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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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Strencor American Lifter Barbell Review

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Strencor is a new fitness brand trying to make their name with a signature barbell made for Jared Fleming called the American Lifter barbell. The marketplace over the past few years has gotten saturated with tons of generic barbells, and not just limited to imports. Even USA made barbells typically come from the same places. Nowadays, I can usually tell when I look at the specifications, knurl, or even sleeves, but every so often a bar comes along that makes me second guess myself.

Not that the specs for the American Lifter Bar were bad, the product page was just a little all over the place. From experience with certain manufacturers, I know that there aren’t many USA made 28mm barbells with needle bearings because of sourcing the bearings; seeing those two things together was a little odd. The specs on this bar are a jumbled mess when you compare it to what their advertising on Instagram says. Maybe that’s what they were going for, because it piqued my interest and made me want to try out the bar for myself.

Construction/Build Quality:

Seeing “made in the USA” to me, means that there has to be a certain level of craftsmanship that must be upheld for whatever product it is. While not quite at the same level of polish as a Rogue barbell (not many things are), the American Lifter bar almost holds its own. The first thing I did upon receiving the AL bar was measure the diameter of the shaft and sure enough it was actually 28.5mm in diameter. I was really hoping that I was going to be wrong, but experience proved me right. The bar is also advertised at a 185k PSI yield strength; when asked why they went with a yield number over tensile, the response was: it’s a more relevant measure for the actual use of the bar. Honestly, in my experience, tensile strength doesn’t mean a thing in the real world.

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The sleeves on this bar resemble a bar made in 2012; the shoulders are still really wide compared to what you’ll currently find out there. Aesthetically it’s weird to look at since I’m used to seeing thinner shoulders, I don’t need to put rubber bands on them but it does decrease the loadable area of the sleeve. On a positive note, there isn’t much play side to side so there isn’t a ton of noise when you drop the bar. On the flipside, the sleeves are held on using a coiled clip as opposed to normal C-clips, making it much more difficult to maintain the bar.

For the most part, the knurling is well cut and uniform until you get to the areas around the IPF/IWF markings, where it protrudes a little bit. It never really bugged me and overall, I thought the knurling was great. I would rate it as a medium/light knurling thats comfortable to hold for reps and deep enough for weightlifting singles.

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Performance:

Numbers don’t mean jack, if the bar isn’t fun to use, but I think the American Lifter bar has a ton of character to it and is currently my daily driver! Even though it’s not a 28.5mm shaft, I can still perform oly lifts just fine with it. I’m mainly doing CrossFit anyways and the AL bar makes for an excellent WOD bar. Strencor went with the bigger diameter for this limited run because currently Jared is doing more CrossFit type training this year as he recovers from his ACL surgery. Compared to other 28.5mm bars out there, the AL bar blows them away in terms of “whip”/oscillation, which totally took me by surprise and is what makes the bar a lot of fun to use. It’s hard to put “whip” into words, but the best way I can describe this bar is that it’s “springy”.

When I first got the bar, I thought I had been lied to about the needle bearings. I couldn’t rest until Scott from Strencor showed me pictures of the actual bearings they use, which are larger than normal and are designed for durability rather than overall spin. Forewarning: the sleeves on the AL bar hardly rotate right out of the box and need a lot of breaking in. You can however, speed up the process by spraying some kind of lubricant into the sleeves. Even after doing that, the sleeves never really got going a ton, but they spin just fine for the weights most people are going to be lifting. I never noticed any kind of stickiness or slow turn over when working out with the AL bar. Still, the sleeves rotate about the same as an average bushing barbell, not something you’d expect from needle bearing.

For future bars: keep the whip, maybe add some light lubricant or more bearings to the sleeves, and hopefully get it down to 28mm and you’ll have a winner on your hands.

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Value/Conclusion:

While the barbell isn’t really all that expensive at $274, shipping can be; to get this bar to California, it costs a whopping $45. When you compare that to most people’s free shipping, the price overall isn’t quite comparable. You can use code “Fleming” for 10% off your order, but even after the coupon, it costed me a little under $300. If you live on the east coast, shipping is only $15, making the AL barbell a pretty good deal after the coupon.

I think the American Lifter bar is in an odd spot. Most people interested in this bar are going to be because of Jared Fleming’s name and Olympic Lifting legacy; I know I was. As a Crossfitter, it’s not the end of the world that the bar is 28.5mm in diameter, but that’s a deal breaker for all Olympic weightlifters, at least the ones I know. If this bar was “insert well known CrossFit athlete’s name here” bar, we wouldn’t even be talking about the fact that it’s 28.5mm. Another point is the price, which gives the bar a ton of stiff competition, especially when you can get the “big” name’s barbells at the same price or cheaper. Even 28mm import bearing bars for much less would entice the weightlifting crowd. “Made in the USA” is a big deal for me, but it’s not a deal breaker either.

I really do like the American Lifter bar, it really is a ton of fun to use as a general use WOD bar, but that’s pretty much what it is. Don’t expect true Oly bar performance out of it (like I did), or you’re going to be disappointed. Strencor is still a new brand and I’m sure they have a bright future ahead of them. Be on the look out for some competition ready stuff coming soon!

www.strencor.com

American Barbell Cerakote California Bar Review

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Over the years, I’ve used a plethora of barbells. Some have been “cheap” to mid-range, but lately I’ve been getting into more expensive top end barbells. You come to expect a certain quality from bars that are costing you over $500 and you never ever need to worry about them not being great in performance. Obviously this isn’t the case with lower end bars, but you learn to really appreciate the ones that are exceptional and don’t cost an arm and a leg.

The original American Barbell California Bar was one of the best deals in fitness, originally retailing for a mere $250. At that time though, I hadn’t had much experience with higher end barbells, but I still knew the California Bar was one of the best bars I’d ever used. I don’t usually hold on to bars much longer after I review them, but it’s two years later and I just recently unloaded my precious California bar. Only because I got the new, upgraded Cerakote California Bar, otherwise it would have been in my collection forever. Honestly, the new one is pretty much the same in performance as the old one, it just looks a hell of a lot more bad ass.

Build Quality/Materials:

I got to see magic in the making when I toured American Barbell’s facility in San Diego. Crates of sleeves, shafts, bushings just waiting to be assembled into fully functioning barbells, but the thing that impressed me the most were the people behind the barbells. I forgot his name, but the guy I talked to knew the ins and outs of everything and most importantly, actually gave a crap about what he was assembling.

American Barbell always has some of the most solid feeling barbells on the market. Every single one that I’ve used from them have been exceptional, rivaling the best in the business. When dropped, you don’t get the same kind of rattles you’d find on import bars and even some domestically made bars. There’s little to no play in the way the sleeve fits on the shaft and the end caps actually fit.

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Like I said, this is pretty much the same barbell overall, but there are some new enhancements to it, along with the coating. The shaft is still the 28mm diameter, 190k psi tensile strength one that you’ll find on just about every American Barbell bar. Unlike the earlier model, the updated has sleeves with a recessed weld to ensure plates sit flush with the shoulder and also looks awesome. Unlike the shaft, the sleeves remain hard chrome and will chip if you use metal plates. The California bar still comes with composite bushings, as with all of American Barbell’s bushing barbells, but they’re now quite thicker than before and more so than others on the market. Though light in depth, the knurling is perfectly cut with definite start and stop points with both IPF and IWF markings. Since it’s so fine, I had trouble spotting where the markings were without my glasses on!

The real star of the show here is what American Barbell decided they wanted to coating to be on their new barbells: Cerakote. For those of you not familiar, Cerakote is a ceramic coating usually applied to firearms as a protective finish. It’s chalky in feel and supposed to last 70 times longer than stainless steel or chrome, obviously this is not something that I’ve tested myself, but check out how Cerakote performs in this video. What I can tell you, is that in the month that I used the barbell as my go-to bar for everything, I never once wiped it down. When I finally took just a nylon bristle brush to it, there were no signs of surface rust and and the chalk completely came off without any difficulty.

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Performance: 

Even without the fancy make-up, the character of the California bar makes it a real winner. What other barbells in the mid-range usually fail in getting right is the oscillation of the bar, or whip. Not saying that they aren’t adequate for most usage, they just never feel as good as American Barbell’s bars. When the California Bar comes off your hips, it feels smooth and fluid, not jarring like other mid-range 190k psi bars. I don’t “bang the bar” but I try to make as solid contact as possible with every lift, still no bruises on my legs or hips.

Spin isn’t hyper speed like some of the cheaper bearing barbells, but it’s butter smooth and you’ll never have to worry about it hitching up on you. This is probably the most misconceived areas of a barbell so trust me when I say, spin doesn’t matter, as long as the shaft isn’t completely stuck. Even with it’s “slow” sleeves, I managed to set a new snatch PR at 225 (two wheels!) and clean to my maxes with relative ease. Something that I couldn’t do before with my more expensive bars like my Eleiko Training or AB SS competition bearing bar

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The real subjective area is the depth of the knurl. Pattern-wise, it’s the same as all of the other American Barbell bars, but feels even lighter due to the Cerakote finish. Those of you that have extremely sweaty hands or like shark tooth knurling might want to look the other way because the California Bar is on the light side. On the other hand, the Cerakote finish is chalky by nature and I have personally never had any kind of issue with grip, with or without chalking up for weightlifting singles or WOD’s alike.

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Value:

At $335, the Cerakote California Bar is priced in line with other brand’s, durable, multi-function barbells. The edge that it has is that it’s 28mm in diameter, so it will function much better in the way of weightlifting or even deadlifts. The price cements it firmly into the mid-range barbell line, but I think all of the features it comes with justifies the price tag. Most garage-gym folks aren’t going to buy a ton of barbells, and most importantly want one that’s going to survive the elements, so you’re better off buying something with a durable finish and a lifetime warranty.

All things considered, the American Barbell Cerakote California bar is probably my favorite barbell right now. Sure, it’s not my Uesaka, but it costs less than half of what that bar costs and to me, performs just as good. More mid-range barbells should be this good, but again then I’d be a hell of a lot more broke.

Get your American Barbell California Bar here!

**If you enjoyed this review, please use my links when shopping for your new barbell. It helps me out a ton in getting new equipment to review and doesn’t cost you a thing!**

Vulcan Standard 28mm Training Barbell 20kg

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Quite some time ago now, I blindly picked up a barbell from a company I didn’t know a whole lot about named Vulcan Strength. I admit, at the time I was much more of a noob about equipment than I am now. Honestly, I don’t even remember how I came about finding out about Vulcan in the first place, but I remember being dazzled by their “Standard” barbell. It was and still is, one of the few U.S. made barbells that isn’t Rogue, American Barbell or Diamond Pro. That alone gave it a certain allure, but the performance quickly made it one of my favorite and most recommended barbells.

If there was anything “wrong” with the Vulcan Standard; it was that the shaft was 28.5mm in diameter making it more of a “CrossFit” bar (I’m a crossfitter), and less of a training barbell. Which could be fine for you purposes depending on what you’re looking for.  I also think it’s kind of weird when 28.5mm bars only have a WL marking, but Vulcan must have read my review and not too long after the PL marking was added in; I guess the same could be said about 28mm bars with PL markings! The original 28.5mm Standard is still available, but you now also have the option to go with a true 28mm Training Bar under the same moniker.

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  • 28mm diameter shaft with nickel chrome coating and a single IWF marking.
  • 196k PSI tensile strength.
  • Medium depth knurling.
  • Oil impregnated bronze bushings with bright zinc sleeves.
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • $345 with Free Shipping
  • Lifetime Warranty

Many of the specifications of the original Standard carry over to the training bar other than a very slight jump in tensile strength. This is not a bad thing as the original Standard was a great barbell due to many of these attributes. The same good ol’ American made build quality still stands as well; the Training bar is one of the most sturdy sounding bars when dropped. A more significant change is the difference in price, but more on that later on.

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As with the original Standard, rotation is aided by a set of bronze bushings per sleeve. Spinning the sleeve freely without weight surprisingly doesn’t produce as many rotations as the original Standard did. We all know by now that spinning the sleeves like that doesn’t mean much to the actual performance of the bar. On the contrary, the bronze bushings found in the Standard Training bar allow for buttery smooth rotations under any kind of load. Since the bushings are sintered, rotation should actually get better with use and last you quite some time before having to re-lubricate. If you wanted “wow” factor, you could opt for the bearing variant!

Out of the box, Vulcan uses a much thicker grease lubricant to protect the bar from it’s own tight tolerances. This reduces metal to metal contact, resulting in less wear over time and a “looser” barbell. Other manufacturers will use a thinner type lubricant to make the bar spin better out of the box, but not necessarily to safeguard the barbell.

Tensile strength has changed from the 194k psi tensile to a 196k psi tensile, which does mean that the metallurgy of the steel has been altered. It’s interesting to see that the thinner shaft has the higher strength between the two, but the hike in tensile strength doesn’t do anything to the dynamic properties of the barbell. Most barbells in this range usually have an adequate amount of whip for most people but should increase as the weights go up.  I found that the Training bar feels a lot like the Standard I remembered in this area. You start to feel the bar move around 100kg, but not enough to make a difference. YMMV if you’re a big boy/girl lifter!


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Vulcan’s nickel chrome coating is blingin’. Aesthetically, the Training bar is beautiful, but that’s probably not the reason you’re buying it. Chrome is great against chipping and scratching but remember, oxidation can still happen. Though I haven’t experienced any issues with this being from SoCal, you can expect this to happen in the most humid of environments. You can count on the shaft looking great for years to come if taken care of properly. I always recommend keeping a nylon brush near by to knock the chalk out of your knurling. The polished shaft is without center knurling but you shouldn’t have any issues with it slipping off your chest, as I felt it actually caught my sticky skin instead.

Vulcan is one of the only manufacturers to actually tout they have a medium depth knurling; I think companies stray away from this because they’re afraid that it might cost them some bar sales, but over the years I’ve notice a trend of people that actually want a more aggressive knurl pattern. I remember the original Standard not having a very aggressive knurl, which I personally liked, but the Training bar’s knurl is much more aggressive than it what it once was. Knurling is the most subjective thing when it comes to choosing a barbell; what I like, you might not, and vice versa. However, I actually find the Training bar’s knurling to be quite comfortable, even for reps. The pattern is a bit more fine, but also deeper and provides excellent grip even without having to chalk up. Fans of more aggressive knurling will revel at the touch of the Training bar’s knurling.

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The Standard Training bar will set you back a cool $66 more than the OG ($345 vs $279), which is a considerable amount more. If you’re a dedicated weightlifter, this is a no-brainer, you need that 28mm shaft! From a Crossfitter’s point of view, you might be just fine saving a little bit and going for the original Standard. You can sure as hell perform Oly movements just fine with the OG just as well as you can do WOD’s with the Training bar. They’re still both excellent and it mainly depends on your budget, but I would always opt for the 28mm barbell.

For the price, there are other great barbells, so I think it mainly comes down to what your preferences are with knurling.  There are no wrong answers in this range of barbells, but if you’re looking for a good ol’ American made 28mm training bar with a real medium depth knurling, is built like a tank and should last you for years to come, look no further than the Vulcan Standard. If theres anything I know about Vulcan, it’s that they have an insatiable need to put out the the best quality gear out there; you can shop with confidence.

Get your Vulcan Standard Training bar here!