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The 5 Cheapest Sim Racing Handbrakes

Fans of rally and dirt racing know the importance of having a handbrake in their setup to help them nail corners and clock great lap times. As with all forms of sim racing hardware though, it can be expensive, leaving many wondering what the cheapest sim racing handbrakes are.

The 5 cheapest sim racing handbrakes are:

  1. Fanatec ClubSport Handbrake v1.5
  2. Banggood 14-bit Hall Sensor USB Handbrake
  3. Banggood 16-bit Hall Sensor USB Handbrake
  4. Universal USB Handbrakes
  5. Aiologs Handbrake

As handbrakes aren’t one of the most sought-after sim racing hardware options, there is only one high-profile brand selling them for under $150. Most cheap options come from independent sellers online. Below, we cover the cheapest handbrakes in detail, alongside what to look for when buying one.

Is A Handbrake Worth It For Sim Racing?

Whether a handbrake is worth it for sim racing largely depends on a few factors. If you enjoy rally/dirt racing games, then you’ll find a handbrake to be worth the investment. If you don’t care for the price, don’t have the space, or are a casual racer, it may not be worth it.

Having a handbrake as part of your sim racing rig can be very satisfying, both aesthetically and for its in-game use. However, as sim racing features such a broad scope of racing disciplines, it won’t be worth it for all players, especially those who prefer track racing. Handbrakes are most useful for fans of rally and dirt racing, where you will navigate sharp, unforgiving turns.

Completing Your Setup

While you may be able to utilize a button on your wheel or controller in order to activate a handbrake feature, it doesn’t get close to the satisfaction of pulling a real lever. It’s also far less immersive and realistic, which for many, is a huge aspect of their sim racing enjoyment. Having hardware such as a handbrake fixed onto your rig can help your setup look and feel complete.

If you’re not the biggest fan of rally/dirt racing games, then a handbrake will likely be very low on your priority list as there is very little use for them in track racing. There are plenty more convenient and useful hardware options available that will benefit track racers more than a handbrake, especially if you are on a tight budget.

You Might Never Need One

Casual sim racers will also be unlikely to require a handbrake for their setup, even if they do enjoy the odd dirt race. As previously mentioned, most controllers/wheels will have some sort of handbrake function or a button you can use for one, meaning that you won’t ever be required to own a physical handbrake in order to run a game.

PROS:

  • Immersive
  • Realistic
  • Great for use in rally/dirt games
  • Will help to complete your setup

CONS:

  • Can be expensive
  • Not necessary for all racing disciplines
  • Casual racers may find them unnecessary
  • Require extra space

What To Look For In A Sim Racing Handbrake

1. Build Quality

When choosing a handbrake or any form of sim racing hardware, the importance of the build quality of the product you are looking for cannot be undervalued. This will involve looking at which type of metals have been used to make the handbrake and whether they are heavy-duty enough to last a long time. Aluminum and steel are usually the trusted metals used in sim hardware.

It goes without saying that the more expensive the handbrake, the better the build quality, but there are cheaper options that are made to a good standard, which we will discuss later in the article. One thing to look out for is weight, with heavier handbrakes generally being more durable than lighter handbrakes as they are less flimsy and vulnerable to damage if you apply too much pressure.

Another slightly under-the-radar component of a good-quality handbrake will be the bolts used to fix it all in place. Heavy-duty bolts will likely mean the product will be more durable and sturdier compared to handbrakes fixed together with smaller, lighter screws which may need replacing after a short while.

2. Manufacturer

When you search the internet for the cheapest sim racing handbrakes, you’ll immediately notice most of the results will be directing you towards online marketplaces, with dozens of almost identical-looking handbrakes available to purchase. As handbrakes are one of the less sought-after forms of sim racing hardware, it’s tough to find reputable brands selling them for under $150.

There are dozens of manufacturers selling sim racing equipment, especially on online marketplaces. It’s important that you check the company out beforehand when buying from one of these vendors, as some of the cheap prices may well be too good to be true. It’s also important to check whether the product comes with a warranty or returns policy in case it arrives in bad condition.

Trusted manufacturers for sim racing handbrakes and for sim hardware in general include Fanatec, Thrustmaster, and Heusinkveld, who consistently produce good-quality equipment at prices worthy of the product. However, Thrustmaster and Heusinkveld do price their handbrakes towards the higher end of the scale.

3. Price

Price is naturally the first thought in the buyer’s mind, and for good reason, as it can dictate what you can and can’t include within your sim rig. However, it is important to look at the features and quality of the product first instead of purchasing the cheapest option on the market.

A cheap, poor-quality handbrake can dampen your sim racing experience and leave you spending more money in the long term on replacements and new parts. Therefore, it will always be important to research the product before you buy it.

4. Compatibility

As sim racing is predominantly PC-based, if you are a console gamer, it is important to check whether a handbrake is also compatible with console. Due to there being fewer ports on consoles than PCs, you may need a special adapter in order to use the handbrake alongside your wheel and pedals.

It is also important that you check whether the handbrake you are looking at is compatible with the game you want to play. If it is from a trusted supplier, then the likelihood is that it will be, but it’s best to make sure of it before you purchase.

5. Performance Benefits

Aside from its physical appearance and sturdiness, it’s important that you look for a handbrake that will offer you performance benefits. How accurate is the handbrake you’re choosing? How will it help you get around corners? How quickly will it slow you down? These are all questions that need to be answered before you buy the product.

A great place to start with this is to watch online reviews of the product so you can see it in action. This will also help you gauge how immersive the handbrake is and how much it will benefit your rig in terms of realism. Product reviews on websites are also more helpful in finding out what a product really offers rather than the sales pitches you see online.

Buyer’s Note: Our list below ranks the cheapest sim racing handbrakes in order of quality, starting with the best. This means the first option on our list isn’t the cheapest handbrake on the market, but it is the best one you’ll find for less than $150.

The 5 Cheapest Sim Racing Handbrakes

1. Fanatec ClubSport Handbrake v1.5

Materials: Steel / Foam | Compatibility: PC / Xbox / PlayStation

* Check Price Here *

Fanatec is one of the leading manufacturers of sim racing equipment, producing everything from wheels to handbrakes. Costing around $140, the ClubSport v1.5 is a steal, with plenty of features on offer. Users can decide whether they want their lever to be vertical or horizontal, as well as having the option to mount it on all its sides. You can also mount it to a table with an adapter.

It features a foam grip for added comfort, with a stainless-steel lever for durability. The lever operates using a spring function which adds some tension when you pull it to replicate what you’d feel with a real-life handbrake. It does a good job with this, although obviously not to the same level as you’d find with a more expensive handbrake.

Overall, for the price you pay, the Fanatec ClubSport Handbrake v1.5 does an excellent job. It is accurate and has the feel of a great quality, durable product while keeping to a small size. One thing that should be of note is that if you want to use the handbrake with another brand’s shifter or wheel, you will require a special adapter, available from the Fanatec website.

PROS:

  • Very good feel
  • Accurate experience
  • High build quality

CONS:

  • Need an adapter to work with non-Fanatec wheels

2. Banggood 14-bit Hall Sensor USB Handbrake

Materials: Steel / Aluminum | Compatibility: PC

Built with a steel base and aluminum handle, this handbrake does have a sturdy, weighty feel to it. It uses a spring mechanism to give it force, although it doesn’t require too much strength to pull it back all the way. The spring mechanism is common in cheaper sim racing handbrakes as it doesn’t require expensive parts in order to work, whereas you’ll have to pay more for a hydraulic system.

When unboxing this product, you will find that it comes with a table clamp, which is designed for those who race at a desk. The table clamp isn’t stable and will rattle if you use it too aggressively, which would get very annoying after long periods of time. It isn’t a strong clamp and will move around on the desk, even if mounted tightly.

It does come with a USB cable which makes it easy to plug in and play, but be wary if you are a console racer, as it won’t work without any external adapters. Performance-wise, it does the job. You will be able to use it in the big-name titles, and it will do a steady job, but overall, for the price you’ll have to pay for it, it may be worth opting for the Fanatec option.

PROS:

  • Good compatibility
  • Sturdy construction
  • Ideal for beginners

CONS:

  • Mounting not the most secure
  • Not much resistance

3. Banggood 16-bit Hall Sensor USB Handbrake

Materials: Steel / Aluminum | Compatibility: PC

The 16-bit Hall Sensor USB Handbrake from Banggood is an upgraded, better quality version of its 14-bit cousin, with a shorter, more compact design. It does have many of the same features, including its USB connectivity and internal spring mechanism. It is, however, more secure when mounted and doesn’t rattle like the 14-bit version. You can also adjust its height to fit perfectly within your setup.

It’s compatible with many sim racing wheels, and its plug-in and play aspect is useful as it means you won’t have to do any reconfiguring with your system settings, which is one of the benefits of using cheaper, less complex handbrakes.

Overall, the 16-bit version of this product is a better option than the 14bit version when it comes to usability and mounting, even though in terms of performance, the two products are very similar. They both offer adequate accuracy and will work to a decent standard in-game without cutting out or being unpredictable in their efficiency.

PROS:

  • Durable materials
  • Good compatibility
  • Sturdy mounting

CONS:

  • Not as high quality as other dedicated sim manufacturer’s handbrakes

4. Universal USB Handbrakes

Materials: Various | Compatibility: PC

* Check Price Here *

This is when we start to delve into murky waters when it comes to reliable sim racing handbrakes. Online marketplaces are home to a lot of sim racing handbrakes, usually sold by independent vendors. While these handbrakes are often perfectly safe to buy (from reputable websites), the quality control isn’t always great, meaning you often never know what sort of product you’re going to get.

The handbrakes available on these sites are usually just named ‘Universal USB Handbrake’ with little to no branding visible on them. If they are branded, then it will often be the name of a non-established company, often with no real online presence. The handbrakes themselves are usually manufactured overseas, meaning you’ll likely have to wait a while for delivery.

Prices for these items usually range between $40-$100, which is cheap in the world of sim racing hardware. If you are on a tight budget, it can be worth a shot, but it’s also risky and will require a bit of background research in the form of website and YouTube reviews. It will also be beneficial to check if there is a warranty or returns policy in case the product shows up in poor condition.

PROS:

  • Lots of options
  • Usually quite cheap
  • Easy setup

CONS:

  • Quality varies significantly
  • Building materials can be low quality
  • Not dedicated sim racing manufacturers

5. Aiologs Handbrake

Materials: Aluminum | Compatibility: PC / Xbox + PlayStation (with adapter)

Although at about $170 this handbrake is above our $150 target budget, it is one of the few branded handbrakes available for under $200. It’s a sleek-looking aluminum handbrake with a silver finish, which offers users the option of mounting it to a desk or a cockpit. The mounting parts are all high-quality, meaning you won’t feel any movement once your handbrake has been clamped.

Each individual aspect of this handbrake is high-quality and really shows what you can get if you spend a bit more money. It’s also manufactured by Aiologs, a dedicated sim racing brand. This means that you know exactly how the product will run when you receive it.

Performance-wise, the handbrake works smoothly, with the amount of tension increasing the further you pull the lever back. This really adds to the realism of the product, making it feel like a real handbrake. One drawback to this handbrake is that you can’t pull the lever back that far, which gives you a little less control over how much handbrake pressure you want to apply.

PROS:

  • Excellent build quality
  • Great feel
  • Easy to mount

CONS:

  • Most expensive on the list
  • Relatively small range of motion

Which Sim Racing Games Benefit Most From A Handbrake?

The sim racing games that will benefit most from a handbrake include those that are focused on rally/dirt racing. In terms of specific games, DiRT Rally 2.0, WRC 10, GRID Legends, Project Cars 2, and Gran Turismo 7 are sim racing titles that will see a huge benefit from using a handbrake.

It is mainly the games that are centered around rally/dirt racing that benefit the most from a handbrake rather than standard track sim racing games. However, there are a few games in which the two disciplines cross over, such as Project Cars 2 and Gran Turismo 7, as both have rally and dirt races available in their games alongside other forms of racing.

When playing dirt/rally-focused games like DiRT Rally 2.0, having a handbrake will be hugely beneficial as it will allow you to ace a lot more corners with maximum accuracy and efficiency and help you to produce great lap times and race positions.

5 Sim Racing Games That Benefit From A Handbrake

1. DiRT Rally 2.0

* Check Price Here *

The DiRT Rally series is where the handbrake truly comes into its own. DiRT Rally 2.0 is arguably the most realistic of the dirt racing sims, meaning the cars react very precisely to handbrake inputs, so you can fly around corners without having to hold anything back just in case you end up face-first into a tree.

DiRT Rally also has an excellent open-to-all Esports series, which involves a live final each year. The setups used for the final include a handbrake, so if you like the idea of competing with the very best virtual dirt racers in the world, then it is a good idea to get yourself used to racing with a handbrake.

2. WRC 10

* Check Price Here *

WRC 10 is the most recent installment of the official game of the FIA WRC series. The game features high-level driving physics on dirt tracks across the globe and allows for the use of external handbrakes in-game. It also retails for around $30, and despite it not being as high-profile and popular as the DiRT series, it’s still good fun and will help you get extra use out of your handbrake.

3. Gran Turismo 7

* Check Price Here *

The latest installment in PlayStation’s biggest-selling racing franchise features a range of rally cars and a small handful of tracks to race them around. As it’s primarily a track racing game, the selection of rally cars and tracks is considerably lower than the previously mentioned games, although the sleek driving physics make GT7 well worth a mention.

Unfortunately, Gran Turismo is, and probably always will be, a PlayStation-exclusive franchise, so this one may feel slightly redundant for PC and Xbox players. Do be aware that as it is a console-only game, you may require an adapter to run your handbrake alongside the rest of your setup.

4. Project Cars 2

* Check Price Here *

Much like GT7, Project Cars 2 isn’t a rally-specific title, but does offer its players an excellent rallycross game mode, where they can race at 9 dedicated rallycross circuits based all around the world. Project Cars 2 is one of the leading ‘serious’ sim racing titles, so expect great visuals and physics with exciting yet regimented online races.

It also allows for the use of all types of sim racing hardware, including handbrakes, meaning you’ll be able to utilize your full setup in the game.

5. GRID Legends

* Check Price Here *

GRID Legends is a game known more for its storylines than its car physics and realism, but if you are just playing for fun, it’s well worth a try, especially with its unique drift mode. This game is not only great fun, but you will also be able to fully utilize the benefits of having a handbrake in your setup

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, there are very few cheap sim racing handbrakes made by established brands, which does make it more difficult to find a high-quality, durable product for a low price. However, there is an abundance of unbranded universal handbrakes on the market, and if you have the budget, the ClubSport V1.5 handbrake from Fanatec is a great choice.