I was fortunate enough to be offered the opportunity to test the new Klokov Olympic Barbell before it launches. In the last four weeks I’ve made it a point to use the Klokov any chance I could to get a really good feel for the bar, and a good feel for it I believe I have!
In case you are unfamiliar, the Klokov Bar is an Again Faster bar developed in collaboration with Russian Olympian, Dmitry Klokov. It’s a 28 mm, dual-marked, Olympic WL barbell, and although this is a multi-purpose bar, it was clearly designed with some heavy Olympic lifts in mind. The reason I say that is because where this bar really shines is the sleeve rotation; which I’ll talk about in more detail below.
Let me just say, I am a huge fan of bar manufacturers getting design ideas and feedback from professional athletes. I believe this interaction leads to higher performance bars with more refined features. This has been shown to be true with many other bars in the past (like the Chan, B&R), and I certainly believe this to be the case with the Klokov Bar as well.
Update: Klokov separated from Again Faster to pursue construction of a higher quality bar than the one being reviewed here. The new Klokov Equipment line is available on Amazon, and although it is still an imported Asian bar like the AF, it is of a much higher quality (and also more expensive.)
Klokov Barbell Review
Normally I choose to review bars that I am already interested in owning, but this review was different in that I didn’t know much of anything about the bar prior to receiving it. I couldn’t have told you two unique things about this bar other than the name, and that has made for an interesting and fun review for me. It could have been an amazing bar or a horrible bar, but either way it was going to be a surprise.
After having lifted with this bar for a month, I have been semi-impressed with this bar, but not completely impressed. On paper it is a lot of bar for the money, but in reality it’s priced pretty much exactly as it should be. Let me first list off the bar’s specifications, then I will elaborate.
Dmitry Klokov Olympic Barbell Specifications
- IWF standard 2.2 m length, 20 kg weight (IWF standard, not certified)
- true 28 mm shaft diameter (verified), dual IWF/IPF hash marks
- Hard chrome finish (misleading)
- Proprietary combination steel bushing and needle bearing sleeves for spin with stability
- Unnecessarily high 260k+ PSI tensile strength shaft
- Average to below average whip for a 28 mm Oly bar
- Weight Tolerance of +0.1% / -0.05%
- Color coded end caps and collar bands
- Lifetime Use Warranty
So the bar has very respectable specifications on paper, especially at the asking price of $320. I actually had the bar before I knew the asking price, and I assumed it was going to be a bit more than $320!
Why? Well first, and I’ll cover this in more detail in a second, the Klokov has an insanely high PSI rating. Higher than any other bar that I know of. Second, bearings always raise the price of a bar significantly, and this bar has both bearings and bushings (although they are steel rather than bronze.) Finally, the Klokov is a chrome-plated bar. Chrome is the best and most expensive barbell finish aside from stainless steel. This is why an asking price of only $320 is so shocking.
One thing about the bar that is a total mystery to me is that extremely high tensile rating. Generally, the highest tensile strength, true 28 mm Oly bars tend to be the most expensive. Bars from NxG, Ivanko, and the others that achieve ratings in the 200 – 220k PSI range demand much more than $300 for their bars. Yet here, the Klokov has a ridiculously high tensile rating but at a really low price point. I’m not sure how it’s possible to offer a bar with such a high tensile strength for so little money, but that is what’s happening here.
Update: it turns out the reason for this high rating is because yield was sacrificed. The Klokov is more rigid than it should be as an Oly bar, and there were even rumors that a couple of them broke. While the hype on the Klokov Bar sold a lot of bars, the amount of returns within the first year actually put Again Faster into their second bankruptcy. In other words, the specifications were hella misleading – which explains the pricing.
Klokov Bar Knurling
I found the knurling on this bar to be better than average. When I first grabbed it, it felt only slightly more aggressive than the typical CrossFit or multi-purpose bar. Now when I actually started to lift with it, the bar performed better than I expected. Even though the knurl doesn’t feel very refined or overly grippy, it still gets the job done.
One downside is that the knurl stops about ½”-¾” shy of the sleeve rather than going all the way the the shoulder. As a tall person who takes a very wide hand position for the snatch, I like to see knurl that runs the entire length of the bar, not stop short. Manufacturer’s really need to stop taking this short cut and just knurl up to about 1/8″ away from where the collar starts. You can’t promote your bar as a precision piece of equipment and then not knurl the entire shaft.
Additionally, the knurl for the snatch position and for the clean position are different. That is, the knurl is actually different on either side of the hast marks. This is stupid.
I put the Klokov through the standard sleeve spin test to both listen to the sleeves and see how well the sleeves rotate. They aren’t the quietest sleeves in the world, but they aren’t overly loud or grindy. I was able to get very good sleeve rotation with any amount of weight loaded on the bar, and that’s good.
So ok, spinning the sleeves while the bar sits in the power rack is fine and dandy, but that’s not what’s ultimately important. What’s important is how the bar performs during the snatch and the cleans. It wouldn’t be much of an Olympic bar if it couldn’t handle the Olympic lifts, right?
The Klokov performs extremely well in this department. While racking the bar during power cleans and getting under the bar during snatches, the shaft spins freely and easily without transferring inertia to the plates. The plates remain stationary as the shaft spins, and there is no drag. I have absolutely no complaints in terms of sleeve rotation. This is probably the most well done aspect of this bar.
While the Klokov whips okay at super heavy weights just as claimed, there is no elasticity in the bar at low to medium weights. This bar feels insanely rigid until about 225 pounds (100+ kg), whereas many other even basic WOD bars in this price range start to display good whip at lighter weights (175-185 pounds, or 80 kg); even some 28.5 mm bars. I am sure the rigidity has a lot to do with that high PSI rating and no yield.
Generally speaking, expecting any noticeable or useful whip at anything under 2 wheels is kind of… wishful thinking anyway, but it’s not an impossible thing to accomplish. This just isn’t the bar for that.
I think Again Faster got carried away with the tensile strength for the sake of marketing it. There isn’t a single IWF-certified bar with tensile strength anywhere near the 264k that this bar is, and those are some of the best bars in the world. You have to ask yourself why that is. Is having the highest PSI a good thing if it makes a bar rigid? I mean, we’re not at risk at bending or breaking bars at 220k, or even 190k. This was 100% a marketing gimmick.
As I’ve mentioned, the Klokov is a chrome-plated bar. I personally prefer a chrome finish over zinc or oxide as I think it just feels much better in the hands. Chrome also has the benefit of being really simple to maintain and keep clean, which means that it’s going to look new for much longer. Of course, the biggest advantage of chrome vs any other finish is the level of protection from oxidation. Very rarely will you have rust issues with a chrome bar.
When it comes to the quality of the chrome that’s put on a bar we have to take the dealer’s word for it. Turns out in this case we were lied to, as this bar was not finished in industrial (hard) chrome at all, but rather a razor thin layer of nickel chrome. The Klokov turned out to be a rust magnet, and I am not exaggerating.
So far we have decent knurl, good spin, no whip, and no hard chrome. Moving on…
Color-Coded Bands in Shoulder
Again Faster decided to go with the groove and colored bands in the sleeve shoulder. I’m assuming that the reasoning behind this is to make bars more easily identifiable in a gym or box setting. While I’m not the biggest fan of the rubber band trend (I think it’s a waste of time to cut this channel into a bar), it doesn’t have any impact on performance so it doesn’t really matter one way or the other.
Klokov Bar Summary
This bar was well-received upon its release because Again Faster basically just lied about the specifications left and right – it was all very misleading. While it wasn’t the worst multi-purpose bar to own for $300, it was not the bar it was made out to be, and technically you could do better.
The amount of Klokov Bar returns Again Faster ended up getting ultimately killed the entire company financially, and considering how bad all their other bars were I say good riddance. Sadly, they were bought out by X-Training and they are still pumping out the same garbage.
That said, the knurl was acceptable, the spin was fine, but the shaft and the finish was garbage. You couldn’t give me another AF/X-Training Bar, and based on their history at this point I suggest you run from either of these companies products.
Again though, the new line of Klokov Equipment barbells are much more well received, even a couple years out. Same athlete, completely different bars.