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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Back when I was looking into purchasing my first barbell, there weren’t as many choices as there are now, but one company that was fairly new at the time had one of my picks. It was between the Rogue Fitness Ohio Bar and the RepFitness Excalibur bar; I ended up going with the Ohio, but shortly after not being wowed by that bar, picked up the Excalibur to soothe my woes. Not that the Ohio bar is a bad barbell, but if you ask anyone that purchased it under the impression that it would have great spin, they’ll probably give you the same underwhelmed impressions that I had. On the contrary, the Excalibur had amazing spin for a bushing barbell, but even better whip! For a little under $300, it was one of the best deals at the time, it’s a shame that bar isn’t being sold anymore. You can still read my review of the bushing and bearing barbells.
I have no clue why they discontinued, maybe contracts ended with the company that made them, Gymway (who make a lot of other popular barbells as well). Since then, RepFitness hasn’t had a barbell that caught my attention until recently, with the Gladiator barbell. How could it not? It’s a 10 needle bearing barbell, with an insanely high tensile, hard chrome coating, and 28mm shaft for under $250! Sounds pretty good, right?!
The Gladiator is a beautifully constructed barbell. The shaft is a whopping 230k psi tensile with 210k yield, only second in strength to barbell formerly known as the Klokov bar, the XTraining Competition bar. While its easy to be wowed by such high numbers (because higher is always better right?), tensile and yield aren’t necessarily indicative of performance, but more on this when we get there. Each sleeve is held on without very much play side to side, so dropping the barbell with weight doesn’t produce any rattles. Added details include a machined groove for ID bands and ribbed sleeves. The diameter of the shaft is 28mm and has both IPF/IWF markings on it, which fitting the barbell’s mixed use intentions; though I would say this would be a better weightlifting training bar.
The knurling is a very well cut medium depth, with prominent start and stop points. I’ve gotten use to knurling like this so the depth doesn’t bother my hands much anymore and it provides excellent grip. For pure oly lifting, it’s just about perfect, but it can be a bit much for high rep workouts. Hard chrome is just a bit more slippery by nature, so I would recommend chalking up, at least until you leave some residue in the knurling. Rust prevention has yet to be determined, but any coating can rust, and chrome has the tendency to develop surface rust no matter what you do.
If you’re looking for a barbell that rotates well, this is it. The 10 needle bearing system of the Gladiator bar rotates the shaft excellent and I’ve never been at a loss of speed using this barbell. Moreover, the rotation feels smooth and not “grindy” like some bearing bars can be. Back to the high tensile/yield strength of the barbell – the Excalibur bar this is not, in terms of whip. While not being as stiff as the Klokov bar was, the Gladiator is a bit less dynamic that I would like to see from a training bar and oscillation falls in line with pretty much all multi-use barbells under $300. I’m not going to knock it for this though, since most bars around this price range feel the same and most people would not notice a difference in this area.
All things considered, for $230, the RepFitness Gladiator bar is probably the best barbell under $250. For a training bar around this price range, look no further. Even without the Excalibur like whip, the Gladiator performs like a bar double the price; take into consideration the bearing version of the Excalibur did almost cost double. The Gladiator is an import barbell, but you can’t even compare the build quality to 90% of what’s out there. Everything about this barbell is solid, from the sleeve rotation to the construction, but most importantly, the price!
Is it the perfect barbell? No, I’m still trying to find that one. Is it going to be perfect for people wanting a the best value to performance ratio barbell? Yep.
In this not so short video, I go over a few barbells that you should look into when shopping for your first barbell. All of these are under $300 (not including shipping/tax), which is a great price range to get a nice barbell, and perform excellent in their own rights. Some are better for weightlifting, some are mixed use, but all are great barbells that you could use for CrossFit in either the garage gym or affiliate atmosphere.
Man, this review has been a looooong time coming. I’ve had this thing for a while now, decided not use it and then after I opened my affiliate, decided that it would be best to just have it there as another WOD bar; it wasn’t because there was anything wrong with the barbell or that I didn’t like it. In fact, it’s very similar to the Vulcan Standard, which I really liked.
When you go through so many barbells, you can kind of get an idea of who’s actually behind making the bars (I could be wrong of course). So, when a different looking barbell comes up, it piques your interest; that’s exactly what attracted me to the Pure-Strength barbell. As stated before, the only bar that resembled the design was the Vulcan Standard, but a few things were off. First, the Pure-Strength bar had dual markings; the Vulcan does now but didn’t at the time. Second, the Vulcan only came in bright zinc and still does. Third, the tensile is slightly different, but that’s negligible. All a bunch of little things, but curiosity still go the best of me, so I bit. Anyways, let’s talk about the Pure-Strength bar…
The thing that caught my eye the most was the rounded edges that the sleeves have. No other bars besides the Pure-Strength and Vulcan bar have these. It actually gives the bright zinc sleeves both a very polished look, no pun intended. Both are still paired with an exposed bronze oil-lite bushing unlike the cast ones now found on Rogue’s bars. Spin isn’t the greatest, but it’s smooth and adequate for most lifters. There’s not a whole lot of play in the sleeves, so the bar makes a very pleasant “thud” when dropped with weights.
The knurling on the Pure-Strength bar can be either it’s best or worst feature; users will either love or hate it’s light depth. Personally, I don’t mind light knurling and if I need a little more grip, I just chalk up. While the knurling is light in depth, it’s pattern is well cut and doesn’t feel choppy in your hands. The start and stop points could be a little bit more refined though. Like most bars nowadays, the knurl extends all the way to right before the sleeve attaches to the bar. It isn’t just myself that is a fan of the knurl, this is one of the most sought after bars by members at my gym. Oddly enough, the 28.5mm diameter shaft feels slightly thicker than other bars that should have the same diameter (I thought the same of the Standard).
Like most popular bars on the market, the Pure-Strength barbell has a tensile strength of 190k psi. This is a multi purpose barbell that’s acceptable for all types lifting; excellent for functional fitness purposes. Don’t expect whip like a dedicated Oly bar, but it’s not awful either. It’ll suffice most heavier lifters and if you’re not going over 225lbs, you probably wouldn’t notice a difference here anyways. It’s whip is right on par with other popular barbells with similar tensile strength and doesn’t really kick in until past the 200’s. If you need proof that this bar performs well, check out this video of ZA Anderson hitting #260 on “the big clean complex”.
So in a sea of Rogue Fitness barbells, why would you want to go for the Pure-Strength barbell? Asides from quickly gaining a ton of popularity from being the gear supplier for a ton of high profile events (East Coast Championship), Pure-Strength actually produces really nice rigs and squat racks as well. Granted, it’s kind of iffy buying anything from anyone besides Rogue, as we’ve seen recently with Pendlay and Again Faster. Pure-Strength is still gathering steam and doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere soon. Not to mention, the Pure-Strength bar will only set you back $270 shipped (to CA), as opposed to the $320 of it’s closest Rogue competitor, the Ohio bar (or the Vulcan Standard at $279).
If you wanted a solid alternative to Rogue, that has less aggressive knurling, you’ll probably want to check out the Pure-Strength barbell.