We dug into ASR's sway bar kit and found a well thought out and impressively constructed setup. We were especially taken with the high-quality Aurora spherical bearing end links and CNC machined everything else it includes, from the bushing brackets and end link braces to the sub-frame brace. That brace is a key advantage to ASR's kit; it attempts to tackle a problem that companies have had in outfitting the EJ Civic with an aftermarket sway bar: sub-frame tear-out.
|With the sub-frame brace installed and looking from the side (almost looking down the LCA) you can see the sub-frame sandwich, the sub-frame wall looking like the thinnest layer. The ASR brace spreads the load out over a greater area to prevent the bar bracket from tearing the sub-frame.|
In the past, if you wanted to rig up a rear stabilizer bar to this generation Civic, many companies just used stamped and bent steel brackets that secured the bushings to the sub-frame via holes that were already there for the factory bar. Unfortunately many learned this was not an optimal arrangement, especially for cars that saw repeated track duty or high-performance use; what seemed to be happening is the sub-frame metal was fatiguing at the bracket points, causing the brackets to get torn out of the sub-frame. To prevent this, companies recommended welding the brackets in place (instantly making the upgrade more than a backyard job for most).
ASR's approach sandwiches the sub-frame in between two machined plates, which spreads the load out over a greater area and ostensibly prevents the pivot bracket from tearing the sub-frame. This also allows you to run stiffer sway bar options (ASR makes two thicknesses), and we surmise the sub-frame brace also acts like a lower tie bar and helps stiffen the chassis at the suspension pickup points.
|The buff sub-frame brace and its hardware allow for more aggressive sway bar options and probably also acts like a lower tie bar to help stiffen the chassis at the suspension pick up points.|
|Installing the sub-frame brace involves employing existing holes for the factory sway bar and the LCA pivot bolt. Before anything is permanently torqued down the roll bar and its bushings and brackets are bolted up.|
Our 1997 Civic EX was not originally equipped with a sway bar; however, a few years back we installed a factory Si unit that was 13mm in diameter, which came off for this upgrade along with the factory bushings, end links and remaining hardware. Replacing the Si bar will be the 24mm piece in ASR's kit, and further down the road we will also be testing a 32mm bar the company offers.
|The ends of the bar are connected to the Skunk2 LCAs, and the Aurora end links are height adjustable so that you can adjust any preload out of the sway bar.|
Like the front bar, the rear stabilizer install was fairly straightforward, utilizing the factory sway bar holes in the sub-frame as well as the pivot bolt for the lower control arms. The sub-frame brace is bolted on first using the provided ASR hardware, and then the bar is installed, secured first to the brace via bushings and then the end links connected to the LCAs. The end links are height adjustable to adjust any preload out of the sway bars, which also helps when corner weighting the car. Additionally, two holes on the sway bar blade allow for different stiffness settings.
|We installed ASR's 24mm bar but will be testing the 32 later, both an improvement over the 13mm Civic Si bar we had in there before. Having a thicker, stiffer rear bar increases the overall roll stiffness of the chassis, which is equivalent to increasing the spring rate by a couple hundred in/lbs.|
Our work at installation now gets followed by a regimen just as critical: tuning. We have to hammer out the proper handling settings that work best with all the toys we just installed, and luckily for us that involves seat time – but not before we get the power plant sorted out. Stick around for a lot more!