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· Royal Floor Sweeper
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
On an xB2, do engine bay/upper front strut bars actually DO anything?

I ask because the "towers"/top strut housings look pretty integrated into the chassis and it isn't all that far in front of the firewall. I don't see how there can be that much flex right there in this vehicle.

I know that the look is popular, common, and generally they are expected in a "tricked out" car. But, I am interested in the actual handling change they provide or any other non-looks benefit of them in an xB2.
 

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The short answer is yes.

Now do you need one on a stock car. Probably not. Do you need one if you run larger wheels. Yes. The larger you go the more important it is.

Do you need them if you plan to race, or driving very tight turns on a regular basis, absolutly.

Something you need to keep in mind. Yes everything is tied into the body very well. However the sheet metal is very then, and flexable. When its new its resiliant, but over time it stretches, warps, and cracks. Seen it happen before. However it will take time. The bar of course ties everything together and strengthes the mounts.
 

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Strut bars... is that where Mummers go for drinks? :rofl:

Sorry, couldn't resist .

I thought they made the ride stiffer.. is that desirable? How much would front and back stiffen up a ride? would it make it uncomfortable at all?
 

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I don't really think it stiffens the "ride" more so the handling. I have the TRD front strut and rear sway bars and it really seems to hug the corners better. We're hoping to get it out to the track to see how it handles the road course now with the strut/sway bars.
 

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A strut bar isn't going to stiffen a ride as far as bumps and such. It will stiffen up the handling as far as making turns. A rear sway bar could make the ride a bit stiffer in the rear as it dampens the up and down movment of the rear axle.
 

· Royal Floor Sweeper
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I ask as on SOME cars they are redundant and pointless, from a function stand point.
On OTHERS they are a WELL use of $$$, materials, and weight, for total functional useage.
Also, some BARS are pointless, as they are structurally weaker than what they are supposed to be bracing. So, a long straw (PVC. . .) is about as functional, regardless if a real brace would do something or not on a particular vehicle type.

I was asking about xBs, specifically and directly.

It sounds like it makes SOME difference, but less than other suspension mods. So, I'll put it on the "long-term" list and get other stuff first.
 

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I'v installed both the upper front and rear. I notice a major improvement when hitting the winding roads. Hugs a lot better and reduced the roll. I'm considering putting on the lower front also. Bottom line, I'm glad I installed them and have no regrets.
 

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I am running the Hotchkis sways and that made the biggest difference in the handling. I think that the upper strut bar in the front will help some. Now is it a must, probably not. But it will do a little. So when you tie it all together, heck yeah it will help. I am going to do one. But have to powder coat it before it would ever make it on the xB. So I have been doing other things first and will get to that one at some point.
 

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I have them on the nugget, first thing we did. I don't race, nor drive fast,(family says I drive like a grandma), in reality I am, but not., but when you are on windy roads it hugs a lot better. Don't feel like you are fixing to loose it. Even just for every day driving turning makes a lot of difference, don't feel like I have to turn when the car turns just to keep it going in the turn.
 

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Now that I got some of the looks things out of the way I think I am gonna drop some cash on these. I been wanting to upgrade the handling. Originally it was the first thing I was going to do then got carried away with other stuff. However now that I have had plenty of time to test the limits of the xB with stock suspension I can't wait to see what these will do.
 

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wangster said:
Sorry for the newbie question...

What is the difference between STRUT BAR and SWAY BAR?
Ok the front suspensions on most new cars are made of struts. Struts are a shock, spring, control arm combo. They are bolted into "towers" on the body of the car. A strut bar bolts to the two struts to cut down on flex to help stability and control.

Sway bars are bascially springs. They bolt to the control arms on the front and the rear axle beam on the rear. The help control body roll or sway. The strenght of the bar is based on its size in diameter. The larger the diameter the more it counter acts sway.

Hope this helps.
 

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So I just want to be clear...

Please comment with yes/no.

1. Sway bars go underneath the body and strut bars go in the engine bay.
2. We have a rear sway bar already but Hotchkis one would improve the performance.
3. In addition, we can get a front sway bar and front strut bar (both of them or only one of the two?)
4. To summarize, if I wanted to go all the way to prevent and body rolls, I can get the Hotchkis Sport Sway Bar Package (front and rear set) and TRD Front Strut Tower Brace on top of the Hotchkis, right?

Thanks for your answers/comments.
 

· Royal Floor Sweeper
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
wangster said:
So I just want to be clear...

Please comment with yes/no.

1. Sway bars go underneath the body and strut bars go in the engine bay.
2. We have a rear sway bar already but Hotchkis one would improve the performance.
3. In addition, we can get a front sway bar and front strut bar (both of them or only one of the two?)
4. To summarize, if I wanted to go all the way to prevent and body rolls, I can get the Hotchkis Sport Sway Bar Package (front and rear set) and TRD Front Strut Tower Brace on top of the Hotchkis, right?

Thanks for your answers/comments.
1. Yes, basically.
The strut bar connect and reinforced the frame to prevent body flex (and making the structure of the vehicle stiffer and more solid, which means less flexing of the shell when cornering.
--If a vehicle has a strong shell already, the strut bar might make no notable improvement at all.--
-On SOME vehicles, the whole structure at the top of the struts can move significantly. In those cases, the strut car keeps them locked in place, allowing the suspension to work as designed.
On the xB2, the significance of the strut bar is debatable (hence my thread asking that question). It isn't as solid as a Miata (where it is much more for looks than any function), but more than many normal cars.

The Sway bar is connected to the moving suspension bits and serves to make the cornering more crisp and the reduce boxy roll. Basically, it makes the suspension work better.

2. The xB comes with a FRONT sway bar only. So, the TRD rear one is designed to balance out the front and make the handling more balanced.

The benefits of sways are well spelled out on the Sparks site:
Benefits:
* Dramatically improves cornering potential due to increased front/rear roll stiffness
* Offers distinct handling advantage over just stock front sway bar set up
* Balanced front and rear sway bars allow xB to handle exceptionally well. Our unique front sway bar offers excellent chassis repose and quicker directional changes
* Comfortable sport ride quality
* Easy to install and thoroughly tested for the utmost in durability and performance.
(Taken, wholesale from: http://www.trdsparks.com/displayparts.php?Mdl_dtl=570&Part_cat=11&parts_id=2148)
The Hotchkiss has a larger bar, so it makes a bigger difference than the TRD set. They also replace both bars, to have a good balance. The rear hotchkiss with the stock front would make an ill-handling xB.

Also, sway bars are what used to be known as "anti-roll" bars. the name has more to do with "rolling" or "swaying" in the suspension than the vehicle body.
Springs and struts have a LOT more to do with body roll than sways.

Of course, it has been a decade since I drove a vehicle fast on mountain roads without a good suspension design and set up. So, I might have that imperfectly remembered.

Now:
3. We can get all three.
The strut bar is sold by TRD in a well designed one-piece configuration, making it stiff and actually adding additional structural rigidity. The question is whether that extra rigidity is really that relevant. Some other strut bar designs flex as much or even more than the car does without them. As such, they are functionally useless and purely for looks.
The rear sway that balances the FACTORY INSTALLED and stock front sway is the TRD one. For most people, that is plenty.
Full sway set is also available. That would be both a front and rear bar sold together and is supposed to make a well balanced. The only need for such is for a well balanced, but more aggressive, set up than the TRD set. The Hotchkiss seems to be a good one that does what it is supposed to do and makes a well balanced result for those that want more than the TRD will do.

Unless you take mountain twisties "quickly," autocross, or the like, most folks will tell NO difference between the Hotchkiss set and just adding the TRD rear and keeping the stock front bar.

4. What you would best like in actuality depends on how you drive and various other factors.
Also, I'd advise looking into a good set of stiffer springs to reduce body roll. That does more than a strut bar. As a strut bar just acts as a brace between the sides of the engine bay, it makes no difference on body roll, just cornering flex from the struts doing what they are supposed to do (adding "precision" to cornering).
If body roll is what you are after eliminating, I'd look at sways and springs. Even just the TRD rear sway and TRD springs make a huge difference on body roll with few "negatives" added too.


For my own vehicle, I plan to get the Hotchkiss sway set and either the TRD springs or the Hotchkiss ones. Because of local bad repaving, I'd lean toward the less drop of the TRD springs.
One day, eventually, I MAY get a strut bar. But that is down my list after sways and springs (done together) and TRD intake (or the TRD blower, maybe).
For comparison, my Miata is set up for good street driving, while having excellent cornering performance. I use Racing Beat front a rear sways (replacements for the stock front and rear sways the Miata comes with) and Koni shocks (1/4 inch drop all around) on stock springs. So, it is simply a more fine tuned version of Mazda's designed system. A friend the builds autocross and racing Miata (inc. Spec Miata) says that my car is the best street set up he has ever driven and is amazingly balances (I asked him to corner balance it and he refused, saying it is so close that it wouldn't be worth my money or his time), oh this guy also does my 30/60,000 miles services too.
Why tell all that?

I am going for something similar for the xB. I don't want the extreme, but I want an xB with good street characteristics that has improved handling and can drive quick on a mountain twisty. Also, a good neutral handing balance and predictability of what the suspension will do is more important than actual body will.

For improved handling, my priority is sways and springs, then struts (stock ones are plenty good for now) once I find a set that performs well over a range of usage and works well with the sway/spring set-up I get.
Only lastly, as almost and afterthought comes the strut bar (which I am not totally convinced is even necessary, as the strut tops aren't all that far forward of the firewall structure).
 

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Wow! TartanJack, what an awesome reply.
Now I feel like an expert in handling (or at least I would understand when people talk about sway bars and strut bars and etc). Thanks again.

My primary car was the G35 coupe until I got this one. And I also used to drive a 3rd gen Rx-7. So I am not quite used to the body roll of xB. I don't necessarily drive fast but I like to drive faster than normal people on the corners or on highway ramps. I just love that feeling but I can't do it with the xB. It feels like I'm going to trip over...

This is the way I want to go after reading your reply.
Let me know if you think this is the right way to go.

1. Hotchkis Sway Bar (front and back) - Now
2. Springs - Later

I think I'm going to skip the strut bar. Nobody is going to look under my hood anyways.

Also, how about the shocks? Do shocks have any effect on the body roll that I want to get rid of desperately?
Actually, I just read the description on TRDSparks.com.
According to their description, it seems like they do effect the handling a lot.

I've changed my mind as follows.

1. Hotchkis Sway Bar (front and back) - Now
2. TRD Shock Absorber Set & TRD Red Lowering Springs - Later depending on how much difference #1 makes.

Quick stupid question... the shock absorbers comes in a set of 4, right? The picture only shows 2 but the springs show 4 on the picture.
 

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Hmmm, the short answer is the TRD strut bar makes me a more aggressive driver and adds to the "fun factor".

Installed mine yesterday....followed the instructions and it took me about 2 hours...the instructions are somewhat lacking on the removal of the cowl cover and the wiper link/motor assembly. Once you realize that the motor is not separated from the link assembly as shown in the figure it is an easy process...

One thing to know...the installed strut bar will make it extremly difficult to remove the engine cover and require removing to install the quick shifter and/or a CAI....so I'm glad that I waited.

Also, installed the "functional" TRD CAI vent (simple matter of reaching down from the top and snapping off the non-functional vent and replacing it with the real vent...without having to remove the bumper cover....)

Brewski
08 xB
 

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Performance, aside from appearance improves but you could only tell if you actually autocross the vehicle or use it on the race track. For daily drivers, there's really no noticeable difference, except the pride in modding the box :D
 
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