Sim racing is designed to be as close to the real thing as possible, which means game creators and equipment manufacturers try to include as many real-life features as possible. One important feature that many racers use is the ability to adjust their brake bias.
Most sim racing games will allow you to adjust brake bias whilst racing. Some games that don’t allow this are games that don’t allow you to change brake bias at all, but these are usually more arcade racers. Racing simulators usually allow you to map buttons and dials to brake bias adjustments.
So, before we go into detail about adjusting brake bias while racing, lets quickly summarize what brake bias is, and why you might want to be able to adjust it while you are racing. Then, we will tell you exactly how you can adjust your brake bias while racing.
What Is Brake Bias?
We have written an article all about brake bias here, so feel free to check that out for an in-depth guide to what it is and why it is important. However, let’s quickly go over the basics. Essentially, brake bias is an adjustment that can be made to send a higher proportion of the car’s braking power to the front or rear wheels.
The Effect Of Brake Bias
The more braking power you send to the front, the more likely they will be to lock up first. This would be front bias. Rear bias would make the rear wheels lock up first. Another way to think of it is that front bias makes the car more likely to understeer under braking, while rear bias would make the car less likely to understeer but could send the back end out if you aren’t careful.
There are plenty of ways to adjust brake bias manually, however in some racing situations it can be adjusted on the fly using a switch or dial on the steering wheel. This is the case for Formula 1, where the slightest adjustments of the brake bias in between corners can lead to several seconds being saved over the course of a race.
This same logic applies in sim racing, so why might you want to be able to change your brake bias whilst racing?
Why Changing Brake Bias Is Important
If you are new to sim racing, you might be struggling to get to grips with the cars and might think changing brake bias is the last thing you need to do. It can sound complicated, especially if you don’t fully understand why your car drives the way that it does. It can be very useful to understand what inputs will lead to what outputs, but you will learn this as you practice.
It Might Be The Problem
What beginners might not realize, however, is that the reason they may be struggling is because their brake bias isn’t set up correctly in the first place. Incorrect brake bias can lead to nightmare cornering, with the car becoming very unpredictable under braking. This is why it is essential to gain even a basic understanding of how useful brake bias can be.
Every corner on a racetrack is different, and so the car cannot be built to suit every single one of them perfectly. But if you are able to make adjustments to the car mid-race, you can gain quite an advantage. A forward brake bias will suit different corners to rear biasing, and so once you learn a new track you will be able to find out which corners suit which setup.
Knowing Which Is Best
Having front bias into a long, sweeping corner where you might be trail braking can make the car much easier to control, but the front wheels can lock up on entry if you are too aggressive with the brake pedal. Conversely, you can benefit from rear bias in sharp corners when you need to turn the car in quickly, but of course you need to be careful you don’t slide the back end out.
Each of these situations, and lots of other more specific ones, can have a deleterious or a beneficial effect on your lap times. You can gain milliseconds on every corner if you know how to properly set up your brake bias, which can translate into seconds and positions over the course of the race. So, how do you change your brake bias while racing?
Changing Your Brake Bias While Racing
The specific method to do this will obviously vary from game to game, but you will probably find your brake bias settings under the car settings in the game. This will be accessible from the main menu, and in some games during a race if you are paused. What you want to do is find the option that allows you to map the brake bias function to a button, key, switch or dial.
This could be a button on your controller, a dial on your wheel or a switch on a button box. These settings may be under something like ‘controller mapping’, but once you find it simply map the brake bias controls to your buttons of choice. Mapping it to a dial will give you an easy way to rapidly change it, while mapping increase and decrease to separate buttons will give you finer control.
Front vs Rear
If you are setting it to buttons, increase in this case usually means increase the brake bias towards the front. Decreasing would give more rear bias. It will most likely be quoted as a percentage, with 52% being front biased and 48% being rear biased. Some games will have different ways of displaying it, but it should be fairly straightforward.
Some cars in the game will start with a brake bias close to or at 50/50, but a lot of them will have it set to something either side of halfway. Things like the center of gravity and engine placement will affect the car’s tendency to lock one set of wheels first, and so the game may have a specific bias set to balance this out.
This is important, as it means the absolute percentages or ratios are not what matters from corner to corner, but instead the differences between them. For example, with a car that has a default brake bias of 50%, in other words balanced in the middle, turn 1 might need 53% for optimal execution, while the next corner might require you to shift it down to 49%.
If you were instead driving a car with a default setting of 48%, the respective values for the first and second corners would be 51% and 45%. That’s because in the first example the difference from the default setting was +3% for turn 1 and -1% for turn 2, or a 4% difference overall. Thus, you need to scale this for the other car, no matter the original brake bias setting.
Practice Makes Perfect
The important thing to do is simply play around with the values of each corner, and you can do this on the fly with your newly set up button mapping. Learn what works best for each corner, and then it will simply become muscle memory with regard to changing things up and down while traveling at 150mph!
Brake bias is an important concept in motor racing, but it is also very important in sim racing too. It can save you vital seconds in a race if you know how to use it, and you can even adjust it while you are racing. This will allow you to get the edge over your opponents and bring your lap times down with enough practice.