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Heusinkveld Magshift

The world's best manufacturer of sim-racing pedals has rolled out its long-awaited magnetic gearbox. But is it good?

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"Hey... Don't touch!" Ford M-Sport driver and former WRC world champion Ott Tänak shouted as I gently gripped the gear lever of his WRC Puma and jerked a few times. I was not allowed to touch the handbrake, steering wheel or gear lever and was quickly informed of this. Basically, of course, there is no way to deny the fact that an ageing, video game-obsessed man should not sit in a specially built, stationary racing car worth hundreds of pounds and jerk the gear stick - but I couldn't stop myself either. Why? I really just wanted to feel the "click" of the sequential gearbox. How long the journey was until the gear was engaged, how slow it was, how loud the click itself was when the next gear was engaged and how the lever itself would feel in the hand. I just wanted to experience it.

Heusinkveld Magshift
The design and the way in which the stick itself has been designed is truly hideous.

Because here at Gamereactor, the focus inside our dedicated sim-racing room has repeatedly been on finding the perfect sequential gearbox that gives just the right feeling of shifting gears in a real rally car. Fanatec's Clubsport gearbox was rejected and replaced by Heusinkveld's first sequential model, which too was replaced by Aiolog's gearbox, which was also replaced by VMN, before that was replaced by Meca Shifter, and then the MME Simsport Shifter, then the Simagic Q1, into Oktane Design's sequential gearbox. And there we have remained, for a number of months. Until I spent €449.00 on Heusinkveld's highly regarded Magshift.

Dutch Heusinkveld builds what I consider to be the best pedals in the world of sim-racing. Ultimate Plus is the most affordable and complete premium pedals on the market in my opinion because while more or less well-known competitors put in hydraulic systems, brake fluid or pneumatic air pressure, Heusinkveld focuses on proven, classic solutions to relatively simple problems as well as proper quality and ingenious design. The Ultimate Plus provides lots and lots of adjustment options, an incredibly realistic feel, especially in the brake, and material quality that can only be described as genuinely fantastic. As good as they are on the pedal side, they are just mediocre when it comes to gear sticks. Their first attempt, the tiny "Sim Shifter" felt so fiddly when I tested it that I ripped out the mounting screws and moved on from it after just one afternoon, and have never touched it again since. Magshift is clearly more substantial and based on a different design philosophy, but it's still not very good.

Heusinkveld Magshift
It is possible to adjust the resistance of the magnet but even on the hardest setting it is too weak.
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To begin with, it is hideously ugly. As stunning as the Heusinkveld Ultimate Plus is or the very capable Heusinkveld Handbrake, the Magshift is a design failure. The oddly boxy skirt and the recessed push buttons on the front of the foot make it look like something 3D-printed and cobbled together by a homebrewing amateur. The fact that the spring that connects the lever to the magnet is exposed also creates an impression that this gear stick was built at home in the garage and thus should not cost €450. The price here, is bizarrely high. Way too high. You can buy Oktane Design's Seq Shifter for almost half the price of the Magshift and Simagic's lavishly phenomenal Q1 box costs significantly less too. Essentially, I see this as "overpriced", simply.

Heusinkveld Magshift
The exposed spring makes this gearbox look like a home-made one and the spring itself bends a little when shifting.

As for the actual feel of the Magshift, after a couple of days of jerking the Dutch lever, I am not particularly impressed. A gearbox of this type, which is sequential, usually has only one job and that is to convey the feeling of pushing/pulling in a higher or lower gear in a racing car and here Magshift does not manage to convince. It is possible to adjust the resistance via Allen screws on the sides of the gearbox, but even at the highest setting, the "click" and the resistance offered is too weak, too low and the feeling that the magnetism intends to evoke, feels artificial and unrealistic. If I compare it to Oktane Design's Seq Shifter or the Simagic Q1 in particular, Magshift is inferior in every way, no matter how I set it up. In this way, it is still quite reminiscent of Sim Shifter despite the fact that the design is very different, but the necessary feeling is never there and I am never convinced that I am shifting in a real car when I use Magshift, something that the Q1 and Oktane Design's counterpart always manages to convey.

Heusinkveld MagshiftHeusinkveld Magshift
Heusinkveld may make the world's best pedals, but when it comes to sequential gearboxes, they have a long way to go to compete with the best in the world of sim-racing.
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It's not useless by any means. The idea of magnetism is certainly not a bad one and, with a slightly different solution, I think the feeling could be there, giving the illusion of shifting in a real WRC car. As usual, Heusinkveld's gadgets are very easy to assemble thanks to smart design solutions and a focus on standard dimensions for aluminium profile rigs, and through their proprietary software "Smart Control" it is easy to change settings.

Magshift, unlike the Heusinkveld Handbrake and Ultimate Plus pedals, is not something I will use any more now that this review has been completed and published. I have several clearly better alternatives here in the office that also cost significantly less (for those who intend to upgrade your gear stick) and I will continue to use especially Oktane Design's Seq Shifter, which I consider to be the best in the class right now (at a reasonable price point, because otherwise we have the disgustingly expensive Pro-Sim Shifter for more than £1,300).

05 Gamereactor UK
5 / 10
overall score
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