There’s no denying that I love Rogue Fitness.
Walk into my gym, you’ll see at least one of every piece of equipment that bears the Rogue name. I especially love the original Rogue Bar 1.0 barbell; interestingly enough it wasn’t until recently that I found out that the shaft was imported. No biggie, that bar was built like a tank and to this day, I’ve never seen one bend, even at 155k PSI tensile. The whip is near flawless, the sleeves spin very well (albeit noisy) for bushing, and the knurl is one of the best patterns I’ve come across. It really is the ultimate all purpose barbell. Since then Rogue came out with the Ohio Bar, my first barbell and one of my favorite bars. It was the first bar they fully constructed in Ohio. The new Rogue Bar 2.0 shares the same lineage of the Ohio bar, but with a few changes, minus the shaft which seems to be the same (I’m basing this off the tensile and diameter, as I’m not sure that the metallurgy is exactly the same). A couple things are sacrificed, but at the same time the price of the Rogue Bar 2.0 is the lowest I’ve ever seen a “Rogue Bar” go for, at $255, but does it perform up to the standard the original Rogue Bar set?
The most noticeable change between the original Rogue Bar and the 2.0 is definitely the knurling. It looks like Rogue decided to go with more of a medium depth knurling, making the Rogue Bar 2.0 more powerlifter friendly. It’s now a lot more coarse and deep, but still very well defined and even; I would even go as far to say that it’s closer to the Ohio Power Bar in coarseness, just not as deep. For me, it’s useable and I wouldn’t complain if all the bars in the gym this way, but I do prefer the original knurling, which was a bit more fine. As always, knurling is very subjective, everyones got a different preference and while the 2.0’s is different, in no way is it bad.
Gone are the bronze oil-lite bushings, probably to reduce costs but in the product description it says the composite ones that replace them are for spin and durability. American Barbell has been using composite bushings for a while now and they’ve seem to be doing just fine. While the spin is okay for a bushing, it’s definitely not as good (but just as smooth) as the original Rogue Bar. Durability is a moot point right now as I haven’t been using the bar for that long, nor does it get thrashed, but somehow I find it hard to believe that composite bushings would be more robust than bronze. The fit is still very tight between the sleeves and shaft, but the bar still produces a rattle when dropped (edit: it’s the mainly from the end cap rattling around the snap ring groove), just like the 1.0, although it sounds different.
Going back to the shaft, we now have a 190ksi tensile strength versus the original 155ksi. To this day, I have yet to see a Rogue Bar bend under normal usage; I have a generation 1 Castro bar that is still straight and I think the tensile was even lower then. Of course when you add strength to steel, you risk taking away some of it’s flex, and thats exactly the case with the 2.0. Once again, it’s more multi-purpose than ever, you’ll get by just fine with olympic lifting and powerlifting, but feels better for powerlifting. Since Rogue has so many bars in it’s arsenal, this is probably what they were going for. Something between the Ohio Power Bar and the Training Bar.
The pictured Rogue Bar 2.0 was the LE edition they had last black Friday, but is no longer available. Currently the only coating combination you can get is black zinc shaft/bright sleeves. The zinc coating Rogue uses is really nice, but it’s also really slippery initially so you might want to wear a shirt when you clean until the bar dulls out.
Let’s not forget the most visible change, the addition of grooves so that you can add bands for identification. This makes sense, but at some point you would need a Bella bar that had the grooves too. I’m not knocking them for this, it’s definitely a cool little addition, especially if you wanted to personalize your bar. It doesn’t do anything for performance, maybe takes up a little bit of loadable sleeve space, but thats negligible.
Rogue Fitness products hold their value notoriously well. The name alone carries value and if you ever plan on selling your gear, you’ll probably be able to get whatever you want for it. There are other bars for the price that perform just as well, if not even better for less than the Rogue Bar 2.0, but you’ll never be able to get the same return on those barbells. Most barbell manufacturers also offer lifetime warranties with their barbells, but how many other manufacturers can you count on to be in business as long as Rogue will be? Hell, most people will end up with the Rogue Bar 2.0 just because it says Rogue on it, without even looking at the other options on the market. That’s not a bad thing, Rogue Fitness is a great American company and anything that comes from them is quality. Even with all that has changed between the 1.0 and 2.0, it’s still a fine barbell and I’d wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.