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BODY BRACE by Strong-Strut customer product reports
Paul has been very informative and supportive before and after the sale. I had some questions about the installation of the body brace and butt strut in relation to the repair of the ‘dreaded’ sub frame issue on my M Roadster and am very grateful to him for his expert advice. Thanks to Paul and his products the car feels very solid and the suspension is now in great shape.”
received my Strong-Strut Body Brace and thought I'd post my comments on it.
I already had a Dinan front strut (aluminum) and a Strong Strut Butt Strut
(steel), so the install of the Body brace completes the "trilogy" on my '02
Brace arrived well packaged and in perfect shape after its cross country trip from AZ to NY. I decided to install without jacking the car and this was no problem, just a bit cramped. Being lazy, the install was done without removing and re-shimming the Butt Strut. This proved to be a mistake since I could not get the Body brace into a position where it would lay flat along the floor pan. I gave up on this approach, removed the Butt Strut, and realigned the brace after lifting it almost into final vertical position and tapping it back and forth till I found the best fore and aft position. I ended up having to use some of the shim washers provided with the Body brace to get the install at the connection to the Butt Strut.
Driving with the Body Brace showed me that my money was well spent. I noticed immediately that the car rode a lot quieter and roughly 2/3s of my nagging roadster interior rattles had vanished. As advertised, the car feels a lot more solid, particularly after hitting a bump that impacts the wheels on only one side of the vehicle. For anyone who already has front and rear struts installed I suggest you consider completing the "trilogy"- it's well worth it. Thank You Paul and the Strong Strut for a well designed product.
I bought my stock 2000 M Roadster 2 years ago,
and had been resistant to aftermarket anything. In general I've been happy
with the car, but the violent 'bunny hop '(w/o ASC), or occasional 'dead
run' (with ASC) when you push it in the turns, at this price level - I felt
was unacceptable. I installed the Butt/Body brace combo at the same time
about 6 months ago, and have been extremely happy ever since - the 'hop' is
gone. Given the torque, you can still lose it in the turns, but instead of
it being scary, annoying, and something I use to avoid - I now look forward
to it. The car is still far from being the best handling, but for me is by
far the most entertaining car I can afford. Given that I love the car, I
bought the Strong-Strut for long-term structural integrity. I've just
recently installed it, and the front reaction seems to be more responsive
and tighter. No where near as big a 'change' as the Butt/Body combo, but I
wasn't expecting one. Overall - very happy.
I can't speak for all Z's, but if you own an M, and like to push it in the corners, I believe the rear Strong-Strut at the least is a must. I've heard arguments about ground clearance issues - I lightly bottomed out once pulling out of drive-way straight too fast at the edge (lip), but not a single issue in the last 6 months with fairly hard driving, on occasional bad roads. I've heard of worse issues from people with new Vettes.
Hope this helps anyone interested in the Strong Strut stuff.
Hello Paul and The
Strong Strut Team.
Just a note to let you know our findings after fitting your Competition Alloy Front Strut, Rear Strut (rear Strong-Strut) and Body Brace to my wife's 2.2l Z3 Roadster in June this year. Sorry for the delay in my reply but the past 4 months have given us the opportunity to understand the changes in the cars behavior. I am pleased to state that the cars handling has been significantly improved bringing a degree of fun and enjoyment into driving the car which it previously lacked. This lack of dynamic handling ability, much cited by the motoring press, has been vanquished and one can now drive the car with relish through bends and twists in the road confident of a safe outcome. The original 'tail-end wagging' of the car when exiting bends whilst accelerating has been eliminated. Steering response has improved considerably with good 'point and go' capability and increased sensitivity to movement of the steering wheel. The original under steer of the car has gone and the car demands that you pay attention to inadvertent movements of the hand when driving hard. My wife found this a little disconcerting at first and initially preferred the cars behavior with the front strut only fitted. I did wonder whether i would have to remove the rear strut and body brace as a consequence of her concern but she has persisted with the full installation and now drives the car with confidence and enjoyment.
As stated by other Strong Strut customers, the car exhibits greater body stiffness, noticeable even when pulling off the drive at home over the uneven surfaces.
Overall this additional stiffness endows the car with far greater dynamic handling abilities bringing greater pleasure to driving the car and well worth the weight penalty. Many thanks for your help and it was worth the wait for delivery. Bob Turner.
I received the Body-Brace’s from Strong-Strut. I finally had the time to
install it today on my 98, 2.8 liter Z3 and I did it without jacking up the car!
Yes, my Z never left the ground and I completed the job !
The Body-Brace came nicely packed, a trademark of Paul. It was taller than I am. Unpacking was quite a challenge because it was so tightly and securely packed that I had a bit difficulty 'pulling' the braces out of the box. Word of advice: Open the box from one of the ends, not from the middle. The braces were tightly and professionally wrapped in two layers, along with an instructional manual and bolts & washers.
I carefully cut it open with a box cutter, and there they were, two beautifully crafted braces. I can see that Paul put lots of effort and time in designing and perfecting such an elegant device. Truly a masterpiece. I printed and read the instructional manual at the Strong-Strut web site a week prior. The manual that came with the package is exactly the same with an additional drawing of rear Strong-Strut & Body-B connection. I found it to be very helpful to pre-read the instruction so I could get all the necessary tools and rehearse the installation procedure in my head.
Get all the tools necessary before installation. I got 13mm, 16mm, & 17mm
sockets, a 1/2" drive wrench, and an adjustable open wrench. Make sure to get an
decent size wrench because the bolts are quite tight.
I did not jack up the car at all. I don't have long arms (I am only 5'7") but I was still able to reach all front 4 bolts on X-brace. The rear two x-brace bolts, rear Strong-Strut bolts/attachment and rear Strong-Strut+ Body Brace attachments are easier to reach.
Unbolt/loosen x-brace bolts according to Paul's instruction.4. I had 1/2" square washer above my rear Strong-Strut, but the Body brace would not clear the rear of the passenger undercarriage. If I force the front Body Brace attachment, the bar would develop a curve. I unbolted the rear Strong-Strut and inserted 1/8" large round washer per Paul's recommendation but it would still not clear. I then switched the 1/8" washer with 1/4" round washer originally found right under the rear Strong-Strut/above bolt and the brace would now clear perfectly with no gap and no curve/bend. The instructions point out this may be necessary on some cars and the necessary hardware is included.
Very loosely bolting on the Body Brace/rear Strong-Strut attachment definitely helps with brace alignment
Don't forget to tighten all bolts as the final step.
Gas tank clearance was never a problem. There was at least 1/4" clearance from Body Brace.
Ground clearance is exactly the same as rear Strong-Strut, not any lower (well, maybe just a tiny bit lower because of the bolt heads.)
I took it out for a quick spin. It was late so I only test drove a few blocks. Going over uneven surfaces where the car would rattle/shake a bit before, it's now 95% better. It felt much more smooth and definitely like driving a coupe. Kinda like my wife's CLK 55 AMG. I think smooth and solid are the words. Myself and hopefully other MB member will share our impression later on. If you have any question on Body Brace installation, please let me know.
Thank you Paul for such a great product. Another satisfied customer indeed. For those of you who ordered it, you will not regret it. For those of you are thinking about it, you gotta try it to believe it.
Finally, I received my floor jack and my back has been much better for a while so I installed my body brace (after many months of just looking at it...). If you recall, I bought your last Beta body brace.
The results are as impressive as when I put the Strong strut on my 2000 M. There is absolutely no body flex left. I took the car on a 250 miles journey over some damaged highways under construction. Normally driving over uneven pavement, I would feel some wiggling of the rear of the car. Now it is totally gone. Also cornering is improved and I could feel the suspension work even better than before. My car feels as stiff as my wife's full size commercial Dodge van. This product is as amazing as your other products.
(VA)......After having to wait for ~30 days for the new production run,
my Body Brace arrived from Paul and Co. last Monday. My son was coming home from
college for a visit, so I figured I could use his help, and a few more days of
waiting wouldn’t hurt (too much).
We awoke to a drizzle, but decided to go ahead with the installation. A couple of my son’s Rice Boy friends came over and watched as we crawled around under the car that had been elevated on Rhino Ramps.
The installation was really fast and easy with no need to enlarge the holes in the X-brace. The only thing we had to do out of the ordinary was reconfiguring the rear Strong-Strut to drop it down a little lower.
I went for a short drive with the top up due to the drizzle. WOW! I could not believe the change it made in the car. Instead of feeling like I had to catch up to the front of the car after every turn, I felt like I was riding in a solid unit.
Still somewhat stunned in the change in the Z3, I did manage to get some chores around the house done, by which time the sun came out. I decided to take another trip with the top down and see if my first impressions were equaled.
After taking a thirty-mile jaunt up the twisting-turning Blue Ridge Parkway I am happy to report that my first impressions were surpassed. Not only does it seem more stable in the turns, the acceleration feels crisper. The completion of the three strut mods has truly made my car much better in the drivability area and I would heartily recommend that you try the experience yourself. Thanks Paul! Outstanding work.
edited for length. First warm day in St. Louis in quite sometime, so I cleared any work to
leave the day open.
Install - I had to do every one of Paul's 'if you have problems' notes (aren't I lucky). I had to put a spacer on top of the rear Strong-Strut to lower for brace clearance, add the washer between the brace and BS on the driver's side to provide the 'touching' of the brace and remove the 'X' brace to enlarge the front mounting holes to allow room to move the X Brace to get the BB to fit. Patience is the key - this is a more difficult one person job than either of the other two Strong-Strut braces (I guess I was spoiled by the other 30 minute installs). But I have had more trouble getting a water pump on a 73 Chevy, so all pain is relevant.
Results - Well Paul you have done it again. On my favorite twisties I immediately noticed the responsiveness in the curves. A real tight 'goes where you point it' feel. The combination of the BS and tower brace made a very noticeable difference, but the body brace really iced the cake. This car now feels like a much better tuned roadster- quicker into a corner than I dared before and cleanly handled the acceleration mid curve. All good things about cornering were improved. And, of course, the rough road sloppy handling is really less of an issue. My new 'trilogy' (Front Strong-Strut, rear Strong-Strut and Body-Brace) very much compliment my old 'trilogy' (CAI, Exhaust and software).
I really expected nothing less than excellence from the folks at Strong Strut and they did not fail to deliver. Good stuff.
Henry.....The darn car has been under cover for close to 7 weeks
and I needed a fix. So Paul I really gave it a work out. And yes - the work
was well worth it.
Ok Folks - after a longer run (well over 90 minutes in hard twisties) I feel like my first post was too mundane. These are roads I use to get my Ya-Yas out during the warmer months - probably put over 10,000 miles on these roads, so I know them well. For those that don't know - I continually tweak my car and I drive it hard. The trilogy braces have extended the cars capability well more than one would expect for the price. It is far tighter than I expected and I have extended the (safe) edge for cornering by a significant amount (my body says 20% better). This perked my baby up and almost feels like a new car all over again (I was thinking new suspension before this). This is an outstanding tweak - I really flew today and that is rare for laying off for so long. Yeah - the baby should be good for another six years now.
Darryl (CA) edited for length.
I finally got around to installing a Body Brace
in my '99 M Roadster yesterday afternoon.
The installation was relatively easy. I found I had to get the car up on my Rhino ramps up front but did not need to jack up the rear of the car even though I had to adjust the rear Strong-Strut which spaced the Body Brace perfectly so that it rests against the underbody and clears the fuel tank on the passenger side with no problems.
I had a bit of a tussle with the X brace. After removing the lower 5/8 in. head bolts and loosening the front 4, it was easy to fit the new bolt on the driver's side but it was off a hair on the passenger's side. I was mindful of Paul's warning NOT TO STRIP the threads and after struggling with it a bit and thinking I might have crossed threaded it, decided to bite the bullet and take it out to enlarge the holes.
So, I removed the X brace entirely but before getting out my file, decided to see if I could wiggle it in by putting in the 5/8 in. head bolts at the bottom first. First, to my relief, I did not cross the threads on the passenger side, so both lower bolts went in no sweat.
Then, with my son under the front of the car with me, we wiggled the X brace around and with him holding up the X brace, I got all 4 of the front bolts started by hand, then cinched up all of the bolts in front, followed by torquing them down and then torquing the big fasteners on the rear Strong-Strut. Finally, I torqued down the two bolts holding the rear of the Body Brace runners to the rear Strong-Strut.
It all sounds a lot harder than it really was. I highly recommend that if the X Brace doesn't easily fit right away that you take out the X brace either to enlarge the holes or to try to fit it as I did by starting the bottom two bolts first.
Now, how does she drive afterwards? The word that comes to mind is "tighter." I still don't think it's as tight as a coupe, but it is more solid than before. I could tell immediately that even getting on the gas the car body does not "wind up" first before the car goes. It just goes. The suspension now seems to do all or more of the work; the body does not flex as much as before.
So far, no clearance problems on driveways, but the acid test will be later this week, as the garage to my office has a rather steep driveway and some speed bumps. Bottom line: Two thumbs up.
I installed the famous Strong-Strut Body Brace today and I’m a happy driver.
I didn't have time to really wring it out but I did get in a little test
drive on some twisties near my house. Actually, I only needed to pull out of
my driveway to notice the difference. We have a pretty sharp curb drop off
that I usually take at an angle and the roadster flexes right through it as
each wheel drops off in succession. This time, much less flex. It even had
that planted feeling (can you say "Z4"??!!) as I took some familiar bumps in
the road. I was pleasantly surprised as I was taking the twisty turns faster
than I should have considering the other traffic. The front tires stuck into
the turns and the rear was much more predicable. I could slide it out of
course but at least it didn't shake itself out.
So, thanks to Paul and the Strong-Strut team for a big improvement.
(AR) I installed the
Strong Strut body brace on my '00 MZ3 today and I thought I would share my
thoughts on both the installation and performance.
I already had one of Paul's Strong Struts (the lighter weight alloy version) and his rear Strong-Strut (required for installation of the body brace). I was pleased with the Strong Strut as it appeared to "tighten up" the front end. I followed that up fairly quickly with the installation of the rear Strong-Strut. Now I really felt a difference. It seems that I was really experiencing more back end wobble than front and the rear Strong-Strut was a huge improvement. Much more solid feeling and the wiggle was all but eliminated. I was extremely pleased with that product and would strongly recommend it. If you are contemplating upgrading struts/shocks/springs to improve the handling of your car I'd really recommend installing both the front Strong Strut and rear rear Strong-Strut first. From my racing days I learned that it was all but impossible to tune a suspension when in fact the chassis wasn't ready for it. Eliminate chassis flex first and then upgrade your suspension if it is still needed. Enough with the sermon.
Well now I thought I'd go for broke and also install the body brace and see if it provided the same incremental improvement in chassis rigidity that the previous products had. So today a friend and I installed the body brace and here's the poop.
One person can install it but I've got a bum shoulder (rotator issue) that limits the mobility in my left shoulder so I had a friend assist me. (No nagging about going to the doctor to get it fixed please as I've already got a wife and she is quite capable in that department.) Installation, due to excellent instructions, was really a breeze. Had to raise the front end of the car and support with jackstands because the front of the body brace attaches via a shackle assembly to the OEM "x" brace. I understand that some Z3s (early models?) didn't come equipped with an "x" brace. If you don't have one you will need to procure one before installing the body brace. I didn't have to raise the rear of the car since the rear Strong-Strut is easily accessible from either side of the car just in front of the rear wheels. Note: You must have a rear Strong-Strut installed prior to installing a body brace as the rear attachment of the body brace is to the rear Strong-Strut. Installation time - about one hour but that included raising the car and being hampered by a one armed man (me) and a talkative assistant (friend).
Driving impression - worth every penny. After I had installed the rear Strong-Strut I thought I had eliminated all my shudders and wiggles but I was wrong. You can really feel a difference with the body brace installed. There were three key areas (so far) that the improvement wasn't simply imaginary but real.
First, the entrance to my driveway is a "rolled curb" type of thing. I've always had to go REAL SLOW off of it and at an angle to prevent scraping. The body brace doesn't change any of that but it also doesn't scrape so any loss of ground clearance isn't very dramatic. Going off the curb at an angle really twists the chassis and creaks and squeaks were always the order of the day. The addition of the body brace has all but eliminated those creaks and squeaks. Solid feeling is what I'm trying to say. Real world change here.
Second area of improvement was felt in bumpy corners and freeway on ramps. Bumps, under a sideways load, always seemed to unsettle my car quite a bit (much more than my previous cars). You know, hop - skip - shimmy. The rear Strong-Strut really improved the stability in this area and body brace upped the ante once again. On the same corners and on ramps that in the past I would almost tiptoe through I went through today at full throttle (scared the fecal product out of my friend) and the car felt absolutely planted. After my friend recovered a bit "planted" was his term for it also. I might add that my friend drives a perfect 928 and also regularly drives his uncle's Boxster S so he does have some feel for cars. My observation is that the so called lousy old E30 M3 rear end is not so bad once you control the chassis flex and let the suspension do it's job.
Third area I tested today - high speed approaches to bridges/overpasses to see what improvement, if any, was felt when you run into the lip at the front and end of the bridge. In the past I would feel a good thump accompanied by rear end shimmy and simply told myself to get used to it. The shimmy is all but gone now due in part to the rear Strong-Strut and now the body brace. They both seemed to improve it in equal amounts. Oh you still get a good thump on bridges that don't quite evenly meet the highway but after the thump the usual jiggle is gone. Now when people tell me I am a tight azz I'll take it as a compliment.
Areas yet to test will include RR tracks. The only ones real close to my house are bad. I go slow over these in my 4x4 Tacoma. I'll locate some that are not so rough but that would have upset the car in the past and try them. I'll find some big parking lot somewhere and try lifting during hard cornering and see if the rear still wants to come around like it used to (not expecting miracles here but I'm really much more impressed with the stock suspension now).
Summary for those who made it this far. All of Paul's products have performed as advertised. Each product made an incremental improvement in the reduction of body flex/wiggle and putting them all together is really impressive. If I was a broker I give this a definite "Buy" rating.
Edited for length
Well, I got the Body Brace on Wednesday delivered by UPS. Thursday drags on eternally at work, as I want to get home and install my new toy. Finally get home, open the box (excellent packaging, BTW - no way that this thing was getting hurt in transit) and read the instructions. Twice. Not because Paul's instructions are not clear, but I used to be a computer consultant, and have long learned the advantages of reading thing twice.
I got the tools out that were listed on the installation instructions. I did NOT take any pictures of the installation. However, I find that the instructions are well written enough so as not to require them - it goes really fast. I just needed to jack up the front of the car and place it on the jackstands, and was able to get the installation done in about 40 minutes. (I will note that I took my time and did not rush).
My installation (on a '00 2.3) required that I loosen the rear Strong-Strut nuts to position the body brace - it did NOT need the extra washer as a shim (the instructions indicate that it might) but I just needed the 'wiggle room' on the rear of the brace to get it placed correctly and snug to the chassis. This was the only 'gotcha' that was listed in the instructions that I had to deal with. So, in a nutshell - installation is a breeze.
Driving impressions: Took a cross between my usual morning and evening commute. This gave me some freeway, some curves, some crappy pavement. Plus I have driven this route for over a year - so I am familiar with how the car acts upon it.
Stability is increased DRAMATICALLY. The whole car tracks as a complete unit. The only thing I think would make this more stable would be to go buy a Coupe or add a full roll cage. The suspension now has a solid platform from which to work. The mid-car shimmy is gone. Larger irregularities still can jiggle your rearview mirror a tad, but no where near what it does without the Body-Brace. To quell some of the worries I noted on the board about the 'weight issue' - while you are looking at about 38 lbs for the body/butt combo the power transfer to the ground seems to be improved, as you are no longer torquing the chassis and the rear end sticks much better. I have no 0-60 times, it just feels that it hooks up better
and it definitely corners better. If you live anywhere near any twisties, this is THE upgrade for you. The car tracks like it is on rails. I was going through the curves 10-15mph faster that usual, with no additional effort. The previous drama in stock form, waiting for the rear to hook with the front, is GONE. Front and rear now communicate with each other at the same time.
I will attempt to get in a canyon run over the weekend, to really wring it out - these are just initial thoughts/ramblings. Feel free to e-mail any questions (I will check over the weekend and answer as best I can) pertaining to this upgrade. But I can tell you one thing now:
Finally in and working well..... Bumps - 1) low speed (low amplitude and/or frequency) bumps are now taken with aplomb. No jarring, no noise -
the car acts exactly like a well-constructed sedan. 2) high speed bumps are still harsh, but hey, it's a sports car. Although hard, the cars reacts to
high speed bumps more solidly. Handling - I didn't realize the compromising I had to make before the brace. Before the brace, you would initiate the
turn-in, which was a little imprecise. Then, the front end would lean and take a set into the turn. Then, the rear end would lurch into its set and
you could take the turn. Any mid-course corrections would start the process all over again. Understeer wasn't a problem, but the transition back to
neutral was abrupt. Oversteer was abrupt and hard to modulate, although the transition back to neutral was gradual and manageable. These were all
observations made at NHIS. Although I haven't taken the car to the track yet, I can tell that after the brace, 1) turn-in is much more precise. It
almost feels like the steering is over boosted compared to turn-in without the brace. 2) The entire car leans and takes a set as one piece. This
makes initial turn-in and mid-course corrections very easy. I didn't realize how hard I was working in the corners before... 3) Understeer is
very easy to modulate, and the transition back to neutral is less harsh (probably due to the entire car reacting as one piece). 4) Oversteer is
very easy to transition into and out of, and is very easy to manage. I'm sure this is due to elimination of the abrupt set of the rear, which causing
a dynamic overshoot of side loading. Finally - acceleration. Before the brace, there was significant rear end squat, which most people do not like,
but which I found good for traction (my M is supercharged). For some reason, squat is much reduced, as is the traction. This makes the car more
manageable at cruising or highway speeds, but increases the shock loading of the tires at launch and at gear changes. I will have to adjust my launch
technique to compensate. Sorry to be long-winded, but I figured I could provide you with some very informed observations due to my experience and resources. The over and understeer trials were done in a large parking lot as the track was not available, but the results would be even better at the track due to the smoother surface. Overall, I am very pleased with the brace. It will make track days very easy and pleasurable. I had NO idea I was working so hard through the turns before... It will make impromptu grudge races and track launches more difficult, but the trade-off in solidity and precision in the turns is well worth it.
JasM on 2002-11-12 at 11:44:24
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