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Fanatec CSL Pedals with Load Cell Kit Review

Here is our review of Fanatec’s newest sim racing hardware, the CSL Pedals and Load Cell Kit, which aim to bring higher-end build quality and features to the entry level market.

The CSL Pedals are Fanatec’s latest sim hardware release. With a price of just $80 / €80, the target for the base two-pedal set is the entry level sim hardware market. As tested, the pedal set includes the Load Cell Kit, which adds a load cell equipped brake pedal for an additional $140 / €140 (this price will be reduced to $120 / €120 for the Fanatec Black Friday Sale). When the Load Cell Kit is installed, the brake pedal from the base set is repurposed as the clutch pedal.

Buy Fanatec CSL pedals now from Fanatec.com for EUR 79,95

Buy Fanatec Load Cell Kit on Black Friday from Fanatec.com for EUR 120,00

The base brake and accelerator pedals use Hall-effect sensors to measuring pedal position using magnets. This is an upgrade versus Fanatec’s previous entry-level pedals, the CSL Elite Pedals. The base set does not allow for standalone use via a USB cable, and instead is designed to plug into a CSL Elite, CSL DD, Clubsport, or Podium wheelbase. Alternatively, a USB adapter can be purchased to allow the base set to be used standalone.

The CSL Pedal set uses springs to provide resistance in either pedal, with the base brake pedal also using a high-density foam to add progressive resistance. The pedal faces can be adjusted vertically, and the pedal alignment and spacing left to right can be customized based on the pre-dilled screw holes.

The Load Cell Kit includes a 60kg load cell sensor brake pedal, which can be customized down to roughly 10kg of resistance if desired using Fanatec’s software. The Load Cell Kit brake pedal includes a USB port for direct connection to a PC.

The pedal set is compatible with Playstation, Xbox, or PC when plugged into a wheelbase. The CSL pedals include rubber feet for use directly on a floor, plus threaded holes for mounting to a cockpit.

Upgrade Options

The Fanatec CSL Pedal pricing is clearly aimed at the entry level sim hardware market, but Fanatec does offer multiple upgrade paths.

For $40 / €40, a Clutch Kit can be purchased, which coverts the CSL Pedals into a three-pedal set. The new pedal uses a stiffer spring than the accelerator pedal and retains the overall design of the stock brake pedal. The added brake pedal uses an RJ-style cable to interconnect with the accelerator and brake pedal.

For $140 / €140, a Load Cell Kit can be added (this configuration is how the pedal set was tested for this review) which again makes this a three-pedal set. When the Load Cell Kit is used, the stock brake pedal is shifted to the clutch position and the foam is removed to create a clutch pedal with linear resistance. The Load Cell Kit allows the now three-pedal set to be used either via a Fanatec wheelbase or as a standalone unit using the included USB cable.

Lastly, Fanatec offers the CSL Pedals Tuning Kit, which includes three anodized aluminum pedal faces to replace the stock plastic pedal faces.

Value

With a price of $80 / €80 and nearly all metal construction, the CSL Pedals are an outstanding value. There are very few pedal sets offered at or around this price, but one source of competition for the CSL Pedals would be the Thrustmaster T3PA pedals. While the latter offers a third pedal, its mainly plastic construction falls behind Fanatec’s robust metal build quality. Adding the Clutch Pedal Kit keeps the impressive value of the CSL product, with the three-pedal set totaling $140 / €140.

The value of the pedal set becomes less clear with the Load Cell Kit. At a regular price of $140 / €140, the load cell nearly triples the value of the set to add one additional pedal. Had this upgraded set totaled to a price at or below that of the Thrustmaster T-LCM pedals, Fanatec would have quelled almost all arguments for the T-LCMs outside of the customizable spring resistance. But the 10% price difference between the two sets may cause those on a tight budget to more carefully weigh their options.

Fanatec CSL Pedals Load Cell Review 03.jpg


Assembly and Installation

The CSL Pedals include the brake and accelerator pedals, a footrest plate, a hex wrench, screws, hard-mounting spacers, RJ-12 cable and replacement rubber feet.

Assembling the pedals takes only minutes, as the pedals simply need to be interconnected using the hard-wired RJ-12 connection coming from the brake pedal, then aligned in parallel to screw down the footrest plate. The CSL Pedals then connect to a Fanatec wheelbase using the included 2-meter RJ-12 cable. USB connection is not possible with the base CSL Pedal kit, which may be a missed opportunity for Fanatec. Even if the price increased slightly, a standalone USB pedal set of this build quality at roughly the $100 price point would be a nearly irresistible option for PC sim racers currently using the pedals included with common hardware bundles like the Logitech G29 or Thrustmaster T300.

Adding the load cell brake pedal is another simple build, and only involves interconnecting the pedals' lead wires and re-fastening the footrest plate. Either the 2-meter RJ-12 cable or the USB cable included with the Load Cell Kit can be used to connect the pedals at this point, but firmware updates can only be accomplished when the pedals are connected via USB so it’s recommended that at least the initial connection be made using this method.

My first critique of the CSL Pedals centres around the hard-mounting process. The CSL Pedals offer four mounting points to attach to a cockpit pedal plate. There is one hole at the back of each pedal to accommodate a bolt, plus two threaded posts on the underside of the footrest plate. The holes in the pedals are a simple enough design, but the threaded posts are unnecessarily complicated. For starters, they are comparatively shallow, and the included spacers need to be utilized to make the pedals sit flat against the pedal plate. For most users this means that the simplest way to install the pedals is to remove the plate from the cockpit to more easily access the underside. The threaded posts are attached to the underside of the footrest, which means you’re limited to a certain depth of bolt. And mounting bolts are not included with the CSL Pedals, so you’re left to source your own M6 bolts with a length of 22mm plus the thickness of the plate.

Mounting the pedals took far longer than assembling them, and it’s a system that could have been made much simpler. Either Fanatec could have included 25mm M6 bolts to cover most hard-mounting situations, or the threaded posts could have been recessed holes that would allow us to drop in an M6 bolt and washer from the topside.

Build Quality

The first thing you notice about the CSL Pedals when you open the box is the heavy-duty construction of the parts. At $80 / €80, it would be a reasonable expectation to find a lot of plastic used. But that’s not the case with the CSL Pedals. Steel is used for all of the major components except the pedal faces, and for the price this set punches well above its weight in terms of build quality.

The CSL Pedals surprisingly do not use a baseplate. Instead, the pedals are mechanically linked when screwed to the footrest plate. With four screws holding either pedal in place, the pedals still feel solid despite the absence of a baseplate.

The pedals are well sized, and are less toy-like in appearance and feel than most pedals sets you’ll find at the lower-cost end of the sim hardware market.

Driving Feel

The build quality of the pedals builds a preconception in your mind about how the pedals will feel in game. Unfortunately, the feel of the pedals doesn’t quite match that experience. In the base two-pedal setup, the feel of the pedals is roughly what you’d expect for an entry level set. Compared to the smooth travel and realistic weight of either my Heusinkveld Sim Pedals Sprint or Fanatec V3 Inverted pedals, the CSL Pedals feel more like an entry level product. Much of this is owed to the very light resistance offered by the spring. Granted, the CSL Pedals are far more likely to be used on a floor than either the V3s or the Sprints, which means lighter resistance is beneficial to the end user. For the price point, the in-game feel of the pedals is at or slightly above what you could reasonably expect, but don’t look for them to be on par with higher end pedal sets.

Once the Load Cell Kit is equipped, the disparity between the various pedal resistance levels is very apparent. The load cell equipped brake pedal feels very good despite very little pre-load, and I had to turn the 60kg load cell resistance down to 80% to be able to comfortably and consistently reach the full extent of the brake. But this contrasts sharply with the accelerator pedal, which seems to almost fall freely to the floor by comparison. Perhaps stiffer replacement springs for the accelerator and clutch could be included with the Load Cell Kit to help mitigate the sharply differing pedal resistance.

Fanatec CSL Pedals Load Cell Review 02.jpg


Summary

The CSL Pedals are another attempt by Fanatec to bring build quality and features that sim racers associate with high-end, professional-grade racing hardware to the masses at an affordable price. After their success in bringing Direct Drive technology to the mainstream via the CSL DD, consumers can now have an all-metal pedal set with a load cell brake pedal for a reasonable price.

While the CSL DD’s features relative to its price make it an outlier, the CSL Pedals including the Load Cell kit does have competition. Based on my experiences with entry to mid-tier pedals, the CSLs hold a distinct advantage in build quality, and they are the best pedals I’ve used at this price point.

Without the Load Cell Kit, the $80 / €80 asking price makes the CSL Pedals stand out in the sim hardware market. Add-on pedal sets under $100 / €100 are exceedingly rare, and there are none that I’ve come across that feature construction as robust as the CSL Pedals. The in-game feel of the pedals isn’t as head and shoulders above the competition in this price sector as the build quality, but it is more than adequate and should meet the needs of most sim racers.

Other than some frustrations with mounting them to my rig, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the CSL Pedals so far, and I strongly recommend them to anyone shopping for a set of pedals in this price range.

Buy Fanatec CSL pedals now from Fanatec.com for EUR 79,95

Buy Fanatec Load Cell Kit on Black Friday from Fanatec.com for EUR 120,00

If the CSL Pedals, the Load Cell Kit, Clutch Kit or Tuning Kit interest you, be sure to check out RaceDepartment’s Store. You can find out more information about these and more products, and your purchases using the affiliate links will help us stay on top of our ongoing server costs.

Good
  • CSL Pedal price
  • Build quality
  • Upgrade path options
  • Load cell brake feel
Bad
  • Cockpit / pedal plate installation
  • CSL Pedals not standalone
  • No bundle available
About author
Mike Smith
I have been obsessed with sim racing and racing games since the 1980's. My first taste of live auto racing was in 1988, and I couldn't get enough ever since. Lead writer for RaceDepartment, and owner of SimRacing604 and its YouTube channel. Favourite sims include Assetto Corsa Competizione, Assetto Corsa, rFactor 2, Automobilista 2, DiRT Rally 2 - On Twitter as @simracing604

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Comments

So I've to buy the load cell brake pedal as an add on, seperatly?
No bundle available?
For me a big disappointment :(
 
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So I've to buy the load cell brake pedal as an add on, seperatly?
No bundle available?
For me a big disappointment :(
Bundle will be available:
"We’re also introducing the final products to complete the CSL Pedals line-up: the Load Cell Kit and the Tuning Kit! The CSL Pedals Load Cell Kit also has a special introductory price at 119.95€, just for Black Friday. Once this offer ends, the Load Cell Kit will be 139.95€, but we will continue to offer a bundle with the CSL Pedals + Load Cell Kit for 199.95€. "

@Mike Smith you can use the USB adapter with that set too to connect the pedals without the load cell via USB:
The new csl pedals are listed as being compatible :)
 
Would there be an advantage in having the load cell AND the clutch kit?
Mike mentioned a stiffer spring on the clutch kit.
I am asking because I purchased a clutch kit thinking that it was a load cell and I was considering reselling and buying a load cell kit.
 
Bundle will be available:
"We’re also introducing the final products to complete the CSL Pedals line-up: the Load Cell Kit and the Tuning Kit! The CSL Pedals Load Cell Kit also has a special introductory price at 119.95€, just for Black Friday. Once this offer ends, the Load Cell Kit will be 139.95€, but we will continue to offer a bundle with the CSL Pedals + Load Cell Kit for 199.95€. "

@Mike Smith you can use the USB adapter with that set too to connect the pedals without the load cell via USB:
The new csl pedals are listed as being compatible :)
Thank you for your response but I think you got me wrong :unsure:
I'd like to have an option to buy the pedals without the standart brake pedal and can choose the load cell brake instead.
So the load cell almost trible the price and it becomes more expensive as it needs to be.
 
Thank you for your response but I think you got me wrong :unsure:
I'd like to have an option to buy the pedals without the standart brake pedal and can choose the load cell brake instead.
So the load cell almost trible the price and it becomes more expensive as it needs to be.
Aaahh, you want a 2-pedal set without a clutch, got it!
I think the issue is that fanatec doesn't make any profit with the 2-pedal set. They offer it for 80€ as a bait to get you into the ecosystem. Bundling it with the wheelbases like they did with the old csl elite.
Then they make profit with the loadcell kit.

Or they make profit with the 3-pedal kit with the lc included.

I have to say 10-20€ more than the TM T-LCM is pretty nice. You lose the adjustability of the spring resistances but you gain an all metal construction!
 
Aaahh, you want a 2-pedal set without a clutch, got it!
I think the issue is that fanatec doesn't make any profit with the 2-pedal set. They offer it for 80€ as a bait to get you into the ecosystem. Bundling it with the wheelbases like they did with the old csl elite.
Then they make profit with the loadcell kit.

Or they make profit with the 3-pedal kit with the lc included.

I have to say 10-20€ more than the TM T-LCM is pretty nice. You lose the adjustability of the spring resistances but you gain an all metal construction!
I'm at G27 pedals with load cell mod by AP electrix in combination with a T300RS. And that setup is really ok for me.
So I was hoping to get a great offer
from Fanatec to be "forced" to buy there pedals. (149 Euro for two pedals incl. the load cell)
 
Looks like a really cheap product, compared to the older CSL elite pedal set.
The csl elite 2 pedal set was 89€, loadcell kit 129€ and the 3 pedal kit with the lc included was 219€.

So the loadcell kit got more expensive while the sets got a bit cheaper. I'd say it's basically the same and just an update while staying at the same price point.
 
I've had the older CSL Elite pedals + load cell brk for 2,5 yrs and have nothing bad to say. Still works like new and no need to upgrade
Personally, I had two issues with them. The brake pedal reacts differently relatively of where you depress with the foot. Secondely, the potentiometers are prone to wear (or dust?) and generates spikes after some times. For the second issue, you can mod them with a hall sensor (such as in the new ones) or you can open and clean them, and seal the little hole so that no dust get back into it.
 
Personally, I had two issues with the older CSL. The brake pedal reacts differently relatively of where you depress with the foot. Secondely, the potentiometers are prone to wear (or dust?) and generates spikes after some times. For the second issue, you can mod them with a hall sensor (such as in the new ones) or you can open and clean them, and seal the little hole so that no dust get back into it.
 
Personally, I had two issues with them. The brake pedal reacts differently relatively of where you depress with the foot. Secondely, the potentiometers are prone to wear (or dust?) and generates spikes after some times. For the second issue, you can mod them with a hall sensor (such as in the new ones) or you can open and clean them, and seal the little hole so that no dust get back into it.
I went with replacement hall effect sensors. After getting use to lighter pedals, I'm glad that worked out. I initially had the sensors rotated the wrong direction, giving me huge ramps in signal, with very little pedal travel. Rotated them and now the signal is pretty linear and meaty.

The load cell is the issue for me. The fall off when releasing the brakes is steep. It feels as if the the pedal just turns off when I lighten up on the brakes. Im still pressing on the pedal, but the game is getting next to no signal. Its weird.

I also want to remove all the elastomers and replace them with a wooden block. Just to see if relying only on the pedal arm flex would fix this issue. I noticed that the CSLE's loadcell responds better to the stiffer elastomer springs. Let's see what's its like if the pedal doesn't move? LOL
 
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The hall sensors are nice but for the rest these look like a cheaper version of the previous version with their solid full-metal Aluminium construction and freely configurable brake pedal resistance. It's probably necessary for Fanatec to save some money here to cross-fund the low priced CSL DD.
 
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