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Old 01-23-2011, 02:34 AM   #1
Ginsubie
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Default My review of GrimmSpeed master cylinder brace for my 2011 WRX

From the moment I test drove my 2011 WRX, I knew two things: (1) I loved this car and (2) I hated the mushiness of the brake pedal. So I decided to do something about it this week.

First, I bought a GrimmSpeed master cylinder brace. It was packaged very nicely, and had a solid build quality:




However, installing it was an absolute bear! There's just not a lot of room in there, and with my short, stubby fingers, I had a tough time threading the bolts through the necessary holes. Furthermore, there is a fitment problem with the 2011 WRX (even though GrimmSpeed says that it fits). To be fair, the brace itself does fit as it should. But the problem is that the thin, stiff brake fluid tube that comes out of the top of the master cylinder snakes downward, blocking all three holes through which the short bolts are supposed to go. With much blood, sweat, and tears, I was able to thread a bolt through the top-most hole. Along with the other two longer bolts which hold the brace and the fuel line bracket in place, it provides three fastening points on the strut tower, allowing the entire assembly to attach securely.

With much rejoicing, I proceeded to put the fuel lines back into the plastic clip and reattach the clip onto the metal bracket, only to find that there was absolutely no room to accomplish the task. So, with much chagrin and bitter disappointment, I had to UNDO the bolts I had so painfully screwed in, pop the plastic clip onto the metal bracket, rethread the bolts (same problems as before... took me FOREVER to get them back in!!!), and tighten them (wishing I was Mr. Fantastic so I could snake my ratchet in there better). The instruction video on rallysport.com tells you to bolt down the metal brace first and then pop the plastic clip back in. IMO, it needs to be the other way.

After all that, this is what it looks like installed:




I test drove the car after installing the master cylinder brace, and it did firm up the brake pedal feel, especially at the bottom of the pedal depression. Maybe it's just me, but it gave me more confidence in my brakes.

The real pay-off of this master cylinder brace came when I also installed a set of Stoptech stainless steel brake lines. They worked in conjunction with the GrimmSpeed to provide much better brake response and feel. Now, my brakes bite harder and faster as I depress the pedal.

Overall, a great product. If you are thinking of getting one, just make sure the steel brake fluid tube doesn't block the three holes.
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Last edited by Ginsubie; 01-24-2011 at 09:50 PM.
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Old 01-23-2011, 04:50 AM   #2
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Very nice write up and unusually clear pics in relation the common forum quick shots many tend to take.

Small add I've noticed with braking. In the future, look at upgrading the suspension bushings. This just adds more feel and precision by taking out some of the slop through the suspension linkages and also adds more feel of the tires, their grip, and even feeling the brake pads bite. For someone that's looking to use their car aggressively, feel and precision are big gains for you.
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Old 01-23-2011, 10:43 AM   #3
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[quote=Ginsubie;33088919]Maybe it's just me, but it gave me more confidence in my brakes.
QUOTE]

I find that the above statement is often overlooked. Sure the brace won't give shorter 60-0 times, but it gives drivers confidence to push harder and thus go faster(in racing). Confidence is everything

I love my MCB, and am hopoing SCCA adopts it into the SP ruleset. Just a confidence/feel thing as stated above.

Great install review!

Eric
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Old 01-23-2011, 10:45 AM   #4
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I had one / brace in my old GC 99rs. It really took out flex in the firewall once you pressed the brake pedal. if it's reasonable priced, i may get one for my new car.
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Old 01-23-2011, 11:29 AM   #5
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I never felt this mushiness in the brake pedal on my 07 STI even before stainless lines.
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Old 01-23-2011, 12:39 PM   #6
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it's a bigger problem when you're really mashing the brakes hard, like when bringing the car down from high speed for a slow corner. For DD it's nice but won't yield huge gains.

Try really standing on the brakes from 80, though, and you can really feel everything flex a LOT.

Last edited by sniper1rfa; 01-23-2011 at 12:44 PM.
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Old 01-23-2011, 01:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Back Road Runner View Post
Very nice write up and unusually clear pics in relation the common forum quick shots many tend to take.

Small add I've noticed with braking. In the future, look at upgrading the suspension bushings. This just adds more feel and precision by taking out some of the slop through the suspension linkages and also adds more feel of the tires, their grip, and even feeling the brake pads bite. For someone that's looking to use their car aggressively, feel and precision are big gains for you.
FWIW, I took all the pictures using my iPhone 4. So I suppose they are forum quick shots.

Thanks for the suggestion. Replacement of significant bushings is already on my future mod list (although it may be a while before I can get it done). I'll make sure to look into suspension bushings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin2 View Post
I had one / brace in my old GC 99rs. It really took out flex in the firewall once you pressed the brake pedal. if it's reasonable priced, i may get one for my new car.
I ordered mine from RallySportDirect.com.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stidoc View Post
I never felt this mushiness in the brake pedal on my 07 STI even before stainless lines.
I felt it immediately because it was so noticeably different from my previous car, a VW Passat 1.8T. The VW gave immediate braking response, i.e., I could feel the brake calipers begin to bite as soon as I depressed the brake pedal. In my WRX, there seemed to be a "lag" between when I pressed down the brake and when the brakes actually began to engage.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I've gathered reading around various Subie forums is that the mushiness is primarily caused by the floating design of the stock WRX calipers. So if you got Brembos in your STi, this may not be a problem for you.

The GrimmSpeed MCB + Stoptech SS brake lines has not totally eliminated the mushy feel, but it is a lot better now. I can feel the brakes engage much sooner and the pedal feels more firm all the way through the downstroke of my foot. All in all, a great mod.
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Old 01-23-2011, 04:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ginsubie View Post
Please correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I've gathered reading around various Subie forums is that the mushiness is primarily caused by the floating design of the stock WRX calipers. So if you got Brembos in your STi, this may not be a problem for you.

The GrimmSpeed MCB + Stoptech SS brake lines has not totally eliminated the mushy feel, but it is a lot better now. I can feel the brakes engage much sooner and the pedal feels more firm all the way through the downstroke of my foot. All in all, a great mod.
Nice to see you like it. I have this as well but it will be a bit before I can get it installed.

You are right about the sliding calipers, though consider that your old Passat had sliding calipers are well. There are some other factors too, the master cylinder bore size is small on this car (better leverage, but more motion)at 15/16". The old WRXs and STIs had some larger bore MCs with less leverage. The latest STI has the same 15/16" MC but does have the Brembo fixed calipers and a different brake booster.

At any rate, Subaru decided light braking effort was most important and there are no MCs for us to swap as they are incompatible with the older ones. The best we can do is eliminate the flex.
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Old 01-23-2011, 06:04 PM   #9
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nice writeup... MCB is the one of very effective break dept upgrade..

remember though, tires are braking your car... nice tires help alot..
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Old 01-23-2011, 08:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Power6 View Post
Nice to see you like it. I have this as well but it will be a bit before I can get it installed.

You are right about the sliding calipers, though consider that your old Passat had sliding calipers are well. There are some other factors too, the master cylinder bore size is small on this car (better leverage, but more motion)at 15/16". The old WRXs and STIs had some larger bore MCs with less leverage. The latest STI has the same 15/16" MC but does have the Brembo fixed calipers and a different brake booster.

At any rate, Subaru decided light braking effort was most important and there are no MCs for us to swap as they are incompatible with the older ones. The best we can do is eliminate the flex.
Thanks for that explanation; I learned something new. As for my Passat having sliding calipers, for whatever reason my WRX brake felt much mushier than my Passat. Can't explain it, but it was what it was. However, with the MCB and SS lines, brake pedal feel on my WRX is now comparable to the Passat. Funny thing is that I've had to slightly adjust my driving style (especially when I heel-toe while down-shifting) to account for the stiffer pedal. Great problem to have.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bzbuzz View Post
nice writeup... MCB is the one of very effective break dept upgrade..

remember though, tires are braking your car... nice tires help alot..
Yes, absolutely. Once I wear my stock Bridgestones out, I'll look into some nice, sticky tires (although these Bridgestones aren't bad).
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Old 02-01-2011, 02:02 PM   #11
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I finally installed mine this weekend and wanted to throw up a couple of comments:

- I came from a Mazda and have to agree that pedal feel was probably my biggest complaint about the new WRX. This brace was is a definite improvement in that area.
- Install was a PITA. I found that the first screw was really the biggest issue. Once that was in, the other two were set in about 10 minutes. A palm ratchet helped a ton due to the tight spaces.
Amazon.com: PALM RATCHET - 3/8" DRIVE - mechanics tools by 4137com: Home ImprovementAmazon.com: PALM RATCHET - 3/8" DRIVE - mechanics tools by 4137com: Home Improvement
- I was able to get the fuel lines and bracket attached after everything was bolted down.
- Total install time was right around 1 hour, as grimmspeed noted

Otherwise, I'm in full agreement with the OP. Nice review!
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Old 02-01-2011, 04:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ginsubie View Post
Thanks for that explanation; I learned something new. As for my Passat having sliding calipers, for whatever reason my WRX brake felt much mushier than my Passat. Can't explain it, but it was what it was. However, with the MCB and SS lines, brake pedal feel on my WRX is now comparable to the Passat. Funny thing is that I've had to slightly adjust my driving style (especially when I heel-toe while down-shifting) to account for the stiffer pedal. Great problem to have.


Yes, absolutely. Once I wear my stock Bridgestones out, I'll look into some nice, sticky tires (although these Bridgestones aren't bad).
German cars tend not to boost power brakes nearly as much as US and Japanese made cars. Our WRX have WAY WAY too much power assist .

After driving an MCS in autox, I was so wanting to get rid of the WRX for D stock in favor of the Mini purely from brake feel and steering feel .
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Old 02-02-2011, 04:50 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 09rexwagon View Post
German cars tend not to boost power brakes nearly as much as US and Japanese made cars. Our WRX have WAY WAY too much power assist .
How does having too much power assist add to the mushiness of the pedal? Can you explain it to me? Thanks!
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Old 02-02-2011, 12:53 PM   #14
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Too much power assist multiplies the force that you exert. If you exert very light amounts of force and the booster turns that into 10x the amount on the brake MC, then it's hard to modulate and feel what's going on in your toes. This is compounded by the fact that we have sloppy firewalls that flex when high braking forces are applied.

I kept thinking I had air in my lines from the factory and I have done one flush and 3 bleedings. There is no air in there. Dealership confirmed so I've got over it. I've become accustomed to threshold braking with this zero feedback brake system in autox .

Anyway, with the car off, press on your brake pedal and feel how that is. Then start it and see how much our boosters assist....it's absurd.

Another test to demonstrate how overboosted our brakes are is to left foot brake while accelerating....brake feel is much better because there is no vacuum for the brake booster to use to boost our brakes.
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Old 02-02-2011, 04:11 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 09rexwagon View Post
Too much power assist multiplies the force that you exert...Another test to demonstrate how overboosted our brakes are is to left foot brake while accelerating....brake feel is much better because there is no vacuum for the brake booster to use to boost our brakes.
I do agree the power assist is too much, also the leverage of the hydraulic system is part of the problem. There is too much leverage, the motion required per stopping force is a lot.

I think this comes with most OEMs seeking a linear "braked pedal movement-->stopping force" relationship, while most performance/race drivers prefer a "brake pedal force input-->stopping force" relation ship.

I am jealous of the previous generation owners who can swap Master Cylinders around. The bolt pattern changed and all we have now is a 15/16" bore MC. I would have liked to try out a 1" or 1 1/16" but they don't exist.

At least we have a MC brace available now!
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Old 02-02-2011, 04:23 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Power6 View Post
I do agree the power assist is too much, also the leverage of the hydraulic system is part of the problem. There is too much leverage, the motion required per stopping force is a lot.

I think this comes with most OEMs seeking a linear "braked pedal movement-->stopping force" relationship, while most performance/race drivers prefer a "brake pedal force input-->stopping force" relation ship.

I am jealous of the previous generation owners who can swap Master Cylinders around. The bolt pattern changed and all we have now is a 15/16" bore MC. I would have liked to try out a 1" or 1 1/16" but they don't exist.

At least we have a MC brace available now!
Yep, there is the hydraulic system leverage, but I feel even the brake pedal linkage system adds more leverage (compared to GD Imprezas) so it all compounds plus the overboosted power brake diaphragm.
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Old 02-06-2011, 10:21 PM   #17
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What an unholy spawn of pain and misery this thing is to install. It must of taken me an hour with my fat hands to thread the first bolt. Lucky my kids were in the garage with me or this thing would have gone through a wall.

One thing I noticed that helped eventually was that on the original RSD.com group buy thread, GrimmSpeed suggested zip tying the annoying brake line back by 1/4-1/2inch. It's really hard to judge how much force you could put on that line. I zip tied it to the other brake line and made it snug, then I pushed the front one with some good force back into the rear one and tightened the zip tie with some needle nose vice grips. That did the trick and provided just enough room to thread that top bolt in. After that, install was straight forward.

I guess I got in on the early batch that had the slight offset bolt thing that pushes against the master cylinder. It's still not considered a big deal, correct?
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Old 02-18-2011, 11:49 PM   #18
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Just got done installing it on a '10, and holy farking **** are you lot right; I'd almost rather pull the suspension off my car for a third time... at least that's only tedious, whereas this was that and infuriating to boot.

But yes, the pedal does feel a bit better, like the way a car ought to feel when it's new. It's not incredible, but it's also not fear-inducing. The brakes before -- as you well know -- just sort of felt like they'd pop if you pushed hard enough.

I can't wait to add SS lines to the mix this summer.
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Old 05-01-2011, 01:28 AM   #19
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OMG... that was about the hardest install for a part ever. That video with them putting it on an STi made me think it would take 30 minutes.
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Old 05-02-2011, 12:53 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rexassian View Post
I guess I got in on the early batch that had the slight offset bolt thing that pushes against the master cylinder. It's still not considered a big deal, correct?
Has there been a revised version released?
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Old 05-30-2011, 10:19 PM   #21
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I installed this today. the thing that makes it a PITA is that that area is already full of stuff.
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Old 05-31-2011, 01:21 AM   #22
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ill be getting mine on wednesday. not looking forward to the install from the reviews i see here lol.
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Old 05-31-2011, 02:16 PM   #23
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thought about getting one of these but after reading everyone's replies to the install, i think i'll just deal with a little squishy feel, after all i've been living with it for 4 years already
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Old 06-01-2011, 02:48 AM   #24
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Good pads, SS lines, and good fluid are worth it too....
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Old 06-01-2011, 12:58 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SkeetsWisconny View Post
thought about getting one of these but after reading everyone's replies to the install, i think i'll just deal with a little squishy feel, after all i've been living with it for 4 years already
Given a new car, I'd install it again. First, now I know how much force to apply in the right spots and secondly, I like the solid feeling when mashing on the brakes at the track and not worrying about firewall flex. For a basic daily driver, I wouldn't be as ready to do it again. But if you even so much as think you might track/rallyx/autox/aggressive drive, you *SHOULD* go through the pain of the install.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NcKidd View Post
Good pads, SS lines, and good fluid are worth it too....
Definitely true.
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