Review of Heusinkveld Engineering Ultimate Pedals

Written by Simon Maltby
Date 3rd May 2015
Manufactured by Heusinkveld Engineering Website

Today I take a look at the Ultimate Pedals from Heusinkveld Engineering.

I have been using the Pro pedals from Heusinkveld Engineering since October 2014 and have been quite happy with their performance and feel. Niels and Svend offered me the opportunity of trying the Ultimate version and of course I was quite happy to do so. It is quite common for Heusinkveld Engineering customers to upgrade from the Pro to the Ultimate pedals and they make it really easy to do this by offering an upgrade package on their web site. The Ultimate pedals can, of course, be purchased direct rather than as an upgrade.

Before starting with the detail lets just consider the price of Heusinkveld Engineering's pedals. Both the Pro and Ultimate pedals can be purchased as 2 or 3 pedal sets. The 2 pedal set does not include the clutch. Heusinkveld Engineering are planing on selling a clutch pedal upgrade sometime in the future so owners of the 2 pedal set can upgrade to 3 pedals. At the time of writing the 3 pedal Pro set retail at €719 while the Ultimate 3 pedal set is €1,329. So the Ultimate pedals are significantly more expensive costing 85% more than the Pro. Looking at the differences between the pedals on paper only a few variances stand out. The Ultimate pedals are able to require much higher braking load and each pedal has the addition of an hydraulic damper. As you will see later in the review, there are a great deal more differences than first appear and because of these it is not at all surprising that the price is so much higher.

Most people looking at buying pedals of this grade do so because of other people's opinions and recommendation. We have seen several high end pedals appear on the market over the past 12 months but demand seems to remain high. Heusinkveld Engineering will only offer their products from stock, you cannot pre-order. With each restocking Heusinkveld Engineering have increased the volume of product but they continue to sell out very quickly, the last Ultimate stock sold out in about 30 minutes.

Physical description

I can honestly say that photographs of these pedals do not convey the quality and beauty of the actual product. Constructed of 3mm thick stainless steel with 6mm bolts. The design looks so simple and yet well thought out. Like the Pro pedals the Ultimates come as separate units. This can make mounting them securely a challenge but does mean that they are far more adjustable than any other pedals on the market.

The Ultimate pedals are made of stainless steel which has a "glass pearl blast treatment" finish. This finish is applied to every part of the pedals not just the foot plate and gives them a very high quality look.

Like the Pros the Ultimates are very rugged and have an "engineering" look where all the mechanics are exposed.

The 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 new style Aluminium base plate as an optional extra.

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

Throttle

Description...
The throttle pedal measures 250mm tall, 180mm deep and 35mm wide (excluding the mounts).

The foot plate is 120mm tall by 60mm wide and is curved in shape, it is both taller and narrower than clutch and brake plates.

The main pedal frame is constructed of 3mm thick steel which has a pearl effect finish, the pedal is very robust. There are no rough edges the finish is excellent.

Control is provided by a large silver spring which makes the pedal return to its upright position and a hydraulic damper. The damper has a single way action and only provides resistance when the pedal is pressed.

Travel is limited by an adjustable blue stopper. This provides a nice cushioned end to the motion of the pedal.

The pedal position is fed to the control box and ultimately the computer using a load cell. The load cell is mounted on the underside of the pedal and is of very high specification.


Adjustments...
Adjusting the pedals is very easy. We were provided with a set of 5 Allen keys, two pairs and a single together with a spanner. These tools are all you need to make adjustments to the pedals. The following adjustments can be made to the throttle pedal.

Tilt.
The angle of the throttle pedal can be altered by up to 15 degrees from a vertical starting point. The adjustment brings the pedal angle forward rather than backwards so does not help if you have a sloping pedal base. Previously the ultimate pedals had a series of holes in the rear foot and forced adjusting in steps, the latest version has a slot allowing for any angle to be set.

Foot plate.
A single bolt is used to fix the plate to the pedal arm and there are four lugs which keep the plate firmly in position. This bolt can be used in one of three holes allowing the pedal vertical adjustment.

Travel and weight.
A blue stopper is used to mark the end of travel for the pedal arm. The horizontal position can be adjusted to alter the pedal travel with the maximum being 100mm. Pedal weight, or the force required to press the pedal, can be adjusted by moving the front damper vertically. The higher the damper the harder the pedal is to press. The spring governing the return of the pedal can also be adjusted with a shorter spring giving the pedal a faster return.

Heusinkveld Engineering have an excellent video on their support page for the Ultimate pedals. The throttle section starts at about 30 seconds in.

Comparison to the pro throttle...

On initial inspection the pro and ultimate throttle pedals seem very similar. The form and style is much the same. The more you look, however, the more differences you see. Starting with the obvious, the ultimate pedal is bigger. The steel maybe the same thickness, but every panel is deeper and therefore stronger to cope with greater forces. The ultimate pedal is quite a bit longer than the pro. The pedal arm and foot plate are nice and curved while the pro is very angular. Mechanically they both use the same pivot mechanism but the ultimate has a larger spring and the additional damper. Both pedals use the same load cell as far as I can tell.

Setup and thoughts...
Setup.
The setup of the throttle pedal was just about perfect for me out of the box. I tried various adjustments but have always reverted back to how they came originally. I prefer mounting the throttle pedal slightly back from the brake pedal because it makes heel-and-toe easier.

Before starting to use the throttle pedal it needs to be calibrated on the computer. Some games, like iRacing, have there own built in calibration, but where not Heusinkveld Engineering point you to a piece of software called DIView. Simple to use it lets you set the working range for your pedal so that the game understands the input boundaries.

When calibrating the throttle I find it best to set the maximum slightly less than full travel and certainly before you hit the stopper. Doing otherwise, makes it really easy to miss full throttle on a straight. DIView also gives me something I can use to measure and compare different sets of pedals. Here is how the Ultimate pedals look.

As with the Pro pedals the load cell used by Heusinkveld Engineering does not offer the fullest range of steps available by a gaming axis. Having used other pedals that can use the full range I can say that it really makes no difference in practice. It would nice to feel that more steps were available, but what really counts is how the steps that are available are delivered. My ultimate throttle pedal has an unusually large staring value of 911 which I can't explain, not that it causes any problems. With the pedal set to three quarter travel there were 1,017 steps used out of the maximum 4,095 available.

Thoughts.
I really cannot fault the throttle pedal. I have been using it for just over a month now and it has been totally reliable and an absolute joy. The movement is extremely smooth and progressive. I find that I can balance and make small adjustments with ease.

The shaped foot plate feels very comfortable. I was worried that it would not be as easy to heal-and-toe with the curved foot plate, but i need not have worried. Sitting here trying to describe using the throttle is proving really hard which I've realised is because I don't think about using it, everything I ask it to do it does flawlessly without me thinking. The damper makes a great difference to feel and therefore control. Personally I would rate the throttle pedal as the best I have used.

Clutch

Description...
The clutch pedal is the same size as the throttle, but has a slightly shorter and wider foot plate, measuring 100mm tall by 65mm wide. Construction is very similar to the throttle pedal but with even more bolts on each side. A large dark blue spring and two way damper provide resistance and allow the pedal to return to its neutral position. Pedal position is measured by the same type of high quality load cell as the throttle pedal.

A real clutch has a very distinct feel as it pulls apart two plates and Heusinkveld Engineering have tried to emulate this by using a mechanism which raises in a curve. Travel is governed by the same type of blue stopper seen on the throttle pedal. The stopper gives a soft and quiet end to the clutch pedal travel. The clutch pedal is designed to offer a massive maximum force of 45kg.


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

Tilt.
The angle of the clutch pedal can be altered by up to 15 degrees from a vertical starting point. The adjustment brings the pedal angle forward rather than backwards so does not help if you have a sloping pedal base. Previous models of the ultimate pedals had a series of holes in the rear foot and forced adjusting in steps, the latest version has a slot allowing for any angle to be set.

Foot plate.
A single bolt is used to fix the plate to the pedal arm and there are four lugs which keep the plate firmly in position. This bolt can be used in one of three holes allowing the pedal vertical adjustment. Although there is no sideways adjustment of the foot plate, the whole pedal can be moved sideways to be closer or further away from the brake.

Clutch feel curve.
The shape of the curve can be adjusted by moving it's pivot point into one of seven holes. Altering this changes the way the pedal feels and can simulate heaver or lighter clutch plates. The height of the rocker can also be adjusted.

Travel and weight.
A blue stopper is used to mark the end of travel for the pedal arm, this can be moved forwards or backwards to reduce or increase pedal travel. Pedal weight, or the force required to press the pedal, can be adjusted by moving the front damper vertically. The higher the damper the harder the pedal is to press.

At its highest setting I could hardly press the pedal with it requiring 45kg of force! When adjusting the damper, on any of the pedals, the back and front bolts should be set to the same position in the slot so that the length of the damper remains the same. The spring governing the return of the pedal can also be adjusted with a shorter spring giving the pedal a faster return. Adjusting either the spring or the damper has an effect on the stiffness of the clutch.

Heusinkveld Engineering have an excellent video on their support page for the Ultimate pedals. The clutch adjustment starts at about 5 minutes in and takes about half of the whole video to explain.

Comparison to the pro clutch...
Overall the clutch is much bigger and more robust than the pro version. The rocker assembly is much larger than on the pro pedals and the effect greatly increased. With the addition of a larger spring and the damper the pedal is smoother and feels stronger. As with the throttle the foot plate is curved and much nicer.

Setup and thoughts...
Setup.

With the pedal set to its maximum travel there were 1,481 steps of a maximum 4,095 available.

Thoughts.
Despite the increased size and adjust-ability of the clutch mechanism I still find it somewhat unrealistic. The only clutch pedal I have found that offers a really realistic feel is the one offered by HPP, this is really down to personal feel and preference of course. Like the throttle the clutch feels precise and accurate. I can't fault the functionality of the pedal but it does not feel like a real racing clutch to me.

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, these are very quiet thanks to the rubber stopper. I still prefer the HPP clutch out of all I have tried. Even though the clutch on the ultimate is certainly better than the pro for me its still just not as realistic as the HPP design.

Brake

Description...
Well this is where all the hype and headline numbers come from... The ultimate brake pedal. The first thing that you notice when looking at the specification of this pedal are the huge force numbers. I quote from the specification page...

"Heusinkveld Sim Pedals Ultimate are suitable for high-end professional motorsport simulators. Maximum brake force is 136kg (300lbs). These pedals are capable of simulating the pedal forces as experienced in F1 and LMP-cars."

Although the ultimate brake pedal is essentially the same physical size as the throttle and clutch it is built like a tank and is therefore extremely strong. The foot plate is the same size and shape as the clutch at 100mm tall by 65mm wide and with the same curved design. The overall design of the brake pedal is beautifully engineered and very simple.

As pressure is applied to the pedal, resistance is provided by a series of rubber bumpers. The pedal comes fitted with two white bumpers, one 40mm and the other 32mm in length. In the box were a further two white bumpers, each 25mm long and four green bumpers at 40mm, 32mm, 25mm and 25mm in length. The brake pedal uses a Mavin NA151 load cell to report it's position to the computer. In addition to the rubber bumpers, the brake pedal has a two way hydraulic damper and a two stage braking system. Everything about the brake pedal is big, the shaft is almost 10mm in diameter.



Adjustments...
The brake pedal is adjustable in several ways.

Tilt.
The angle of the brake pedal can be altered by up to 15 degrees from a vertical starting point. The adjustment brings the pedal angle forward rather than backwards so does not help if you have a sloping pedal base. Previous models of the ultimate pedals had a series of holes in the rear foot and forced adjusting in steps, the latest version has a slot allowing for any angle to be set. Even when applying all the force I can, there has been no hint of movement from the slot.

Foot plate.
There are 15 holes in the foot plate and it is fixed in place with a single bolt. Four lugs ensure the pedal plate will not move about. The plate can be adjusted vertically using one of three positions, but not horizontally.

As with the throttle and clutch the brake pedal is a modular unit so can be mounted in any position. This allows it to be as close to the throttle as you want if using techniques like heal-and-tow. Or it can be positioned well away from the throttle if you are just left foot braking or simulating an F1 style vehicle.

Travel and weight.
Like the throttle and clutch the pedal travel is limited by a blue stopper. Unlike the other two pedals this is not adjustable on the brake.

Stiffness and ultimately the travel of the pedal is determined by the rubber bumpers and plastic washers that are added to the shaft. The pedals come with two different types of rubber bumpers which can be interchanged to alter the feel and stiffness of the brake. The pedal comes fitted with two white bumpers, one 40mm and the other 32mm in length. In the box were a further two white bumpers each 25mm long and four green bumpers at 40mm, 32mm, 25mm and 25mm in length. In addition to the bumpers some solid black plastic alternatives are included. One 25mm long came fitted with a further two supplied in the box. There are also some 5mm long black plastic spacers supplied.

The different fittings allow the force required to press the pedal to be altered. Three bumpers can be used at any one time and each is separated by a steel washer to prevent over distortion. Replacing the bumpers with the black plastic will both stiffen the pedal and reduce its travel. Using three white bumpers will give the softest brake with longest travel. The white bumpers allow up to 80kg of braking force while the green increase this to a massive 136kg. the washers and bumpers are well proportioned and I have not seen any washer slippage at all. Changing the rubbers is quick and easy. The damper can be adjusted in the same way as the throttle and clutch.

Heusinkveld Engineering have an excellent video on their support page for the Ultimate pedals. The brake adjustment starts at about 3 minutes and 20 seconds.

Comparison to the pro brake...
The Ultimate brake pedal is far more robust than it's Pro counterpart in almost every way. The bumpers are bigger in diameter than those used in the Pro pedals. I find this makes the bumpers stay in position better than with the Pro pedals. I found that the metal washers between the pro bumpers would sometimes slip or become angled slightly even making the metal washer scrape along the shaft. This is not the case at all with the Ultimate pedals.

The load cell on the ultimate brake pedal is the same make and model as used on the pro. Thats really where the similarity ends though. With the addition of the damper and the increased force requirements the ultimate brake is much smoother and easier to regulate. I suffer fewer lockups while driving with the ultimate brake and always feel there is more braking there if I need it. The only limitation is my own strength and the worry that my rig will disintegrate around me.

Setup and thoughts...
Setup.

I'm not quite sure what to say about the measurement of the brake pedal this time. I simply don't know what the pedal is capable of going up to although as it's the same load cell as used in the pro brake, which goes right up to 4,095 steps, so I would assume the ultimate is capable of the same. The reality is that I could not press the pedal harder than it registering 2,000 in DIView!

Even using the white rubbers pressing the brake peddle takes a lot of effort and I have ended up not using anywhere near the full travel when calibrating. The brake pedal uses a Mavin NA151 load cell, which is the same as the Pro brake pedal, to report its position. I recorded a range of 1,886 steps in DIView out of the maximum 4,095 using the white rubbers as shown in the photos. There was a slight 114 steps gap at the start of its movement.

Thoughts.

Heusinkveld Engineering has tried to simulate the movement of a real brake pedal. 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 bumpers. I find this feature to be very realistic and it helps me 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 or even removed completely. Because of the softer first brake phase, I position my throttle pedal slightly back from the brake so that the throttle foot plate is level with the brake at the end of this phase. When using Heal-and-toe braking this is superb and gives exceptional control.

I have to confess that I am a huge fan of this two phase braking system and it is this more than anything else that makes me want to use Heusinkveld Engineering's pedals over the hydraulic versions offered by other makers.

I cannot really tell if I feel the effect of the damper while using the brake pedal. The pedal is smoother than I have felt before especially on its return and I would assume this is a consequence of the damper. With the amount of force required to compress the bumpers it's no wonder I can't feel the damper in action.

There is often a great deal of discussion about the best footwear to use with high end pedals. Most of the time I tend to use karting boots, but sometimes when I just want to jump on quickly, I will race using socks or slippers. I'm please to say that I can drive using the Ultimate pedals just as well without boots. Sure, pressing the brake fully is harder but the curved foot plate and soft finish on the pedals makes it comfortable regardless.

I can't praise the brake pedal and control it gives enough. Heal-and-tow and trail braking are much easier with either the Pro or Ultimate pedals than any others I have used. I commented in my Pro review how amazed I was that such a simple solution can feel so realistic and be easy to control. The Ultimate brake is just the same in that regard, only significantly better.

Does the increased brake force make that much difference in the Ultimate brake over the Pro? I think the answer is yes because it adds something when there is more available than you can actually use. Personally the extra brake force is not what really sets the Ultimate brake pedal apart, its the smoothness and accuracy that makes these the best brake I have ever used.

Mounting the pedals

The Heusinkveld Engineering Ultimate pedals come as three independent or modular units. 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 fairly easy.

An aluminium mounting plate is available or mounting directly to your own frame is perfectly possible. The aluminium mounting plate is very robust and the pedals bolt into slots giving a wide range of movement. The flexibility offered by having modular pedals does however make them a challenge to fit for some people. You can’t expect to just take delivery and use them immediately, although the mounting plate will help in most cases. 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 Ultimate pedals end up as vertical and with no way to adjust them back to sloping. I find that having the pedals fairly high up is most comfortable, but everyone is different so it's really good to have flexibility.

The latest mounting plate is designed to work with both the Pro and Ultimate pedals and even has a heal rest. I would highly recommend using the mounting plate.

I was able to use the new mounting plate to install the ultimate pedals onto my aluminium profile rig quite easily as you can see from the following photos. The heel plate can be flat or raised and is a great addition.


The pedals come with a little control box. This box is the same as used by the Pro pedals and is custom made for Heusinkveld Engineering by Leo Bodnar. The control box has room for expansion, it can accept buttons in addition to the pedals. The Heusinkveld Engineering sequential shifter should have an option to connect to the pedals when it is released.

Each pedal has a cable that plugs into the control box. The cables are long enough to mount the control box on either side of the mounting plate. A USB cable connects the control box to the PC. Once connected, 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 Ultimate pedals are unlikely to suffer from cracking or degradation. The use of stainless steel throughout should prevent twisting and damage.

I can see only two parts of the pedals that might require maintenance over time. The rubber stoppers and the brake bumpers 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 I saw no wear during my testing, but logic tells me that these are the most likely areas to wear in the future. Heusinkveld Engineering recommend keeping the pedals clean of dirt and lubricated with a little olive oil from time to time.

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 I have no doubt that a resolution would be only an email away. Every owner I have spoken to has raved about the quality of service they have received from Heusinkveld Engineering.

In the time have owned a set of Heusinkveld Engineering pedals a few issues have come up on various forums. Every time, Niels and Svend have acted very quickly to resolve the issue, always at their expense. The latest issue relates to some minor interference generated by some of the new direct drive wheels, so not really Heusinkveld Engineering's fault. They have been quick to offer guidance and are busy altering the pedals to eliminate this issue. Although I hardly realized, I was suffering from this problem having been lucky enough to purchase the SimXperiance AccuForce wheel last month. Basically the wheel produces some interference that causes small clutch and brake events in game, ultimately slowing me down. A simple grounding cable between the control box and the pedal is all that is needed to resolve the problem for now.

Summary

The ultimate pedals from Heusinkveld Engineering are a masterpiece of engineering. The design is extremely robust and works very well.

When reviewing the pro pedals last year I was extremely impressed by the simple, rugged design. Well, the ultimate version are even more impressive adding a professional finish together with greater solidity. The modular design is brilliant and one of my favorite features.

The best comment I can make to sum up these pedals is to say that I would be lost without them and if Heusinkveld Engineering knocked on the door and asked for them back I would slam the door and hide. Sure, I would welcome a better clutch, but as I use one so infrequently its not really important. For me, the brake and throttle pedals are quite simply the best I have used.

Pros – things we really liked

Cons

I would urge you not to be discouraged by the price of the Heusinkveld Engineering Ultimate pedals. Yes, they are expensive, but you get what you pay for and they live up to their name. Heusinkveld Engineering offer exceptional support and the upgrade from Pro to Ultimate can really make getting their pedals easier.

Here at simracingmachines.com we have no hesitation in recommending the Heusinkveld Engineering Ultimate 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 back in mid 2014 which is well worth watching.