Sparco is one of the leading companies in racing equipment. They sell everything from racing clothes, to seats, seatbelts, helmets, steering wheels working gloves and much more! They are a huge player in real life racing but are also becoming big in SIM-racing.
Racing shoes are great for sim racing. They offer some great grip, preventing your foot from slipping on the pedal, and also protect your feet from the actual pedals. Real racing shoes though, need to be fire proof, and live up to certain specifications set by the FIA to be allowed in real races. This often makes them more expensive than they need to be, and more uncomfortable that we really want. Making shoes for sim racing, sounds like a great idea, and way to make them more affordable, more comfortable and just better for using in your living room
For me, I had the option between the Hypergrip sim racing shoes, and the Sparco K-run karting boots. The price difference between these two, through my retailer was approximately $55 / €47 (yes I live in a country where tax is very high). Non the less, the point is that the price was not a huge factor for choosing the hyperdrive over the K-Run shoes, but was part of the reason for doing so.
Why I chose these
My mind process when choosing these shoes over the karting shoes was as such:
- The sock style shoe looks comfortable and easy to slip on, compared to an actual shoe
- They look more comfortable than actual shoes as they don’t need to be fire proof or live up to other specifications, like real racing shoes
- They look really nice!
- The rounded heel will be a huge improvement to my current setup, where my heel hurts when I race in socks and where regular shoes rest on the heel edge of the shoe
- They seem to have a very thin, but hard sole, that will protect my feed from the edge of the pedals, but will not take away any feeling of where the pedal is
- The hard sole transfers the power directly to the pedal. No power is lost in the same way it gets wasted on regular shoe soles
- They are specifically made for sim racing so i assume that they will be good or even better for sim racing than regular shoes
Awesome product that i can’t use
I was looking forward to receiving these shoes as I had big expectations to them! Unboxing them, I was confirmed that the quality and style of these shoes is awesome! I was very happy for having bought them and was looking forward to trying them on. This is where the disappointment started for me!
I couldn’t get them on. Not in the sense that they were difficult to get on. I could not get them on at all! I had to wait until the next day, to go and buy a shoehorn (it seems like some of you may call this a shoehorse, shoespooner, shoe spoon, shoe schlipp, or shoe tongue). Using that, i managed to get the shoes on, but even then I needed to put in quite some effort! Once on, they seemed to fit perfectly though. They had a great and tight feeling all around, and the sock style rim felt comfortable. The main reason to pick these compared to regular shoes though, was to be able to slip in to them faster and easier than with the regular shoes, and this is far from the case with these! It is actually much harder to get them on
An other problem I found, that most probably is limited to my case, is that my pedals work best if i press in the middle of the pedal. One of the reason why I wanted racing shoes, was to be able to brake by pressing the edge of the pedal, without feeling pain. it turns out that my pedals (Fanatec CSL elite + LC module) have the loadcell module mounted on the actual pedal head. This means that the sensor registers how hard you press the pedal surface and not the whole pedal!
A nice shoe but who needs shoes anyway?
All in all I like the shoe and loved the idea of a professional racing manufacturer adjusting their products to suit the sim racing market. I could personally not use these shoes, but I believe that it would be a great racing shoe for many fellow sim racers! That said, after trying these shoes on, I now have my doubts if shoes really are necessary for sim racing, and if so, I think most of us could do with much cheaper alternatives.
After I found out that my pedals require me to press in the middle of the actual pedal, to register the force, i simply adjusted the pedals. Now, I have a much wider range of braking, with much less force and no pain at all! I originally needed shoes because my feet hurt from pressing hard against the edge of the pedal. After adjusting the actual pedal i now don’t need shoes. Shoes might improve immersion
Alternatives to the alternatives
Some of you may know me well enough to know that I will always keep looking for better or cheaper ways of doing things. You might have noticed this tendency, from posts like:
I know that I eventually end up spending much more money that I would have if I had bought the established solutions to start with. I’m not doing this for the money though. I’m doing it for the change!
Shoes are no different. I have already tried out a few alternatives before I gave in and tried some real sim racing shoes. I can confirm that the cheapest kung fu shoes, are not good. The lack of a curved heel make them very hard to rest on the pedal plate, and the too soft construction across the top of the foot, allows for the foot to slide inside the shoe when you press hard against the pedal.
As it stands right now, I have found out that I don’t need shoes. When I upgrade my pedals, I may need shoes again but at this point I think I will try wrestling shoes! They are very affordable, have rounded heels and the sole looks like it is thin enough to not absorb too much power but still be hard enough to protect your foot from repeatedly pressing on a hard edge. I might try these out at some point, but first I would need to upgrade my pedals to something better.
If you are considering giving wrestling shoes a try, have a look at the Asics Matflex 6. They are maybe not quite as stylish as the SPARCO shoes, but look more comfortable, esier to get on, and definitely more affordable! At the moment, you can get these for €42 in Europe, or $55 in the US depending on size and model!
If you do choose to try these out, please let me know what you found out. I would be very happy to hear from you