Review of Heusinkveld Engineering Pro Pedals

Written by Simon Maltby
Date 8th October 2014
Manufactured by Heusinkveld Engineering Website

Today we take a look at the Pro Pedals from Heusinkveld Engineering.

In recent years we have seen some exciting products hit the market in the sim racing community, the pedal market has expanded massively. There have been several levels of pedals since the emergence of sim racing. Firstly we saw pedals supplied as part of a package with the Logitech G25 then G27 then Thrustmaster with their T500 and more recently TX. Taking things a little bit further Fanatec started to break the package apart and offered several different grades but they were still primarily designed to be used with their wheels. In the last twelve months we have seen several totally independent manufacturers launch standalone pedals. Most of these companies are small and born out of enthusiast determination to produce a better product.

So once you have made the decision to leave the ordinary pedals behind and venture into the specialist arena, which should you look at?
Most people categorize their purchasing decision by recommendation, specification and looks in our pedal reviews we try to take an impartial look at the hardware and provide factual details.

In this review we are looking at the Heusinkveld Engineering Pro pedals. Heusinkveld Engineering are a small company based in the Netherlands that specialize in simulation solutions. Niels Heusinkveld and Svend va der Vlugt are very approachable and knowledgeable, they will explain that the pedals they produce are designed and engineered so that they know exactly how they will perform.

Most pedal products are supplied as either a two or three pedal set, with the arms fixed into a frame. Heusinkveld Engineering has taken a different approach and provide the pedals as separate items. Personally, when looking on the Internet the pedals that are built into a frame look more appealing. This is maybe because it’s what we are used to with the T500’s, G27’s and Fanatec Club Sports. It may also look complicated having separate items when thinking about fitting them into your rig. The differences are reduced when the Pro pedals are installed on to the optional steel base.


Physical description

We can honestly say that photographs of these pedals do not convey the quality and rugged beauty of the actual product. Constructed of 3mm thick stainless steel with 6mm bolts. The design looks so simple and yet well thought out.

The Pro version of the pedals comes in a plain stainless steel finish while the Ultimate version has a nicer "glass pearl blast treatment".

The Steel is laser cut and the edges still show some of the cutting marks but the corners are smooth and there are no rough edges.
The pedals come fully assembled, the brake with the softest settings installed.
Each pedal basically consists of a Stainless Steel frame, stainless steel pedal arm mounted to the frame using brass washers, a sprung rod and a load cell.

Our pedals were very well packaged in double cardboard boxes. Supplied with the pedals were a USB cable, a bag of tools, a bag of mounting bolts and some alternative washers for the brake pedal. Basically everything needed. We had also ordered the steel base plate as an optional extra.

There are no instructions supplied, but theHeusinkveld Engineering website has an excellent selection of videos demonstrating how to adjust the pedals.

Throttle


The following adjustments can be made to the throttle pedal.

We found that mounting the pedal slightly back from the brake pedal felt good and assisted with heal-toe action.

Adjusting the pedals is very easy. We were provided with a set of 5 Allen keys with the pedals, two pairs and a single together with a spanner. These tools are all you need to adjust the pedals with.

The pedal feels nicely progressive through its full range of travel. Heusinkveld Engineering direct you to use Logitech's DIView (Direct Input Viewer) software for calibration. Games like iRacing have their own built in calibration while rFactor relies on windows calibration which is set using DIView. We also use DIView to compare different pedals for resolution and smoothness in our benchmarks.

The pedal position is fed to the control box using a load cell. Most pedals use a potentiometer and there is much debate about which is better. The load cell movement related to 1053 (maximum possible 4095) steps when set to the middle travel position. The pedal is therefore not using the full USB resolution. In practice it is unlikely that this will cause any noticeable difference when driving. Adjusting the pedal to its full 100mm resolution increased to 1420 steps and these are the results we have included in the following benchmark graph.

The pedal travel is governed by a blue stopper made of a very hard wearing rubber material. This stopper gives the pedal a quiet and slightly soft end to its travel. When calibrating the throttle we found that you can set it so that the final few steps of throttle can need you to force the pedal into the stopper. This is something that we did not really want as you need to apply quite a lot of pressure to maintain 100% throttle. Simply altering the calibration so that 100% is where the pedal is easily moved resolved this.

We have found the throttle pedal to be the best we have used. Travel is precise and linear with just the right amount of resistance and spring tension for its return. There is no flex or lateral movement to the pedal. The large pedal makes heal-toe very easy. We have been unable to determine any tangible difference in responsiveness between the HPP and HE throttle pedals despite the vast difference in resolution steps. In our opinion a solid and precise action is far more important.

Clutch


The clutch pedal has a smaller foot plate than the throttle at 90mm x 60mm. It is constructed in a similar way to the throttle and offers basically the same adjustments with an additional one to adjust the pedal pressure curve in an attempt to mimic the feel of a real clutch.

Adjustments can be made to the clutch pedal in the following way…

The pedal curve is adjusted by changing the pivot point of a rear rocker using one of 5 positions. This can be set from smooth, where the force required to move the pedal is fairly consistent throughout its movement (as per the throttle), to its other extreme where the force needed increases, reaches a peek and then diminishes again as the pedal is pressed. Like the throttle, pedal travel is determined by a blue rubber stopper. This gives a soft and quiet end to the clutch pedal travel.

In comparison to the HPP clutch the HE Pro feels somewhat lacking. It is way ahead of the CSP V2 but does not quite have that feeling of the clutch plates separating as you press the pedal. Like the throttle the clutch feels precise and accurate. We can't fault the functionality of the pedal but it does not feel like a real racing clutch.

Most clutch pedals on the market have a very harsh and noisy end to their travel which can make night time use annoying as the family is disturbed. Also if racing while chatting on a headset it can be annoying for other racers.

The clutch pedal also uses a load cell to determine its position. With the pedal set to its maximum travel there were 1295 steps of a maximum 4095 available.

Brake



The brake pedal is slightly more robust than the throttle and clutch to handle the increased forces at work. The design is beautifully engineered and very simple. As pressure is applied to the pedal, resistance is provided by a series of rubber washers.

The pedals come with different types of rubber blocks which can be interchanged to alter the feel and stiffness of the brake. The foot plate is slightly wider than the throttle and clutch but the same height as the clutch at 90mm high and 65mm wide.

Made of stainless steel it has a flat finish. There are 12 holes in the foot plate and it is fixed in place with a single screw. 2 lugs ensure the pedal plate will not move about. The plate can be adjusted vertically slightly, but not horizontally. As with the throttle and clutch the brake pedal is a modular unit so can be mounted in any position. The pedal came supplied with three white rubbers (1x32mm 1x25mm 2x20mm) together with a pack of black plastic washers. Using the white rubbers gives the pedal its softest feel. Replacing one of the white rubbers with the solid black plastic washers increases the force required.

Heusinkveld Engineering has tried to simulate the movement of a real brake pedal in a way we have not seen before. The first part of travel is much softer and is governed by a spring. This simulates the brake pedal travel while the pads move towards and connect with the discs in a real car. In practice this means that you have a very soft brake at the start of travel which becomes much harder once force starts to compress the rubbers. We found this feature to be very realistic and helped greatly in car control and advanced techniques like heal and toe breaking. The amount of travel in this first phase of braking can be altered using different plastic washers. Because of the softer first brake phase, we positioned our throttle pedal slightly back from the brake so that the throttle foot plate became level with the bake at the end of this phase. When using Heal and toe braking this was superb and gave exceptional control.

The brake pedal is adjustable in several ways

The brake force available on the Pro pedals is excellent and requires 55Kg of force with the white rubbers, but we suspect that this is where the Ultimate version will be significantly better. We did find ourselves longing for a harder brake before long. The brake pedal uses a Mavin NA151 load cell to report its position and this nearly uses the full resolution available. We recorded 3,915 steps in DIView out of the maximum 4,095. There was a slight 180 steps gap at the start of its movement.

Brake feel and accuracy is excellent. We were amazed that such a simple solution could feel so realistic and controlled.

Changing the rubbers is quick and easy. The Pro set comes with a bag of spare and replacement washers.



Mounting and using the pedals

The HE Pro pedals come as three independent or modular pedals. They are not fixed to a frame and can therefore be mounted in almost any way imaginable. The advantages of this are that the distance between pedals is totally bespoke and mounting inverted or F1 style is easy.

A steel mounting plate is available or mounting directly to your own frame is perfectly possible. The steel mounting plate is solid as a rock and the pedals mount into slots giving a wide range of movement. The flexibility offered by having modular pedals does however make them a challenge to mount.

You can’t expect to just take delivery and use them immediately. Every user has a different setup and will need to consider how best to install.

These are professional grade pedals and due to the forces needed for the brake especially need to be mounted very firmly. Another consideration is that the pedals have limited tilt / slope adjustment, most of the available adjustment brings the pedals past vertical. Ideally the pedals should be mounted flat but most racing simulators and wheel stands have the pedal plate at an angle. This means that the HE Pro pedals end up as vertical and with no way to adjust them back to sloping. When we first received our set of pedals we mounted them onto the GT Omega wheel stand and found them unusable. It took quite a bit of DIY to get them mounted and usable.

Heusinkveld Engineering told us that most users that buy these pedals have custom built rigs, the most popular being made of extruded aluminium e.g. 80/20. We tried them in our own aluminium rig and they fitted perfectly. They were really easy to mount.

Another consideration is comfort. Heusinkveld Engineering do not offer a heel rest option with the pedals. Some people find this unnecessary but we found the pedals are very tall and that without some kind of foot rest they were uncomfortable. So, back to the DIY, we made a simple wooden heel rest covered in aluminium and this improved things greatly.

The pedals come with a little control box.

Each pedal has a cable that plugs into the control box. The clutch cable was quite short which rather limited the mounting positions for the control box on our rig, we would like to see this cable be longer. A USB cable connects the control box to the PC. Once connected up windows recognized the pedals properly and we were able to use them right away.

Support

Because the design of these pedals is so simple and effective, there is very little that can go wrong with them. Unlike the load cell used by Fanatec in their Club Sport pedals the Mavin ones used in the HE Pro pedals are unlikely to suffer from cracking or degradation. The use of stainless steel throughout should prevent twisting and damage.

We can see only two parts of the pedals that might require maintenance over time. The rubber stoppers and the brake rubbers which might perish or wear through prolonged use. Both of these should be simple to replace as and when the need arises. I should stress that we saw no wear during our testing, but logic tells us that these are the most likely areas to wear in the future.

Because of the modular design of the pedals, it is also worth noting that should a problem arise with one pedal it alone can be removed or replaced. There is no need to return the whole pedal set which saves postage and may well leave you still able to carry on racing. The guys at Heusinkveld Engineering are amazing and incredibly approachable. If a problem did arise we have no doubt that a resolution would be only an email away. Every owner we have spoken to has raved about the quality of service they have received from Heusinkveld Engineering.

Summary

The Pro pedals from Heusinkveld Engineering are a masterpiece of engineering. The design is so simple and effective.

As with all great engineering solutions the user is left thinking that it’s so simple why I couldn’t have designed that myself. The modular design is brilliant, although can be a challenge to mount depending on how you are setup. Once mounting has been overcome the benefits of the modular design are huge and are one of the things we like best.

Pros – things we really liked

Cons

These pedals are staying in our rig for now as we have found them to offer the best overall package. Having found the Pro pedals so good, we can only wonder how much better the Ultimate's must be.

Here at simracingmachines.com we have no hesitation in recommending the Heusinkveld Engineering Pro pedals. In our opinion they are the perfect pedal upgrade providing you have the rig to mount them to.

Other reviews

Further information is available on theHeusinkveld Engineering website.
Sim Racing Garage has also produced a excellent video review which we recommend you watch.