Having a sim racing handbrake is a must for those who enjoy rally and dirt racing, as it will not only increase your ability to take on corners like a pro, but it’ll also add to the immersion and realism of the experience. But first, you’ll need to know which are the best sim racing handbrakes.
The 7 best sim racing handbrakes are:
- Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake V2
- Simtag Hydraulic Handbrake
- Thrustmaster TSS Sparco Mod
- 3DRap Akina Handbrake
- Fanatec ClubSport Handbrake V1.5
- Aiologs Handbrake
- MOZA HBP Handbrake
There are other options to be found, including cheaper universal handbrakes available on online marketplaces, but they may come at a compromise on quality and durability. Below, I’ll go through the best options in more detail, and then I’ll tell you what you should look for when buying a sim racing handbrake.
The 7 Best Sim Racing Handbrakes
1. Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake V2
Materials: Steel | Compatibility: PC | Adjustable: Yes
Heusinkveld is an incredibly trusted name when it comes to great quality sim racing hardware. For around $300, you’ll get a great looking, steel-crafted handbrake as well as a high-performing product. The handbrake is pressure sensitive, meaning the further you pull it back, the more tension you will feel (up to 22 kg/50 lbs of force), making it reminiscent of a real handbrake.
This sim racing handbrake strikes an excellent balance between price and performance. Its tension-sensitive load cell offers a great feel and, more importantly, an accurate response.
You can also adjust it to make it either vertical or horizontal, so you should have no trouble implementing it into your rig. This is further helped by the fact that the V2 model has a more compact base than the first edition, meaning it will take up less room on the base of your rig. The one downside to the mounting system is that it can’t be mounted to a desk unless you modify it yourself.
Further adjustability is felt when you head into the SmartControl platform, which enables you to adjust certain aspects of the handbrake’s performance, such as maximum force and pressure curves. It’s this level of customization that sets it apart from a lot of its competitors.
The handbrake sits at a very comfortable height, meaning you won’t be desperately reaching for it when heading through a tough part of the track. With a smooth grip on the handle, it will be comfortable to use during long sessions. This handbrake most definitely cements Heusinkveld as one of the leading manufacturers of high-quality sim racing hardware.
- Made from high-quality steel
- Comfortable height and feel
- Not compatible with consoles
- No desk mounting capability
2. Simtag Hydraulic Handbrake
Materials: Metal | Compatibility: PC | Adjustable: Yes
This is by far the most expensive item on this list, priced at around $600, but also it’s the most impressive in terms of performance and realism. Simtag is a Belgian company based beside the grounds of the famous Spa-Francorchamps racetrack. This is no doubt a reason why their sim racing handbrake is so true to life, resembling real handbrakes in both its looks and feel.
This is the ideal choice for those that want the ultimate immersive sim racing experience. The hydraulic handbrake from Simtag has an incredibly sturdy construction, and it's highly adjustable too.
It’s also adjustable, as so many of the mid to high-end models are, although adjusting this handbrake is slightly more complex than adjusting most others, as it requires you to remove multiple parts in order to change the lever direction. It can be adjusted up to 51 cm (20 inches) in height, and due to its sturdiness, you won’t feel any side-to-side wobbling.
Simtag has worked with brands including Bosch and Leo Bodnar to create the realism and quality feel to the product, which shows when you’re using it. Its pinpoint precision means you won’t be leaving anything to chance, and the sheer power of it feels realistic and immersive.
Overall, with its rubber grip on the handle, and its solid metal structure, the Simtag Hydraulic Handbrake is a brilliant product, which feels great in-game. Unfortunately, the price lets it down slightly, but that was always going to be an inevitable downside when you see the technology that has gone into making this handbrake.
- Sturdy frame
- Hydraulic power feels strong
- Not as straightforward to adjust as some others
3. Thrustmaster TSS Sparco Mod
Materials: Steel / Aluminum | Compatibility: PC / Console | Adjustable: Yes
The Thrustmaster TSS Sparco Mod is a two-in-one product featuring both a handbrake and a sequential shifter. Considering it is two products for the price of one, a price tag of around $330 is very good value. It’s another great-looking handbrake, and with its compact size, it will fit nicely into most rigs. It has an adjustable lever, which gives you the option of having it upright or slanted.
As well as the angle, you can adjust the height of the lever to reach up to 42 cm (16 inches), which is perfect for those who need to reach the handle with ease. The handle itself is ribbed for added grip and is bulky compared to many other handles seen on sim handbrakes. Be aware that you may experience some wobbling in the handle when it’s set to its maximum height.
It is German-made with a spring loading system that produces around 4 kg (9 lbs) of force, which is quite a bit less than the Heusinkveld V2 handbrake. The internal technology revolves around magnets that won’t ever touch, which takes away the dangers of wear over time.
Performance-wise, this handbrake is very accurate in-game and will enable you to perform turns with great efficiency. You can, however, feel the relative lack of resistance when pulling the lever with force, which slightly takes away from the handbrake’s realistic feel.
- Doubles up as a sequential shifter
- Console compatible
- Compact design
- Requires an adapter to pair it with another brand’s hardware
- Handle wobbles when the lever is at maximum height
- Quite weak resistance
4. 3DRap Akina Handbrake
Materials: Steel / Plastic | Compatibility: PC | Adjustable: Yes
The Akina handbrake by 3DRap is a fully adjustable handbrake, which you can mount vertically or horizontally, depending on your setup. It will cost you around $185, which is a reasonable price for a decent quality product. It features a stainless-steel base with plastic trims and a soft Alcantara fabric handle. This provides a good grip and a nice feel when using the handbrake.
The adjustability of this product is no doubt its greatest selling point, as you can change both the resistance of the handbrake via a turning knob as well as whether you want the spring to be linear or non-linear. Using the handbrake as non-linear will be reminiscent of a real rally car’s handbrake, whereas the linear option gives off a similar feel to a real car’s handbrake.
The lever itself feels very solid, and you can immediately feel the tension in the spring when you pull it back. This instantly makes the Akina handbrake feel sturdy and high-quality. You can pull the lever back 3 cm (1 inch), which is an alright amount of give, but maybe ever so slightly too short.
Mounting the product is routine, although there is likely to be a little bit of side-to-side movement when it is mounted, partly due to how narrow the handbrake base is, as well as the fact the mounting base is also narrow, rather than the usual base plate you see on a lot of other handbrake mounts. Overall, it’s a very good, accurate product for the price that you pay.
- Fully adjustable
- Sturdy feel
- Good spring tension
- Side-to-side movement when mounted
5. Fanatec ClubSport Handbrake V1.5
Materials: Stainless Steel | Compatibility: PC / Console | Adjustable: Yes
The ClubSport V1.5 by Fanatec is the cheapest handbrake on this list, retailing for around $140. Fanatec isn’t known for low prices, so buying this product feels like a bit of a steal. It’s perfect for console gamers as it doesn’t require an extra adapter to use it, unlike a lot of sim racing handbrakes. However, you’ll need an adapter if you want to mix it with hardware from other brands.
This handbrake offers excellent value for money, and it's a great choice for beginners or console sim racers. It offers an accurate experience and is very easy to adjust, and its simple aesthetic means it'll fit in with any sim racing rig.
Build-wise it has a solid feel, with a stainless-steel lever encased in metal. It has easily detachable screws in order to change the layout from vertical to horizontal. This helps to implement it seamlessly into your rig, making sure you can have it sitting in a comfortable position. On the topic of comfort, it comes with a soft foam grip on the handle, so your hands won’t be slipping or hurting.
It works well in-game, doing exactly what it is meant to be doing, albeit without a great deal of force when pulling the lever back. This lack of resistance does make it easy to pull back too hard, sending your car’s back end into a frenzy, so it will take some adapting. The internal potentiometer and connectors have been modified to ensure precise actions when using this handbrake in-game.
Overall, it’s a smooth-feeling handbrake, and for the price, it’s hard to complain about its performance.
- Fairly cheap
- Accurate inputs
- Comfortable grip
- Easy to adjust
- Lack of resistance
- Requires an adapter to mix with other hardware brands
6. Aiologs Handbrake
Materials: Stainless Steel / Aluminum | Compatibility: PC | Adjustable: Yes
For the amount you pay for it, the Aiologs Handbrake does a perfectly good job. It’s a sturdy bit of kit made from steel with an aluminum lever. It doesn’t pose much resistance, but that is probably to be expected from a product at the cheaper end of the price scale. Prices for this handbrake start at around $165 but can rise all the way up to around $200, depending on which parts you wish to add.
Customization options include an adjustable knob and extender and either a see-through or full metal covering at the top of the product. There’s something really refreshing about being able to choose what you want from a product without having to pay the full price for features that you don’t really need.
The product is easily adjustable, as the removable parts screw on and off, meaning you won’t need any tools to do the job. The one downside to the adjustability is that there are actually very few adjustable parts. You can’t change the lever from vertical to horizontal, but it isn’t completely rigid, and you will be able to adjust the lever’s height.
There’s not too much distance in which you can pull the lever back when you’re using it in-game, which takes away a lot of the tension that you’d usually find within a spring-loaded handbrake. Despite this, the handbrake works very effectively within games and performs with the accuracy that you’d expect, albeit while compromising some realism.
- Great value for money
- Solid compact design
- Not a lot of adjustability
- Not a lot of resistance
- Adapter required for console use
7. MOZA HBP Handbrake
Materials: Aluminum | Compatibility: PC | Adjustable: Yes
Finally, we have a very budget friendly but exciting option in the MOZA HBP handbrake. We say exciting because this is a fairly new kid on the block, with MOZA as a brand being one of the up-and-coming manufacturers to watch over the next few years. They’ve brought excellent products to a more budget-conscious market, and their handbrake is a great example of this.
It’s made of “aeroplane grade” aluminum, as are a lot of MOZA’s products, which offers strength and stability without making it too heavy for a lightweight rig. It’s ideal for beginners as a result, and its ease of setup helps make it a good entry-level choice as well. However, we should note that you’ll need to pick up their handbrake/shifter mount separately if you plan to add it to your desk without hard mounting it.
The HBP handbrake uses a precise 16-bit angle sensor, and this is non-contact to ensure it has a long and maintenance-free life – exactly what you want from a sim racing product! You can adjust the angle of the handbrake too, so you can have it in whatever configuration suits your style of racing best.
You can also adjust the force required to use the handbrake by replacing the springs, and this gives you some degree of control over its resistance, and you can also tweak the stop position as well. While it’s not the most advanced option on this list, it is a very budget friendly option that’s ideal for those in the MOZA ecosystem.
- Value for money
- Solid build quality
- Reasonably adjustable
- Not the most advanced
- Not console compatible
Summary Of The Best Sim Racing Handbrakes
|Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake V2||Those on PC looking for a very high-quality and adjustable handbrake|
|Simtag Hydraulic Handbrake||Anyone with a large budget seeking the most immersive handbrake|
|Thrustmaster TSS Sparco Mod||Sim racers on console and those seeking a handbrake/shifter combo|
|3DRap Akina Handbrake||Those looking for an adjustable choice with great spring tension|
|Fanatec ClubSport Handbrake V1.5||Console sim racers and those seeking a comfortable and easy to adjust option|
|Aiologs Handbrake||Those who prioritize build quality and want a fairly compact choice|
|MOZA HBP Handbrake||Sim racers on a budget that still want some adjustability and solid build quality|
What To Look For In A Sim Racing Handbrake
Build Quality & Materials Used
The quality of the materials with which a handbrake is made will say a lot about the product, as better materials will mean that your handbrake will be more durable and resistant to long-term wear and tear. Handbrakes are one of the more physical pieces of sim racing hardware, as they get pushed and pulled with force, especially if you have a force feedback or hydraulic model.
If materials such as steel or other good quality metals are used, then the product will be more durable, especially compared to handbrakes that are made of plastic or cheaper, low-quality metals. The use of better materials naturally means the price of the handbrake will go up, but it is well worth spending a bit more to guarantee you’ll have a long-lasting product.
The overall build quality is also something to look for when purchasing a sim racing handbrake. You can somewhat gauge what the build quality of a product will be like just by looking at pictures, but it’s also best to do some research into customer reviews as well as watch video reviews online. Generally, the more expensive the product, the better the build quality will be.
Things to look out for are the weight of the nuts and bolts used to screw the components together. Heavy-duty screws and bolts will often provide a firmer, sturdier fix, resulting in less rattling of metals due to looseness, as well as a stronger guarantee that the screws won’t become damaged any time soon.
You’ll also want to check that the springs used within the handbrake are strong, providing a good amount of tension when you pull the lever. This will not only ensure that they’ll last a long time but also add to the realism of the handbrake, making it feel closer to the real thing.
The handbrake should also have good mounting capabilities, with a sturdy, immovable fit when locked onto your rig. This will prevent any movement when using it, meaning you won’t have to worry about pulling it too hard. If you want to mount it to a desk, it’s best to check that the product won’t rattle and will clamp on tightly. This is a common problem among cheap sim racing handbrakes.
As with any aspect of your sim racing rig, you’ll want to find a handbrake that provides a comfortable, adjustable experience. As you’ll be making contact with the upper section of the lever, it’s best to make sure that it offers a good and comfortable grip. Many handbrakes use foam or leather for their grips which provide a softer feel, best for use in long sessions.
It is possible to make your own grip with a strip of foam or any soft material, although when paying money for an expensive product, you’d expect a decent grip to be part of the deal. Ergonomic grips will reduce the likelihood of hand cramps or blistering as they are tailored to the shape of your hand and will help provide extra comfort.
In terms of adjustability, many of the higher-quality handbrakes will have the option to set up the handbrake lever vertically or horizontally, meaning you’ll be able to adjust it perfectly within your setup. It’s also a good idea to check the height of the handbrake and whether it fits well with your seating position and with the size of your rig.
When you’re shopping for new sim racing gear, it’s natural that you’ll always have one eye on the price, especially with the amount that it’s possible to spend on hardware. However, it’s recommended that you buy a product for what it offers in features and performance benefits rather than just buying the cheapest product available and subsequently being disappointed.
The quality of a handbrake will dictate the price that you pay for it, with features such as hydraulic action and strong metals being a large factor. You may even find that you prefer a cheaper handbrake, especially if it offers you all you need, and there is nothing wrong with that. Essentially, the price is just a limiting factor rather than a deciding factor.
When shopping around for a sim racing handbrake, you can easily wander into cloudy territory, especially on online marketplaces, where you’ll find several cheap handbrakes sold by independent vendors. It’s very important to do a bit of background research into who is selling the product and where they are distributing it.
This is important as it will reduce the risk of the product turning up faulty or not turning up at all, leaving you out of pocket and without a handbrake. It’s also important to check the shipment prices, as they can catch you out when you go to checkout. If you want to be sure of a product, it’s recommended that you buy from reputable brands with excellent customer reviews.
Handbrake Performance Features
There are a lot of things to look for when it comes to the handbrake’s performance, including whether it offers any tension when you pull the lever and its accuracy compared to the real thing. For extra realism, you’d likely want to look out for a hydraulic-powered handbrake, which tend to be more expensive as they are more complex.
It’s best that you note down the features that you absolutely require from your handbrake before you start shopping so you don’t get distracted by sales pitches offering you things that you’re not overly bothered about.
Lastly, you’ll want to make sure your handbrake is compatible with whatever platform you play your games on. This is likely to be more of an issue for console gamers, as most handbrakes are designed for PC usage only. A lot of handbrakes from big-name brands will be compatible with both PC and console or have a separate model for console use only.
It’s also important to check whether the game that you most frequently play is compatible with the model of handbrake you have chosen, as it is another potential stumbling block.
KEY POINTS• Build quality is extremely important when choosing a handbrake for sim racing
• You should also look for options from well-known manufacturers
• Make sure the handbrake is compatible with your favorite racing games before you buy it
What Is The Best Sim Racing E Brake For Beginners?
The best sim racing E Brake for beginners is something that’s cheaper in order to see whether it feels right, such as a universal USB handbrake. However, the Fanatec ClubSport V1.5 is also fairly cost effective and it’s beginner friendly too, making it a good choice as well.
If you are new to sim racing or sim racing disciplines that require the use of a handbrake, you may want to start with a product on the cheaper end of the scale, to test out whether owning a physical handbrake is right for you. In this case, either the Fanatec ClubSport V1.5 or the Aiologs Handbrake will be a good place to start, as they are cost-effective and offer good results.
If you want to opt for an even cheaper product, then you may decide that a Universal USB handbrake may be the one for you, as they are usually priced at or below $100 and can be easily found various online marketplaces.
Universal USB Handbrakes
The handbrakes that you find on websites that aren’t purely dedicated to sim racing hardware are often sold by independent retailers using handbrake bases that have been ripped out of old cars. We recommend you do your research before buying one of these, as you could well end up with a below-par product due to low quality-testing from the source.
Universal USB handbrakes are very often PC-only products and are usually characterized by their thin metal frames and long levers. They are usually very easy to set up and have a plug-in-and-play system, which only requires a USB cable without any extra setup procedures. They tend to work with most sim racing hardware, regardless of the brand, making them an easy addition to your setup.
They’re very unlikely to be as durable as products from reputable brands but may offer you a worthwhile introduction to sim racing handbrakes for a low price. If you want the product to arrive quickly, be sure to check the shipping information, as products from independent vendors may take up to a month to arrive on your doorstep.
Banggood 16bit Hall Sensor USB Handbrake
Another cheaper option would be the 16 bit USB handbrake from Banggood. It has similar features to that of a Universal USB handbrake, including its price of around $100. With its low price, it won’t perform like one of the more established handbrakes but will still offer a decent entry into rally/dirt styles of racing.
You can also mount it onto a desk or table, which is perfect if you’re yet to set up a full rig. It won’t provide you with the sturdiest mount, but it does have a good amount of grip on the handle as well as some spring resistance.
The cheaper you go with sim racing handbrakes will always mean you are sacrificing some accuracy and precision within the game but buying one of these beginner handbrakes will help you to see whether you want to eventually upgrade your handbrake or stick with controller/wheel-based handbrake systems.
Starting With An Expensive Handbrake
If you do buy a cheaper, lower-quality handbrake to start out with, you’ll always run the risk of it tainting your experience, leaving you feeling as though handbrakes just aren’t worth it for you. Another option would be to spend a little more on a great quality product that will guarantee you a level of instant gratification.
Any handbrake will ultimately take a bit of time to adapt to but having a more expensive product will likely do a better job of motivating you to get used to it, as you’ll feel an obvious boost in immersion with a handbrake with enhanced spring resistance or hydraulic power behind it.
KEY POINTS• The relatively cheap universal USB handbrakes can be a good starting point for beginners
• They lack a lot of the quality of branded options, but they’re easy to set up and use
• If you’re serious about sim racing, it’s best to opt for a quality product from a reputable sim racing manufacturer
Do You Need A Handbrake For Sim Racing?
The need for a handbrake in sim racing depends primarily on the types of games you’ll be playing. Rally and dirt racing games will benefit most from a handbrake, alongside games like GT7 and Project Cars 2 that feature these disciplines. Casual racers are unlikely to find a need or use for one.
Whether you need a sim racing handbrake or not depends hugely on what sort of sim racing games you gravitate towards. For fans of rally and dirt racing, a handbrake will be hugely beneficial, as taking on tough corners on tough terrains is a huge part of the two disciplines. The same can’t be said for track racing, where handbrake turns aren’t as commonplace.
Rally Games Benefit Most
There are some games that have both rally and track racing game modes within them, such as Gran Turismo 7 and Project Cars 2, where a handbrake could well be a useful addition. However, you can still run both games perfectly well without owning a physical handbrake, as there will be a button on your wheel that can act as a handbrake.
For serious rally/dirt sim racers, a button isn’t likely to provide a satisfying enough experience. Having a real handbrake lever to pull when navigating a tricky corner will provide amazing immersion and performance benefits, as well as the aesthetic bonus of having a complete sim racing rig.
If you’re not so serious about sim racing and only play occasionally, then you may come to the conclusion that buying a handbrake just won’t be worth it, as it will be an expensive investment if only used sporadically.
- Realistic and immersive
- Perfect for rally/dirt games
- Easy to use
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Not required for all racing disciplines
- Can be expensive
- Requires extra space to mount
There is an abundance of sim racing handbrake options out there, catering for sim racers on both high and low budgets, as well as sim racers on both ends of the experience spectrum. The best handbrake for sim racing is the V2 from Heusinkveld, but if you don’t have the budget and still want a highly functional handbrake, the Fanatec ClubSport V1.5 is an excellent choice.
I created and have been writing on this site since 2019, collaborating with drivers, coaches, engineers and manufacturers to provide you with the most reliable information about motorsport. Find out more about me here.