setting I have to really stomp hard, from a distance, to reach any more than 40%, making fine application of the brakes difficult.  At it's lowest seetting the pedal feels more like what is found on the G27, although still significantly better.  Not a lot of force is required to reach maximum braking.  My preference is at about 30%.  At that level I can consistently reach maximum braking force yet still remain able to gently apply the brakes mid corner to keep the car balanced. 

Another feature of the Clubsport brake pedal is force-feedback. Unfortunately it's a bit of a lost cause, as no games support it officially. There are however third party addons for various games (iRacing is one) that provide an accurate mimic.

I purchased my Clubsport set as an upgrade to my existing G27 pedals, and to that end they worked flawlessly.  The Clubsport set is plugged into my PC via USB and is detected as a second controller.  Most modern racing games recognise multiple controllers at once (eg iRacing and F1 2011) and it'll work straight out of the box.  The biggest disappointment was mounting the set to my Next Level Racing Stand. The hole didn't line up with what where pre-drilled and the unit is too wide to drill in more holes.  As it turns out, a few months down the track, I didn't need to screw/bolt it on.  The thing doesn't move, not even with the firmest braking force.

One small problem I had experienced only 1 week after purchase was the accelarator was getting stuck at varying degrees of open.  I read this is caused by dust and debris getting caught in the fine cogs that sense movement.  I blew in that area and the pedals worked fine.  It happened a few times in that week but hasn't happened at all in the few months since (Perhaps I just needed to clean under my desk ;)). 

It did take me a few weeks to get used to the feeling of the pedals, but now I have, there's no way I would willing go back to a potentiometer setup.

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