The world of sim-racing is quite crowded, with brands that have been in the game for over two decades. It’s undeniable that sim-racing always rhymes with innovation to stay competitive, because market share is won by offering innovative products that are less expensive as they last, and above all, revolutionary.
The most concrete example is the tour de force achieved by Fanatec with its CSL DD, the first Direct Drive base available to the general public. This same base is currently priced at €350 for its 5 nm version, making it the Go-To for all sim-racing fans on a budget.
Among the world leaders in sim-racing, we have a multi-ethnicity of brands. Fanatec is a German brand, Playseat is Dutch, Logitech is Swiss, Thrustmaster (the gaming division) is French. What these players have in common is their experience in the game, which often amounts to 20 years or more. Except that we also have a player from France, NSH Racing. This company, founded by a sim-racing enthusiast, was established in 2016 and quickly saw itself propelled towards new horizons.
In what follows, I’m going to zoom in on this French brand. I’ll tell you about its history, its flagship products and what I think of it.
The NSH Racing story
It all began in 2016 when Nicolas Plançon, founder of NSH Racing, took a keen interest in sim-racing and, above all, in the innovative products of the time. It’s worth noting that in 2016, the buzz was all about Direct Drive bases and what they offered the general public. In fact, most of the attention was focused on price, since this was the first time we’d seen elitist technology adapted to the budget of the average person.
Nonetheless, Mr Plançon decided to take the plunge and set up his own company, NSH for Nico Sim Hardware. NSH’s very first model was a dynamic chassis that was ideal for professional riders and pro sim racers. Up until then, Nicolas had been working on his own, but that couldn’t continue as he still had a considerable job designing, developing and creating products.
So he needed help, and that came in the form of Mr Julien Lenne. In 2018, Julien began working at NSH as an engineer. His job: product design, development, prototyping and production.
But it’s in 2020 that the company really takes off, during the COVID 19 global health crisis. Everyone was at home, doing nothing. So you might as well give free rein to your passion, right? NSH’s reputation has grown, and the company has become a major player in sim-racing in France and abroad.
Unlike other sim-racing brands, NSH doesn’t just produce peripherals. In addition to manufacturing and selling its own peripherals, the company also develops setups for professional drivers and pro sim racers.
Given that the brand is relatively new, it is essential to diversify its range and above all its services if it is to win market share. And I can tell you that this is no mean feat in a market as competitive as sim-racing.
As I said above, NSH offers products and solutions for professional drivers in the form of complete set-ups with dynamic or non-dynamic chassis. The aim here is to provide a configuration that allows pilots to train in real-life conditions. But that’s not all. NSH also offers solutions for driving schools and sim-racers, in addition to the products it develops and markets.
I have to admit it’s a bit atypical to see this from a sim-racing player, but it’s essential to adapt and overcome the difficulties of a segment in order to thrive in it. In any case, I like what Mr Plançon is doing with his company.
The NSH product range
In addition to the complete, customizable setups offered by NSH, the company also develops its own products. Working with the big names in sim-racing and drivers has its advantages. The NSH range currently includes hydraulic cranksets, a shifter, a hub and flywheel, a hydraulic handbrake, a dashboard and an in-house QR compatible with virtually all 70 mm-diameter chainstays on the market.
For a company that’s not even 10 years old, that’s a pretty hefty range, especially when you consider that these products are premiums, designed for racing drivers.
This is NSH’s entry-level pedalboard, even if its price will scare off many sim-racing enthusiasts. This model features 3 pedals, with Hall sensor (magnetic) gas pedal and clutch, while the brake is hydraulic with a single master cylinder.
Sport ‘s design is rather industrial, with a black dress and several colors on different parts. In absolute terms, it looks like an amalgam of parts forming a peripheral developed by an engineer making prototypes. To put it simply: it’s not pretty, but it’s super effective.
Magnetic sensors in the gas pedal and clutch give a precise reading of the driver’s inputs, while the hydraulic system perfectly reproduces the feel of a race car braking system. The system withstands pressures of up to 70 bar, all without an end-stop. It’s just perfect, especially if you come from a Load Cell pedalboard. Price: just over €1,000.
Now it’s time for NSH’s mid-range pedalboard, the SimPedals Pro. Basically, it’s the same rather industrial design as the Sport, but with some notable improvements. Once again, the structure is entirely metal, but better finished than its little brother. We can see that it’s a much better quality product.
The Pro features 3 pedals, 2 of which are hydraulic(brake and clutch), and a single Hall sensor pedal. The brake has two master cylinders and the clutch a single one, promising the most advanced sensations and realism.
The driver input readout systems are highly accurate, allowing you to improve your sim-racing in no time. By the way, if you want to progress in simu, I’d advise you to upgrade the pedalboard first, before thinking about a Direct Drive base.
As for the brake, it’s practically the same, in terms of feel, as that of the Sport crankset. Even if there are 2 master cylinders, the maximum pressure remains 70 bar, also without a stop. However, the braking is of much higher quality, much more controllable and, above all, much more communicative.
Let’s talk about the price. So the SimPedals Pro comes in at a hefty €1,498.99, which is quite a premium price. However, it’s important to remember that this is a high-end device, designed for racing drivers.
The SimPedals Ultimate
It’s time to talk about the big daddy of NSH pedalboards, the SimPedals Ultimate. Simply put: it’s heavy stuff. This crankset is available in 2- or 3-pedal versions( €2,000 and €2,500), with hydraulics of course.
On the brake, you have 2 master cylinders, 1 Hall sensor for the gas pedal and a hydraulic clutch if you take it. Design-wise, it looks very similar to NSH’s other cranksets, with a metal structure, carbon fiber and brushed aluminum finish. From the front, it’s beautiful, but from the back, not so much.
The footrest is adjustable, allowing you to adopt the riding position that suits you best. In terms of feel, it’s the same 70 bars of brake pressure. On the whole, this crankset looks like the others, but is of much higher quality, making it easier for riders to smash the times, as well as having a better feeling in terms of sensations.
Price-wise, it’s still expensive. Expect to pay €2,000 for the 2-pedal version, and a further €500 for the clutch pedal.
Like all good manufacturers of sim-racing peripherals, NSH offers hubs for Simucube, OMP and other steering wheels. The aim here is not to offer a complete peripheral, since it costs a lot of money to develop a steering wheel, but to have a hub that works with steering wheels from high-end manufacturers, i.e. Simucube and company. A partnership like this not only ensures a premium clientele for NSH, but also enables the French company to be present in an elitist segment.
So, hubs. There are 2 of them: GT-BLE Sport and Pro. Design-wise, they’re virtually identical, with differences only in the colors of certain elements, and the price too. Both hubs are made of carbon fiber and can be fitted to a wide range of sim-racing steering wheels from several premium brands.
As for the paddles, there are two of them (I’d really have liked to have at least 4, given the price of these toys), and they too are made from carbon fiber. In terms of finish, I have nothing to say about the quality of the workmanship. It’s just top-notch, that’s all.
In terms of price, these two hubs are fully customizable, both in terms of color and the central faceplate. For the Sport, the bill starts at €500 and ends at €772 for the hub and a steering wheel (to be chosen from a list). The Pro starts at €700 and finishes at €973 for the hub and a steering wheel of your choice.
Even if this device isn’t the Go-To for every sim-racer, it’s worth remembering that some drivers are rally racers, and having a handbrake is essential to their setup. Not wanting to do things by halves, NSH has concocted a superb peripheral, and a hydraulic one at that.
The design is very sober, with an all-metal structure for both the stand and the handle. The latter, the handle, is screwed onto the support, and has foam at the top. It’s very basic, and I’d have liked a nicer device.
Nevertheless, it remains a high-performance handbrake thanks to its hydraulic system. The small master cylinder is gray and gives a superb feel on rally stages. The bracket can be fitted to virtually any chassis available on the market today.
As for price, this hydraulic handbrake can be exchanged for just under €300, and frankly, that’s not expensive at all, especially with what you get for your money.
The dashboard and RevLED
I’ve told you that NSH tries its hand at everything in sim-racing, and diversification is excellent for the French company. Another addition to the manufacturer’s catalog: a dashboard and a RevLED. For the dashboard, you have a 4″ diagonal screen, which displays a host of essential control data and is compatible with several ecosystems, including those from Fanatec, Thrustmaster and Simucube.
Our products are manufactured to the same high quality standards as our other products. The price ranges from €150 to €173, which I think is right.
For the RevLED, you have several options in the catalog: a simple RevLED that fits onto the dashboard, a housing that mounts directly onto the chassis, and the complete kit with RevLED, housing and dashboard. In my opinion, it’s good and the price is rather affordable, starting at €49 and ending at €219.
The NSH shifter
A sim-racing range would be nothing without the presence of a shifter, and fortunately NSH has developed one. Well, not actually developed one, but rather made improvements to an existing shifter: the SRT Lebois Racing.
The NSH SimGear is a 100% customizable shifter based on a high-quality shifter. The major difference between NSH’s shifter and Lebois Racing’s is the settings. On the SimGear, you can adjust the feel with interchangeable tracks.
What’s more, this NSH shifter features an eClutch that locks the gearshift if you forget to depress the clutch. And that’s something I haven’t seen on any other shifter on the market. The SimGear is also H Pattern and sequential, like many top-of-the-range shifters.
The only downside is the price. It costs €699 to buy this shifter, and that’s really expensive, especially when you consider that Lebois Racing’s version is only €200, but you’ll have to fit the shifter yourself. It’s like a mini TP for the DIYers inside.
The rest of the NSH range
As for the rest of the French manufacturer’s range, it includes a Rig that can be customized to suit your needs and platform, as well as products resulting from partnerships with numerous sim-racing players such as Simucube.
I’ll tell you in advance: everything custom at NSH is expensive, as the company will develop specific products for you.
Is NSH really not worth considering?
Like many other premium sim-racing players, NSH is a brand that offers excellent products, sometimes with very good value for money. As far as I’m concerned, if you’ve got the means and want to have sim-racing customs, NSH is definitely worth it.
The brand’s biggest obstacle, at least in my opinion, is its lack of manpower. The company has just a few employees in its ranks, and that’s with Plançon and Lenne on the list. With a bigger team, I’d say NSH has a bright future ahead of it, and will even take a bigger share of the sim-racing market with new products.
In any case, NSH remains a well-known player in the sim-racing world, thanks above all to its achievements for professional sim-racers. Once again, if you’re looking for a quality, custom sim-racing device made in France, NSH is the company to turn to.