Flyin' Miata Strut Brace

August, 1996 - Product of the Month

[7/22/2002] Reviewed by: Michael Thomas -

Black shock tower supports with a polished shock tower bar.

I was pleased with the fit and finish of the kit, installation took me about 20 minutes. Cowl shake was reduced, but definitely still there. Steering response seems to be improved also. I wasn't able to adjust my Koni with the adjustment knob with the shock tower installed but a 3/16" socket wrench works just fine. I also had to relocate my alarm horn. Nothing big, I just extended the wire and placed it a little back in the engine bay, close the the firewall. I also bought the hood prop kit that works with the STB.

Hopefully it was worth the price. There are a lot cheaper bars available but I chose FM because most of there products come highly recommended.

Under 30 minutes to remove completely

[7/22/2002] Reviewed by: Joe Boydston -

Applicable to: '90 - '97 1.6 liter

Great customer service. Product shipped promptly and was exactly as expected. Very quick install with socket wrench and allen wrench. Makes a difference to those of us who notice every detail of how our Miata handles. Outside font-end "lifts" less on turns. I will be adding sways as well. Brings out inadequacies of stock wheels and tires.

Under 30 minutes to remove completely

[5/7/2002] Reviewed by: Eric Derr -

Applicable to: '90 - '97 '99 + 1.6 liter 1.8 liter

FM Strut Brace to fit over F.I. units

The reaplcement of my Freedom Design went smoothly, kept my car nice and stiff.

Great fit and finish, the only STB I would recommend for placement on an F.I.'d car.

Under 30 minutes to remove completely

[3/28/2002] Reviewed by: Matthew Robertson -

Applicable to: '90 - '97 1.8 liter

The Flyin Miata strut brace is constructed with a thick polished aluminum bar that spans between the black powdercoated steel tower braces.

The instructions were very comprehensive and clear.The only snag was that I forgot to put the brackets on the bolts for the accessory hood prop rod and had to take it apart again.You need the hood prop kit if you have a JR CAI or RB CAI. (You will need an 8mm allen wrench for the brace bolts.}

This brace really does help on uneven road surfaces.The steering seems a little sharper also. Very solid and worth the money.

Under 30 minutes to remove completely

[3/6/2001] Reviewed by: Bill Mercer -

Applicable to: '99 +

Update: I sent the brace back to Flyin' Miata to have it replaced, since I put a few gouge marks in the brace when I bent it. They were a pleasure to deal with and promptly sent me a new brace at no charge. This brace fit perfectly and it was noted by them that they probably forgot to prebend the original bar they shipped me(necessary to fit the M2 models). Very happy with the solid feel of the brace when driving, for I really noticed the missing brace during the period I sent it back.

Under 30 minutes to remove completely

[1/10/2001] Reviewed by: Bill Mercer -

Applicable to: '99 +

A high quality polished strut brace. Features strong three point mounts that attach to the brace. Bar is adjustable for length.

The only problem I had with the installation was that the brace came a little too close to the intake manifold. I went ahead and bent the bar a little more in a vise to raise it approximately 1/2". Unfortunately, I put some nice gouge marks on the bar. I immediately felt a difference as soon as I left the driveway. The car is basically brand new and even so it used to shudder a little over the driveway curb. No longer! Feels considerably more solid. Driving the car around the neighborhood I noticed that I didn't notice the bumps as much anymore. The car used to shudder slightly over the bad roads down here in New Orleans. Now it simply continues in a straight line over them with a single solid thump as it rolls over each bump. Taking the car out on the highway, I found any tendency to shudder, and the slight 65mph shimmy, completely gone. Also the steering feels a bit sharper and the feedback is improved.

Overall the bar is of high quality and performs as promised. However, '99-'00 owners expect the bar to have clearance issues with the engine and require some bending. Suggestion to Flyin' Miata is to put a little more bend in the bar for the '99-'00 models so that it will clear the worst case (the engines that sit the highest). In my case, bending the bar so it sat 1/2" higher was required. I may call Flyin' Miata to see if I can get a replacement bar.

Under 30 minutes to remove completely

[8/3/2000] Reviewed by Anonymous

Applicable to '90 - '97 1.6 liter 1.8 liter

Strut Tower Brace

What shimmy? Oh that shimmy! Didn't know what all the fuss was about until I installed the brace, the 65 mph shake is all but gone. Front end operates more like tight unit and it feels like steering response has also improved. Nice quality as would be expected from DA, easy install with exceptional returns.

Under 30 minutes to remove completely

[6/17/2000] Reviewed by Lanny Chambers -

Applicable to '90 - '97 1.6 liter 1.8 liter

I have nothing to add about this product's description or installation, except that mine fit perfectly without grinding or other metalmongery, requiring only threading the cruise control cable through the left tower and repositioning the diagnostic connector slightly on its bolt. Since I also have a JR CAI, I added the well-designed PBC hood lift at the same time.

I was initially quite skeptical about the need for a shock tower brace on a car with double-wishbone suspension rather than MacPherson struts - it made little engineering sense to me. But my brother had installed a used, generic STB on his Miata, and I was impressed by the reduction in cowl shake over rough pavement. He also has a HC rollbar that tightened up the rear as well. Cowl shake makes me crazy, and I'm not known for slowing down much for road surface conditions. I expect my Miata to deal with them and get on with it (which is why I won't lower it). So, I decided to see what a STB would do for me.

After researching the alternatives, I ordered the FM brace because its bar is bent much less severely than the generic competition, appearing to offer significantly greater resistance to compression. That's its job, right? Of course, that implies taller mounting towers, but on receipt I was more than satisfied they were up to the task very solid and well triangulated. The FM is not as cheap as some of the others, but it looked like it might actually work. I wasn't looking for engine-bay eye candy.

In brief, I was amazed at the difference. 95% of the cowl shake just disappeared, and that which remains is of much lower amplitude and duration, and only over the most awful bumps. I'd gotten my money's worth right there. But wait, there's more...

There's also 95% less steering kickback, on things like bridge expansion joints in the middle of a corner (think interchange flyovers) and pothole patches. What's left is plenty of road feel, perhaps more than got through my power steering before. Turn-in might be a tad better, also front stick, but I'm not sure about those yet. It feels...different. Also, the back end now feels slightly wooly without the cowl shake to mask and distract from it. Bottom line my Miata now feels like a different, much more solid car, without being any less tossable or fun. The front is more solid than my brother's Miata now, and he's not yet replaced his shocks. A keeper, for sure.

Before you compare my experiences to yours, know that I have a red '94C with FM swaybars and Koni shocks set full soft, RE71s on OEM alloys, and a moderately aggressive alignment. I doubt you will feel as much improvement from any STB if your shocks are OEM and/or worn, since my Konis' increased compression damping magnifies bumps a bit compared to stockers (especially worn-out stockers). I also guess that a cheap STB of lesser stiffness would not work as well on my car, but might be satisfactory on a Miata with less compression damping. But stiffer is always better. Any differences in springs or shocks would be apples to oranges here. Finally, owners of 1.6 cars or STO and others without full chassis braces should add those first.

Does this product work as well on a Miata that isn't red? I haven't a clue... -)



Under 5 minutes to remove

Reviewed by: Kevin Conville -

This is a brace which is supposed to stiffen the body of the front car by tying the two shock wells together with a bar.

The brace came promptly from The Dealer Alternative. Finish was generally good, though the aluminum bar had  some rippling of the surface where it had been bent. Neither tower would fit the left side because of interference  with the cars sheet metal. I solved the problem by grinding about .050" off the edge of the base for a length of  1 1/2". After doing this I touched up the raw metal with gloss black spray paint, a perfect match. This was not a bolt on item.

I have my doubts as to the merits of any "strut" brace (at least on the 99) as I cannot quantify any improvement in  handling or perceived stiffness. To my way of thinking, the only way a brace like this can improve the stiffness of the chassis is if the load is directly in line with the bar. It should have virtually no effect when the the load is vertical. This is partly because where the bar meets the tower there is a single bolt that, although tight, will act as a pivot. Other than an appearance add or feeding some psychological need to do it because others have, I wouldn't   recommend it.

Reviewed by: Mykael Freeman -

A polished brace that runs between the front strut towers to reduce flex.

Car used: 1993 Miata B-pkg

I have waited for a year before I took to putting my comments. In short, it's great! The price is below average, the quality above average, and everything needed was included. I also had them send the hood-prop relocator as I have the JR-CAI on my car. This went together on the installation with no problems.

Total time for installation was under 15 minutes from box to car to hood closed and driving! Open box, remove two-each nuts from the tops of the shock towers, place the brackets over the shock towers, tighten nuts down. Yes, there is plenty of thread left over! I did have to unclip the Diagnostic unit (just put your finger under and push the tab) and bend it out slightly with a pair of pliers then simply stuck it back on. No problems! The cruise control was easy to thread through and has never posed any problems nor required adjustment. Make sure you torque the nuts back down properly! Finally, install the cross brace with assorted pieces for the hood-prop (if applicable) and you are on your way. However, I did make one minor goof and didn't read the part about reclining the bar towards the firewall.. This led to the passenger side rubbing slightly under the hood. My fault, not theirs!

Experiance after a year, including driving several stock, near stock, and similarly modified Miata's. 1) it works! 2) see #1! The most noticeable effect you will find is when you are taking long steady-state corners or decreasing radius corners. The need for little constant corrections is nearly banished! There is no more fidgeting as the forces see-saw the strut towers back and forth. In the fast transitions you are not as likely to notice, however the car still feels a bit tighter and it *feels* like the turn-in is slightly improved.

This was the first modification I made to the car and I did so after taking a base-line run down a tight windy road. The difference was apparent to a friend who drove the car and who had NOT been told I put the piece on.

On the "Buy Again" list I would definitely put this one down!

Under 30 minutes to remove completely

Reviewed by: Peter G. Whelan -

Front transverse brace tying the front suspension together

Ordered product over the Net. Received a PHONE CALL telling me it would be shipped in a few days. How's THAT for customer service? Showed up about a week later. Very impressive finish and quality. Took about 20 minutes to install. Passenger side mount went on in no time, requiring removal  and replacement of strut bolts. Driver's side took a bit longer, had to rethread cruise control cable through brace mount and move diagnotic plugs out of the way. Brace also required a bit of grinding to seat properly. and shaving off some rubberized coating around the strut. Tightened up to recommended specs, allen bolt took an 8mm wrench instead of a 7 as instructions said. First time around the block, noticed a  loud "pop!" evertime I cornered hard. Went away after 10 or so miles.

Conclusion: It works as advertised. Body is definitely stiffer, shows how much the car needs new shocks
that's next on the list. Recommended.

Under 30 minutes to remove completely

Reviewed by: Max Hong -

A polished brace that ties the shock towers together.

Overall a straight forward installation (get a set of allen wrenches ready!!!). But I had a problem with the bracket that holds the diagnogstics port. The bracket on my '96 (is it only on the '96 model?) is mounted by the shock tower on the driver's side and it gets in the way of the brace. So I removed the bracket and secured the port to the base of the brace with zip ties.

With the brace in place, the car does not seem to "shutter" under bumps as much. Plus the steering response increased a little. Also Dealer Alternative threw in a free mouse pad for free.
Under 30 minutes to remove completely

Reviewed by: Brian Walters -

It took me about 30 minutes to install in my 99 with nothing but a 14mm socket. It looks pretty good and it makes the front end feel tighter. I can't quantify the difference, but the car does seem to handle better with it on.

Under 30 minutes to remove completely

Reviewed by: Robert Allen -

Front Strut Tower Brace for Miatas. Advertised as a bolt-in.

I must be the only person in the world for whom this was not a straight bolt in :-), but it's not the first time. Whether the product is a bolt-in or not depends on manufacturing tolerances from the factory. In my case it was necessary to spend about 20 minutes carefully removing some overlapping sheet metal with a dremel tool. I could have gone faster, but I don't like rushing work on cars. The metal I had to be removed was in the same area which the stock instructions indicate may contain RTV sealer. After removing the metal and the RTV the kit was indeed a boltin. One other thing - the instructions indicate a different (lesser) torque spec for the strut tower nuts vs. the Mazda shop manual. I used the instructions that came with the brace, and am keeping an eye on the nuts.

I did the brace at the same time I did the JR anti-roll ("sway") bars so it's not possible to be accurate about what percentage change in handling is attributable to the brace alone. However I know what stiffer bars do, and there appears to be a significant improvement *in addition to that* from installing the brace. The car no longer `shakes it's head' on hard cornering and accelleration. At $192 from Dealer Alternative it's not cheap, but I think it's worthwhile. It makes the car feel more glued to the road, and the car handles better on broken pavement. I recommend it.

Reviewed by: John Palazzolo -

It's a polished aluminum bar that ties the front strut towers together to tighten up the front end.

After a few phone calls to research, it seemed to me that the Flyin'' Miata brace was the best value on the market. It was shipped quickly to me from Bill Cardell at the Dealer Alternative and I installed it in less than 20 minutes on a Saturday morning(less 30 minutes to run to Sears for a new set of Allan wrenches!). It just attaches with the 2 bolts per side on top of the shock towers(have some touch up paint handy, you'll probably have to scrape a bit & don't want anything to rust). The bar itself is nicely polished & adjusts at either end to get a tight fit. Just mount the brackets, loosely attach one end of the bar, adjust it to size, secure it to the other side & tighten it all's that simple.

The Flyin' Miata Strut Tower Brace made a noticeable difference in the feel of my '94 R-Pkg, especially over bumps & RR crossings. I've been told that the early bars weren't polished, but mine is & it looks great in the engine compartment! And even though Bill had to raise his price on it, save yourself $50 and buy it direct from him at Dealer Alternative, I've seen it advertised in other catalogs for $225! I'm really pleased with the bar & I think you will be too.

Reviewed by: Jim Hemphill -

The Dealer Alternative Flyin' Miata Strut Brace is a high-quality, light-weight and extremely strong brace that significantly improved the handling of my car.

My white '93 C package came factory-equipped with the rear sub-frame brace. To improve freeway handling, particularly high speed on and off ramp cornering, I had previously installed both Brainstorm's cockpit and front sub-frame braces. The strut brace enhanced the package, effectively adding structural rigidity and reducing body flex. The car handles much better during hard braking and cornering. It also seems to handle the innumerable repairs that are common to Houston freeways much more effectively, particularly at higher speeds.

The kit, a one-inch brace bar made of high-quality Swedish aluminum, two brackets, and assorted hardware, can be installed in less than an hour.

Fit and finish are very good, better than some factory parts. The brace bar polishes to a near chrome-like shine with a little metal polish and elbow grease. I used Mother's Aluminum Polish and think that the polished bar enhances the appearance of the engine compartment.

Some Miata owners believe that strut braces will not improve the performance of front engine, rear wheel drive cars. This is not the case. Every factory authorized Mustang and Camaro tuner includes strut braces on their package cars. I suspect that they see the same performance benefits I experienced with my Miata.

The brace can be purchased with an ingenious hood prop kit. The inexpensive kit replaces the factory prop, and bolts to the strut brace brackets. The hood lifts higher than with the factory prop making it much easier to work under the hood. The kit is a particularly good upgrade if your car is equipped with a Jackson Racing's Cold Air Induction System. It completely replaces the Jackson hood prop modification/relocation, eliminating the thing I liked least about the Cold Air Induction System on my car.

If you send me your e-mail address, I'll send you a picture; in either GIF, IPG, or BMP format, of the brace and hood prop.

Update by Jimmy Hemphill

It has been a year since I installed my Dealer Alternative strut brace. It has proven to be the best after-market purchase I have made to date.

I have continued to modify my car's suspension, installing Dealer Alternative springs, Tokico HP shocks, MSW 15 inch wheels and Pirelli P700z 195 x 50 tires. My car can out corner just about any car, including my friends Corvettes and Porsches.

I've received requests for strut brace pictures from all over the world, have made several great e-mail friends, and have greatly enjoyed being part of

I understand the strut bar now comes polished to a chrome like finish and a chrome hood prop is now available (I have one, and I love it).

This component was a catalyst for my ongoing Miata love affair. I highly recommend it for almost any application.

If you would like to see pictures of the strut brace check out my website:

Back to Product Reviews 20 August, 2002