In Search of the Best Miata Roll Bar

There are plenty of options for roll bars for your Mazda MX5 Miata. Aftermarket parts manufacturers produce roll bars for each generation of the car.

Some of the biggest names in the business are Blackbird Fabworx, Hard Dog, OBX Racing Sports and Cusco.

A roll bar is an unsung hero of track-modded Miatas. Here we have our picks, broken down by MX5 generation. We’ll help you choose the best roll bar for your specific model.

Why Get a Roll Bar?

The Mazda Miata is pretty much a track-ready car directly when it’s delivered from the factory. But a few key modifications will make it even better in race conditions, and one of those additions is a roll bar.

It will stiffen your chassis and improve your MX5’s handling when combined with a set of coilovers and other suspension upgrades.

If you want to race autocross, you won’t need a roll bar (though you should probably consider it), but pretty much every other type of racing requires a roll bar to pass tech inspection.

Not to mention, roll bars keep you safer. The strengthening of your Miata’s chassis with an added roll bar is great for street or track use if you find yourself in a rollover incident.

So even if you’re not planning on racing your Miata, it might be a good idea to get one.

Miata Autocross Roll Bar
Miata in an autocross event Photo: IMG_1760.JPG flickr photo by Grant.C, CC BY 2.0

Best Miata Roll Bars for Track Use vs. Street Use

Different types of roll bars are suitable for different types of driving. For instance, a double diagonal roll bar is highly recommended for racing, because it offers some of the strongest protection.

For street driving, a roll cage can be dangerous because your head could connect with the cage during a rollover. Instead, you should use a roll bar, and it’s essential to get it equipped with SFI approved foam or padding.

Street driven Mazda MX-5 with a roll bar
Street driven Mazda MX5 with a roll bar.

Remember, you don’t have a helmet on while street driving.

A cross bar that is typically at shoulder height and mounted behind the front seats can be dangerous. It can cause serious and sometimes fatal harm if you were to be rear-ended. That is why SFI approved padding is so important.

Many companies also include an integrated harness bar for their roll bars, giving you more flexibility for mounting harnesses, but making them a little more expensive.

Roll Bar “Broomstick” Test

If you’re going to use a roll bar in racing events, which is required, you must make sure it will pass the “broomstick” test. This is where a broomstick (or similar device) is set atop the roll bar and the windshield frame, to reveal clearance for your helmet-clad head while sitting in the driver’s seat.

Your helmet-clad head must have clearance under the broomstick, so you’ll be safe in the event of a rollover. A roll bar is a good idea with any Miata convertible, even with a hard top in place.

NC Miata Broomstick Test
Boomstick test in a NC Miata. Photo: PKL ATL

Some Miata roll bars are lower than others and might not pass the “broomstick” test. We will only discuss roll bars in this guide that will pass the test.

Best Roll Bar for Miatas by Generation

Roll bars may seem like a “check the box because the track rules say you have to” component, but they’re actually a critical component that can vary widely from worst to best.

After nearly 30 years of models there is enough variation between the oldest and newest MX5 that roll bars need to be sorted by generation.

Best Roll Bars for NA Miatas

The roll bars we’ve listed below are for model year 1990 to 1997 Miatas, or the NA generation, and are made by OBX Racing Sports, Cusco and Hard Dog Fabrication.

OBX Racing 4-Point Hard Core Bar

OBX Racing 4 Point Hard Core NA Miata Roll Bar

Manufacturer: OBX Racing Sports
Construction: Double diagonal
Materials: Premium steel
Tubing Diameter: 1.80 inches
Warranty: Limited lifetime from manufacturer defects
Check Prices: Amazon

OBX Racing Sports offers this 4-point roll bar for the NA Miata. It allows full seat travel and tilt and is a full interior width with laser-cut mounting. It’s designed for plastic rear window convertible top Miatas and is not compatible with aftermarket glass rear window convertible tops.

The installation of the roll bar does not take long, roughly six hours, or shorter with some help. The construction of OBX’s NA roll bar is very solid and even if the fit can feel tight, it ends up working with some pushing.

Hard Dog M1 Hard Core Roll Bar

Hard Doc M1 Hard Core Roll Bar for NA Miatas

Manufacturer: Hard Dog Fabrication
Construction: Single, double, or X diagonal
Materials: Drawn over mandrel (DOM) stainless steel
Tubing Diameter: 1.75 inches
Warranty: Free replacement after rollover incident

This is the tallest roll bar Hard Dog offers that fits under a soft top, NA Miata. You still have to sit low and forward enough to clear helmet clearance, or pass the “broomstick” test, for races.

This roll bar includes a harness bar, though it interferes with a glass rear window and the side latches on a hardtop. Therefore, this is one of the best Miata roll bars for soft top convertibles, but it’s a no-go for hardtop cars.

Cusco Chromo Bolt-In Roll Cage

Cusco Bolt-In Roll Cage for Mazda MX-5

Manufacturer: Cusco
Construction: Straight C-Pillar
Materials: Chromoly steel
Tubing Diameter: 1.57 inches
Warranty: 1 Year
Check Prices: Amazon

Technically not a “roll bar” but still worth a mention, this 6-point roll cage is designed to make your car a lot stiffer.

It’s an around-dashboard-type, and the points of connection are from the top of the rear wheels to the roof of the car, over to the dash.

The Cusco roll bar is 100% bolt-in, making installation easy. Cusco also guarantees a significant rigidity increase to the car’s chassis, which promotes better handling characteristics.

Note that it is a bolt-in cage though, which simply can’t offer the same level of safety as a proper weld-in roll cage.

Roll Bars for NB Miatas

The roll bars listed here are for your 1998 to 2005 NB Miata, and are sold by RXMotor, OBX Racing Sports, and Hard Dog Fabrication.

RXMotor Double Loop Bar

RXMotor Double Loop NB Miata Roll Bar

Manufacturer: RXMotor
Construction: Double loop
Materials: Steel
Tubing Diameter: 2 inches
Warranty: None
Check Prices: Amazon

This cheap Miata roll bar does not come with installation instructions, but is thankfully an easy job. It’s worth noting, that this is a “style bar”. You don’t want to be relying on this unit in a roll over.

It also has a fitment of both NA and NB generations (1990 to 2005). It’s not a perfect fit for the NA Miata though; it sits right against the frame of the rear glass window and rattles over bumps, which is annoying, but it will get you race-safe without breaking the bank.

It attaches to the seat belt shoulder brackets. The tubes are chromed and welded but we’ve seen better finishes elsewhere. For some NA cars, it also takes a little bit of trimming to make it fit like the OEM bar.

For us, the RXMotor Double Loop roll bar is a cheap roll bar for NB owners, but if you’re driving a NA Miata we recommend our picks listed above.

OBX Racing 4-Point Double Loop

OBX NB MX-5 Double Loop Roll Bar

Manufacturer: OBX Racing Sports
Construction: Double loop
Materials: Premium steel
Tubing Diameter: 1.8 inches
Warranty: Limited lifetime from manufacturer defects
Check Prices: Amazon

This roll bar fits the NB and NA chassis (1990 to 2005). It’s a double loop roll bar with side braces and a welded-on harness tab for extra protection. The roll bar is compatible with both hardtop and soft top Miatas, and it allows full seat travel and tilt.

OBX has made a very smart, very safe unit here – if your budget can cover it, you won’t be disappointed by your purchase.

Hard Bar by Hard Dog

Hard Dog MX5 Roll Bar - Single Loop

Manufacturer: Hard Dog Fabrication
Construction: Single loop
Materials: Drawn over mandrel (DOM) stainless steel
Tubing Diameter: 1.5 inches
Warranty: Limited lifetime from manufacturer defects for 12 months

Hard Dog’s Hard Bar is compatible with both NA and NB Miatas (1990 to 2005). It is a complete hardware kit that fits all hardtop, soft top, and all glass rear windows. So it’s compatible with any Miata you might use it for.

The roll bar’s steel comes close to your head, so you might want to protect it with some thick foam padding, such as the SFI approved padding from Moroso.

Roll Bars for NC MX-5’s

The roll bars for your third generation NC Miata (2005 to 2015) are listed below, manufactured by OBX Racing Sports and Blackbird Fabworx.

OBX Racing Sports 4-Point M-Shape

OBX NC Miata Roll Bar

Manufacturer: OBX Racing Sports
Construction: M-shape double diagonal
Materials: Premium steel
Tubing Diameter: 1.8 inches
Warranty: Limited lifetime from manufacturer defects
Check Prices: Amazon

OBX’s NC roll bar is a “sports” bar, meaning it’s for both hardtop and soft top convertibles and is good for racing. It’s a double diagonal bar, which adds more rigidity and strength to your car’s chassis.

Like other OBX roll bars, it offers you full seat mobility and movement, so it’s not too snug against the frame or too close to your body or head.

Blackbird Fabworx RZ NC Roll Bar

Blackbird Fabworx RZ NC MX-5

Manufacturer: Blackbird Fabworx
Construction: Single loop X-brace
Materials: Drawn over mandrel (DOM) stainless steel
Tubing Diameter: 1.75 inches
Warranty: None

Blackbird Fabworx’s RZ roll bar for the NC Miata is the most expensive roll bar on this list, but it’s also the only one that’s 100% SCCA legal for racing (without any trimming or tweaking). It’s four inches taller than OEM hoop structures, meaning it will easily pass the “broomstick” test.

Seat movement and recline is retained, and it’s compatible with both hardtop and soft top convertibles. The fitment for this roll bar is perfect, thanks to the 22 mounting bolts provided. The quality is great, installation is easy, and the safety it gives you is superb.

For the price though, it’s overkill if you aren’t taking racing seriously.

Best Miata Roll Bars for Generation ND

The Miata roll bars for the ND generation (2016 and beyond) are listed below, built by Cusco, Blackbird Fabworx and Hard Dog Fabrication.

Blackbird Fabworx RZ ND Roll Bar

Blackbird Fabworx RZ Roll Bar for ND Miatas

Manufacturer: Blackbird Fabworx
Construction: Single loop X-brace
Materials: Drawn over mandrel (DOM) stainless steel
Tubing Diameter: 1.75 inches
Warranty: None

The Blackbird Fabworx roll bar for the ND Miata is similar to the NC roll bar, in that it’s 100% SCCA legal to race with. It’s a similar price and construction, though it’s only two inches taller than the OEM hoop structure, rather than four inches taller.

Use of the glove box and seat movement are retained, and it’s even available in custom colors, rather than the high-quality powder coat finish that comes standard in black.

Don’t over-tighten the bolts when installing as it’s been known to crack your plastic trim. Otherwise, the provided instructions will walk you through the entire installation process.

Hard Dog M4 Sports Roll Bar

Hard Dog M4 Sports Roll Bar

Manufacturer: Hard Dog Fabrication
Construction: Double diagonal
Materials: Drawn over mandrel (DOM) stainless steel
Tubing Diameter: 1.75 inches
Warranty: Limited lifetime from manufacturer defects for 12 months

The Hard Dog M4 Sports roll bar is only compatible with the ND Miata. It replaces the aluminum, weak cross brace support provided by the OEM ND equipment. It’s a serious upgrade that also comes with fitted padding to protect your head.

The problem is installation can be frustrating. The flanged bolts provided sometimes don’t clear the factory hardware brackets, so expect a trip to buy some bolts to make up for the sloppy measurements.

Cusco 6-Point ND Miata Roll Cage

Manufacturer: Cusco
Construction: 6-point cage plus side bar
Materials: Chromoly steel
Tubing Diameter: 1.57 inches
Warranty: Unspecified warranty length
Check Prices: Amazon

Another one to break the rules, this unit from Cusco is a roll cage instead of an upgraded roll bar. It’s a 6-point bar of lightweight chromoly construction, meaning it’s 30% lighter than Cusco’s regular Safety21 line. There are two accessory bars available with this one, for chassis rigidity and safety.

The cage attaches behind the seats (doesn’t impact use of rear storage pocket), and arches to the left and right, while the sidebar attaches the front and rear of the cage together. Roll cages like this are for added protection, even more than roll bars.

Our Recommendations: The Best Roll Bar for Your Miata

Your standard Miata may well be a track car in disguise, but a quality set of brake pads and a roll bar will help to finish the package off.

Many different companies compete to get their roll bar into your Miata. The one thing they all share is that they’re all better than the factory setup.

Very few are 100% track legal, so it’s important to check the certifications of each unit based on your unique needs.

  • Best Miata Roll Bar for NA MX5: OBX Racing Sports Hard Core Bar
    This is a foolproof unit for everyone but hardtop owners. Plenty of clearance, an easy installation and a great finish quality make this OBX unit ideal for a NA Miata.
  • Best NB Miata Roll Bar: OBX Double Loop Center Brace Roll Bar
    This is an affordable roll bar that fits both NA and NB models, comes with a thick tubing diameter, and is compatible with both hardtop and soft top MX5s. It’s backed by a good warranty, too.
  • Our Favorite NC Miata Roll Bar: Blackbird Fabworx RZ NC Roll Bar
    Blackbird’s RZ roll bar is a top-of-the-line roll bar that is the only 100% SCCA legal one available, without any modifications. Its construction is sturdy and it offers superb protection.
  • Best ND Miata Roll Bar: Hard Dog M4 Sports Roll Bar
    Hard Dog has been making MX5 roll bars for over 20 years. Their M4 Sports model is one of the best available, great for racing because it fits both soft top and hardtop Miatas, while still being affordable.

Have a favorite Miata roll bar that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments below.

Feature image: ’99 Mazda Miata, adaptation by Low Offset, original by LowPokesCC BY 2.0

3 Replies to “In Search of the Best Miata Roll Bar”

  1. Can you tell me I am looking at a Cusco roll bar for my nb soft top with glass rear window . Will it fit low enough under the roof and a big question does it still allow seat movement and recline a bit . I am not about to race the car as I own a muscle car I just want to stiffen it up and add protection, and know it will actually fit thanks for any advice appreciate it the car was my sons that passed away it’s really just a tribute to him and keep sake cheers Shaun.

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