I often get asked the question:
“What’s the best budget/economy barbell?”
The word “budget” is different for everyone. For me, I consider it under $150 USD. There’s honestly not a whole lot of bars in this range either. If you’re lucky, you might be able to pick up a used event barbell around this price, but even that’s unlikely. To be frank, you’re not going to find much other than the junk they sell at Sports Chalet and the Cap OB-86B for under $150. Luckily for you, the latter is actually pretty good, especially for the money; which is even about $25 less than $150.
The OB-86B is a no frills barbell. The shaft is coated with black oxide, which has a chalk board like texture. While it’s something, it’s not going to protect against oxidation as well as something zinc coated. It’ll be fine if you don’t mind adding a coat of 3 in 1 oil or WD-40 every now and then. Keep in mind that even the Rogue Ohio Bar and other “higher end” barbells are coated with black oxide as well. The tensile is 130k and is rated to 1000lbs, which will probably suffice for most people in home gyms, but I’m not sure how this will hold up in the affiliate setting.
For the price, you’d be amazed how well the sleeves spin. You’d be amazed how well they spin compared to even some bearing bars. Oly lifting works surprisingly well, but I’d say it’s better for powerlifting assuming you’re using real people weight. While the price on this bar is low, the build quality is quite superb. The sleeves differ from the shaft in the fact that they’re coated with a bright zinc coating. Snap ring construction keeps the sleeves on and there isn’t much play side to side. Put some quality bumpers on and when dropped, the OB-86b provides a very reassuring thud upon impact. One of my favorite features of this bar is that the sleeves are ribbed well enough so that you won’t have to worry about your plates sliding off without collars.
The whip at 130k tensile pretty mild but good enough. Nothing to write home about but for the price, you couldn’t ask for much more. So, now you’re thinking, “What’s bad about this bar?”.
The knurling, good god almighty, the knurling.
Usually, knurl starts with the diamond pattern, and then is ground down. The OB-86b has the diamond pattern down, but is not ground down, at all. Not even the slightest. I’m sure racking the bar a few times will cause the knurl to be ground down, but until then, watch your shins. Honestly, in the hand, it’s not awful…remember how inexpensive this thing is. There’s also only IPF markings, but that’s not a dealbreaker. Once again, better for powerlifting.
All things considered, the value of this barbell is incredible. You can get it from Amazon for a measly $128 shipped. You can’t buy much nowadays for $128, let alone a barbell. If you’re limited to $150 for a barbell, your choices are not that plentiful. That’s okay though, because the Cap OB-86b will do you just fine.