How The Simucube ActivePedal Can Improve Your Lap Time

Discover how the Simucube ActivePedal can help you increase your speed and improve your lap times compared to a more traditional load cell or hydraulic sim racing pedal set.

Simucube ActivePedals mounted to a sim rig

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Over the past few years, we have seen a big step up in the quality of sim racing wheels and the force feedback that they create. Smaller and more affordable direct drive wheels have been dominating the sim racing community, while wheels such as the Fanatec ClubSport DD and MOZA R12 have introduced more complex force feedback.

However, the world of sim racing pedals hasn’t seen the same affordability or technical improvement, until the introduction of the Simucube ActivePedal. This new sim racing pedal has innovated what is expected from a sim racing pedal by adding force feedback to the pedal courtesy of an internal motor.

I’ve been using a Simucube ActivePedal for a little while now, and it has transformed my braking technique. In sim racing titles that fully support the ActivePedal’s force feedback, like Assetto Corsa Competizione, I have set new personal lap records at the majority of tracks I’ve raced at.

A lot of this extra lap time can be attributed to the ActivePedal. In this guide, I’ll explain how the ActivePedal can transform your braking ability and consistency by providing new feedback. I’ll also look at how I have my ActivePedal set up and show you some of my recommendations and learnings.

Why is the Simucube ActivePedal so different?

Before jumping into settings and recommendations, I first want to look at why the ActivePedal is so different from other sim racing pedals.

How sim racing pedals work

Traditional sim racing pedals utilise springs and dampers to provide resistance to your pedal activation. The pedal arm is normally hinged on the bottom with the spring and/or damper preventing the top of the pedal from folding flat. When you apply pressure, the spring and damper compress until you reach the bump stop. Then as you release the pedal pressure, the pedal arm returns to its resting position as the spring decompresses.

The movement and force are typically measured using a load cell sensor, or a potentiometer in some budget pedals. This measurement is then translated to the sim racing game and applied to the in-game throttle and brake inputs.

If you opt for a premium set of sim racing pedals, the spring and damper may be paired with a hydraulic cylinder to provide additional damping and realism. This approach is very similar to how a real road or race car functions, with the hydraulic cylinder being responsible for the resistance.

How the ActivePedal works

The ActivePedal goes in a completely different direction. Simucube has replaced the spring, elastomers and hydraulic systems completely, and instead fitted the pedal with an internal motor. This internal motor is the clever piece of the puzzle that is responsible for measuring pedal inputs and applying force feedback effects.

There is still a load cell sensor inside which measures the force applied to the pedal. However, the motor handles the pedal travel and resistance, and this resistance and travel can be completely customised using Simucube Tuner software.

Simucube ActivePedal rotational motor

In the image above you can see the internal motor which creates a rotational movement as the pedal moves.

Because the internal motor is electronically controlling these elements without any mechanical assistance from hydraulics, springs or elastomers. You can instantly switch between various presets making the pedal feel incredibly different without any physical adjustments.

The other bonus of this approach is that by removing various mechanical parts, there will be no wear over time and no maintenance required. The pedal will feel exactly the same after 1000 laps as it would on the first lap.

PedalsInfoPrice
Simucube ThrottleSimucube ThrottleLoad cell throttle€337 / $369
Simucube ActivePedalSimucube ActivePedalFFB brake pedal€2398/ $2299
Simucube PedalsSimucube PedalsComplete Pedal bundle€2928 / $2889

How force feedback transforms a sim racing pedal

The introduction of force feedback takes the idea of a rumble kit or haptic feedback from products such as the Buttkicker and Fanatec ClubSport pedals, and runs with them. The difference between racing with a set of force feedback pedals and more static pedals that we are all used to is an incredible change. Just imagine trying to race with a non-force feedback racing wheel.

Of course, sim racing with a racing wheel without force feedback is a much bigger disadvantage than racing with a pedal set without force feedback. After all, the racing wheel can tell you when you’re losing grip, how your car’s balance is and more.

Adding feedback to a set of pedals can serve a similar purpose, although much more constrained to braking and accelerating rather than weight balance changes through corners. The feedback that the ActivePedals provides allows you to completely adjust how you brake on the corner entry and can provide valuable information about how your car is gripping the track under acceleration.

Simulating ABS and wheel lockups

One of the hardest things to manage while sim racing is the adjustment between racing with a driving assist such as ABS or traction control on, and turning it off.

Games such as the EA Sports F1 series can be incredibly tough to race without assists on, and a lot of this comes down to not getting any feedback on the limitations of braking. Using a standard set of pedals can make it hard to know when you’re locking a wheel or when the ABS is engaging.

Simucube tuner ABS effect

When racing other disciplines of cars that do allow on-board ABS and TC systems such as the GT3 cars in Assetto Corsa Competizione, a similar problem can occur. You have much more control over your ABS in ACC, but it can still be hard to know when it is engaging.

Typically, you can see when ABS or TC are engaging by looking at the on-screen HUD. In ACC, the inputs change from red and green to yellow as the electronic systems engage. You can also set lights on your steering wheel to turn on to also indicate these effects, but these are all visual cues. If you’re looking towards the apex of the corner whilst braking, you may not see or notice these visual cues.

A racing wheel can sometimes be configured to portray these sensations with vibrations or a sensation of the wheel feeling lighter than normal. However, not all racing wheels or sim racing titles support this, and when they do, feeling your brakes through the steering wheel can be a strange sensation.

Using force feedback to learn when ABS is activating

With the ActivePedal effects, you can configure various different sensations. These include RPM rumbles and g-force feedback, however, the effects that have the biggest impact are the ABS and traction control settings.

Enabling these will let the Simucube ActivePedal vibrate, rumble and move to indicate when you’re engaging various systems such as ABS or TC. When this happens, the effects feel remarkably realistic. In a real road car, if you emergency stop, you will feel the brake pedal shudder under your foot, and that sensation is replicated incredibly realistically with the ActivePedal.


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In a game such as ACC where ABS is an essential part of driving, you’ll notice varying levels of feedback depending on your inputs. When braking normally without engaging ABS or locking a wheel, the brake will feel much like any high-quality sim racing pedal. You may notice some underlying rumbling from the RPM motor which adds to immersion, but other than that, the pedal feels relatively normal.

When you start to brake heavier and engage the ABS system, you’ll start to feel the pedal vibrating under your foot. These sensations intensify as the ABS activates more. If you start to snatch a brake and lock a wheel, the vibrations can become quite harsh. Of course, you can completely configure each setting using the Simucube Tuner software to increase or decrease the intensity to your own preference.

In games such as the F1 series and ACC, when the ABS system activates, it electronically reduces the braking input to prevent your wheels from locking. This isn’t the most efficient way of braking and can sometimes lead to elongated braking zones.


Using the force feedback to brake more efficiently

After a few laps using an ActivePedal and feeling where the ABS is engaging, you will start to find yourself adjusting your braking inputs. During my first session with an ActivePedal, I wasn’t aware of just how often I was engaging the ABS during a lap in ACC.

During my first run of around 5 laps or so, I found myself braking differently from how I was with my old load cell pedals. There were times when I reduced the braking input too much to compensate for the ABS sensation, and this led to a few excursions off track. However, after a few laps, I could predict when the ABs were going to engage based on my corner entry speed, my line and how hard I was pushing on the brake pedal.

In just a short period of time, I found myself activating the ABS much less. I could also set the ABS setting lower than before in my much-loved BMW M4 GT3. It is never ideal to turn off the ABS in Assetto Corsa Competizione, but lowering it by 1 notch does allow greater control under braking.

All of these adjustments to my driving style thanks to the extra feedback led to me beating my personal lap record around Silverstone after just 6 laps. After a practice session of around 45 minutes, I went on to improve my personal best by around 1 second.


ActivePedal improves consistency

While the additional lap time improvements are an incredibly welcome effect of switching to the ActivePedal, the real improvement to my overall driving was in my consistency. One of my weaknesses during longer sessions is the ease at which my consistency drops off. I’ll often lock a wheel or brake just a little too hard for a few corners after a tiring session behind the wheel.

With a regular set of sim racing pedals, it’s easy to slip up like this as there isn’t any real feedback or wake-up call. In contrast, if you attack a corner too hard and start to understeer or oversteer, you’ll immediately know about your car’s instability thanks to the force feedback through your racing wheel.

With the ActivePedals, each time I braked a little too hard, or too late, I was immediately aware of it happening thanks to the vibrations being sent through my left leg.

The ActivePedal can be configured to start rumbling or vibrating at very specific moments such as just before your ABS engages, or when you apply a specific amount of input. These preventative measures really help you stay consistent corner after corner, lap after lap.


Setting up your ActivePedal

As mentioned a few times in this guide, you have almost endless customisation available with the ActivePedal thanks to its unique design and the Simucube Tuner software.

Read our deep dive into setting up a Simucube ActivePedal for more detailed information about each setting.

When you first configure an ActivePedal, all of the effects settings are turned off and the maximum pedal travel and pressure are set pretty high. This means you almost certainly won’t be able to apply enough pressure to hit 100% input right away.

The Simucube Tuner software makes it incredibly intuitive and easy to adjust these settings to tailor the pedal to your own requirements. Right away, you’ll see the force curve which can be adjusted. However, on each side of this graph are useful adjustments including the maximum pedal travel, preload setting and maximum force.

Simucube Tuner ActivePedal force curve

These settings give you instant access to adjustments that often require physical changes to the pedal themselves. With the Tuner software, you can quickly make an adjustment and test it for a few laps without ever leaving your racing seat.

Maximum force and pedal travel

I lowered the maximum force to around 60kg which for me felt just right. Setting the pedal travel to 25mm also felt comfortable, although lowering this may provide a more realistic feel under braking for those who drive real-world race cars with incredibly stiff pedal setups.

The force curve

The force curve allows you to tune the input curve along with how the pedal feels at varying stages of the input. Playing with this curve can really let you tailor the resistance at every stage of braking and help with techniques such as trail braking. There are some presets to try including a linear curve, square or various logarithmic curves.

Force feedback effects

Once you have adjusted the pedal travel and force to a point where you feel comfortable with the pedal, you can scroll down and enable the effects. You can mix and match the effects that are applied as well as adjust each one to create a set-up that is completely unique to you.

The effects are really where the ActivePedal shines. These are responsible for simulating the ABS, TC and other effects. There is a tonne of flexibility when configuring each effect. You can adjust the frequency of every effect making each one distinguishable from the others.

Simucube Tuner Motor vibration effects

A few things I would recommend adjusting include turning up the traction control effect intensity. This effect kicks in as you are about to break traction under acceleration. As there won’t be many other effects active during the acceleration phase, turning up the traction control can give you a really good indicator of how hard you can accelerate. By default, the TC effect is relatively subtle, so increasing the intensity is well worth doing.

If you race in games such as Assetto Corsa Competizione where ABS is a big part of the overall driving, you may want to lower the ABS intensity. As standard, it can be quite aggressive, even though it is only set to around 25% by default. Lowering this still allows you to feel the ABS kicking in, but it won’t vibrate your left foot as violently.

Other effects such as g-force and the motor effects are much more subtle but can be finely tuned to create the perfect setup for you. I’d recommend reading our Simucube ActivePedal settings guide for much more information about each setting and exactly what they do.

View our guide on which games support the Simucube ActivePedal effects.

Creating profiles

It is important to note that you can create various profiles. This is useful if you often race different sim racing games or swap between different cars regularly. Creating a profile will save all of your settings. This lets you quickly change how the pedal feels each time you swap cars or change the game you’re playing.


Overview

The Simucube ActivePedal is certainly a premium piece of equipment. However, it really is a game changer in terms of the new levels of feedback that I’ve never experienced before from even the best sim racing pedals.

I don’t often recommend hardware upgrades when it comes to trying to find additional performance. Yes, a direct drive racing wheel can help you understand your car’s behaviour over a lower-powered racing wheel, and a load cell brake pedal can help improve your braking. But these upgrades will only minimally affect your maximum pace compared to on-track practice.

Simucube ActivePedal Hero Shot

I would put the ActivePedal in a similar category to these products in terms of lap time gains. It can and probably will improve your technique and consistency and can lead to gains in lap time. I certainly found I could lap quicker with the ActivePedals around most tracks.

The real improvement I found from the addition of the ActivePedal is the immersion that it adds. It really does transform a sim racing setup giving you feedback throughout all contact points rather than isolated to just force feedback via a racing wheel.

I am only hoping that this new pedal technology starts to reduce in price moving forward, much like direct drive racing wheels have become cheaper, so it becomes accessible to more sim racers.

PedalsInfoPrice
Simucube ThrottleSimucube ThrottleLoad cell throttle€337 / $369
Simucube ActivePedalSimucube ActivePedalFFB brake pedal€2398/ $2299
Simucube PedalsSimucube PedalsComplete Pedal bundle€2928 / $2889

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Frequently Asked Questions

Will the Simucube ActivePedal make me quicker?

The Simucube ActivePedal does bring the potential for you to improve your lap times and become faster. The additional feedback it offers over a standard pedal set can let you feel and understand your braking better. Over time, this can lead to improved consistency and improved lap times, although I wouldn’t purchase an ActivePedal solely for this reason.

Is the ActivePedal worth the price tag?

There is no getting away from the fact that the ActivePedal is an expensive piece of hardware. A single ActivePedal is more expensive than most racing wheels, putting it in the premium category. Whether it is worth buying comes down to what you are trying to achieve. It is a revolutionary piece of hardware which does add immersion and the potential to become more consistent.

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Article written by Mjolnir

Mjolnir is one of the main setup creators and content writers for SimRacingSetups. He has had years of experience in sim racing, both competitively and casually. After a decade of sim racing experience, he co-founded SimRacingSetup.com to share his passion and knowledge of sim racing and Formula 1 with other sim racers.
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