Cusco Center Power Brace and Strut Brace

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Accessories and Modifications' started by HI MPG, Apr 10, 2010.

  1. HI MPG

    HI MPG Active Member

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    As a Prius owner I try to be efficient with my driving, but every once in a while, I like to push the envelope a bit. Owning the package IV with the SRP, there definitely is some flexing to the chassis, probably even more so than the non-sunroof Prius. I could definitely feel the chassis flexing driving over bumps especially with the sunroof open. The car also feels a bit unsettled when pushed around corners.
    After swapping out the stock 15s with 17s, the handling improved, but now I could definitely feel the chassis flex more (measured by "seat of pants"... sorry, I don't have the technical tools to provide accurate measurements). In addition, I could hear more rattles and squeaks, even more with the sunroof open. I figure I could reinforce the chassis with some braces. So, I bit the bullet and ordered some Cusco braces... Searched on the official Cusco website and found the local So. Cal distributor: EDO Performance. Ordered the Center Power Brace and Strut Tower Brace (more on this last piece in a bit). I paid EDO Performance to install the parts as I didn't have the time and patience to do it myself.

    Center Power Brace

    Unlike the brace available from Tanabe, this is a four point brace. The Prius already has a stock two point brace, so I didn't see the Tanabe brace providing that much more chassis strengthening. Installation was very quick and easy; less than 15 minutes for them. I believe Venom installed this part himself (documented in a separate post), so this part is easily DIY if you have the time and tools. The part looks clean and is very flush to bottom of chassis.

    Strut Tower Brace

    Disclaimer: this part is actually made for the JDM Prius, meaning that it's designed to fit a RHD Prius. The metal bracing at the base of the windshield has to be removed to install the part. Installation took a good 1.5 hours. The part does fit and looks very clean, but... it impedes on the placement of the brake fluid reservoir. The JDM Prius has this reservoir on the opposite side of the chassis, thus the part fits that chassis perfectly. I have the reservoir temporarily secured to the engine bay with some zip ties right now. I asked the shop manager if Cusco plans on designing a brace for LHD Prius, but he said that there is no demand right now. EDO can design and fit a custom brace to reattach the reservoir permanently to the bay at an additional cost. I didn't have the time for them to complete this part of the installation.

    Performance
    The braces really ties the chassis together. Chassis flex is minimal, and the rattles and creaks are non-existent, even with the sunroof open. The Prius zips around corners now and feels securely planted. There's a right hand banked transition with a slight dip mid-corner on my commute to work. With the stock 15s, rounding it at 70mph takes some serious concentration. With the 17s, I could push 74, but the Prius is unsettled and flexes when it hits the dip. After the bracing, 74mph is easily achieved and the car feels securely planted to the road. The braces definitely provides the Prius with that "fun factor."

    The goods:
    EDO Performance
    EDO Performance

    EDO Performance's website: EDO Performance.com - Performance Parts for Subaru, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, from Zero Sports, HKS, GReddy, Defi, Tomei, Jun Auto and More
    I don't mean to shamelessly plug EDO, but the guys at the shop were extremely nice and very helpful. I worked with Yohann (who I'm guessing is the owner/manager), and Edwin (the shop manager). If you are looking to strengthen the Prius chassis, I would definitely recommend.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. deltron3030

    deltron3030 New Member

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    I really like that 4 point brace. I wonder how much more stiff the chassis is with it over the 2 point.
     
  3. Creaky

    Creaky Still motorin...

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    I actually have the Cusco 4 point brace on order in addition to the Tanabe 2 point brace. The Tanabe unit is installed further up towards the front of the car so both can be installed at the same time.

    I figured I can install both of these on my own, and aside from replacing the stock brace with the Cusco unit, nothing else needs to be removed (ie: underbody shroud).

    Once the Tanabe Strut Tower Brace for US Market is available to be sold here, I'm placing my order as well. As stated in the other Cusco thread, it's expected to be available by summer.


     
  4. deltron3030

    deltron3030 New Member

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    creaky, let us know when you get these parts going. I'd love to see em both on
     
  5. blueumbrella

    blueumbrella Member of Prius Regeneration

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    Can you share information on the Tanabe 2 point brace- vendor/website? Thanks!
     
  6. HI MPG

    HI MPG Active Member

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  7. blueumbrella

    blueumbrella Member of Prius Regeneration

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  8. blueumbrella

    blueumbrella Member of Prius Regeneration

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    I ordered the Sustec two point under brace and will install it and the Cusco 4 point brace when it arrives.
     
  9. Superdrol

    Superdrol Member

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    You can put both on the 2 point and 4 point ? That'd be interesting to see.
     
  10. blueumbrella

    blueumbrella Member of Prius Regeneration

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    I will try to take pictures and post after I get them installed. See Creaky's post prior.
     
  11. Creaky

    Creaky Still motorin...

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    Re: Tanabe 2-point brace

    Well, finally got the Tanabe 2-point brace and I just installed it. Took perhaps including getting the jack, stands and ratchet out of the basement, all told about 20 minutes. It was almost as easy as replacing my Halogens with HIDS.

    In another two weeks I should have the Cusco 4-pointer in and installed.

    It's funny, I was looking over the pictures of the C-One braces and if I'm correct, I believe the Tanabe 2-point brace can fit into the two center holes of the second forward 4-point brace from C-One. Anyway, I'll have to ask sc24vr6 if he can get an inside diameter of those holes the next time he has his car up on a lift.

    Back to the Tanabe unit. Subjectively, I can feel a difference in driving feel now that I have the 2-point brace on. Mind you, this is with the stock 15" rims and Continental ContiContact or ContiSport tires on. (I forgot which; I tossed the stock tires Bridgestone Ecopia's a long time ago when I got these tires.)

    Let's just say that the steering is much more responsive. I think the word that came to mind while I was driving down some switchbacks earlier was 'sharper'. Personally, I never thought there was anything wrong with my steering previously, but now that I have this brace on, I would describe the steering action prior to have been a tad sloppy, which I guess was from the body flexing.

    We'll see if the Mrs. notices the difference in steering/handling when she next drives the car.

    I'll next install my Cusco 4-point brace (Center Power Brace) when it comes in. I'll take pictures then. Afterwards, I'll toss back on my 17" rims and see how the whole thing jives together. The last add-on in mind for the year will be the Tanabe Strut Tower Brace once they release it here in the US. I think someone mentioned Tanabe is slated to release the STB this summer.
     
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  12. HI MPG

    HI MPG Active Member

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    Thanks for sharing your experience. I commend you for installing the parts yourself. I just wish I had the time myself to do so... still waiting and wanting to install the fog lights I recently purchased.

    As for your subjective review on the handling, I agree that the braces do make the handling "sharper." Like you, I didn't find the Prius' handling that awful (as compared to other Toyota's I driven) but it needed that little extra to make the drive more enjoyable.

    Once you get all the braces installed and swap to your 17s, you will definitely feel the handling difference.
     
  13. jm1515

    jm1515 New Member

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  14. Prius Happy

    Prius Happy New Member

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    I find it weird... the 2 point on that brace is bolted where the Tanabe originally had it. But the other two is bolted to those brackets. Maybe it's just me but it seems like those two brackets doesn't seem like a good strong point.

    Shouldn't the last two mounted more on the chasis rather than those two brackets? it seems like it's useless for the most part.
     
  15. Thai

    Thai Prius Neophyte

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    Stupid question...would installing this brace somehow affect how the car structure responds in a crash (crush zones, etc.)?? This brace does not seem overly complex nor expensive that Toyota engineers would skip on this IF it made this much of a difference, esp. given how much engineering and computer wizardry that goes into designing these cars.
     
  16. HI MPG

    HI MPG Active Member

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    The Tanabe under brace is actually mounted further "up" the chassis towards the front axle. The Cusco brace mounts in the middle and towards the back of the chassis. It's not so much mounted to the bracket as it secured to the chassis by the bolts on the bracket.
    As for chassis integrity, here's my response to that question asked by another member:
    PriusChat Forums - HI MPG's Album: Chassis Modifications - Picture
     
  17. Creaky

    Creaky Still motorin...

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    Should've gotten my Cusco unit today, but I didn't hear the UPS guy at the door. Anyways, I'm uploading a picture depicting what it would look like once I have this piece in along with my Tanabe unit.

    Thanks to the original poster of this picture. I think it was Paradox who originally upped it. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
     

    Attached Files:

  18. Creaky

    Creaky Still motorin...

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    To respond to your inquiry about the braces in question interfering with the crush zones in the event of an accident, IMHO I would say I don't think so. Primarily, if you're referring to the front and rear crush zones, the position of the braces would negate any immediate interference as the Tanabe unit is behind the front tires and the Cusco unit is ahead of the rear tires. Look at the picture in post #17 and see for yourself.

    As to your second comment, I believe it boils down to cost. These cars are all engineered with the masses in mind. Take for example the stock 2-point brace installed that came with the car. if it costs Toyota $1 to make, for the past years run of 200,000 Prii, that cost them $200k approximately. Looking at the brace, a piece of cheap stamped metal, I can easily imagine it only cost $1 each. In comparing the OEM brace to the two aftermarket units, it's like comparing a Bic ballpoint to a Mont Blanc fountain pen; they all can get the job done, just one better than the other. Back to cost - Now let's say the Tanabe 2-point brace and the Cusco Center Power Brace total cost $6 (for simplicity's sake), that would be another $1 million they'd have spent on last years run. And to the majority of drivers, they wouldn't have noticed the difference, meaning the value added wouldn't have made a difference.

    Besides, a Prius wasn't built with handling prowess as a priority. These are merely my opinions, yours may differ...
     
  19. Creaky

    Creaky Still motorin...

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    Deltron, Just tossed on the Cusco Brace and took the car for a spin. Definitely more planted feel. Almost no body creaks from chassis flex coming from the back anymore. The fun factor has definitely been upped incrementally. Now all I need is a Strut Tower Brace and I'll be done. On the drive into work later, we'll see how the car handles on choppy and rutted roads with the occasional pothole or two. When I can get the car up on a lift, i'll take pics. Otherwise it looks exactly like the modified pic I posted in post #17. Oh, and you can feel the suspension working even more since the body doesn't take up any slack due to lack of body flex.

    ---

    On my way into work tonite, I found that the rough sections of the drive didn't make the car feel like a rattle bucket anylonger. To the ears, it's no longer painful. And tracking remained neutral even on rough sweepers which would normally have the car squirming in the back. I'm quite pleased so far with the subtle changes in driving characteristics.
     
  20. HI MPG

    HI MPG Active Member

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    If you like the handling now with the Power Brace, you will definitely enjoy it more with the Strut Tower Brace.. more responsive and less body roll.
     
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