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Neuspeed front upper strut tower bar

One of the easiest and least expensive handling improvements you can make on your car are strut tower bars or braces. These bars mount to key points on the vehicle's chassis to prevent the chassis from flexing under load (ie. cornering). This type of bar does not affect the movement of the suspension, per se (as anti-roll or stabilizer bars do), but instead they prevent the suspension's chassis mounting points from flexing, allowing the suspension to follow its intended path, resulting in better grip and control.

Pic: Neuspeed Strut Tower Brace The front upper strut tower bar is one of the more popular aftermarket bars to install, as well as being found stock on quite a few performance oriented vehicles, such as the new Camry Solara, the R-2 performance version of the last generation RX-7, and the 1999 Honda Civic Si (SiR in Canada). It goes underhood, between the two suspension strut towers, and over the engine.

The rear upper strut tower bar is not quite as popular, probably due to its location across the trunk, thereby reducing useable space and/or obstructing the pass through from the trunk to the cabin on vehicles so-equipped.

The rear lower brace connects the lower mounting points of the suspension, under the rear of the vehicle. The Acura Integra Type R comes stock with both a front upper strut tower bar and a rear lower bar (along with other chassis stiffening measures).

The Neuspeed front upper bar is one of the more popular on the market. Its solid four-point design is fairly unique. The four point bar braces across a larger area, thereby stiffening in all directions.

Installation on the 5th generation Civic is a snap, and only involves loosening five bolts: the four upper wishbone chassis mounting bolts, and a wiring bracket on the driver's side. The last bolt is for easier installation. When the bolts for the upper wishbone are off, there is the potential for the upper wishbone to drop out of the mounting holes. Therefore, the easiest way to do the install is to get a friend to hold up the upper wishbone using a longish crowbar or other suitable bar (very little pressure is needed), and do one side at a time.

Due to the non-adjustable nature of the Neuspeed bar, it can be a tight fit. In my case, it only took a little pressure to wrestle the bar in place, but I have heard of cases where a rubber mallet was needed to force it onto the mounting studs. In any case, it is wise to be careful to not inadvertently damage anything in the engine bay, and to not damage the threads on the mounting studs. (Note: on the 6th generation Civics the Neuspeed bar mounts on the upper shock mounts, not the upper wishbone mounting points.) Re-tighten all five bolts, and you are on your way. It is a good idea to re-torque the bolts a few days afterward to be safe.

Performance-wise the front upper bar allows for improved grip. This was realized both with the aftermarket 15" wheels and Toyo Proxes FZ4 tires (not the grippiest tires on earth), and a set of Firestone Firehawks (possibly the slipperyest tires on earth, next to Honda/Acura OEM XGT V4s) on 14" rims.

At a price of around $150 new, anyone who wants an improvement in handling should have a bar like this. It is cheap, easy to install, looks good (when the hood is open, of course), and works great.

Update: The SiR comes with a front upper strut tower brace stock (the same one found in the Civic Type R), so the Neuspeed one now graces the strut towers of HADA member Frankie's ride...