The name says it all. World, national, and Olympic championship weightlifter and all around beast of an athlete. Obviously, anything that has to do with weightlifting that has his name on it, you should probably want. It feels like an eternity since it was announced at last years CrossFit Games, but finally, the Again Faster Klokov competition barbell (and bumper plates!) are here…and it was worth the wait.
Specification wise, this barbell is a beast, like the man himself. 264k PSI tensile strength steel is just ridiculous. Seriously, don’t count on ever bending this barbell, if you tried. All that strength though wouldn’t mean too much if the barbell was stiff like a powerlifting bar, but more on that later. Like any legitimate competition barbell, the Klokov bar uses 5 needle bearings to keep the collars spinning for days, but they’re also paired up with bushings to enhance the durability making it functional fitness friendly. The shaft is coated with a hard bright chrome finish; though not the prettiest of chromes I’ve come across as it looks more dulled akin to bright zinc, it should still serve it’s purpose of protecting against corrosion and scratches. Of course the Klokov bar would meet all IWF weight and dimension specifications, but also includes IPF markings, making it even more all purpose. Like most barbells that have been coming out, the collar has a groove for interchangeable bands for easy identification and looks.
The knurling probably one of the most important aspects on a quality barbell, is medium. It’s not as deep as the Rep Fitness Excalibur, but not as light or fine as the Rogue weightlifting barbell either. I find that it was comfortable enough to hit repetitive lifts without tearing up my hands. Once again, I’m not a huge fan of aggressive knurling, as I consider myself a crossfitter. A weightlifting buddy of mine commented on the barbell, wishing that it had more aggressive knurl. While the center knurl is not as pronounced as the outside knurl, it’s still enough to provide a bit more grip while in your rack position, but also irritate your neck after repeated cleans. If you’re not a fan of center knurling, sorry guys, the Klokov bar has it but it’s not anything I would consider to be detrimental to recommending the barbell to crossfitters as its not chew-up-your-collarbone sharp.
In the YouTube video of Klokov introducing the barbell, he talks about the whip really getting started at 180kg (396lbs!); most of us normal lifters probably aren’t going to be getting anywhere near this weight. EDIT: While the bar has a decent amount of whip, it’s a bit more stiff than I would have liked out of this barbell. I have used other barbells that were more whippy than the Klokov bar, and I think the super high tensile might hurt this bar more than it helps it. The way I clean, I end up hitting the bar mid thigh and it hurts like hell compared to other bars that ricochet off. I wouldn’t as far to say that this is as stiff as a power bar, but I think they could have sacrificed a little bit of steel strength for some whip.
Sleeve rotation is a big deal when it comes to lifting. The smoother and faster the collars turn, the easier it’s going to be to get under the barbell. Even after not cleaning for a good month due to an injury, I was still able to clean fairly heavy and not miss a single lift. Since it is a needle bearing barbell, you’re going to get increased performance in this area compared to bushing counterparts, but they aren’t the smoothest. In the spin test video with the weight on it, you can see the barbell rocking around on the J-cups while the plate is in motion. I don’t know if this is just my barbell or a problem with the new design. Construction is nice, what you’d expect from a higher end barbell; you’ll get a solid sounding thud versus clanging when you drop the barbell with any kind of quality weights. There’s very little play when moving the sleeves side to side. While the fit is great, the finish is just average. As I mentioned before, the coating isn’t the most brilliant of all the barbells I’ve used, nor is it the most even. This is something that I noticed on the bar at the CrossFit games when I first saw it, and really wasn’t corrected. Not the bad at all, but I expected a little better. I guess there has to be some trade-offs somewhere, as I get to the next point…
…the PRICE. For the money, you will not find a finer barbell. The 15kg version comes in at $300 before shipping and the 20kg at $320. Shipped to California, the price ended up being just south of $370. I thought that shipping was a little much there and e-mailed Again Faster about it. They gave me a $10 refund which was nice, but still that shipping is a little excessive. Altogether though, it’s still cheaper than any other quality bearing barbell, and still a steal.
If there was another thing I could comment on, it’s that the quality of shipping packaging is pretty awful. The tubing was pretty flimsy and arrived broken with one whole end missing; causing one end of the barbell to get pretty dinged up and scratched. I know the shipping company has a lot to do with this, but I feel it’s up to the seller to provide adequate shipping containers, since you are paying good money for these things, and they’re not cheap. My Again Faster Team Barbell 2.0 arrived in the same shape, as well, except since that one wasn’t chrome coated so the end of it got chewed up really badly.
“Demand the impossible!”. A quote by Dmitry Klokov, and perfectly describes something that he and Again Faster were able to achieve with this barbell. You won’t find anything even remotely close to this price point that is going to deliver you close to the same specs this bar will. If you’re an advanced lifter, this barbell is for you. General purpose and CrossFit, it’ll do the job but just be aware that it’s not going to be as dynamic with anything up to 100kg. Minor issues and shipping containers aside, the Klokov competition barbell is one hell of a bar to beat.