Load cell brake, worth the outlay?

Discussion in 'Sim Racing Hardware' started by Zolon32, Jan 21, 2016.

  1. Zolon32

    Zolon32

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    The first point I would like to make is that my opinion is one from a very specific perspective, mine. It's not right and it's not wrong, it's an opinion, but I think that it might make some people who are thinking about shelling out for a load cell consider their own needs.


    Secondly, I realise that a load cell pedal replicates the feel of the brake pedal in a normal car more closely than a sprung loaded pedal linked to a potentiometer. Therefore, for a person who desires the closes replication of real life driving they can achieve with their virtual set up I imagine that a load cell pedal is highly desirable.


    However, for those for whom such reality is not a major issue, I think that the potentiometer offers advantages over the load cell.


    The throttle pedal on most cars works against a sprung loaded mechanism, being quite light and long in movement. This arrangement gives admirable control over the amount of power being applied to the driving wheels, even when the variability of engine revs and gear ranges are taken into account.


    I use an ancient G25 wheel and the pedals it originally came with. They have not been modified. The brake is quite light and has a long, not particularly dampened, movement. I have used zero ABS for the past two years or so, and I honestly can't imagine any pedal allowing me better control over the brakes.


    It works very much like a throttle in reverse, I push the pedal further, and it applies more force retarding the wheels, and I can change the extent to which I am pushing it quite finely. On the other hand, if I was having to apply 10, 20 or 25kg of force to a pedal in order to make it work I think I would struggle to modulate it so accurately.


    I understand why, in a real car, there would be issues with a light brake pedal, because the momentum of a person's leg under deceleration would effect the amount of brake force being applied. It is possible to imagine, in an extreme case, someone having to apply considerable force to retract their foot in order to counter that momentum.


    However, in the virtual world that is not an issue, and I can't see any good reason for me, personally, to go for a load cell brake.



    Cheers, Zo.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2016
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  2. JohnBodin

    JohnBodin

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    Your feet are better calibrated to provide constant pressure than they are to provide precise, repetitive positional accuracy.

    Throttle inputs are less critical than braking to a very large degree, especially when it comes to racing: You spend a LOT of time at full-throttle, some time off-throttle, and you usually modulate in-between during critical braking and such, so precise positional accuracy with throttle inputs isn't really required.

    Braking is just the opposite -- you spend a LOT of time providing NO braking inputs at all, and when you do need to brake, you SELDOM go for full, 100% braking. Yes, you do tend to modulate in-between during critical braking, but you're usually trying to achieve a SPECIFIC amount of braking (e.g., threshold braking that DOESN'T cause wheel lock-up). It's much easier to do that when you're applying constant pressure, rather than trying achieve a very precise position using your foot, which resides at the end of that long leg, with the articulated knee and ankle and toes, AND with all those incredibly-strong calf, thigh, and other leg muscles -- primarily those muscle groups that make up some of the strongest muscles in your body -- in the mix.

    If you drive a car in real-life, your braking inputs are already neurologically wired to provide pressure-based inputs when braking . . . and in real-life, even when driving at highway or city speeds, your throttle inputs require less critical positional inputs than the braking inputs.

    The word "panic stop" also comes into play: When you are LITERALLY "panicking" during a rapid deceleration (as in during an adrenaline-fueled race), hitting that brake pedal usually involves using those massive leg muscles in a very rapid manner -- again, something that doesn't lend itself well to precise, repeatable positional accuracy. This is where you would probably benefit the most from a pressure-based braking solution.

    For me, it's load cell braking all the way -- I literally CAN'T brake using potentiometer-based brake pedals after adapting to my load cell setup.

    :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016
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  3. Zolon32

    Zolon32

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    Thanks for your observations John. Believe me, I do stand by the notion that there isn't a wrong or right here, as far as I am aware, just preferences.

    You have raised an issue which I failed to address in my first post, and I'm grateful for that. Things may well be different in USA where, I believe, a large percentage of cars in domestic use are of the automatic variety, but in the UK the majority of cars are still fitted with manual gearboxes, and very few people use a left foot braking technique.

    My own car is a manual, and so the only use my left foot gets out on real worlds is on the clutch, where positional accuracy is critical and the amount of pressure applied is irrelevant, except in as much as it moves the pedal to the desired position. If I get in a car where the clutch is three times heavier than mine, or half as heavy, it is the position of the pedal that makes the difference.

    When racing I use my left foot for braking, and therefore the neural nets I have built to control my right foot whilst engaged in that phase of real world driving are of no use to me when I'm on my G25, whilst those built to allow fine positional control of my left probably are. I think the same might be the case for some racers in Europe, but they might not consider that when thinking about the load cell issue.


    Cheers, Zo.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016
  4. fatkrakr

    fatkrakr

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    The vast majority of Americans use their right foot for braking IRL. We are taught (or use to be anyway) that way. Also about 25% of new cars in the USA are manual transmission and that number is probably pretty close to other countries total car sales.
     
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  5. PzR Slim

    PzR Slim Premium

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    In my opinion it's much easier to brake effectively with a load cell. Particularly when modulating the amount of braking through a braking phase. As others have said its much more natural to vary the amount of pressure your leg is applying than the position of your foot.
     
  6. Gunstar

    Gunstar

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    I'd say yes. Or at least some kind of resistance mod. Your mileage may vary of course.

    And in a real car, manual or automatic, you right foot brake in the US.
     
  7. Zolon32

    Zolon32

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    Thanks for your input chaps, it's nice to see that the internet has reach Newcastle Slim :) (I'm from Leeds originally, so I won't be mentioning football).

    Do any of you use zero ABS, and/or left foot braking, in the game?


    Cheers, Zo.
     
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  8. JohnBodin

    JohnBodin

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    I'm mainly a PC sim racer (iRacing), and all my cars in real-life have manual transmissions, so I drive a manual daily.

    That said, I'm a left-foot braker in iRacing, and I also use the clutch for upshifts in those cars where it's required. No problem at all remembering to brake with my left foot rather than clutching, or differentiating between when I'm clutching or braking.

    It's a lot like driving a go-kart, which typically have a throttle for your right foot and a brake pedal for your left foot (and no way to switch feet because the steering column keeps your feet widely separated).
     
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  9. Imari

    Imari Premium

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    I do know what you mean. I have a load cell now and I like it for the realism, but back when I started with my DFGT it was very easy to have incredible brake control. Because there was no third pedal (and the DFGT springs are super weak) it was simple just to use the big toe of my left foot to control the position of the brake.

    When I shifted to the load cell pedals it took a while before I was as confident on the brakes, and even now years later I'm not sure that I'm as precise or as quick to hit a certain %age of brake as with the positional system. There are reasons for having pressure based brakes in real cars, but in your living room I'd agree that there are potentially real advantages to positional systems.

    It seems like a swings and roundabouts thing, whatever works best for the driver is what you should use. I definitely think that a potentiometer isn't going to be worse, once you learn how to use it. I think the load cell should be considered purely as a realism enhancing addon, rather than something that will actually make you able to drive better.
     
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  10. VBR

    VBR Premium

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    I've used CSR Elite pedals before, & a NIXIM V2 modded G25. Imo there's not much difference between the two, they feel very similar.
     
  11. LeMansAid

    LeMansAid

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    As they should, since they're effectively doing the same thing - just with the former doing it as a one part solution, and the latter as a two part.
     
  12. Mike_grpA

    Mike_grpA

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    So much this ^

    I wen't from a heavily modified potentiometer brake pedal in my old DFGT set up (I modded it myself to have very stiff progressive springs and a foam insert, pretty much how the uprated G25/27/29 springs work), to a load cell brake in my CSP V1s, and it's night and day. I'd never go back to pots.
     
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  13. Zolon32

    Zolon32

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    Thanks for the replies chaps. I'm glad of the input from Imari, otherwise I might have started to get the idea that the cost of a load cell was something I should consider, on top of a PS4, new wheel, VR (Yippee!) etc.

    I think I'll stick with pots for the time being, I'm doing alright with them, I like a light pedal and their shortcomings (if there are any) could never send me back to using ABS. Pots it is, until I win the lottery anyway.

    Cheers, Zo.
     
  14. Johnnypenso

    Johnnypenso Premium

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    Somehow I get the feeling that you just wanted someone to agree with you and were never really considering a load cell setup.

    EDIT: All responses paraphrased. Actual responses are above if you want them.
     
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  15. Zolon32

    Zolon32

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    Johnny, I will gladly plead guilty to the charge of being a person who finds it agreeable to have others agree with him. To be honest, I usually find people who go out of their way to disagree, or point out what they see as other people's failings a bit irksome.

    However, if I was simply looking for lots of people to agree with me I'd have entitled the thread something like 'Isn't Johnnypenso a wonderful person'. I didn't do that because what I want is for people who are considering shelling out for a load cell to think about the question of whether having a brake pedal for their virtual set-up that feels like a brake pedal on a real car is necessarily worth the cost, or even a good thing regardless of cost.

    You may not have noticed this, but it seems that it has been established in the thread that most people brake with their right foot when driving on the road. However, everyone I know of who I race with in the virtual world uses their left foot to brake when doing so. In that case, I suggest that their braking foot is more used to the operation of a clutch, and that a clutch feels more like a sprung pot than a load cell. That is a point, I think, worth considering.

    I suppose I could be doing something much more useful with my time, such as trawling through threads to give people the benefit of my voluminous insight into human psychology, except you seem to have that position sewn up.

    Cheers, Zo.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2016
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  16. JohnBodin

    JohnBodin

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    To be honest, operating a clutch and operating a brake are two entirely different actions:

    You press (or apply pressure) on a brake pedal

    You release (or move your foot to allow the pedal to move upwards until it hits a release point) a clutch pedal

    Two different things altogether -- and sim racing pedals do a HORRIBLE job of simulating clutch take-up, so really all you do is flick the clutch like a switch (on/off) and it's done. No precise pressure or precise positioning required.

    So it's basically a case of apples and oranges when you're talking about brake pedals and clutch pedals -- which is why it's probably so easy for me to brake with my left foot AND actuate the clutch with that same foot in a racing sim.

    Just my $0.02.

    :cool:
     
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  17. Johnnypenso

    Johnnypenso Premium

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    I also brake with my right foot in my real life vehicles but it has nothing to do with how I brake when racing. Your anecdotal evidence of your friends using left foot braking doesn't stand up to a broader base of evidence available from RSR Live Timing for Assetto Corsa. You can go through the leaderboards and you will see the same pattern. Using the very popular Ford Escort at Brands Hatch GP Leaderboard as an example, you can hold your cursor over the "i" on the right side and see that the majority of players used the H shifter for the TT. You can also see from the icons that almost nobody used auto throttle blip or auto clutch either. This means they were using the full manual shift and had to heel and toe to row through the gears, using both left foot and right foot braking as needed and depending on their gearing setup. I manually counted 35 out of the top 50 using the shifter and 9 out of the top 10. I experimented with taller gears for this combination but eventually set my fastest time using the shortest gearset that required the most shifting. Off the top of my head, the Escort at Brands requires 9 or 10 manual downshifts using right foot braking with heel and toe to blip the throttle and only 1 opportunity for left foot braking if you use the shortest gearbox. Using a slightly taller gearbox sometimes helps eliminate a shift or two.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2016
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  18. Vinceton

    Vinceton

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    Loadcells all the way. Took a while to get use to, took just as long going from fanatec v1 to v3, but the effort was well worth it. I'll never go back.
    Just like I'll never go back to control pads. Funny because during my control pad days, I never saw the point of owning a wheel.
     
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  19. Mike_grpA

    Mike_grpA

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    Yes, people brake with their right foot when trundling about the streets at 50kph, but when driving a car fast, eg. racing, you really need to know how to accurately modulate the brake pedal with both feet. Just watch any rally video with a footwell cam and you'll see the importance of footwork.

    Sim racing isn't the only place you'll find you have to left foot brake, so it's an odd claim that it's better to have the brake pedal feel like a clutch in sims, just because you think people only ever use their left foot to operate a clutch pedal. How about two pedal race cars? Even Karts force left foot braking.

    Even in a three pedal manual, left foot braking is a useful skill to have, and worthwhile to practice when you're having a blast through the countryside. I learned things like double-clutching, heel-toeing, rev matching, and left foot braking, when I was a kid, before I even had a licence.

    I agree with all of this too. ^



    You raise an excellent point in this post mate. You don't need a load cell brake, for the same reason you don't need a wheel set up at all. The whole point of a load cell brake is the same as the point of having a steering wheel, to make the sim experience more realistic. Just like with using a wheel, once you're used to it, it can also make sim racing easier.
     
  20. LeMansAid

    LeMansAid

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    Load cells are great!

    That said, overall feel trumps load cell. To that end - I have two sets of pedals that are set up with the same feel principle, but the opposite bias effect. The CST F1 pedals I have use a light spring pushing a heavy rubber damper to actuate the load cell. It means that early travel impacts the load cell subtly since the spring absorbs travel as it conveys part pressure through the damper to the load cell. Then comes the ramp when the spring's contraction has been exhausted. With only the damper impacting the load cell, each bit of travel imparts greater effect on the load cell.

    The counter part. I found myself with a set of DFGT pedals and went about getting some feel into them. Managed to set up some rubber foam shapes that aped the kind of feel I have with the CSTs. Since the pot simply reads position though, and has no regard for pressure, lightly and heavily damped travel represent a relatively opposite bias when compared with the CSTs. Despite the arse-about-ness, it works. I suppose the foot values being able to gauge where it is (particularly in relation to "the ramp") over a technical 1mm travel = x or y. To me it felt like a CST to DFGT switch was like adjusting to a different car, whereas trying using a sim brake with a linearly progressive spring (and no augments to the travel feel) was like trying to adjust to something that wasn't a car.

    So, whether it's load cell or not, I doubt that many around here would choose a pot with a linearly progressive spring, over a set up that at least has a non-linear feel (NIXIM, GTEYE for example). Given that, the OP is either missing out singularly or doubly, in my opinion.
     
  21. Nick Moxley

    Nick Moxley

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    Load cells FTW!!!!!
     
  22. Zolon32

    Zolon32

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    This argument, John, is akin to saying that to turn a wheel to the left is an entirely different action from turning it to the right. I'm sure that there are people who could argue passionately that that is the case, but the point would remain that it is the positional accuracy that is critical. With pots the positional accuracy is critical, it's the same thing.




    I'm glad that you took the time to put together a well reasoned argument for your second post Johnny, because your first post was a one sentence attack upon the person who opened the thread, with no practical input whatsoever. I believe that people who do this are often referred to as trolls.






    Do people really only travel above 50KPH in Tasmania if they're racing?

    There is a relevant difference in the use of a method of steering in a game and the method of activating the brake. When using a wheel with FFB it is an active component of the experience, it feeds back a force designed to replicate the forces felt at the rim of a wheel in the real world. However, a brake pedal is a passive component. Having an FFB wheel adds significantly more to the immersion than a realistic feeling pedal ever could.

    Cheers, Zo.
     
  23. Mike_grpA

    Mike_grpA

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    Well I've been known to travel significantly faster, but not everyone has the balls on the roads we have down here. ;)

    Having a ffb wheel isn't necessary to play a racing sim, that was my point, but it adds to the immersion. Having a brake pedal that reads position isn't at all realistic, as the brakes in a real car work off pressure. A load cell measures pressure, not position. My brake pedal on my sim rig is set up so stiff it hardly moves, as that's the way I like it, so it's not the position that's critical, it's the pressure. Pressure which is accurately achieved using muscle memory. A load cell brake feels more natural to me, which is a big boost in immersion, and I find my braking more consistent too.


    I don't know why I'm bothering to argue with you on this, considering you completely missed the point of John's post.
     
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  24. super_gt

    super_gt

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    I was like you,DFGT user with slightly modified brake pedal end zero ABS.


    Me too until I build this
    I bought recently Thrustmaster T150 and I have made an experiment:
    I took DFGT with the pedals mod and T150 with the original pedals(which are little harder than the original DFGT pedals and T150 brake pedal have rubber damper) I made 10 qualification laps in LFS Westhill track with ABS OFF.
    I was half second slower per lap with T150 and its original pedals,why?Because it is easier to brake when you are using muscle memory.


    In the begining YES,but this will not last long.
    My brake pedal is now set at 70kg. pressure and I have no problem to modulate it accurately.

    So is the load cell brake worth the outlay?
    Yes,anything which will make the brake pedal stiffer worth the outlay :tup:
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2016
  25. Johnnypenso

    Johnnypenso Premium

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    While a wheel is the most important element in the sim racing equation, braking is the probably the second most important element. Now that you have people coming out of the woodwork praising the functionality of load cells and my statistical evidence that high end sim racers use both left and right foot braking as it is needed, I'm curious to know if your mind is now open to the potential of load cell braking or still closed as it was from the OP onwards. And if your mind is not opening up to the idea, what exactly would it take for you to seriously consider a load cell besides many people praising it and explaining the mechanics and psychology behind it? You mentioned money before as an obstacle, but considering that a PS4+wheel+VR is easily going to be $1000CDN and maybe more depending on the wheel, an extra $150 for a load cell doesn't seem all that significant, certainly not in the "winning the lottery" realm. And it must be affordable otherwise why start the thread right?
     
  26. Zolon32

    Zolon32

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    Not curious enough to shell out the cash myself, to be honest. I really am far too poor to be considering the other things I mentioned (seriously), but if I have to rob a bank/sell a kidney to experience racing in 3D then so be it.

    The reason I started the thread was in an attempt to get people who were considering forking out for a load cell, to question whether the real brake feel was necessarily the most suitable solution for them individually, taking account of the cost and the differing needs of virtual racing and racing in the real world. I'm still not convinced that a person is better able to graduate pressure any more accurately than they are physical movement, and, unless you have some very impressive data from a comprehensive study of biomechanics to convince me otherwise I shall remain sceptical on that score.

    However, the issue of heel/toe gear changes makes a stiff brake an essential, and a load cell is certainly the best way to provide that stiff pedal. The required stiffness with pots would just end up with very little braking, or a pedal with such short travel that delicate use would be impossible, I think.

    Should I find myself in the fortunate position of being able to go to the lengths I would like in this hobby of ours I imagine that a load cell will be on the cards, but I think the grim reaper will probably be knocking on my door before I achieve that happy state.

    Cheers, Zo.
     
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  27. Mike_grpA

    Mike_grpA

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    I don't know where this idea comes from that load cells are hugely expensive, requiring "winning the lottery" or "robbing a bank" to own one.

    I bought my clubsport pedals used for $100aud ($99cdn, $70usd, 49gbp), and I can't fault them, they're amazing.
     
  28. LeMansAid

    LeMansAid

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    I don't believe you. I don't believe that you misappropriated the information available for some altruistic gift to the sim community. There appears to simply be a glaring difference between what you want to be true, and what is true - this, deftly illustrated by @Johnnypenso (who, as far as I know, is still using a non-load cell brake btw).

    If you're happy with what you've got, great. If you're questioning what you've got, but can't afford new pedals, maybe consider asking what affordable mods are possible.
     
  29. Johnnypenso

    Johnnypenso Premium

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    Let me get this straight. You ask the community for input. You have several people sing the praises of load cells through personal experience but it only took one person to tell you to make your own choice to convince you that it wasn't for you. Now all of a sudden we need biomechanical analysis to prove the worthiness of load cell braking systems in sim rigs. Makes sense. I guess all those people that think it's a great system are experiencing some kind of placebo effect. :lol:

    Another incorrect assumption. There is more than one brake mod system available without the use of load cells that provide a significant increase in pedal pressure. I use the GTEYE system which effectively doubles the pressure required for full braking throw and is also progressive. I effectively heel and toe with it all the time and in fact it makes heel and toe much easier because you can rest more weight on the pedal without accidentally deflecting it and engaging too high a brake force. It is a dramatic improvement over the stock G27 spring and requires significant force to fully depress and provides a more tangible brake feel vs. the stock spring. I've never measured it but I'd have to guess it's at least 15kg.
     
  30. Zolon32

    Zolon32

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    Johnny, do you get some sort of thrill by dedicating your spare time to trawling threads in order to ridicule people? I really would like to discuss with you the personality disorder you suffer from, but I don't think that I could without chastisement from the powers that be within GTPlanet, and you, frankly, are not worth it.

    My objectives in opening this thread were spelt out very clearly in the first post, and none of what was written there implies that I am personally asking for advice regarding load cells. There purpose was to invite those who are considering making the purchase to ask themselves whether a realistic feel trumped the value/accuracy of pots. The one person you referred to seems to be the only one who got that. You read the title and jumped to a conclusion.

    With reference to the idea of biomechanical evidence, it is entirely missing and, yes, given that the matter this thread was created for seems to have gone completely over your head, I can understand why you scoff at the fact that I might think it would have some importance.

    For the avoidance of doubt, I have absolutely no interest in discussing this matter further with any sad sack troll (if the cap fits, wear it), since the primary motivation for the creation of the thread has been entirely usurped.

    Zo.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2016
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