Go to just about any affiliate nowadays and they’re either going to have Hi-Temps or they’re going to have some kind of virgin rubber Chinese variant bumper plate. Ask the people that workout there what they like and they’re probably going to say they love Hi-Temp’s or they hate them because they’re too bouncy. Personally, I think Hi-Temp’s (recycled rubber) are the standard when it comes to bumper plates; I “grew-up” on them at the affiliate I coach and work out at. For my garage gym, I opted for some Pendlay Econ V2 plates (virgin rubber) plates since they’re a bit more affordable and since really the only person using the weights would be me. They look all shiny and pretty when they’re new, but any of this style plate can get pretty ugly if people are tossing them around every which way. You can abuse the hell out of Hi-Temp’s and they still always look the same; there is really no destroying these things. Not to mention, they’re made right here in the U.S.A. There hasn’t been any viable options both in durability and in price, to the Hi-Temp plates, until recently…
Enter the brand, Diamond Pro.
Diamond Pro has actually been around for a while (2004), but off the radar. Little did I know that they did the manufacturing of bars and equipment for a lot of reputable brands (you definitely know these brands, I’ve done reviews on their barbells). As of late, Diamond Pro has been making a push to grow their own branding. They manufacture right here in the United States in Decatur, AL; right next to Tuscumbia, AL, where Hi-Temp is. Diamond Pro’s offerings are anything from virgin rubber bumper plates and barbells to kettlebells and even rigs. I find it actually kind of interesting to now go compare their house brand products to the brands they manufacture for and see where the similarities lie. Most of their house brand products are priced a bit less than some of their “competitors” (same thing) products, but one of their more compelling wares is their Diamond Pro plates (crumb/recycled rubber). These plates are made here in their hometown of Decatur (not to be confused with their virgin rubber plates, which are made in China), but cost much less than Hi-Temp’s cost based off of prices from reputable dealers. They sport a 3 year warranty on 25-55lb plates and 180 days on 10-15lb plates, better than the 1 year warranty Hi-Temp offers on their plates (check out their in house bumper testing). So far theres a lot of similar features to Hi-Temps, but how do they actually perform and stack up?
(I’m going to refer to the Diamond Pro’s DP, Hi-Temp’s as HT, and virgin rubber plates as imports from here on out.)
Visually, DP’s look nearly identical to HT’s. To the touch, the DP’s feel a little more smooth than your standard HT plates, but definitely not as smooth as the import plates are. After loading them up on your bar you’d forget that there was any kind of difference. In practice, most users probably won’t notice very much different than using HT’s, but more of a difference than the import plates. When it actually comes down to it, there are some subtle differences. First off, the DP’s actually have a little bit higher of a bounce than HT’s, but not as dead blow as the import plates do, but this could be due them making contact with the ground earlier (see below). Though I don’t actually mind the bounce from DP’s or HT’s (just put on more weight!). Check out my YouTube video for the bounce comparisons.
Second, the DP’s are actually a little bit bigger in diameter than HT’s. If you’ve got import plates already, they’ll match a better with the DP’s, but there’s a pretty sizable difference between the DP’s versus HT’s. Notice, Hi-Temp’s are not IWF standard diameter, they’re 445mm compared to 450mm, which the DP’s and import plates are. So I’m going to have to give the DP’s the definite win in this category. Once again, in practice you’re probably not going to notice much, but you can’t mess with the IWF standard; it is what it is.
As far as thickness is concerned, the DP’s measure in at 3.75″ for their 45lb plate, as does the HT’s 45lb plate. Though after actually measuring the two, I found that the DP’s are closer to their stated width than the HT’s, which were over 4″ thick! This is crucial when loading up a barbell but it’s not going to really make a huge difference, you’re only going to be able to load 4 plates max of either plate, compared to 5 of the import kinds (3.25″ width). You might get that weight collar on a little better though. While differences in width aren’t so important in the 25-55lb range, they’re definitely a big deal when it comes to 10’s and 15’s, which can implode after a few drops. DP’s 10’s are 1.38″ thick, identical to HT’s 1.38″ and import’s 1″. I wouldn’t trust either of the 10’s and 15’s to drops from overhead, just as I wouldn’t with any of the other plates. Win for the thicker plates, tie for the thinner ones.
What good is a weight if it doesn’t weigh its stated weight. I don’t have any kind of scientific scale to measure my stuff, but I do have a pretty nice bathroom one that works fairly well. All of the 45’s tested yielded the same results, just under 45lbs at 44.8lbs; which is also kind of interesting since the imports were 20kg plates. The 25lb plates showed a different result, the DP’s actually weighed more than the HT’s and imports. They were a full pound over at 25.6lbs compared to the HT’s and imports, which weighed 24.6lbs. Here, I don’t know who to give the nod to; the DP’s which weigh more than the stated weight or the HT’s and imports which weigh less. Tie.
Now, the most important feature…the price! A 260lb package of DP’s from Mike’s Fitness Equipment will run you just shy of $400, plus shipping and tax depending on where you’re located. Rogue sells 260lbs of HT’s for just under $560 plus tax (shipped to CA) and MuscleDriver sells their Econ V2 plates for $420 shipped with no tax. If you’re a CA native, you have the option of picking the DP plates up at Mike’s, further adding into the savings, but shipped to my location which is not in range for convenient pick-up it would cost $485 shipped, tax inc. while the HT’s from Rogue would cost $600 shipped, inc. tax. The clear choice here are the DP’s if you’re living on this coast since you’re saving about $120! Obviously the win here in price are the import plates, which you’re going to find are readily available from anywhere at lower prices than both DP’s and HT’s. At the same time you’re sacrificing a bit of durability, so the early savings might not pay off if you’re having to replace your bumpers down the line. The verdict here is subjective since it really depends on location, but for me, the DP’s are the winner since I live in California. Win for import plates if you’re going to use them in a more controlled environment.
In the end, it really comes down to the user for what plate you’re going to end up with. To me, the fact that Diamond Pro’s are IWF standard diameter, have a lower bounce, and cost less for me to buy make them a winner, or at least a damn fine alternative to Hi-Temp’s. They’re probably not going to take the title of “most popular bumper plate for affiliate use” away from Hi-Temp’s any time soon, but they deserve a really good look and consideration. I know if I opened an affiliate (*wink wink*), all things considered, Diamond Pro’s would be my pick…though I wouldn’t mind having some Hi-Temp’s either.
Stay tuned for the review of the Diamond Pro 20kg Olympic Barbell very soon!