Saitek Combat Rudder Pedals Review

As real aircraft aren’t flown with sticks only, many serious simmers will, at one point or another, consider acquiring a set of rudder pedals. The range of available pedals is large, and the price range even larger, ranging from exact airliner copies, costing thousands of Euros (or dollars, or…), to cheap sets of pedals meant for car racing. The Saitek Combat Rudder Pedals are somewhere in between. Dedicated flight pedals, but not replicas, and more importantly, not costing a thousand Euros or more. Let’s take a look, shall we?

The Saitek Combat Rudder Pedals are modeled like the pedals found in modern fighter jets, like the F-16, F/A-18 or F-35. These rudder pedals obviously have a rudder axis, and the two pedals, like in real aircraft, are interconnected, so pushing one pedals forward, moves the opposing pedal backwards. Besides the rudder axis, there are two independent toe brakes, one on each pedal. So, that makes a total of 3 programmable axis you can use. Connecting the CRP’s to your pc is done with the standard USB connection, with a 2m (6ft) long cable.

Packaging:

I got my Combat Rudder Pedals in a very big, very sturdy cardboard box, with lots and lots of tape on it. Once I finally got that box open, the actual Combat Rudder Pedals’ box came out. The CRP box has a handle, so you can easily carry it with one hand, comes with a cardboard folder around it, with ‘Saitek Combat Rudder Pedals’ written on it, and some visuals. When you slide that folder off, the box just has Saitek Combat Rudder Pedals written on it, without any visuals. Once you open the actual box, you finally get the see the pedals themselves. They’re held in sturdy cardboard molds, so they don’t move around and can take the stresses of transport. Also, the pedals are held in clear plastic bags, to keep them clean and scratch free. As with the X-52 Pro I reviewed earlier, very good and sturdy packaging, to prevent almost any damage from occurring during transport. It did the job, as the pedals themselves, or even the actual CRP box, weren’t damaged at all, although the outer cardboard box, by the looks of it, wasn’t treated very carefully in transport. The box is also made to be reusable, so you can transport the pedals safely, if needed.
Besides the pedals themselves, the box also holds an extra metal footplate, that can be attached to the pedals if desired (all pictures in this review show it attached), a CD with the drivers and software, a printed quick-start-guide and 2 Velcro strips so attach on the pedals and the floor.

Installation:

Installations is very easy, especially since you just can follow the short quick-start-guide that’s included in the box. Basically, all you have to do is put the CD that comes in the box in your computer and run the setup. It will ask you to connect the device you want to install at some point during the installation, and besides doing that, and clicking ‘agree’ and ‘next’ a couple of times, it all goes automatically. The setup will install the drivers for the Combat Rudder Pedals, but also Saiteks SST (Saitek Smart Technology) program. The function of the Drivers is obvious. The SST, on the other hand, gives you the possibility to ‘program’ key-presses to events. For example, you can program it to send the ‘.’ (period) command to your pc when you press the toe brakes. Although it’s possible, I don’t use the SST program for the pedals.
Keeping up with the Quick-start-guide, next step is to fire up FSX, and assign the 3 usable axis on the pedals to their respective commands (rudder axis, left brake axis, right brake axis). You have to do this yourself, because FSX will just see the pedals as a joystick, and assign the axis to elevator, aileron and throttle commands unless you change them. Once that’s done, all you have left to do is fly! 2 notes here: first of all, very good Quick-start-guide. Very short, very to the point, but also nothing omitted. Second point, there is a CD with the drivers in the box, but you can also download the drivers from the Saitek Website, in which case you’re sure you’ve got the newest ones.

Ease of use:

I’ve been flying around in FSX (and FS2002 before that) and others sims with a twist handle joystick for years now, and although I have some experience in real life glider aircraft, I find it hard to adjust to the pedals. Hard, to adjust, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like them. Flying, and coordinating turns is something I have no problem with, as that works exactly like I did it when flying in real life. So no sweat there. What I find particularly difficult is steering and braking at the same time, on the ground. It’s really something you have to learn, and get used to. Flying helicopters with pedals is also something I have to get used to in FSX.
Apart from that, the main difficulty in using these pedals is to get them placed right. Too far back, and you won’t be able to move them through  their entire range of motion. Too far forward, and you’ll be pushing down on them, pushing the pedals to the ground, instead of moving them. It also depends a lot on your desk. If it’s too low, you won’t get your knees under it when your feet are on the pedals. And if it’s not deep enough, you won’t be able to move the pedals far enough away from you. But those are points that are valid with all sets of pedals.
As for the Combat Rudder Pedals specifically, they’re very good and very easy to use. First of all, there no less than 18 rubber pads on the bottom of those pedals, to limit the chance of them slipping. Second, there are those Velcro strips included in the box you can use to keep them in place on the floor. If that doesn’t cut it for you, there are 8 holes in them you can use to screw them to the ground.
Another very neat feature that helps the ease of use, is that the pedals have some adjustability. First of all, the force needed to move the rudder pedals is adjustable with a large wheel in between the pedals. The resistance goes from very little, so the pedals move easily, to quite much. Another thing you can adjust is the angle of the pedals. This is important for the toe brakes. By default, they are 40° up from horizontal. But if you’re sitting quite low, like in a fighter jet (remember, they’re Combat Rudder Pedals, modeled like those in fighters), you can adjust them to be more vertical. Besides the normal 40°, you can adjust them to 55° up, or 70° up.
What you don’t get here, are those extra pieces at the bottom of the pedals that support your heels to keep your feet in place. Some other sim pedals have them, and although it makes them easier to use, it’s not realistic at all. Real aircraft don’t have those, as you’re not supposed to touch the toe brakes unless necessary.

Build quality:

First of all, the Combat Rudder Pedals look awesome! They look the part, and although that’s not a very objective point to make, it’s important none the less.
The base plate, on which the pedals are mounted, is part hard plastic, part metal. It’s not made to step on, but I don’t think you will hurt it if you do. The pedals themselves are entirely made out of metal. The entire system feels very strong and sturdy. There is some play in the pedals (although not in the steering or braking axis, which are very accurate) but it’s not so much that it bothers me, or lessens the usability of the pedals. Indeed, I didn’t expect them to have so little play, and yet be so strong. Of course you could break them if you wanted to, but as long as you use them as intended (with your feet, and not trying to kick them into oblivion) I don’t have the feeling they will let you down soon. The rudder axis is great, certainly with the adjustable resistance. The toe brakes are also very good, although I wouldn’t complain if they were a little heavier to move. But, if you try to move them by hand, you feel they indeed are quite heavy. Just not compared to the strength most people have in their feet.


Conclusion:

Once it all comes together, using pedals instead of a twist stick will bring an entire new level of realism to your flightsim experience. To compare them to other pedals, well, I can’t say I know how good those expensive replica pedals are, but if you ever connected racing pedals (as in, not interconnected, so you can move both at the same time) to your pc and tried them in FSX. Well, the Combat Rudder Pedals are in an entirely different league. I am quite impressed with these fighter style pedals. They’re not cheap, in fact, I don’t think you can call any set of dedicated flightsim pedals cheap, but they’re easy to use, strong, and very well built. And if you’re tired of flying, you can use the toe brakes on the pedals as throttle and brake in racing games…

Like:

  • Easy installation
  • Sturdy and strong
  • Look authentic

Don’t like:

  • Can’t say there’s anything I don’t like about the Combat Rudder Pedals

Useful links:

Saitek Product Page

Comments are closed.