05 Sep 2023

We continue analyzing some outstanding hardware pieces that populate the market. In this case, it’s time to take a look and test the pedals from the Finnish company Simgrade VX-PRO that we talked about a few days ago. A chronicle and analysis by Mariano B.
With the rise of simRacing during the pandemic years, we have witnessed many companies making appearances, presenting their takes on the various devices we use in our rigs. Just as there is fierce competition in the realm of wheels and especially Direct Drive systems, the pedal market is not lagging behind. In recent years, we have seen numerous companies, previously unknown, emerge to showcase their different interpretations of what it comes to pedal sets.
Today, we subject the pedal set from the Finns at Simgrade to analysis – the VX PRO.
The pedal set comes in a simple white box with Simgrade logos on the sides. If you’re not familiar with the brand, you wouldn’t know what it contains at first glance.
Upon opening it, we find the pedals (in our case, including the clutch pedal) laid down and protected from each other by different foam sheets, preventing contact. In addition to the pedals, there’s a throttle stopper, as well as a rest for the foot. We’ll talk about them later. Several sets of screws in different sizes, washers, spring-loaded nuts specifically for aluminum 4040, and a different set of profiles for the clutch travel are also included (we’ll explore deeper into this point). We also see the junction box and the USB cable.
At first glance, it’s surprising how small the pedal bases are. Unlike many of the models that have emerged in the market recently, the team at Simgrade hasn’t opted for a design based on Heusinkveld’s. Instead, their solution is completely new (and quite clever). This approach allows them to offer a wide range of possibilities for actuating each pedal while also reducing the required space for their mounting.
Visually, they are quite attractive, combining a smooth metallic appearance on one side and a textured black finish on the other, for the pedal mechanism and the supports, respectively.
Pedals Simgrade VX-PRO
The pedals are entirely made of metal, including the stainless-steel bearings that allow for pivots and rotations. According to Simgrade, the pedals are maintenance-free, and dust or dirt doesn’t affect their operation or precision. After about two months of use, including demanding moments, we haven’t experienced any internal looseness.
Pedals Simgrade VX-PRO
The operation can be considered as an hybrid system. Both the brake, throttle, and clutch pedals have a spring-based mechanism, combined with a 200-kilogram load cell for both the clutch and brake, and a 100-kilogram load cell for the throttle. This system relies on a lever-like spring action that leads to a travel through bearings. This gradual travel progressively engages the load cell. Initially, the system might seem complex, but it’s quite ingeniously designed, allowing for a high degree of customization.
Pedals Simgrade VX-PRO
In the attached photos, you can observe how each pedal has different actuation positions, where those closer to the pedal’s pivot point exhibit a softer response, while those farther away will provide a stiffer feel upon actuation.
In addition to these mechanisms, we have the option to apply preload to the spring using the double black nut seen in the pictures, allowing us to adjust the initial force required to start moving the pedal.
All the surfaces where we make contact with the pedal have a smooth brushed metal feel with various holes that enhance grip. The recommendation is to use them with appropriate footwear, but we haven’t encountered any issues when operating them with socks or even barefoot, although the latter can become slightly uncomfortable.
All the pedals come with a customization system for adjusting their angle. Once mounted on the base plate, which is what we recommend for anchoring, there are two positions to adjust the pedal’s tilt – one more vertical and another with a slight backward incline. We find this aspect quite valuable as it increases the possibilities for customization and installation within our rig setup.
The elements that have an impact on the clutch’s operation can be differentiated into three categories. One would be the spring, another would be the position where the spring exerts force, and a third would be the customizable plates that provide that distinctive 2 step feeling. These replaceable and customizable plates offer a feeling of initial resistance, and as you reach a certain point of engagement, the pedal softens until you reach the end.
Regarding the spring adjustment positions, there are two notches that dictate the pedal’s behavior throughout the spring’s travel, making it either harder or softer depending on whether the position is farther away or closer to the pedal’s pivot point, respectively.
Throughout the entire travel, the load cell is gradually compressed, providing us with input in the software.
Pedals Simgrade VX-PRO
The design of the throttle is somewhat different from the rest, as it still features a mechanical stop that indicates the end position of the bearing travel. However, this doesn’t mean that if we continue pressing the pedal, we won’t exert pressure on the load cell. This pressure will continue to provide feedback into the software.
The throttle pedal features three steps or notches that allow us to adjust the stiffness of the spring based on its position. As always, the closer it is to the pedal’s pivot point, the softer it is, and the farther away it is, the harder it becomes.
The 100-kilogram load cell provides a better response, as typically, a throttle is appreciated to not be as stiff as the brakes or clutch, yet it shouldn’t be overly soft and mushy. This allows for regulation and maintains good precision throughout its travel.
The support plate features a slight width extension that facilitates the heel-toe maneuver without requiring the entire right foot to shift from the brake to the throttle.
Pedals Simgrade VX-PRO
For the throttle, Simgrade offers the option to include two additional elements. On one hand, a lateral stopper ensures that we never lose the correct foot position on the pedal. This is a recommended addition, especially if you have a motion platform. While it can be convenient, it’s not strictly necessary.
Pedals Simgrade VX-PRO
The second addition that Simgrade offers is a heel rest that pivots together with the throttle pedal. This ensures that the foot’s position relative to the pedal remains constant regardless of the pedal’s angle of rotation.
The brake pedal is designed to be the simplest in terms of design, as it follows the same concept as the throttle and clutch. However, it lacks a bite point system like the clutch and doesn’t have mechanical stopper like the throttle.
The brake pedal features four distinct positions that determine the behavior of the lever action system. As mentioned earlier, those closer to the pedal’s pivot point will provide a softer feel, while those farther away will make it stiffer.
Since the brake is pressed, the load cell will be in operation, even if the pressure applied is very low. It will be up to each one preference to decide whether they want to have a small dead zone at the beginning or not, but we haven’t encountered any.
The 200kg load cell promises to delight even the most demanding users.
The spring, in this case much thicker than the one in the throttle and brake pedals, contributes to stiffening the assembly. However, this doesn’t mean that the pedal won’t have any travel; quite the opposite. With minimal preload on the spring and utilizing the first two support positions, you can enjoy a substantial travel range.
The installation of the pedals is quite straightforward, as it involves screwing each pedal in four points using the provided M6 screws. The hole pattern is shown below:
plantilla vx pro
Depending on the plate or bracket you’re using, you might need to acquire longer screws separately. In our case, for a 4mm thick plate, M6x20 screws were sufficient.
Once mounted, if you want to adjust the inclination, you’ll just need to fully loosen the upper screw and slightly loosen the lower one in the following image.
ajuste vx pro
Once you have them adjusted to your preference, guide the cables coming from each pedal towards the junction box, following the indications of C for clutch, B for brake, and T for throttle.
On the other side of the box, connect the provided USB C cable, and you’re ready to go.
Now it’s time to download the software from the Simgrade website using this link:
The software is quite simple and intuitive. Remember that since these pedals are based on load cells, any modifications you make to values in the software need to be saved to the internal memory.
It has two tabs:
The first one is used to calibrate the maximum and minimum values measured by each pedal, as well as the center position:
calibration vx pro
In red, you can see the raw value measured by the pedal, and in green, the transformed value that the simulator will “see”.
The second tab allows you to calibrate the response curves, from linear behaviors to exponential ones, and so on. It’s completely customizable:
calibration vx pro 2
As expected, the software allows you to save all the different configurations you want and access them quickly and intuitively.
The pedals have been tested in the following simulators:
We haven’t encountered compatibility or functionality issues in any of them.
The pedal behavior has been noteworthy, with a very good feeling at all times in all three pedals. However, it’s true that the nut and locknut that provide preload to the springs can shift a bit if positioned right at the limit where they apply pressure. Perhaps using a self-locking nut could address this issue.
The throttle felt very comfortable to the touch, even during extended periods of use. We never felt like we were losing precision at any point. However, we recommend using the heel rest as it will help keep your foot rested.
Regarding the brake pedal, if you’re coming from lower-end pedals, the initial impression might be a bit unpleasant. However, after getting used to it, you won’t want to go back. The combination of a generous travel (though not to the levels of potentiometer-actuated pedals) and the consistent and progressively acting load cell, has allowed us to refine techniques of regressive braking without reaching that unpleasant locking point where you completely lose the control.
Lastly, the clutch pedal is perhaps the one that has impressed us the least among all. It’s not bad, but it hasn’t impressed us as much as the throttle and brake pedals have. If you’re seeking a feeling similar to the two-step travel, we’re accustomed to in conventional vehicles, this might not be the right fit. It’s highly likely that by modifying the travel profile with a plate that has a more aggressive step, we could get closer to that sensation.
As always, we recommend using the manufacturer’s manual as it outlines all the components and customization mechanisms available.
With the VX PRO, Simgrade has entered the mid-high range pedal market at a mid-range price, offering a design that deviates from what other manufacturers have recently introduced in this market segment.
Pedals Simgrade VX-PRO
We’ve observed numerous advantages in the concept proposed by Simgrade. It’s a straightforward solution with an extremely high degree of customization and adaptability, and it seems to be maintenance-free.
Accustomed to seeing reinterpretations of the typical steel pedals, it is evident that there is a lot of engineering, a lot of care, and a great attention to detail to achieve an excellent product that instantly satisfies any buyer. Simgrade has taken what is known to a higher level, giving it its own identity, something very difficult to do in this sector, and we have no doubt that it will bring good returns to the Nordic brand.
You can find all Simgrade products, with a 1.5% discount using our links, on the Simufy website. In this case, the three Simgrade VX-PRO pedals cost 669.99 euros (without the resting pieces) and are available for pre-order.
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