The Rogue Fitness name has always been synonymous with quality, American made products; but it’s never been synonymous with being all that inexpensive. If you’re local, you could save a little bit on shipping, but getting things out to California isn’t that cheap. Rogue never really has sales either besides on Black Friday and during the CF Games. Still, people still shell out the money for Rogue; having sales all the time would de-value the brand anyways. With the inclusion of the “Echo” line of products, their value line, you could still get quality gear at some pretty decent prices.
Up until now, Rogue never really had a sub-$200 barbell that was worth it. The Beater bar is junk, pinned sleeves and a 31mm 155k psi tensile shaft made it unsuitable for anything other than bench press and back squats. There was also the economy bar that they still have on closeout; it featured pinned sleeves that hardly rotate and a stiff 28.5mm 135k psi tensile shaft with no warranty. The next cheapest bar was the Rogue Bar; formerly $275 but brought down to $255 with the 2.0. The problem there was that you’d end up spending just about $300 anyways after tax and shipping, and by then you might as well be buying an Ohio bar. I consider anything around the $200 mark, a low priced bar and around $300 a mid priced bar. People would shell out the money for that Rogue Bar, but I know a lot of people couldn’t spend that money and would go elsewhere for a $200 barbell. I’m sure they weren’t losing a ton of market share because of that, but now they have an answer to that section in the Echo Bar, and it’s excellent.
The Echo bar is Rogue’s answer to all the sub-$200 barbell range. Import bars have been flooding the market, causing prices to drop, with the popularity of CrossFit and Olympic Weightlifting surging. Not that import bars are terrible, but some times you run into some quality control issues. I’ve actually had a bar (I won’t name the manufacturer), come to me with a sleeve warped; not due to being mishandled, but mis-manufacturered. With the Echo bar, you get a bar that uses USA manufactured steel, assembled right at Rogue’s plant in Ohio, all for just under $200 before shipping ($195). The big question is: How did they manage to get the price so low, using almost all of the same components from the Ohio bar? Well, lets see…
Quite possibly the biggest difference from the Ohio bar to the Echo bar is the new sleeve locking system that Rogue came up with. The shaft extends through the sleeve like normal, but is not held on with any kind of snap rings. There are no end-caps, just a shiny steel cap at the ends of the sleeves. The sleeves still rotate around this cap; my best guess is that the sleeve is inserted onto the shaft, then the caps are pressed on from the ends. I haven’t fully looked into getting the sleeves off, but just from looking at it, I know it would be a bitch and a half. Those sleeves are staying on unless something catastrophic happens and the sleeves don’t rotate anymore. Fortunately the shaft is the exact same one you’ll find on most of Rogue’s 190k psi barbells (Ohio, Castro, Rogue Bar, Operator, ect.). Still the same tensile strength, same whip characteristics and same quality knurling. Those that aren’t familiar with these traits: Expect a bar that really won’t bend under any kind of normal use, with whip okay for weightlifting but better suited for CrossFit/Powerlifting, 28.5mm in diameter, and a medium depth knurl. You’ll only get one flavor of coating with bright zinc, but it’s very nice and looks fancier than most bars you’ll come across with zinc coating. You only get a weightlifting mark; I’m sure if you equipped a box full of Echo bars, 90% of the people wouldn’t even bat an eyelash at this.
Tried and true are the bronze bushings Rogue uses on the Echo bar. Unbeknownst to some, even myself, Rogue stopped using sintered bushings after they started casting their own (Credit goes to John over at Garage-Gyms). This probably contributed a bit to the decrease in prices over their whole line, but I don’t know if it could have been that big of a difference in costs. It also seems that Rogue is using some kind of gel lubricant similar to what you’ll find on a Pendlay barbell. Spin is consistent, but like all Rogue barbells, not that fast or free. Still, plenty fine for most lifters. Dedicated weightlifters would probably be the most put off by this, but then again, you’d probably want bearings and a 28mm shaft if that was your sport.
It still makes me wonder if releasing the Echo bar was a good move by Rogue. Having a bar that competes with all of those cheaper barbells is good, but is also a bit cannibalistic towards their own brand. The Echo bar performs just like all of their bread and butter bars, for almost $75-100 cheaper. Sure, it only comes in a single finish and has a one year warranty, but I’ve also never seen a Rogue bar go awry. Even my generations old Castro bar is perfectly straight and spins like a dream. Overall, I think having the Echo bar is a good move on Rogue’s part, the people that want Rogue or Ohio bars will still shell the money out, but now the people that couldn’t afford those have a very solid offering and can still buy Rogue with the Echo bar.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for a CrossFit/Powerlifting/GPP barbell; look no further than the Rogue Fitness Echo bar.
As always, I would greatly appreciate you using my links to purchase your Rogue Fitness gear!