In this review I’m going to take a look at the Sport Bumper Plates, American Barbells basic bumper option. Now I realize that basic black bumpers don’t exactly make for the most exciting of reviews, but I have a pretty good reason for wanting to check these plates out.
Sport Bumper sets start at about $20-$25 less than all the usual suspects, continue to stay more affordable as you move through the set sizes, and free shipping is still offered for over half of the United States. To illustrate this, I’ve included a chart below that compares Sport prices to a couple other popular basic bumper brands.
You can see that American Barbell’s prices are very competitive; they are definitely a contender. Only Vulcan is really putting up a fight with the heavier sets. The catch is that the Sports have a different and more refined shape than all the others, and that indicated to me that they might actually be different from all the others; for better or for worse; and this is precisely why I wanted to see them for myself – to make sure that we’re comparing apples to apples.
As sort of a bonus reason for reviewing Sport plates, they are available in two other varieties, one of which being kilograms, so it definitely seemed like a good idea to discover if these plates were a good buy or not. Good basic kilogram plates are very hard to come by stateside.
Sport Bumper Review
I’ll go through each and every aspect of the Sport Bumpers below. I’ll keep it quick and to the point on matters that are less important overall… like the first item below.
Aesthetics are better than average. Sports have a clean and refined look with no surface imperfections to speak of. Very reminiscent of the newer HG 2.0 and Vulcan Strength virgin plates. The raised lettering looks nice as well
Plate odor right out of the box was no where near as bad as I’ve experienced with cheaper plates, but that typical rubber smell is still present. It dissipated rather quickly though, and that was much appreciated.
I weighed all the plates with a scale accurate to within a tenth of a pound, which I realize isn’t the most accurate in the world, but it gave a pretty good idea of how close the plates were to the stated weight.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that all plates were spot on except for one 25-pound plate that came in at 25.2-pounds. That’s still well within 1% of the stated weight, and that’s pretty solid for basic bumpers at this price point. With five out of six plates perfect to within a tenth of a pound, I’d call these very accurate plates.
The insert is stainless steel with no seam, and they fit snugly on both mid-range and high-end bars. They could stand to be inset rather than slightly above the surface of the plate, but it’s not the end of the world.
The Sport Bumpers have the following plate widths:
- 10 lbs = 1″
- 15 lbs = 1.25″
- 25 lbs = 1.875″
- 35 lbs = 2.25″
- 45 lbs = 2.875″
- 55 lbs = 3.25″
You will find these widths are on par with the likes of Rogue, Vulcan, and pretty much everyone that stays current with new designs. Older design plates like the original HGs and many of the box-store brands are still significantly thicker, which of course reduces how much weight you can stick on the bar, and how many plates you can fit on storage horns.
The plates look really nice. They are clean, the raised lettering looks professional and attractive, and they look great on the bar. It turned out their slightly unique look didn’t really amount to much of a difference between other major brands; except for one thing.
Sadly American Barbell opted to leave the bevel off of the edges of these plates, and while this looks fancy, it makes the heavy plates very difficult to pick up when they are lying flat on the floor. Not really a huge deal, but kind of annoying when you’re tired and just wanting to get through it, and having to fight with a 45 or 55-pound plate on the ground.
Very minimal bounce when dropped – pretty standard stuff.
You will be hard pressed to ever destroy a heavy bumper plate (25-pound+) whether it’s an American Barbell bumper, Rogue bumper, Vulcan bumper, whatever – they last practically forever. I mean yes, destruction of a bumper is conceivable in a busy CrossFit box or commercial gym setting, but incredibly unlikely in a garage gym.
However, issues with 10-pound and 15-pound plates are far more common. Matter of fact, damage to these thinner plates is quite likely if you use them as technique plates; that is, dropping a bar loaded with only these light plates from the hips or an overhead position.
That said, there are a handful of basic bumper plate manufacturers that make ultra durable 10’s and 15’s that can shrug off that kind of abuse for longer, but the American Barbell Sports are not one of those plates. The lighter Sport plates are very “standard”. They have no extra durability features built into them that allow for technique refinement or newbie training.
This is a non-issue for the majority of people as anyone with even a moderate amount of weightlifting experience will not be snatching or cleaning with less than 25’s on each side, and those are the only two lifts that end with a free-falling bar. The AB Sports are a great plate at a fantastic price, and so long as you’re not the one who wants to toss around 10’s these plates will last forever.
American Barbell’s bumper warranty is 1-year, and it covers all plate sizes. 1-year is a long time for 10’s and 15’s (6 months is standard), but it’s a short warranty on the 25’s and up (typically 3-years.) The important thing to note is that; like I mentioned previously; you won’t break the 25-55 pound plates, but you might break the 10-15 pound plates, so it’s still a good warranty overall.
American Barbell Sport Bumper – Pros
- Price – savings of anywhere from $20 to $60 or more can be had on sets of varying sizes depending on your location.
- Shipping is included in the price for a decent portion of the lower 48 (West Coast to Midwest.)
- Stated weight is very accurate. You’ll know exactly what you’re lifting.
- Insert is stainless steel rather than a soft metal like brass, and fit is flawless.
- Plates are clean and refined; very professional.
- Plate thickness is on par with the narrowest basic plates on the market currently. Get more on the bar.
- Low odor right out of the box – at least relative to some other brands.
- Available in kilograms (though they do not receive free shipping for some reason.)
American Barbell Sport Bumper – Cons
- East Coast pays a fuel surcharge for shipping, which obviously reduces or even negates savings.
- 10 and 15-pound discs cannot be used as technique plates.
- The heavy discs are hard to pick up when flat on the ground; no significant bevel.
- No rebar anchors attached to inserts.
The Sport Bumpers are a good buy. If you’re located in the Midwest or on the West Coast you won’t pay for shipping, and that makes these an excellent buy. If you’re on the East Coast, the shipping surcharge may negate your savings, and it will probably turn out that you’ll want to find a free-shipping deal on your coast rather than on the opposite coast – that’s actually easy to do though.
Aside from that these are great plates, and while they aren’t necessarily any better than anyone else’s basic black bumpers, the price sure is right.