The Fanatec CSL Elite Pedal set is the most budget-friendly pedal option offered by the sim racing giant. Coming in at considerably less than the Clubsport V3 Pedals, these pedals are Fanatec’s entry-level pedal configuration.
The CSL Elite pedals are some of the best budget pedals on the market. They feature plastic-free solid aluminum construction that is durable and can stand up to almost any racer’s style. These pedals will feel secure no matter how aggressively you use them, and they provide plenty of realistic feel.
In this article, I’m going to evaluate the Fanatec CSL Elite Pedal set, including a breakdown of the Fanatec’s Product Lines, Pedal Construction, Customization Options, Pedal Feel, and How to Use Them. This will help you understand these pedals’ features and how you can expect them to perform.
Understanding Fanatec’s Product Lines
The first thing to know about Fanatec is their product lines. In wheels, Fanatec has three main product lines, the CSL, Clubsport, and Podium. These three lines are evident in their wheelbases and peripherals, like shifters, pedals, and cockpits.
The CSL line is Fanatec’s “budget” or “entry-level” line. However, most racers would find that these are a bit of a step above what is usually considered “entry-level” in this space.
Leading competitors in the “budget” racing space, like Thrustmasteror Logitech, usually have plastic components that can’t hold up to the abuse that Fanatec products can. With Fanatec, you’ll find that even the CSL line has high-end materials, such as Alcantara on the steering wheels, or solid aluminum pedals.
For this reason, Fanatec CSL Elite products do come at a higher price point than many other budget sim racing rigs. However, that investment is seriously worth it.
Fanatec CSL Elite Pedal Construction
The Fanatec CSL Elite Pedals set is a 2-pedal set made of solid, diecast aluminum with a black textured powder coat that provides a clean finish. Each pedal head has a rubber grip that can be removed based on the driver’s preferences. The set comes with a massive heel rest, which can accommodate drivers of all foot sizes.
Even from holding the box, you can tell this is a quality set of pedals. These pedals are over 6 lbs of solid aluminum, making them feel sturdy when you set them up in your racing setup. This is a great feature, and it leads to a more lifelike driving experience. Don’t worry about babying these pedals; they can hold up to the abuse.
The first thing you’ll need to do when you take these pedals out of the box is that there is a little assembly required, mainly attaching the pedals to the base and getting them oriented in a manner that works for your driving style.
This construction process isn’t too tricky, and if you’ve set up your own racing rig, it should be well within your capabilities. Everything you need, including the tools and hardware required to set up your pedals are provided for your convenience. This includes a wrench, Allen key, and mounting screws.
The large heel rest allows the pedals to be adjustable horizontally; however, their vertical height and angle are fixed based on their solid-metal construction.
The great thing about this set is that they’re very customizable to whatever driving setup you have, whether you have a full cockpit, a stand, or drive on the floor. The screw holes on the heel rest base are very customizable and can accommodate a variety of driving frames or even a homemade build.
Fanatec also allows these pedals to be removed from the heel rest and secured directly to a cockpit or driving stand – if your setup allows.
The biggest obstacle sim racers will face is that these pedals are proprietary for a Fanatec driving setup and will only work when connected to a Fanatec steering wheel.
How The Fanatec CSL Elite Pedals Feel
Because of how heavy these pedals are, they don’t feel light or flimsy like many other models in the price point. The pedal heads feel great underfoot. For drivers who aim to use these pedals on the ground, you’ll find it takes a considerable amount of pressure to lift the base.
Shoeless drivers, rejoice! These pedals are perfect for driving shod or unshod. The rubber caps on the pedals are great at grabbing your socks and making sure that you don’t slip off the pedals. The little grippy nubs on these caps are not so hard that they’ll leave indents in your feet if you drive for too long.
Because this set is solid metal, you might consider wearing shoes or slippers when walking around it, or always making sure it’s put away after driving. It does hurt quite a bit to stub your toe on!
As one would expect, the gas pedal travels much more smoothly than the brake and has a lot more pedal travel. While the gas doesn’t have as much travel as the one in your car, it’ll feel very natural to put the pedal to the metal and take off in your sim rig.
The stock brake pedal offers a very firm resistance thanks to the PU foam insert on the pedal’s backside. That little foam stopper provides the perfect resistance to get the pedal’s full functionality, so I can moderate my speed into a hairpin without locking up.
These pedals use a potentiometer to judge pressure. However, for those looking to expand the set’s functionality, Fanatec’s peripheral CLS Elite Loadcell kit can be added, turning your stock brake pedal into a clutch lever. I don’t have this pedal in my setup, so I can’t attest whether or not the additional mechanics crowd the heel rest or are particularly tricky to workaround.
Many sim racers swear that the loadcell brake’s addition brings this pedal set to the next level. This pedal adds more sensitivity to the CSL setup, allowing you to maintain speed in the corners and set even better lap times.
How To Use The CSL Elite Pedals
The best part about this pedal set is that, however you want to game, it can accommodate the console or PC setup you wish to use.
However, it’s essential to know that wheel and pedal combos work with either Playstation OR Xbox, not both. I have an Xbox wheel that I use for F1 2020 and Forza, on the console, and Assetto Corsa and iRacing on my PC.
There is a level of customization with these pedals. When you first set them up with your PC, you’ll find the option to calibrate them to your driving style. This process is particularly useful if you have the additional loadcell pedal.
Further, in each racing game you play, there are options to calibrate brake and gas sensitivity. For myself, I find that I need to increase the sensitivity of the brake pedal because I’m not quite used to pressing against something as rigid as the high-density foam that the mechanics push against to evaluate stopping pressure.
Meanwhile, my fiance calibrates the brake to be so tolerant that he has to put his full weight on his left foot to cause the virtual wheels to lockup. This range of sensitivity on such a simple setup is a true testament to how versatile these pedals are. (If you like to drive this way, don’t worry about damaging the pedal set. The break can withstand up to 90kg of pressure.)
To use these pedals, you first have to connect them to a Fanatec Wheel Base through the pedal-wheel connection cable (an RJ12 cable.) The wheel base serves as the brain of the entire Fanatec racing setup, wheels and peripherals included and feeds all information to your console or PC through a USB cable. The pedals have no power cord of their own.
Overall, I’d recommend this pedal set for beginner racers. However, a Fanatec build might be a large investment for people investigating a new hobby. While the pedals are very affordable without the additional loadcell pedal, you must connect them to a Fanatec wheelbase for them to work.
The cheapest Fanatec wheelbase is the CSL Elite Wheel Base. There are many other serviceable wheels and pedal systems out there that can get you started on your journey for less cost.
However, if you’re looking to dive headfirst into sim racing and be competitive right off the bat, you can’t go wrong with Fanatec. The quality materials help you feel secure and grounded in your driving. You’ll worry less about your equipment and just focus on the task at hand – driving fast.