About a month and a half ago I came across a disturbing video on YouTube showing the newer version of the Again Faster Team Barbell’s sleeves not spinning at all. The change in steel strength didn’t really bother me as much as the sleeves not rotating well, as the previous generation model’s sleeves spun great. Based off of that video and another that I actually had a reader send to me, I could no longer recommend the once highly recommend Team Barbell. When I contacted Again Faster to ask them about the changes to the sleeves, they assured me that those bars were of a defective batch that had the knurl milled out until past where the sleeves started, causing them to not spin. On top of that, they were even gracious enough to send me a barbell to test out…
…this is the review on the newest iteration of Again Faster’s Team Barbell.
If you read my earlier reviews on the last model Team Barbell (read it here), you’d know that I was more than a fan. I praised it for it’s sleeves rotating super fast for a bushing bar, the 185k tensile steel, and it’s tremendous value compared to barbells at almost $100 more than it’s price. Most of that has indeed changed on the newer model. The sleeves are definitely different, it now has IPF/IWF markings, the tensile is 165k, but the price remains untouched. All these changes were “silent updates”, besides the change in tensile, nothing changed was really announced. Sounds like the previous model was a slightly better deal, due to the tensile strength, right? Well yeah, on paper it would seem so. In real life, they’re just about the same, and that’s a very good thing.
- 20kg Black zinc plated shaft w/ bright zinc sleeves
- IWF/IPF Markings
- 28.5mm Shaft Diameter
- 165k PSI Tensile Strength
- Bronze Oil-lite Bushing
- Snap Ring Collar Design
- Made in the USA
- Lifetime Guarantee
The first thing change I noticed when I unpacked the barbell were the changes to the sleeves. Gone is the same old sleeve you’d find on most other barbells in the price range (I actually think most were using the same ones). The beveling on the edges is now more prominent and gives the bar a higher quality look; not to mention the collars have slimmed down a bit. The machining on the sleeves is also done to a greater extent with deeper rifling than the original’s (and most barbells) lighter ribbing. Bumper plates stay on just fine without clips. All that fancy fit and finish wouldn’t really mean too much if the sleeves don’t rotate properly. I’m ecstatic to assure you that the sleeves still spin great. though not as much as the last model’s did. Slightly better than the Ohio and Bomba bars, though still not as good as the Pendlay HD or RepFitness Excalibur.
Next I noticed the improvements to the knurl. The last model had a healthy dose of knurling, which was at about the edge of my comfort level. The new knurling is definitely not as aggressive, but still feels great in the hand and even rivals my favorite knurling of the Rogue Ohio bar. Looking at the two shafts side by side, you’d be hard pressed to tell which one is which; the Ohio’s IS still a bit more fine. My new bar came with black zinc as the coating which also feels great, due to it’s more chalky feeling versus the Ohio’s more shiny coating. Both feel great, but sometimes you just want to change up the feels. That could also be why the knurl feels less aggressive, due to the nature of having to coat the steel with zinc twice.
Performance wise, I’ve got nothing to complain about. I played around with lighter lifts and the bar felt great; a few power cleans, front squat and decently heavy back squat. It works and it works well. It’s not as whippy as the Ohio or the RepFitness bar, but it’s good and whips more than enough for Olympic work. It’s stiff enough to squat and not have the bar bounce all over you as well. Compared to the last Team Barbell that was a favorite in my garage, it’s generally the same experience. That change in tensile strength is probably going to be unnoticeable for 98.9% of users that would buy this barbell. You’d be hard pressed to try to put a bend in this barbell, and even if you did, the GREAT folks over at Again Faster would no doubt take care of it for you.
The only “con” that I can think of is that the barbell, when dropped, is still noisy. Not as noisy as the previous model, but not as silent as some of the other barbells. You can tell that the tolerances were improved in this barbell compared to the last, but not enough to provide a silent lifting experience akin to the Rogue Ohio and RepFitness Excalibur bars. Not a big deal since most of the barbells I’ve ever used sound pretty much just like this. Fix: Turn the music up a little bit louder. (Drop video located at the end of this entry.)
I’ve used enough barbells to tell a crappy one from a good one and the AF Team Barbell performs admirably. I actually made the mistake of clearing out some of my unused barbells in the past; some I regret and some I never bat an eyelash for. The original Again Faster Team Barbell was one of those that I sorely regretted. I vow to never make that mistake again. You can tell that Again Faster is really trying to differentiate itself from the rest of the pack with these changes to the new Team Barbell, and they’ve succeeded in doing so. It performs just as well as bars above the $300 mark, it’s reliable, and Again Faster is an amazing company to work with.
The perfect crossfit barbell? I’m not sure it could stake that claim, but it’s pretty damn close. At any price range, the Again Faster Team Barbell stays competitive, but it’s only $209.
(At the time of writing this review, Again Faster is offering 10% the Team Barbell for Regionals! The deal is even sweeter, what are you waiting for? Buy it!)