Sim-racing configurations are as diverse and varied as motorsport in general, with its various disciplines. Of course, we have sim-racers who love rallying, others endurance and some drifting. This diversity is the strength of the discipline we all love.
Returning to the configurations, it goes without saying that each is adapted to the rider’s preferred discipline. The simplest example is that an endurance rider won’t need a shifter in his setup, or even a 3-pedal crankset. The aim is to have fun, but also to have a configuration that’s as close to reality as possible, for a good dose of immersion. And it goes without saying that virtually all sim-racing setups will feature standard peripherals, such as the discipline-specific steering wheel, base and pedals. But some configurations come with extras such as a 3-pedal crankset that goes hand in hand with a shifter, a handbrake for drifting, a cockpit for maximum immersion, and so on.
Speaking of handbrakes, there are several on the market, and it’s easy to get lost when choosing the right one. In what follows, I’m going to introduce you to the best handbrakes available, and I’m going to try to hit several purses.
1. The Fanatec ClubSport Handbrake V1.5
In our opinion, the best Sim Racing handbrake is the ClubSport Handbrake V1.5 from Fanatec.. This all-metal handbrake is based on the design of those used in motor racing. The structure is black, with a metal plate (handle) protruding from it. It’s beautiful and sober too, as well as very solid.
The Handbrake V1.5 uses an analog sensor to accurately determine the braking power to be applied to the rear wheels. This is a big change from products that use sensors like On/Off buttons. In fact, it’s this analog sensor that sets the Handbrake V1.5 competition in its price range. It’s an excellent sim-racing peripheral that’s sure to make you fall in love with the whole Fanatec ecosystem. Also, this handbrake can be installed in several configurations, giving you a totally customizable product at the end.
Price-wise, this little gem costs €129.95, which is about right for what you get. What’s more, Handbrake V1.5 works with non-Fanatec PC peripherals, provided you have a USB adapter. If you have a Fanatec base, the Handbrake V1.5 will run on all platforms, whether PC or console.
2. The Simagic TB-1
One from the Simagiccatalogue, we have the TB-1handbrake, a Load Cell excellent manufacturing quality. As a premium product, the TB-1 has a metal frame, an all-black body and a design that borders on the magnificent. It’s very beautiful as far as I’m concerned, in the same vein as other products from the brand.
At the heart of this handbrake is a Load Cell on 2 levels: the first part of the stroke is rather soft, thanks to the spring which takes care of the resistance, and the second part gives way to an elastomer which takes 100 kg. Frankly, it’s a lot more than you’d need on a handbrake, which gives you a lot of leeway.
The feel is simply perfect. The feel is almost identical to that of a racing car, with no dead zones, lags or anything else. It’s just perfect, like I said.
The TB-1 sells for around €200, which puts it just above the handbrake from Fanatec.
3. MOZA Racing HBP
Moza Racing is rather young in the game of sim-racing peripherals, but the Chinese brand still has several tricks up its sleeve. To compete with FanatecMoza Racing has developed a handbrake that’s not bad at all, if you ask me. HBP.
For resistance, you have a spring-loaded system that adjusts as you wish, and this is coupled to a non-contact 16-bit sensor to determine the force to be applied. What’s more, Moza offers a total of 2 springs in the box to modify handbrake resistance.
Let’s move on to design. As far as I’m concerned, it’s beautiful, industrial and above all sober, with a discreet color dominating. What’s more, you can change the angle of the handle as you wish. In terms of feel, it’s fine, just like the Fanatec ClubSport Handbrake V1.5. It’s precise enough to engage the brakes according to the pressure applied, and you won’t have too many problems with it. For the price, expect to pay just over €100 for this handbrake.
4. The Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake V2
Let’s move on to a product worthy of being used by a motorsport team, the Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake V2. The brand Heusinkveld is known for developing and manufacturing top-of-the-range sim-racing peripherals, directly inspired by motor racing. Its product catalog may be small, but the quality is top-notch.
The Sim Handbrake V2 is also made entirely of metal, with a simply magnificent finish. Design-wise, it’s a step above the Fanatec or Simagic handbrake, but all three are equally beautiful. The big advantage of Sim Handbrake V2 compared to ClubSport V1.5is its Load Cellor load cell, which calculates braking power. To put it simply: you have a 2-stage Load Cell which accurately reads the force you apply to the handbrake and translates it into braking pressure. It’s simply ultra-immersive, especially if you come from a less precise technology.
Although Fanatec’s analog handbrake sensor is excellent, it pales in comparison to the Load Cell of the Sim Handbrake V2. The manufacturer Heusinkveld is clearly aimed at sim-racing fans and racing drivers who want to train in simu. And that brings us to the handbrake’s minor shortcomings. To start with, its price: it costs almost €300, which is expensive for such a peripheral, hence its position in this ranking. Next, the Sim Handbrake V2 is only compatible with PC, which is a shame for console racers.
Thrustmaster TSS Sparco
Thrustmaster is a major player in sim-racing and simulation in general, and has been for some twenty years. Its catalog of sim-racing products is truly vast, covering virtually every discipline and every budget. Among the manufacturer’s peripherals, we have the TSS Sparcoa handbrake that also acts as a sequential shifter.
So, the TSS Sparco is made of metal with an excellent finish. The shifter’s color is a mix of black and silver, with a few road accents. It’s very beautiful as far as I’m concerned, on a par with the build quality. There are 2 operating modes: sequential shifter and handbrake.
For the latter, it’s pretty immersive, with good spring resistance and fairly realistic race progression. The more you pull on it, the greater the braking power, which can be seen on the simu in front of you.
In terms of platform compatibility, this handbrake will work on practically everything on the market: Playstation, Xbox and PC. It costs €250 to buy and use. As far as I’m concerned, it’s still expensive, but at the same time, it’s a handbrake and a sequential shifter. So…
Why use a handbrake?
The usefulness of a handbrake in a sim-racing configuration is closely linked to the discipline being raced. You’re not going to use such a device if you’re doing Formulabut you’ll find it very useful for rallying and drifting. The handbrake is used to lock the rear wheels and initiate a controlled drift.
Given that sim-racing is all about realism, you’ll agree that it’s more immersive to pull on the handle of a handbrake than to press a button on the steering wheel.
Having reviewed these 5 handbrakes, it’s obvious that your final choice will depend on the level of realism you’re looking for and, above all, your budget. However, if I had to recommend an option in terms of value for money, the Fanatec ClubSport Handbrake V1.5 stands out as the ideal choice.