I’m a fan of a good, cheap, barbell.
A few years ago, all of those words would have never gone together, but as the years go by, it’s been getting increasingly easier and easier to find all of those qualities in a bar. I consider a cheap barbell to be around the $200 mark shipped, whether or not it has bearings or not doesn’t usually matter much to me around this price point, and though I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, they’re almost always going to be made in China.
Finally, someone in the USA stepped up to the plate to create a great performing barbell, with bearings, a true 28mm shaft with CERAKOTE, all for about $200 (+shipping). The Wright Equipment Box Basic Bar (3B) is the best value barbell you can get that’s also made in the USA.
Build Quality – 5/6
I like to say that just because something is made in the USA, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s built well – but in the case of the 3B bar, it’s built well enough. While I wouldn’t say that Wright’s standards are up to the same tolerances that Rogue makes their barbells with (not many are), they’ve been tightened up over time and are better than a few years ago. Going forward, Wright has decided to go with composite bushings in all of their barbells, including the ones paired with bearings, like this one. When dropped, they make a decidedly different sound than other barbells, I wouldn’t say they’re any louder but some might find the sound a little unpleasant. Most of the noise comes from the end caps not fitting 100% perfectly inside of the sleeves, so it does rattle a bit.
All can be forgiven about the noise, because the shaft is a true 28mm diameter that has CERAKOTE on it! What I’d consider a premium feature, somehow found it’s way onto a $200 barbell. I’m still going to say that Cerakote will eventually be standard, so thank you Wright for paving that road. Keep in mind that while Cerakote might be the best against the elements, it can still chip and scratch due to its ceramic nature. The sleeves are still coated in bright zinc, which to be honest isn’t a big deal to me since no matter what, sleeves are going to get ugly.
Moving the shaft strength down to a still plenty strong 190k psi was one of the takedown features from the V3 bar to keep the costs down. Not a big deal since 190k is plenty strong for any usage and won’t bend under normal circumstances. I know Wright had tried to keep this barbell as made in the USA as possible, but to also cut costs, the only imported parts of this barbell are the 2 needle bearings per sleeve. Also not a big deal, I’d wager that most of the needle bearing bars you’ve used had Chinese bearings in them anyways.
Knurling – 5/6
Knurling is always going to be a subjective topic, but given the intended use of the 3B, I’d say it’s damn near perfect here. The depth is light and the pattern is coarse, combined with the naturally matte finish of Cerakote, the 3B provides solid grip that remains comfortable to hold for multiple reps. Whatever the application, the 3B fits the bill, but is probably best suited for CrossFit or an every day Oly training barbell.
Sure, there could be more depth, but I think that most people shopping for this barbell will find this knurling to be right on the money. If you’re one of those people that sweat canola oil out of their hands, then you might want to opt for the V3 bar for it’s deeper knurling. Since it is a “multi-use” barbell, it does feature both IWF/IPF markings.
Spin – 5/6
Nowadays, if it spins without a hitch, I’m happy. How much a sleeve spins on a barbell is probably the most desired, yet most overblown trait to have. There are 2 needle bearings per sleeve accompanied by composite bushings. Though internationally sourced, the bearings found in the 3B spin fast without over rotating. There is a little bit more friction than on more costly barbells, but given the price point of the 3B, it’s not really a big deal. It’s not something that’s going to make you miss a lift or that most people would even notice – especially, if you’re coming from a bushing barbell.
Whip – 5/6
You’d be hard pressed to find another barbell that moves as well as this one does for the money. The 3B’s 28mm shaft paired the metallurgy of the 190k psi shaft makes for a really fun barbell to use for Olympic weightlifting. Like most barbells, you’re not really going to notice much whip until you get a little weight on it, but when you do, the 3B makes for a really smooth lifting experience; at least for both CrossFit and Oly. You could use this barbell for powerlifting if you wanted, but aside from deadlifting, you’d probably want something more stiff.
Value – 6/6
While you could probably find some off-brand imported bar with some of the same features of the 3B, for around the same price, there’s no way you’ll find something with Cerakote that’s made in the USA at the price point. All things considered, the Wright 3B is the best overall barbell for the money. Right now it’s on sale for $200, with a standard MSRP of $220 which is still an amazing price given the performance. I would even go with the 3B over the more expensive V3 just because I think it outperforms it in almost every single way for less money.
Another takedown feature from the V3 is that the 3B only has a one year warranty, but I’ve had Wright bars in my affiliate for years now without any kind of issues. I wouldn’t worry about durability unless the bars were misused.
Anyone that’s looking for a low cost, high performing barbell should look into buying a 3B. Whether you’re just starting a garage gym, looking for an Oly training barbell/general purpose WOD bar, or wanting to stock up a CF affiliate or training hall – the Wright Equipment Box Basic Bar is perfect for just about any application. Beginners to even the most elite athletes are sure to love the 3B.