When Fanatec released the new CSL pedal set for well under $100, they did so with the aim of making sim racing more accessible to a broader audience with a minimal reduction in realism and your racing experience.
The quality of a pedal set can be the difference between feeling like you’re stomping on the brakes of a 3000lb stock car or playing Ridge Racer in a penny arcade.
Let’s take a look at how the Fanatec CSL pedal set holds up and if this gateway into sim racing lives up to the Fanatec name.
The CSL Pedal Set
The new Fanatec CSL pedals gives new sim racers (or racers operating on a tighter budget) an entry point into the world of realistic peripherals.
Realism is the ultimate goal for any sim racer, so having a set of pedals available for $79.95 is an enormous feather in the Fanatec cap.
However, you have to make some concessions at this price point, and the glaring omission from the new CSL pedals is a clutch pedal.
A lack of a clutch pedal is not so much of a big deal if you’re new to sim racing or exclusively race in F1 simulators (or racing series where a clutch pedal isn’t needed).
However, if you eventually want to upgrade to incorporate a clutch into your racing rig, the CSL pedals are fully upgradable via the optional clutch kit or the ‘Load Cell’ brake pedal upgrade (you’ll be able to repurpose the original brake pedal as your clutch pedal).
The heel plate and pedal assembly themselves are not only some seriously sexy racing apparel; they’re a solid stainless steel construction that betrays their budget price point.
The pedal faces are made from a molded plastic that is more representative of price point, but you can upgrade to metal faces at a later date.
While the CSL pedals might not have the quality and compatibility of the Fanatec ClubSport V3 pedals (and if we’re being honest, they’re not as pretty either), they’re almost four and a half times cheaper.
The disparity of quality is certainly nowhere near the gulf in price, making the CSL pedals pound-for-pound some of the best value pedals on the market.
What’s In the Box?
Because the Fanatec CSL pedals are an entry-level product, it doesn’t come with a considerable amount of bits and pieces, but below is the official Fanatec list of what you’ll find in your box:
- Throttle Pedal
- Brake Pedal PU Foam Damper
- Heel Rest
- 1x Wheel Base Connection Cable RJ12/RJ12 (~2m)
- 1x Torx key
- M4x12 Mounting Bolts (only to mount pedals to heel rest)
- Hard-Mounting Spacers
- Replacement Rubber Feet (To Stop The Base Sliding Around)
- 1x Quick Guide
Features & Benefits
There are a surprising number of features on the new Fanatec CSL pedals that you’d usually only find on premium pedal sets. We’re going to focus on the important ones, but this list is by no means exhaustive.
Magnetic Hall-Effect Sensors: The CSL pedals use a Hall-Effect sensor rather than a potentiometer, which means the pedals use a magnetic field to measure pedal position giving you more precision over acceleration, feathering, braking, and trail braking. The magnets are also contactless, which reduces wear and improves longevity.
Adjustable Pedals: Every sim racer is different, with different foot sizes, seating positions, driving styles, and so on. So, having the ability to adjust the pedal horizontally and vertically is massively beneficial. Especially if you’re an advocate of the heel-toe shifting method.
Fully Upgradable: While these pedals are entry-level and an excellent product for beginners, you can upgrade them over time as your skill (or bank balance) increases. Add a clutch pedal, optional load cell kit, aluminum pedal faces, ClubSport USB adapter for use with different brand wheelbases.
Those are the three main features that impressed us most that you won’t find on any other budget pedal set. However, there are other benefits such as plug and play, vertical rear, and rig mounting too.
CSL Elite Pedals: This pedal set is the original “budget” option from Fanatec that clocks in at $99.95. There isn’t much to seperate the two, other than aesthetics, and the Elite pedals are console compatible. If you have the Elite set already, there’s no real incentive to pick the CSL package up.
Thrustmaster T3PA Pedals: The T3PA Pedal set is comparable to the CSL Pedals regarding price and somewhat to the adjustability. The progressive brake pedal on the T3PA is the standout feature, though this product is let down slightly by an overuse of plastic. Where the CSL pedals are only compatible with Fanatec wheels (unless you buy the USB adapter), the T3PA pedal set will only work with Thrustmaster wheels.
Fanatec’s continued foray into the lower end of the budget range with their CSL pedals Fanatec is not only delivering a high-quality product that gives new racers a gateway into the sport; they’re also challenging the industry to do better and become more widely accessible to sim racers around the world.
That this pedal set has been released at a similar time to the CSL DD and the Universal Hub V2 is no coincidence. What the company has done is given you the opportunity to create a bad-ass Fanatec ecosystem for an extremely reasonable price point.
If you’re a long-time sim racer with an already impressive rig, then move along, there’s nothing to see here, but if you’re looking to improve your set-up (and have one eye on upgrading in the future), the CSL pedals should have your attention.
Don’t sleep on these pedals, though. Fanatec products usually sell out pretty quickly anyway, but when you consider the super low price point of these bad boys, they’ll be off the shelves faster than a Rusty Wallace lap of Talladega Super Speedway.
Last Updated on July 22, 2021