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Olympic Barbell Review and Shopping Guide

Olympic Barbell Review

Welcome to the Olympic and Powerlifting Barbell Review. If you’re in the market for a quality barbell, or you’re looking to learn the basics of barbell construction, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re a man, woman, or youngster; or whether you’re looking for an Olympic bar, power bar, CrossFit bar, or just a general purpose bar, you will find information on a large selection of the bars currently on the market. With any luck, this article will help you find the perfect bar for you and your garage gym.

In an effort to stay current with new equipment and to keep up with changing prices, this page is updated regularly. Last update: August 2014 (Added: the updated 190k Chan Bar, Rogue Ohio Power Bar, Ivanko OB-20KG. Updated: Texas Power Bar, Eleiko Powerlifting Bar.)

Barbell Guide Table of Contents

Understanding Barbell Specifications

Barbell Review and Shopping Guide - Disassembled needle-bearing bar sleeve

Barbell Differences for Men and Women

Barbell’s are not the same for men, women, and junior lifters. They vary in weight, shaft diameter, and in some cases overall bar length. Most bars are men’s bars, but many major manufacturers offer a women’s version of their more popular bars, and less frequently they offer a youth version. Below are the typical specs for each type:

  • Men’s Barbell: weighs 20 kg (~44 pounds), has bar shaft of 28-29 mm, and length of 2.2 meters (7.2 feet).
  • Women’s Barbell: weighs 15 kg (~33 pounds), has bar shaft of 25 mm, and a length of 2.01 meters (~79 inches). The reduction in overall length comes off the sleeves.
  • Youth Barbell: weighs 10 kg (~22 pound) , has bar shaft of 25 mm, and length of 60-67 inches. The reduction in overall length comes off the sleeves.

Type of Bar (Olympic vs Power)

There are three major types of barbells available; Olympic bars, Power bars, and dual-marked bars. Power bars are designed for heavy deadlifts, squats, and bench presses. They are very rigid, stiff bars that do not store elastic energy, making them a poor choice for the Olympic lifts. Power bars have their own unique knurl markings that differ from those on the Olympic bar.

Olympic barbells are designed for the two explosive Olympic lifts; the snatch and the clean & jerk. Olympic bars are generally thinner and more flexible than Power bars (28 mm vs 29 mm), and they store more elastic energy (referred to as whip) that is used to the lifter’s advantage when performing heavy clean & jerks. The markings on an Olympic bar are also a couple inches further out from center than the markings on Power bars.

Example of a dual-marked weightlifting barbell

The ever-so-popular and increasingly common dual-marked weightlifting bar.

There is a third type of bar that has become commonplace these days, and that is the dual-marked weightlifting bar. These hybrid bars are intended to be used as a general-purpose bar; a bar that is suitable for Olympic lifts, but can also handle the slower and heavier power lifts. This type of non-specialized bar is generally the best choice for most beginner and intermediate lifters and CrossFitters, and more times than not what you will find in a gym or affiliate setting.

Center Knurling

Both the IWF (International Weightlifting Federation) and the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) specify that a men’s barbell should have center knurling. While you will always see center knurling on power bars (for heavy squats), it is not that uncommon these days to find Olympic bars offered without the center knurl despite the IWF standard. Having this center knurl is really just about personal preference. Just pay attention to product descriptions if this attribute matters to you.

Sleeve Assembly: Bushing vs Bearing

This describes what components are used to allow the sleeves to spin on the shaft. Bushings are a low friction material (usually bronze) placed between the shaft and the sleeve, while needle bearings spin more smoothly but typically increase the cost of the bar. Both mechanisms allow the sleeves to spin, but bearings allow for a smoother, quieter spin. Nearly all dual-marked/general purpose bars and powerlifting bars are bushing bars. Bearings are generally only found on high-end Olympic bars. Check out this discussion if you’re curious about these two mechanisms.

example of bushings for an olympic barbell

Bushings

Example of needle bearings

Needle Bearings

Tensile Strength

Eleiko PSI bar test

Bend test for Eleiko Olympic Bars

Measured in PSI, this is the breaking point of the barbell. Avoid barbells with no tensile strength offered in the specifications as that normally means it’s too low to want to point out to the consumer. 150k is a good minimum, 180k is a number you’ll never need to worry about. Ivanko Barbell suggests you never buy under 190k (which covers all of their bars and eliminates a large portion of their competition, so take that with a grain of salt). While higher usually means more expensive, that is not always the case. The York B&R Barbell, for example, is 205k PSI at only $295, and lately even many bars in the $200-$300 range are hitting 190k+ PSI.

Shaft and Sleeve Finish

Barbell Finishes

Barbell Finishes (from left) Black Zinc, Bare Steel, Black Oxide, and Satin Chrome

This is the protective coating on (or not on) the bar. Bare steel requires the most maintenance but has the most natural feel. Black oxide offers slightly more oxidation protection than bare steel, but still requires some maintenance. Both bright and black zinc offer even more oxidation protection, but quickly lose their luster, while satin, hard, and polished chrome offer almost full protection from oxidation but can increase the cost of the bar significantly. Read reviews on bars with finishes you’re interested in to see what people think of the feel.

Sleeve Design (Snap Ring vs Pin and End Cap)

This is the method by which the sleeve is secured to the bar. Both of these methods work well and I wouldn’t worry too much about which your preferred bar has. If however you do want to learn more about how these both work, try this article. I do suggest that you run away from any bar with a hex bolt sticking out of the sleeve. You shouldn’t come across a hex bolt if you’re shopping for a reputable brand; you’re likely only to see this on barbells offered in box stores and a good number of the inexpensive bars on Amazon, for example.

Snap ring method for securing sleeve to barbell

Snap Ring

Pin and End Cap method for securing sleeve to barbell

End Cap

The Barbell Review

All the bars listed here met a couple minimum requirements. First, they all have a stated PSI tensile strength, not just a max static weight. This eliminates pretty much every cheap box-store barbell. I strongly believe that buying a $100 bar is an absolute waste of money, and I refuse to pretend otherwise by recommending anyone even consider buying one. If you’re lucky, you’ll just outgrow a cheap bar in a few months and just be out the $100. If you’re unlucky, you’ll break the bar during a lift and hurt yourself.

Examples of broken Olympic barbells and why quality steel is important

A couple examples of how well cheap bars hold up over time. Two box store brands: CAP (left) and Marcy (right). These types of breaks don’t happen often, but the cheaper the bar, the more likely it is. When it does happen it’ll be during a lift.

Second, all these bars are manufactured by well established, reputable companies that stand behind their products. York, Rogue, Eleiko, Ivanko, and WerkSan are all established players in the industry and they all offer warranties.

Go to: Dual-Marked BarsPower Bars | Technique Bars | Youth Bars | Top

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28 mm Olympic Weightlifting Bars

IWF Olympic Barbell specifications

Olympic Weightlifting Barbells are designed for the two explosive lifts: the snatch and the clean & jerk. True Olympic barbells are 28 mm bars (25 mm for women’s) and they will almost always have bearings in the sleeves. However, there are Olympic training bars (like the Vaughn) that utilize bushings instead of bearings to keep the price down. Training bars are a great way to get under a true 28 mm Oly bar for less cash than what a bearing bar will cost you.

The Vaughn Olympic Training Bar (New)

The Vaughn 28 mm Olympic Training Bar

The new Vaughn 28 mm Olympic Barbell – $399 shipped!

The Vaughn Bar was developed by two-time Olympian, Chad Vaughn in an effort to show that a high-quality true 28 mm Olympic bar can be manufactured and sold at a reasonable price. At only $399 including shipping, this bar is an amazing deal for any aspiring Olympic lifter or avid CrossFitter.

For starters, this bar has an very high 216,000 PSI tensile strength. This is an impressive number that is typically reserved for bars like Eleiko, Ivanko, and so forth. The shaft and collars are coated in a beautiful black manganese, and the sleeves are micro-grooved chrome. While this bar is not a bearing bar, it has proprietary bushings that deliver a very smooth and reliable spin. In other words, it spins like a bearing bar, but is priced as a bushing bar.

I have a review for this bar. You can learn much more about it there and also see a video demonstration of the fancy sleeve spin. Great bar and great price.

Vulcan Professional Needle Bearing Olympic Bar

Vulcan Professional Needle Bearing Olympic Bar

I’m really starting to like Vulcan bars. These guys are blowing a lot of the other bars out of the water with their steel choices, attention to detail, and finishing touches. If you can actually catch this bar in stock, I suggest it go on your short list if you’re looking for an Olympic bar.

The Vulcan Bearing Bar is a 20 kg, 28 mm, Olympic bar with 8 precision German needle bearings. This bar has been manufactured to all of the IWF specifications including the center knurl. The outer knurl is moderately aggressive and the bar has an absolutely sick, lab tested tensile strength of 240,000 PSI and a 203,000 PSI yield strength.

The bar itself is finished with hard chrome, which is both beautiful and, as the name implies, harder than other chrome treatments. It’s probably what adds to the tensile strength, but what do I know! This bar is $599 and ships for free… if you can find it in stock!

Rogue Olympic WL Bar

New Rogue Olympic Weightlifting Barbells

Rogue recently designed their own line of Olympic weightlifting bearing bars to compete with the high dollar imports like Eleiko and WerkSan. The Rogue Olympic WL Bar is an American-made bar that definitely appears to be comparable in quality to many of those imports but at a fraction of the price. It’s a little lower PSI that the Euro bars, but it’s half the price of the Eleiko and 190,000 PSI is still nothing to scoff at.

The Rogue WL bar is your standard 20 kg, 28 mm Olympic bearing bar and it is available in three different finishes; bright zinc, satin chrome, and polished chrome. All three of these finishes are also available either with or without the IWF center knurling. This bar is made with the highest quality American steel available and it has a minimum tensile strength rating of 190,000 PSI. Like the Eleiko and Ivanko bars, all of these bars are straightness tested before they leave Rogue.

If you want the Rogue Olympic WL Bar in a murdered out, all black zinc finish, take a look at the Froning Bearing Bar. It is the exact same bar, only it’s a signature bar. Price is the same. There is also a women’s version of the Olympic WL Bar. You can see that here.

Burgener Bearing Bar from Rogue (updated)

The updated Rogue Burgener Bearing Bar

The Burgener Bearing Bar is a great barbell for both Crossfit and true Olympic lifting. This 28 mm, 20 kg Olympic bar has moderately aggressive knurling, no center knurling, and is offered in either a bright zinc finish or a polished chrome finish.

As the name implies, this is a bearing bar. It has 5 top-of-the-line German needle bearings in each sleeve. This bar has snap rings and a PSI tensile strength of 190k. This bar is guaranteed for life and starts at $525. This is one of my favorite bars hands-down.

I should note that this bar was recently given a stronger shaft and is now identical to the Rogue Olympic WL Bars, so if you prefer Satin Chrome or you want a center knurl, you can always turn to that bar instead.

Ivanko OB-20KG Olympic Bar

Ivanko OB-20KG and OBS-20KG Olympic Bars

You will not find a nicer bar made in the United States than Ivanko bars. No other company more thoroughly tests their bars. Each and every bar is tested for defects in the steel with no less than three separate tests: x-ray, mag, and ultra-sonic. Ivanko bars are also straightness tested to ensure no deviation greater than 0.006/ft over the length of the bar exists.

The OB-20KG Olympic bar is a polished black oxide, true 28 mm Olympic bar. The steel is rated at 200,000+ PSI. The MSRP for this bar is about $650 (it’s actually less on Amazon thanks to seller competition), which is extremely reasonable for an Ivanko bar. There is also a stainless steel version of this bar, the OBS-20KG Olympic Bar and that bar is rated at 218,000 PSI and sells for over a grand. Both are fantastic bars.

WerkSan Training / Competition Olympic Barbells

Werksan IWF-certified Olympic Competition Barbells

WerkSan Olympic Bars are IWF certified Olympic bars which means they adhere to all IWF specifications. WerkSan bars are premium bearing bars that will add 10% to your PR’s. Ok that’s not a fact, just a myth. Maybe 5%.

The WerkSan Olympic bars are available both in a men’s 20 kg bar and a women’s 15 kg bar, and each version is available as either a full competition bar or a training bar. You’ll only save about $80 by going with the training bar, so why bother. Comp is $960, Training is $880.

Eleiko Training / Competition Olympic Bars

Eleiko Training and Competition Olympic Barbells

The Eleiko Olympic WL Barbell is the Olympic Barbell. All Eleiko Competition and Training bars are individually tested in accordance with the Eleiko quality policy and provided with a serial number. These two bars are both 20 kg with 28 mm shafts. The Competition Bar is calibrated while the Training Bar is not. Eleiko bars use needle bearings and they have an impressive 215k PSI tensile strength; that Swedish steel. The training bar sells for $854 and the competition bar sells for $1044.

Eleiko offers both of these bars in 15 kg women’s versions as well. The Eleiko Women’s Olympic Barbells are the same except for the shaft thickness of 25 mm and the weight. Pricing is also the same as the men’s bars.

Zhangkong (ZKC) Competition / Training Olympic Barbells

Zhangkong (ZKC) Competition Olympic Bars and Bumpers

You may recognize the name from the Beijing Olympics; ZKC Competition Olympic Bars are IWF-certified barbells that are a little tougher to come by stateside than the other high-end imports. Though fear not, word is that there will be a new American distributor for the entire ZKC catalog in the near future. I do not have technical data on the ZKC bars beyond that which is made obvious by the certification. Prices range from $770-$1000 USD before shipping and taxes.

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Dual-Marked Bars

Many of the most popular bars on the market right now are dual-marked bars. These bars will allow you to perform both the explosive Olympic lifts and the slower power lifts all on the same bar. These bars are generally bushing bars, and the bar shaft is usually 28.5 mm. These bars are much more affordable and versatile than the Olympic bars, great for most athletes, and ideal in a garage gym setting.

The Bomba Bar V2

The new Bomba V2 Barbell from Fringesport

The black zinc Bomba Bar V2 – $239

The Bomba V2 has the same dual marked, 20 kg, 28.5 mm barbell shaft as the original Bomba. It’s a 165,000 PSI bar with oil-lite bushings and snap ring sleeve design. The changes made to the V2 include knurling that now goes all the way to the sleeve, and the width of the sleeve shoulders were cut down by about half; giving you more loadable area on the bar. Nothing too drastic has changed with the V2 really.

I like this bar as a beginner and intermediate CrossFit bar, and for lifters on an extremely tight budget. Advanced lifters may want something with a slightly higher rated steel and more reliable sleeve rotation; perhaps the Vaughn Bar if you’re already a Fringesport fan. Warranty is for one year.

The Rogue Bar 2.0 (updated)

The new Rogue Bar 2.0 by Rogue Fitness

The Rogue Bar – Used for years at the Crossfit Games* – $274 $255

As of July 2014, The Rogue Bar is now The Rogue Bar 2.0. This bar has been drastically improved over the original, and the price has been lowered by about $20. Considering that both the price and the craftsmanship of the original Rogue Bar was already nothing to complain about, this is fantastic news.

So what’s the same? The Rogue Bar 2.0 is still a 20 kg, 28.5 mm bar with dual Olympic/Power markings (with no center knurl); the coating is still black zinc for the shaft, and bright zinc for the sleeves; and the bar is still guaranteed for life not to bend or break.

What’s new with the 2.0? The steel is of a much higher quality. The PSI tensile strength of this bar has been improved to 190k from the previous 155k. The bronze bushings have been replaced with composite, self-lubricating bushings that should extend the life of the bar and keep those sleeves spinning. Machined grooves have been added to the sleeves so the bar can be customized with colored bands. Finally, the price has been lowered from $274 down to $255.

The Rogue Bar 2.0 should be on most people’s short list when shopping for a barbell. If your budget is in the under $300 range, this is an outstanding bar for the price. Additionally, the original bar had an unbelievable 65, 5-star review on Rogue’s site, and I see no reason that these updates wouldn’t keep that perfect rating alive and well. Only complaint I’ve heard so far is that this is a loud bar when dropped, but still much quieter than other bars in its price range.

*The Rogue Bar was replaced at the CrossFit Games with the new Rogue Olympic WL Bar. Bye-bye.

The Bella 2.0 (The Women’s Rogue Bar)

The Rogue Bella Bar 2.0. The Woman's Rogue Bar

This is the women’s 15kg version of The Rogue Bar. The Bella 2.0 has similar construction to the Rogue Bar (bushings, snap rings, zinc coating and 190,000 PSI steel). However, the shaft is smaller at 25 mm, the Bella still uses bronze bushings, and this bar is slightly shorter at 79 3/8″. The difference in length comes off the sleeves, not the shaft. This is a great women’s barbell, and a steal at $215.

The Rogue Ohio Bar (updated)

Olympic Barbell Reviews - The Rogue Ohio Bar

The Ohio Bar – Available in four different finishes. $282+

The Rogue Ohio Bar is a 20 kg, dual marked bar with a 28.5 mm shaft. It is available in four different finishes including satin hard chrome, black zinc, bright zinc, and black oxide. This is a bushing bar with snap rings, and while the tensile strength used to vary by finish (150k – 165k), the Ohio Bar got an upgrade recently that raised all variations of the bar to 190,000 PSI. This bar has no center knurling and ranges in price from $282 to $365.

The Ohio Bar is Rogue’s flagship bar; the first to be manufactured entirely at the Rogue campus in Ohio. It currently has a flawless 5-star rating based on 45 reviews, and tons of positive feedback for this bar can be found all over the web. However, unless you intend to purchase the satin chrome version of this bar, I suggest you consider The Rogue Bar (above). Both have the same shaft, but The Rogue Bar is priced better and has bad ass collars.

FYI: The following bars are identical to the Ohio Bar, only with different finishes: The Castro Bar (bare steel), The Froning Bushing Bar (black zinc), and the Rogue Operator Bar (olive drab). I go into some detail about why this is here.

Burgener and Rippetoe Men’s Bar by York

Burgener & Rippetoe Men's Bar from Rogue

Burgener & Rippetoe Men’s Bar by York – $295

If you’ve seen any other posts from me about Olympic Barbells, you’ll already know I love this bar. This bar is a beast for the price. The B&R Bar is 20kg, has a 29 mm shaft, is marked for both Olympic and Power lifts and DOES have a center knurl. This is a sintered bushing bar with an end cap and it has an amazing 205,000 PSI tensile strength. This is a bare steel bar and does require maintenance. This bar is a steal at $295.

I consider the B&R to be one of the best priced bars on the market, and ironically the only York bar that interests me. This bar is one of the strongest bars in its price range, but again, it requires maintenance. Read my review on this bar here.

*Aug 2014: FYI, I still use this bar in my gym more than any other*

Burgener and Rippetoe Women’s Bar by York

The Women’s B&R Bar is a little different than the men’s. While still a bare steel bar with bushings and end cap sleeve design, the weight is 15kg, the shaft is 25mm. It is still dual marked, but there is no center knurling. The tensile strength is 195k and it’s a few bucks less at $285. Like the men’s B&R, this is a very versatile bar; great for women who Olympic lift/CrossFit and still like to get under a heavy bar inside the rack as well.

The Matt Chan Bar (updated)

The Rogue Matt Chan Bar

The Chan Bar is one of Rogue’s most unique and versatile bushing bars, and it’s a bar I own and love. I recently reviewed this bar, and you can read that here if you’re interested. Fantastic bar!

The Chan Bar is a 28.5 mm dual marked bar with a 190,000 PSI shaft. It is available in two finishes; satin chrome or black zinc. The knurling on the Chan Bar is more aggressive than the rest of the Rogue bushing bars, and that knurling is set further away from center to allow for a wider stance with deadlifts. The Chan bar also has a passive center knurl for squats. The zinc Chan is $295 and the chrome is $375. 5-star rating, of course.

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Powerlifting Bars

IPF Recognized Power Bar Specifications

Power Bars are designed for the big three powerlifting lifts: the bench press, deadlift, and the squat. Power bars are knurled and marked a little differently than Olympic bars (the marks are closer to center). A power bar should always have the center knurling.

Power bars are also more stiff and rigid than an Olympic bar due to the large amount of weights that gets put on the bar. Additionally, powerlifting bars don’t need the sleeves to spin as smoothly and are almost always bushing bars.

Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar

Original Texas Power Bar by Buddy Capps

Original Texas Power Bar by Buddy Capps – $328

The most talked about Power Bar around. The TPB is 86″ long with 15″ sleeves, 4″ center knurling, and it has a 28.5 mm shaft. It’s 20 kg and has a 1500 lb test capacity. Don’t assume that because find a bar called Texas Power Bar that it is the real TPB. The name wasn’t copyrighted so all kinds of knock-offs exist (Troy, Ader, etc.) Look for the state of Texas decal at the end of each authentic TPB. The Buddy Capps TPB is finally easy to buy on Amazon.

Rogue Ohio Power Bar (new)

Rogue Ohio Power Bar in bare steel or zinc

The new Rogue Ohio Power Bar will be available in pounds or kilos, and in zinc or bare steel. Hurray!

The new Ohio Power Bar is a 205,000 PSI power bar with a 29 mm shaft. It’s stiff, it’s rigid, and it has practically no whip whatsoever. This bar is not entirely released yet, but there is expected to be both a 20 kg version of this bar and a 45 pound version of this bar. Additionally, there will be a choice between bare steel (awesome) and a black / bright zinc finish. Hats off to Rogue for finally updating the Rogue Power Bar; this is a great looking bar at an even better price point. $250 bare steel, $275 zinc.

Rogue Power Bar

Rogue Power Bar

Rogue Power Bar – bye bye

The Rogue Power Bar has been replaced with the Rogue Ohio Power Bar (above). Tootles to you, old Rogue Power Bar.

Westside Power Bar

The Westside Power Bar

Westside Power Bar – $375

The Westside Power Bar is a 29 mm powerlifting bar designed to the specs of Louie Simmons, the founder of Westside Barbell. This bar features an aggressive deep knurl and does have center knurling. The shaft is 29 mm thick and the bar weighs 20 kg. The shaft is black zinc and the sleeves are bright zinc. This is a bushing bar with snap rings and it has a strong 205k PSI tensile strength. This is a sweet powerlifting bar for $375. There is also an Econ version of this bar that has pinned sleeves to keep the price down ($315).

Eleiko Powerlifting Bars

The Eleiko Powerlifting Barbells

Eleiko offers two powerlifting barbells; the competition and training PL bars. Both bars have bare steel shafts and chrome sleeves. They are 20 kilo bars with a 29 mm shaft and they have bronze bearings specifically designed for powerlifting. The training bar is $949 and the IPC-certified competition bar is $1099. I challenge you to tell me the difference other than the certification. Both come with a decent 10 year warranty, but I’ll bet you’ll never need to call that in. Knurl is said to be very aggressive.

Ivanko OBX-20KG Powerlifting Bar

The Ivanko OBX-20KG Power Bar

Ivanko OBX-20KG Powerlifting Barbell – MSRP $667 – $1259

Bust out the wallet. The Ivanko OBX-20KG Power Bar is 20 kg and has a 28 mm thick shaft. This bar is PSI rated at over 200k. Each Ivanko Barbell is mag tested, ultra sonic tested, and x-ray tested against defects in the steel. These guys are serious about putting out quality bars. This bar has a black oxide coating and the center knurling is 4.75″ rather than 4″. This bar is sweet, IPF approved, and expensive. $667 $605 on Amazon! I’ve been drooling over this bar for a while now.

This bar is also available in stainless steel which gives it a PSI rating of 218,000. That model is $1259 $1155. What a bad ass looking bar. I’ve given Amazon links because you cannot buy Ivanko bars direct from Ivanko, and the company that is selling these on Amazon is reputable. Plus, you can’t ask for a better return policy than Amazon.

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Training and Technique Bars

Technique Bars are for training and practicing form. Some are steel, some are aluminum. Most have limitations of some kind. Read carefully any product description to make sure that the bar can handle what you intend to put it through. Never leave weights on a technique bar when not in use.

Eleiko 10kg Olympic Technique Bar

Eleiko technique bar 10 kg

Eleiko Olympic WL Technique Bar – ~$474

The Eleiko Technique Bar is 10 kg with a 25 mm shaft. The shaft is chrome and the sleeves are aluminum. This bar is great for practicing Olympic lifts form. It has a maximum load of 40 kg. Remember to never leave weights on technique bars when not in use. Approx $474

Rogue C-70 Technique Bar

Olympic Barbell Review - C-70 Technique Bar

Rogue C-70 Technique Barbell – $265

The Rogue C-70 is a unique technique bar. It is a 35 lb, shorter version of the Ohio Bar. It was designed for use in the Crossfit Games where people are in close quarters. This bar is 70″ vs the standard 86″ and the space between collars is 43″ vs the standard 52″.

While shorter and lighter, this is still a real barbell. It has a 28.5 mm shaft, is marked for both Olympic and power lifting, and has a PSI tensile strength of 150k. This is a bushing bar with snap rings and no center knurling. $265

Note that this bar cannot be racked in a power cage or squat stand.

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Youth Barbells

I am blown away by the limited number of youth barbells (quality youth barbells) available. If you know of any that you’d like to recommend for this review, let me know in the comments.

Rogue Junior 10kg Bar

Rogue Junior Barbell - $174.99

Rogue Junior Bar – $174.99

The Rogue Junior Bar is a 10 kg bar with a 25 mm shaft. This bar is shorter with an overall length of 66.75″, but the distance between collars is the same as a competition bar; only the sleeves are shorter at 7.5″ each. This bar is a bushing bar with snap rings and has an impressive 155k PSI tensile strength (impressive for the size). It is dual knurled for Olympic and Power lifting but has no center knurling. $174.99

York 25 LB Black Oxide Junior Bar

The York Junior Bar is a 25 lb bar with a 30 mm shaft. The shaft is black oxide coated and the sleeves are split chrome. The bar is only 5 ft long so it cannot be racked. I can find no PSI rating for this bar, but due to the lack of Youth bars on the market I decided to include it anyway. $136

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Olympic Barbell Review Summary

So the take away is this; there are a lot of solid bars on the market. Just about every manufacturer offers something unique. Rogue has the biggest variety of bars and the most options for bar finishes, Fringesport still has some of the lowest prices on entry level and intermediate bars, and Eleiko, Werksan, and Ivanko still produce some of the best damn bars in the world for prices that force us to buy someone else’s bars. There’s something for everybody.

My Pick for a Competitive Crossfit Bar

Taking money out of the equation, I would go with the Burgener Bearing Bar for a Crossfit bar. I really like the Rogue bars for the money. $525 for the zinc Burgener is a fantastic price for a true 28 mm needle bearing bar. The steel is strong, there is no center knurling, it has a lifetime warranty, and it’s a Burgener. Plus, if you’re serious about competing in CrossFit, it’s probably in your best interest to train on the same bar brand that you’ll compete with; and this is a Rogue Olympic WL Bar; the new bar of the CrossFit Games.

My Pick for a Crossfit Bar on a Budget

This one is easy, especially now that the price came down and the steel got upgraded. The new Rogue Bar 2.0 is the obvious CrossFit bar on a budget, and I would say that for women who want a 15 kg bar, the Bella is just as obvious. There is a reason these fill garage gyms and CrossFit boxes all around the world.

My Pick for a 28 mm Olympic Weightlifting Bar

One of the best bars for serious Olympic lifting is the WerkSan Comp Bar. However, it’s a thousand dollar bar, so I’m going to make two other recommendations that are more in line with the average person’s budget.

Of the bars that are not pushing a grand, I have two favorites. Again, the Burgener Bearing Bar is just an obvious choice for me. While less unique than it used to be (it is now identical to the Rogue Olympic WL Bars) it is no less bad ass. Rogue did a great job bringing reasonably price, high tensile strength, Olympic bars into the market.

I also am finding myself very into the Vaughn Olympic Training Bar. While not a bearing bar, the bushings are very smooth and the 216,000 PSI steel used for the shaft is on par with Eleiko and Ivanko bars. This bar is also far less expensive than the Rogue Oly bars, so that may be the deciding factor for some. I actually reviewed the Vaughn. There is a video showing the insane sleeve spin for a bushing bar.

Both are great bars, and both are priced very competitively for their specifications. Honestly, I haven’t heard anything bad about any of the bars I discussed in the Olympic bar section. Matter of fact, there was a York needle bearing bar listed there that I only heard bad things about so I simply removed it.

My Pick for General Weightlifting

Chan Bar, hands down. Two different price points available to fit different budgets (zinc or chrome), great knurling, strong steel, and a brilliant knurl pattern for pulling. Just an all-around, well-designed bar for those who do it all; Oly, power, and a variety of accessory lifts. High-five Matt Chan when you see him at the club.

My Pick for Powerlifting

Honestly I love both the stainless and the black oxide Ivanko, but the price on the stainless is just too rich for my blood. I have been seriously considering buying the black Ivanko Power Bar though. For those not wanting to spend $600, I’d suggest the new Ohio Power Bar. I hear the TPB is brutal on the hands, but an amazing bar despite the cheese grater knurl. I’m not overly impressed with Eleiko Power Bars; I don’t think they provide enough technical data for a thousand dollar bar.

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{ 43 comments… add one }

  • Drew March 5, 2014, 10:12 am

    Dude you TOTALLY forgot to mention the ELEIKO POWERLIFTING BARS!!

  • jburgeson March 5, 2014, 11:42 am

    Ya Eleiko makes a ton of bars that I didn’t include. They’re not really known for the their powerlifting bars and they’re soooo expensive that I decided to leave them out. Also, Eleiko doesn’t offer too much information on the construction and testing for the PL bars. However, I went ahead and added them with the limited info they do make available.

  • George May 27, 2014, 12:18 pm

    There is also a 10 KG bar by GP Industries and a 10 KG bar by Werk San, both bushing bars for about $350.

    • jburgeson May 27, 2014, 3:36 pm

      You’re referring to their Training bars? Ya if I remember correctly Werksan didn’t have a whole lot of technical data on most of their training equipment. I might have to try and dig that up though. While an expensive 10 kg bar at $350, it’s still cheaper than the Eleiko.

  • George May 27, 2014, 12:46 pm

    actually sorry for the confusion – i just spoke to Werk San and they said their “Silver” series 10 KG bar is actually made by GP Industries …

  • Max July 26, 2014, 10:52 pm

    So what’s your opinion on the new Eleiko XF bars! I have even wanting to step up my Olympic lifts but I am completely training for Crossfit. I am all over the new Rogue bar 2.0 but at the same time if I’m going to buy a bar I might as well get a bearing bar for my Olympic lifting. Thoughts?? Please help!

    • George July 27, 2014, 12:56 am

      The only bars i would consider are training or competition bars from Eleiko, Werk San or Uesaka. I would not even consider the Eleiko Sport Training ( which is what i actually have ) as the knurl is lacking and warranty is short. Don’t even think about Eleiko XF bar – it’s probably just going to lock up like my 10 KG Eleiko bars which arrived already stuck – two in a row. Eleiko is lately trying to expand into every market and created a lot of low quality products that are not worth the money. I would not get anything from Eleiko that isn’t part of their core product range. Be prepared to spend $800 on a bar because that’s how much a good bar costs. Between $800 Eleiko, $800 Werk San and $800 Uesaka it is a matter of personal preference – but anything cheaper is low quality, including the cheaper Eleiko bars.

      • jburgeson July 27, 2014, 2:37 am

        I don’t even know where to begin with this…

        First off, I don’t think comparing the XF to a 10 kg aluminum-sleeved technique bar is even remotely reasonable.

        Secondly, spending $800+ on one barbell for a garage gym is unnecessary and just out of the question for 99% of people. Sure, Uesaka and Werksan may be very high quality bars, but that doesn’t make anything that costs less low-quality by default. They’re not all winners, sure, but there are some very fine bars out there within the $300-$600 range; bars that will outlive all of us.

      • Christopher July 30, 2014, 4:54 pm

        After having a 6-week back order on a WerkSan bar, I was going to consider getting a Eleiko Sport Training, because it would come quicker.

        You would definitely say Eleiko Sport Training is noticeably inferior to Eleiko Training, or WerkSan training?

        • jburgeson July 30, 2014, 5:28 pm

          Maybe George will chime in on this one for you since he owns that bar. I agree that having a 10-year warranty versus lifetime on an $800 bar is pretty weak, and there are bars that cost a third of that price that are guaranteed for life, so maybe that says all that needs to be said about it. If you’re willing to spend so close to a grand on a bar, any particular reason you don’t want the true training bar?

          • George July 31, 2014, 3:22 am

            The Sport Training warranty is only 5 years, versus 10 years for Training and Lifetime for Competition as well as Werk San or Uesaka. Also the Werk San warranty is Unconditional but Eleiko warranty is not. I have not used the Eleiko Training but i spoke to somebody named Joseph Hamblen ( he has a YouTube Channel ) who owns both, and he said Training vs Sport Training are very similar but Sport Training has a slightly less pronounced Knurl. I have ordered Eleiko both from Eleikoshop and Bumperplates dot com and shipping time was resonable in both cases – on the order of 10 days or so to get delivered from Chicago to NY. Replacement speed for my defective 10 KG bar was lightning fast – i had the replacement 3 days after notifying Eleiko – unfortunately it was also defective … got the refund on that particular bar. The Sport Training vs Training are probably more similar than different. I doubt that Sport Training is only half as reliable because of half the warranty – more likely explanation is the shorter warranty is simply a way for Eleiko to be able to offer that bar at a lower cost. That said, i probably would not get it again.

    • jburgeson July 27, 2014, 1:43 am

      I think the XF is a great bar. It’s a true 28 mm Olympic bearing bar with toned down knurling and the center knurl removed. It’s basically the Eleiko answer to CrossFit. Whether or not you should pick up an XF over the 2.0 Rogue Bar is kind of tough because it’s apples and oranges. I think it comes down to how serious you are, how experienced you are, and what your goals are. If you are serious, committed, and you can afford that Eleiko price tag, go for it. If you’re not sure, it’s not like buying a Rogue Bar is a bad thing. That help any?

  • Max July 27, 2014, 10:37 am

    That was awesome feedback. I really didn’t think i’d hear anything back for a week so that is great. As for price, I’m not limiting myself. If I’m going to buy a good barbell that isn’t from my gym I’m going to get what’s going to help me improve the most. At this point I’ve been Crossfiting for about a year and a half. I am dead set on getting a heck of a lot better at my Olympic lifts. I have been working with our specialty coaches at our gym a lot and reading some literature on the subject and so OLY lifting is a massive goal of mine. I’m only 17 so I’m at the prime age to train for the games. With that said, my goal is ultimately crossfit so between the Burgener Bearing Bar, the Eleiko XF Bar, the Rogue Froning Series Bearing Bar, or the Rogue OLY Lifitng Bar what do you think I should go for. I am completely grateful for any feedback. Thanks!

    • jburgeson July 27, 2014, 4:10 pm

      If your goal is the Games, may as well start getting used to feel of the Rogue bars. To be honest, all three of the bars that you mentioned from Rogue are very similar, if not practically the same. All are 28 mm bearing bars with the same 190k PSI steel shaft. I personally go to customer feedback in a situation like that, and the Rogue Olympic bar is the only one with a substantial amount of feedback; all positive too. Grab the zinc version and you’ll not only save $100 over the chrome version, but you’ll have a bar that will feel more like the Rogue Bar, which as you probably know is the Games bar.

      While I don’t think there is any reason not to lift with an XF, I think your Games goal is just enough reason to stick with Rogue. Technically the Rogue warranty is better as well, but I doubt you’d have a warranty issue with any of the bars you mentioned.

  • Max July 27, 2014, 4:10 pm

    That’s actually really helpful! Thanks a lot. As for your questions; I have been crossfiting for about a year and a half now and in the past few months I decided that I want to step up my game. Being only 16 years old it is the perfect time to start really training to be a games level athlete. That’s said, I really need to improve my olympic lifting. I have been working with the strength coaches at our gym a lot and I have also been doing some reading on the subject. So, my ultimate goal is to be focusing on my olympic lifting. I haven’t made up my mind yet but I probably won’t do much strict powerlifting with the bar I get. That said I like the dual markings on the bar. I will also use this bar for a crossfit WOD as well. So, with that in mind, between the Burgener Bearing Bar, the Eleiko XF Bar, the Rogue OLY Bar, and Rogue Froning Series Bar, what do you think would be best suited. I am greatful for any and all feedback! Thanks!

    • jburgeson July 27, 2014, 5:06 pm

      As a follow up, none of those Rogue bearing bars you mentioned are dual marked. If you have no intention of competing in powerlifting, who cares if it’s marked. That power mark is for the bench press and serves zero purpose in CrossFit or Olympic lifting… unless I missed a memo.

    • George July 27, 2014, 5:14 pm

      Soon the games will be over and Rogue will sell off the equipment used at the games at discount prices. Buy the bar from that sale. It won’t be as nice as Eleiko but you will be training with the actual bar used at the games. And it will save you a ton of money as a bonus.

  • Anne August 1, 2014, 1:59 pm

    I’m finally taking the plunge and setting up my own garage gym. I’ve been a recreational lifter for years, but never before realized there were women-specific bars. All of the bars at my gym are identical, and I have to assume that they’re all mens’ bars. Having never lifted with a womens’ bar, I’m having a hard time deciding if it matters? Also, I will be sharing the garage gym with my husband (and as I have 3 sons, as they get older I imagine they may have an interest as well). So, when I invest in a barbell, do I get a men’s bar, even though I (a woman) will definitely be the primary user? I am quite petite, so the smaller diameter of a women’s bar sounds appealing to me. Is it just to accommodate a woman’s smaller hands? If it matters, my husband is also on the small side.

    • jburgeson August 1, 2014, 4:31 pm

      Hey Anne, grats on going with a gym at home. So women’s bars are like you said, a little thinner at 25 mm, but they are also 15 kg instead of 20 kg. They can also be a tad shorter, but not by much.

      If you’re used to lifting with a men’s bar already, and you plan to share a bar with your husband, you might just stick with a men’s bar. There’s no rule that says you have to lift with a women’s bar, especially since you’re lifting for what I assume are your own fitness purposes, not to compete.

      Having said that, you could also just have both a women’s and a men’s bar if you find the idea of a narrower bar appealing. Most folks end up with multiple bars anyway just for the convenience of it; like doing supersets and so forth. As for your sons, if we’re talking small children who aren’t lifting yet, their first exposure will probably be a youth bar (10 kg), and then straight on to men’s bars.

  • Joe S. August 20, 2014, 5:52 pm

    I have Eleiko, York, and Ivanko barbells; all are excellent.
    However, i also have and prefer Schnell & Ironwolfe barbells, especially since they are stainless steel. Check them out!

  • J Z August 21, 2014, 12:30 pm

    Any chance for a final update to:

    “My Pick for Olympic Weightlifting
    With so many new Olympic bars on the market, and the price getting so competitive, I am re-evaluating my preference and will update soon!”

    ?

    • jburgeson August 21, 2014, 12:58 pm

      Oh snap, put on the spot! =p

      So okay, this is tough because there are just so damn many bars out right now. If you want a true 28 mm Olympic bar with bearings, I still love the Burgener Bearing Bar (it’s identical to the Olympic WL Bar now, so really either of these). I think it has the best price point for a true Olympic bearing bar.

      If you don’t want to spend upwards of $600 but still want to get under a 28 mm bar, maybe look at the new Vaughn Bar. It’s everything a high-end Olympic bar offers but with bushings instead of bearings (keeps the price down by a lot). I actually have this bar and am reviewing it currently. So far I like this bar a lot. Crazy 215k steel, and the bushings are still very smooth. Pretty bar too, but that’s whatever, They don’t stay pretty.

      Those are my two favorites. You can always go with Eleiko or Ivanko for two to three times the money, but when talking about bars for a garage gym; not a stage, these two are fantastic bars for the price.

  • cvn September 1, 2014, 8:33 pm

    Have you had a chance to check out the Wonder Bar yet? Contemplating buying one but I’ve never actually seen one….but for the price maybe that’s okay!

    http://www.fringesport.com/products/ofw-mens-olympic-bar-20kg

    • jburgeson September 1, 2014, 8:48 pm

      Heya, no I haven’t handled that bar personally. I’ve heard it’s okay, more of an entry level / maybe intermediate bar. I think that by spending even $30-$50 more you can get a much better bar, but if that $199 is already pushing your spending limit, then go for it. It’s better than an Academy or Amazon bar and it has an actual warranty if you hate it. I’d much rather have the Rogue Bar though, or even the newer Bomba there at Fringe unless for some reason you have to have bearings.

      • cvn September 4, 2014, 8:13 pm

        Thanks, appreciate you taking the time to respond!

  • Sky September 11, 2014, 4:13 pm

    I love the thought and effort that went into this barbell shopping guide. Great work. I’m setting up my garage gym right now. I’m on a budget, but I know a good bar is a necessity. I’m buying two bars to start, one each for me and my wife. What would you recommend between the Bomba Bars (one 20 kg + one 15 kg) from Fringe Sport and the Rogue 2.0 bar + Bella 2.0 bar from our trusty friends at Rouge?

    • jburgeson September 11, 2014, 4:28 pm

      Hey Sky, I appreciate that.

      I think that your price works out about the same either way, so I’d suggest the Rogue bars. I really do like Fringe, but the fact is that both the steel and the sleeve design on the Rogue bars is better than on the Bomba bars, and Rogue has such competitive pricing on the Bella and The Rogue Bar that it’s hard to compete with that. Either of those bars could be $50 more and they’d still sell no problem.

  • Greg September 12, 2014, 12:41 pm

    What is your opinion of steelbody bars. I saw it at sports chalet for $189 along with their bumper plates. I am a beginner and really appreciate your detailed reviews. Would this brand fall under the category of “store brands” you were not fond of? Let me know if you think its sufficient for a home garage. Thanks

    • jburgeson September 12, 2014, 2:45 pm

      Hey Greg, well I had never even heard of that bar. I looked it up to see if I could find the specs, and I could only find it on eBay and at Academy. No specs are offered beyond the obvious like length and weight, which generally isn’t a good sign.

      If you’re just starting out but were willing to spend $200 on that bar, perhaps rather use that money towards The Rogue Bar or maybe even the Bomba 2. Rogue also has their Economy Men’s Bar on closeout at $199, and it’s better than any box brand, but for $55 more you get twice as much bar with the The 2.0 Rogue Bar. You may see the Beater Bar on Rogue’s site, but avoid that.

      I know starting out is tough cause all the equipment starts to add up in price, but you’ll be glad your bar wasn’t the piece of gear you skimped on. Buy used weights, cheap bench, whatever.. .the bar is important. Hope that helps!

  • JP October 9, 2014, 4:49 am

    Fantastic description and layout of this material. I speak to small groups and box owners all the time about equipment and will keep the link to this page handy.

    • jburgeson October 9, 2014, 1:32 pm

      Awesome. Sounds good to me! =P

  • Hanna October 22, 2014, 12:47 pm

    I need a bar that is not prone to rusting…low maintenance, mainly for olympic lifts. I have had horrible luck with a black oxide bar…could not control the rust. What would you recommend? I’m thinking Bella bar or Pendlay HD (this is a little pricey)..I’m having a hard time finding any other 15 kg bars. Any recommendations?

    • jburgeson October 22, 2014, 2:15 pm

      I’m not a fan of oxide myself to be honest. I’m assuming you want 15 kg specifically? You’re right that there is not a whole lot of them, especially when you remove oxide bars from the list. Vulcan has two 15 kg bars, but one is oxide and the other is not going to be a price you like if you weren’t excited about the Pendlay price. Do you not like zinc? The Bella is zinc, not oxide.

      • Hanna October 22, 2014, 5:11 pm

        I think because of my experience with my rusty barbell I’m wary of only oxide bars…my lifting partner has a zinc again faster bar and it has held up well. My reasoning for 15 kg barbell is that if I ever wanted to compete it would be better to train with a “women’s” bar, however I’m finding much better options with the 20kg barbells. Thoughts? Perhaps that is the way to go. Ohio bar maybe?

        • jburgeson October 22, 2014, 6:27 pm

          With men’s vs women’s, it’s a 3mm difference in shaft width, or 3.5mm if you went with something like the Ohio Bar. If that larger shaft feels comfortable to you then a 20kg bar is fine. It’s never really been about the weight with women’s barbells anyway, just the thickness really.

          I’d go with either zinc or chrome since you’re clearly not wanting to deal with oxidation. Bare steel is out of the question! Chrome will look the best for the longest, but zinc holds up well for a lot less money. The Ohio is offered in all possible finishes, so you can’t go wrong there.

          There is also the Rogue Olympic WL Bar. That’s offered as a 15 kg chrome bar, but it’s pricey like the Pendlay. Pretty popular bar though, that new Rogue Oly.

          • Hanna October 22, 2014, 8:31 pm

            Thanks so much for your help…man that rogue womens oly bar looks sweet, a bit out of my price range for now though.

          • jburgeson October 22, 2014, 10:17 pm

            Ya best of luck! Lot’s of choices since you don’t mind 28mm.

        • George October 22, 2014, 6:42 pm

          Stainless is probably not an option as all the stainless bars i seen are for powerlifting, not weightlifting. Hard Chrome plating while it can chip is the thickest kind of plating and what is found on all top weightlifting bars regardless of brand name – even Rogue that’s famous for black bars puts hard chrome on their most expensive dedicated weightlifting bars. All good bar makers offer a 15KG bar with hard chrome finish. Aside from shaft diameter something to consider is the amount of whip – a thinner bar will flex with less weight on it – which may be beneficial for a woman. On the other hand it would probably be easier to re-sell a 20 KG bar.

          • Hanna October 22, 2014, 8:34 pm

            I’ll probably go with black zinc for now…still on the fence about 20kg or 15kg. I actually don’t mind 28 mm diameter…sometimes it is more comfortable to me than the smaller diameter bars. Big decision I’ve gotta make. Thanks do much for your help.

  • JR October 23, 2014, 5:14 pm

    Excellent article, most of these guys are clueless when it come to doing a decent review, thumbs up brother.

  • Gabe October 31, 2014, 5:44 pm

    This was good information. I’ve never really looked into barbells before. My current bar is a used one that is welded from a state penitentiary. I finally decided to throw down some cash and get a “new” bar. I think I’m going Rogue 2.0. Thanks for the information.

  • Shane November 5, 2014, 2:49 pm

    IMO I just bought a Eleiko Demo set for my home Gym. Sport Training Bar + 220kg in the new ST bumpers. I couldn’t be happier. The knurling is a tad softer than the comp bar, but for long training sessions i enjoy having skin on my hands. The bumpers are far superior to the bolt together comp plates. Spin/whip/response are all as good as the comp bar. I also own a DHS Trainer and a Pendlay ’13 NB, and this bar is comparably better. $2,200 for a 190kg set up is pretty dang competitive.

    • jburgeson November 6, 2014, 10:20 am

      The ST is a nice bar. You don’t think those bumpers are too thick?

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