Tag Archives: usa

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?

IMG_9926

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.

IMG_9923

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.

IMG_9922

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.

​​
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!

Advertisements

Strencor American Lifter Barbell Review

IMG_8744

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.

IMG_8740

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.

IMG_8738

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.

IMG_8739

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

Wright Equipment Pro Elite 20kg Olympic Bearing Barbell Review

It’s pretty sad that whenever I see a new import barbell, with a little bit of searching I can find almost the exact same barbell sold by another brand.  Such is the world we live in, not that I have anything against imports or cheap labor or anything, but I’ll say it a million times over, I’d rather buy U.S. made.

Once again, there are a ton of great bars out there that are imported.  If anything, from a consumer standpoint, the more import bars hit the market, the more prices get driven down; it’s a win win for you and I.  I guess it could be a double edged sword, the quality of American made bars could go down, but with companies like Wright Equipment, I highly doubt it.  Wright has been supplying the fitness game for quite some time now, and lately has been coming out with some excellent and affordable “Made in the U.S.A” products.  They carry U.S made olympic barbells for just about any budget:  the Steel City Bruiser bar for entry level, the CF series bar that delivers mid range performance at a slightly higher than entry level price, and now the new & improved Pro Elite bearing barbell with absolutely killer specs at an unbeatable price.  Did Wright skimp on anything to lower the quality of this bar to match the prices of it’s imported counterparts?

Short answer…

…No.

But of course you’re here for the long answer.

IMG_0841

Having not tested the previous Pro Elite bar, but having had something very close in specifications to it, I didn’t exactly know what to expect.  I’ve used a ton of quality barbells; most I like or I find something of them to like. Not many I totally hate, but I can usually find something that I dislike about all of them.  There’s a LOT to like about the Pro Elite bar, first being that it’s made in the U.S.A.; there are plenty of other bars that are as well, but nothing comes close to the performance and quality per price of the Pro Elite.  I usually save the value aspect for the end of the review, but I’ll just get it out of the way now. This bar costs $325 shipped.  There are no U.S. made bearing barbells even remotely close to this price.  You might be able to find a decent training barbell with bushings for around the same price, but nothing with bearings.

IMG_0843

Speaking of the bearings, 8 total needle bearings, 4 per sleeve.  To say that this bar is unbelievably fast is an understatement; I have not used anything as fast or as smooth as the Pro Elite.  Top of the line barbell from other famous U.S. barbell maker that starts with an “R” included.  Talk about wrist protection, you don’t have to bother letting go of the barbell to turn it over, just hang on and throw your elbows through and the bearings rotate the bar ever so swiftly into your rack position.  I’m not even that heaviest of weightlifters, this is all with normal people weight. You’ll get a kick out of just cleaning the naked bar with how disgustingly easy you can rotate your elbows under.  I’ve heard that bars that spin too much can be a detriment to high end lifting, but I couldn’t fathom how easy turning this bar over could be bad.

IMG_0844

Most barbells nowadays are bear a zinc finish, or a hard chrome.  I for one, am kind of tired of seeing the black shaft, bright sleeve look.  I know it’s mainly just for looks, but the zinc has its purpose in protecting the bar against oxidation.  If you really want a robust bar, chrome is always the way to go.  With the Pro Elite, you get a nickel plating that is somewhere in between zinc and chrome.  Not only does the nickel plating protect against corrosion, but it’s damn cool looking, giving the barbell almost a gold hue to it.  Think the iPhone gold, and thats what the entire barbell is colored.  Also, the finish on the bar isn’t of the polished sort, it’s more of a matte and catches nicely even when you’re sweaty.  I’m interested to see how the nickel will get tarnished over time, that should provide an even more interesting looking barbell.

Being that the Pro Elite barbell is made in the U.S.A., you had to expect that it’s built like M1 Abrams tank.  There is virtually no play in the sleeves at all, and the bar makes no rattle at all when dropped.  The only noise you’ll get out of the bar is from the bearings when you spin the sleeves and even that is minor compared to other barbells.  Knurling is like wine, or beer in my case; everyone has a preference.  Mine mainly go based off my mood, but I typically prefer blondes, pinot noir, and light knurling.  For me, the Pro Elite’s knurling is perfect.  It’s nice and uniform, not super fine, more on the coarse side but doesn’t feel sloppy in your hands, and not cheese grater deep.  Sadly, there’s only a single mark for weightlifting on the 28.5mm diameter shaft.

IMG_0846

Rounding out the Pro Elite is the barbell’s 201k PSI tensile strength shaft.  Studies say that anything over the 190k PSI won’t develop a permanent bend over time, but I’ve seen bars with 155k tensile strengths not bend from years and years of abuse.  To put it simply, you’re not going to bend this bar unless you actually try to.  Even with that high tensile, the Pro Elite has plenty of whip to satisfy even the most proficient lifters.  I will say that it’s not the most dynamic bar that I’ve used, but it’s plenty fine for me and I’m sure if you were a higher level lifter, you could coax more out of this bar.  Reviewing videos of myself deadlifting with the bar shows that under even a medium amount of load, the bar flexes a considerable amount.  I’m sure if that bar was moving faster during weightlifting, you’d get a lot more out of it.

IMG_0851

Not every barbell is perfect, and I told you that I can always find some things to nitpick at.  In the case of the Pro Elite, the fact that it doesn’t have a powerlifting mark is on the minor gripe side, but the fact that the diameter of the bar isn’t 28mm gets me.  If it was a weightlifting bar, it should be 28mm; but since it’s a mixed use bar at 28.5mm, it should have a powerlifting mark too.  Like I said, totally nitpicking here and at the end of the day, these are very minor things that I can live with, especially given the performance and price of the Pro Elite.  Oh, and the bearings are wickedly fast, but they’re not the smoothest.  You’re probably not going to really notice since the bar is so fast, but hey, I have to try to find some negatives to the bar!

I haven’t yet found a bar that I’ve loved as much as the Wright Pro Elite as of yet.  You just can’t beat the class leading performance it brings to the table at a fraction of the cost of other bars that have comparable specs.  This is my favorite bar yet, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.  If you’re looking for a barbell for weightlifting, mixed use, or functional fitness, look no further, this is the one!  Even if $325 stretches your budget, it’s well worth it to get a quality, American made product that is just as excellent as the country it’s made in.

Get your Wright Equipment Pro Elite Barbell here!