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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!

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Rogue Fitness Stainless Steel Ohio Bar Review

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I’ve owned just about every iteration of the Rogue Fitness Ohio Bar. My first being the black oxide 1.1, and since then, a few more black zinc 1.1’s and 1.2’s; even the Operator bar and Echo bars can be counted as spin off versions of the Ohio.  The only real drastic change in the Ohio bar since it was first conceived was the tensile strength going from 155k psi to the current 190k psi. Besides losing the option to get a chrome version of the bar, mainly everything everything stayed the same. Still, 3 years later the Ohio bar remains arguably the most popular barbell in the world. Partly because the name behind it, but mainly because it just works for just about everything and everyone. The latest version of the ever popular barbell brings some useful features but also a questionable “downgrade”, at a moderate premium in price.

The shaft largely remains the same, but now has a 195k psi tensile strength rating, probably due to being made from stainless steel. In the real world, that 5k increase really isn’t going to do a ton in the way of durability, but anything above 190k should be able to stand up to just about anything you can throw at it anyways. The stainless steel Ohio bar came to me extra dirty, but at least it wasn’t too greasy when it arrived. Stainless steel is unmatched in feel by any coating, as it’s basically like having a bare steel barbell. If you’ve never used either types of barbells before, they have a chalky feel to them, unlike zinc or chrome. Though the shaft is stainless, the sleeves are still coated with chrome. Rogue’s website says something about not using a steel wire brush to clean the SS Ohio bar because it can cause rusting. I’m going to assume this is the same reason they went with chrome sleeves instead so that bumper plate collars aren’t going to be rubbing and causing rust issues.

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Since it is the Ohio bar, the shaft remains the 28.5mm multi-use bar standard diameter. Don’t expect this to ever change, but at least they’re going to be releasing stainless versions of multiple bars in their line-up, including a 28mm (Ohio?) training bar. Still, 28.5mm remains a popular pick because it can fit in with just about everything you’re planning to do. If you’re a dedicated weightlifter, get a 28mm bar, it makes a difference.

Arguably the best feature of the stainless steel shaft is the fact that it’s provides the knurling the exact feel the Rogue engineers designed it to have. With bars with coating, the knurling is cut, then the coating is laid on top of the bar, bastardizing the knurling to some degree. As always, Rogue knurling is the most uniform and well cut knurling on the market with a pattern designed to satisfy most people. I say this because I have plenty of friends that think Rogue’s knurling is too aggressive, but many would beg to differ. Personally I think it’s more towards the medium depth spectrum – after getting used to it, the knurling will be tolerable to use for high rep work but at the same time it’ll be grippy enough to use for powerlifting and weightlifting singles. Vary rarely do I ever feel the need to use excessive amounts of chalk. At this point, I love Rogue’s current knurling but there was definitely a break in time for my hands.

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As with my first Ohio bar and those that followed it, the sleeve spin isn’t anything to write home about. When I first experienced this, it was a major letdown, but over time I’ve learned that free spinning a sleeve isn’t actually indicative of how well it will spin under load. Ohio bars have always had very smooth and consistent rotation with their bronze bushings and the SS Ohio is no different; you have nothing to worry about as long as the sleeves spin without seizing, . Rogue decided to go with the same composite bushings that they use in their Rogue Bar 2.0. Performance feels the same between bronze and composite bushings, but durability is questionable. Composite should actually cut down on friction between the bar and sleeve by reducing metal to metal contact, assuming the bushing itself lasts that long. In my Rogue Bar 2.0, one of the bushings has flattened out after so many drops, to the point where I have had to pull the excess of it off the bushing.

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Even though spin between composite and bronze bushings is very similar, I think this change is a huge mistake. I can’t be the only one that sees the stainless steel version of the Ohio bar as a premium version of an already premium product, also with a premium price tag, so taking away a “premium” feature like bronze bushings is just ridiculous. Keep in mind this is exactly what separates the not so premium Rogue Bar 2.0 from the “premium” Ohio bar; even Echo bars have bronze bushings.

Performance remains largely unchanged from generation to generation of Ohio bars. That’s kind of what makes the Ohio bar what it is and why it’s popular. It’s a jack of all trades, master of none kind of barbell. The spin isn’t amazingly fast, the whip isn’t very dynamic and actually feels slightly stiffer than it’s original models. Still, the Ohio bar will handily do anything you ask of it, and that’s exactly what most people need/want. If you want a stiffer bar for squatting and pressing, get a power bar. If you want a whippier bar for olympic lifting, get a training bar. The Ohio bar is the perfect multi-use/CrossFit/functional fitness barbell.

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So, why drop the extra cash on the stainless steel Ohio bar when you can get a normal one with bronze bushings for about $75 less? The main draw, and really the only reason you should buy the stainless bar, is it’s corrosion resistance. Unlike it’s counterparts that will eventually lose their protective coatings and rust, stainless steel will never have that problem because it doesn’t have a coating. Corrosion resistance is a spectrum and stainless is at the top, though it’s not completely immune to rusting – it will just take much, much more for it to start to oxidize. Being near Los Angeles this really isn’t an issue (no, we don’t all live by the beach). I spent the last couple weeks using the SS Ohio bar as my daily driver, not worrying about knocking the chalk out of it or wiping it down, and it looked as good as new when I did.

If you’re in the south, where humidity runs rampant a good chunk of the year, this bar is made for you. Garage gym enthusiasts might also want to look into the SS Ohio bar since their bars will be more exposed to the elements. Hell, this might be a good choice for you even if you’re just too lazy to maintain your barbells. If you don’t fall into any of these categories, you’re better off saving your money by purchasing the tried and true version of the Ohio bar.

Get your Rogue Fitness Stainless Steel Ohio Bar here!

American Barbell SS Bearing Bar (Competition Spec) Review

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I’ve been reviewing barbells for going on 3 years now. In those 3 years, I’ve seen a ton of junk, stuff that’s okay, bars that are good, but very rarely do I come across a mind blowing barbell. Most of the stuff that I’ve used is what I would consider mid-range; pretty much anything up to $300. That’s initially all I wanted to spend on my first barbell and that’s what seems to be the popular price point for many people as well. As time has passed, my willingness to spend a little bit more has gotten greater as my knowledge of barbells has.

Like all things in life, excellence comes at a cost.

That’s not saying you can’t get a great barbell for sub-$300, there are tons of picks I could give you in that price range; many people would be satisfied with any of those choices. Or you could be like me and buy barbell after barbell, searching for “the one”. Honestly, I still haven’t found it, but the American Barbell SS Bearing bar is pretty damn close to exactly what I’m looking for.

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Top to bottom: Rogue EU, AB SS bar
Let’s get this out of the way: The American Barbell SS bar is not cheap. 

That being said, you can buy a Ford Fiesta to get from point A to point B. Slow (not the ST), not all that safe, and definitely not in style. Then you can spend a bit more to buy a Honda Accord; adequately fast, safe by most standards, and classically handsome. Or you can buy a BMW M5; fast as hell, filled with all the safety gadgets you can think of, and sexier than Kate Upton eating a melting popsicle on a hot Summer day (okay, maybe not).

Value is a matter of perspective, but you get what you pay for. I can’t tell you how much to spend on a bar, but my general rule of thumb is that you want to spend as much as you possibly can on your barbell. This is the piece of equipment that dictates your lifting experience; not bumpers, not a platform, not collars. What’s the point of spending $300, only to wish you spent $500 on something better? You might as well save you pennies up and do it right the first time; unless that is just totally unrealistic. The $795 dollar cost is higher than most people will initially be looking for in a barbell, but the peace of mind, quality, warranty and performance justifies the hefty price tag.

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Top to Bottom: Rogue EU, AB SS
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about how amazing the ABSS bar is!

The build quality and presentation of American Barbell’s creation is nothing short of incredible. Even the packaging is on the next level. Most barbells ship in a cardboard tube, but the ends usually aren’t secured with nothing more than tape, which leads to them being popped off and the ends being damaged during shipping. The ends of the container that hold the ABSS bar are riveted in and secured with screws; you literally have to cut the container open to get to your bar. Don’t worry though, because each sleeve of the barbell also comes with a styrofoam sleeve with plastic caps at each end to protect the ends of the bar. There is a fair amount of shipping oil that you’re going to have to strip off the bar before use; a little tedious to do but it’s better than rust.

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Part of the magic (and why it costs a little more) that makes the ABSS bar, is that it is made from stainless steel. It’s very similar in feel to a bare steel bar, but you won’t have to worry about corrosion or scratches.  No worries when cleaning the chalk out of the knurl with a steel bristle brush, which you should be doing regularly. Pair that with the insanely well cut and profiled knurling of the ABSS and you’ve got one of the best handling barbells in existence. While the ABSS has somewhat light knurling, it almost grips you back providing sure pulls through and through. For me, this is what knurling should be like; even if you like shark tooth knurling, there’s no way you couldn’t get a solid grip on the ABSS bar. I could probably count the amount of times I’ve had to chalk up on both of my hands.

Like most true 20kg weightlifting barbells, center knurl is present as what they tout as “ghost knurling”. True to it’s name, you’d never even know it was there. It’s almost too light, and I don’t say that much about center knurling. If you lift shirtless, you won’t have to worry about any kind of irritation on your collarbone. With a shirt on, you’ll be greeted by and oh so slight stick when it catches your shirt.

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Since the ABSS bar is competition spec, so it is built to IWF standards. What this means is that all of the specifications: bar length, sleeve length, diameters, knurling and end caps match up to the standard. This is apparent most in the sleeve diameter. Though not ribbed as much as other barbells, the very strict tolerances lead to plates fitting almost perfectly making training without collars doable. Going even another step further, the sleeves are friction welded together at a recessed point on the sleeve to prevent any kind of stress failures. I’ve never felt a barbell as sturdy as the ABSS bar; when dropped, the ABSS is silent other than the sound from dropping or your plates. The “crack” of making contact with the barbell is like music to ones ears. If you give the bar a kick test, all you’ll be greeted with is the sound of the steel oscillating; there is virtually no play side to side or up and down in the sleeves.

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I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to tensile strength nowadays. Like contrast ratio is for TV’s, tensile strength is usually just a number used to mess with consumers to make them think “bigger is better”. 190k is all you’ll ever need in a barbell.  Metallurgy is the key to a bar’s amount of whip; but we’re not all scientists and no ones giving us the exact measurements on how each shaft is forged. Stainless steel is rarely used in barbells because of the cost and that it’s difficult to come up with the right composition to make the bar strong, but able to have elasticity. My general test for this other than lifting, is to just give the bar a couple bumps to where it would normally make contact; the more soft, and bouncy feeling the bar is, the better. During lifts, the point of contact feels smooth and springy. The ABSS is on par with all of the top shelf weightlifting bars I own and leagues better than your standard Rogue Bar. The max I’ve picked up was 265lb/120kg and even that is a bit light for whip to really be apparent, but this bar has enough for me to not worry about it.  I just know that with all the lifting I’ve done with this bar, I’ve yet to get a bruise from it.


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Sleeve spin is one of those things that easily entices people towards bars, but all you really need is something that spins consistently. Free spinning a sleeve and dropping under a bar with load are two different things. What people don’t get is that even most bushing bars are going to rotate enough for most people to get under; it’s not until the load gets heavier that they really start to suffer. The cheap bearings that entice most will also tend to rotate too much, which can also be detrimental to heavier lifts. American Barbell’s proprietary bearing system isn’t the fastest that I’ve come across, but in all of my lifts, not once did I feel a shortage of rotation nor was I unable to drop under the bar. You won’t realize how fast you’re dropping until you’ve caught the bar; the best way I can describe it is that it’s one of the most “fluid” experiences with a barbell you could ever have.

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You must be tired of all the oogling I’ve done over the American Barbell SS Bearing Bar, but it’s all well deserved. Maybe it’s the money I spent on the bar, but this is quite possibly the best barbell I’ve ever lifted on. It’s hard for me to even want to use my Rogue EU bar, which I thought previously was the top of the spectrum of barbells. Forget the Eleiko Sport Training bar that I just bought, too. 

Along with that premium price tag comes a premium product. There is nothing about this barbell that feels cheap or like corners have been cut in any way.  The ABSS can stand toe to toe with the best bars out there and if you’re serious about weightlifting, deserves your attention. I can almost guarantee you will not have any kind of buyer’s remorse after spending some time with this bar. The American Barbell SS Bearing bar is worth all the blood, sweat, and tears that go into being able to purchase it.

You will not regret this purchase.

Get your American Barbell SS Bearing bar here!

 

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