Tag Archives: weightlifting

Foost Fitness Lifter Review

The last time I can remember stretching, before I got into CrossFit, was probably around when I played high school volleyball. Ain’t nobody got time to stretch at Globo Gym. That compounded with all the ankle sprains and sitting down playing video games have done a good amount to negatively affect my mobility. Even still, I know I’m still better off than most, so at times it’s hard for me to emphasize with others that have really bad mobility.  As a coach, I say the best thing you can do for yourself is just put a little bit more effort into your stretching and myofacial release, but that just takes time. The other option is to get yourself a pair of Olympic weightlifting shoes in the meantime.

Picking a pair with the right heel height takes a bit of luck. Not everyone is going to need or be able to lift with a high heel and vice versa. Foost Fitness is aiming their lifter at the people that have poor mobility, typically found in beginner CrossFitters. The main draw to the Foost Lifter is their 1.28″ heel height, currently the highest heel in a weightlifting shoe (that I know of), wooden heel or not. They’re still a new company without any history behind making Olympic weightlifting shoes, but if their big gamble works out, it could shake up things in the world of Oly shoes for both beginners and seasoned vet’s alike.

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Looks/Construction:

I opted for the new canvas Foost Lifters mainly because they were new and different, but personally I think the leather versions are much sexier looking. Surprisingly, the canvas model actually costs a little bit more than the leather ones do! The canvas upper is a little bit more plain looking, not something you’d wear to a ball, but it doesn’t look bad at all. In fact, a ton of people have said that the Foost Lifters look pretty bad ass, in which I’d have to agree, just not as much as the leather ones do. The strap and C-Frame on all of the canvas models is brown, which I think accents very nicely, especially with the red, blue and black colorways I’m not quite sure what type of wood is used for the heel, but I’m pretty sure it’s not stained or anything, but it does have a unique look about it. These shoes are made in Brazil, so it’s probably a tree native to their country. Sadly, my lifters didn’t come with the cool rope laces shown in the pictures, but just plain black ones instead.

The materials used on the canvas model Foost Lifters are good enough, but not great. I wouldn’t go comparing these to a pair of any other top shelf lifting shoe in terms of finish. Honestly, I’m not surprised being that they’re such a small startup company, but it’s definitely an area they could improve on. The overall construction of the shoe feels well built, but the quality of the materials isn’t quite top quality. The upper fabric came a little bit dirty, got crumpled up looking really fast and the leather strap feels a little bit flimsy. The wood heel looks au natural, literally like they just chopped up a tree and put it in the shoe. It is carved into a design, but it’s not smoothed out well and mine has some divots in it, not to mention there are some dark spots that almost look like the wood was rotting. It might sound like I’m nitpicking, but it’s a crowded playing field and I haven’t seen these issues on any other shoe before, especially ones that cost $200.

I’m sure sourcing materials must be a pain in the ass; I’ve heard import taxes to Brazil are outrageous. The Foost lifters are well built and definitely don’t feel like they’re going to fall apart or anything, they’re just overshadowed by the build quality of some of today’s top lifting shoes.

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Fit:

Duck footed people rejoice, these are the shoes you’ve been waiting for! If there’s anything I could say about the Foost lifters, it’s that they’re wide shoes! Even with a pretty in between shaped foot, I find the Foost’s extremely comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. The toebox is one of the widest I’ve come across in an olympic weightlifting shoe and lets the toes splay comfortably. There’s a ton of padding around the ankle collar and a stiff embedded heel cup which keeps your feet from shifting laterally, but make sure you lace the shoes up or you’ll get a tiny bit of heel slip. The tongue is also nicely cushioned without any hot spots up top. The lacing scheme doesn’t have anything fancy going on, but works well enough to get a locked in fit. The strap extends up through the lateral side and holds the midfoot really well.

I think the best part about how the Foost’s fit is how flat the inside of the shoe is, omitting the fact that the drop is 32.5mm. There is no arch support or anything, no contours really inside the foot, just a nice open space for your feet to do their thing. The insole is thin and just good enough to give you a little bit of comfort but if you wanted a competition feel, you could just take it out. Back to the drop, the Foost’s have the highest heel on the market at 1.28″ or 32.5mm, which is pretty apparent by how the shoe looks, but doesn’t feel as apparent when you’re using the shoes. It drops down very gradually from the heel to the toe without any harsh ledges, something that I really like from the Positions.

I got the Foost’s in a size 9.5 US, which fits me right on the money. The point of the toe box does a very good job accommodating Morton’s toe. Here are my sizes for reference:

  • Legacy – 9.5
  • Romaleos 2&3 – 9.5
  • Positions – 9.5
  • Adipowers – 9.5
  • Leistung – 9.5 (tight)
  • Nano – 10
  • Metcon – 10
  • NoBull (& Lifter) – 10

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Performance:

Where the Foost’s make up for the lower quality materials, they make up in performance. As some of you know, I’m typically not fond of higher heels on weightlifting shoes. Before trying these shoes out, if you would have asked me what I thought about a shoe with a 1.28″ heel, I would have laughed in your face, but these are the real deal and have mostly changed my mind about a taller heel.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there is anything wrong with higher heels, I just personally haven’t had the greatest success lifting with them. A higher heel is good for a few things, mainly for mobility reasons for people that have poor ankle and hip mobility. It can be beneficial for people that have longer femurs to help them sit back more easily. For me, they help me keep pressure down on the middle of my foot and keep my toes down through the second pull. Certain shoes where the drop is more pronounced make me rock back and forth. The added mobility lets me catch with a much more upright torso position since I can sit a bit further down in my squat, which really helps me lift on those days where I’m feeling extra tight.

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Most all Olympic weightlifting shoes are stable, but the Foost’s are on another level. Lateral stability is quite possibly the best, if not tied with some of the best shoes I’ve used. Landing on their extra wide base feels rock solid, like the shoes were magnetic towards the ground. The TPU C-Frame does a great job of keeping your feet where they need to be without making the shoe feel any bulkier than they already are. No need to worry about split jerks, the forefoot of the shoe is extremely flexible, at least on the canvas model; just make sure you strap down the medial strap because your feet might slide into the wide toe box. The rubber outsole doesn’t look like it has any kind of special treading, but it’s amount of grip is actually one of the best features of the Foost’s, traction on dusty wooden floors to smooth rubber mats is excellent.

Responsiveness is what you’d expect of a wooden heeled shoe – 100%. Wood provides some of the most solid platforms you can possibly get in a shoe, it’s no wonder it was the choice for years and years until people switched to cheaper to manufacture TPU. The Foost lifters are my preferred squatting shoe now because I can really sit back and let my hamstrings take over. Note that I squat high bar, your experience may vary with low bar. When I’ve got to squat high numbers for volume, I’m definitely putting on the Foost’s. Even though they’re a bigger shoe overall, they’re not the heaviest, not the lightest either at 18.45oz for a men’s 9.5. Still, they don’t feel that heavy on the feet like Legacy’s or ANTA’s do. I’d say they most closely resemble Romaleos 2 with a much taller heel.

Catching snatches deep with an upright torso is a dream because of the added mobility and stability of the Foost’s. I’ve always had an issue with taller heel Oly shoes pitching me forward when I catch cleans (because of my lat mobility), so I didn’t think I would like cleaning in the Foost’s. I’m not going to lie, I’m still adjusting to the height, but if I just take a moment to solidify the placement of the bar on my shoulders, I’m able to clean well enough without worrying about having to switch shoes. The pros of the Foost’s make me want to get better with cleaning in these shoes.

I did do the WOD “Amanda” in the Foosts and PR’d my time by a lot, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that these are good shoes to WOD in. I was throwing up that 135 snatch in Amanda and catching it without much effort, but that’s pretty minimal movement. They’re flexible in the forefoot, but you’re not going to want to run or bound in them. You can definitely use them for gymnastics and weightlifting based WOD’s just fine though. They breathe as well as most Oly shoes do, not well – which is fine for Oly sessions, but not great to do a WOD in.

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Value/Conclusion:

So what do you get for the $200-$213 you’re paying for the Foost lifters? While they don’t stand up to the competition as far as materials used, they trounce most other lifters in performance. Comparing heel height performance just comes down to preference, but from a guy that doesn’t really like higher heels, I have to say the Foost’s are legit. If you had piss poor mobility, the Foost’s are a no brainer. It’s tough having to put your money on a shoe that’s so new, relatively unproven, that you can’t try on, but I’ll put my name on it that you’ll like the Foost’s.

By purchasing into the Foost’s, you’ll be helping a smaller company grow, which in part will lead to better materials and manufacturing. Right now they do have some issues filling inventory as they’re growing. Honestly, I didn’t think I would like the Foost lifters as much as I do, despite the slightly lower quality materials on the canvas models, I’d say they’re in my top 2 favorite lifters (#1 is Position). I’ve got a pair of the leather models on the way, so when that comes I’ll update with how those feel.

If you’re looking for a ROCK solid stable weightlifting shoe with a taller heel, you need to check out the Foost Lifters.

The Good:

  • One of the most stable and responsive Olympic lifting shoes.
  • Wide toe-box is comfortable.
  • One of the best outsoles in terms of grip.

The Bad:

  • Canvas upper isn’t that nice.
  • Durability is yet to be seen.
  • Can’t really try them on anywhere.

The Ugly:

  • 1.28″ heel height might not be for everyone.
  • Shoe looks good from far, but…just okay from close.
  • Production is a little light.

Get your Foost Lifters here!

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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!

Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 V2 Review

Barefoot training/running had a huge surge at the start of the decade. The premise is simple enough, training barefoot should lead to stronger foot muscles, tendons and ligaments. Things like midsoles and insoles lead to power degradation and instability when lifting weights. Zero drop was ideal because it promoted better running technique versus having a cushy heel to strike. There’s was a lot of taboo behind the benefits and disadvantages, but it still managed to garner a cult following, especially in the world of CrossFit.

Before purchasing barefoot shoes, you should know what you’re getting into. Training in barefoot shoes is suppose to mimic exactly what the name says, being barefoot. If you’ve never done barefoot training before, it’s going to take a little bit of getting used to, especially if you’re coming from cushy running shoes. You might end up with sore feet for a little bit, but at the end of the day, your feet will be better off for it. The allure of having stronger feet, better balance, and more power output got me into barefoot training early on, long before I even started CrossFit.

One of the best options was Inov-8’s Bare XF 210, it had everything you would want in a barefoot shoe (nothing). Zero drop, no midsole, it was form fitting and extremely light, but best of all, didn’t have individual toes. Still, barefoot training isn’t for everyone and the durability of the shoe wasn’t as good as some of it’s in box competitors. Inov-8 has been going on a tirade releasing updated models for their training shoes in 2017, one of them being the beloved 210v2, now sporting heftier construction to keep up with the big dogs. Barefoot fans, rejoice.

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Looks/Construction:

Upon first glance, you probably wouldn’t be able to distinguish the newer model 210 from the previous; they look almost identical. Apart from differences in the Rope-Tec protection, lacing scheme and some material changes, the silhouette is basically the same exact thing. They’re not terrible looking shoes, but they’re definitely something you’d only want to be seen wearing in your athletic pursuits. Currently, the only colorway for men is black and grey with a touch of neon green (red for women), which will probably change but is pretty unoffensive for a single colorway option right now.

While extremely light, I remember the original 210’s also being a little bit on the flimsy side. The entire upper was mainly just fabric with a little bit of PU overlay on the middle part of the upper to give it a bit of structure, but otherwise it was basically a sock. The new 210 feels much more beefed up from the original, though that didn’t take much, but how they managed to keep the V2 at 210 grams is a mystery, The biggest changes to the construction of the shoe lie at the back and middle areas of the shoe. Where the previous model had the same mesh throughout the shoe, the new V2 has a tougher nylon ripstop fabric that extends from the heel to the beginning of the toebox. Rather than being just an overlay on the shoe, the new Rope-Tec is a piece of armor that protects the lateral and medial sides of the shoe on top of the ripstop fabric. At the heel of the shoe there is the new Y-Heel lock counter that Inov-8 has been using recently to keep your heel locked into place and does a rather good job doing so.

Since this is the Bare-XF line, there is really no midsole of which to speak. All you get between your foot and the ground is a combined 6mm between the insole and outsole combination. The latter sees really no change, same skeletal tread patern and 1.5mm lug depth. If you want barefoot shoes without having to wear Vibram’s, this is as good as you’re going to get.

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Fit:

Though the shoe feels more sturdy, it still retains it’s sock-like feel. The new lacing system is one of the best upgrades Inov-8 made on the 210v2. Rather than having to go under the upper to lace your shoes, there is a “Flywire” type lacing system that brings the new Rope-Tec cage together on top of the upper. Also gone are the flimsy rope laces, replaced with much beefier flat laces that do have some issues staying tied. With the new lacing system, you can get an even more locked down fit in the middle of the shoe, giving the 210v2’s a second skin like feel.

The mesh at the toebox is actually more plush and breathable than the original’s, not to mention extremely flexible and fairly wide. I’d love the new toebox if it weren’t for the unforgiving “Italian blown rubber toe bumper”, which my Morton’s toe just ends up jamming up into. This probably won’t happen to most people, but it’s worth noting. I made the mistake of getting a 9.5, where I should have gotten a 10 like all my other training shoes, so that’s what I’m going to recommend you do. Size like your normal training shoe size, you don’t want your toes anywhere close to the front of the shoe with these.

Here are mine for reference:.

  • 235v2/215/195v2 – 10
  • Nano – 10
  • Metcon – 10
  • NoBull – 10
  • New Balance – 9.5

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Performance:

If you ever find yourself thinking that Nano’s or Metcon’s are too bulky, you’ll probably want to look into the 210v2’s. As barefoot shoes should be, the 210’s are as stripped back as possible as you can get, while not being a sock. The upper fits close to your foot and feels like a second skin. One of the first things you’ll notice is just how low you sit to the ground and how the outsole conforms to the bottom of your foot.  You’ll be able to feel even the smallest of rocks through the bottom of the shoe. Which is great for power delivery inside the gym, but isn’t so good if you plan on taking these shoes up to the trails. Response is instant, when you push, you actually push; there is virtually nothing in the way of your foot to ground. Power delivery is limited to what your standing on top of instead of what you’re wearing.

Conventional deadlifting is probably the best movement you could do in the 210v2’s, just grip it and rip it. Sumo is slightly a different story, depending on how mobile you are. These shoes were made for free movement, so laterally they might not as stable as something with a flatter base (i.e. Chucks), but that depends on how strong your glutes and hamstrings are. The 210’s could easily be your squatting shoe of choice, but that once again depends on mobility. I think zero drop shoes favor low bar squatting, though I personally squat high bar just fine in these shoes. If you get your feet planted, these shoes are solid as a rock.

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For the fast Olympic Weightlifting movements in a CrossFit WOD, I think the 210’s are excellent. Power delivery is snappy and your feet move extremely well. That being said, there’s a level of lateral stability that I’d want if I were to go for 1 rep max that I don’t quite trust the 210’s for. I was still able to lift fairly confidently but if it came down to it, I’d rather do my Oly in shoes that have a bit more width. While the material of the outsole grips rougher surfaces well, it doesn’t do so great on smooth rubber flooring. There are virtually no lugs, so smooth on top of smooth doesn’t work so well. I’ve had a few close incidents where my feet have slid catching a lift, another reason to stick to shoes with more structure for Oly.

When it comes to rope climbs, the 210v2’s do fairly decent job holding the rope despite the slick outsole. The added Rope-Tec protection shields your feet from getting too beat up from the rope, but due to the thin upper, you’re still going to feel it. Durability is yet to be determined, unless you plan on doing rope climbs every day, they seem like they’ll hold up just fine.

The area the 210’s most excel at are during lighter metcons. Your feet are free to move as you do – Movement feels unhindered and transitioning between movements feels like you don’t even have anything on your feet. The feather light 210v2’s are flexible for plyometrics and gymnastics but stable kettlebells and most weightlifting you’ll find in a WOD. Running is a matter of preference, you’ll either love or hate it in the 210’s. Like previously mentioned, there’s nothing between your feet and the ground, so everything is a little bit more high impact. Things like arch support or midsole cushioning are no where to be found, forcing you into better running technique. If you’re a heel striker, you’ll quickly find out why it’s discouraged to do so. Also, if you’re new to the barefoot thing, you’re going to end up with sore feet for a few weeks. Make sure you ease yourself into running distances in the 210v2’s, but like I said earlier, I believe you’ll be better off for learning how to run in barefoot shoes.

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Value/Conclusion: 

The Bare-XF 210v2’s retail at $110 and while I don’t think they’re going to pull the masses away from the big names, they’ll definitely entice seasoned barefoot enthusiasts. If you’re looking to take the plunge into barefoot training, I can’t think of any better shoes to do it with. Are the 210v2’s going to be for everyone? Nope, that’s what the 195’s or 235’s are for. They definitely have their pro’s and con’s but at the end of the day, they’re the best you’re gonna find in barefoot training shoes and most of the cons just come down to barefoot training as a whole, not necessarily this particular shoe.

Having spent a long time away from barefoot training, it feels nice to go back to it, and  at the end of the day I feel more comfortable training in minimalist shoes, but not exactly barefoot. I’ve come to like certain aspects of how training shoes are made and while I respect barefoot shoes, they’re just not for me anymore. That’s not to take anything away from the Inov-8 Bare-XF 210v2’s though, they’re excellent shoes, just as long as you know what you’re getting into.

The Good:

  • Extremely responsive
  • Lightweight & Flexible
  • Increased durability

The Bad:

  • Grip isn’t great on rubber flooring
  • Toe cap is too stiff

The Ugly:

  • Barefoot might not be for everyone
  • Only one colorway for now

Get your 210 V2 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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