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Fanatec CSL DD + CSL V2 pedals review

Fanatec CSL DD + CSL V2 pedals review

Probably the best affordable direct drive wheelbase out on the market. I finally took the step to upgrade to the Fanatec CSL DD and I haven't regretted it for a single moment!


A brief history of my kit goes as follows; I started out with some cheap Big Ben set when I was just twelve. Lasted a couple of years, but for $50 it obviously wasn't worth much. But it did just fine on the good old Need For Speed titles we so reminiscently think of. After that, I made a huge leap to a Logitech G25. I think I raced that one for well over a decade and even today I think that was one of the best wheels I've ever had. But slowly, after so many miles on it, it started to wear and I had certainly reached the limits of what I was able to do with it. At that point I switched from the gear-driven wheel to a belt driven wheel. My choice was the reputable Thrustmaster T300RS. All with the standard pedals by the way. I've had that wheel for little over 5 years and it's served me well. I was much quicker with it than with the G25 and the force feedback and smoothness felt light years ahead of it.

But seeing one of my best friends with a Fanatec DD2 Podium made me very aware that I wasn't going to get near my own potential with the T300RS. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad, not by any measure. But it does lack finesse and feedback, compared to the bigger, more expensive direct drive wheels.

And so, finally, after many months of consideration, I finally made the switch. Sounds easy, if you don't take in mind my many hours of research in the lower tier direct drive wheels. Moza? Fanatec? Logitech? Or maybe even Thrustmaster? I finally decided to go with Fanatec for the simple reason that it still seems to be the OG.

So what is it like coming from a T300RS? At first it was not that different! Yes, it's stronger. Especially with the 8 Nm adapter to give that bit more punch. It takes you several miles to understand the differences. And when they become clear, that's when you find out just how much better these wheels are. For the most part, I'm incredibly consistent. It's been my party trick for a while, but with the Fanatec even more so. You understand the car better than you did before, because it simply tells you a lot more than a gear or belt driven wheel ever can. It takes a few minutes to pick up on those, because you're getting used to working harder with your arms first. But once you're dialled in, you can start on fine tuning your movements and steering points. To me, it feels that once I've set a certain lap time, I can do it over and over again within the same margins of error. That in return allows me to experiment with later braking, a different line, you name it. With the T300RS a racing line was basically a large 'area' that I targeted, whilst now it feels like millimetre work. After a week my lap times have dropped well over a second and I'm still learning more and more about the car.

The biggest change though has definitely been the pedals. A big part of a lap time in GT3 racing is the braking. With the standard pedals of Thrustmaster and Logitech beforehand, you're just guessing. You see the ABS light flashing, you hear and or see it. But you're always just guessing what the biting point is. With these new pedals it's like you've jumped into the car itself. The precision of braking force is nothing short of game changing. It's the biggest contributor to my consistency as I can predict the behaviour of the car at any given braking zone. Trail Braking is no longer something I think I'm doing, now I'm actively trailing the brakes into a corner. The sensitivity allows me to just ever so gently dip the nose of the car into the corner, kicking understeer out of the picture. Just like with the wheelbase itself, it took me several hours of driving to get a feel for it. At first my leg hurt after 20 minutes because I basically had to stand up straight to get it compressed. I'm still only running it at 35% strength, but as my leg grows stronger, I will increase the power to get even more control over the car.

So all things considered. Would I consider it worth it? Yes. I feel stupid not buying it earlier. But considering the steep price it's still something you have to weigh against cheaper alternatives. In all fairness, I wouldn't buy it if I was just occasionally racing. It fits perfectly in my plan to get more serious in esports and sim racing. If it were to serve just for 'fun', it's not really worth it. Unless you're a natural talent, you'll need to invest a lot more time and understanding before it finally pays off. But when it does … it really does!

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