Sim racing Pedals are easily one of the most important part of any sim racing set up. Far more superior is an upgrade for the feet than an upgrade for the hands. Most people entering the world of Sim racing will most probably start out with a set of pedals which lack any form of Load cell. Before we go any further I will explain what a load cell is and what it is for.
A load cell is an electronic piece of equipment that is used to measure force before converting it into an electronic signal. It can be used to measure forces in the form of Tension, Compression, Pressure and Torque. As the force increases the signal changes proportionally. Load cells are particularly useful in Sim racing for the brake pedal, because rather than relying on a select range of travel to dictate how much the brake is applied it uses the pressure we apply with our leg, foot and in turn applies the brake. This method is very repeatable and with a bit of training the leg muscles naturally know how much pressure to apply.
So naturally when sim racers begin upgrading their pedals they usually find themselves moving onto pedals with load cells incorporated into their design. This can sometimes offer a big improvement in the drivers consistency, note I said consistency rather than speed. I believe some people will notice a slight advantage in speed but for the most part it is the consistency you gain with higher end sim pedals which is the most advantageous. And this is why I believe pedals are one of the most important part of a sim racers equipment.
Meca Cup One Pedal set
About 6 months ago I was fortunate enough to stumble across Meca Sim Hardware. The first thing I noticed about this pedal set was how robust and well made they appeared in the photos and videos online. At the time I currently wasn’t in the market for a new set of pedals but after further investigation that soon began to change. Like most purchases, at first we don’t think we need a new piece of equipment but something sparks our interest and it’s amazing how things can turn around. I’d actually considered the idea of upgrading to DD at the time but something changed and I began thinking a new upgraded set of pedals would be the better option.
opening the box
So shortly after letting my head convince me that the purchase of a set of pedals was needed, they were at the door and in my possession. Upon opening the box it was clear to see that what Meca Sim Hardware are doing is special. The presentation is second to non and a lot of thought has gone into the packaging to protect the stunning set of pedals whilst in transit or storage. These pedals come nestled in multiple layers of precision cut cardboard, which although is only cardboard is extremely impressive and shows the attention to detail in something which is taken for granted and not always performed well, and by this I mean The protecting of a product during leaving the manufacturer and arriving with the customer.
Whats in the box?
- Throttle pedal
- Brake pedal
- Replaceable polyurethane bushes for brake pedal
- USB cable
- Baseplate (if you’ve purchased the kit which includes a baseplate)
- Aluminum spacers
- Pedastal for Leo Bodnar controller
- Bag of nuts and bolts for all attachment methods
- GT faceplate (Brake) with grip
- Manual (Yea that’s right a physical manual!)
So with them out the box let’s talk about what makes these pedals special.
I believe making a set of pedals is quite a challenge in the 21st century, everyone expects something completely new and different but unfortunately there are only so many ways you can develop the Throttle, Brake and clutch pedal, I think those who try to re invent the wheel face a treacherous path.
Fortunately Meca Sim Hardware have focused their attention on improving what’s already available. Meca have done this by using high end materials and consulting the help and knowledge of race teams and race mechanics to create a very high end set of pedals.
The pedals feel solid and very weighty in hand, flex is non existent and the attention to detail is clearly visible. One part which stands out immediately is the addition of the CNC aluminium cups which prevent deformation of the rubber under load. This sounds like a simple solution but hasn’t been done before and is a highly effective way of improving the brake pedal along with showing the level of thought gone into this set of pedals.
Another string to the Mecas bow is the Leo Bodnar box and pedastal. I think this is a very neat way of organising the cables which also keeps them out of the way of any moving parts on the pedals.
Each pedal is made from 3mm thick stainless steel. The Stainless steel is class 1.4301 to be precise. Along with swivel and sliding bearings that are made from bronze sliding segments, unibals on the rods are made from a mixture of stainless steel, aluminium and brass. The pedals are then given a shot peened finish called Ballotina to increase durability and increase adhesion for your feet on the pedal plates. Each pedal is fitted with a load cell, with the one fitted to the brake being a 200kg rated load cell. Now I’d like to point out that a lot of people tend to presume that a 200kg load cell will require the user to exert 200kg of force but this isn’t the case or atleast isn’t the case for the majority of pedals. You have to bare in mind that the pedal offers a mechanical advantage due to being a lever, so depending how the pedal is structured depends on what ratio comes into play.
I’ve had issue with fitting pedals before, bolt holes not aligning correctly or bolt lengths not correct. So after opening the bag of supplied bolts I was intrigued to see how well they’d go together. The Kit I’d purchased came with the 8mm thick base plate, which I will add is a nice bit of kit! I decided to fit the baseplate first using the supplied aluminium cylinder spacers and supplied bolts. Now unfortunately my main rails on my rig are an unusual size and I believe the rail in which the T nut sits isn’t as deep as most so the supplied bolt would just begin to bottom out when tightening up. This was easily remedied with a small washer. Next I installed the 3 pedals into the mounting slots which give just enough lateral movement to get the desired positioning with each individual pedal. A great feature worth noting is the bolts have a square head on them which locks into the slot preventing them from rotating allowing easy installation. The nuts are also capped which makes the finish that little bit neater. Once the pedals are all in place you need to attach each of the cables into the Leo Bodnar signal converter box, which is cleverly mounted on a pedastal just behind the pedals. This keep the cables from each pedal along with main USB cable very neat and tidy and stops them getting caught in any of the moving parts on the pedal. With installation complete I will look at what adjustment to each pedal is available.
Each of the Meca Cup 1 pedals have some form of adjustment which allow the user to fine tune each pedal to their requirements.
The throttle pedal has 4 forms of major adjustment, firstly we have spring preload which when tightened pre loads the spring making the pedal stroke stiffer or when loosened gives the opposite. Secondly we have adjustment on the leverage between the pedal arm and the spring, this again adjusts the stiffness of the pedal stroke. This coupled with the spring preload offers the user some very fine adjustment. Then we have a pedal stroke stop which allows the user to dictate the length of throw the throttle pedal has by turning a bronze elliptical washer . The final adjustment is the pedal arm angle, this is particularly useful and makes the pedal set usable in varying seating positions.
Just like the throttle pedal the brake pedal angle can also be adjusted, but the main adjustment and most important is the pedal stiffness. The pedal features 3 rubbers and is supplied with 3 of each colour to allow endless configurations. The black rubbers are the softest followed by blue and finally the orange. I currently use two blue with an orange at the final part of the pedals travel. Each rubber is sandwiched between the CNC’ed aluminium cups that I mentioned earlier on and prevent deformation of each rubber, this lengthens the life of the rubber and dramatically increases its performance and consistency. It is also possible to completely bottom the cups out which gives a light tap which can be felt through the foot.
Like both the throttle and the brake, the clutch features the same pedal angle adjustment from simply unlocking two Allen head bolts near the rear of the pedal base. The other form of adjustment with the clutch is the stiffness which can be slightly adjusted by changing the lever ratio.
Now that we have the pedals adjusted to how we want them it’s time to get them calibrated
It is recommended by Meca Sim hardware to download DIView for correctly calibrating and fine tuning your pedals. This is exactly what I did. When researching the pedals before making my purchase, I noticed a handful of comments complaining about the software so began the process of calibrating the pedals through DIView already on the back foot. Without getting into it too much, I didn’t find the set up / calibration difficult at all, as long you follow the provided instructions in the manual. it’s not a simple plug in and away you go, it requires a handful of numbers to be multiplied and divided but once done there isn’t much reason to need to do it again unless you drastically alter the pedal stroke, like changing the brake rubbers for instance. It’s worth adding in your deadzones if you require one, through DIView.
On the track
If like me you came from a set of V3 pedals from Fanatec (without any form of brake upgrade add on) then I’d imagine you’d too will find the brake pedal to be very stiff in comparison. My initial test runs saw me standing on the brakes and running deep into the corners due to not applying enough brake. After around an hour I began to get to grips with them and the first thing I noticed was how little a brake I could apply if I wanted. To give you a bit more clarity, what I mean is when entering faster corners that would unsettle the car I found I could very controllably apply a tiny amount of brake which would stable the car. This was extremely repeatable and due to the force required to depress the brake pedal along with the length of stroke, Gave me a brake which was very easy to be consistent with. After a bit of muscle memory adapting to the new brake pressure I noticed the consistency with my braking was leap years ahead compared to when using my previous brake set. This was apparent with the other members of PSR, who commented on how late and controlled it appeared I could now brake. Trail braking was another element I’ve improved on and I believe this to be down to the length and weight of the pedal stroke, bleeding off the brake is really easy because of these two points. The throttle pedal with the standard spring is probably lighter in comparison to the Fanatec V3 pedal set, but after some adjustments I got it feeling fine. Meca Sim Hardware have since released a throttle pedal upgrade kit which features a heavier spring and replaces a couple of 3d printed parts with machined metal parts. I particularly like it when a company offers upgraded parts, it’s nice to be able to upgrade a set rather than replace the whole lot.
The Clutch is the pedal I have least used due to the majority of Sims I play requiring very little or no use of the clutch. The pedal has a very solid crisp feel when it breaks through the initial part of its stroke which simulates the engaging and disengaging of the clutch plate and although it doesn’t seem to dissimilar to other clutch pedals on the market, it feels very premium.
As with anything I review I’d like to think I give an unbiased account of my experience with the product, and with the Meca pedals that is no different. My opinion of the pedals has got stronger and stronger the more I have used them, that is a good opinion I may add.
From day one I instantly saw an improvement and change to the way I sim race. My braking has become more consistent and precise, and attacking and defending in the braking zone has dramatically improved. This has allowed me to concentrate on the finer details of braking like trail braking etc.
Along with the physical product, I have been extremely impressed with Meca Sim Hardware as a company. Their customer service appears to be second to non, I’ve personally contacted the company and recieved responses within hours. And after reading other customers comments it’s apparent it’s a similar experience for others showing Meca look after their customer base, which is key to any brand / company being successful. The community page for Meca Sim hardware see’s some interesting comments and requests left for Meca in terms of what customers would like the see upgraded etc it’s nice to see some of them becoming reality and again shows Meca are listening to their customers.
Like all great products, they are not completely perfect. And the biggest niggle for me has been the squeak that develops on the brake pedal. It is recommended that a PTFE dry lube is used but due to the nature of dry lubes I find their effectiveness is short lived. I found the problem progressively got worse and it felt that the rubber would grip the inside of the aluminium cups and squeak as the rubber slipped then gripped again, this could be felt quite prominently through the pedal in the form of a vibration. I have since cured this problem by using a silicone spray (which is Safe for rubber). My final gripe is that I’ve found one of the pedals even with a dead zone set emits some sort of signal which interferes with the setting up of joy pads in other games, this was cured by unplugging the pedals. With that being said, both niggles are minor and something I’d expect from majority of pedal sets on the market, and other than the fact I like to be unbiased it isn’t something I’d of otherwise mentioned.
I have grown to love the Meca Cup 1’s and would happily recommend this pedal set to other Sim racers. I look forward to seeing what else Meca produce
Current prices for a full kit including base plate are as follows:
£768 inc. VAT – from Race at home
$949 inc. VAT – direct from Meca Sim Hardware
So if your in the market for a high premium set of pedals head over to Meca Sim Hardware to see more information and find a stockist near you