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American Barbell Stainless Steel Olympic Bar Review

The American Barbell SS Olympic Bearing Bar

This is a review of what is now officially the most beautiful Olympic bar in my garage gym, the American Barbell Stainless Steel Olympic Bar. Not only have I taken a very close look at this bar myself over the last month and a half, but I have asked American Barbell a lot of technical questions about its construction as well. I am hopeful that you will finish reading this review knowing all that there is to know about this Olympic bar.

Just so you know what kind of bar we are talking about here, this is a 28 mm Olympic bearing bar that’s designed to be used for training heavy snatches and cleans. This bar is a very unique alternative to the high-end, imported training bars.

I realize that the elite Olympic weightlifting bars don’t fit into everyone’s garage gym theme, but keep in mind that many aspiring and hardcore Olympic lifters train in their garages too, and it’s nice (and fun) to get some quality WL bars reviewed for them from time to time as well.

AB Stainless Steel Olympic Bearing Bar Specifications

American Barbell Stainless Steel Olympic Bearing Bars

First up, the specifications. As always, these specs can be found on the bar’s product page.

  • IWF standard men’s 20 kg bar, 2200 mm in length
  • IWF-spec Olympic markings with passive center knurl
  • IWF-spec 28 mm shaft
  • Stainless steel, corrosion-resistant shaft
  • Hard chrome 50 mm sleeves, 16.3″ loadable length
  • Minimum tensile strength rating of 190,000 PSI
  • Minimum yield strength rating of 175,000 PSI
  • Medium knurling on stainless steel offers an incredibly secure grip
  • Proprietary high-load bearings with internal chalk/dust guards
  • Double snap-ring sleeve assembly
  • $799 including shipping – Lifetime warranty
American Barbell SS Olympic Bearing Bar - shaft diameter measurement

As you would expect of a premium barbell, the shaft diameter is spot on 28 mm.

Stainless Steel

I suppose that I should begin with what I think is the coolest aspect of this bar; the stainless steel shaft.

Seriously, this shaft is really cool. I like it because stainless steel is the only material available that offers that superior, raw steel feeling, but without all the maintenance that comes along with owning an actual bare steel barbell. You don’t have to worry about constantly brushing and oiling to prevent and remove rust because stainless is corrosion resistant, and since it’s not a finish, it can’t be chipped and nicked away like any of the applied finishes can (zinc, manganese, and even chrome.) Plus, it’s just a beautiful material.

Zoom in - Stainless steel shaft

Close-up look of that sexy stainless steel.

So you might be wondering, if stainless steel is so amazing, why are there so few stainless steel barbells?

Well, price! To give you an idea, the American Barbell SS Bar is about $200 more than its chrome-only counterpart. It sounds like a lot of money, but that’s actually fairly reasonable by comparison… Ivanko Barbell offers a couple stainless steel bars; their professional Olympic bar (OB-20KG), and their IPF Power Bar (OBX-20KG). You can get either of these Ivanko bars in black oxide for about $600, or you can get them in stainless steel for about $1100 (not a very subtle price difference.)

Material/Finish comparison - stainless steel, bare steel, chrome

From top: stainless steel, bare steel, and chrome. Bare steel and stainless look very much alike when new, but as you can see, my bare steel bar has developed quite a patina over the years.

So the question becomes, is stainless steel worth the extra cost? If you can afford it, I think it is.

Raw steel shafts have the best feel, but the fact is that you have very few options for bare steel and stainless steel Olympic WL bars. None of the IWF manufacturers offer stainless or bare steel Oly bars (Eleiko actually has one bare steel bar; but it’s a power bar), and neither does Rogue. You’re left with only Ivanko and American Barbell, and Ivanko is far more expensive. So much so that you can buy a solid second bar with the difference in cost!

Bearings / Sleeve Assembly

The American Barbell SS Olympic Bar has a slightly different bearing system than other Olympic bars. Rather than having high-speed bearings that spin erratically for many minutes at a time with little or no weight on the bar (as most bar reviewers; myself included; are usually quick to demonstrate), this bar has proprietary bearings that American Barbell claims are the largest, high-load, precision bearings in the industry (42k PSI per sleeve vs. the industry standard of 25k PSI.) These bearings are designed to allow the sleeves to spin smoothly, quietly, and reliably under any amount of weight.

This bar should never lose spin. No amount of weight that you can physically put on the sleeves should ever be enough to compress the bearing cartridges and create drag. Of course I tested this (below), and found that I was indeed unable to slow or prevent sleeve rotation.

American Barbell SS Bearing System with Guards

Since this bar has no load-bearing bushings, the black seal that you can see here is used to prevent the inner workings of the bar from collecting dust and chalk.

Since any decent bushing bar can be used for Olympic lifts (up to a point), the reasoning for dropping extra cash for an Olympic bearing bar is get access to sleeves that still rotate smoothly as you get under progressively heavier weights. When you’re still learning and you’re cleaning 40 kilos, go ahead and use your bushing bar. When you’re cleaning 100 kilos or more, you want reliable sleeves that can rotate that 180 degrees without transferring any inertia to the plates, and this bar does that.

Regarding the video… since I cannot clean the amount of weight I loaded onto the bar (awww), I needed a creative way to demonstrate how these bearings would spin under an extreme load. By placing the loaded bar (455 pounds) on my spotter arms, I can roll the shaft across the spotters and look for any transferred inertia simply by watching the plates.

If the plates were to spin along with the shaft, that would mean that the bearings are being compressed and cannot spin freely within the sleeves. If the plates remain motionless (as they do), then the bearings are doing their job. No matter how quickly, slowly, or abruptly I rotate the shaft, the plates remain still. These are nice bearings, and I’m pretty sure this is more weight than you’ll be cleaning or snatching.

If you want to see the other extreme, grab one of your bushing bars and try this test yourself. I did, and with multiple bushing bars. In every case, the bushing bars could not be rotated without applying enough force to rotate the shaft, sleeves, and every plate on the bar. Clearly not ideal for Olympic lifts (and your wrists.) You can also try this with your favorite bearing bar to find out at what point the bearings fail to spin smoothly. Not all bearings are created equal.

Interesting Sleeves

There are a couple of other minor things that I find interesting about the sleeves; aside from the bearing system, that is. For starters, this bar has a very attractive, recessed weld joining the sleeve shaft to the sleeve collar/shoulder. Yeah, it’s cosmetic, but I think it’s extremely cool looking and gives the bar some unique flavor.

Recessed sleeve weld of the SS Olympic Bar

Second, there is a extra thick layer of hard chrome applied to the sleeves to help ward off scratches and help eliminate the chances of knocking off chunks of chrome as you load/unload plates. Chrome is already more resilient than zinc and oxide, but more has to be better, right?

Sleeve diameter of the SS Olympic Bearing Bar

There is another really cool side effect of this extra thick chrome, and that is that the sleeves end up being slightly thicker in diameter. How is that good? Well, the standard opening for bumper plates (both basic black and competition) is 50.40 mm. With this gap between bar and bumper closed a little bit more, bumper plates fit more snugly, and that helps to eliminate rattling on the bar. Sure, it’s only a tenth of a millimeter, but it makes a huge difference!

Bar Whip

If you’re worried that a bar with a stainless shaft is going to feel any different than your normal steel bar in terms of elasticity, worry not. This bar feels the same as any other 28 mm Olympic bar at or around this PSI and yield rating (190k/175k). I wouldn’t consider it to be the whippiest bar I’ve ever touched, but it’s certainly not stiff or rigid. It takes about two wheels before whip becomes obvious, and just gets better as the weight goes up; pretty standard stuff.

I mentioned this already, but I’ll mention it again; this Olympic bar was designed for heavy lifts. Everything about it just responds very well to a lot of weight.

Knurling

Knurling of the American Barbell SS Olympic Bearing Bar

Close up of bar knurling. Top picture is the passive center knurl, bottom is the outer knurl. Click it to enlarge it.

Ahh, the joys of explaining knurling…

The knurling of this stainless bar feels finer and more refined than would be considered typical for a premium Olympic bar. It doesn’t have the obvious aggressive sharpness to it like you would find on an imported training bar, but it still offers a very secure grip. It’s a great grip without chalk, and an ever better grip with it.

Of all my bars, the actual knurl itself (without factoring in the unique feel of the steel) feels closest to the Rogue Chan. It’s very grippy, but not sharp to the point of being uncomfortable. Couple the good knurl with the stainless steel and you have a bar that doesn’t slip and just feels really good. I still consider it a medium knurl since it isn’t quite to the point of being aggressive, but I like it.

Additional shot of the American Barbell SS Oly Bar knurling

Bars like this American Barbell bar have such refined knurls that it’s hard to get an idea of how it will feel just by looking at a picture. This is especially true when dealing with bare steel and stainless steel, and to a lesser degree, black manganese.

I know I’ve said this before, but knurling is getting much more sophisticated. Manufacturers are able to get very small cross-hatches on their bars now. Each “point” can have slightly less of an edge to it since there are so many more per square inch. While it may be nice (or shall I say, “familiar”) to have thousands of super aggressive points stabbing at your hand when you’re on the stage, that doesn’t mean you need that discomfort in order to have a secure grip when you train.

So, will this bar feel like an Eleiko, WerkSan, or DHS competition bar? No, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hold on to it.

Cons!

The obvious con is the price. I don’t think it’s an unjustified price, but $799 for a non-certified bar is a lot. This bar is stage worthy, and it meets all IWF standards, but unfortunately it could not be used at a sanctioned event unless it becomes certified at some point down the road.

What you have to consider is that were it not for the stainless steel, this would be a $599 bar. You have to really appreciate the benefit of lifting with raw steel in order to justify the added expense. Having said that, I do think that American Barbell offers stainless at a much better price point than the other brands that make stainless available. I gave you Ivanko’s prices already, and the raw steel Eleiko Power Bar is just as much as the Ivanko (and it’s just bare steel, not stainless.)

Another con is that the sleeves do not have pronounced grooves that help keep change plates on the bar when collars aren’t used. This could be one of the bigger oversights with this bar considering it’s being marketed strictly to Olympic lifters who, quite frankly, all tend to lift in kilos and therefore must use change plates. The sleeves are beautiful, but they are smooth as can be.

I don’t really have any other cons. It’s a functional bar, it’s a beautiful bar, it has the ultimate shaft, and it’s American made with a lifetime warranty. So long as you can afford it and still afford your macros, it’s one hell of an Olympic bar.

American Barbell SS Olympic Bearing Bar – Summary

I’m not always sure how long I’ll keep any given bar, but I know that I’ll never get rid of this bar; it’s just too damn nice. It has a feel unlike any other Olympic bar I own, and it’s practically indestructible. Interestingly enough, this is the first bar that I’ve reviewed that could still pass as new after lifting on it and testing it for over 30 days. The shaft looks the same as the day I got it, and so do the sleeves. It just cleans up so well, and the thick sleeves have nothing more than a few micro scratches from steel change plates (which I shouldn’t even be using anyway.)

Is this bar for you? Maybe. This is a bar intended for serious intermediate to experienced Olympic weightlifters, and elite CrossFitters who favor the Olympic lifts aspect of CrossFit. If your program revolves mostly around standard strength training and static power lifts, this isn’t a great fit. You gotta love those snatches and cleans to own this bar.

Having said that, if you are a serious Olympic lifter, and you’re about to drop a grand on one of the imported IWF trainers or comp bars, I suggest you at least track down a buddy or local club with either this bar or the chrome version and get under it a few times. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I know it’s fun to tell people that you have an Eleiko or a WerkSan, but there are plenty of high performance, stage-worthy bars that aren’t certified, and that IWF sticker is a big chunk of those bar’s prices.

Interestingly enough, this bar is about to have some major competition in the marketplace. Stay tuned for more info on that.

Go take a look!

{ 140 comments… add one }
  • Joey January 28, 2015, 9:32 am

    I have the AB stainless Oly bearing bar too. It’s a FANTASTIC bar, no doubt. The stainless steel shaft, recessed welds, and being made is the U.S.A were what sold me. I must say, American Barbell easily has the best customer service on the planet. They were incredibly helpful and easy to deal with when my first bar arrived with damage during the shipping process (they have since upgraded their packing materials significantly). I will definitely be buying from them again in the future.

    • jburgeson January 28, 2015, 9:40 am

      You must have gotten yours before I did. My bar came packaged very well; looked pristine when I pulled it from the tube. That’s an expensive bar to make a packaging mistake on, and I’m glad they fixed it. I’ve spoken to a couple of guys over there at AB, and it was pleasant each time. Thanks for the feedback, Joey.

  • Rich January 29, 2015, 8:26 pm

    I love american barbell! I don’t have the same barbell as you but my bar is the performance training bar. It is great and rewarding to lift with. When I get better with my lifts I will definitely purchase a bearing bar. Happy lifting!

    • jburgeson January 29, 2015, 9:03 pm

      Awesome. That’s one of the other AB bars I want to check out at some point.

  • Thomas Johnston February 5, 2015, 12:22 pm

    You should have a look at the Iron Wolf Stainless steel bars. In fact they only have one bar that isn’t SS.

  • Shane February 11, 2015, 4:16 pm

    This was a great review and spot on!! I had the honor of lifting at a competition this past weekend with this bar. I currently own and Elieko, DHS, and a Pendlay NB. I JUST BOUGHT THIS BAR!!! The fit in finish on this bar is vastly superior to any other bar I’ve touched. The stainless feel is incredible! Soft knurling that still felt grippy. No need to use much chalk. The confidence I had in my hands was similar to a chrome comp bar, but without the comp bar “bite”. Whip and feel was on par with Elieko. In the warm up area i got up to 120/150 and it performed flawlessly. Had to buy one!

    • jburgeson February 11, 2015, 5:03 pm

      It’s nice, right? Price doesn’t seem so bad when you’ve touched other more expensive bars.

      • shane February 19, 2015, 12:03 pm

        ya, if you can afford a comp bar, then you’ll love this bar. As much as I love my Eleiko I just feel like i can pull on this bar all day without straps(not a strap fan) and feel good. I think this will be my go to bar for a while.

  • Sandarpan February 12, 2015, 10:27 am

    I probably come across as a fool for asking this but how do they knurl such a strong bar? A bar this strong is very hard. Knurls are pressed into the bar. Do you have any info on what kind of steel is used for barbells in general. Are they knurled before or after heat treatment? Thanks.

    • jburgeson February 12, 2015, 10:40 am

      The only company that has ever explained their knurling process in even some detail (that I know of) is Eleiko. Like you said, they press a bit into the bar to create the knurl (I’m sure it’s not called a bit, but that’s what I’ll call it.) I recall them saying that this bit is not only expensive, but can only be used to knurl two or three bars before it needed to be replaced, so clearly it’s stronger than the bar shaft. Sometimes you’ll get a glimpse into the heating/cooling/aging process of a particular bar, but no one ever really gives data on actual metal composition. In the high-end game, it’s generally a trade secret. I always thought knurling was done as a final step just before finishing, but I could be wrong. It could be done between treatments on nicer, harder bars.

  • Sandarpan February 20, 2015, 8:06 am

    Thanks. Could you give me a link to where Eleiko explains their knurling process?

  • Rob K March 18, 2015, 9:36 pm

    Man, just what I think I am honing in on my big Oly bar purchase I read another review from your site!! I’ve got a garage gym in the Northeast and decided it was time (after a few years under my Rogue 1.0) to treat myself to a bar that I can use but only share with my sons and so on…. As difficult as it was I had finally convinced myself that I did not need the Eleiko, Werksan, Uesaka Training (let alone comp bars). I had eliminated the Klokov and was starting to hone in on Rogue Oly with the chrome finish or maybe even Eleiko Sport…. But now, I’ve gone back and re-read your site and I added Burgener Bar to the mix and then, after reading this review…. I think I’m liking the sound of this bar! Help me Jburgeson!!! I don’t have the ability to check all these bars out. Any other thoughts in making this difficult decision…. Thanks a ton for all of your efforts!

    • Rob K March 18, 2015, 9:54 pm

      Oh and I should add that if I am all of a sudden back to considering a $795 bar, than that puts me back to Eleiko, Uesaka, Werksan training bars… I’m a mess :-) First world problems for sure, but its a big deal. Thanks in advance for any more advice.

    • jburgeson March 18, 2015, 10:08 pm

      haha don’t be stressed! So the Burgener and Rogue Oly are the same bar; can’t go wrong with either. Price is very appealing compared to the Sport and the other IWF training bars, and the SS.

      The Eleiko Sport is a more affordable, one less bearing per sleeve Eleiko Trainer. It’s the same shaft and knurl as the Trainer. Lots of folks buy the Sport over the Trainer because that one bearing loss is nothing, especially for the $150 you save. Any Eleiko bar is better than 90% of the other bars out there.

      I’m assuming you want to know which I’d buy if it were me coming from an original Rogue Bar. If spending $800 on a bar wasn’t going to be a problem, I’d go with the SS. You just can’t beat stainless steel. I couldn’t be happier with the AB SS. I do not own a nicer bar, and couldn’t get a nicer bar for less money. It’s also the most beautiful bar I own. I can go spend all of 3 minutes cleaning that bar and it will look brand new again. The chrome on the sleeves is super thick and the only nick I’ve put on it was with a steel change plate I used for a set of cleans; completely my bad. yeah, I have no problem with any of these bars you mentioned, they’re all fantastic, but I’m a stainless steel loyalist.

      I don’t want to downplay the Rogue bars. If you don’t want to spend $800, you’re not going to be displeased with the Burgener or Rogue Oly. You can also get the AB Performance for $200 less and the only difference is that the shaft is chrome, not stainless. Same thick sleeves, high-load bearings, and all that jazz. Don’t worry though, the only bad bar you mentioned is the one you already passed on.

      • Rob K March 18, 2015, 10:18 pm

        Again very helpful! I’ve really enjoyed the site, bumper review has been helpful too. I have HG’s for years and they’re great, but once I get the bar, next present to myself will be nicer bumpers, leaning towards the Vaughn’s. Anyhoo, one more question before I bore your readers to tears… I hear you on Rogue, most of my garage has Rogue on it :) But what about this scenario…. AB SS for $795 or Eleiko Sport for $699… Does SS still steal the show. Thanks!!!!!! (fully understanding that so much of this is personal preference)

        • Joe March 18, 2015, 10:39 pm

          Ironwolfebarbell.com.
          Small family owned and operated. They used to make all of York’s USA barbells.
          The best barbells i’ve ever used in 43 years of weighlifting, Eleiko included.

          • jburgeson March 18, 2015, 10:52 pm

            Yeah I can’t really speak to that, no one seems to own these bars. They’re mysterious! I’ve actually reached out to Iron Wolfe half a dozen times in the last year or so and never received a reply, so I’ve kinda let it go. They look good on paper, but so do a lot of bars =p

            • Joe March 18, 2015, 11:14 pm

              I know Ironwolfe Barbell went off line to re-construct their website, but it is up again.
              I have also been to the factory in York, PA, met the owners & staff; nice people. Heck, they gave me a tour of the place, even saw the table where they knurl the barbells! I currently own 6 of their stainless steel barbells, and they are great! There is also a review on them on You Tube by some guy in Canada, i believe. Only drawback is that they are pricey, but worth the quality.

              • jburgeson March 18, 2015, 11:40 pm

                It’s been the same site for at least as long as I tried to get with them. Site up or not, email still works.

                Ironwolfe does come up from time to time here, but then again, it’s the same couple people (cough) that bring them up lol. Anyway, I’m sure they’re nice bars; they better be for the price. If I ever run into one of them, I’ll definitely report on it. I wouldn’t actually buy one though, not such an expensive bar with so little feedback out there, not with so many tried and true alternatives. Very pretty bars though.

        • jburgeson March 18, 2015, 10:43 pm

          Yeah the Vaughn plates are nicely priced, and most comp/training bumpers are the same thing. Takes years and years of abuse to kill them.

          If I broke or lost my SS and had the option to get the SS again or the Sport, I’d probably buy the SS again. One advantage of the Sport is that is a whippier bar. Eleiko just has that elasticity down to a science. I don’t care about the slight whip difference enough to be willing to ditch stainless for it though.

          Also, I think people overall have more confidence in Eleiko just because of their track record, and I can see that being enough to sway a decision when it comes to that kind of money, and it would be completely justifiable. I’ve yet to hear a bad thing about AB bars, but I can say the same for Eleiko, and they’ve been around longer.

  • Josh March 25, 2015, 5:48 am

    American also has this SS bar but with a hushing system as well (the AB 20kg precision training bar). Curious about your take of this vs the Vaughn vs say the Vulcan elite or black training bar. I know those are a bit different and some are bushing and others bearing. Trying to find a true Olympic bar bc most of my workouts for the foreseeable future are Oly based. I’ll also pick up a general purpose bar for S&S strength work (Prob the chan) so I don’t want too much overlap. And I’d like to keep the price as close to $400 as possible though willing to wiggle for the right bar/best bang for the buck. Thoughts?

    • jburgeson March 25, 2015, 9:41 am

      You can get a bearing bar in your price range, but none of them will be amazing bars when it comes to being exclusive Olympic bars. Bars like the Vaughn, the SS precision bar that you mentioned, and the Vulcan Elite have the prices driven down because they don’t have bearing systems. The Vulcan black training bar is a bearing bar, but the shaft is geared more towards CrossFit and multi-purpose lifting.

      Your goal of having an Oly bar and strength bar is exactly how I do it. Incidentally, my two daily bars are the SS and the Chan. I wouldn’t be upset using any of the bars you mentioned for my Olympic training, but I’d stick with stainless steel if I had the choice. The Elite 3.0 is also a great alternative though. It’s got a rough, fairly aggressive, unpolished zinc shaft that’s easy to hold on to, and it’s under $400 rather than at $500. I have one in the garage that I just got, but I haven’t been able to get serious with it yet (I’m nursing an angry elbow). I’m looking forward to it though.

      None of these three bars really overlap the Chan. The black training bearing bar would though, and it’s a fine bar, but I don’t think it’s a fit in your situation. Your other options are the Rogue Oly Training, or even the actual Rogue Oly in a zinc (a bit more $ than the SS, but it’ll have bearings.) Everything else is either more expensive (pro bars), or not great (AF, Pend).

  • Rob K March 30, 2015, 10:22 am

    Alright, jburgeson, I think I have made my decision. I was able to drop in at an awesome weightlifting gym in Boulder, CO while traveling on business. They had Werksan, Uesaka, Eleiko Sport and Pendlay bearing. Hands down, I really liked the Eleiko sport bar. Who knows if there is some weird mental effect due to it just being Eleiko. The real bummer, not only am I unable to get my hands on the AB SS but no one I spoke with at the gym had used one (although they have all heard positive reviews). Also of note, the next bar they plan on adding to the arsenal is DHS. But I feel like if I am going to make the investment, I need to go with the one I could get my hands on.

    • jburgeson March 30, 2015, 10:43 am

      I was nervous you were going to say you liked the Pendlay as I was reading your comment. Phew! I think you’ll be more than happy with the Sport though. Matter of fact, once it shows up at your door you’ll forget all about the rest of them (though that’s true for most of those bars anyway) =p Oh, and yes there is a mental effect. It’s Nordic magic.

  • Rob K March 30, 2015, 10:49 am

    Hah! Wasn’t even close :) Although, I’m afraid I’ll get my hands on the AB SS one day and be like “Ohhhhh, this is what j meant”!!! One other comment for others out there who may be in my shoes… Its also really different to get your hands around a 28mm bar as opposed to 28.5mm. Seems like such a negligible difference, but I really noticed it.

    • jburgeson March 30, 2015, 12:27 pm

      yeah some do notice. I don’t really, but I have sausage fingers. =p

  • Jared G April 14, 2015, 6:10 pm

    Hey, thanks for the great review, I’m absolutely loving this site!

    Is there any chance you could elaborate on what you meant when you said that “a few micro scratches from steel change plates (which I shouldn’t even be using anyway.)”? I’m looking into upgrading my olympic bar, but this comment has me wondering if I am going to need to consider upgrading my plates too in order to avoid damaging my new bar (I currently own some black YORK olympic steel plates). Why are steel change plates bad? Do they need to be bumper change plates? Should I be avoiding steel plates on my shiny new bar all together? I couldn’t find the topic brought up again anywhere else on the site.

    Thanks a million, I absolutely love this site!

    • jburgeson April 14, 2015, 7:11 pm

      Hey Jared, the steel/cast iron change plates typically have pretty huge holes that aren’t perfect circles, so when you drop the bar that’s loaded with these plates, they crash and bang against the bar and leave all kinds of metal on metal marks. Steel isn’t necessarily bad, but most of the store brands that people buy like CAP, York, etc. are casted in a very inconsistent manner, and although they are fine for benching and squatting and stuff like that, they aren’t ideal for explosive movements that end in a dropped bar; even if only dropped from a few inches.

      Keep in mind that you’re not going to harm the bar with these plates, in that you won’t hurt the steel itself, but bars have finishes on them and those finishes nick and chip easier than the steel plates will deform. So if you smash the bar and plate together, the zinc and chrome finishes will lose that fight, but the steel underneath will be fine.

      The hard chrome sleeve on the SS here is just thicker and harder to destroy, although steel plates is still one way to do it. Does that answer your question?

      • Jared G April 14, 2015, 7:54 pm

        Yes, thanks, that does clarify things a lot. Yes, I should have been more specific in reference to the coating getting scuffed, and not the actual steel. Are you considering doing a equipment guide on steel plates at all? I saw that you very briefly included them in your bumper plate guide, but I haven’t seen any of your work on quality steel plates from higher-end manufacturers (such as the Ivanko CBP chrome plates). Considering the high price of quality steel plates, does it make more sense to just go all the way and get some bumpers, or is there a benefit to having quality steel plates over bumpers that I’m missing (aside from being able to fit more weight on the bar)?

        After doign some reading, I’m pretty sure that I’m dead set on going with a stainless steel bar. Between this bar and the Ivanko olympic stainless (cost aside), is there actually any tangible difference in features and/or quality (such as knurling, tensile strength, bearings, etc.)?

        PS something I’d love to hear your voice on (as I’m just starting to look into making some big purchases), is whether you think it’s better to go all imperial or all metric: lbs vs kilos.

        Thanks again

        • jburgeson April 14, 2015, 9:06 pm

          Oh I think I might have been confused… you have all steel plates? I just assumed you meant the change plates (2.5, 5’s, etc) but that makes more sense now. Ok before I answer, let me ask you this… do you plan to Olympic lift or are you just doing static lifts like squats, deadlifts, bench, etc.? I ask because if you have steel now and not bumpers, you probably haven’t been doing many snatches or cleans and jerks, right?

          • Jared G April 14, 2015, 9:19 pm

            I have done oly lifts in the past to a rather limited extent, but plan on getting into them more, addding them into my current static lifts. Just getting re-acquainted with my old home gym weight set from before I left for school some 6-odd years ago, only to realise that back in highschool I didn’t quite have the product discrimination prowess that I do now (hex-end oly bar & ez-curl, the lower quality York steel plates, and some spring clamps…).

            • jburgeson April 14, 2015, 9:40 pm

              Alright, well you’ll definitely want to replace the steel with bumpers for Olympic lifts, and that’s regardless of what bar you end up with, but especially if you buy a nice bar. Of course you won’t need hundreds and hundreds of pounds for a while, so you can still use steel when you bench and squat and so forth. Other than loading a ton of weight for deadlifts, there is no benefit to steel other than cost, but even that’s minimal these days with so much bumper competition.

              In terms of the difference between the Ivanko and the AB, for the money I’d stick with AB. Ivanko is extremely expensive and there is no stand-out reason to prefer Ivanko in the Olympic bar department. There may be an argument to go Ivanko if you were a powerlifter considering that that’s what they specialize in. Having said that, you wouldn’t be disappointed in either brand. Both have a long, long history of manufacturing commercial-grade equipment. Everyone has seen Ivanko around, and American Barbell is actually GP Industries. Oh btw, those chrome plates are powerlifting discs. Absolute waste of money if they aren’t going to be on a stage.

              As far as kilos vs pounds, if I could do it all over I’d never have bought Imperial. Using kilos for Olympic lifts is more important to me than having pounds for the static lifts. If you buy new plates and you’re definitely going to move into weightlifting, go with kilos. Only CrossFit uses pounds.

          • JaredG April 14, 2015, 11:40 pm

            Awesome! That pretty much answers everything for me. I think I’ll go with the AB SS, the Matt Chan, and pick up some Rogue bumpers & change plates. Does anyone know what’s going on with the Matt Chan bars? Not only are they out of stock, but it appears as if the chrome-plated is not even available as an option (well done Burg, looks like you’re doing a great job for their marketing team! haha).

            Last question (promise): Some people seem to be extremely adamant that their oly bar never touches a rack (I guess to avoid scuffing the bar). Is this taking it too far, or is there merit to this precaution? Even if it ever so slightly scuffed the bar, it would be near the ends where gripping is extremely uncommon. Thoughts?

            [For some reason it would only let me reply to this comment, and not your most recent response.]

            • jburgeson April 15, 2015, 12:33 am

              Yeah I’m sure I refer a lot of Chan sales lol. I do talk about it a lot. I can see referrals, but I can’t see what people buy unfortunately. It’d be fun to know.

              Rogue stopped production on all satin chrome bars, and I don’t know exactly why. I asked, but didn’t get an answer that meant anything. Chrome plating is its own thing and I’m willing to bet that they outsourced that process once the barbell was completed. Based on how rarely satin chrome was in stock even when it was available, I’m guessing they had issues with that supplier and are looking for another. I do hope the chrome Chan comes back though.

              So long as you have plastic lined J-cups, and you don’t deliberately roll the bar while it’s in the cups (a lot of people do that before they lift off, it seems) you won’t hurt the bar. The Rogue cups are pretty deep, and you can roll it around in the back of the cup where it’s all plastic, but that angled lip isn’t coated so not a good idea to let the bar rub that. I don’t put my SS on the rack but that’s just because I only use for Olympic lifting so it never has a reason to be there. My Chan is my daily bar and it lives in the J-cups; it doesn’t even have a spot on the barbell rack, and there isn’t anything wrong with the shaft. Stainless would be even more resistant being that there is no finish, just bare steel. Still, probably not a great idea if you don’t have lined cups.

  • Church April 16, 2015, 9:55 am

    Well Mr. Burgeson I’m hoping you will be able to give me some insight to spending my tax return. First off incredible job with providing equipment guides and reviews, definitely indispensable. I view your webpage on an almost daily basis to see if anything has been updated or added. My background is 27yrs of olympic lifting with some crossfit thrown in in the last 10yrs. I’ve trained on every major olympic bar company excluding Ivanko, DHS, and the recent companies to enter the high end bar market for olympic weightlifting. Bars I’ve possessed in the past are Eleiko Comp cert and York training. Bars I currently have are ZK Comp cert from the 2008 Olympics edition, new Rogue Ohio Power bar (bare steel) and a York B&R 25mm ladies bar. I’m looking to add another bar to the arsenal. First and foremost I’m a whip guy, love to throw weight around and really enjoy using the whip to throw that weight around, hence owning a ZK bar. I’ve narrowed it down to three bars (with current prices I can get them for): American SS – 715.00; Eleiko training – 869.00; Vulcan SS – 899.00 (when available). My training sessions usually start out with a standard olympic lifting layout with sets and reps but then I finish the workout with a crossfit style of programming. To finish a workout crossfit style an example will be to start a set with cleans and then go directly into CL pulls and then finish off with DL’s adding up to a few or a lot of reps. I have the ZK for say the cleans and the Ohio Power bar for the dead’s but I’m looking to find that bar to put in the middle for say the pulls (or potentially to start out with cleans). The typical weight used in a training session is 100kg-185kg give or take a few kg. I want this bar to have really good whip outside of that I know all three bars are going to be built well. My take on it is that the spin will be comparable with anyone of these high end bars. Another factor is yield strength and the American SS is the only one out of the three mentioned I have any concern with. I know this won’t be the last bar I purchase, so whether I pick up an Eleiko now or not isn’t the major factor in the decision making but the idea of an Eleiko does play a part. Yes, I’m interested in all the new bars to hit the high end market so if there is a bar you’re thinking of I didn’t list feel free to mention it as a possibility. As you can tell price isn’t the main factor for me but does play a part in the decision making if quality and functionality all match up. Thank you so much for providing such a great service to the weightlifting community. Cheers!

    • Rob K April 16, 2015, 10:13 am

      Hello Church, I was speaking with Mr. Burgeson on similar topics and we both watched a recent HookGrip review of Bearing bars, and interestingly enough, their results showed no difference in whip across numerous bars. Take a look if you like and take it for what its worth, link below. Otherwise I’ll zip it as you have a lot of experience and a lot more bars than me.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttlpKdeTWDU

      • jburgeson April 16, 2015, 10:28 am

        Ya very good video. The whip section is where I tend to start to disagree myself though. It has to be the way the tested that leads to those similar results. It would be nice to see how much weight was loaded on that sleeve. Was it all three of those 25 kilos?

      • Rob K April 16, 2015, 12:02 pm

        Wish I knew about that AB discount code a few weeks back. My numbers are not quite there to comment on whip differences, but I was having the same decision challenges. I wound up going with the Eleiko ST (kg) because it was a bar I could get my hands on and use before the purchase. I could not find anyone with the AB SS (or any model). I wonder if they will make it into the next HookGrip review. That would be cool. At any rate, I now really get what people mean by the “feel” of an Eleiko, I love it. My comment about the discount for AB SS is really about me being in the NorthEast and thinking that SS might wind up holding up better over time.

        JBurgeson, you should host a “Garage Gym” conference :) I’d certainly try and make it. Heck, I’d even try and coordinate it with ya.

        • jburgeson April 16, 2015, 12:12 pm

          you know, I’ve thought about setting up some kind of situation where people could just try all these bars out themselves, but I would need a venue for that because who wants to have people from the Internet showing up at home lol. Plus, I’d have to keep every bar I get, and where would I put them?

          Also, I hate some brands a lot and I’d probably be sued for telling a group of people that Brand X makes garbage. I was already threatened once lol =p

        • Church April 16, 2015, 1:28 pm

          Well decided to go back and take a look at the Eleiko sport training bar. It’s sounding like a really nice buy right now. With all stats being the same as the comp cert and WL training and having that legendary Eleiko whip, outside of one less roller bearing on either side at $729.00 right now it’s sounding pretty good. This creates an interesting scenario of decision making, right now we have the AB SS for 715.50 or the Eleiko sport training for 729.00, great economical prices for two different great higher end bars. Or wait to see when Vulcan might be out with their Absolute SS or see when Eleiko gets their top of the line bars back in stock.

          • Rob K April 16, 2015, 1:54 pm

            Well, Church, to make it even more interesting…. This was the same exact spot I was in a few weeks back. What closed the deal on the Eleiko ST for me….. Using it and the fact that I found it on bumperplates.com for $699.00 plus like $30 shipping. At the time I did not know of the AB code, but again, just wrapped up a session in the garage and love that Eleiko.

    • jburgeson April 16, 2015, 10:24 am

      I would say you that probably aren’t going to get much better than Eleiko, but the other bars you’re interested in are stainless which kind of levels the playing field a little. Stainless is a hell of a perk.

      It’s looking like; at least on paper; that the Vulcan will be a nicer stainless bar than the SS. The tensile and yield are both much higher (AB SS is only 190/180), and while I don’t think that there is anything wrong with the AB SS specs, they simply aren’t the same. Normally I would say that the tensile doesn’t matter, but it does tend to be important on high-end bars. It’s nothing more than a sign of stiffness on low-end bars like say the Klokov.

      You may want to wait and see how that Vulcan turns out. I’m not sure if you’re on a specific time table here because who knows when it will drop, but I think that bar might just make you very happy. Vulcan pro bars are whippy and tend to have sticky knurl. I’ve seen a video (I should have saved this, maybe you can find it) of the non-stainless Vulcan pro bar being ditched from a heavy back squat in slow motion, and that bar looks like a wet noodle after it hits the ground. It was pretty insane too see how much flex that bar is capable of. I have four Vulcan bars, but unfortunately I don’t have that one. I wanted it until I saw the SS coming; now I want that.

      Anyway, it sounds like you are leaning on stainless and there aren’t very many SS options, so I don’t have an extra suggestion in that department. You’re already familiar with ZKC and DHS and no doubt you’ve had a chance to lift on the other IWF bars, so there isn’t much I can say that you wouldn’t already know about. You’re right about the spin though. In the end, they all spin.

  • Church April 16, 2015, 10:33 am

    Update: both Eleiko training and comp cert bars are now on back order. Seems like a lot of people took advantage of the sale Eleiko was having LOL

    Timeliness of purchasing the bar is not a factor but as of right now the only bar available out of the three mentioned is the American SS. Not sure when any of the Vulcans will be available especially the SS version (which I’m very interested in because whip and yield strength), have you heard of any availability dates for the Vulcan Absolute SS bar or their Chrome Professional bar? Must add the 715.50 price tag for the American SS bar is very appealing if the whip and yield strength stand up to the kg’s I’m using.

    • jburgeson April 16, 2015, 10:41 am

      Where do you see that price for the AB? It should be $795.

      In terms of availability, no I don’t. When they know when stuff is coming in, they either put the expected date or put it on pre-order. I assume the Pro is being made, but I heard the Absolute is being revised so I wouldn’t hold my breath that it will be out soon.

      I see no reason why the AB wouldn’t stand up to anything you could load on that bar. 190,000/180,000 is still insane compared to pretty much anything from just a couple years ago. I know that these $300 bars with 190k PSI make 190k not look very strong, but it’s still strong. If you can bend that bar without throwing it on a single spotter pin, you’re the man and deserve to call in that lifetime warranty. I take it that you don’t know anyone with the SS so you can try it?

  • Church April 16, 2015, 10:45 am

    Both Rob K and jburgeson thanks for the response. Rob I will definitely checkout the link you posted and j I’m like you, very excited about the prospects of this new Vulcan SS coming out. The question is when are they going to be able to release it. J in what country are the Vulcan’s manufactured?

    • jburgeson April 16, 2015, 11:05 am

      They use GymWay, which I want to say is in Taiwan. GymWay is probably the best manufacturer to use if you can’t manufacture yourself, and there are like four or five other lesser options between Taiwan and China. The guy at Vulcan knows what he’s doing, and he clearly has someone overseas maintaining QC on his behalf because his bars are nice.

      There used to be a long-running rumor that some Ivanko bars were GymWays, but they recently refuted that, although not without saying that they received samples from them and were very impressed. Ivanko still outsources some bars, but I’m not sure where. It kind of worries me that it’s not GymWay. I’ve also heard the Vaughn is a GymWay, but it’s “off the shelf” if it is because it’s spot on with one of their default bar specs.

  • Church April 16, 2015, 10:58 am

    If you put “America” in the discount code box on checkout with the AB SS it takes the price down to 715.50, very nice deal. No I don’t know anyone with the AB SS to test it out. I have bent two different bars in my life time by just doing a hip pop for the snatch and both of those bars were York training bars. Yes, I have a strong hip pop for both snatch and clean, plus I love popping the weight in the air during the drive for a jerk or power jerk, main reason why I really like a bar with excellent whip.

    • jburgeson April 16, 2015, 11:07 am

      haha nice.. that’s pretty cool. Hey $100 is $100.

  • Church April 16, 2015, 11:41 am

    I really like the review you gave the AB SS and the price is right along with being manufactured in the US. Honestly the only thing holding me back on pulling the trigger for the AB SS is will I like the whip? How does the whip compare to ZK, Eleiko, and other high end bars you’ve had a chance to lift on? The thought I have right now is what the AB is going to primarily be used for is heavier snatch and clean work such as pulls. I read where you stated the AB is meant for heavy snatch and clean work. Seeing you’ve been around the block with bars that whip and bars that don’t whip so well any extra thoughts for someone that is very particular about the quality of whip? Don’t worry I know you can’t necessarily give me a definitive answer and it’s all subject to personal preference but it’s nice to here thoughts and opinions from someone that has experience using the bars mentioned

    • jburgeson April 16, 2015, 12:08 pm

      I’ll be training this afternoon, and I’ll pull a couple bars out and pay really close attention to the whip so that I can try and give you a better idea. The last thing I want to do though is talk up a $700 bar to a guy who puts 400 pounds on it and have you be less than ecstatic about it. It’s a great bar, and I get nothing but positive feedback about it from other people that buy it, but I don’t know what their training consists of, or even what kind of weight they put on it.

  • Church April 16, 2015, 12:21 pm

    Great! Thanks very much for going the extra mile to helping out with a decision!

    • jburgeson April 16, 2015, 7:12 pm

      Church it looks like its going to be tomorrow. It was my day off training but I wanted to get some in anyway, but I just got pulled too many different directions today.

      • Church April 16, 2015, 10:55 pm

        No worries and thanks for keeping me updated

        • jburgeson April 16, 2015, 11:46 pm

          Actually, I went out there anyway after all. I’m reluctant to say this because you seem particular about your whip, but the bar whips pretty well. It’s not an Eleiko with it’s soft core and hard candy shell, but it’s definitely a whippy bar. It doesn’t even take a significant amount of weight for it to kick in like many bars.

          The Eleiko I use for comparisons is at my WL gym, not in the garage, so I can’t verify my recollection, but I’m pretty confident in saying that the Eleiko still has more elasticity to it. Be that as it may, if Eleiko had a stainless bar we wouldn’t be having this discussion, I’m certain of that lol. So you get to decide: stainless and good whip, non-stainless and best whip, or wait for Vulcan and potentially get both.

          • Church April 17, 2015, 8:12 am

            Thanks very much for testing the AB’s whip out for me. I’m still not ready to pull the trigger, mainly because I’m still waiting for my tax return but I’m strongly considering buying this bar as long as they are still in stock when I get my return. For what I want to mainly use it for, heavy work load (ie: pulls and the such), I think it will be an ideal bar. I really like the construction of the sleeve assembly and as much as I like a lot of whip for the snatch and cl&j I don’t like the bar to display to much oscillation at the finish of a pull because I’m sure you’ve experienced the shock you can get in the shoulders and arms when the bar springs back in the opposite direction towards the ground. Plus, the SS shaft makes it a very unique bar and I have a fetish for very high quality well built bars and this one fits the bill. I must say with the AB being hand built in the USA is another selling point. One day I will own another Eleiko but at this point I’m thinking of waiting till I can afford to buy a complete Eleiko set to add some more weight to my gym. This thread and everyone that has contributed to it has been extremely helpful. Cheers!

  • BCL April 17, 2015, 3:57 pm

    Thanks for the article! This review sold me on the AB SS competition bar, hopefully I’ll share the same amount of enthusiasm once it arrives and I can take it for a test run. The other contender was a training Eleiko which I’m quite familiar with from plenty of previous usage at multiple gyms. While I find that the Eleiko gets the job done (and then some), the grip isn’t something I’m too fond of. Some like the chrome bite, I personally find it too aggressive and absolutely aggravating towards the end of a session. I still remember the first time I was introduced to a competition Eleiko and thought the grip was the greatest thing ever due to how effortless it was to make the bar stick to my hands. It only took a couple hours before I realized that it’s something you’d want strictly for competition, a one and done kind of ordeal and not necessarily a great training aid. I came from a powerlifting background and “grew up” with the stainless steel offerings from Ivanko and other raw steel bars so I’m definitely looking to get that sweet grip texture back into the mix. I’m quite curious to see what American Barbell meant by their “proprietary bearing system”. Information from other reviews/forum comments indicate that the bar doesn’t spin with the longevity of an Eleiko (perpetual motion machine anyone?) but has excellent speed, which quite frankly is the only thing I care about in this respect. As long as the bearings can make one effortless full revolution on a consistent basis under heavy load, I really don’t need the bar to spin for minutes at a time. It’s also good to see that the whip is good, even though it’s an aspect I won’t have to worry about for a long time due to the serious weight involved (even with an Eleiko). Now it’s onto the worst part of this purchase: playing the waiting game.

    • jburgeson April 17, 2015, 4:42 pm

      Don’t worry about that sleeve rotation, it’s amazing. It just doesn’t do the “spin forever with no plate on the bar” thing like most of the other bars. You will not load enough weight on this bar to slow those sleeves when it matters. Very smooth and reliable.

      Btw, did you know that the Eleiko trainer is toned down from the comp as far as knurl goes? There may be a chance you’ve been training on the comp bar rather than the actual trainer. Just saying. You already know what raw feels like so it’s not something you’ll think about again once your bar arrives =p

      • BCL April 22, 2015, 3:25 am

        Yep, I’m aware of the differences between the competition and training Eleikos. I found that even the training bars are quite harsh on the knurling.

        Anyways, the AB Stainless Steel bar came in the other day. UPS did its usual crappy job at delivering the barbell and it came with the cylindrical container busted open. There are a few cosmetic scratches on the sleeves from handling by UPS and I’ve already contacted AB inquiring about the damage. At this point, I figured I might as well keep the bar since it appears to function just fine and returning it would be a huge pain in the rear due to the busted cylinder.

        Speaking of function: that stainless steel grip is worth every penny. It’s absolutely magical how, with a little chalk, the grip simply sticks without feeling like I’m running my hands through hundreds of tiny little knives. In my opinion, its the perfect grip for a training bar, solid yet comfortable. The spin is also excellent. I did the usual “twirl” the shaft test to see how well it spun and was worried when it only made a few rotations before stopping. As soon as I loaded weight on it however and begun doing a few practice lifts, the concerns disappeared. The bar spins very smooth under load and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything from the Eleiko. Essentially, it spins well where it matters: the actual lift. I don’t know how AB designed their bearing system but I really like it so far. The only issue now is whether the durability will hold up over time. Even mid-ranged bars perform very well when new but compounding it with use and general wear and tear is where the great bars are separated from the mediocre ones. All in all, I’m quite happy with the purchase and some of my buddies are taking notice. Its a shame that UPS had to sour what would have been a flawless transaction but that’s mostly a fault with them and not American Barbell.

        • jburgeson April 22, 2015, 9:09 am

          I sure do hate to hear about new bars showing up with even minor damage, especially nice bars. I’m glad you got it and like it though. The grip is a wonderful thing, and that lack of spin with no weight loaded is in no way an indicator of how the bar performs. Those bearings respond very positively to a lot of weight.

          • Rob K April 22, 2015, 9:43 am

            With regard to spin, I have to say I got very “hung up” on that topic when I was evaluating which bar to buy. I wound up getting the Eleiko ST and besides the immediate “feel” difference from my old Rogue 1.0 I was immediately concerned about what I perceived of the lack of spin. This was before I even used the bar. When I used the bar, it was of course smooth as butter but I still was concerned about the amount rotations. I reached out to Eleiko and was informed that with time the spin will get better and better as usage will cause the lubrication to move around the bearings more etc….. It feels better every day, but I guess my main point and I’ve of course seen it on this site and others, is how much do you really need a bar to spin? I mean some bars could possibly spin too much. Seems to me its all about the feel of the bar and the quality of how it spins vs quantity of rotations.

            • jburgeson April 22, 2015, 10:02 am

              So much about barbell marketing is blown way out of proportion for the sake of making a sale. Tensile strength and spin are the big ones.

              Bars need to reliably spin 180 degrees, then not spin anymore. Showing off 150 full rotations while the bar is sitting in the rack is neat (I’m guilty of this), but it’s not proof that it will perform well in your hands and loaded up. It’s a decent indicator, but there are numerous bars that don’t look impressive on the rack but are actually very impressive in use. The SS is like that, and it’s why I did the SS video the way I did, to show that a sleeve doesn’t have to spin well naked, but it better still spin when it’s loaded up.

              I’ve noticed that most bars tend to spin more after they’re broken in, to a point. The SS is like that, the Vaughn is like that, even my Rogue bars are like that, so why couldn’t an Eleiko be like that.

              Don’t get me started about tensile strength.

  • Church April 22, 2015, 9:35 am

    Update: jburgeson letting you know I made the purchase this morning for the AB 20kg SS. Received my tax return this morning and right away made the purchase. After all said and done with all the research and questions I decided this is going to be an excellent addition to my collections of bars. Thank you very much for providing such a great service of reviews for bars and equipment in general. Outside of reading your website the only way for me to get any idea about bars is word of mouth from people I know in the olympic weightlifting community and they are all very particular about their bars and stick to the high end names we are all very familiar with and I’ve been very interested in branching out into the lesser known companies producing very nice bars at a more affordable price. Mainly because of your review and feedback on the AB SS I decided to pull the trigger on it. After I receive the bar and have a chance to train on it for a couple of months I will jump back on to this thread and give my feedback and thoughts on the bar.

    As a side note because of your bar reviews and guide I’m planning on picking up the Vulcan Woman’s 15kg Pro bar, as long as I can get it at the current sale price. At that point I will have 5 bars in my quiver: ZK 20kg cert comp, AB 20kg SS, Rogue Ohio Power 45lb(bare steel), Vulcan 15kg Pro, and York B&R 15kg. I will have room for one more bar in my rack and that bar I’m hoping to get in a complete set to also add some more bumpers to my collection. This leads into another question for you jburgeson about your experience with the new bumper plates on the market and how they compare to the time tested companies. To keep questions to their appropriate thread I will post this question in the bumper plate sets guide. Thanks very much, Church

    • jburgeson April 22, 2015, 9:46 am

      That’s awesome, congrats. You’re going to love it. There is definitely no point in owning six bars if all six are the same, so the SS is a great choice. You also reminded me, I really need to get some 15 kg bars in here because I feel as though I’m neglecting the other half, and that’s not very polite of me =P

  • Church April 22, 2015, 10:46 am

    You’re so right about it doesn’t make sense to own six of the same bars and this played a part in my decision to pick up the AB SS. To add to your comment I have been thinking about adding a 28.5mm bar to my collection but my feeling is one day that diameter may just get phased out because of the higher quality steel being used now a days. If Rogue is doing it via their 28mm oly WL bar for Crossfit comps that says a lot to me. I know back in the day the only reason 28.5mm came into play was to help a bar from bending because of cheaper steel being used but now a days with higher quality steel being used there is no need to stay at 28.5mm outside of some guys with bigger hands liking a little bigger diameter to hold onto, ie: Matt Chan LOL. So at this point I’m undecided about adding a 28.5mm bar to my collection, but if I did add one, at this point it would be the Rogue Chan bar mainly because your review of it and respectable price for it. I definitely want to add I am completely disappointed Rogue has decided to no longer offer the Chan in a chrome finish, this has completely turned me off from just outright buying it at such an affordable price for such a nice bar outside of the current finish it’s available in.

    • jburgeson April 22, 2015, 11:00 am

      I don’t think they wanted to discontinue it. I get the impression is was a supplier issue with the chrome. They stopped production on all satin chrome bars. I know it wasn’t a demand issue, that bar was always sold out. I specifically asked if it was a quality issue, and they assured me it had nothing to do with the bar itself. I really should start a petition to bring that chrome Chan back; such a fun bar.

      • Church April 22, 2015, 11:28 am

        Yes, I would really like to see Rogue offer the Chan in a chrome finish again, that bar sounds like it deserves it, especially seeing the knurling seems to work well with a chrome finish. I’m wondering if the knurling might be excessive with the black zinc finish?

        • jburgeson April 22, 2015, 12:29 pm

          You know, I’ve always found zinc to dull out knurl, but perhaps that is just the random selection of bars zinc bars that I’ve happened to play around with. I never deliberately buy zinc for personal use, I hate it. Especially black. Black zinc was an awful idea, and I can’t believe how many companies have run with that, and how many people buy them.

          • Church April 23, 2015, 7:13 am

            Never realized zinc can dull out the knurling, but then I don’t really have much experience with lower end bars and lower cost finishes. Good to know, one more reason to not waste money and be disappointed in a purchase. Thanks

  • Church April 22, 2015, 10:52 am

    Yes, I’m all about taking care of the ladies and giving them their own high quality bar. I’ve trained two different women, both to state titles and one to a national title for USAW masters olympic weightlifting. So I want to make sure my gym is equipment with both high quality women’s bars and men’s bars.

  • Church April 23, 2015, 9:36 am

    So another question to throw out there. With American Barbell I’ve only looked at their 20kg SS Bearing Bar but decided to check out the other bars they offer. I’m getting more intrigued with their line of bars and what seems to be a very nice offering of quality bars at a very good price. They’re offering the same SS bar as you reviewed but with bushings instead of bearings in the sleeve for just under 500.00, impressive for the price with a SS shaft. In my mind with the newer bars on the market being offered by lesser known companies the two companies that are starting to really stick out for me are American and Vulcan. Even though I own one Rogue bar and it’s a beautifully built bar, especially for the price I paid ($250.00-bare steel Ohio Power) I’m just not being sold on their bars with American and Vulcan offer comparably priced bars with better stats on paper. I know reviews have been stellar for Rogue but so have the reviews I’ve seen about American and Vulcan. I guess this leads me into my base question. Next bar purchase for me is a 15kg bar and the two that are battling it out right now for the win are the Vulcan 15kg Pro Bearing bar ($492.99) and the American 15kg Performance Bearing bar ($535.50) with Rogue’s 15kg olympic WL bar ($635.00[closeout-$540.00]) coming in at a distant third. All bars have almost identical stats and very close in price. The Vulcan has a slight edge on stats. Any thoughts or info to throw out there?

    • jburgeson April 23, 2015, 10:47 am

      Well unfortunately, I can count on one hand how many 15 kg bars I’ve played around with, and I don’t even need the whole hand. My WL gym has a couple women’s bars, but I never really touch them. Since I usually buy the bars I review outright, I’ve just always stuck with 20 kg bars. I regret that, and I plan to change that, but that’s how it has been so far.

      Having said that, I have all the confidence in the world in all three of those companies and those three specific bars. I’ve spoken with the owner of Vulcan and American Barbell many times, and both of them are a wealth of knowledge; they know their stuff. I bug the hell out of these guys sometimes when I need info on a bar that’s not published. Interestingly, I’ve never spoken to Bill at Rogue, but that guy hires the most talented people in the industry. He can afford anyone he wants.

      So, the Vulcan is a nice bar. I’ve seen pictures of it and gotten feedback from a reader that bought it. Beautiful bar, very aggressive knurl they say, and it’s one of the only women’s bars with a center knurl. Vulcan is also one of the only companies that literally means hard chrome when they say it. It’s not as thick a coating as American Barbell uses on the sleeves, so metal change plates are a bad idea.

      The AB is going to be almost identical to the SS except for the shaft being chrome. Same thick sleeves, high-load bearings, chalk guard, etc. You’ll get a better feel for that when you lift on the SS.

      The Rogue is the Rogue. The men’s Oly is an outstanding bar, and it’s been pretty well refined over the last year. Knurl is semi-aggressive, spin is perfect, whip is on par with IWF bars… but I don’t know how the women’s compares in terms of overall feel. I definitely wouldn’t worry that it would be bad though, that’s for sure.

  • Church April 23, 2015, 4:18 pm

    jburgeson figured I would respond to your AB shipping question in this thread. Haven’t heard anything yet from AB about the SS bar being shipped but the bar was ordered early yesterday and by end of the day PayPal confirmed payment was received. It’s only been 24hrs and I’m in no rush to receive the bar, plus I don’t think UPS could even get down my driveway right now with the snow LOL.

    • Church April 25, 2015, 6:34 am

      Update about purchase and shipment of AB SS bar. It’s now been four days since I ordered the bar and nothing from American barbell about status of shipping the bar, but I did receive a questionnaire from them about my experience with doing business with them LOL

      I’m considering giving them a ‘0’ on the survey out of the fact I have not heard a word from them since initial online purchase was made, I have no clue the status of my newly purchased bar from American but I do know payment was received via PayPal. Don’t worry American I’m just not going to straight up give you a ‘0’ but it would be nice to know from you that you received payment and when you will be shipping bar.

      • jburgeson April 25, 2015, 9:33 am

        That’s why I asked about that, I was curious how quickly they got it out. I was told they recently moved their warehouse in CA and wondered if that put them behind. I’m hoping that’s why. I’m not a huge fan at all of any company in any industry that takes a long time to ship.

      • jburgeson May 3, 2015, 7:19 pm

        Church, you get your bar?

        • Church May 4, 2015, 6:49 am

          Yes, bar arrived Thursday. Beautiful bar, love the knurling and SS shaft. Haven’t used it yet, because very good chance will be exchanging it for another. Promised I wouldn’t go into details about bar till all said and done but Wyatt marketing director for American has been extremely helpful with solving situation. Once all said I will go into detail about my experience with American from the quality of the bar itself to shipping and customer service. Will say at this point so far so good….

          • jburgeson May 4, 2015, 10:21 am

            Interesting.. exchange for another of the same or something else entirely? I am extremely interested in what has happened after you get it resolved, of course. I’d definitely like to know how they handle situations and conduct themselves when there is a problem.

            • Church May 5, 2015, 8:39 pm

              I don’t want to say anything right now outside of American seems truly invested in their barbells and communication has been solid between American and me. Will keep you posted…..

              • jburgeson May 5, 2015, 10:32 pm

                Fair enough. I’d offer to help, but oddly enough I don’t usually have much luck communicating with them myself, if you can believe that. No respect lol

                When it’s all said and done, if you want to share something with me and not everyone else, feel free to e-mail me @garage-gyms.com. Here is fine too, of course. It is a review after all. =P

                • Church May 8, 2015, 6:06 am

                  Thanks jburgeson, I will most likely take you up on your offer of communicating in private I just have to get through the work week. I will say communication has been impeccable with American, not only is the marketing director always a phone call away but I’ve had a couple of phone conversations with the owner of the company and can straight up tell they are very invested in making as good as a product as possible that can be competitive against the top brands that are used for competition and training. I really hope this works out for both American and me, I really want to support them for the fact that they are a US company producing a US manufactured product and so far they have very accommodating with the situation .

                  • Church May 8, 2015, 6:09 am

                    Sorry, very tired from work week. I’ve noticed some grammatical errors in my last couple of posts LOL

                  • jburgeson May 8, 2015, 10:51 am

                    Well I’m just over here hoping I haven’t led you astray with that bar. I can’t even imagine what would put you on the phone with both Wyatt and Phil… or what could even get either of them on the phone in the first place. I sometimes wait weeks to hear back from them just for an email, and I thought they liked me lol

                    • Church May 20, 2015, 12:20 pm

                      Update: I received a phone call yesterday from the head people at American BB and sure enough they also could see the defect I noticed with the bar. At this point I am very impressed with American, to receive a person phone call from the main people that run the company telling me they recognized the issue with the bar to then going into detail about the manufacturing of the bar. Through this whole process also discovered that a few people I know in the olympic weightlifting community are starting to really like this bar and are equipping American Bars in their training facilities, this is a big testimonial to me. They said they hand picked a bar out for me and sent it out right after the conversation wrapped up. Bar will arrive this Friday. I definitely give American BB an A+ for communication, acknowledging an issue and then going out of their way to resolve the issue. I’ll post again when the bar arrives on Friday about the condition it arrives in, accuracy of craftsmanship, and overall quality of bar. Then in a month or so after training on the bar I will post my feedback about it. I will finish with the people at American barbell are definitely invested in producing a top tier barbell and I have a feeling we are going to see this bar heavily used in dedicated olympic weightlifting venues.

                    • jburgeson May 20, 2015, 12:49 pm

                      That’s good news. Anxious to see how the replacement is. I’m following your story like the OJ trial =P

  • BCL May 1, 2015, 3:04 am

    After spending a couple weeks with the bar, I’m finding the $770~ price tag to hurt a lot less with each passing day. There are really no complaints regarding performance, the bar just does its job very well and I don’t miss the training Eleiko one bit. The stainless steel grip is just wonderful for long sessions and I’m finding my hands in better shape. The one thing that really pushes this purchase over the top though is the customer service. I contacted American Barbell about the scratched up sleeves from rough handling via UPS and they basically sent a brand new bar as replacement with a container to package the old bar for return. This is all free of charge and they even took precautions to make sure the new bar wouldn’t suffer the same fate by going overboard with protection. These are the images that one of the sales representatives sent of the updated bar packaging:

    http://imgur.com/a/ZmIRJ

    The bar itself has yet to arrive but I’m fairly sure that even UPS can’t screw up something that well guarded. But then again, I might be inciting Murphy’s law by saying that. Overall, just fantastic customer service and definitely a solid alternative to the usual DHS/Rogue recommendations in this range. Hell, some people may even prefer it to Eleikos as blasphemous as that statement may sound.

    • jburgeson May 1, 2015, 7:46 am

      haha nice packaging. Yeah if that gets damaged, I think UPS might lose an account.

  • Todd ellens May 17, 2015, 10:53 pm

    http://americanbarbell.com/collections/bars/products/the-stainless-steel-wod-bar I’m eyeballing this! It seams like a rogue 2.0 except in SS. What worries me is it seems too cheap for a SS bar, plus no reviews on it :/

    • jburgeson May 17, 2015, 10:57 pm

      Yeah.. I dunno what to tell people about that one, Todd. I know a couple things about it… it’s a limited run because they have a surplus of stainless steel, and I was told it wasn’t the same steel grade as the Pro SS. But, I’ve also heard that it is the same steel, but that wouldn’t make any sense because we’d be left to assume that the bearings in the Pro SS cost $500. Someone’s just going to have to try it =p

      • Wyatt May 19, 2015, 3:19 pm

        Hi John,

        I’m going to chime in on this one. The stainless steel within the SS WOD bar is indeed the same steel as within our SS Comp bar. The SS WOD bar has a lower price point because the bar has a 28.5mm diameter, and we are no longer manufacturing 28.5mm bars. We are depleting our inventory of this item. This bar is by far the best bar you can buy for your money right now. It’s a great opportunity for someone to get an American Made stainless steel bar at an Amazing price.

        Regards,

        Wyatt

  • AJH May 17, 2015, 11:28 pm

    Are planning on reviewing the new Vulcan Absolute SS bar? I’m going to be purchasing a top-end bar soon, and I’m torn between the American SS and an IWF-certified training bar like an Eleiko/Werksan or maybe even ZKC/DHS, but the specs on the Vulcan look amazing!

    • jburgeson May 17, 2015, 11:34 pm

      haha if I can get my hands on one of those, yes absolutely. Things not even out yet though last I checked.

      You’ll never go wrong with an Eleiko.. the only IWF bar no one ever complains about. You can find mixed feelings on WerkSan, Zhangkong, and DHS, but you never hear about disgruntled Eleiko owners. Well, close enough to never =p Still, I agree, the Vulcan SS looks promising. Very excited to see it released. AB gonna have to step it up if all those Vulcan specs are accurate.

      • AJH May 18, 2015, 10:34 pm

        Actually one of the reasons I haven’t already just gone Eleiko is that I’ve heard a few people claiming that quality has slipped on newer production Eleiko bars, and some people have been having trouble getting them to honor their warrantees. I can’t personally speak to this as I’ve only handled an old Eleiko comp bar. That said, bumperplates.com has Eleiko training bars for $760 and sport training bars for $638, which seems awfully tempting.

        • jburgeson May 18, 2015, 11:20 pm

          I haven’t heard that myself, but could very well be the case.

          Rogue also just dropped the Euro Oly Bar… looks good! Still though, excited about the VUlcan SS too.

          • AJH May 19, 2015, 12:22 am

            The Rogue Euro bar looks great but it isn’t appreciably cheaper than an Eleiko, and doesn’t have a track record of longevity, so I don’t see what what the point would be of buying one over an Eleiko. The American and Vulcan have that sweet, sweet SS shaft going for them that no IWF bar has, which is the main thing catching my attention. Do you have any info on when the Vulcan will be released?

            • jburgeson May 19, 2015, 7:28 am

              That is a valid point indeed. The stainless does make the difference.

              Regarding the release, all I heard was “soon”. I interpreted that as this month, but you know how this stuff goes.

            • Church May 20, 2015, 11:29 am

              Just checked out the Rogue Euro bar for the first time, very nice stats. The bar’s looks are impressive and I wouldn’t doubt it if the whip on this Rogue bar is very comparable to the whip of an Eleiko. I agree, too new of a product, need to hear some feedback on it and see if there are any bugs that need to get worked out of it.

              • jburgeson May 20, 2015, 12:48 pm

                Well I’ll be one of the test subjects because I have one on the way. Looks pretty damn nice; I’m excited!

                • Church May 20, 2015, 3:12 pm

                  Looking forward to hearing what you have to say about this bar. So many damn good bars popping into the market now, can’t wait to see what happens over the next couple of years in the advancement with bar quality, performance, and competitive pricing. I’m very impressed with the bearing system American is using and super surprised it’s taken this long for a company to step up to incorporate this type of bearing into a barbell. American has taken a step forward in bearing, sleeve and shaft technology. Although, I am curious why they have decided to do the traditional weld with the sleeve and collar instead of a friction weld? A question I definitely plan on asking either Phil, Jeff or Wyatt why they decided to go this route.

                  • Church May 20, 2015, 3:17 pm

                    I wonder if the type of weld they chose for the sleeve and collar has something to do with compatibility with the bearing system they chose to use for the bar? I would think you could still use a friction weld with their bearing system but maybe it’s integrity is compromised?

        • Church May 20, 2015, 11:23 am

          This happened to Eleiko back in the early nineties, quality slipped and people were having problems with bars and bumpers failing. This may have contributed to the door opening up for other companies at the time to push their products into international competition (along with politics). Eleiko lost their footing with dominating the international competition market. They are just now becoming dominate again at international competitions so this will be interesting to see what happens to them if their quality control is being compromised via increased demand for their bars.

  • Phil July 9, 2015, 11:48 pm

    Hey Jberguson,

    Thanks for all the great information you make available on your reviews. This site has become my go to for information pertaining to Olympic lifting equipment. I am currently in the market for a weightlifting bar which would strictly only be used in the two Oly lifts. I have narrowed my selection down to the Vulcan Pro Oly and the American Barbell Performance bars. Could you give me some insight to these two beautiful pieces and are there any other bars in the same price point that you think would be a better selection. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Thanks again!

    • jburgeson July 10, 2015, 9:47 am

      Thanks Phil, I’m glad you find it helpful. Yeah so, both are very nice bars. The SS is a personal favorite of mine, but you’re looking at $200 extra essentially for the stainless shaft. Vulcan uses true hard chromium on the Pro along with a semi-aggressive knurl, so either way you go you’ll find the shafts sticky. The SS isn’t really aggressive, but the stainless compensates completely for that. Whip is probably higher on the Vulcan, but spin on the SS is pretty much guaranteed to be smooth under any amount of weight. I don’t think you can go wrong with either, and the only other bar I might consider is the Eleiko Sport, but that’s pretty comparable to the Pro, just more expensive. Eleiko knurl is amazing though.

      Honestly, when you deal with bars of this caliber, there is a lot less concern about not getting a bar that performs. It’s different than asking should you get a Team Bar or an Ohio Bar, if you know what I mean. I’d happily lift with any three of the bars here. If saving money is helpful, then Vulcan is the way to go though as they are the only elite bar manufacturer trying to be competitive with pricing. Even the new Rogue Euro is $100 more than the Vulcan Pro.

      If there is anything in particular you are expecting/looking for, perhaps I can be more specific. What are you using now? Are you pulling a ton of weight, moderate weight, are you relatively new?

      • Phil July 10, 2015, 11:14 am

        By no means am I pulling big weight. I’ve become more dedicated to weightlifting over the past year and decided that the decade old York bars at my CF gym were A) old and worn out and B) absolutely brutal on the hands with its cheese grader knurling. As much as I would love the AB SS bar I was looking at the AB performance bearing bar along side with the Vulcan Pro Oly bar. My budget in total including shipping (I reside north of the border) was $1000. As stated earlier my numbers aren’t great but I would like to one day hit 100 kilo snatch and a 120 kilo clean and jerk. A high caliber bar would, in my opinion, aid in reaching those milestones. Thanks again for the help thus far. Always great information!

        • jburgeson July 10, 2015, 12:08 pm

          Oh sorry I assumed the stainless just because of where it was posted. My bad.

          Yeah I’d favor Vulcan then in that case. The knurl on the AB’s is soft in my opinion, and only the stainless makes up for it. That same knurl with a chrome finish wouldn’t be ideal, at least for me. But, if you tend to lean towards a softer knurl because of your experience with the old Yorks, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. The Performance is still a nice bar for sure, has those same high-load bearings. Either will spin great well beyond those weights so I wouldn’t worry about the spin so much. Also, the Vulcan will look super bright and shiny like a ZKC, and the AB will look more refined; pretentious almost lol. AB bars have that attention to detail look to them, and that’s cool, but it’s not a performance thing by any means.

          AB is on the west coast, and Vulcan the east coast. They both cost about the same shipped?

          • Phil July 12, 2015, 10:14 pm

            So in a turn of events I have come into an opportunity of purchasing a bar and was hoping you could give me your thoughts on the York 2200 20kg ELITE comp bar. It’s probably not as great as the Vulcan Pro or AB Performance but it’s a short drive away from where I am and $200 cheaper. Again my budget is up to $1000 but my numbers aren’t great, I’m just starting to solely focus on weightlifting with minimal CF workouts.

            • jburgeson July 12, 2015, 10:45 pm

              Yeah you’re right, it’ll be a compromise from either of those two bars, but $200 is $200. So York isn’t like they used to be, but it should still last. I would make sure from the store/seller that you get some kind of warranty. Word is that dealing directly with York is a pain in the ass, and I am pretty sure they don’t warrant their work like most of the other bar companies.

              It’s not the worst brand out there, but it’s not the best either. I’ve talked to York support before; they didn’t seem very knowledgeable about their own stuff. Oh and some places say that bar is 195k PSI, other 190k. It’s actually 190k, they just have no real control over how they share specs with their re-sellers. too much copy and pasting from Amazon listings or something, who knows.

              Buy anyway, just make sure you get some kind of warranty. It should be fine and never need to be called in, but it’s not the most unheard of thing to have an issue with a York bar.

  • shane August 3, 2015, 2:54 pm

    The AB stainless steel WOD bar at $299 delivered….is that too good of a deal to pass up?

    • jburgeson August 3, 2015, 3:37 pm

      I’ve yet to see it. I kept a close eye on reviews for the first couple months it was out, and AB offered me a spec sheet on it probably four months ago, but I never got that and I stopped watching for reviews not too long ago since none showed up. I assumed that no one was buying it because I know AB sends out a request for a product review a couple weeks after shipping, and people are far more likely to go back and review something when invited to do so.

      On paper it looks like it should be good. This is a surplus bar so it will only be around for a while, which is also why the price for stainless for this bar is so reasonable. Technically you can’t go wrong if you decide to pick one up since it is warranted for life, though AB’s return policy warranty doesn’t cover you if you just don’t like it but there is nothing wrong with it.

      For what it’s worth, when it comes to a 28.5 mm bushing “WOD” bar, I’d still take a Chan over this, though that’s partially because I already own a better stainless bar.

      • T August 7, 2015, 7:39 pm

        I think I’ve tracked down every comment regarding this bar on the Internet, and I’m still not sure if it’s a great buy or a headache waiting to happen.

        Little background: I’ve been using a Wright CF bar for all lifts since leaving my gym and getting started in my garage a year and a half ago. As I mentioned in another comment, I’m planning on buying a Games used Rogue Oly Bar in chrome. My lifts are nothing special (275/200 AND listed in pounds, haha), but I enjoy Oly lifting and wanted to treat myself to a true 28 mm bearing bar without spending a ton.

        I also enjoy powerlifting (505, 405, 275) and want a second bar for that purpose as well as CF. I recently snagged a Rogue Bar 2.0 and Bella 1.0 in great condition for next to nothing off CL. Very nice bars, but I’m just not sure I can handle watching the black zinc turn silver. Georgia climate in a garage can be hard on bars. My formerly zinc coated Wright bar is completely brown bare steel even with weekly maintenance (beat up in a CF gym before I got it). All that to say, I am looking to either pick up a chrome Ohio, chrome Chan, or the AB SS WOD bar. I know you love the Chan, but I’ve had friends advise me against it because of the knurling. If I go Chan, it will be because of its other unique features. However, if you had to decide between spending $310+shipping (closeout) for the chrome Ohio or $299 shipped for the SS knowing everything you do now, which way would you go? I’m also factoring in potential resale value since I tend to like to shake things up from time to time. Thanks for all the great content. No idea how you find the time.

        • jburgeson August 7, 2015, 9:10 pm

          Well let me ask this first, what is about the knurl that your friends don’t like? Just that it’s aggressive?

          • T August 7, 2015, 9:41 pm

            Yeah, you just get the comments about the Chan bar being known for having aggressive knurling. I unfortunately don’t know anyone locally who has one I can try.

            Just on paper, I like the idea of the Chan. I’ll have a separate bar for Oly lifts, so I’m covered there. I don’t really want to get a separate power bar for the static lifts, so I like the fact that the Chan was designed somewhat as a powerlifting bar that could still be used for higher rep met cons. I like the passive center knurl and wider spacing between the outer knurl.

            I have, however, lifted with bars with knurling that was just sharp and uncomfortable even for a single lift. I’ve got well-conditioned hands after lifting for some time now. I rarely ever tear or blister, but comfort is important. I’d hate to invest in one that I couldn’t comfortably get through a workout with. On the other hand, I’ve been using the Rogue Bar 2.0 for a week or so, and I feel that the knurling is a little too passive. I’ve gotten used to bare steel over the past 1.5 years, so I’m not sure if it’s the black zinc coating or just the design of the knurl. I hate having to use chalk if I can help it, and I find a need a lot for this bar and my grip ends up more sore and fatigued as a result.
            I know Matt Chan designed the Chan bar to have the more aggressive knurl to prevent the grip from slipping and tearing up the hands. Makes you wonder if the reputation for having a rough knurl isn’t more a misunderstanding than reality. Seems those that have it, like it.
            The only thing stopping me from giving it a try is that the Ohio is Rogue’s flagship bar and is tried and true. With automobiles, I’ve found the best quality to be with the flagship models as opposed to the newer flashier options and I’m betting barbells are no different.

            • jburgeson August 7, 2015, 10:32 pm

              Honestly, the aggressiveness may be a little overstated. The Chan is no TPB or Eleiko comp bar; it’s mild in comparison to a genuinely aggressive bar like those. Still though, compared to an Ohio, 2.0, or AB bar, it definitely has more substance. And it’s not even that it’s sharp, it’s just refined and done really well. Also, aside from the differences in knurl, the Chan is an Ohio Bar. Shaft, sleeves, bushings… all the same.

              In any case, I don’t want to try and convince you that it’s not going to be too much knurl for you because it’s just not something I can know, and I don’t want to be the guy that tells you to buy a bar you won’t like. I will say that I’ve yet to hear about any regrets so far, and it is indeed a popular bar. It’s also the bar sitting on the rack right now in my gym because it’s the only bar that gets used daily.

              Setting that bar aside, would I buy a Closeout Ohio or the SS WOD? Good deals can be had on the Closeouts section if you don’t mind that your bar may not be capped with identifying end caps. Ohio is solid just so long as it’s not the previous 1.1 version or whatever they called it (the 165k model.) The SS WOD bar is a 28.5 bar as well, and assuming AB used the same materials as they did for the high-end SS bars, I’m sure it feels pretty nice. It’s a limited run bar because of a stainless surplus that they had though, so I don’t know how much product development went into it; if any. Likely it’s just their standard $250 bar components with the SS shaft. Were it not for the fact that it was a limited run bar, I probably would have picked one up to review.

              If I had even a small amount of positive feedback on the SS WOD, I might lean that way… but I don’t. Not a word. I can vouch for their $800 bar, but not their budget line. Another reviewer I know bought one of their performance bushing bars many months ago, but he never released a review on it. I suppose that I should probably ask him why lol. Oh, and I’d imagine an Ohio/Chan would hold it’s value more depending on how you normally sell your bars. More CL’s will know of Rogue than AB, for instance.

              I hope this has been at least a little helpful. I try to avoid saying “Oh definitely buy bar X” because so much about a bar’s feel is subjective. I’ve had people tell me the knurl on a Team Bar was perfect, whereas to me it feels like it’s not even knurled. Who am I to tell them that they’re crazy lol.

              • T August 7, 2015, 10:47 pm

                I really appreciate it. I understand as far as knurling preference goes. Very individual. I think I got the answer I was really looking for though. As much as I would love a stainless steel bar at that price point, it’s probably too good to be true. I’ve built my gym through a lot of buying/selling/trading and Rogue just has the name recognition that even casual lifters recognize. I’ve read most of your site by now and trust your judgment. Think I’ll probably hold off on the closeout bar as aesthetics do matter to me (big reason I don’t like zinc bars). If I’m getting a Chan bar, it better come with two samurais. I’m thinking I’ll go with the Oly bar for now and use the Rogue bar for a while. Maybe look at getting a chrome Chan bar on BF when I can save a little on shipping.

                • jburgeson August 8, 2015, 12:52 am

                  Yeah I hear ya, I wouldn’t buy an unmarked bar either. It’s silly, but it’s our money and we can do what we want lol.

                • AJH August 16, 2015, 11:21 pm

                  I don’t think that American Barbell stainless WOD bar is too good to be true at all. My old olympic coach just outfitted his new gym with a ton of AB gear, including about 10 of AB 28mm bushing bars. From what I’ve seen they are great bars, excellent construction and fit and finish. If the SS bar they’re offering has the same sleeve and collar construction, and I have no reason to think it wouldn’t, then at $300 shipped with a SS shaft it’s a no-brainer. I currently have both a Chan and a B&R bar, both of which I love, but if I were currently in the market I’d be looking very hard at that SS WOD bar.

                  • jburgeson August 17, 2015, 1:00 am

                    Interestingly enough, since I have been asked about that bar so frequently, I decided to get one to take a look at. Originally I wasn’t going to simply because of its limited run status, but I have been pressured into changing my mind =p

                    While I am typically reluctant to blindly gives a thumbs up on something I’ve never seen, I probably should have shown more optimism considering the experience I have with their Pro SS. I will fast-track a review on that once I get it considering they won’t be around forever, and if it’s amazing, I will definitely say so.

  • Morgan August 17, 2015, 2:10 pm

    I just pulled the plug on a s/s wod bar – I’ll let you guys know after a few lifts. I was waiting for the EU and sport reviews, but I just cant justify the cost at my current level of oly lifting and the fact need a quality general bar right now. The only bummer in my eyes is the lack of a center knurl (imo, all bars should have at least a ghost knurl).

    • jburgeson August 17, 2015, 2:42 pm

      Yeah I’m excited to see that SS WOD myself and see how it is. It was supposed to arrive last Friday, but it’s UPS… well it didn’t show up lol.

      But yeah, about that… Euro review is actually nearly done. Still, I do feel bad about the delay. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing for me to announce what was coming like that, though I certainly didn’t expect to have an injury that would jam up my ability to test bars. I do apologize in the intro of the review though, for what its worth.

    • T August 17, 2015, 4:11 pm

      I’m hoping you guys get these reviews cranked out quickly. I’m still stuck in my search for my next multipurpose bar. Currently deciding between a Rogue Ohio, Rogue Chan, or this AB SS WOD Bar.

      Still thinking a chrome Ohio or Chan bar is the safest bet since most of the rest of my equipment is Rogue, but I’m not a huge fan of the knurling on the Rogue Bar 2.0 I’m currently using. Not sure if that’s the bar or the black zinc finish. However, now Rogue has pulled the chrome option for the Ohio. I’ve been going back and forth with them as to whether the chrome Ohio bars listed on closeout are new, old stock or not, but I can’t get a straight answer. They say they are not used and nothing is wrong with them, but that they might come with blank end caps just because they’re closeouts. Chrome Chan bars are still available but who knows for how long.

      Feature wise, the AM SS WOD bar is on par with the chrome Rogue bars and probably superior to the black zinc versions, but I just don’t know anything about the company. Still no reviews out there. Anxiously waiting to live vicariously through your experiences, so I can pull the trigger on something.

      • AJH August 17, 2015, 11:11 pm

        American Barbell is a new subsidiary of GP Industries, who have been producing USA-made equipment for outfitting commercial gyms for decades. AB is their attempt to break into the crossfit and olympic lifting markets with a direct-to-consumer sales approach, as opposed to being an OEM for other manufacturers and selling straight to commercial gyms. So, they aren’t some fly-by-night company that just popped up out of nowhere, they’ve been producing bars in the US for much longer than companies like Rogue, who IMHO are only just getting the hang of it (the earlier production Rogue bars left a lot to be desired, although their current offerings are great).

        As far as the AB vs. Chan bar, from my experience they will be similar in overall quality and fit-and-finish. I have no complaints in this area with my Chan, and all the AB bars I’ve handled have been impressive. Both companies seem to have great customer service and warranties. For me, the Chan’s biggest strength is the knurl pattern, which is my favorite of any bar I’ve used. I LOVE the wider spacing between the knurl, which keeps me from bleeding on the bar or having to tape up the first few inches of knurl. If you like a slightly more aggressive knurl and do more low-rep olympic movements, the Chan is great. The AB bushing bars I’ve handled were definitely a softer knurl, made more for high rep work, and I’d expect the SS WOD bar to be the same. This will be a plus or a minus depending on your uses and preferences, as will be the presence of absence of a center knurl.

        For finishes, obviously the SS is king, Satin chrome 2nd and black zinc a distant third. My Chan is black zinc as I got it during the period when the chrome ones were discontinued, and it’s showing plenty of wear despite being well cared for. However, the satin chrome is a $75 upcharge, and the SS WOD is priced in line with the black zinc Chan. For bang for your buck, the SS WOD is probably the best value on the market.

        Overall, if you’d rather have a softer knurl then the AB SS is a no-brainer (assuming they didn’t change the knurl from their normal bushing bars). If you want a more aggressive knurl, like center knurling and tear your shins up on regular bars, and you don’t mind paying the extra for the chrome, I’d go Chan.

        • T August 18, 2015, 10:05 am

          Thank you. Very helpful reply. Being from the Southeast, I just don’t know much about AB and nobody around seems to have any experience with them. I did find that they provide equipment for the OC Throwdown and seem to have a strong following along the west coast. Knowing that they’ve been around a while definitely helps.

          If it were just that, I agree with you it would make sense to go with SS over chrome. However, I am caught between preferring a strong knurl pattern and loving the idea of having a stainless steel bar. Hoping they remain in stock long enough for me to check out these upcoming reviews and finally make a call.

  • Morgan August 17, 2015, 2:31 pm

    But the beauty of the bare s/s is that any machinist can easily add a knurl :)

  • Morgan August 26, 2015, 3:01 pm

    My s/s wod bar arrived today. The packing was very good – bar is perfect. The knurling is very mild – close to an Eleiko bar I owned a while back, but a bit more of a sandpaper feel to it. The bar looks great and appears to be built well – I just wish there was a mild center knurl, especially for a do-it-all gym bar. I’ll report back after a few workouts.

    • jburgeson August 26, 2015, 3:42 pm

      That’s awesome. You saw I reviewed it, yeah? I agree on the center knurl part though.

  • Morgan August 26, 2015, 6:52 pm

    Nope. Do now, though!

  • Ray December 11, 2015, 11:02 pm

    So I bought the american barbell precision training bar which is the bushing version of this bar…. I wanted to comment on how nice the stainless steel is. The knurling is pretty much perfect even though it doesn’t have the ghost center knurling. If I had the money, I’d totally buy the bearing version of this bar. I tested the spin on it with more than 400 lbs on it and was pleasantly surprised it spun easily and smoothly without seizing up. Didn’t notice very much whip on it however but then again i only put on 225lbs on it when I was training. Thanks for putting up this review J. Should have purchased a bar like this a long time ago instead of having to go through two companies that made some terrible bars (again faster and equipment raw).

    • jburgeson December 12, 2015, 2:19 am

      I’m glad you like that bar Ray. American Barbell has some of the best bearings and bushings that I’ve seen. Those composite bushings are really tough; very strong. That’s why they don’t deform under that 400 pound load. Most bronze bushings would suffer a substantial performance loss at that much weight.

      Sorry you had to deal with those other bars first. I’ve had my share of junk; you live and learn. Hopefully as the site grows and I get more stuff reviewed, less people have to make a bad purchase or two before they settle into something solid. That’s the goal anyway!

      I appreciate the feedback Ray.

  • Steve Willoughby November 3, 2016, 10:02 pm

    I was wondering if you can get your hands on Rogues new stainless steel bar,and do a review on it. I can’t understand how their selling it for $350. I have an American Barbell Super Power Bar which I got on sale, and that still costed more. This new bar has the red end caps and is marketed as the SS Ohio Bar.

    • jburgeson November 3, 2016, 10:33 pm

      I do plan to buy one, yes.

      I think a lot of it has to do with so many entering the SS market. Before it was super uncommon, and American Barbell (who is already borderline expensive) figured they could charge a premium price.

      That’s probably not the whole story though. There are different grades of steel (unrelated to PSI ratings) and it could be that American Barbell simply uses a premium, American-milled metal. Rogue’s new SS product description eludes to it not being an American-milled steel, as it only claims to be “assembled” in Ohio. Some of this stuff we’ll never know, as Rogue does not tend to disclose such information (I’ve asked technical questions before – they won’t answer most of them.)

      • Jordan November 7, 2016, 7:54 am

        It *appears* as though the steel is manufactured in the U.S. (whether by Rogue or someone else). I have never known Rogue to sell junk, so I doubt its poor steel. However, I am disappointed that they went with a composite bushing rather than the standard bronze.

        I live in Texas where it is humid much of the year, but I still like bare steel bars. I would still likely lean towards the Castro (Ohio bar in bare steel) if I go for a multipurpose bar. My only other bar at the moment is the Ohio Power Bar in bare steel. The upkeep isn’t bad at all. Also, the Castro bar has the bronze bushing and is almost a hundred bucks less. I know, I know….apples and oranges regarding maintenance, but still… : )

        Thanks for all your reviews and info! Your site has been a great resource for me.

        • jburgeson November 7, 2016, 9:04 am

          Well Rogue still buys the steel from someone – they don’t yet own a mill as far as I know. And while we’ll never know what grade they buy, it’s definitely not poor/low-grade.

          Yeah bare steel is literally just as good as stainless steel in terms of feel if you don’t mind the maintenance – they are both unfinished, raw steel. For a $100+ difference, it’s an easy choice for a lot of people to go with standard bare steel.

          • Jordan November 9, 2016, 8:32 am

            Thanks for the reply! You have considerably more hands on experience than I do. Tell me….are you completely sold on stainless steel, or do you think you’ll still reach for bare steel at some point? I realize you are kind of hot for stainless right now. No denying it…I like the idea of it too, and the stainless Ohio bar at $350 is easily accessible versus the other bars on the market for 2-3x that much.

            Curious,
            jordan

            • jburgeson November 9, 2016, 10:06 am

              I use both regularly, actually. Stainless has its place in heavy lifts for sure, but there is no reason that the natural grip of stainless couldn’t and wouldn’t be beneficial for a mid-range WOD bar like the Ohio as well – not to mention the superior corrosion resistance. It’s just a matter of funding really. If the $350 doesn’t break you versus the $250-$300 you could spend on a like-performance bar, then why not? Technically it’s better, and Lord knows Rogue could have decided to charge more for it and they would have sold them all the same, so sure.

              That said, I definitely reach for Rogue’s Ohio Power bar over the twice-as-expensive Super Power Bar more often than you’d expect simply because the knurl of the Ohio is more aggressive (it’s simply better knurling). It’s a different situation than with WOD bars, I know, but the point is that using stainless over bare steel doesn’t automatically make it better. Though if the knurling of the SS Ohio is no different than the other Ohio variations, than it will be superior to those other variations.

  • brad February 17, 2017, 10:29 am

    Any chance your compare the new Rogue SS Oly bar ($695) against the AB SS?

    • jburgeson February 17, 2017, 10:52 am

      I don’t currently have plans to buy the SS Oly Bar, but if enough people ask about it I’ll probably change my mind. I do however have every bar around this bar (Euro, Oly, and SS Ohio), and of course the AB SS, so I can probably make some fairly accurate assumptions about how they’d compare if you are curious about something in particular.

  • brad February 17, 2017, 11:41 am

    Just looking for someone’s opinion on the 2. I see the AB SS is now on sale for $675. They seem to be pretty similar bars. I have an Eleiko and Werksan in my regular rotation but like the look and feel of an SS bar. Being pretty much the same price point, would go with the AB SS or Rogue SS Oly?

    • jburgeson February 17, 2017, 12:40 pm

      The Rogue will almost certainly have knurl similar to the standard Oly and Euro, which is a tad more substantial than what AB puts on their bars. Neither the Rogue SS or AB SS will be as sharp as an Eleiko, but if you’re used to the coarseness of Eleiko and other IWF bars, you might find the AB feels too soft regardless of how secure it is in reality. Also the Rogue might have better elastic properties, but since it’s a 28 mm version of their 195k stainless I can’t speak to that just yet as I only have the 28.5 stainless Rogue shaft.

      The AB is a super nice bar though. AB’s industrial bearings are much different than what everyone else uses, and the thick chrome on the sleeves has proven to be extremely durable over the years in my gym. Also the thickness of that chrome actually makes for a snugger fit of plates, but of course that’s dependent on the plates as well. the AB SS has always been one of my favorites, and the forced price decrease does make it even more appealing than before. Tough call.

  • brad February 17, 2017, 1:45 pm

    Thanks for the info! I actually don’t like the aggressiveness of the Werksan or Eleiko all that much and I’m looking for a more passive knurl for those long sessions. The bearings of the AB might have me sold. Thanks again, I love the site.

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