The Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake Review!

Let us take a look at the Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake for us Sim Racing enthusiast. Who is it for and is it worth your dollars for your drifting adventures? First...

Let us take a look at the Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake for us Sim Racing enthusiast. Who is it for and is it worth your dollars for your drifting adventures? First up I’ll be listing the catalog information as well as my impressions sprinkled throughout with a final review. Read on or watch the video review my sim racing friends. Just a note the Heusinkveld Handbrake was not supplied to me for review purposes. I bought it and wanted to share my thoughts for you.

 

What is it?

The Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake is a pressure sensitive handbrake using load cell technology. It features a firm, progressive feel and is ideal for rally and drifting simulation software. The handbrake features an adjustable lever, allowing the lever to be tilted 120 degrees in infinite adjustable steps in order to offer maximum flexibility.  The estimated maximum force which can be put at the lever is 17kg (37lbs).

Overview

The Sim Handbrake features a strong, stiff, compact and durable design made out of stainless steel. Using load cell technology, the amount of force you apply on the lever determines the output to your simulation software of choice.

The handbrake system has an adjustable lever, allowing the lever to be tilted 120 degrees in infinite adjustable steps in order to offer maximum flexibility. The lever features a soft grip at the end. The handbrake can detect forces of up to 17kgs or 37 lbs (measured at the soft grip at the lever) and features an overload protection. The load cell is (indirectly) activated by a rubber, which gives the handbrake a firm and progressive feel. The handbrake comes with 2 types of rubber, so the feel of the handbrake can be adjusted.

Mounting

The Sim Handbrake comes with various options for mounting it to your rig. The base unit of the system has a 2×2 array of mounting holes/slots. There is also an alternative mounting solution: With every handbrake, we also supply an adapter plate (‘wingsuit’) which can be mounted directly on aluminum profiles with a maximum width of 40mm. The handbrake can then be mounted on top of this adapter. Please note that you must supply your own T-nuts, nuts, and bolts to fit the handbrake to the adapter plate and the adapter plate to an aluminum profile. See below pics.

Since the angle of the handbrake lever can be adjusted 120 degrees, you can mount the base unit both in a horizontal and vertical position.

Controller

The handbrake comes with a USB controller box (with onboard load cell amp and USB connector). This controller board gives an analog output (it acts as a single analog joystick axis).

Sim Games on PC

The handbrake will be an excellent piece of kit for all simulation software which allows the use of an analog handbrake. Simulators known to support an analog handbrake are:

  • Richard Burns Rally
  • Live for Speed
  • Automobilista
  • Dirt Rally
  • Dirt 4
  • Project CARS 2
  • Rfactor 2
  • iRacing
  • Forza 7 PC
Note:

Works in pretty much any sim racing title that will allow you to assign the handbrake to a USB device. Even though it does work in Forza 7 on PC it doesn’t work in Forza Horizon 3 on PC. This is because FH3 doesn’t support multiple separate USB connections. I would bet that FH4 will have that feature added for PC users much like Forza 7 currently does. Keep in mind this is Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake is for PC games only not consoles.

 

 

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First Impressions and Setup

Wow, this is a compact and sturdy no holding back piece of equipment! Once you start to assemble the Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake you easily realize that everything is well thought out with its precise machining of stainless steel and assembly of components. It is just an extremely compact and sturdy piece of hardware. Nothing feels weak on this unit! It comes with all the hardware to mount the lever in different positions, 2 bushings to adjust your pull force (22lbs or 37 lbs), USB controller box and wingsuit bracket to allow you to mount the unit to 8020 tubing.

After unboxing it all and taking a look at the aesthetics I love the skeletal design of the handbrake unit as a whole with the pre-mounted see thru (37lbs of force) green polyurethane bushing. This handbrake will look killer on any sim rig!

Starting from the Top with the really beefy Handle that looks to be made up of tan colored plastic shims to obtain the desired thickness to fill in between stainless steel arms and covered with a grippy rubber sleeve. It’s a really thick and substantial handle that just feels right in your hand!

Moving on you will notice the nice brass bushings on the lever arm to smooth the feeling of the lever pull as well as serving as a possible replaceable wear item. Then next up is the big Mavin NA151 load cell at the back which is robust enough to last for a really long time at 200kg rating with built-in safe override protection. Everything is secured down with Stainless steel bolting throughout.

You also may notice the blue bushing covering up a bolt at the front. This is the stop and designed to dampen the sound once releasing the handbrake lever. In practice, it definitely works at keeping things quiet.

For the electronics, you will notice a 1-foot long wire with an RJ phone jack coming out of the handbrake that you will plug into the supplied control box. From the control box, you have a supplied 3 ft USB cable that plugs into your PC and is recognized from windows as a USB controller. It all works very seamlessly

Once mounted to your rig with (4 M6 bolts and nuts not supplied) you will be given a choice of handle adjustments to fit your liking. It’s really well thought out and once you get it adjusted to your liking then just tighten down the bolts. It’s really simple to adjust the handle position on the fly to your liking with 2 supplied Allen wrenches. If you want to try out the different bushings that’s easy to do as well in less than 60 seconds. Keep in mind after changing bushings you will need to recalibrate the lever which is also really fast to do. See charts below handle adjustments for reference.

Adjustable handbrake force

By swapping the rubber in the handbrake you can adjust the maximum force of the handbrake. With the white rubber the maximum force is about 10kg (22lbs) The green rubber makes this about 17kg (37lbs). These values are indicative.

In order to swap the rubbers, identify parts 1 to 4 below (also see the image) and follow instructions A to D.

Parts list:

1) Bolt head (13mm hex)
2) metal washer(s)
3) metal washer(s)
4) preload nut (13mm Hex

Rubber replacement instructions:

  • a) Loosen preload nut (4)
    b) Loosen bolt (1) and pull out
    c) white = soft, green = hard rubber
    d) put back in order

Don’t over tighten 1. After preload, the rubber length must be 30mm or more (1.18 inch) You can pull until you feel you hit an end stop, but you can also calibrate to a lower force level.

Calibrating the handbrake

In order to calibrate the handbrake for Windows, we recommend using DIView Calibration Software (ZIP). The handbrake acts just like a brake pedal, the video below shows a detailed instruction on how to calibrate a pedal within DIView. This calibration method will work for all software which uses the standard Windows calibration protocol.

 

The Review

After reading about the Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake and my first impressions it’s easy to understand just how adjustable this handbrake is, giving you a more beefy and accurate feeling handbrake that you will quickly get used to after a few racing stints from muscle memory. It’s not an on/off switch with resistant. It’s an analog controller that is easier to modulate from muscle memory since it has a load cell in there.

During the levers calibration, you can adjust the starting and end points of the range of operation. For instance, if you prefer the stiffer green bushing feel, but don’t want to apply 40 lbs worth of force on the lever arm to fully lock up the brakes you can adjust it to lock up at say half the range of the bushings compression. Or if you like the more softer feeling white bushing and like to yank the lever arm until you hit the stops then you can set the max force travel accordingly. It’s really very versatile to use and feels really smooth and fluid in operation. I found myself switching the white and green bushings out often to see what I prefer which requires a recalibration, but it’s all very quick to do which is a testament to the well thought out design.

When in use drifting around on sims like Project Cars 2, iRacing and Dirt 4 I felt like a BOSS! This handbrake is so thick and professional feeling that it feels more real than any other handbrake on the market. Sure there is no vibration feedback like in a real car from rear tire chatter (although simvibe may help there), but what I feel is a very sturdy lever with no side flex or unnecessary flex in its chassis that just becomes progressively harder to pull thru the lever range like a real handbrake is. The levers travel range also feels very similar to the range you would experience in a real car’s handbrake which is fantastic and easy to get acclimated to.

I will note that is you are using the green bushing you do need a sturdy sim rig so you don’t go yanking apart your rig. I would suggest the Simetek K2 see my review. Which leads me to my next Q&A.

How does the Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake compare too the Fanatec Handbrake?

Fanatec Handbrake

  • Works with PC and/or consoles depending on how you plug it up.
  • None adjustable lever force. (Estimate 10-12 lb lever pull)
  • Inferior build quality with the lever handle feeling weaker with side flex during operation.
  • Horizontal or vertical mounting.
  • Doesn’t take up much space with a small mounting footprint.
  • Can be mounted separately or to your Fanatec Clubsport Shifter.
  • Analog, not an on/off switch.
  • Adjustable start and ending range for lever actuation.
  • Less expensive.

Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake

  • PC only. Does not work with consoles.
  • Superior build quality with no lever flex.
  • Adjustable lever force with 2 different bushings.
  • Horizontal or vertical mounting.
  • Plug and play to PC.
  • Analog, not an on/off switch.
  • Adjustable start and ending range for lever actuation.
  • Doesn’t take up much space with a small mounting footprint.
  • Longer lasting load cell to measure pressure instead of a potentiometer.
  • Cost almost double at $233.91 compared to Fanatec $119.95.

Final Thoughts

As I get older I really appreciate quality over price. I like to buy a product and believe it will last me years on end. Well, that’s the warm and fuzzy feeling I get with the Heusinkveld products. They are built to last!

I suspect that the higher price tag of the Heusinkveld sim handbrake doesn’t scare many people off as they are sold out of these handbrakes most of the time. They do not do pre-orders either. They build a batch to meet estimated demands and then list them up for sale. If you’re looking for an alternative handbrake solution for your PC racing I highly recommend the Heusinkveld sim handbrake. It truly is the best feeling handbrake I have ripped on! There is zero side flex in the handle lever and it’s virtually plug and play with infinite adjustability. Really what else is there to want? I highly recommend this handbrake to any sim enthusist that is wanting to step up ther sim racing immersion factor with a product that feels more real then any other I have used.

Check out the Video Review below…

Purchase at Heusinkveld

 

See ya on the Track!

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