The single weakest link in our racing rig here at the editorial office, for the past two years, has clearly been our handbrake, even though it has performed well. The previous model of Heusinkveld's Sim Handbrake was never bad, on the contrary, it was clearly better than the one from Fanatec and Thrustmaster, but it never felt quite as realistic and finely-detailed as their pedals always did.
It was therefore gratifying when Heusinkveld emailed us a couple of months ago and asking us to make room for a future replacement. We mounted Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake (2021) on our Swedish Rig Design cockpit a month ago and thanks to a new design and a new mounting solution, we have been able to place it better than the previous model, with a more natural position next to our Aiologs gearbox, and so far I have put about 20 hours in mainly Dirt Rally 2.0 together with this new handbrake, and it is brilliant.
The first thing that strikes you when you first unpack the handbrake is how Heusinkveld completely threw out the old design and made a brake that is not even reminiscent of the previous model, and I think that is the right thing to do. Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake now looks much more like a real rally handbrake from an R5 (WRC2) car and the way you drilled holes in the handle itself is an ingenious way to create the right type of look.
The brand new Sim Handbrake is pressure-sensitive, load-cell-based and has a myriad of setting options so that you can tailor it to adapt the feeling to your own taste. This is of course super subjective and what I like is probably not a setting that you will like, but it is possible to tailor the feeling completely. I had set it up a little "lighter" last week, because I was hammering away on a Greek track in Dirt Rally 2.0, where the hairpins really come in bucket-loads. However, for those who really want to pull the handle really hard to get the rally car to turn aggressively, there is the opportunity to maximize the power up to 22 kilos, which is plenty in this regard. Via Heusinkveld's new software (Smart Control), it is also possible to create different profiles for different cars or games, which of course is a welcome extra function.
The material itself is the same three millimetre thick, laser-cut and powder-coated steel that Heusinkveld makes its pedals from and the build quality here is brilliant. You can mount it both lying down as in a normal car or standing up as in a WRC-car, depending on taste and liking. I have become used to having it standing up next to the Aiologs gear lever.
The difference between Heusinkveld's old handbrake and this one - is big. The new model feels much more progressive and just like in the comparison between Sprint Pedals and Ultimate + Pedals, you gain a whole lot of sensitivity here which makes it easier to manoeuvre the car. For those of you who play a lot of WRC 10 or Dirt Rally 2.0, there is no doubt that this is a very sensible investment.