Before I start this Chan Bar review, let me start off by saying that I am extremely excited about this particular review. I’m excited because it looks like this will be one of those rare articles in which I do not need to have a section for listing the negatives. I think this one will be entirely positive.
What does that mean? Well, it seems that no matter how much I may like any given product, it usually has a couple of cons or drawbacks that I have to talk about. It could be design oversights, high pricing, bad warranty, or any number of things. In the case of this Matt Chan Bar, I can tell you right from the start that I have no significant complaints whatsoever… and that makes this so much more fun for me.
Having said all that, you should still read this entire article if you are interested in this barbell. While I think that there is a really good chance that this bar is right up your alley no matter kind of lifting you do, the Chan Bar is sort of a unique bar, and one that may not appeal to you or meet your specific lifting needs. I doubt it, but you never know!
Why I wanted the Chan Bar
There are so many barbells on the market to choose from these days; probably more than ever before. Rogue alone makes dozens of different bars, not to mention all the other manufacturers (both the old school and the new players) trying to get their share of the booming barbell market. So why did I choose to buy the Matt Chan Bar over all the others? I’ll tell you the three main reasons the Chan Bar appealed to me personally, and why I felt it was worth nearly $400 for yet another dual-marked, multi-purpose barbell.
My primary interest in the Chan Bar was the advertised aggressiveness of the knurling. Both the Rogue product description and the many user reviews claim that the Chan Bar had a more substantial knurl and offered a more secure grip than your average bar, but without the sharpness or discomfort typically associated with aggressively knurled, single-rep bars.
This claim was especially appealing to me because I feel that too many of the general-purpose bars on the market have a knurl that is too soft and insignificant – knurl that requires an excessive amount of chalk; especially for high-rep work and heavy pulls. I’ve been wanting to find a bar that has a perfect compromise between not enough and too much, and all the hype I heard and read indicated that the Chan may be that bar.
Unique Knurl Pattern
The second feature of the Chan Bar that I found appealing is the modified knurl pattern. The Chan has a larger space between the outer knurling to accommodate the shins during cleans and deadlifts. I’ll go into this feature in more detail below, but let me just say that I think this modification is innovative and brilliant, and it’s exactly the kind of improvement you get on a barbell when you let an experienced athlete help with development.
The final major reason I opted to go with the Chan may be a lot less compelling for many of you, but it is what it is. I wanted a chrome bar, and the Chan is offered in a Satin chrome finish (it’s also offered in zinc btw.)
All the price wars on barbells the last few years have led to an overabundance of zinc and oxide bars simply because it’s less costly to produce and can be offered at more competitive prices. I think chrome is superior to all other finishes in that it requires very little maintenance, looks the nicest for the longest, and has the best feel aside from bare steel (bare steel of course requires the most maintenance.)
Chrome costs a bit more, but I believe it’s worth the extra expense… especially if you already have other barbells that require a lot of care, and the last thing you need is another. However, like I said, the bar is available in zinc if you need to save where you can.
So couple the ease of care with an innovative knurl pattern with bite, and you have one hell of a barbell. Everything else is just icing on the cake in my opinion.
The Chan Bar, along with almost every other bar in the Rogue line-up, got an upgrade earlier this year. Rogue increased the PSI rating of the bar shafts to 190,000 PSI pretty much across the board, and they did this without a price increase of any kind. While the Chan Bar was already on my short list of bars to own prior to this change, the upgrade sealed the deal for me.
The Chan also has a passive center knurl. Don’t run off just yet, CrossFitters. It’s actually so passive it’s almost not there. Matter of fact, it’s about the most passive center knurl I’ve ever seen. It does offer just enough grip to hold onto a t-shirt during a back squat, but you’d have to rub your knuckles on this center knurl for some time before it started taking skin off. So go ahead and rejoice, CrossFitters. You’ll be okay with this center knurl.
Personally, I’ve always liked having a center knurl. I feel like it should pretty much always be there, so I’m happy it’s present on this bar.
Matt Chan Bar Revew – Specifications
Here’s a summary of the Rogue Chan Bar specs for quick reference or for comparing to other bars you’re interested in. You can find all these specifications on the Rogue website as well, of course.
- Weight: IWF standard 20 kg (44 pounds)
- Length: IWF standard 2.2 m (7.2 ft)
- Shaft Diameter: 28.5 mm
- Loadable Sleeve Length: 16.5 inches
- Knurling: Dual-marked, custom pattern, aggressive
- Center Knurling: Passive, 4 inches
- Shaft Finish: Satin chrome or black zinc
- Sleeve Finish: Satin chrome or black zinc
- Tensile Strength: 190,000 PSI
- Sleeve Assembly: snap ring
- Rotation Mechanism: bronze bushings
- Warranty: lifetime warranty against bending/breaking
- Price: $295 (zinc) or $375 (satin chrome)
- Assembled: Columbus, OH USA
So not much to comment on in terms of the specifications. They are all respectable and normal. PSI rating is strong, sleeve assembly is typical of a Rogue bar and CrossFit/general weightlifting bar, and so forth. The unique aspects of this bar like the knurl pattern will be addressed more below.
Matt Chan Bar Review
Unique Chan Knurling Pattern
As I mentioned above, the knurl pattern on the Chan Bar is different than it is on any other barbell out there. The bar’s dual Olympic / Powerlifting hash marks are where they should be, but the space between that outer knurling is further apart. As you can see in the picture below, the space is 21″ apart versus about the 17″ or so that is typical.
I have yet to run into a situation in which I wished that knurling was closer together like it would be on any other bar. To be fair, I am a tall guy, so I am far less likely to run into that situation due to my naturally wider stance and grip. Having said that, my workout partner is 5’5″ and he will not use any other bar in the arsenal since the Chan Bar made its way into the gym. The bar just feels so right.
What I’m about to say may not seem like a selling point, but I dig this about the bar so I’ll share it with you. The shorter inside knurling (the knurl outside the 21″ center, and inside the powerlifting mark; where you would take position for the majority of your lifts) is the perfect width for just grabbing and going. It seems trivial to say that I’ve shaved a few seconds of positioning my hands off each set, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t notice and appreciate it.
Knurling – Sharpness
As I previously mentioned, the sharpness of the knurling on the Chan Bar was the biggest selling point for me. I was so excited about the idea of owning a bar that didn’t have sissy knurling. But before you run away from this bar because you think it will feel like a cheese grater and tear up your hands, let me elaborate.
Yes, this bar sticks to your hands much more than say the Ohio Bar or other run-of-the-mill CrossFit bars. It is not intense though. It doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t cut, and it doesn’t rip off callouses (well any more than any other bar), but it holds, and it does it without the use of a pound of chalk each workout. The Chan is grippy, but it’s not like lifting on a hardcore power bar or single-rep competition bar. The grip is nice for one-rep maxes, but not uncomfortable for high-rep sets. On the contrary, it’s better for high-rep sets than other bars because it doesn’t slip.
In all seriousness I give this bar a 10 out of 10 for knurl. I could not be any happier with the bar in terms of holding power and feel. If I dropped my loaded Chan onto a safety and bent it this afternoon, I’d order a new one by this evening. The Chan is not a bar that spends a lot of time in the gun rack, and I’d want it back ASAP.
As a side note, the Chan is the only bar I own in which I can max deadlift without the use of straps.
Sleeve Spin / Rotation
The Chan Bar is a bronze bushing bar, and there is nothing remarkable about or wrong with the sleeve rotation. The spin is on par with just about any and every bronze bushing bar I’ve had contact with, and it’s certainly consistent with all Rogue bushing bars. The assembly feels tight, there is no lateral play in the sleeve on the shaft, there is no excessive noise, and I don’t foresee any issues in this department. In this situation, boring is a good thing.
If you’ve ever lifted on The Rogue Bar, the Ohio Bar, or just about any of the Rogue 28.5 mm bars, you’ll know what to expect in terms of whip with the Chan Bar. Matter of fact, being that this is a multi-purpose bar, it should come as no surprise to you that the whip is “average” in terms of other Rogue bars, and a bit above average when compared to lesser quality 28.5 mm bars.
I have no complaints regarding the flex of the bar. It’s suitable for heavy, static lifts like the dead and bench, and just as suitable for cleans and snatches. If you Olympic lift on a competitive level, well then maybe you need a true 28 mm Olympic bar. For everyone else, I’m confident you’ll be completely happy with this bar both for CrossFit and general weightlifting.
Satin Chrome Finish
I bought the Satin Chrome version of the Chan Bar rather than the less expensive zinc version. I explained my reasoning for that at the beginning of the article. In case you’re wondering what “Satin” means, it simply means that the chrome hasn’t been polished out to give it that reflective shine. In other words, it’s still the same coating just not shiny like the bumper of classic Cadillac.
I personally have no preference in terms of Satin or polished. Chrome is chrome is chrome as far as I’m concerned, although some believe Satin makes for a better grip than polished. It’s a great looking bar and it’s easy to keep looking new. At $75 more than the murdered out zinc Chan, it would be a bargain at twice that price difference. Sure, zinc will outlast oxide, but it will not look new for as long as chrome.
Chan Bar Review Summary
The Chan Bar has become an instant favorite in my garage gym. I have enough gun rack space for all my bars but one, and it’s the Chan that stays off the rack for easy access. It is used every workout for at least part of my workout, and often times all of it. I’ve had it a couple months now and it has not chipped, scratched, or lost any spin. I have zero complaints at this time and do not expect to have any. However, if a problem arises, I will of course edit my review – but I really don’t see it happening. 5-star bar, no doubt.
I also wanted to mention that Rogue does a fantastic job of shipping barbells. The shipping tube is thick, solid, and heavy. The barbell is wrapped in plastic, tagged and signed by the Rogue tech who assembled the bar, and each end of the tube has padding and a lock-on metal cap to prevent the package from opening during transit. Rogue has practically eliminated any chance of damage during transit, and that is an achievement worth mentioning.
Videos of Matt talking about the Chan Bar
Pretty cool bar! Check it out.