When you open the box of the T500 you also find something else next to the imposing steering wheel: a full metal construction with accelerator, brake and clutch pedal. If there’s one thing that makes a difference between an entry level wheel and higher-end kit, it’s the pedals included. The Logitech DFP comes with plastic accelerator and brake, with little to no resistance on the brake pedal. This translates into your virtual wheels locking up sooner rather than later when playing racing games; in GT5 you can get around this problem “a bit” by enabling ABS; but it doesn’t resolve the source of the problem, of course.
Luckily the people of Thrustmaster did not neglect this aspect and they included a quality pedal construction which allows you to install them in two positions, pivoting from the bottom (F1 style) like you see with most kits, or pivoting from the top (Rally style) as you see in most real street cars. We tested the pedals in their F1 style setup and came away very impressed; while the brake doesn’t feature a load cell like the $250 Fanatec ClubSport set, it does come with an extra spring and rubber block to further increase the resistance on the brake pedal, coming from a cheap DFP pedal set the default brake strength is more than sufficient, once you bolted the steering wheel and pedals in your virtual cockpit you might want to experiment with different pedal locations and brake strength.
Thrustmaster put a high price tag on the T500, looking at the features and overall build quality and expected sales numbers, we don’t think they could make it cheaper without reducing the quality of some of the components; we did read reports of people having issues with the screws that hold down the pedals when you start moving them around, some wheels had “noise” issues with the installed fan becoming too noisy. In all cases we’ve seen Thrustmaster was quick to follow-up and offer product swaps and solutions to the end-users. So far their support track record is off to an excellent start.
Integration and installation is one of the strong suites of the T500, at the bottom of the wheel you have two mounting holes to bolster it to your cockpit, or you can use the included clamp system which is pretty solid and makes installation/uninstallation possible in less than 5 minutes. We mounted the T500 on a desk as well as a Wheel Stand Pro, while the wheel and strong FFB can make the whole desk tremble, the clamp didn’t budge. Coming to the installation of the pedals, they can be bolted down, but their weight is sufficient to hold them into place. Customization has been taken into account for the T500, you can swap out the pedals with any aftermarket ones, and even change the steering wheel with another model!
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Something we haven’t mentioned yet is gear shifter, not much to say here since there isn’t one. Thrusmaster is saying they will release one separate “later this year”.
In the meantime you’ll have to make do with the two shifter pedals on the wheel, which don’t turn around with wheel, a first for a commercial product like this, and if you come from another wheel which did feature shifter pedals that turned with the wheel, it will take some time getting used to. The first few hours you’ll be accidentally upshifting when you want to downshift and vice versa. But after a while you get used to it, and they are big enough to be accessible from almost any position.