Fanatec Products - User Review

I originally posted this a few months ago on the old forums, and thought I'd dig it up and repost it here for a couple of reasons.  One, in case anyone was interested in making a purchase and wanted some feedback from someone who owns the equipment, and two...because I just picked up a set of the Clubsport Pedals (upgraded from my Standard ones, which stopped working properly after roughly 5 months.)

 

I posted my original thoughts below, but I'll elaborate more on what happened with my standard pedals here.  Basically, after about 5 or so months of use (maybe around 15-20 hours/week on average), the brake pedal started exhibiting abnormal behavior.  It seemed like I wasn't getting full braking force, and the pedal itself seemed to be giving erratic lingering input even when my foot wasn't on the brake.  This really became apparent when I was playing GT5, which has telemetry readouts onscreen as you play, for the gas and brake inputs.  It was very clear that no matter how hard I depressed the brake pedal, the game was not receiving more than about 75-80% braking force, as the bar never filled completely up.  Also, equally problematic (if not moreso) was the fact that when I would brake hard and then get back on the gas, the telemetry for the brake would show lingering, jittery input on the brake, which made acceleration and competitive driving an impossibility.

 

I got in touch with Fanatec regarding this, and after a few quick email exchanges, they offered to send me a brand new set of the standard pedals as a replacement, free of charge.  While I appreciated the offer, I had heard from some other people who owned the standard pedals and had experienced similar issues.  I didn't want to take the chance that something like this could happen again in another few months down the road.  So, I asked them if it would be possible to apply the cost of the replacement standard pedals toward a purchase of the Clubsport ones.  To my surprise (and delight), they were more than happy to do this.  The whole process couldn't have been easier...I sent them the $150 payment via PayPal on Thursday evening, and by Monday morning, I had them in my hands and was ready to go.  Pretty awesome.  To be honest, I had heard tales of customer service and tech support from Fanatec being less than stellar, but I've got to say they handled this situation very professionally, and really showed that they're willing to do whatever it takes to please the customer.  If I ever need any kind of wheel or wheel accessories again in the future, I won't hesitate to look to them first.

 

To talk a little bit about the Clubsport pedals themselves...well, there's really not a heck of a lot to say that you probably haven't heard already.  They're very solidly built, all machined aluminum...they've got some serious heft to them.  The difference in quality and feel between them and the chintzy Standard pedals is like paying for a bleacher seat at Yankee stadium, or enjoying the game from the VIP Booth.  There's really no comparison.  The one thing I did notice is that the throw distance of the clutch is a bit longer than that of the Standard pedals, but that's ok, not a major issue.  The throttle feels much better and actually has some resistance, unlike the "dead fish" throttle of the standard pedals...and the fact that you can feel ABS vibration through the brake pedal itself (as well as the rim of the wheel) is a nice touch that really adds to the experience.  Definite thumbs up.

 

Below is the original review I wrote from the old forums.  (Super long post, I know...haha...it's been a slow work day...) ;)

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I feel I should also go a little further into a review of the wheel itself and some of the accessories I purchased for it, in case anyone is interested and is considering making a purchase.

First of all, the wheel itself.  It's quite impressive looking, and the alcantara-wrapped wheel is fantastic...it feels great, and it really does whisk away any sweat from your hands while driving, helping you keep a solid grip.  Upon close inspection, and after using the wheel for a little over a month now, the buttons themselves feel a bit disappointing in their quality.  They don't all have a consistent feel to them...some have a solid click, others feel a bit more "mushy", and there's quite a large gap between the edges of the buttons and the base of the wheel (especially around the d-pad and the start/back rocker button), giving the impression that they could come loose and pop off at some point in the future.

The adjustability of the wheel itself is nice...being able to store 5 presets for different games, for things like force feedback amount, deadzone, etc. is pretty handy.  The only two games I've used the wheel with so far are F1 2010, and Forza 3...and with the right settings (in-game and on the wheel), it feels great.

I also purchased the standard pedals (the $50 ones, not the oh-no-you-didn't-just-pay-$200-just-for-pedals Clubsport ones), and they get the job done, but they're not terribly impressive.  They're 100% plastic, which is ok I guess, but there are two issues that I have with them.  One is that there is practically no feel at all to the throttle.  It offers very little resistance, so you pretty much are required to play in your socks if you want to have any kind of pedal feel.  The brake pedal offers pretty firm resistance, which is nice, and the clutch does its best to feel like a real clutch, with degressive resistance as you push it in.  The other issue with the standard pedals is that if you're looking to actually use all 3 pedals, you WILL need to fasten them down with something.  I bought Fanatec's RennSport Wheel Stand to keep everything in place, and the stand comes with a metal bar that affixes to the aluminum runners on the bottom of the stand.  You set your pedals in front of this bar, and it does a good job of preventing them from sliding away from you.  The problem is, the way the pedals are designed, say you need to brake hard with your right foot, and simultaneously depress the clutch pedal with your left to start a downshift.  If you do it with any kind of zest, the pedals are immediately going to flip up away from you because there's nothing on the near end of the base to weigh them down.  When using only one foot or the other (or doing left foot braking), you've usually got one foot not on a pedal, and the majority of its weight is counterbalancing the unit without you even thinking about it.  So, what I decided to do was take a quick trip to Home Depot and buy one of those ratcheting tie-downs...I wrapped it around the pedals, and the ratchet mechanism sits on the carpet, just about perfectly under the pedals in the gap caused by the thickness of the runners.  It was about $8, and now they don't budge at all.

Speaking of the RennSport stand...I'm kind of torn regarding it.  I was looking for something I could use that would allow me to sit on my couch while playing, as I don't really have the room for a dedicated rig with a racing chair and all that.  In that regard, it works perfectly and does what I was looking for.  The main issue I have with it is that it's just not as stable as I had hoped it would be.  Unfortunately I think it comes down to the fact that the manufacturers had to come up with something that was both adjustable and stable...and it would seem that the two are pretty much mutually exclusive.  In order for such a rig to be really sturdy, you need hard welds at the high stress zones, but in order for it to fit a wide array of sizes of people, these points can't be hard welded and are therefore held together by bolts which need to be manually tightened and inevitably work their way loose, undermining the stability of the entire rig.  After every hour or so of racing, I find that I need to go around and re-tighten most of the joints...it's surprising how loose they can become with some spirited driving.  I do try to go easy on it, and I'm probably gentler with it than most people, but I still have to go around and re-tighten things pretty frequently.  If you're a really enthusiastic driver, you might want to consider a different rig.  Unfortunately I've never tried anything else (like Wheel Stand Pro, for example, so I couldn't say if that would be any better).

Now, on to the shifters.  For $50, you get both the 6+R gated shifter, and the sequential shifter.  One thing to note...when I purchased the RennSport stand, I noticed that it came with an extra metal plate which I assumed was for mounting the shifters to.  Upon examining the instructions, this metal plate (which screws onto the metal base that you attach the wheel itself to) is only for use with the Logitech (G25/27) shifters....NOT for Fanatec's own products!  The only option given to you for attaching Fanatec's own shifters is by using decidedly less stable (and rather cheesy looking to boot) "chopsticks", one end of which you stick in the side of the base of the wheel, with the shifter sliding snugly over the other end.  The problem is, it's not all that snug of a fit, and the shifter is just kind of floating out in the air with nothing solid underneath it.

When I first hooked it up, I decided to use the gated shifter.  You have to go through a series of steps to calibrate the shifter so that the game knows which position relates to which gear...and even referring to the online PDF manual on Fanatec's site, the steps for doing this were less than crystal clear.  After fuddling around with it for 5 or 10 minutes, I managed to get it to work, and I was on my way.  I hopped in an S2000 and headed to Catalunya to see what was what.  One good thing about it is that it's a pretty short throw, so gear shifts can happen pretty quickly.  Or at least they should.  The problem is that the spring(s) that they use to give the shifter resistance offer a LOT of resistance when you need to move the stick off-center to the left or right (if you want to shift into 1st or 2nd, or 5th or 6th, for example).  3rd and 4th gear are easy, since they're just straight up and down.  Because of this inconsistent resistance, I was finding it very difficult to actually select the gear that I wanted on my first try...I was missing shifts, going into the wrong gear, it was a mess.  And to make it worse, because of the amount of effort required to get into a gear that wasn't 3rd or 4th, the instability of the chopsticks really became noticeable, and it just ruined the whole experience for me.

I wasn't terribly hopeful then, when I decided to try out the sequential shifter to see if it was any better.  After having put in probably about half a dozen hours with it so far (I actually just took delivery of the shifters themselves last week), really the only bad thing I can say about it is that whenever you shift, it emits a super-cheesy clicking noise that is a constant painful reminder that you're using a toy, and not driving a real car.  That being said though, in practice, it really works great.  It requires very little effort to flick the stick up or down, so the inherent instability of the chopsticks is kept to a minimum, and when using it with the clutch pedal, it can be great fun, and a really immersive experience.

So...in a nutshell, the wheel, pedals, stand , and shifters are not without issues, but I don't regret buying them as I've had a blast with them so far, and I'm sure will continue to do so for a good long while.

 

Discussion Info


Last updated July 4, 2018 Views 11 Applies to:

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Nice read.  I will definitely look into this set. I must ask what do you do with cars that have 7 gears and 1 reverse?

[quote user="LegendSNES"]

Nice read.  I will definitely look into this set. I must ask what do you do with cars that have 7 gears and 1 reverse?[/quote]

Use the paddle shifters?

true!

Yeah, I pretty much only use either the paddles or the sequential shifter.  As I mentioned above, I don't really like the gated shifter, and haven't used it at all beyond the hour or two I spent testing it when I first got it several months ago.  It's too notchy-feeling, and the spring tension for pushing it to the far left or right is too great.  It makes it really difficult to grab the right gear in the heat of the moment, plus the fact that using it tends to make my stand wobble more than I'd like because it requires a lot more motion/effort than the other two options.  It's a bit disappointing, really...but the seq. shifter is fun, so it balances out.

One thing just to follow up...I started noticing over the past week or so that the throttle on the ClubSport pedals is starting to creak a bit.  Not a big deal, probably just needs some oil somewhere.  I'll have to look into it more, as I'm not sure exactly where the creak is coming from, or what type of oil is best to use once I find it.  I'll post back here with the solution once I find out.

Fanatec continues to impress me.  I wrote to them last night, explaining the squeaky throttle pedal, and this was the reply I got back this morning:

 

They could easily have said "oh...use such and such type of oil" or whatever, but the fact that they're willing to send me some, free of charge...that was unexpected and very cool of them to do.  :)

Hello racing lovers! Fanatecs spec. wireless xbox-360 Porsche 911-T SW or There "Fanatec Porsche GT Wheels and the CSP "Club Sportpedals together in a Sim-seat are so greate & i just wana tell u on Microsoft-Xbox. You are going to lose many coustemers to SonyPS3,,,if you dont,,verry soon begin to make the Xbox-360 RacingGames , Compatible wth ALL 3 Pedals! You on Microsoft must do ALL youre SIM-Racer Games WITH the Clutch Compapility ,even to XboX-360,as a choice for us who wana come soo near reality as possible & use a 360 Consol!.  I HATE to se that Sony PS3 is working with the clutch & MicrosoftGames Xbox on PC! I own the best S-Wheel with FF Pedals in the world! Its a Fanatec!  The Best on Sim-Wheels and soo on,, Has even Porsche with ther in the work of SIM and realism! Microsoft! ,,Dont throw away this super conection with Fanatec and Porsche!   Trying 2 make "Bill,G understand ,,dont let Sony be the winner of the SIMRacing--War with there PS3! I hope U hear me! ;) "Feel fine"..from  /Ulrik      (*** Email address is removed for privacy ***)  

It's been a while since I've updated this post...I guess it's become more for my own recollection than anything else, but whatever.

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The oil that Fanatec sent worked well and stopped the squeaking.  I do have to say though that the pedals are not the easiest things in the world to disassemble.  In fact, a few of the bolts/screws are in such tight positions that I didn't have the proper tool that would fit, so I did the best I could by just leaving the pedals assembled and squirting the oil into the areas where the squeaks were coming from.  It was a little messy, but a few paper towels later, problem solved and I was good to go.

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Recently, however, another problem has emerged with my Clubsport pedals.  I've noticed that they're exhibiting the exact same behavior as the old set of standard pedals did; regarding the erratic, lingering input on the brake, even when my foot is nowhere near the pedal.  This is really disappointing, because the whole point of me upgrading to the CSPs was so that I would have a quality set of pedals and wouldn't have to deal with issues like this anymore.

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Word around the net seems to be that the problem is caused by a faulty load cell and needs to be replaced (which Fanatec conveniently sells spares of).  Two things trouble me about this...one, the standard pedals don't use a load cell, so why did I have the exact same problem with them as I'm having with the CSPs?  And two, if I've spent $200 on a set of pedals, I feel like I shouldn't have to pay for replacement parts every few months to keep them in proper working order, especially when there are other, less expensive products on the market which last for far longer with no such similar problems.

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So...I've contacted Fanatec tech support this past Friday the 28th...we'll see what their response is, and I'll update this post with any news.

Got a reply from Fanatec support today, asking for a video detailing the problem.  I explained to them that it's the exact same problem that I was having with the standard pedals, but I decided to humor them and play this one by the book.  I had already downloaded their driver software for my PC, so I downloaded some free screen-capture software and made a quick video showing what was going on with the lingering phantom input on the brake.

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I just emailed them my reply, with the video, so I'm guessing sometime tomorrow I'll hear something back.

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If I had to venture a guess, I'd say they're probably going to tell me that the load cell needs to be replaced.  In all honesty though, I think that's a symptom, and not the root cause of the problem.  Judging by the fact that I had the same problem with the standard pedals as I'm having with the CSPs, and also by the fact that they're constructed differently (the standard pedals don't have a load cell at all) and use totally different materials, I'm starting to think that the root problem has something with the electronics and/or the firmware of the pedals themselves.  But, that's purely speculation on my part.  We'll see what Fanatec has to say.

Oh and just for the record, I took a trip to Home Depot (made two trips, actually) to find the right wrench and hex bit sets that would let me disassemble the pedals (I wanted to open them up and try lubricating the internals of the brake to see if that helped...it didn't)...all I have to say is...whoever designed where to put the screws and bolts on those pedals, I would LOVE to meet him in a dark alley somewhere and show him what I think of his work.  Frustration does not even begin to describe the process of trying to make a hex wrench fit into some of these areas... X{

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