First steps in SimRacing are almost always difficult: No matter if it is the first-ever laps of a new SimRacer, a new car or track is being tried or if a hardware manufacturer enters the discipline – in most cases, these things do not happen without teething problems. However, Venym showed that this does not necessarily applies in every case with its Atrax 3: At ADAC SimRacing Expo 2021, the French company revealed the pedal set as its first-ever product and made good first impressions at the Nürburgring – which is why SRU editor Yannik Haustein decided to take a closer look at the pedal box.
The first week or two after the SimRacing Expo were a bit tough: Having been surrounded by high-end hardware for days and being able to try most of it, there was a significant period of adjustment with my own hardware once I got home. This was not much of a problem when it came to the wheel, but especially when it came to the brake pedal, the difference between my Thrustmaster T-LCM and more expensive options became very apparent. While the T-LCM do sport a load cell, they can be set up nowhere near as stiff with the springs that come with it than more advanced pedals, which leads to a different, in my opinion, less precise brake feeling.
In this regard, I was impressed by the Venym pedals: During the short trial I got at the Magny-Cours based newcomer’s booth, the feeling of their hardware was very convincing – so much, in fact, that I ordered the Atrax 3 to upgrade my own rig at home. Just under a week after placing my order, I received a package from the immediate vicinity of the Circuit Nevers Magny-Cours.
If you choose all available options for your order, you will receive three pedals (a cheaper two-pedal version without a clutch is also available), a base plate, a heel rest, brake rubbers of different stiffnesses, different springs for the clutch and throttle pedals, plus pedal covers with LED lighting. A USB C cable is also included, and for a small extra fee, it is possible to have your pedals engraved with a custom text. Even including all available extras, your invoice will be only slightly more than €1000 (as of December 2021), the base version of the Atrax 3 is available for about €760. Venym offers their pedals in different colors and even sometimes in schemes like country flags from time to time. For an authentic race car feel, you can order a full-carbon version which looks absolutely stunning, but will also increase the strain on your wallet. The Atrax 3 also come with all the bolts, washers and nuts needed for assembly, as well as a quick start guide.
Their optics set the pedals apart from others at the Nürburgring already – a result of the close cooperation with race car manufacturer Mygale, which has been building single-seaters for Formulas 3, 4 or Ford, among others. Due to this, the pedals can be mounted very close together without being too close to use: The pedal arms are curved so the pedal plates are further apart than the bases, similar to a cramped monocoque. If you mount the throttle and brake pedals close enough, heel and toe maneuvers on downshifts with an H-pattern shifter are still possible, so the pedals are an option for vintage car enthusiasts as well. Both the pedal plates and the angle are customizable for each of the three pedals, meaning every SimRacer should be able to set up their Atrax 3 to their exact liking.
The brake pedal marks the center point that contains the set’s electronics and to which the other pedals are connected. From there, the pedal box is connected to the PC via the USB C cable. All three pedals use load cells, with the brake using a sensor that can take up to 200kg, throttle and clutch use a 1kg load cell. The entire is constructed from metal, giving it a heavy duty feel.
Brake Rubbers and Springs
Customization does not end with pedal ergonomics but extends to the feel of each pedal – mainly the brake, of course: On delivery, the pedal will have the second hardest rubber pre-mounted which is listed at 100kg of brake force by Venym. If you order the other rubber options, you will have the choice between 60 and 130kg as well. Each rubber is split into three parts, but it is also possible to use just two of them in combination with a preload spring to simulate the small initial distance between brake pads and brake disc. This ensures that every SimRacer is able to get comfortable with their brake.
Similarly, springs of different stiffnesses can be ordered for the throttle and clutch pedals to customize the pressure needed to push each pedal. Additionally, it is possible to adjust the travel for each of the three pedals regardless of brake rubbers or springs.
Assembling the pedal set is relatively self-explanatory but can take a few tries to get it right for your individually preferred positioning. If you use the base plate, you should screw it to the rig only after finalizing the positions of your pedals on the plate – otherwise, you will not be able to reach the nuts you need to loosen in order to reposition the pedals.
To mount the set to my Sim-Lab GT1 Evo in a central position, it was necessary to drill two holes into the rig’s pedal deck. Luckily, this worked well with an electric drill equipped with a head to be used with metals and only took a few minutes. Two more holes could be added in addition to this, but the pedals and plate are absolutely secure using four bolts as well.
Once you have put aside your toolbox, you can start setting up your pedals on your PC – they are not compatible with consoles. Venym has developed their own software called Pitstop, which makes it possible to calibrate the pedals and customize their function. That way, you can set up deadzones and maximum inputs as well as output curves for each pedal. Should you have opted for the LED pedal covers, you can set up the LED’s colors in the software as well – again for each pedal.
Now you are ready to take to the grid to test the most important aspect: How do the Atrax 3 feel when driving? Of course, this also depends on which springs and brake rubbers you opted for – this way, basically every SimRacer can feel comfortable with the pedals. Initially, I had chosen to keep the default brake rubbers that came preassembled but quickly noticed that I prefer a stiffer brake – using two of the stiffest rubbers and the preload spring, the brake now feels very positive to me, and I am able to modulate the pressure just the way I want thanks to muscle memory.
I have used a load cell brake before I got the Atrax 3 already, but Venym’s pedals are in an entirely different league – which should be expected with the difference in price compared to the T-LCM. Just like when I tried the pedals for the first time at the Nürburgring, it became obvious that the pedals inspire a lot of confidence when braking, which reflects positively on consistency and lap times.
The pedal set offers great customizability regarding positioning and feeling while being able to be further adjusted via software. Additionally, Venym’s first product is visually striking and clearly differs from other high-end pedals in that regard – positively, in my opinion. Even when ordering, there is a lot to customize “so that you no longer only have a mechanically good product but also a collector’s item that you want to show off and that you are proud to use”, as Venym states on their homepage.
With extras like the base plate or the heel rest it is possible to order elements as needed. Be careful, though: The different brake rubbers are not part of the base package and need to be ordered separately – definitely make sure to add these to your order to be able to customize the feel of your brake pedal.
Should you be looking to upgrade your pedals, the Venym Atrax 3 are definitely a set to consider. Make sure that your rig is stable enough to deal with the potentially high braking forces depending on how you set up your brake before you buy, though, to get the best feeling out of the pedals – for example like in a race car that is turning laps right in front of Venym’s HQ at the Magny-Cours circuit.