Fanatec CSL Elite Pedals
The Fanatec CSL Elite Pedals are the entry point of the Fanatec pedal range and come in two different flavours. A 2 pedal set (brake/throttle) and 3 pedal set that includes a load cell brake pedal.
The 2 pedal set comes in at 89.95 euro and the 3 pedal at 219.90 euro, direct from the Fanatec website.
Overall excellent, full aluminium construction that makes them a lot light than expected while maintaining a solid feeling that gives no impression that you're at risk of breaking them by being heavy footed.
Though I have found while using the load cell pedal that depending on how stiff you run it, if you don't have the pedals mounted to something they are susceptible to tipping backwards while under heaving breaking which isn't ideal. I never found this to be a problem with the club sport pedals due to their heavier weight.
To summarise the shared components between the 2 sets, the throttle pedal is just 'fine', a standard potentiometer setup, 12 bits of resolution with a spring stiffness that is a lot lighter than the Clubsport V3s throttle but not so light that you cant accurately control it. The non load cell brake / clutch pedal is the same unit but with a stiffer spring and some high density foam trickery when in its brake form.
The lightness of the pedal has been a fair complaint of some people and if you are rocking the 3 pedal set then a simple solution to up the stiffness is to simply use the clutch pedal, as this has a stiffer spring due to being the re purposed brake pedal from the 2 pedal set.
If you opt for the 2 pedal set it is worth noting that you will need to purchase a USB adapter in addition to the pedal set as they are set up by default to connect through a Fanatec wheel base. With the load cell kit you have to change out the control box that is mounted to the pedal base and the load cell version comes with a direct USB connection and cable so no adapter needed when going 3 pedal.
Loadcell vs non loadcell
The base CSL Elite pedal set is in my opinion the best non load cell pedal set on the market (not that they have much competition), they've taken the squash ball behind the brake pedal lifehack that many use with non load cell pedals to simulate pressure and turned it into a well engineered solution for the CSL Elite pedals with a removeable high density foam piece that sits directly behind the pedal and compresses as the pedal is depressed.
With the 3 pedal set you simply swap out the foam piece for a solid rubber pad and et voila your potentiometer brake pedal has now become your clutch (or throttle) pedal.
I am of the opinion that load cell pedals are a must for any serious sim racer and I can personally attest to the tangible consistency gains you can see once you move to a load cell pedal from a potentiometer as it's much easier to replicate pressure on a pedal than it is distance.
To me there is no doubt that the additional cost of the load cell kit is worth it here, and even if you're building a rig on a budget you can always buy the base CSL Elite pedals and add the load cell Kit later as it's also available as a stand alone item.
In addition to all the tools and hardware needed to install the new brake, the load cell kit comes with 3 sets of rubber bushings that you can use to adjust the stiffness of the brake pedal, for the sake of ease lets call them soft, medium and hard.
The ingenious part of this is that there is no disassembly needed to change out the rubber bushings, the stem that they sit on securely clips in and out of the pedal base and it takes a matter of a minute to change, making it easy to quickly test different settings.
Fanatec suggest for pedals that are not mounted to a rig to use of the default soft bushings, and for rig mounted pedals to use medium or hard.
While the CSL Elite Pedals are great value at this price point, the following should be considered before pulling the trigger. There are a few flaws that will only effect a certain percent of buyers based on their setup. For example if you are running the pedals unmounted with the load cell brake pedal installed, depending on how heavy footed you are you may experience the pedals rocking back as the front lifts off the floor. Something I didn't experience while using the Club Sport Pedals as they are much heavier. Others will not get along with how Fanatec have weighted the pedal springs, though I do feel this is may be on purpose to try and maintain a more premium feel in the Club Sport Pedals over their cheaper, but equally impressive sibling.
Small niggles aside, the overall build quality, high resolution and customisation options available with the load cell kit really do offer something for everyone. Considering the price difference of around 140 euro between the CSL Elites with load cell and the base Club Sport V3s, I wouldn't even consider them a downgrade and would simply suggest that the Club Sports maybe be a better buy for those running unmounted pedals with a heavy foot.