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Rogue Ohio Power Bar – Full Review

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About a year ago, Rogue Fitness released the Ohio Power Bar; a bar that would completely replace the Rogue Power Bar; Rogue’s only self-branded powerlifting bar. With only two unique power bars being sold by Rogue at the time (Rogue PowerWestside Power), and both of them having all-too-similar specifications, the addition of the Ohio Power Bar was much needed. Why though?

The late Rogue Power Bar was sort of an underwhelming power bar. The tensile-strength rating of the shaft was below average, the knurl needed work, it was only available in solid black zinc, and it cost about $25-$50 more than it probably should have. In addition to all of that, Rogue’s other bars (the CrossFit and Olympic line) had all recently received a substantial steel upgrade, and those bars’ new and improved specifications just made the old Rogue Power Bar look weak by comparison.

Fortunately the Ohio Power Bar picks up where the Rogue Power Bar left off. The Ohio boasts a significantly higher tensile strength rating (205,000 PSI vs 155,000 PSI), multiple weight and finish options, and even a lower starting price. The Ohio Power Bar is everything that the Rogue Power Bar was not, including solid competition for the other mid-range power bars currently on the market; the Texas Power Bar included.

Rogue Ohio Power Bar Specifications:

The majority of these specifications are direct from the bar’s product page. I include them here for quick and easy reference while reading this review.

  • 20 kg men’s power bar, or 45-lb men’s power bar.
    • 45-lb bar available in bare steel or black/bright zinc ($250/$275).
    • 20 kg bar available black/bright zinc only ($325).
  • 29 mm shaft diameter.
  • Tensile strength rating of 205,000 PSI.
  • Yield strength is unknown.
  • Highly aggressive knurling; IPF markings.
  • Center knurl is present, and not passive.
  • Cast bronze bushing system.
  • No whip; very rigid.
  • Loadable sleeve length: 16.25″ (45-lb) and 16.875″ (20 kg).
  • Snap-ring sleeve assembly.
  • 20 kg version has friction welded sleeves.*
  • Made in Ohio, USA; lifetime warranty.

*The friction welded sleeves are just a high-tech method of attaching the shoulder to the sleeve (first seen on the Euro Olympic Bar.) Other than giving you about half an inch of extra loadable length on each sleeve, there is no functional advantage to having this feature. It’s cool, but it won’t enhance your gains or anything like that, and it is more expensive.

Rogue Ohio Power Bar Variations (Kilo or Lb.)

The top bar is the KG variation of the Ohio Power Bar with slim, friction welded sleeves. The bottom is LB variation with standard width shoulders.

Going for the 45-pound variation of the Ohio Power Bar will be a no-brainer for most of you; not only because of the difference in cost, but also because most US powerlifters train with pounds rather than kilograms anyway. If you need that extra half inch of sleeve length on each side, you probably need some thinner plates.

Ohio Power Bar – Whip

Surprise! This 29 mm thick, high tensile-strength power bar has no elasticity to speak of. The Ohio Power Bar is as rigid as they come. Power clean? Sure. Clean and jerk? Not so much.

Ohio Power Bar – Sleeve Rotation

The sleeve assembly is standard-Rogue. The Ohio has a pair of cast bronze bushings in each sleeve; all held together with snap rings. In terms of rotation, it feels just like a Rogue Bar 2.0, Ohio Bar, Matt Chan Bar, and so on. In other words it’s adequate, reliable spin.

Since the bushings are cast bronze (not sintered), you might need to hit them with some lubricant a couple times a year. However, since this is a power bar and not actually designed for quick turnover, it’ll probably be more like once a year.

All-in-all, the Ohio’s sleeves are exactly how they should be. No issues, no complaints, and I see no reason for anything to have been done differently. Hell if anything, the sleeves spin better than they need to, but I don’t see anyone having a problem with that.

Ohio Power Bar – Finish

You have a little bit of flexibility when it comes to finish. If you go with the 45-pound version of the bar you get a choice between bare steel, or a black zinc shaft with bright zinc sleeves. With the kilogram version, you only have the zinc option. Unfortunately, no chrome versions exist, and only the bare steel option will get you away from having at least some black zinc on your bar.

Ohio Power Bar Review - Finish options (raw steel vs black zinc)

Black zinc looks great when it’s new, but it doesn’t age well, and doesn’t offer the same natural feel and secure grip as a bare steel bar.

I ordered the bare steel version of the Ohio because it’s a power bar, and the feel of raw steel during a heavy lift is superior to zinc in every way. Steel is gripper than zinc, more natural feeling, and looks a lot better too; especially after a couple years of heavy use. Remember that zinc fades, and it can change color over time. Bright zinc will usually just dull (think of galvanized hardware), but black zinc will both dull and discolor, turning an awful shade of green.

So bare steel feels better than zinc, and it costs less as well, but it does require some upkeep. Occasionally rubbing the bar down with oil and brushing out chalk, blood, dust, and sweat is very helpful in keeping oxidation at bay. It’s not a full-time job, but it is still a responsibility, and neglecting to do this will result in a nasty, rusty barbell that’s harder to restore than it would have been to keep clean in the first place. Plus, a well-kept and cared for raw steel bar will develop a natural patina that not only makes the bar look classy and old school, but also eliminates the need for so much upkeep. So maintain that steel.

It’s only fair to point out that zinc can be maintained too. A lot of the same maintenance (minus the steel brushes) will help keep zinc looking nice for longer, but no matter how well you take care of a zinc bar, it will never feel as good as a raw bar. It’s all preference though. All variations weigh 45-pounds and bring gains to the table, so it’s whatever.

Ohio Power Bar – Knurl

The knurling is where I am the most impressed with the Ohio. For a power bar I find it to be right on the money; probably within 10% of perfect.

Close up of the Ohio Power Bar's knurling

Click to enlarge.

I dislike having to label the knurling as “very aggressive”, but by today’s standards it is. When compared to what passes for a medium-knurl bar these days, the Ohio Power Bar is significantly sharper, deeper, and coarser. If you’ve been lifting on one of the many mass-produced multi-purpose bars that run for about $200 or so (think Team, One, Rocket, etc.) you’ll feel the difference immediately, and perhaps even find it uncomfortable.

I realize that it’s a little bit of ‘apples to oranges’ to compare a power bar to a functional training bar, but I suspect that a lot of novice powerlifters will be coming from such bars. As in, I doubt that folks are giving up their Eleiko or Ivanko comp bars for a new Ohio.

On the other hand, experienced powerlifters will be more than prepared for the Ohio Power Bar’s knurling, and possibly even more impressed with it than the knurl of their current bar. I say that because despite the aggressive rating of the knurl, it’s no more aggressive than a TPB or a comp bar, and while the grip is no less secure, it certainly feels more comfortable than many other bars.

My point is that whether you have to adapt to the knurl of a power bar or not, I think you’ll ultimately be impressed with the quality, security, and comfort of the OPB’s knurl. At the end of the day, the knurling on this bar is extremely well done and Rogue deserves some major credit for doing such a good job with it.

The only issue that I’ve had with the Ohio’s knurling is that the center knurl is exactly as aggressive as the rest of the bar. Most of us don’t squat shirtless, but that may bother the few of you who do. Also, it may interfere with you repping out some C&Js. I don’t know why you’d be doing that with this bar, but someone will try it so I’m just letting you know. That center knurl is to be respected.

Ohio Power Bar Review – Summary

The Garage Gym's Ohio Power Bar - 45-lb bare steel

The power bar market is small when compared to the Olympic WL and CrossFit bar market. The primo power bars out there are expensive; Ivanko, Eleiko, Titex, the stainless bars from American Barbell and Iron Wolfe, and so on. The other end of the spectrum is the box-store garbage like Troy, CAP, and the other imported power bars. The middle of the road bars that are reliable, strong, yet still affordable pretty much consists of this Ohio, the authentic Texas Power Bar, and a couple other obscure bars. I have no problem with the TPB if you buy the right one, but I still slightly favor the Ohio because it’s easier to get, warranted forever, less expensive, and available in something other than zinc.

There are some near-alternatives to the OPB like the Burgener & Rippetoe (B&R) bars (York or Rogue), but for straight powerlifting, the knurl of the Ohio Power makes it a better choice. The B&R has pretty solid knurling and it too is bare steel, but it’s not quite “power-bar” aggressive, and being that it’s still a multi-purpose bar, it does have a bit more flex to it (at least the York version does; I can’t speak to the new Rogue B&R). **

You’ve also got the Louie Simmons Westside Power Bar as an option, but truth be told it’s really just a branded, more expensive version of the Ohio Power Bar (well, same $325 price tag as the 20 kg Ohio, but $75 more than the bare steel 45-pound Ohio). Now if you’re a fan of Louie and/or Westside Barbell and you want to be supportive, or for some reason you want an all black zinc power bar (hrmm), then by all means grab the Westside Power Bar. It’ll be about the same lifting experience.

Westside Power Bar by Rogue and Louie Simmons

The new and improved Westside Power Bar. The green bushing is a really nice touch, but I’m not a fan of black zinc bars.

Is the Ohio for you?

The Ohio Power Bar is an outstanding deal, and I think that most folks will be completely happy with it. There are a couple scenarios in which I would suggest considering a couple different power bars though.

For starters, if your budget well exceeds the $250-$325 price range of the Ohio, I would suggest looking at stainless steel power bars. Stainless steel bars are much nicer, and you just can’t match the feel and resilience of stainless, but it will set you back a pretty penny. American Barbell has a couple great stainless steel power bars, and Ivanko does as well (Ivanko is unreasonably expensive though).

The other reason would be for those who just don’t like aggressively knurled bars. There are a those who want the stiffness and thicker shaft of a power bar, but just don’t care for the sharp knurling. If that’s you, I would suggest either the York B&R Bar, or the American Barbell Power Bar. Both of these bars have a secure grip with a softer knurl, and both are in the same neighborhood as the Ohio Power Bar (in terms of price.)

To wrap this review up, I give the Ohio Power Bar 5-stars. Of course no bar is for everyone, but a well-constructed, reliable bar that does exactly what it’s designed to do deserves to be recognized. Check it out!

45-lb Rogue Ohio Power Bar | 20 kg Rogue Ohio Power bar

 

 

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Patrick March 12, 2016, 12:36 pm

    How would you compare this to the American Barbell power bars? I already have York B&R, like the bare steel, but am considering a stainless steel bar. I’ve used the GPI bars at a World Gym before and if that’s the same knurling as AB I’m good with that as well. But $250 is a great deal…

    • jburgeson March 12, 2016, 12:50 pm

      You’d find the AB knurl to be closer to the B&R than the Ohio. The York B&R has a pretty solid grip being bare steel and all, so it’s not going to be a huge difference between raw and stainless. The Ohio is both raw steel (I’m assuming that you’re not leaning towards zinc) and super sharp. Can’t beat that kind of grip security, but whether or not you want all that aggressiveness is up to you.

      I have all three of the bars in question, and I use the AB stainless every single day. Squats, deads, press, and bench. When I superset two barbell movements, my second bar is the original chrome Chan. I only mention that to give you an idea of where I rate these bars for my own training.

      • Patrick March 12, 2016, 1:02 pm

        Thanks, yeah, I also don’t like the black zinc. Played around with a new black zinc Rogue bar this week and didn’t care for it, and all the old Rogue 1.0 bars at that gym have no zinc finish left at this point. I suppose you don’t have an inside track on when the AB Super Power Bar will be back in stock?

        • jburgeson March 12, 2016, 2:40 pm

          No, well I asked and it’s already beyond the point they said so it’s anyone’s guess at this point. I do know that it’s going to be 29 mm instead of 28.5 mm though. There may be multiple variations of it as well, but I’m speculating slightly there. You know I hear things, but it’s not always true.

  • Brian S March 28, 2016, 11:03 pm

    It’s a fantastic bar, in just about every regard. The only minor complaint I have is the shorter distance between collars, compared to something like the TPB. Granted, you only lose a little over 1/2″, but I’ve found it becomes a very significant 1/2″ on one particular lift; the squat. Walking it back into the hooks on a 4′ rack leaves very little room, if you get off center, to walk it in cleanly. I’m constantly banging the collars into the uprights on max squats, and that can be a little unnerving with shaky legs and lifting without a spotter. I never have that problem on the TPB, due to just that little extra space from collar to edge of the J-hook. I wish they would have traded some of the crazy long sleeve length to push the collars apart a bit. Unless your name starts with Magnus or you put thick plates on this bar, I can’t see anyone needing that kind of extra sleeve real estate. Again though, I’m fully aware this is about as first world of a problem as it gets. Great bar, just a challenge for some of us who wander around in the rack during setup.

    • jburgeson March 28, 2016, 11:48 pm

      Is your rack 3″x3″? Or do you have more than 43″ between uprights? The Ohio is actually 2½” longer than standard 84″ bars, and that increase isn’t on the sleeves themselves (they are still ~16 inches loadable.) You’re right about the ½” difference between it and the TPB, but on standard sized racks there should be a number of inches free on either side of the cups when the bar is centered.

  • Andrew July 28, 2016, 3:39 pm

    Rogue Ohio Power Bar vs. American BB Elite SS Power Bar? Any opinions or recs? I have an american BB precision SS oly training bar that I got for a sweet deal thanks to the heads up on this site a few months ago. I “need” a power bar and have drank the stainless steel coolaid as mixed by Mr. jburgeson. Needless to say, this is probably not my wife’s favorite web site…

    • jburgeson July 28, 2016, 4:04 pm

      I like them both – I’ve actually been using my Ohio again lately – love how aggressive it is. Also just cleaned it the other too, and that wasn’t fun. Of course, the price difference is insane so I guess cleaning is a compromise. Both are bare metals so both feel good in that regard, so it comes down to what you want to pay (or are willing to pay), and then the aggressiveness of the knurl you prefer (with the AB being the softer of the two.)

      Tell you wife thank you =p

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