A company that we have often had the opportunity to host for its high level products is back on the pages of Eurogamer.it. This is Fanatec, the German company specializing in peripherals for driving games. After the steering wheels, pedals and basics of the Direct Drive series, here is a product for a niche audience, that is to say fans of driving games particularly dedicated to Rally. Obviously, nothing prevents you from using the handbrake in other more or less simulated stunt titles that support them, but generally the costs of such a device are the preserve of those who are dedicated to products such as the Dirt and Dirt Rally series from Codemasters, WRC by Kylotonn or the old but still appreciated Richard Burns Rally or even Assetto Corsa.
Right out of the box, the Clubsport Handbrake 1.5 presents itself as a tradition for Fanatec peripherals: materials and finishes of absolute robustness both in terms of the lever and the handbrake box. All of the sturdy aluminum worked perfectly in relation to each component for a decidedly “Teutonic” aesthetic effect. Aluminum for the lever and dark brown for the brake body. In addition to the weight, the abundance of recesses for the screws immediately catches the eye: both in the underlying part but also on the sides: this to allow the greatest possibilities of fixing both between the right side and the left of a table / cockpit, but also to direct the brake differently. This can in fact be mounted to point upwards, almost as if it were a gearbox, but also downwards, like a hand brake lever used in road cars.
It is also possible to open the top covers, detach the lever and wind it upside down depending on your preference and how you wish to manipulate the handle. The aim is to allow the user to adjust the classic vertical handbrake position next to the typical rally car gear lever, with the cockpit and table allowing this. Very close to the steering wheel therefore, and to allow you to reach it with a very short hand movement. The Clubsport Handbrake 1.5 is designed to be hooked up to the Fanatec manual gearbox, but also, through brackets sold separately, to match the table clamp designed for the manual gearbox that we reviewed over time.
In terms of connectivity, the Fanatec Clubsport handbrake is designed to be integrated into the consolidated ecosystem of the German manufacturer: it can in fact be connected directly to all Fanatec bases currently on the market (CSV 2.5, CSL Elite and Direct Drive of the Podium series) thanks to the presence of a dedicated RJ11 port in each of these peripherals to then reach the PC or console. We connected it with no problem, even to a dated CSW 2.0 servo. If you wish, you can also use Fanatec’s two standard cranksets or the CSW 3.0 and CSL Elite, but in this case the connection can only be made via PC. If you wish, you can connect the handbrake directly to the computer, but in this case you need an adapter sold separately. The price is low, but it wouldn’t have hurt to already have a proprietary USB solution that would allow owners of other brands to start using the brake right out of the box.
But what was our experience with this Clubsport Handbrake 1.5? Connected to the CSV 2.5 base, we didn’t even have to install the drivers because the preloaded ones immediately detected the brake on the first reboot. At the time of activation, it was enough to perform a full movement to perform the automatic calibration and from that point on we had an analog controller capable of moving along a single axis, which allowed us to ” calibrate the braking intensity.
The brake testing ground included two titles: Dirt Rally 2.0, a title that is simply perfect to take advantage of the rotation possibilities guaranteed by a device like this but also the immortal Assetto Corsa: it is not widely used, but inside is a selection of tracks and cars designed for drifting, a situation in which the use of the handbrake takes the game to a whole new dimension. In the Dirt Rally 2.0 we had to work a bit to find the right lever position, but once we were done we were immediately comfortable. The resistance generated by the spring is perceived but does not disturb and quickly returns the lever to its position. The stroke is long enough to learn to dose the use and it is a good compromise between the possibility of going from 0 to 100 in a very short time, but also to dose at 25%, 50% or 75%.
The start / stop action on the handbrake is the initial part of the adaptation path that engages novices when it is necessary to acquire rear axle control in conjunction with the manual skills of the steering wheel, accelerator and brake, but once you have learned to master the device and the characteristics of different cars, here is the true potential of an analog brake like this or the dosage of braking both in intensity and in time to try to turn the car in the tightest corners without losing excessive speed and without breaking it too much. Driving the Subaru Impreza between the asphalt hairpin bends was an absolute pleasure, but even modern cars literally step into another dimension, even in terms of lap times.
We also saw the same type of efficiency on Assetto Corsa, a simulator with much more sophisticated vehicle dynamics than that of Dirt Rally cars, although it should be remembered that the uneven surfaces of the game Codemasters cannot be compared to much smoother asphalt than Kunos Simulations and therefore easier to simulate. A touring car like the BMW E30 Drift, capable of a huge starting point at low revs, gave us great satisfaction on tracks designed for drifting, after a long period of learning. Again the great simulation quality of the Kunos game came through, even we couldn’t immediately replicate the same feel of the Dirt Rally 2.0 because it was a different car. Again, this was only to help us by spending the right amount of hours practicing discovering how an independent brake control on the rear axle opens up new possibilities for controlling the car.
Dirt Rally 2.0 or Assetto Corsa, the juice of the question does not change: this Clubsport Handbrake 1.5 behaved beautifully in both cases, immediately giving us the confidence to start the first spin triggers and then fine-tune the car’s handling. by increasing the amount of braking more and more excellently. The use is extremely intuitive: the comfort of the grip is excellent thanks to the soft coating of the grip, as well as the feeling of solidity of the brake when it reaches the end of stroke and the speed with which it returns to position thanks to a sturdy spring that controls movement. The only aspect that comes to mind that might bother someone is related to the length of the lever which causes it to bend very little to the right or to the left but only in its upper part: the play in the mechanics of the box is practically zero.
A small detail that does not affect the reliability of a product that seems to have something to sell thanks to the simplicity of assembly and the quality of the materials. Obviously, Fanatec is targeting the niche of a niche i.e. fans of driving games with a preference for rallying or even the smaller Drifters. But, in addition to market considerations, this Fanatec proposal is on the same quality lines as the rest of its catalog: a well-designed device, even better assembled and absolutely customizable in assembly and use. The href = “https://www.amazon.it/Fanatec-ClubSport-Handbrake-v1-5-Stand-alone/dp/B076KX7TVL/?tag=SamaGAMEitaly-21 ″> price of 119 euros, according to Fanatec tradition, it’s not the most user-friendly and the need to buy a separate adapter for those who don’t have a Fanatec ecosystem doesn’t help in that sense, but there aren’t really many ways to break one. product of this type, so that the investment seems to be definitely guaranteed on time.