The Ultimate Guide to Sim Racing Handbrakes in 2024

For sim racing enthusiasts, few accessories can elevate the thrill and realism of virtual driving quite like a quality handbrake. Whether you’re a rally driver blasting through dirt trails or a drifting pro maneuvering through hairpin turns, having precise control over your vehicle’s rear wheels is pivotal.

That’s why investing in a dedicated sim racing handbrake is a must for taking your sim racing experience to the next level. But with so many options on the market, determining the right fit for your setup and budget can be daunting.

That’s where this guide comes in. As a seasoned sim racer who has tested a wide range of handbrakes firsthand, I’ve compiled the definitive handbrake recommendations for 2023. We’ll cover everything from high-end hydraulic brakes to more affordable beginner options, weighing pros and cons to help you make the ideal choice.

So buckle up and prepare for an in-depth look at the world of sim racing handbrakes!

An Introduction to Sim Racing Handbrakes

Before jumping into the top handbrake picks, let’s kick things off with a quick overview of what these devices are and why they’re such a valuable asset for serious sim racers.

What Are Sim Racing Handbrakes?

A sim racing handbrake is a specialized controller that enables realistic handbrake control in racing simulator setups. Just like in real rally, drift, or circuit racing vehicles, these devices provide precise control over locking or releasing the rear wheels.

Handbrakes consist of a lever that can be pulled and pushed to engage and disengage the brakes. More advanced versions feature force feedback, pressure-sensitive mechanisms, and adjustable resistance to simulate the actual feel of operating a handbrake in a racecar.

Key Benefits of Using a Sim Racing Handbrake

Adding a dedicated handbrake delivers a wealth of benefits:

  • Enhanced realism and immersion – Pulling an actual lever feels far more realistic than just pressing a button.
  • Superior control and precision – Apply exact inputs to lock the rear tires perfectly for drifts or tight turns.
  • More authentic racing experience – Mimics the hands-on control of real race driving.
  • Fun and satisfying to operate – Pulling the lever engages your senses and is intrinsically enjoyable.

For rally racers, drifters, and other disciplines where handbrake technique is critical, having a realistic controller is transformative. But even circuit racers can benefit from the added control.

What to Look for in a Quality Handbrake

When shopping for a handbrake, keep an eye out for these key features:

  • Sturdy build quality – A rigid, durable construction prevents flexing and damage.
  • Adjustability – Look for options to adjust the angle, height, resistance, and travel to fit your needs.
  • Precision sensors and controls – Accurate inputs are essential for perfect timing of drifts or turns.
  • Compatibility with your setup – Ensure it works with your platform and integrates with other hardware.
  • Comfortable grip – A padded or textured grip prevents hand fatigue over long sessions.

The Best Sim Racing Handbrakes for 2023

Now let’s dive into this year’s top handbrake recommendations across a range of price points.

1. Fanatec Clubsport Handbrake V1.5

Overview – A fully-featured yet affordable handbrake perfect for Fanatec ecosystem integration.

Price – $129.95

A standout option that hits a sweet spot between price and performance, the ClubSport V1.5 is my top overall pick for most sim racers.

Here are the key benefits that make it shine:

  • Sturdy stainless steel construction with foam grip
  • Fully adjustable handle angle from 0 to 90 degrees
  • Adjustable resistance via included elastomer dampers
  • Enhanced precision from improved 12-bit potentiometer sensor
  • Seamless integration with Fanatec wheel bases via dedicated connector
  • Compatible across platforms including PC, Xbox, and PlayStation with optional USB adapter
  • Built-in calibration routine for easy setup
  • Drilled mounting holes allow permanent or temporary installation

With its blend of sturdy build quality, expansive adjustability, and precision controls, the ClubSport V1.5 is extremely versatile. Whether you’re a casual weekend warrior or aspiring pro, it provides an excellent handbrake experience. Seamless integration with other Fanatec gear is icing on the cake.


  • Highly adjustable angle and resistance
  • Rugged steel construction
  • High-resolution sensors
  • Works across multiple platforms
  • Integrates perfectly with Fanatec equipment


  • Plastic housing feels slightly cheap
  • Requires adapter for non-Fanatec bases
  • Can’t change handle height

2. Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake V2

Overview – A premium handbrake packed with customization for serious racing enthusiasts.

Price – $269.99

If you’re willing to invest more for next-level quality and performance, the Heusinkveld Sim Handbrake V2 is an exceptional choice. It’s built with top-notch components and materials for unparalleled realism.

Here’s an overview of the key features:

  • Robust construction from precision CNC steel components
  • Handle shaft with industrial load cell for superb force feedback
  • Adjustable brake force from 0 to 22kg using included rubbers
  • Customizable non-linear output curves via intuitive software
  • Configurable damping, dead zones, and other parameters
  • Interchangeable grip pieces allow ergonomic adjustments
  • Highly precise control with 16-bit resolution
  • Sturdy mounting bracket with yaw adjustment

Thanks to uncompromising build quality and endless tuning options, this handbrake is perfect for high-level sim racers who crave utmost realism and control. While the price is steep, you get what you pay for.


  • Bombproof CNC steel construction
  • Ultra-precise 16-bit sensors
  • Customizable force, curves, dead zones, etc.
  • Outstanding and realistic brake feel
  • Fits perfectly in high-end rigs


  • Very expensive
  • Overkill for casual users
  • Setup and tuning takes time

3. Thrustmaster TH8A

Overview – A budget-priced entry-level handbrake that doubles as a shifter.

Price – $79.99

If you’re dipping your toes into the world of handbrakes and want an affordable starter option, check out the TH8A from leading brand Thrustmaster.

Despite its lower price point, it still delivers solid performance:

  • Sturdy metal construction with molded grip
  • Dual mode functions as both sequential shifter and handbrake
  • Decent force feedback and control
  • Angle adjustability via built-in screw
  • Height adjustability via movable plate
  • Smooth magnetic shifting mechanism
  • Good value for money
  • Works with all Thrustmaster ecosystem products

For beginners on a budget, the TH8A hits a sweet spot. While it lacks the precision and adjustability of high-end brakes, its dual-mode functionality and quality Thrustmaster engineering make it a great introductory model. It will pair nicely with Thrustmaster’s wallet-friendly starter wheels.


  • Dual shifter and handbrake modes
  • Aggressive sub-$100 pricing
  • High-quality Thrustmaster product
  • Good entry-level performance
  • Fits with all Thrustmaster gear


  • Very basic compared to premium brakes
  • Limited adjustability
  • Mediocre grip comfort
  • Some friction in mechanism

4. Aiologs Handbrake

Overview – A mid-range handbrake balancing quality, customization, and a reasonable price.

Price – $149.90

Splitting the difference between budget and high-end is the Aiologs Handbrake. It delivers excellent performance and customization for sim racers seeking an upgrade.

Here are the notable features:

  • Sleek CNC aluminum housing with steel handle
  • Industrial-grade magnetic sensor with adjustable resistance
  • Optional higher resistance springs for realistic brake feel
  • Lever extension pieces allow longer handle travel
  • Fully customize handle angle, height, and resistance
  • Robust clamp and mounting bolts keep it securely planted
  • Quiet operation thanks to contactless sensors
  • Helpful OLED display shows diagnostics

With precision controls, extensive adjustments, and a quality clamp, this handbrake is ideal for rigs needing an extra level of tuning. The customization options allow you to dial in the perfect brake for your driving style too.


  • Highly customizable resistance and angles
  • Ultra-precise contactless sensors
  • Sturdy mounting with industrial clamp
  • Premium materials like CNC aluminum
  • Helpful adjustment tools and diagnostics


  • Not as rock-solid as high-end options
  • Harder to integrate outside its ecosystem
  • Lacks brand recognition of Fanatec/Thrustmaster

Key Considerations When Choosing a Handbrake

Beyond the top recommendations, here are some important factors to weigh when selecting the ideal handbrake:

Intended Use

Carefully consider how you plan to use your handbrake. For serious drifting and rally racing, look for highly adjustable resistance and travel to fine-tune sensitivity. Circuit racers may need less throw. Ensure your brake is up to the tasks you’ll use it for.

Setup Compatibility

Handbrake compatibility varies, so verify it works with your platform and existing gear. Look for handbrakes that integrate via direct connectors or universal plug-and-play if using a dedicated rig.


More adjustability equals more customization to your preferences. Seek out handbrakes with tunable angles, heights, resistance, and other parameters.

Available Budget

Handbrakes range from around $50 to $400+. Set a budget cap based on your level of racing commitment. Casual users may not need pro-grade brakes.

Build Quality

For frequent high-intensity use, choose a handbrake with metal components and sturdy construction. Cheaper plastic versions can flex or break under heavy load.

Ecosystem Integration

If you use gear from an established brand like Fanatec or Thrustmaster, sticking with their handbrakes enables tighter ecosystem integration.

The Verdict: Why Invest in a Sim Racing Handbrake?

While not essential, few accessories add as much engagement, realism, and control as a quality handbrake. The enhanced immersion and driving precision open up new dimensions of fun compared to controller or keyboard play.

Just make sure to choose a handbrake tailored for your needs and budget. Top-tier hydraulic brakes with ultra-realistic resistance truly recreate the feel of race car driving. Yet budget-friendly options still dramatically elevate the experience too.

To recap, Fanatec’s ClubSport V1.5 provides the best all-around bang for buck, while premium alternatives like Heusinkveld’s Handbrake push sim racing authenticity to the limits. And for newbies, Thrustmaster’s TH8A gives you a taste without breaking the bank.

Whichever option you choose, taking control over your virtual rear wheels with a dedicated handbrake is a game changer. Your favorite racing and drifting titles will never feel the same again. Now get out there, strap in, and feel the thrill of flawlessly executed drifts and hairpin turns like never before!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are handbrakes necessary for sim racing?

A: Handbrakes are not strictly necessary, but they greatly enhance immersion and control for disciplines like drifting and rally racing. Most serious sim racers will want one.

Q: Where is the best placement for a handbrake in my rig?

A: Most people install them on the side of the seat within easy arm’s reach. Ensure you can comfortably grab and operate the lever mid-race.

Q: How do I connect a handbrake to my computer or console?

A: Most connect via USB or directly to wheelbases. Ensure yours is compatible with your platform. Some may require adapters for optimal integration.

Q: Should I get an analog or digital handbrake?

A: Analog provides proportional control, allowing subtle brake adjustments. Digital functions like an on/off switch. Analog delivers more realism but costs more. Either enhances gameplay.

Q: Can I use a handbrake with any racing game or simulator?

A: Support varies by game. Brakes are mainly geared for drifting/rally games where they’re more useful. Check for handbrake mapping support before purchasing.

Q: Do sim racing handbrakes require maintenance?

A: Minimal maintenance like occasional cleaning and lubrication of moving parts can help. Avoid over-tightening clamping hardware. Also keep firmware updated.

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