Category Archives: Barbell Reviews

Wright Equipment V3 Cerakote Barbell Review

Cerakoting barbells seems to be all the rage in 2017. For good reason, Cerakote is estimated to last 1000x longer than your standard zinc coating and have better corrosion resistance. I don’t think it’ll take long for this to end up being the standard, but for right now, it’s still a premium feature. Wright Equipment refreshed their barbell to it’s version 3 model a little bit earlier in the year with some pretty huge changes, most notably sporting a new 28mm shaft. It wasn’t until right about before the CrossFit Games did they debut their V3 barbell with a shiny new coat of paint, right before the barbell battleship Rogue unveiled theirs. Wright released their offering at a SMOLDERING introductory price of $220 shipped, which made it impossible not to buy, but since then has upped it quite a bit to $255 not including shipping. It’s still less expensive, but are you better off spending the extra bit on the bigger brands?

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Build Quality/Construction:

I have a fair bit of experience with Wright barbells, that’s what I used to stock my affiliate after all. Other than the occasional re-oiling of the bushings, I haven’t had any issues with any of them over the last couple of years. If there was any one thing I could complain about, it’s that they’re somewhat noisy when dropped. The construction of the new V3 barbell has since been upgraded by adding in two more bronze bushings and tightening the tolerances overall. Wright claims that their V3 barbells are quieter, but in my testing, it’s not by much, if at all. The sleeves have a bit of play in them and they’re still quite a bit noisier than pretty much any barbell I’ve used.

Quite possibly the biggest change to the V3 Wright bar is that it now comes with a true 28mm shaft! Which makes it one of the very few, affordable options for a 28mm USA made barbell. The shaft now also sports an upgraded tensile at 201k PSI and since the shaft is a bit thinner, the added strength isn’t detrimental to the whip. If you’re serious about Olympic weightlifting movements, the .5mm should be a big deal to you because yes, it does make a difference. The Wright bar still plays nice whichever way you want to use it because it still has both IPF/IWF markings in the knurling. The knurling itself is a little on the coarse side but cut well enough to not be uncomfortable. Let’s put it like this: it’s like the PBR of knurling, good enough to get a buzz off of, nobody really hates it, lacks polish, it might leave you with a worse hangover than other beers, hipsters will love it but craft beer ( bar) snobs will probably hate it. I don’t mind it but I know others that do.

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What about that brand new paint job? If you don’t already know what Cerakote is, go hereIn short, the reason you’d want Cerakote on a barbell is for it’s rust attenuation and that it doesn’t wear down quickly like zinc does. On the flip side, it’s a ceramic based coating and can chip or scratch so keep that in mind when racking your bar. Unlike the other bars I’ve used with Cerakote, the Wright bar is coated on the shaft only up until the beginning of the sleeve; which makes sense since you really don’t have to worry about anything under the sleeve. I could be mistaken, but that’s what it looks like to the eye without having to take the sleeve off. The coating job is consistent and the only defects look to just be uneven parts of the knurling. Another major benefit of having Cerakote is that it’s matte by nature, so the grip even without chalk is much better than zinc or chrome.

The sleeves still used a tried and true zinc coating which can scratch and will fade over time, but will honestly probably last longer than if Cerakote was on the sleeves. I don’t think Cerakote was ever designed to take hundreds of pounds of impact repeatedly and on my Ohio bar, started chipping off the sleeves in 3 uses.

Performance:

I’m going to keep going with the PBR reference mentioned earlier. Is the Wright V3 the smoothest, fastest, or best tasting bar in the world? Nope. But like PBR, it’s a little rough around the edges but get the job done well enough and is great for the money. To be honest, I’ve had nothing but great lifting sessions with this bar and I love PBR.

To me, the biggest upgrade to the Wright bar is the 28mm shaft. I don’t mind using barbells that have 28.5mm, but my small hands definitely favor the thinner shaft. Plus I can always fallback on the fact that 28mm is the standard diameter used in IWF, so it’s more official and my hands aren’t just small. You see a lot of imported barbells have 28mm shafts, so why there aren’t more USA made 28mm barbells perplexes me (I actually know why). The whip of the V3 bar isn’t anything to write home about, but it’s  better than the Ohio bar and good enough to suffice most Olympic weightlifters; most CrossFitters probably wouldn’t notice a difference. I felt totally comfortable with clean and jerks up to my 100% and even hit a new 1RM squat clean thruster with the Wright V3.

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Wright upgraded the V3 bar with two more bushings, one per sleeve, presumably to upgrade the speed and smoothness of the turn over. Like all of the traits mentioned earlier, the V3 bar is good enough but isn’t the smoothest and fastest spinning bar in the world; and again, for most people, it doesn’t need to be. The shaft spins freely enough inside of the sleeves and never feels slow, choppy, or like you wouldn’t be able to make a lift because of it. All that really matters is that the shaft doesn’t get stuck in the sleeves anyways. You also don’t have to worry about them over-rotating for the slower lifts, making the V3 bar even more of an all-arounder.

The Wright V3 would probably be best suited for an affiliate setting, at a secluded home gym on top of a mountain, maybe bomb shelter, or a garage gym if you just hate your neighbors. This bar is LOUD AF. If there was anything that still needed upgrading, it’s the sleeve tolerances. I appreciate the use of bronze bushings still, but maybe those need to be retooled so that there isn’t so much play in the sleeve.

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Value/Conclusion:

When this bar dropped it only costed me a meager $220 shipped, which for this bar, was INSANE. There are very few, good American made barbells for under $250, almost none with 28mm shafts (haven’t tried the 3B bar from Wright), and zero with Cerakote. When the introductory deal was available, I urged EVERYONE to buy this bar, nothing could touch it for $220. They only had 1500 barbells for that deal that went fairly quick and since then, have upped the price to it’s standard price of $255 without shipping. Add in $44 to ship to California and the bar quickly loses it’s appeal. $300 isn’t exactly cheap – the sub-par build quality and just good enough performance of the bar just can’t justify it’s price tag (not too bad if you can pick it up though). If I was only going to buy one barbell for my home, I would spend the extra bit on a nicer bar, or I would spend much less on something I could just toss around; the latter applies if I were to stock up an affiliate as well. You can get REALLY good bars for around $200 now.

I’m not calling for this bar to sell for $220 shipped again, but if Wright could get it down to the $250 shipped range, I’m sure they’d see a ton more sales. That would make it much more competitive against the American Barbell and Rogue offerings that are more expensive, but also much higher quality. It would at least be easier to forgive some of the build issues while still getting a good performing, Cerakote barbell for still far under the price you’d be paying for the premium names. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like the Wright V3 barbell…Hell, I LOVE it for what I paid for it; I just don’t think it’s worth $300.

(I wish I ordered more of them when they were $220!)

The Good:

  • 28mm diameter shaft
  • Good whip, decent spin
  • Made in the USA

The Bad:

  • Shipping to the CA costs $45
  • Knurling isn’t well cut
  • NOISY AF

The Ugly:

  • Cerakote can chip
  • The shaft isn’t fully coated
  • Doesn’t quite feel as solid as other bars

Get your Wright V3 Cerakote Barbell here!

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Klokov Equipment 20kg Sport Barbell Review

“FOR 1RMS, 10RMS, & EVERYTHING BETWEEN”

Back in 2014, the news of Again Faster releasing a barbell that had Dmitry Klokov’s name on it shook the entire barbell world. Not only was it backed by a freakishly strong Olympic Games medalist, but it loked amazing on paper and sold for a dirt cheap $320 (before shipping). Unfortunately, the barbell’s performance told a different story – while still not bad for the money, the bar was just too stiff to want to lift with and had all sorts of premature rusting issues. Still, the barbell struggled to stay in stock and the same barbell is still currently being sold under a generic “Competition” barbell name.

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The rebranded Klokov Equipment launched a little earlier in 2017, this time under it’s own name and now having a couple different options of barbells, a Olympic bar and a Sport bar directed towards Crossfitters. Not to mention some sweet, classic looking bumper plates, among other things. Normally, I would be pretty excited to see a new barbell hit the market, but I kept myself from trying out any of their bars for a couple reasons. The first was because, in my opinion, they’re asking too much for an untested, import barbell of unknown origins. $700 puts the Klokov Olympic bar past Rogue’s prices and pretty much on par with Eleiko. The “Sport” barbell had originally launched at $635, which was ridiculous because you might as well just pay the extra for the Olympic bar. The other is that the finer details of the barbell, for the most part, look the exact same as the original bar. While this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the same, I’ve been around enough imported barbells to know that a lot of the same barbells are just rebranded to sell under different brands. (See: Alibaba)

Not very long after the initial launch, the price of the Sport barbell was reduced to a more sane competitive $399 price point. Paired with a $75 off coupon and they had me more willing to give the rebranded Klokov barbell a go, only hoping that I didn’t get stuck with just another cheap Chinese re-branded barbell.

Construction/Build Quality:

If there was one thing that I could say about the new Klokov Equipment barbells, it’s that they’re presentation level far exceeds that of any other barbell I’ve ever purchased. Unlike most barbells that ship in a tube that either popped open by the time it gets to your place or is just a pain in the ass to open, the Klokov Sport bar comes in a nicely branded box that not only has foam cut perfectly to accommodate the barbell, but also even a pull tab to help you open the box without the need to use box cutters. Inside of the box, you’ll find your barbell inside of a bag, coated in oil to keep the barbell from rusting while it sits in a warehouse and a nice greeting/registration card that has your barbell’s unique serial number and final inspection date. Although it’s not advertised, the Sport barbell comes with Klokov’s signature and serial number laser etched into the shaft of the barbell. Classy.

Like the original model Klokov bar, the new ones come with a satin hard chrome finish, 10-needle bearings between steel bushings and grooves on the sleeve shoulders that now include color coded rubber bumpers to protect your bar from if it’s dropped without weight on it. The last detail will have you thinking: “Why hasn’t anyone else thought of this?”; it’s so simple and almost everyone is doing the ID band thing, but no ones thought to also use it to also safeguard your barbell. The sleeves themselves are held on tightly without really any play side to side, so the bar when dropped is silent other than the thud from the weights hitting the ground; no rattles here. Under the glued on “KE” end cap, you should find snap rings holding the bar on, should you ever need to pull the sleeves off – which I would advise against, since the bar comes with a 10-year warranty.

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The knurling of the Sport barbell is knurled almost all the way to the sleeves this time, and while really well cut, is way more subdued compared the original Klokov bar. It’s like they chopped it down by more than half of it’s depth. I think the Sport’s knurling might be too soft, which should be good for high rep work as intended, but I’m almost positive most people purchasing this bar will keep it on a platform. The Sport model does however come with both IPF/IWF markings just in case you should want to bench press with it.

Finally, there’s the claim that all Klokov barbells go through an “Industry-leading 112 pass/fail quality assurance protocols including: dimensional & weight tolerances, material strength, straightness, finish, knurling, collar spin and construction for guaranteed durability and strength”.
All of which would just sound like a bunch of marketing fluff, but in the case of the Klokov bar, I actually believe given the presentation, details and build quality of the barbell. Just because a bar is imported, doesn’t automatically mean it’s low quality, just like if it’s Made in the USA, it doesn’t mean high quality. By no means does this barbell feel cheap or like it wasn’t at least worth $300+. The Sport bar is guaranteed within a weight tolerance of +100 g/-50g, which isn’t as impressive as the 20 g/-10g of the Olympic bar, but is going to be accurate enough for a training barbell. Using a bathroom scale, I weighed it in at 44.4kg, but my Uesaka Competition bar was the same so I’d say it’s pretty close.

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Performance:

All the fancy wording and insanely high specifications in the world wouldn’t mean a damn if at the end of the day, you didn’t want to lift with the bar, as we’ve come to know from past experience. The Klokov bar of old was just as well built, but was just not very pleasant to use because of how stiff it was; which was probably due to the 264k ultimate tensile strength. Nowadays I see tensile as just a number people to use to market a barbell, but in the case of the old Klokov bar, there was virtually no whip all the way up to 100kg and even at lower weights, the bar just plain hurt to create contact with. The Sport bar has a much lower, but still plenty high, minimum tensile of 215k. This thing feels like a wet noodle compared to the original barbell! Okay maybe not that soft, but the Sport bar is definitely much more pleasant to use! The whip on this barbell, while not Eleiko or Rogue WL bar status, is better or on par with similarly priced barbells and is good enough for a beginner/intermediate training barbell. There’s still plenty of room for improvement, but the Sport barbell responds very well and should suffice plenty of users. Even with my collection of bars, I could see myself grabbing at this bar time and again.

If you’re looking for a barbell that spins extremely well, look no further – I don’t think it gets much better than the Klokov Sport bar. I honestly don’t believe there could be any difference in rotation between the Sport or the Olympic bar since they both use 10 bearings total; but I won’t know until I try the other bar out. The KE Sport bar outclasses even most of my more expensive barbells in just how fast, smooth and accurately the shaft rotates. You don’t feel the bearings turn over at all and the sleeves don’t over rotate like they would in cheaper bearing bars. Who needs wrist wraps when you have bearings like this?

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Now going back to the knurl, like I mentioned earlier, it might be just a touch too soft. I find myself needing to chalk my hands up a little more than I’d like, but I do appreciate not having my hands torn up after a long lifting session; it’s a double edged sword. With knurling, there is no right or wrong way to have it, everyone has their preferences just like anything else. The best way I could describe the KE Sport knurling is that it’s “comfortable”, which is probably better than “uncomfortable”. More people are actually probably going to like it rather than dislike it, I’m just being picky.

Personally, the only things I’m going to use this barbell for are Olympic weightlifting movements and maybe the Oly heavy WOD, because I just have other barbells for the slow stuff. I know not everyone has the luxury of having a barbell for every movement, so you can definitely squat, bench and deadlift with the KE Sport bar; being able to use it for everything is what it’s intended for afterall. If you ever get to thinking that maybe you made a mistake and you want a muli-use barbell, just think of it this way: professional Olympic athletes use straight up oly bars for all of the above just fine, you should be able to as well.


Value/Conclusion:

As much as I’ve been raving over the Klokov Sport bar, I still think that it might be a little still overpriced. It retails for $399, but I think that in order for this barbell to really be competitive, it would need to be around $360/max. At $400, it’s out of line with a lot of the other top intermediate training barbells, in which case I feel it’ll be easily overlooked for bigger names and US manufacturing. I’m not saying the bar doesn’t feel or perform like it’s a $400 bar, it’s just the level of competition is steep in the $300-$400 range. Nowadays even bars in the $200-300 range can be strikingly good. I can’t complain about the $325 that I purchased it for (with a coupon), so if you can get it for that price, it’s a no brainer.

The original Klokov bar by Again Faster left a sour taste in my mouth and almost made me not even bother with the newer models. I’m glad I did end up with the Klokov Equipment Sport bar afterall, because as much as I wanted to be right about the bars being the same, they aren’t. Instead, I ended up with a barbell that performs almost as well as some that cost double the price, except I’ll actually use this because it didn’t cost me a fortune. Awesome presentation aside, the Klokov Equipment Sport barbell is the real deal and I’m convinced by it’s performance. Hats off to Klokov and his team for creating a winner.

The Good:

  • Extremely well built and great packaging/branding.
  • Bearings spin smoothly and fast.
  • Sleeve bumpers are a really cool touch.

The Bad:

  • Knurling on the Sport bar might be a tad too light for some.

The Ugly:

  • Price might still put some people off.
  • Imported from unknown origins.

Get your Klokov Equipment Sport Barbell here!

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Vulcan Strength Absolute Stainless Steel Barbell Review

Probably not a brand you’d expect to pay $800+ for, but the performance of the Vulcan Strength Absolute Stainless Steel competition bar definitely reflects the price. The bar easily rivals my competition ready barbells. If you can get lucky enough to snag one off of their closeouts, you’re looking at the biggest steal in barbell history. Either way, the Vulcan Absolute is worth your attention if you’re looking for a competition ready training bar.

Get your Vulcan Strength Absolute Barbell here!

Rogue Fitness Matt Chan Barbell (Boneyard Bar)

The Rogue Chan Bar – I finally got my hands on one of the most popular barbells that Rogue makes, that I haven’t reviewed yet. The bulk of the barbells Rogue puts out nowadays are just a variations of the Ohio bar with coating differences. For the most part, they all use the same 190k PSI tensile strength shaft, bronze bushings (though many are going composite), they’re 28.5mm in diameter, and they all have the same knurl pattern; though some might disagree on that last one. There are a few things remain the same with the Chan bar, but it also has the biggest differences from the Ohio, enough to make it my personal favorite Rogue “multi-use” barbell.

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Construction/Build Quality

Like all Rogue products, the Chan bar feels over-engineered. Almost no other equipment in the world have the polish that Rogue products do. As previously mentioned, the shaft is the typical Rogue 190k PSI tensile, 28.5mm diameter shaft forged right here in the US of A. With that, you get Rogue’s limited lifetime warranty against bending or breaking, which I honestly don’t think you’ll ever use; I’ve never heard of any of their bars bending. Hell, even my older Rogue bars that had imported shafts are all straight as arrows.

On the contrary to what the Rogue website says and what people think they know, the Chan bar has the same knurl pattern as all of Rogue’s 28.5mm barbells. To be fair, I think all of the other bars adopted the Chan bar’s knurling when they all switched over to the 190k PSI shafts. Personally, I think Rogue’s knurling is more on the medium side of things; it’s definitely not as deep and coarse like a power bar but it can for sure give you some hot spots on your hands. You don’t need a ton of chalk to get a sure grip and it’s still probably the most well rounded knurling I’ve used for everything you’d possibly want to use this bar for.

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The sleeves are typical Rogue sleeves, one inch shoulder with 16.5″ of loadable space. The surface of the sleeves have a very fine machining to help keep plates on, but I would still make sure to use clips when loading. Each sleeve has two cast bronze bushings, not sintered Oilite bushings, but ones that are made in house. Spin is smooth and there isn’t a ton of play when you try to move the sleeve side to side, giving you a nice solid thud when the bar is dropped.

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Performance

Because Rogue uses the same shaft in all of their multi-use barbells, if you’ve used one of them, you’ve used them all. Don’t take this as a bad thing though, Rogue barbells are the most reliably performing bars on the market. They don’t excel in one area, but they’re very good all around. If you just want to squat, bench or dead, you’ll probably want to look into a power bar. If you want to improve your oly, maybe check out their training bars. If you want to do all of those things, get an Ohio bar variant. The 190k PSI shaft has good enough whip to satisfy most weightlifters, without being overly dynamic for the slow lifts such as your press or squat. Spin, once again is smooth and more than fast enough for oly, but not over the top for presses. Some might hate that I use the term “CrossFit barbell”, but Rogue’s multi-use bars are the quintessential CrossFit barbells.

Practical features are what differentiates the Chan bar from it’s brothers. This bar has a smaller clean grip knurl area and passive center knurling. The purpose of cutting the clean grip knurling short is so that when you pull, your shins are free of any knurling, potentially saving you from racing stripes up your shins. It also makes for quicker setups, assuming you use the same width grip that Matt Chan uses; which most of us probably do. The only instance this was a little bit of a problem for me was for my deadlift grip, which is typically right at the start of the knurling. I’d take adjusting my grip a little bit over tearing my shins up any day though.

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Center knurling is a taboo subject in the CrossFit world, but when done correctly, I’d almost always want a bar that has it. The Chan bar has some of the best execution of center knurl that I’ve come across; it’s not even a quarter of the depth of the grip knurling, more like a light texturing to the middle of the bar. It’s light enough to not tear up your collar bone, but substantial enough to give you added stick to your chest or back when cleaning or squatting. Don’t be scared of center knurling folks, it can be a good thing.

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Value/Conclusion

The Chan bar only comes in one flavor at the moment, black zinc shaft with black zinc sleeves and retails for $295. At one point they had a satin chrome version that retailed for $350, but I’m not sure we’ll ever see that come back. Sure, you can get the Ohio bar for about $10 less, but personally I’d pay the difference for the thoughtful grip knurling and center knurling, not to mention the awesome end cap. You can get this bar for a real steal if you’re patient enough to keep checking out Rogue’s boneyard section. I picked up my Chan bar for $195+$15 shipping and tax leaving me at about roughly $230 out the door. You’d be hard pressed to find any defects (I couldn’t), but sometimes you might not end up with coating in some areas. As long as the shaft is zinc, I wouldn’t worry too much about the sleeves being bare steel. In that case, I think this is one of the best deals in barbells at the moment.

I wish I didn’t wait so long to get a Chan bar, it actually could have been my first barbell ever if I wasn’t scared of the center knurling. The adjustments to the knurling and addition of center knurl make it, in my opinion, the best of the Ohio bar clones and the best “CrossFit” bar that Rogue makes. Remember with any barbell you get from Rogue, you can’t go wrong.

Get your Rogue Matt Chan Bar here!