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Heusinkveld MagShift (MK2)

Heusinkveld has addressed and improved the areas that brought down the rating of their new gearbox and it really shows.

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"Hey... Don't touch!" Ford M-Sport driver and former WRC world champion Ott Tänak shouted when I gingerly grabbed the gear lever of his WRC Puma and jerked it a few times. I was not allowed to touch the handbrake, the steering wheel or the gearstick and was quickly informed of this. Basically, of course, there is nothing right about a greying, video game-obsessed man sitting in a custom-built, stationary racing car worth hundreds of thousands of pounds and yanking the gearstick. But I couldn't help myself either. Why would I want to? I really just wanted to feel the 'click' of the sequential gearbox, how long the journey was until the gear engaged, how sluggish it was, how loud the click itself was when the next gear was engaged, and how the stick itself would feel in my hand. I just wanted to experience it.

Heusinkveld Magshift
MagShift (MK2) has been fixed and the initial problems with it getting 'stuck' no longer exist.

Because here at Gamereactor, the focus inside our dedicated sim-racing room has been on finding the perfect sequential gearbox that gives just the right feeling of riding in a real rally car. Fanatec's Clubsport gearbox was rejected and replaced by Heusinkveld's first sequential model, which was then replaced by Aiolog's gearbox, which was then replaced by VMN, which was then replaced by Meca Shifter, which was then replaced by MME Simsport Shifter, which was then replaced by Simagic Q1, which was then replaced by Oktane Design's sequential gearbox, which was then replaced by a Moza Racing SGP Shifter. And here we have been now, for a number of months.

As we already know, Heusinkveld released MagShift recently and we reviewed it. I asked to borrow a review unit directly from the manufacturer but received no reply, despite three emails sent. Despite having a fully functioning relationship with Heusinkveld and their PR department and despite having reviewed their Sprint pedals, their Ultimate pedals, their Ultimate Plus pedals and their handbrake. So, I paid €450 for MagShift out of my own pocket (including tax, shipping, customs) and was immediately disappointed when it did not work as intended. The magnet and its function were faulty on my gearstick, which meant that it got stuck in the shift position, often, and so I gave it a low rating. Heusinkveld had in my world failed quite badly with one of the most hyped gearboxes in the sim-racing sphere.

Heusinkveld Magshift
The three screws control the resistance of the gears, but the heads are too shallow, which means that the supplied spanners tend to slip.
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But hey! Shame on those who give up. Sven Heusinkveld & Co. went back to work and after removing the gearstick from their own web shop, they corrected the mistake before announcing to an inquiring sim-racing audience that they had now fixed the problem with how the gear regularly locked in one of the two positions found here. Shortly after this, an email arrived from asking if we would like to have a look at the new (updated) version. Sure! I replied. I have no problem with rewriting a review of a product if it turns out that the manufacturer itself recognises the error, fixes it and then starts again. Like here. And sure enough, the MagShift has been improved and works as it was first intended.

When I pulled Tänak's gearstick, it was immediately obvious that shifting one of today's WRC cars feels a bit magnetic. The initial resistance is not very great but when it releases, the stick is super easy to pull into position to either shift up or down. It also felt easier with less resistance to downshift versus upshift, which is easily adjustable on the updated MagShift. I won't be too generous with the compliments here in my conclusions. It may not be particularly 'easy' as the set screws on the side of the MagShift are the only minus I can find here besides the design, which I still consider uglier than necessary. There are three screws on either side of the gearbox itself and these set the overall resistance, the resistance for 'upshifts' (separately) and 'downshifts', and for those who now want different amounts of resistance.

This is of course brilliant for those who really want to emulate a real car and be able to find as similar a feeling in their sim-rig as possible. More manufacturers should offer the same tuning options. The only problem with MagShift is that the tuning screws on the sides are baked in and are a pain in the arse to reach, especially given that the screw heads are so shallow that the supplied keys don't quite reach far enough into the screw itself to avoid slipping and thus rounding the head. Had Heusinkveld put the screws on the outside instead, clearly visible and chosen a traditional M5 hex head, this could have been avoided completely and it would have been absolutely preferable.

Minus this fairly minimal problem I have zero complaints about the MagShift (MK2), which is now an absolutely brilliant sequential gearbox. That initial 'bite' from the magnet and the length of the stroke to 'upshift' or 'downshift' is perfectly balanced and gives a spot-on car feel that is incredibly close to real-world WRC cars, in my humble experience. I like the mounting plate that comes with it that allows for a slightly skewed shift position (brilliant!), I appreciate the handle (taken directly from their handbrake) which has always been as sturdy as it is stylish and comfortable, and I appreciate the inclusion of three push buttons here that you can programme as you wish.

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The MagShift (MK2) is a little overpriced but it is also absolutely brilliant and compared to many other gearboxes on the market, and it gives a more solid and more real shifting feeling that feels more like you are using a gearbox in a real race car rather than 'clicking' gears in a video game.

08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
overall score
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