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H-Sport 19mm Rear Sway Bar Reviewed

Truth be told, I never had a problem with the handling on my Cooper S. The car felt great at delivery, and it felt REALLY great after installing the JCW Suspension kit. For the life of me I never expected to tinker with the suspension again. But of course what sounds logical never really makes sense to a MODaholic like myself, so after finishing every possible mod I had originally set out to do on my car (see my previous motoringfile article for all of those juicy details) I was just looking for something to play with. Enter: The Rear Sway Bar. So much has already been written about this extremely effective (and inexpensive) mod that I won’t bore you with reiterating it all. But for the uninitiated I will sum it up as probably the single best suspension mod you can perform. Dare I say, even more exhilarating than my coveted JCW Suspension kit. But first a little bit on the install…

Having had such a great experience with my pulley install, there was no other person I would even consider going to but Eric at Helix in Philadelphia. So once again I got up at the crack of dawn to beat all of the commuter traffic and motored on down from my home in NYC. Upon arriving there was Eric, all ready to go and awaiting my arrival with an H-Sport 19mm Rear Sway bar. Why the 19 vs. the 22 you might ask? Well after researching right here on MotoringFile as well as on NAM, I discovered that for my needs (spirited street driving…sometimes very spirited!) that the 19mm bar offered the best mix of performance and safety. The 22mm bars may be much more extreme, but the last thing i wanted was to make the car too twitchy or compromise any of the safety features built into the MINI. The final word came down from Eric himself who cautioned to always start conservatively and and then take advantage of the adjustability of the bar and just dial in more torsional force as desired later. (The bar comes with three settings: stiff, stiffer and stiffest. I rolled out in the middle setting – more on that in a moment.)

The install took about an hour and was punctuated by Eric’s usual brand of humor and relaxed attitude. At the same time, he was noticing things here and there which had nothing to do with the install, and darting away only to return with a bottle of something to correct something else he had noticed in the process. His attention to detail and the way he just does things without even asking really shows how much he cares about these cars, his customers, and the pride he takes in his work as well. I cannot recommend his work enough if you are lucky enough to live within range of the Helix garage in Philly. The install went by really quickly, but I had one question regarding the bar making noise. (In my research it seems that this is the most common concern with installing a mod such as this, and Eric was quick to give me the low-down.) The bar is greased during install and shouldn’t need another greasing for 24 months or so. Of course Eric offered to do it for free! So there – noise problem eradicated.

Now it was time to head home, and fortunately the rain which plagued my ride down had been replaced with sunny skies – and dry roads. I made sure to hit lots of exit ramps so I could really see what the bar does, and man does it DO what it DOES! The car just feels like it’s woken up from a nap! The bar only comes into play on turns – driving under normal conditions you won’t feel a thing. The ride feels the same. The car isn’t lower or higher. It all feels the way it felt prior to install. When you really feel it is in a high (or spirited) speed turn of any arc. The understeer inherent in the MINI’s engineering is simply gone. The car feels eager to rotate into turns and your confidence is vastly increased as a result of this. You really have to feel it to understand it. My original concern that the car might feel loose or twitchy was immediately assuaged. The car now feels much more like the formula 4 race cars i’ve driven at Skip Barber Racing at Limerock Park. It really is that noticeable. Similar to those formula cars as well, is the amount of input required to initiate a turn. With the Rear Sway Bar installed, I immediately noticed that the wheel required far less driver input to change the direction of the car. For me this is a real thrill as the feel of a race car is once again inched closer to. The car’s steering has a vastly increased sensitivity now, and I’m not sure that’s been conveyed as such in all the research I did prior to installing one in my own car. It’s a blast and a feeling which really lends itself to the vibe of the MINI.

Overall I couldn’t have asked for more. Yes, the JCW Suspension keeps the car nice and low and the spring rate is perfectly tuned to the car on which it’s installed. But adding a Rear Sway Bar is really the finishing touch. I would venture to say that given the choice to do it all again, I would have done the bar first – it’s just that much fun. The H-Sport 19mm was a breeze to install, has a proven record of reliability and seems pretty impervious to squeaking with it’s design. I highly recommend both the H-Sport and Helix on this one – it will literally change the way you drive your MINI…for the better.

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Written By: Drew

  • http://www.bancroftsonline.com Sean

    Great review. This really sums up the benefits of a rear sway bar nicely. Another reviewer described it as the car rotating from the middle…a difficult concept. It all makes sense once you drive a car with a larger rear sway. Definetly a great mod no matter what the brand of sway bar!

  • lTZMTOR

    NIce write up Drew.

    I’ve been thinking about doing this also. 19mm it is.

    One disaggreement… I’ve owned 2 MC’s and both had the stock suspension. On long high speed sweepers, like the one that transitions from the 134 to the 2 north here in California, It just feels light, not planted at anything above 100 so maybe this will help me rid that feeling.

    It’s probably just me.

  • Matthew

    So how much does this cost?

  • http://www.alldigitalnyc.com drew

    the cost with install and tax was about 300 dollars matthew.

  • agranger

    Equipment Cost: $100 to $250, depending on the bar and source Install: about an hour… maybe a bit more – $100

    If you have basic hand tools, a pair of jack stands, and you have some degree of ‘handiness’ this is definately a do-it-yourself kind of mod. We did 6 rear swaybar installs in my driveway a few weeks ago and I posted a video how-to on NAM.

  • JD7

    I was going back and forth on 19mm vs 22mm. I ordered a 19mm and then quickly had them ship me a 22mm instead. Now I am wondering if I made the right choice! I should have waited until I read this. Great review by the way.

  • Lee L

    Good review. When I installed mine (an Ireland Engineering adjustable)I also noticed the fact that even in city driving around normal turns (at MINI Speed of course ;) ) that the effects of the bar could be felt. Most reviews don’t really address this and concentrate on track performance instead. THe car just feels better .

  • Matthew

    Thanks Drew. Sounds like a good deal!

  • PeB

    Just a question, is the Alta rear sway bar 19mm the same ? Should be.

  • Jac

    great review. I am also planning on the 19mm bar for the street. I have spent time in twitchy cars, and for me, it really isn’t any fun. I spend more time worriing about if the rear is going to come around than enjoying the curves….

    YMMV!

  • http://Motoringfile.com Mark Hendrie

    Good review – I have never really considered this mod but now that I have read the above I like the sound of the improvement and will look into it.

  • http://www.alldigitalnyc.com drew

    thanks for the kind words everyone ; )

    just to reiterate, the car doesn’t feel twitchy at all with the h-sport 19mm set to the middle position. it feels a lot more like a race car though – and in the week i’ve had the mod i have thrown it into some serious twisties and never once felt the back end wanting to come around.

    cheers – drew

  • Jim Harris

    Hard to tell from the photo, but it looks like you used the middle hole, is that right? Therefore, you’ve taken a somewhat conservative route and opted for “half stiff.”

    I just chnaged my rear bar, the 22 mm Helix version, to fill stiff (hole closest to the bar). An autocross next weekend will tell me if this is optimal, but even this setting is not too stiff for the street. The car still feels fine and handles great.

    Cheers.

  • CooprSS

    I agree the BAR is a must, really transforms the car, but in my case:

    I have the Alta 22mm bar set on the soft setting and the car has never felt “Twitchy”. I am also running the M7 springs which lowers the car about an inch and adds about a degree or so negative camber to the rear wheels. The negative camber helps to plant the rear and you have to work hard to get the backend to even think about twitching. Don’t be afraid of 22mm bars, they can be great foe street usage if set up correctly.

    Just my .02.

    Bill

  • http://www.alldigitalnyc.com drew

    jim – i did indeed use the middle setting. along with my jcw suspension this feels just perfect.

  • Bzzz Bom

    I have the H-sport 19 mm rear sway bar, H-sport springs w/ lower rear camber arms and the Koni FSD shocks installed by Central Coast Coopers (MINI suspension specialist)in Oxnard, CA. In my opinion this is the ultimate set up for spirited street driving. Feel free to email me if you want discuss this set up. Great review!!!

  • EricR

    Jim Harris – careful with the full stiff. I got a 22MM and am quite happy with it on the ‘soft’ setting. Autocross is a good way to check on how it changes the handling, but remember that on the road you’ll likely be driving at higher speeds. It’s good for most people to work from soft to stiff gradually.

  • http://www.kurtcollins.com Kurt Collins

    I love my hollow 25.4 mm H Sport rear sway bar.Set at the middle setting, I can actually feather the rear of the car around certain ramps in the DC area. I had Eric also install my bar and your review/experience is a very accurate description of being at Helix!

  • Crashton

    I had a friend help me install the H-Sport 19mm on my 06 MCS. It’s a great addition to an already great car. My car has the stock suspension. Turn in is much sharper than it was before. When pushed very hard the car will still understeer, but those limits have been raised quite a bit. I had been running the bar on its stiffest setting. This wekend I did a track day & backed the bar off to the middle setting….just right for me. :-)

  • Daniel Chow

    What is the size of the stock factory rear bar?

  • Andrew

    I’ve personally watched in horror the effects of a sway bar adjusted to the hardest setting in the hands of a driver not accustomed to its affect on a Mini’s dynamics. 4 Minis went over the top of a left sweeping off camber crest at the same speed, 3 made it down the other side. The result was not pretty and the driver was extremely lucky to walk away from the accident which wrote off his car in the process.

    If you haven’t had the chance to try out the effects of a sway bar set at the hardest setting on say a skid pan, then I highly recommend you do not set it to the maximum setting.

  • Barry

    So, I’m wondering how much overlap there is between the 19-ish mm bars set to stiff and the larger 22-25 bars set to soft? I have no need for the stiff setting of a large bar, but wonder if the stiff setting of a 19 mm bar is enough of a delta over the stock MINI S bar…?

    -B

  • Dave

    This is the same bar I just installed. My MCS has the stocke sport suspension and I think this bar is the perfect addition. I personally think a larger bar on this setup would make the car too twitchy.

    The install was pretty easy and only took 2 hours for my fist time. I did need an extra pair of hands to push on the bar while I held the wiring harness out of the way to get the new bar on.

  • mr. jim

    Question? The JCW bar is 18.5mm is there that much difference to the 19mm? Is it the adjustability of the H-Sports bar? Thanks


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