VNM Pedals | Long Term Review
VNM stopped me in my tracks last year with an excellent h-pattern shifter and handbrake combo, quite possibly still the best on the market. These pedals have been in the works for a long time now and I feel like they’ve watch all of my reviews, incorporating pretty much everything I like about a good set of pedals. A sturdy baseplate, big pedal faces, loads of adjustability, high quality machining, the list goes on. However, it’s not all good and there’s a lot to digest here. Enjoy!
I often feel that when I make Reviews, companies really listen. Products like this pop up which seem to try to address all of the issues I have with their competitors. When these products also come from a company with a good track record for high quality products, I get a little excited. I’ve been using these Pedals in various configurations over the past few weeks and today I’d like to share my experiences. I’m Laurence, welcome to the channel.
On the left you’ll see all the sections in this video. I’ve put timestamped links to each section in the description below. While you’re down there please hit the thumbs up button to help YouTube to suggest this video to others like you. 70% of the people who watch my videos are not subscribed. Please consider subscribing and hit the notification bell if you want to be notified about upcoming Reviews.
VNM Simulations is a Vietnamese company who turned out to be one of the big surprises of 2021 with their exceptional shifter and handbrake combo. They are one of the most transparent companies when it comes to their upcoming products. Seriously, if you like sim racing hardware research and development, join their discord.
This research and development has gotten them to where they are now and they’re really good, but not perfect; What was once just another brand new and enthusiastic company with world beating price promises, is now an established and respected brand with a good track record and thankfully, a good supply chain.
All of the products in this review were sent to me free of charge for the purposes of this review and nobody other than me has had any say in the content of this video.
- First Impressions
This setup looks incredible. It gave me a similar feeling to the Simforge Pedals when I put them together. There’s a lot of assembly required, but it’s a pretty fun process. The incredible baseplate is impressive and extremely functional. They look very impressive and it’s difficult to find things that they haven’t gotten right.
However, during my first use, it immediately became clear that they hadn’t designed this brake pedal for heavy footed people like me. Basically the default elastomer setup (which is now upgraded as a result of my feedback) was far too soft and the first time I pressed the brake hard, the elastomers began to deform. This was a big worry for me and after some back and forth with VNM, they sent me a new elastomer setup. I’ll go into more detail in a later section, but this light setup did not give me a clear indication of how much more force I could put on the brake and the long travel and fear of the elastomers deforming really took from the experience. As I say, I was sent new elastomers and eventually decided on this configuration as a personal favourite but there are many other settings which also feel really good.
VNM have struggled to find resellers over time and boy, have they landed on their feet now. They’re now stocked and sold through Trakracer.com in the EU, UK, Americas, Australia and New Zealand. That’s pretty awesome. They come in at €729, $649 USD or $999 Australian dollars. All in all, that’s a pretty sweet deal for something this high quality. Their machining is second to none and this setup performs as well as anything out there on the market. I definitely prefer them to some similarly priced offerings.
There is also a damper kit available for €199 which I will cover in a later section.
- Installation – Hardware
If you like Lego, this setup is for you. There’s a little bit of thinking and assembly time required to get these Pedals ready to mount to your rig but once built, they’re a dream to install. It’s a very rigid setup and also weighs quite a bit. The pedal faces are nice and big but do lack left and right adjustment. However, they have plenty of height adjustment for my needs and you can space the Pedals themselves whatever way you like. I see no limitations from a spacing or comfort point of view.
I’m a massive fan of this style of baseplate because it allows for everything anybody could possibly want. For maintenance, comfort and general performance, I don’t see how this baseplate can be any better and I’m delighted to see that it’s a product in its own right. Even if you have non VNM Pedals, I recommend this cheap upgrade for anyone who isn’t fully satisfied with their existing baseplate, at only €69. It is rigid and beautiful. If i had to find a flaw, the silver aluminium profile could be black, but a part of me really likes the way it matches the VNM logo which is subtly placed on the brake pedal and electronics box.
The pedal arms are beautiful and the electronics don’t look like an afterthought, mounting cleverly to the side of the baseplate. The Pedals all connect with high quality connectors which look really good. This doesn’t give any real advantage over basic USB or RJ11 style connectors but it does look and feel very premium and above and beyond what you’d expect from such a feature rich product at this price point.
Connecting to the PC is a USB A connection which is unusual. I’ve never had any hardware on my rig which required a USB A to USB A cable. I found this interesting and when I asked them they said that although this isn’t a moving part, they want everything to be as robust and rigid as possible and they decided that USB A to A was the best choice. They include this cable with the product.
Ensure that the bolts on your pedal face are nice and tight because mine did loosen slightly over time and caused play which was distracting while driving.
- Installation – Software
One thing that I vividly remember from my VNM Handbrake and shifter Reviews was the cool software that they provided which made calibration easy and also helped them to diagnose any potential issues remotely in the early days. They really know what they’re doing both on the hardware AND the software side of things. Calibration is easy, although not as intuitive as it could be. Once you figure it out, it works well. You can also adjust the graphs or pedal input curves if you don’t want your input % to be linear with your throw %. In other words, if you want to reserve the first 50 % of pedal travel for the first 80% of throttle input, you can configure this to your liking. It doesn’t autodetect on a sim by sim or car by car basis but you are able to save presets which are easy to swap between. There are some presets available with common curves that people enjoy, but you are also able to manually alter these and save them as custom profiles. However, I was never actually able to save the curve properly. The curve took effect, but once you load another preset, you cannot load your original curve again. This is definitely something they need to sort out but by the time this video releases, I’m sure that will no longer be an issue.
This has to be one of the most visually impressive clutch Pedals I’ve ever seen. The delicate shapes contrast the sheer strength and weight of these Pedals. There’s loads of adjustment in travel and angle, but I don’t think i’ve ever seen so much adjustment in a clutch before. Those who are particular about the feel and bite point of a specific car will have dreams about this clutch. Just look at all the grooves and bolts. I thought that this would be cause for concern as more adjustability often means less rigidity, but I absolutely stamped on this clutch for long sessions, just waiting for it to slip up, but it didn’t. It’s incredible.
If I had to make a list of clutches that stand out to me from all of my Pedals Reviews, this one would definitely be one of the first I would mention.
This throttle is pretty good. The standard spring was a bit light for me and the damper didn’t really help it much. I’d like to see a stronger spring on there. That being said, it’s a nice throttle and very functional. I never had any performance concerns about the throttle and its weight is purely a subjective preference that I have. Adjustability is incredible as with the clutch. They have an interesting way of adjusting the throw. You can really tell that they have a background in high quality manufacturing because even this minor detail is secured with additional failsafes to ensure that your throw doesn’t adjust mid race. It’s really incredible that they go to so much effort with their designs.
As I alluded to in the first impressions, I got off to a rocky start with this brake pedal. Ultimately I found a combination which really works well as shown here. However, it has some minor compromises. I wish that VNM had used a cup system like the MECA Cup 1 Pedals or the Simforge Mark 1 did. This cup system ensures that the point at which an elastomer deforms is never reached. What this means in practical terms is that you get access to all of the benefits of an elastomer of any strength, without ever reaching the point at which it deforms which in turn passes the remaining forces that you’re putting on the brake to the next elastomer in a beautifully linear fashion.
What I experienced with the VNM elastomers when I first got them was that one elastomer would deform which led to a horribly unpredictable braking experience. If you’re not very heavy footed, this will never be a noticeable issue but not using cups with elastomers of this length is a recipe for disaster. They sent me additional elastomers which are shorter and I’m using the blue spring at the start of the travel as this really allows for a nice trail braking experience. The spring is designed in such a way that it cannot deform when fully compressed. This spring design can also be seen in their handbrake and I also enjoyed it on the Simagic P2000 Pedals.
As I said, once I found my comfort zone with this brake, it was great. I would highly recommend it, I just wish that there was a cup system in play with this device.
- Damper kit
I ran these Pedals without the dampers for a few weeks so that I would notice the difference properly once I installed them. They’re easy to install as they are an addition on the clutch and brake and simply replace the whole rod assembly on the throttle. As for feeling, they gave some mixed results.
The throttle without the damper was a bit light for my liking, and to my surprise, the spring that is fitted to the damper is lighter again and a different size to the original throttle spring. This means that instead of getting a heavier and more predictable throttle, you just end up with a throttle pedal that is slow on the return to 0%. It’s fine once you get used to it but I would only recommend this upgrade on the throttle for use cases where you need to be very slow and controlled on the throttle. If you’re doing drifting or rally or something front wheel drive, it doesn’t feel natural to me. I’d like to see a heavier spring so that I could reduce the damper intensity. That would make for an agile pedal with that slightly dampened feel. For me, the main reason to get a damper kit is for a throttle pedal and this setup doesn’t quite hit the mark.
The clutch is already great, but with the damper, it becomes incredible. Honestly, it feels very close to a real road car clutch. It’s a delight to use.
On the brake, I run a stiff pedal as I mentioned. I think that similar to hydraulic brakes, dampers give you more feeling and benefit the more travel you enjoy. For me with minimal travel, I felt little difference with the dampers applied which would warrant the upgrade. All in all if I was buying these, I’m not sure I’d splash out on the damper kit unless the throttle spring was heavier. This is a highly subjective thing and because these Pedals are good value for money, your budget may allow you to upgrade to the damper kit. However, similar to the Fanatec V3s, don’t expect miracles. These Pedals are plenty good without the damper kit.
- Final Thought
Pedal Reviews are amazing but so incredibly complicated. There are really 3 different similar products in every 3 pedal set and each one requires time and attention to review in detail. I would never be able to test every possible combination of elastomer, angle, throw, damper or spring but I try my best. Generally my measure of success is when I can find a setup that I would be proud to call my forever pedal set and with this product, that’s not difficult. I do worry that with great adjustability comes great doubt over your setup not being 100% perfect and the amount of adjustability in this hardware may overwhelm some. The immense range of freedom makes it easy to make each pedal feel lousy as well as incredible. You never know a pedal set until you’ve adjusted it and spent time with it yourself and I really enjoyed these Pedals despite occasionally being a bit confused by their shortcomings.
Adjusting anything other than spring preload requires at least one tool, usually two. The default elastomers that I received were poor but in the meantime, they’ve changed their default setup to something a little more suitable yet it still suffers the same issue with deforming elastomers if you have a heavy foot. A simple cup system would transform the brake and take it to the next level. I really hope that they implement this in the near future and even offer it as an upgrade for existing customers.
The software is good. It’s not perfect, but more than good enough for my basic needs. Quality shines through this product. It is becoming easy to spot a VNM product at a glance and other companies are taking note. The intricacies and design choices in this product show countless hours of research and development were invested.
Should you decide to buy this product, I have included links in the description which when used earn some money for this channel. There’s no obligation to do so but your support is appreciated immensely. Details about other companies with similar benefits are also listed.
I stream every Tuesday and Thursday at 9pm UK/Irish time. Thanks again to VNM for making this review possible and to you for taking the time to watch, hit the thumbs up or comment. I’m Laurence, and I’ll chat to ye later