I think that most of us can agree that Eleiko makes some of the best training equipment in the world, and they are one of the most desired brands by those in the know. Unfortunately most of their barbells, bumpers, and change plates are pretty rough on the wallet, so Eleiko + garage gyms or Eleiko + CrossFit affiliate are not very common combinations.
Well not everything that Eleiko offers will set you back an entire mortgage payment. There are a few products in the XF product line that are economical (at least by Eleiko standards) while still offering the excellent durability and performance that you’d expect from an Eleiko product. The XF Bumper Plate that I’m reviewing today is one of those products.
Last Update: January 2018. Link and price checking, minor revisions.
Eleiko XF Equipment – Eleiko’s CrossFit & General Purpose Gear
The Eleiko XF line consists two different XF bars, and the crumb rubber XF Bumper Plates. Unlike the standard IWF and Performance line of Eleiko discs and weightlifting bars that are intended for aspiring and professional Oly lifters, the XF line was developed for less specific and/or higher intensity training programs; programs such as CrossFit.
Basically, XF gear is built tough enough to withstand the daily, high-rep abuse and constant bar drops typical of a WOD, but it’s done so at a price that makes it the most accessible line of Eleiko equipment to date. Choosing XF equipment is about the only way you’ll equip your garage or home gym with genuine Eleiko equipment for a price that’s more on par with say, Rogue or HI-Temp.
Matter of fact, the 449-lb XF Bar + Plates Set costs about $1350 while a comparable Rogue & HI-Temp set (chrome Rogue Oly, HI-Temp Plates, and Rogue Change Plates) costs over $1500 and is still 50-lbs short of the Eleiko set. Now potential free shipping from Rogue and no free shipping from Eleiko may even this price out somewhat, but the point is that Eleiko XF gear is closer to the norm in terms of price (relative to Eleiko IWF gear).
Eleiko XF Bumpers – The Basics
XF bumper plates are manufactured using a special, recycled crumb rubber; similar to HI-Temp bumpers (I don’t know what special means; I guess it’s like special sauce.) Each disc is 450 mm in diameter with a 50 mm insert opening; just like nearly all other Olympic discs.* The insert itself is stainless steel, which is both strong and resistant to oxidation.
One trait that you’ll notice right off is that XF discs are wider than just about all other discs; including HI-Temps. The reason for the extra width is noise dampening, which I will discuss more below.
Oddly enough, the XF Bumpers are only offered in pounds in the USA, though they are still offered in kilograms in the rest of the world. What’s odd is that the XF bars being sold are in kilograms, whereas up until recently there actually were XF Bars in pounds. What I’m trying to say is that an XF bar and bumper set will consist of both pounds and kilos, which seems pretty dumb to me.
*Just briefly, its worth pointing out the irony of the fact that HI-Temps are not 450 mm in diameter, but rather 444 mm (17.5″). This difference in diameter makes HI-Temps a less than ideal bumper choice if you combine different bumper brands on the bar for heavy lifts. This is because your standard-sized (450 mm) plates eat the impact of the drop for both their own weight and however much HI-Temp weight you’ve added to the bar. Continuously dropping a bar with different diameter plates will shorten the lifespan of the larger plates, and possibly even the bar.
Eleiko XF Bumpers – Less Noise, Less Vibration
One of the biggest advantages that the XF bumpers have over the other brands is that they make less noise when dropped. A lot less noise. To some of you that may not sound like a big deal, but I’ve been at this long enough to know that noise is very important to many box owners, home and garage lifters, trainers, and coaches.
Interestingly enough, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a quiet bumper. My gym is below my office, and for a really long time now I’ve endured the sound and vibration that comes from my garage gym as people deadlift, row, and power clean directly under me as I work (yes, I share.) It’s loud, and I can feel the foundation shake whenever someone drops a bar with a couple hundred pounds or more. Now I can go down there and say “use the XF plates, I’m trying to work!”
So yeah, whether you’re in a similar situation to mine where you just don’t want to bother family members when you’re training (or be bothered when they lift), you live in super close proximity to your neighbors, or you personally just don’t like the noise, these discs might be for you.
The reason these plates are so much quieter than the standard econ plates is because of that “special” crumb rubber. Crumb rubber is a lot softer, it creates less vibration on the floor (and is therefore easier on the floors), and it’s much friendlier on the ears. You end up with a wider plate and slightly more bounce than an economy or competition bumper, but that’s just the trade off for having a bumper that is both durable and quiet. Honestly though, if you don’t mind HI-Temp bounce, you won’t mind these either.
Let me thank whoever did the above XF drop test video. It’s a much higher quality video than I could have pulled off with my crappy camera.
According to my Eleiko source, the XF bumpers are a big hit in CrossFit boxes and gyms all across Europe. They also claimed that the XF is currently the preferred bumper plate in the Scandinavian CrossFit community simply because of the reduced noise. I mean it does make sense; with a dozen or more athletes dropping bars at the same time in a box setting, no doubt that any reduction in overall noise is a blessing. CrossFit boxes have neighbors as well, you know.
That XF Width
As I just touched on, the XF bumpers are wider; at least with the heavier plates (the lighter plates aren’t much wider than normal.) Again, the reason is because a softer, lower density crumb rubber is used. I’m assuming that less dense means that more material is required to achieve any given weight. Since the XF is even softer than standard crumb rubber discs, they’ve got to be wider too.
In terms of sizing the XF is to HI-Temps what HI-Temps are to economy plates. In terms of bounce, I don’t find that the XF bumpers bounce any more than other crumb rubber plates, but obviously all crumb rubber plates bounce more than the denser, virgin rubber plates. I actually kind of like a little bounce, but I realize that’s not true for everyone.
I can see the argument being made that the slimmer, economical plates are “better” plates because they allow you to load more weight on the bar. This argument is completely valid in a strength training or powerlifting environment, but it holds less water when talking about a CrossFit WOD, or even straight-up Olympic lifting for the average person.
Bumper plates are for the snatch and the clean & jerk. If you’re a CrossFitter looking for quiet, resilient plates for your WOD, Eleiko XF plate width is completely fine. If you’re trying to load up for a 500-pound deadlift, sure, this is the wrong plate for that.
For reference, here are the XF bumper plate widths along with HI-Temp plate widths for comparison.
XF KG Plates: 20 & 25 kg (12 cm), 15 kg (9 cm), 10 kg (6 cm), 5 kg (3 cm.)
XF LB Plates: 45 & 55 lb (4¾”), 35 lb (3¾”), 25 lb (2¾”), 15 lb (1½”), 10 lb (1¼”.)
HI-Temp Plates: 45 lb (3¾”), 35 lb (3-1/8″), 25 lb (2¼”), 15 lb (1-7/8″), 10 lb (1-3/8″.)
Indoor and Outdoor Lifting
Crumb rubber bumpers like the XF and HI-Temp are your best option for outdoor lifting. The resiliency along with the softness of the material makes them very forgiving on uneven and abrasive surfaces. They can absorb the impact of drops on gravel or asphalt because they compress more easily than the super dense economy plates (which are more likely to crack and split.) Anyone who has lifted outdoors with HI-Temps will know exactly what I’m talking about.
Vulcan Alpha Bumpers are the only non-crumb rubber plates that can be used outdoors, & while their pricing is not really any better (or worse) than XFs or HI-Temps, they are more durable and colored.
Eleiko XF Bumpers – Pricing vs HI-Temps
I’ve known about XF plates for about a year. For the longest time I thought that they were simply an over-priced version of any other black bumper out there. I knew that they weren’t nearly as expensive as competition discs, but to me the price still seemed high for simple black bumpers.
Well it turns out that I was a little too quick to make assumptions, as I overlooked something pretty important; the full XF Set contains 55-pound plates. When you factor those monsters in the Eleiko sets aren’t all that expensive after all. They’re actually on par with the HI-Temp sets.
To give you an idea, the Eleiko XF set in pounds contains a pair of every plate up to 55-lbs (10, 15, 25, 35, 45, and 55) for a total of 370 pounds. The set price is $692 which works out to about $1.88 a pound. Not bad at all for a premium brand.
HI-Temp doesn’t make 55-pound plates, but Rogue does offer a smaller 350-pound set of HI-Temps for $667.50 (about $1.91/pound), and that’s about as cheap as you’ll find the HI-Temps, so technically Eleiko can be had for a few bucks less, but not by much. The point is this; don’t automatically run from XFs just because they’re from Eleiko and you assume that they’ll cost too much. These plates are very reasonably priced all things considered.
The Light XF Plates
I suspect that everyone will want to know what people always want to know about any line of bumper plates… Can the 10’s and 15’s be dropped alone on the bar? The answer is the same for the XFs as it is for any other brand – you can, but you shouldn’t.
The XF plates are very resilient and forgiving plates but like all bumper plates out there, the narrower the plate, the weaker it is. Technically (and even officially) you can drop 10’s and 15’s alone on the bar, but if you want your discs to last for many years, you should avoid it. I actually don’t like the light XF discs alone on the bar. The material is so soft that it feels like I’m going to ruin them, but I have yet to so I guess it’s all good.
If you’re still at a point with your training where you need a bar with only 10-pounds on each sleeve, you need to own a pair of technique plates; plain & simple. Bumper plates will never replace tech plates for this kind of training no matter what manufacturers tell you about their bumpers being up to the task. Manufacturers usually just need for the 10’s and 15’s to not break for 6 months; then the plates are out of warranty range and they’re in the clear.
In any case, to give you a better idea of what to expect, the 10 and 15-lb Eleiko XF plates are almost exactly like HI-Temp 10 and 15-lb plates. They’ll handle some abuse, but if you overdo it, you’ll probably put them in their grave long before their time.
Eleiko XF plates don’t stink like the imported economy plates, and they aren’t coated in a liter of oily gunk when you pull them out of the shipping box. They’ve got some kind of light protective coating on them; presumably for shipping purposes, but I swear it’s not nearly as persistent and gross as what you get on the virgin plates.
Eleiko XF Bumpers – Durability
I’ve only had these XFs for about a month, so I’m in no position to discuss durability over the course of many years. I’m not worried though; crumb rubber bumpers are resilient. HI-Temps have been known to outlive both virgin rubber economy bumpers and even some of the large hub training bumpers, so I would like to think that an Eleiko-brand crumb rubber disc could potentially last even longer.
As with all my reviews, if an issue becomes apparent or my opinion of the product changes for one reason or another, I will update the review to reflect those changes. I can’t imagine I’ll ever have a problem with the XF discs though, as they are really quite nice. Other than a minor issue with some cheap Bendlay’s, I’ve never had any real problems with any of the plates I own, and I have quite the variety of brands out in the gym. Again, really not worried about them failing.
XF Bumper Plate Review – Summary
I like ’em; no regrets. Of all the different brands of black bumpers, these are by far the most unique. Yeah they’re a bit on the thick side, but they truly are a softer, quieter bumper plate. They seem like the obvious choice for anyone who wants to reduce noise in their gym, and this goes double for CrossFit boxes that have dozens of loaded bars being dropped over and over again at the same time.
XF bumpers won’t be for everyone though. If your workout revolves around the Big 3, and the closest you come to Olympic lifting is an occasional power clean, you’ll want a narrower bumper plate – if you even want bumpers at all. However, I see no reason why an Olympic weightlifter or CrossFitter would ever be upset with only getting three or four big wheels on each sleeve.
As far as cost goes, it is what it is. Obviously Eleiko isn’t trying to participate in the economy bumper price war with Rogue and all the small CrossFit shops, and why should they? The XF plates actually offer something that very few others do – reduced noise, reduced odor, and less wear and tear on flooring.
Next time you’re at a gym or in a buddies garage gym and you see XF bumpers, make it a point to give them a try. You’ll see (and hear) the difference.