Fringe Sport Stainless Steel Wonder Bar Review

The original Wonder Bar was my first barbell and while I didn’t think much of it at the time, it has evolved into a staple in the fitness community and is one of Fringe Sport’s best selling bars. It’s value is unmatched both in performance per dollar and the unbeatable customer service they provide.

I think we’re in the 3rd generation or so Wonder Bar now, but throw out everything you know about the series because what was once just a “budget” barbell, is now all grown up now. It has features that are usually reserved for higher end bars, but also has a price tag to match. Don’t worry, the standard model you know and love isn’t going anywhere. You just have another option in Fringe’s ever growing line-up of barbells.

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Specifications per FringeSport.com:

  • Weight: 20 kilograms / ~44 pounds
  • Collars: Bearing collar
  • Tensile strength: 200,000 PSI
  • Yield strength: 160,000 PSI
  • Weight capacity: 1,800 lb
  • Whip: Stiff
  • Spin: Fast
  • Best Use: Garage Gym or WODing. 
  • Material: Alloy Steel with brilliant stainless steel finish
  • Length: 86 inches
  • Sleeve Specs:16 inches Length and 2″ diameter
  • Shaft Specs: true 28mm diameter
  • Knurl: Dual Knurling – Double Ring IWF + IPF Knurling (No Center Knurl)
  • Smooth knurl depth- neither a cheese grater nor too soft
  • Warranty: Lifetime Warranty against manufacturer’s defects. Altering, opening, or tampering in any way with the collars or sleeves will void all warranties and liabilities for this product.

Build Quality/Construction:

Pretty much the only thing the “normal” Wonder Bar and the SS version have in common is the name; in which I think the stainless version is deserving of it’s own (Super Wonder Bar?). I was never particularly impressed by the construction of the standard version, but then again it’s not really meant to impress, rather to just be good for the money, which it was. In it’s defense, I’m comparing it to bars that cost at least $50 more. Either way, the knurling wasn’t amazing, finish was just okay, it was stiff and didn’t sound nice when dropped.

Design wise, they have the same basic look about them, but if you inspect a little closer, it’s easy to see that the SS version is much more refined. The knurling is better cut with better defined start and stop points; it could also feel cleaner because there’s no coating over it, which is a huge benefit to having a stainless finish. Another reason to have it is for it’s corrosion resistance, but don’t think you can set it and forget it, even stainless steel can develop rust.

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Tensile of the shaft, 200k PSI, is slightly lower than the standard model, but that shouldn’t really effect the durability of the barbell. Fringe is one of the very few to include a yield strength number of 160k PSI. Shaft diameter is 28mm, which is ideal if you’re looking for a barbell for Oly lifting for both whip and grip reasons.

The sleeves are also stainless steel on this bar as opposed to Rogue’s offerings. The finish shows some wear as would any sleeve, but seems to be holding up about as well as chrome does. The total sleeve length is 18″ with a 2″ collar, so the loadable area is average at 16.5ish” – which should be plenty of space for most people. Unlike the standard Wonder Bar, the SS version only comes with the option for 2 needle bearings per sleeve. Sorry ladies, it’s also only offered in a 20kg version.

Knurling:

While not everyone’s cup of tea, I enjoy a more refined and less aggressive cut; I need my hands to survive lifting sessions so I can do other movements that don’t require a barbell. The SS Wonder Bar’s knurling easily meets my preference.

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The cut is not nearly as coarse as the Oly or Hybrid barbells, but still provides excellent grip due to the feel of stainless steel (bare steel). Unlike it’s coated counterparts, the knurling is exactly how it’s imagined, with no coating to take away from it’s feel. It’s well cut and comfortable to hold on to for multiple reps without tearing your hands up or even needing all that much chalk.

If you wanted shark tooth knurling, this bar won’t be for you, but I still think it’ll please even people that prefer a slightly aggressive cut due to the feel of the bare steel.

Spin:

If you want a fast spinning barbell, this is the one. While only powered by 4 total needle bearings assemblies, the SS Wonder Bar spins insanely fast, more so than the standard version and far more than the Oly or Hybrid bars which have more bearings. The quality of the rotation is smooth but not quite to the level of  more expensive bearing barbells, even the ones in Fringe’s line-up, which are pretty buttery.

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That being said, I think the sleeves might spin a bit too much for certain movements. If you’re looking for a big-3 barbell (squat, bench, dead), the SS Wonder Bar is not going to be the right one for you because of how freely the shaft rotates. Which also makes it not all that accurate either and can be a detriment when snatching – depending on your technique. I like to bang the bar with my hips, which can lead to over rotation in the catch, making the bar go a little to far back over my center mass causing me to lose the occasional lift. While that might not affect everyone in the same way, it’s is worth noting.

Cleaning with this bar however, is excellent due to that insanely fast turnover speed. In turn, it’s easy to save cleans that you might catch too low. Repping out lighter weight you’ll find in a WOD is also a breeze with the SS bar. You’ll almost want to hold onto the bar for longer sets because of the reduced stress. Depending on what you want to do, the spin could make of break this bar.

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Whip:

Even though Fringe states this bar is “stiff” in their description of it, I didn’t find it to be so, at least in comparison to the standard Wonder Bar which I thought was fairly rigid. Although both have a 28mm diameter shaft, something about the metallurgy of the SS version makes it feel more welcoming make contact with than the normal model. 28mm bars are all pretty similar in whip, but the standard Wonder Bar just plain hurt to Oly lift with.

Keep in mind that this bar isn’t designed to be a dedicated Oly bar, but for most people, the SS Wonder Bar should be more than adequate. It feels reactive enough as to where I would trust it to go up to my maxes with, where I would normally pickup my more expensive Uesaka or Eleiko’s. Both of which do feel more springy, but also cost more than double the SS Wonder Bar.

If you’re looking to powerlift, the SS Wonder Bar probably won’t be the best option because of the amount of whip it has, unless you just wanted to deadlift with it. It should be fine for most, but I wouldn’t squat anywhere in the 400’s or bench anything more than 225 with this barbell because of the whip and spin dynamics together. If you wanted a dedicated deadlift bar, I would say go get one, but if you’re stuck on this bar, it whips fine for deadlifting.

Value:

Stainless steel comes with a cost – double to be exact. While the standard model is designed to be a “value” barbell, the Stainless version is not, costing $399 – as much as the most expensive barbells in Fringe’s fleet of them. What’re you getting for that price? A corrosion resistant, fast spinning barbell that should be good for just about everything but excels for barbell cycling/WOD’s. If you’re looking for a more precise Olympic weightlifting barbell, I would recommend that you checked out the Oly bar; same goes with the Power or Hybrid bars if you focus on the big-3 movements.

While priced higher than it’s closest competitor – the Rogue SS Ohio bar ($350), Fringe’s bar includes free shipping. The cost of the Rogue after shipping and tax roughly ends up being the same. Still, I think that Fringe could should knock off a few bucks from the SS Wonder Bar to make it a stronger competitor. If you wanted an Oly/WOD bar, the Fringe is the way to go because of it’s spin and 28mm diameter shaft. If you wanted a Power/WOD bar, the Rogue is the better option.

Another thing to consider against other manufacturers that aren’t Fringe (or Rogue), is that there aren’t many companies out there that are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to customer service as they are. Pair that up with a lifetime warranty and you’re getting tons of peace of mind.

There aren’t any Stainless steel, bearing bars that you’re going to find for this price – so if that’s what you’re looking for, look no further than the Stainless Steel Wonder Bar.

The Good:

  • Great knurling.
  • Excellent WOD barbell.
  • Fast Spin.

The Bad:

  • Spin can be too fast.
  • Not good for powerlifting.
  • A little overpriced.

The Weird:

  • Looks like any other import barbell.
  • Should not be called the Wonder Bar.

Get your Stainless Steel Wonder Bar here!

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