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  • Am I crazy, or what? a Sim Racers upgrade to Direct Drive and Premium Pedals Story

    So, after the long wait and all of the extra work required to disassemble, rewire and modify my rig just to install the new pedals and my new Accuforce v2 DD wheel, I finally got a chance to take it the complete package out for a test drive.

    Stunning! No joke, no exaggeration, it is truly stunning!

    I first started sim racing back in 1999 and at the time, driving NASCAR racing and later GPL offline only, I used the same Microsoft joystick that I had been using for the WWII flight sim that I was into at the time, Aces over Europe. It wasnít great, but to me it was little more than a console game, at least when it came to the NASCAR sim. It was after I really started to focus on GPL that I became convinced that I needed a better set of controls, as in actual pedals and a steering wheel, to get the most out of the game. From there, I eventually graduated from that first Microsoft wheel, to a Momo Force wheel. After that I eventually bought a set of BRD Speed 7 pedals and that was pretty much it for the next few years.

    Some years later, after a divorce and a relocation back to California and eventually a second marriage, my new wife, being a bit of a car nut herself, bought me a brand new G27. It was an awesome and greatly appreciated gift, but unfortunately it came at the wrong time in my life. Consequently, it sat in the closet, still unboxed until late last summer when I decided to return to sim racing after a long conversation with Larry.

    The truth is, Iíve been having great fun ever since. I may not be as fast as I used to be, but over time Iíve been seeing some improvement. But there was still something missing. The G27 still had a clunky feel to it. It was like there was a physical gap and lag between my input and the carís motion. And the pedalsÖ well, they were just awful. In fact, the truth of the matter was that replacing the G27 pedals was the first thing I wanted to do.

    Even though the G27 pedals had the ability to be adjusted somewhat, by shifting the pads to the left and right, they were still too close for my size-15 gunboats. Plus the brake pedal had all the sensitivity of a light switch. The brakes were either on or they were off and there wasnít much in between. So, I started my search for a decent set of pedals, since I had long ago lost the cabling and sync cable for my BRDs.

    The plethora of pedal options was a little overwhelming at first, but eventually after reading and watching multiple articles and YouTube reviews I settled on the HPP Simulation PRX-SE pedals. Solid, robust, hydraulic and fully adjustable and definitely big enough for my feet. So, I placed my order and waited, and waitedÖ. AND waited. As it turns out about a day or so before I placed my order, Mark (HPPís owner) found out that his landlord needed to perform a bunch of work to the building where his shop is located.

    A true work of art, fresh out of the box!

    In this comparison shot you can really see why I needed bigger and stronger pedals.

    As I waited for my new pedals, I came across a special holiday deal for the fully-packaged, Accuforce v2 wheel for $900 US, making it one of the most affordable Direct Drive wheels available at the time. I thought about it for about a week or two and eventually decided, why not. I had started with a joystick nearly twenty years ago, moved to a Microsoft wheel and pedals, then to the Momo Force with the Speed 7ís added later, and I had just committed to buying what I felt were the most advanced set of sim racing pedals Iíd seen yet. So why not go all in and pick up a direct drive steering wheel too, especially considering it was on sale.

    Jumping back to the here and now; what I can tell you is that it was all worth it. Seriously, every single penny Iíve spent has been well worth the money spent and the time I spent waiting for it all to arrive.

    Never have I ever felt the feedback as realistic as it feels with the DD wheel. Even with the basic settings through the iRacing menu, itís like nothing Iíve ever experienced! For example, rolling up and over a curb, actually feels like rolling up and over a curb! You can feel the transition as the wheel hits the bottom edge of the curb, you can sense the suspension flexing as the wheel rolls up and back down the ramp of the curb. You can feel the difference between the pavement and grass and gravel and more importantly the response of the car to the input I give it, is instantaneous, direct and accurate. Thereís no lag whatsoever, no clunky gear or belt sounds, it is without a doubt the most realistic simulation control Iíve ever experienced. Whereas before, with the G27 I felt like I was more of a passenger in the car that I was trying desperately to control. Yet with the Accuforce v2 I feel every bit in full control of the car. But of course, thatís only part of the experience because the HPP pedals are equally as stunning.

    I have to forewarn anyone who is thinking about buying the HPP pedals that, the first time you try to move the brake pedal with your hand your first thought is going to be. ďHoly shit! There is no way this pedal is going to work!Ē Thatís because it is so stiff that you almost canít move it by hand. I was so convinced that something was wrong that I emailed Mark and asked him if what I was experiencing was normal. Turns out, it is.

    That said, the very first experience youíll have when you unbox the pedals is one of awe and admiration. These pedals are truly a work of art. The fit, finish and craftsmanship along with the clearly logical engineering design that went into designing and building these pedals, is quite honestly, nothing short of inspiring. These are seriously beautiful pedals and despite any misgivings I may have had before I installed them and used them, I canít think of a better set of pedals on the market.

    That said there are some changes that I have since suggested. First, make the connecting wires for the throttle and the Clutch about 2 inches longer to allow for larger spread between the pedals. Understandably not everyone has my big feet, but I can easily see where anyone with a size 12 or larger foot would benefit from being able to spread the pedals out a bit more. Second, I would lengthen the heel rest. Even though you can spread the pedals fairly wide, the length of the heel rest doesnít quite cover the spread and as a result I ended up having to drill a new set of holes in order to re-center the heel rest to fit the spread that I chose to fit my feet and frame.

    Drilling an extra set of holes allowed me to re-center the heel rest to fit the spread of the pedals.

    The stiffness of the brake pedal is still there, but when you are using your leg muscles it definitely provides the resistance you want to keep from locking up the brakes. Nevertheless, it does take a considerable amount of force to actuate the brake pedal, so you have to make sure that you bolt them in well and as a precaution, you should also consider using an extra wide fender washer with the nylon nut that comes with the hardware as opposed to the standard washers that are provided. Even as big as I am, I can feel the pressure of my butt pushing against the back of the seat in response to when I step hard on the pedals. Also, if youíre used to driving in socks, forget it. Unless you have stone-tough Neanderthal feet, an hour working the HPP brake pedal will quite literally tear the soles of your feet up. So be sure to buy yourself a pair of racing or wrestling shoes, because youíre going to need it. Trust me, the HPP pedals are so responsive and yet have so much resistance that youíll still have a great feel for whatís happening.

    Donít get me wrong, even though Iíve had to change a few things, itís all been for the better and Iím loving everything about the wheel and pedal combination that Iíve chosen, and I have zero regrets. I have already noticed an improvement in lap times at previous tracks that weíve run or that Iíve tested at and Iím looking forward to my first real race with the new setup. If the offline testing is any indication, itís going to make my online racing experience better than anything I could have possibly imagined.

    It's not the fanciest rig, but it's sure is fun!

    The only thing left to upgrade now is my CPU and motherboard!
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Am I crazy, or what? started by Mike Tyler View original post
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Jay Dargert's Avatar
      Jay Dargert -
      good times Mike. I too have done some major upgrades these past few months. the old wooden rig replaced with a metal roll cage sprint chassis modified for sim racing. G27 out after 5 years and same with peddles. purchased a set of Protosimtech peddles first and what a difference those made. Then one night while trolling the forums I found a used OSW wheel with fanatec rims and picked that up. it showed up damaged UPS and put a new simicube board in it and wow. As you said might not be the fastest guy in the room but the rig is perfect. Now a new mother board and processor it will be complete for a long time to come. ill figure out how to post photos in a bit. the photo shown is the old wood rig with g27 stuff
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