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CrossFit Barbells – Affordable Bars for CrossFit WODS

Barbells designed for Crossfit

There are a lot of different barbells out there. There are bars intended for the Olympic lifts; bars for powerlifting; and even bars simply for learning and practicing technique. But what about CrossFit barbells?

Since CrossFit utilizes the Olympic lifts, it should come as no surprise that the Olympic bar has been the best match. You need reliable sleeve rotation and a moderate amount of bar whip for these lifts; both of which an Olympic bar offers (while the powerlifting bar does not). However, there are a couple minor issues with using a true Olympic barbell as a CrossFit barbell.

For starters, true Olympic bars still have center knurling. Why this is still done on dedicated Olympic bars is beyond me, but it is (at least on the men’s bars it is). Regardless, this is not something you want on the same bar you’ll be doing high-rep cleans with unless you find a bar with a passive center knurl. Your neck will not be pleased.

Barbell center knurling is not what you want during high rep clean and jerks, Crossfit barbells don't have center knurling

This is not what you want in the center of the bar during a high repetition clean set.

The second minor issue is that a true Olympic bar will usually have bearings in the sleeves rather than bushings. Bearings are great, but they are a large added expense and they are not really necessary for high-rep Olympic lifts at the low to mid-range weights typical of a CrossFit WOD. These days, a good pair of bushings per sleeve is more than adequate for providing reliable sleeve rotation for the purposes of CrossFit.

Fortunately, CrossFit has become so popular that barbell manufactures have been offering bars specifically for CrossFit. They’re basically Olympic bars at their core, but they are built tough enough to withstand high-intensity training (high reps, lots of drops), they leave the center knurling off the bar, and these bars almost always feature bushings as a way to keep the cost of the bar down.

If you’re looking for a new CrossFit barbell for your garage gym, or you think your box has poor quality bars and you’d like to make an equipment recommendation, then read on. I will show you a handful of barbells designed with CrossFit in mind, and all from companies you already know and trust.

If you’d like to learn more about barbell construction including various methods of assembly, explanation of the various specifications, and so, read the top portion of this post.

Most recent update: January 2018 – checking prices and links.


American Barbell California Bar

The California Bar was originally American Barbell’s answer to the Rogue Bar 2.0 (below). Like the Rogue Bar, the USA-made California sports a 190k PSI tensile strength shaft with dual-marks and no center knurl. Both bars are composite bushing bars, but the California uses special high-load composite bushings that American Barbell claims are indestructible.

The American Barbell Cerakote California Bar

What makes these two different is that the Cali has sleeves that are finished in a beautiful and resilient hard chrome rather than a less expensive and less effective bright zinc that’s found on the 2.0. The California also has the benefit of being offered in both 20 kg and 15 kg, but that’s not the biggest deal considering that Rogue offers the 15 kg Bella.

The California first entered the market with a black zinc shaft and was being sold for a little less than the Rogue Bar 2.0. It then got an upgrade to the sleeve assembly and ended up being $20 more than the 2.0. At this point, it’s now a Cerakote finished bar that sells for $80 more than the 2.0, or $335.

The zinc and Cerakote California Bars side-by-side

Classic zinc California (top) versus the improved Cerakote California

Clearly American Barbell has all but abandoned the rivalry with Rogue’s entry-level WOD bar and decided to just go for title of “best WOD bar”, and it just might be. It features a 28 mm shaft instead of 28.5 mm, it’s assembled with tolerances that no one in this price range can match, neither the shaft or the sleeves will ever rust because of their superior finishes, and this is by far the quietest WOD bar to drop.

The Cerakote California Bar is available in black or green Cerakote (20 kg only). If you’re wanting more color options and are okay with only IWF marks you can get back under $300 by going with the Training Bar. This has the same shaft as the California but since it doesn’t have the sleeve upgrade it’s a little less expensive. Both are incredible options, and both of them will literally last a lifetime.

Pros: Designed for CrossFit, dual-marked, high-rep friendly medium-depth knurl, no center-knurl, high-load composite bushings, double-finished hard chrome sleeves are ridiculously resilient to chips and oxidation, Cerakote finish, USA-made.

Cons: Fairly pricey for a WOD bar

Fun Fact: American Barbell actually innovated the Cerakote Barbell, not Rogue Fitness.


The Rogue Bar 2.0

The original Rogue Bar was used in four consecutive Reebok CrossFit Games before being replaced with a new Rogue Olympic Bearing Bar back in 2014, so it’s definitely safe to say that it is a CrossFit bar. The Rogue Bar 2.0 has Rogue’s famous dual Olympic/Powerlifting knurl markings while having no center knurling. The 28.5 mm shaft is finished in black zinc and the sleeves in bright zinc; making it resistant to oxidation, but also susceptible to nicks and discoloration over time.

The Rogue Bar 2.0 King of CrossFit Bar

The Rogue Bar is a composite bushing bar with a standard snap-ring sleeve design and a nice 190k PSI tensile strength. It has a moderate amount of whip for the Olympic lifts and is guaranteed for life against bending or seizing. Overall it is a reasonably performing bar with a solid track record and long life expectancy.

The Rogue Bar 2.0 is a very popular WOD bar and it can be found in thousands of garage gyms and CrossFit affiliates around the world. The price on the Rogue Bar is reasonable at $255; a price that has remained consistent for many years now. While definitely one of the better values out there, it can be outdone for not a lot more money.

Pros: Affordable, designed for CrossFit, dual-marked, high-rep friendly medium-depth knurl, no center-knurl, composite bushings, customizable bands for box settings.

Cons: Very loud when dropped, the black zinc finish on shaft is known to discolor.


The 15 kg Bella Bar 2.0 (Women’s Rogue Bar)

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

This is basically the women’s version of the Rogue Bar 2.0. The Bella 2.0 has very similar construction to the Rogue Bar 2.0 – same steel, same finish, and same knurl. However, the shaft is smaller at 25 mm, the Bella uses bronze bushings instead of composite, and since this is a women’s bar it is slightly shorter at 79 3/8″ (with the difference in length coming off the sleeves, not the shaft.)

This is a great women’s barbell, and it’s just as popular as the 20 kg Rogue Bar. At $215 it’s actually quite the steal. Even the newer Cerakote Bella Bar is a very reasonable $275.

Pros: Very affordable, designed exclusively for CrossFit, dual-marked, high-rep friendly medium-depth knurl, no center-knurl, bar is loud when dropped.

Cons: The black zinc finish on shaft is known to discolor, bronze bushings are not sintered.

Fun Fact: Last time I checked the Cerakote Bella was up to 15 color choices!


Again Faster Team Bar 2.0

The new Team is a $229 CrossFit bar that actually has bearings rather than bushings. The Team is an imported 28 mm bar with dual markings and no center knurl. It’s offered in many finish options (no chrome), has a very high 200,000+ tensile strength, and a very, very mild knurl. Despite the high tensile strength, this bar is likely to bend (if it doesn’t show up bent.)

Again Faster Team Bar 2.0

The Team Bar is absolute garbage. This bar has a history of bad reviews; issues of seizing sleeves, bent shafts, and issues getting the bar replaced or getting a refund. Again Faster also has a history of removing any and all negative reviews from their site (they probably no longer even approve negative reviews just to save time.)

This company has bankupted twice already, and I highly recommend that you avoid them at all costs. I cannot stress this enough: stay away from Again Faster equipment.

Pros: None

Cons: Everything else.

Fun Fact: Again Faster is now owned by X-Training, and they too removed all the negative reviews that had accumulated during Again Faster’s second bankruptcy. S H A D Y


Vulcan One Basic

Vulcan One Basic CrossFit/Multi-Purpose bar

The Vulcan One Basic is Vulcan’s economy CrossFit WOD bar. It is a dual-marked, bronze bushing bar with a moderate, high-rep friendly knurl. This bar used to have a 28.5 mm shaft while being finished entirely in black zinc, but it was upgraded with a true 28 mm shaft and a hard chrome finish – and without a price increase.

These two changes to the One; along with it’s good 190k PSI tensile strength and low price; make it an extremely attractive and competitive bar in the mid $200’s. It’s still an entry-level bar with a limited warranty, but that’s all most newcomers to CrossFit need.

The chrome finish, 28 mm shaft, and matching tensile strength make this real competition for the Rogue Bar 2.0.

Pros: Super affordable, true 28 mm shaft, chrome finish, designed for CrossFit, dual-marked, high-rep friendly moderate-depth knurl, no center-knurl, free shipping. 

Cons: Short warranty, entry-level bar not appropriate for strong Olympic lifters, imported.


CrossFit Barbell Guide – Summary

This should give you a pretty good idea of what to look for in a Crossfit barbell. Even if you don’t want any of the bars listed here for some reason, you’ll still do fine when shopping around now that you know what to look for. As always, I recommend you stick with quality bars from reputable companies, and don’t buy your CrossFit bar at a chain store. When in doubt, read those reviews.


 

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  • Cullen February 9, 2015, 3:22 pm

    Great article once again! I was looking for an update on last year’s barbell review and lo and behold here it is. I’m torn between the Rogue Bar 2.0 and the Vulcan One. I really like the idea of going with a slightly less mainstream company- although I own a few Rogue items and they are top notch- but in the end I just want the biggest bang for my buck. If you could choose between the two which would you purchase?

    Thanks again!

    • jburgeson February 9, 2015, 3:42 pm

      You know, that’s tough. They are so similar. They’re both priced well. The Vulcan is is like $40 cheaper because it ships for free, but the Rogue Bar is basically an Ohio for less money than the actual Ohio; the major difference being that the Rogue Bar has composite bushings rather than bronze in the Ohio, which are slightly cheaper to manufacture. I think the deciding factor for me would be the finishes. I prefer as little black zinc as possible, especially on the sleeves. It gets scratched off too damn easily. Then again, a year from now they’ll both look used and $40 is $40. This probably isn’t very helpful, is it? =p

      • Cullen February 9, 2015, 4:21 pm

        Hehe…no actually that does help break it down a little more, and I know I’m splittin’ hairs here since I can’t lose either way. I will say that I really like the look of the all black Vulcan bar but you just reiterated what I keep reading about black sleeves wearing off no matter what the coating is made of. Plus I don’t necessarily want the worn look one month into ownership. I should probably just quit being a cheap-ass and pay for the shipping. Thanks again- your articles are extremely helpful.

        • jburgeson February 9, 2015, 4:26 pm

          The nicks and scratches can be avoided to a degree, and the fact is that bright zinc comes off all the same. It’s just less noticeable. I have like an OCD thing about keeping bars looking nice. and thanks =)

          • Cullen March 20, 2015, 1:02 pm

            Hey just a quick update. I ended up finally deciding on the Rogue Bar 2.0- haven’t received it yet but super stoked about it. I think what tipped me was the bright zinc sleeves- it just seemed like a common complaint about the black on black anything is the wear involved. Plus the Vulcan One’s are on back order until May and I couldn’t wait. Also, the (84) 5-star reviews for the Rogue Bar swayed me a bit, not gonna lie.

            • jburgeson March 20, 2015, 1:25 pm

              Very cool. It’s exciting waiting for a bar. Yeah all those reviews can’t be wrong. Great price too. Basically a discounted Ohio Bar.

  • Steven Thunander February 9, 2015, 10:43 pm

    The problem is that this still leaves out the Again Faster Team AF bar 2.0. This bar is zinc coated, 28mm, comes with a 205K psi shaft, and bushings and bearings in the sleeves. The issue with this bar is that it is manufactured in China, where the Bomba, American Barbell, and Rogue are manufactured in the USA and the Vulcan is manufactured in Taiwan. The problem is that there are not many outside reviews on the Team AF bar 2.0.

    • jburgeson February 10, 2015, 11:44 am

      You may already know this Steven, but the American bars you mentioned, and the Taiwanese bars (Gymway) are just better bars. Checking out a Team Bar is still on my to-do list (you’re not the only person to ask me about it), but I’ve got three other bars I’d like to review first because they’re more promising.

      I’m just curious, why the fascination with this bar? Have you lifted on the Klokov? If so, what do you think of it?

    • Zach February 16, 2015, 8:16 pm

      I have the same prob, I’m interested in the AF team 2.0, b/c mainly it has bearings and cost is good for what you get, the Ohio bar is also one I’m interested in, just don’t the which one I want.

      • jburgeson February 16, 2015, 8:59 pm

        It’s starting to sound like I may need to pick one of these up. With all the different bearings and bushings they claim are in this bar, I’ll probably have to pull it apart. My fear with bars with too many features for a given price is that the parts are…. not great.

        I’ve actually loaned out my Klokov to a nationally ranked lifter to see if his opinion of it differs from mine. You know, someone who bases opinion more on feel than the technical aspects of construction.

  • Cullen February 10, 2015, 10:15 am

    I think I suffer from the same disease. I want my equipment looking pristine but I also want to beat the shit out of it- sort of a catch 22. Have you heard any good/bad/ugly about the Rogue closeout barbells? They’ve got some great deals- The Ohio Bar 1.2 – Black Zinc Shaft Bright Zinc Sleeves for $225 (+$21 shipping)- but the only detail they give is that it’s in ‘good,’ not new, condition.

    • jburgeson February 10, 2015, 11:25 am

      I’ve heard a number of people who made that gamble, and most of them seemed happy. You have to assume it’s going to be a used bar. It’ll be straight and functional, but probably not pretty. Even as a closeout, if it’s not functional when you get it, they’ll replace it. Rogue likes to get as close to top dollar as they can on all closeouts, no matter what it is, but they’re not trying to screw anyone. I personally wouldn’t do it, but like I said… OCD =p

  • M February 26, 2015, 8:33 pm

    Maybe that AB stainless 28mm bushing bar bears mention here as a step-up — I know the article is about “affordable” but it’s not that huge a price jump and I don’t think you have a “best” or “non-affordable” Crossfit bar article.

    Not that I really have much idea what Crossfit is – sort of looks a brand of prepackaged workout and I’ve never been into those.

    • jburgeson February 26, 2015, 9:07 pm

      I won’t get all into it about the CrossFit, but CrossFit involves a lot of Olympic weightlifting. CrossFitters tend to use bushing bars that can take a beating rather than buy expensive bearing bars because they work in higher rep ranges and toss that bar around a bit too much. The rest of the CF workout is less about barbells, more about functional type stuff. Well, that’s the word CrossFitters use anyway.

      In reality, any Olympic bar could also be a CrossFit bar… but yeah, I was trying to keep this a little more affordable.

  • Mark Manroe April 7, 2015, 12:47 pm

    Which bar has the most whip of any other bar? Which has the next most amount of whip?

  • Sandarpan April 18, 2015, 1:55 am

    Do you ever get elongation stats or any other measures of bar ductility and impact toughness from manufacturers?

    • jburgeson April 18, 2015, 8:03 am

      Sure don’t lol

  • Greg Brennan April 24, 2015, 9:22 am

    Hi- Been reading your articles and really cant decide on what bar to get. I torn between a few things.
    Vulcan 20kg V3.0 Elite Training 28mm Olympic Bar
    Various Rogue Bars
    and Rogue closeouts.

    The Vulcan seems like a nice bar for the price range. The Rogue bars in the same price range seem good too. The rogue closeouts: I called rogue. They said the closeout bars function perfectly but may have some blemishes. Well that going to happen regardless. I have no idea what to do or which way to go. I was hoping to stay around $400 or less but really not sure what to do. In the end a few dollars in either direction will not matter if I’m getting a high quality bar to use at home. Any thoughts/ direction for me?

    Thanks,

    Greg

    • jburgeson April 24, 2015, 9:34 am

      Yeah that Elite is getting some attention it seems. I keep getting asked about it. Good timing, I happen to be wrapping up about a month of training with it so I can start a review. So yeah, I like it. It’s a lot of bar for $369. The shaft is chromoly and it has a 220k/206k tensile to yield rating which is fantastic for that kind of money. The shaft looks and feels like galvanized steel, and it’s a little curious to look at because it’s not shiny, but it’s so grippy; very secure. The sleeves on the other hand are beautiful, polished chrome, and they are ribbed for friction plates. Bar has good flex to it, even at moderate weights.

      You say various Rogue bars, but really the Olympic Trainer is the only similar bar (28 mm bushing Oly), and that’s a fine bar too, but the specs are much higher on the Elite for the extra what, 40-50 bucks? Something like that.

      I’ve heard different things about the closeout bars… I wouldn’t do it, but that’s just me. You can score big sometimes, or you can get a bar that you say to yourself “I shoulda just bought it new.” It’s a risk since they won’t tell you specifics about each bar.

  • Tony November 26, 2015, 11:14 pm

    Just curious, how come the bomba bars aren’t included? Bad experience or just haven’t had a chance to review them?

    • jburgeson November 26, 2015, 11:34 pm

      I reviewed the original Bomba a while back; couple years ago. I liked it originally, but it kind of fell out of my graces as it got older. It was losing spin and turning green, and as I got more bars out there I realized how crappy the knurl really was. It still gets used, but as a landmine bar. I took it down with the introduction of the 2.0 thinking the original would be phased out, but it never really has. Still, the review became inaccurate so I left it down rather than revising a review for a bar that should be going away. The 2.0 looks to be a slightly better bar, but I’m not sure I’d go with it over a Rogue Bar 2.0 or California Bar or something like that for the same money.

      I have a Wonder Bar 2 or whatever the newer one is out in the garage and I have plans to review that, but as a less expensive bar that’s marketed as an intro bar rather than pretending to be uppity, it will probably get better scores than the OG Bomba. I don’t see doing anything with the 2.0 Bomba though. If demand was higher I’d do it despite the probable neutral outcome, but I don’t think that demand is overwhelmingly high.

      • Adam November 27, 2015, 12:14 am

        Take a look at TO Extreme Fitness’s bars. We are a new, upcoming barbell manufacturer and retailer. We want to give our costumers a fully functional bar at a great, affordable price.

  • Carl December 19, 2015, 6:33 am

    Have you looked at the Rogue Men’s Economy bar? I have one and am thinking of upgrading. I drew on power lifting marks since it didn’t have them. The shoulders are not too sexy but I’m not strong enough to fill the bar so functionally they work. And 135000psi. Not sure how that will affect my lifts.
    Thoughts?

    • jburgeson December 19, 2015, 11:52 am

      That bar is discontinued, and has been for some time. Over a year even. They still have some in stock because they never lowered the price to an appealing enough number to drive those final sales. $200 for a no-warranty, no-returns bar that’s basically a $140 CAP bar isn’t very exciting. I mean that bar is as good as any until your numbers get high in the dead or squat, then it will start to bend. Rotation doesn’t matter if you’re powerlifting with it though. Hey, you already own it, so I’d drive it until the wheels fall off. Only when it stops performing for your current level do you need to upgrade it. Of course, if you just want a new bar because it’s fun to get new shit, then upgrade it now =p

  • Bryan Frazier April 5, 2016, 8:12 pm

    What shorty barbell would you suggest? I’m interested in the Rogue C70, and the Again Faster training bar. Basically I need a 15kg bar for training women and travel. im just not sure the C70 is worth $265? Thoughts….?

    • jburgeson April 5, 2016, 9:34 pm

      The Rogue is the only one I know of, and yeah it is a little bit pricey. I can’t really give any justification for that price.

      Again Faster is not where you want to be buying things right now; they’re having … “issues.”

      There are youth bars, but those aren’t even 15 kg. Some are 10 kg, some are 5 kg. Doesn’t help much probably though; they can’t handle a lot of weight.

    • Bryan Frazier April 7, 2016, 6:12 am

      It helps, basically it’s in a class by itself. So that’s my only option. Thanks

  • Jason Chorney August 10, 2016, 11:44 am

    I have the Rogue Ohio Power Bar and the Rogue 2.0. I love them both. I agree the black zinc chips off, BUT its thin and does not fill in the knurl like chrome does, so I am happy with it. Only thing I do NOT like about the Rogue 2.0 is the spin is not as good as my Ohio Power Bar, which is assume is because of the composite bushings instead of bronze. I would go with a bronze bushing bar, NOT composite.

    • jburgeson August 10, 2016, 12:07 pm

      The Ohio Power definitely has more spin than it should – I’ve noticed that myself with mine. They’re cast bronze bushings though, so you can count on those slowing down some over time, and since it’s a power bar it doesn’t really need to be excessively lubricated when it does.

      Composite has its benefits, and composite spins well enough for the snatch and clean even though it won’t spin 50 rotations in the rack like a bearing bar does, but sintered bronze will always be the highest performance bushing option. The Rogue Bar 2.0 is a popular gym/box bar, and I’m pretty sure they went with composite in that bar just for the durability perks. You’ll notice they don’t use composite very often at Rogue, so I doubt they favor it over bronze from a performance standpoint. It’s just too bad Rogue got rid of sintered bushings all around, now they use cast bronze.

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