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Old 02-25-2002, 09:18 AM   #1
Dilip

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Do strut bars really improve handling?

Hi,

I have a mazda 626, year 2000 model, 2.0 litre auto.

I really want to improve my handling......I was racing against honda civics on the street on saturday night and theirs were fully lowered etc. and mine could not do as good as theirs on the turns, but on the straight i'd rock them.

anyway..........STRUT BARS, i want to get a good one in the front, and on the rear. Do they really work? Does the increased weight reduce performance? How much of an improve ment would I get on sharp turns?

I do not wan tto alter my suspensions/shocks. And I don't want to make my ride bumpier by using lower aspect ratio tyres. I'm just planning on getting wider tyres.....and the strut bars.

Anyone have experiences with strut bars? Please advise me how much better handling you get from it?

Thanks
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Old 02-25-2002, 10:19 AM   #2
Cougar

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Yes strut bars can improve handling.
If you just get "wider" tires it's going to look dumb as hell if they stick out.

Lowering the car will improve handling, and you can do it without trading off comfort if you use good suspension, like Koni.
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Old 02-25-2002, 03:06 PM   #3
geolemon

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Strut bars don't help your handling, so much as they make your car able to actually handle G-forces that they weren't designed to handle originally!

If your car can pull .8G stock, and suddenly you can pull over 1G, you could be putting signifigant twisting forces on your chassis, the bars help contend with that.

THE biggest handling improvement you can make is tires.
I have been beaten in autocross by a totally stock Subaru Forester, that had Autocross specific race tires and an experienced driver! (I run "street tires")

Good compound tires, low profile sidewalls all help improve cornering ability and feel.
Sticky tires.. biggest difference possible.

Then you get into subtle improvements..

Lowering springs are probably next on my scale, they help handling by lowering your center of gravity slightly, and controlling weight transfer somewhat...
If the car leans so that 70% of it's weight are on one pair of tires (or nosedives in breaking, or squats in accelleration) your handling is compromised.

Anti-sway bars are probably next for me, they perform the same function, laterally, they prevent body lean in corners (and the inherent weight transfer).

Shocks are very important too...
They control oscillations and rate of weight transfer...
On a smooth surface, this isn't such a big deal. But when any imperfections arise, or even a dip or peak at speeds, it can make a real big difference. Handling confidence, with performance shocks, will be restored much faster after such a disturbance than it would with stock shocks, where you might find hundreds of feet have passed by before the car has "settled" again!

And then, strut-tie bars, like you mention..
They just make the car stiffer, so that when you launch it into a corner, those high forces are not transferred to the car through the firewall, and front bulkhead..
But rather, these strut braces connect the struts directly, thinking about the force vectors should make things clear why this is a benefit up front, where you basically have a hole between the struts...
In the rear, I haven't ever bothered... one, because it will interfere with my install...
And two, because I feel the floor of the trunk, and body over the struts (trunk lid & window frame) tie the struts together better than up front, not to mention the solid lower A-arm mount points.

But I do think that this is a minimum advantage, no gain at all if you haven't made such signifigant changes to the car's handling abilities to warrant such an upgrade!
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Old 02-26-2002, 02:20 AM   #4
Dilip

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Geolemon,

Thanks, what are anti-sway bars? I thought they were the same as strut bars?

I really don't want to lower my car because roads over here are VERY bumpy, and if i lower it, while driving fast on the country roads I am sure that the bottom of my car will hit the concrete, furthermore this is my parent's car so they will not let me do lowering. They have said I can make any mods that aren't too expensive, such as wider/ better performance tyres......

Right now on sharp turns.........my car really does sway to one side, as in like you said, the weight is transferred so much to one side of the car and I don't want that to happen..........but without changing my suspension/shocks (too costly), sway bars are cheaper I suppose?
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Old 02-26-2002, 02:45 AM   #5
geolemon

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Here's a picture and installation instructions of the Neuspeed strut bar, which is what I have on my Civic, actually:
http://www.venommotorsports.com/howto/frontstress.htm

Anti-sway bars actually are like a torsion rod that goes between your two lower control arms, attaching to these moving parts via a pair of end links, which have soft urethane grommets on each end. The bar itself is mounted in a way that allows it to move with the car's suspension.
Most cars come with some sort of anti-sway bar up front at least.

Aftermarket kits upgrade to a larger diameter bar, which offers more resistance against roll, and generally add a rear bar.

I'd look at places like www.carparts.com and www.nopi.com for these, or pick up magazines like sport compact car, super street, etc.., and call some retailers!
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