As many of you know, sim racing and I go way back. I started with a controller on the first Gran Turismo. I spent hours in my room drooling over the photo-realistic graphics we all know now look about the same as a video taken from an old potato camera phone. I went through all of the major brands' growing up, and in recent years going a little more serious with a widely used German brand.
My biggest complaint in sim racing, after having raced in the non-virtual world, was always the pedal box. The steering I could get working right, with the wide array of direct drive wheels now in realistic price ranges, the feeling in the upper body is similar to a real car. The legs and feet though have always felt behind.
When Asetek announced their new affordable line of hydraulic pedals, I knew I this was something to watch. Even now, hydraulic sim racing pedals have been reserved for the extremists and elites with big money and sponsors. You're entering borderline real race car territory parts at this point. Many options, do in fact, use real car parts.
Before I continue, let me quickly tell you about Asetek because it's a pretty cool pathway. The company is a Danish brand that did not start their origins in sim-racing but instead in mechatronic innovations. Specifically, in their early beginnings by being an OEM developer and producer of liquid cooling solutions for modern PCs. Even I knew the Asetek name before I knew they went to the sim-racing world! It wasn't until recently, in 2021, that Asetek really went public with their sim racing offerings, the first being the Invicta, which I am using now.
Throughout my years of sim racing, I have used all of the major brands. Modified major brands. Spent countless hours trying to replicate what I feel in a real car. As a regular guy with a very limited budget to spend on sim racing, the extremely expensive options were out of the question. Then I saw Asetek offering a hydraulic option for competitive pricing compared to the higher-end load cell brands.
My initial experience was amazing. You can ask my wife, I have never purchased any product for sim racing and immediately put it to use. I install the hardware, download the software, and then spend hours fine-tuning little things most people may not notice but things that bother me to the extreme. The Asetek Invicta pedal system comes pre-setup with a real-world type setup and I haven't even touched it.
The brake immediately stood out to me. While load cell options can give you a stiff pedal and a realistic feel, there's always this small amount of variability in pressures that to me don't sync with the brain. Consistency in racing is key and if what my brain thinks it is doing consistently, in this case using the brakes as the same percentage of pressure, is not portraying accurately in the sim, then I start to create bad habits. These bad habits will show in both worlds.
With this being an actual hydraulic pedal, the feeling closer resembles what we're use to in a real car. Asetek created what they call T.H.O.R.P. (Twin hydraulic opposing rapid pistons) to create realism. Using an automotive grade pressure sensor the system uses a slave and master cylinder for two stages of braking. The soft stage is the very minor movement of the pedal when in a real car the pistons push the pads to the rotors. This is handled by the slave cylinder which in this case uses traditional elastometers other sim pedal sets use but once the slave cylinder hits a stop the hydraulics now take over giving you the real pedal feel of an actual car.
It's all very quick of course but the feeling is absolutely familiar to a real race car. I found myself in the zone much faster and wasn't having to remind myself to adjust my driving styles because it's a simulator and not a real car. The brakes are adjustable and can be set to as high as 100 bar or 185kg of pressure (407lbs) which is real-word Formula One car level.
The throttle is beautiful and like everything else, it too is easily adjustable. All of these knobs and dials strategically engineered onto this pedal set adjust every detail you may wish whether it's stiffness or even the angle of the pedals. I love the fact that a lot of these adjustments can be done without tools.
Let me be very clear in saying that these pedals don't just add to the realism, they are realism brought into your simulator. So far I have tested nothing like this on the simulator market. The true "plug and play" nature of this pedal set makes it worth every penny.
In depth video review coming soon!