This is a review for the Rep Fitness Deep Knurl Power Bar EX, a high-tensile strength, fully-stainless steel, aggressively-knurled powerlifting bar.
Many of you may be wondering what took me so long to get around to this review. The Rep Deep Knurl has been available for a couple of months now, and those of you who follow my Instagram would know that I have indeed had it since it was released.
Well, the truth is that I just didn’t want to rush this review. Too many aspects of this bar took me by surprise when I first opened it – incredible, perfect knurling; tight tolerances; beautiful aesthetics; and a price that seemed far too low. I knew this was a great bar right away, but I still wanted to spend some real time with it before I published anything.
Additionally, other reviews of the Deep Knurl EX were getting written and published so soon after the bar’s release that there was no shortage of reading material on the subject. I could contribute to the hastily-written content, or I could actually put some mileage on the bar and give my opinion an opportunity to change. I chose to take my time.
As of today I have officially logged many many months worth of training sessions with Rep’s Deep Knurl Power Bar EX, so here is my official review. Feel free to leave any comments or questions you may have in the Comments Section following the review.
Deep Knurl Review – Table of Contents
- Deep Knurl Power Bar Specifications
- Deep Knurl Steel / Finish
- Deep Knurl Knurling / Center Knurling
- Deep Knurl Sleeves / Rotation
- Comparison – Vulcan SS Absolute vs Rep Deep Knurl
- Comparison – Rogue SS Ohio Power Bar vs Rep Deep Knurl
- Comparison – American Barbell SS Elite vs Rep Deep Knurl
- Power Bar Comparison Summary
- Deep Knurl Power Bar Review Summary
Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar EX – Specifications
- 20 kg powerlifting bar
- shaft material: stainless steel
- shaft diameter: 29 mm
- tensile strength: 200k PSI
- outer knurling: super aggressive
- center knurling: 4.75″ wide, same knurl as outer knurling
- sleeve material: stainless steel
- sleeve assembly: snap-ring
- sleeve texture: none, smooth
- loadable sleeve length: 16.25″
- rotation: self-lubricating bronze bushings (graphite-plugged)
- whip: none
- warranty: lifetime
- price: $379 + shipping
Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar EX – Steel / Finish
The Deep Knurl Power Bar EX is a fully stainless steel power bar. By “fully” I mean that it’s not just the shaft that’s stainless steel; as is typically the case; but the sleeves are stainless as well. Additionally, not one square inch of that raw stainless steel has a finish applied to it. There is no chrome, no zinc, no Cerakote, no finish of any kind. It’s a completely bare steel power bar; and as you might’ve heard, bare steel barbells feel fantastic in the hands.
The minimum tensile strength rating of the Deep Knurl’s shaft is 200k PSI, a tad higher than the 190k PSI average. As you might expect this is a very rigid bar, though power bar rigidity usually has more to do with the fact that they have 29 mm shafts than their tensile strength; as anyone who has lifted heavy with the 186k Texas Power Bar or 190k Vulcan Elite Power Bar can attest.
In any case, 200k PSI is a very respectable number. Yes, there are higher strength bars on the market; bars in the 210ks, 220ks, and even all the way up to 250k PSI. This is not at all necessary. It’s really an issue of diminishing returns to get that high, and mostly a marketing tactic to even bother (not to mention an opportunity to raise the price of the bar.) It’s not like a 29 mm, 190k PSI power bar displays whip, necessitating an upgrade to 250k PSI.
Of course, if you want to spend upwards of $700 just to say you have a 250k PSI power bar then, by all means, go for it. I’m not saying that you can’t or even shouldn’t, just that it is not going to change anything for you while you’re under the bar, or make you any stronger.
Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar EX – Knurling
The fact that the phrase ‘Deep Knurl’ is in the full name of this power bar could not be more appropriate, as the knurl of the Deep Knurl Power Bar is absolutely worth talking about. The knurling is deep, sharp, and definitely aggressive, but the peaks are ever-so-slightly blunted and they are flawlessly spaced. This brilliant combination of depth, spacing, and sharpness makes for one of the best all-around power bar knurls that I’ve ever put my hands on.
The grip security that this bar offers in insane, although, oddly enough, for as aggressive as it is there’s really no discomfort associated with it. The hold is so strong yet it doesn’t feel at all over the top. Sure, it’ll leave an imprint of the knurl on your hands when you press heavy enough with it, but it isn’t uncomfortable (at least in my opinion).
Raw steel bars (both carbon steel and stainless steel) already offer a superior grip to those with a finish (chrome, zinc, Cerakote, etc.) Bare steel bars with only a decent, moderately-aggressive knurl still tend to feel pretty good in the hands (York B&R Bar, for instance), but add a really solid, aggressive knurl to a bare steel bar and you get something that just can’t be beaten.
A good example of this is the original bare steel Ohio Power Bar. Now that is a bar that just cannot slip from your grip without taking some skin with it. It’s incredibly aggressive and has no slippery finish. Of course, it has a rather unfriendly center knurl and it’ll rust like mad, but you could hold on to the OPB for days.
Aggressively knurled, bare steel bars like the Ohio Power Bar used to be the way to go, but stainless steel bars like the Deep Knurl EX here have become so competitively priced that it makes less and less sense to buy such a maintenance-heavy bar to save a tad over $100. I think it becomes even easier to justify the relatively minor price increase when you take into consideration that not only is the entire bar stainless steel and rust-resistant, but the knurl is also superior (of course, the latter is just a matter of opinion.)
I love aggressively-knurled power bars and there is literally no shortage of them on the mar-ket, but not all aggressively-knurled power bars are created equal. For instance, the Vulcan Elite is probably the most aggressive power bar around, but it’s so aggressive that it cannot possibly appeal to everyone. The Rogue Ohio Power Bar is also super aggressive, but the coarseness of it doesn’t work for me personally. The Vulcan SS Absolute has knurl that’s on par with the Deep Knurl and it’s even stainless steel, but it’s also more expensive by $200!
Of course, the Deep Knurl Power Bar probably won’t appeal to everyone either. I mean, this bar will leave an imprint of the knurl on your hands when you press with it. If you happen to be used to milder bars (like most of the multi-purpose bars out there), well there is a chance that the Deep Knurl will feel like a bit much. The center knurl is also knurled exactly the like the outer knurl, which may or may not bother you high-bar squatters.
Still, I don’t think it gets much better than the Deep Knurl – totally stainless steel, incredible knurl, and a price tag so appealing that I’d be embarrassed for anyone who said it cost too much. I’m telling you, the knurl literally makes this bar, and Rep obviously knew that ’cause again, look what they named it.
Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar EX – Sleeves & Rotation
Just in case you skipped by the specifications and jumped straight to this section first, the sleeves of the Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar EX are 100% stainless steel and not a finished, carbon steel. Just like the shaft, the sleeves have no coating to chip, scratch, or rub away with use, and they’ll never oxidize. Well almost never oxidize, as it’s not entirely impossible to develop rust on stainless steel under certain conditions (read more on that).
Additionally, the sleeves are completely void of texture. There are zero grooves or ridges to be found. That means no grinding noises when removing plates, nowhere for plates to get hung up when adding or removing them (comp bumpers and calibrated plates like to catch on the grooves of many overly-textured bar sleeves), and nowhere for gunk to collect. The sleeves are smooth, attractive, and super easy to clean.
In terms of length, the sleeves are pretty standard. You have about 16¼” of loadable sleeve length which is completely on par with other mainstream power bars.
Like all power bars, the Deep Knurl Power Bar EX is a bushing bar. Each sleeve contains a single bronze bushing and a single stainless steel bushing (bronze behind the end cap, and stainless at the other end of each sleeve; visible where the shaft enters the sleeves.)
Ordinarily both of these bushings would be the same material. That is to say, generally both of these bushings would be bronze. Stainless steel is almost never used as a bushing, and I’m guessing that stainless steel was indeed used simply because it matches the aesthetics of the bar more effectively. It looks good, yes, but it does not offer the same reliable rotation as a pair of bronze bushings would have.
Speaking of bronze bushings, Rep chose a rather unique version of the bronze bushing for the Deep Knurl Power Bar; graphite-plugged bronze bushings. Graphite-plugged bushings are cast bronze bushings with milled holes that are then filled with a graphite lubricant. The claim is that these are a stronger alternative to other self-lubricating bushings (bushings like the sintered bronze bushing) and the ideal option for bushings being used in places that are difficult to access for maintenance (although they aren’t at all difficult to access in a barbell.)
I don’t have any experience with graphite-plugged bronze bushings, and I don’t know of any other barbells that utilize this form of bushing, but the Deep Knurl Power Bar is not the best-spinning barbell I’ve ever handled. Not by a long shot. This could be because both bushings aren’t bronze, or this could be because graphite-plugged bronze bushings don’t spin as well as sintered bronze bushings (or it could be a combination of them both.) I just know that my sleeves have a lot of drag when plates are loaded. The sleeves actually spin better without plates loaded. They spin great unloaded!
To give you an idea, when I attempt to spin the bar towards the forward-most position of my J-cups prior to a lift-off, I not only have to spin the shaft but every single plate that’s loaded as well. The shaft just does not rotate within the sleeves as easily as it should when the bar has weight on it. This should not be a problem.
Is this a deal-breaker? Not at all. The fact that this bar excels in every other arena makes a little bit of sleeve drag forgivable and worth overlooking. It is a power bar after all, and who needs rotation on their power bar (power cleans, anyone?) I’ll even go so far as to give Rep the benefit of the doubt and say that perhaps it’s just my particular bar that under-performs. To be fair, I did read all of the reviews left for this bar so far and there wasn’t one complaint regarding sleeve drag (nine total reviews at the time, all 5-stars) so it’s entirely possible it is just my bar.
If you have a Deep Knurl Power Bar EX and you want to leave any feedback regarding the rotation of your sleeves, please do in the comments section following this review. I’d love to know if your sleeves drag or not.
Deep Knurl Power Bar vs Vulcan SS Absolute
The Vulcan Absolute Power Bar is, in my opinion, the closest thing to the Deep Knurl Power Bar in terms of overall feel. Both of these bars have a strong, rigid, stainless steel shaft with very aggressive outer knurling, they both have stainless steel sleeves, and they’re both end game power bars. They’re both also really attractive power bars.
These two stainless steel beasts are not exactly the same though. The Vulcan Absolute has a higher tensile strength shaft than the Deep Knurl does; 20% higher actually. The Absolute also has stainless steel bushings throughout rather than bronze bushings (which technically makes the Absolute a true, fully-stainless steel bar; for whatever that’s worth.) The Absolute also seems to have the aesthetic edge thanks in part to its beautiful, beveled sleeve collars, but it’s a very minor edge indeed (see what I did there?).
So what does the Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar have going for it in this comparison? Well for starters, you’ll spend 50% more money to have a Vulcan Absolute dropped off at your front door (about $600 versus $400). That’s a $200 premium for an increase in strength that you would never notice while under the bar (note that there is nothing wrong with a 200,000 PSI power bar. That is not a small number. The tensile rating of the Absolute just happens to be off the charts.)
The Deep Knurl Power Bar also has completely smooth, grooveless sleeves; a feature that more and more of you seem to be after. The grooves of the SS Absolute aren’t as deep as some other bars, but they are indeed grooved; if you care.
I’ve had the Stainless Vulcan Absolute for a while now and it’s a fantastic power bar. It’s one of those bars that I will probably keep forever. The knurling is pretty much perfect, the shaft is about as strong as they come, and it’s just a beautiful bar. That said, the Rep Deep Knurl is like 90% of the Absolute in terms of features and performance (if you can accept that you don’t need a 240k PSI power bar) yet it costs 33% less to your door. There will be those out there who will always pay the premium for the technically superior SS Vulcan Absolute, but the majority of you should be more than content with the comparable, more affordable Rep.
Deep Knurl Power Bar vs Rogue SS Ohio Power Bar
Rogue Fitness actually has a few options when it comes to stainless Ohio Power Bars. The original, 45-lb Ohio Power Bar is offered with a stainless steel shaft and chrome sleeves for $395. There is an IPF-approved, 20 kg Ohio Power Bar with the same stainless steel shaft and chrome sleeves for $425. Finally, there is a new 45-lb SS Ohio Power Bar that is a fully stainless steel bar (same stainless shaft, add stainless steel sleeves) for $470.
For the purposes of this review, it really doesn’t matter which version of the Ohio Power Bar that you are considering, as they are all functionally the same bar. The finish of the sleeves or the minor difference in weight is irrelevant for our purposes here. Moving on…
The SS Ohio Power Bar is very similar to the Rep Deep Knurl EX Power Bar. They are both 29 mm bushing bars with super stiff, high-tensile strength shafts, they are both aggressively knurled (outer and center knurl) and they both have about the same loadable sleeve length.
So then how are they different?
Rogue’s Ohio Power Bar is an American-made bar, and the 20kg variant is approved by the International Powerlifting Federation. One or both of these things may matter to a handful of potential customers, and may even be all that matters.
The Rogue SS Ohio Power Bar is also far more expensive than the Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar; anywhere from about $15 to just under $100 depending on the variant you go with (but yes, it is always more). As it turns out, the most expensive variant is the fully-stainless steel bar, and it’s that version that is the most similar to the Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar.
They may both be aggressively knurled, but I personally prefer the knurling of the Rep; both the outer knurling and [especially] the center knurling. Matter of fact, I’ve favored the center knurling of pretty much every other aggressive power bar that’s come through my gym over that of the OPB. I’m just not a fan of the OPB center knurling.
I also prefer the perfectly smooth, non-grooved sleeves of the Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar. I hear this a lot from readers too; that they prefer there be no texture on their sleeves. Finally, while the Rep Deep Knurl isn’t the quietest bar I own, it’s still quieter to drop than the Rogue Ohio Power Bar.
The Rogue Ohio Power is an extremely popular power bar, and for good reason. The basic, raw steel variant is easily the strongest, best-knurled power bar for the money. However, as we move into the stainless market and as more players join in on the fun, I think the OPB is no longer the auto-buy that it once was. Sure, the fully-stainless OPB is over $100 less than the SS Absolute but it’s still an expensive bar. $470 is still a lot of cash to spend on a power bar.
People will always gravitate towards the Ohio Power Bar, and I get that; there are soo many different variants now, but when it comes to the stainless steel power bars I think they ought to be gravitating towards the Deep Knurl Power Bar instead.
Deep Knurl Power Bar vs American Barbell SS Elite
I’ve made no secret about the fact that many of my favorite bars are American Barbell bars. My favorite gym bar for the last I-don’t-even-know-how-long has been the AB Super Power Bar; the predecessor to the AB Mammoth Power Bar and one of the first high-end stainless steel power bars one could buy outside of those from the now-defunct, Iron Wolfe Barbell.
As it turns out, you cannot buy the Super Power Bar anymore, and the Mammoth; while it is indeed a stainless steel power bar; is finished in Cerakote, so neither of these two stainless steel power bars really have any business being compared to the Rep Deep Knurl Bar. That said, there is a third stainless steel power bar by American Barbell, the Elite Power Bar, and that’s a bar worth trying to compare to the Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar.
Interestingly enough, the Rep Deep Knurl and the American Barbell Elite have very little in common outside of the fact that they are both power bars with stainless steel shafts. Rep’s bar has very aggressive knurling and stainless steel sleeves that spin only moderately well with any weight loaded, while the AB Elite has a super-refined moderate knurling, industrial hard chrome sleeves, and premium composite bushings that spin smoothly under any load.
These two stainless steel power bars could not feel more different from one another. In fact, there really is no comparison after all. They are even being sold at two completely different price points ($379 for full stainless vs $450 for just a stainless shaft). I think that only one of these bars will appeal to any given person, based almost entirely on the difference in knurl.
Is one actually better than the other? Yes, I think the Elite is a more refined bar overall, but the moderate knurl is not typical of a power bar and the price tag is going to be a turn off for many. You’d be paying $70 more for non-stainless steel sleeves, softer knurl, and improved sleeve rotation. The Elite will fit the bill for some, but overall I believe the masses will prefer the aggressive knurl, stainless steel sleeves, and lower price point of the Deep Knurl EX.
The Rep Deep Knurl Power Bar isn’t the best power bar ever made, but when you consider its specifications, performance, feel, and especially its price relative to the competition, well you have to wonder if it’s not at least the best stainless steel power bar ever made.
Yes, you can always pay more for a stainless steel power bar. You can find stronger steel or superior sleeve rotation, but do these things actually equate to a better bar? A better value?
Not a single SS power bar that I know of offers a performance improvement so major that it warrants the up to $200 increase in cost. The Rep Deep Knurl is simply the best you can do in the stainless steel power bar market right now. It rivals all others in terms of performance, knurl, and even aesthetics, and it blows them away when it comes to overall value. You can do marginally better for more cash, of course, but you cannot do better for less.
Deep Knurl Power Bar Review Summary
I’d like to think that the previous section sums up the Deep Knurl Power Bar fairly well, but I realize that there are; in addition to the other stainless steel power bars on the market; a lot of finished power bars worth considering as well.
Should you consider a finished bar? That’s up to you! There are some amazing power bars out there that cost less if for no other reason than they do not have any stainless steel. The Texas Power Bar, the Vulcan Absolute Power Bar (non-SS variant), and even Rogue’s Ohio Power Bar come to mind; all very aggressive, high-performance, powerlifting bars with solid track records and all less costly than the Deep Knurl Power Bar. The question is though, do you want a black zinc, black oxide, or bare steel shaft?
The Absolute’s black oxide is a great feeling shaft and the knurling is up there with the Rep, but it will oxidize and you will only save $40 by going that route. Black zinc, in my opinion, is just horrible; both in terms of grip and aesthetics. It’s cheap, it’s slick and it doesn’t age well. Sure, you can save almost $100 by going with a black zinc Ohio or Texas Power Bar, and if that $100 matters to you maybe you should, but it would not be my recommendation.
Bare steel I have less of a problem with than the black finishes. Bare steel bars are far less costly than both finished and stainless steel bars, and the grip is ideal. You need to be very willing to maintain a bare, carbon steel bar, but at least from a performance standpoint and cost perspective, there’s nothing to complain about.
Having said all that, a $379, fully-stainless steel power bar with superb; I dare say, perfect; knurl is just too much value to ignore. Remember, the barbell is the most important piece of equipment in your gym. Is this where you want to skimp? You’re already going to spend like $300 on any other decent power bar, why not make the upgrade now and be done with it?
In any case, I definitely recommend the Rep Fitness Deep Knurl Power Bar. I say get one! And Rep, please make a 27 mm, Deep Knurl Deadlift Bar next.
Rep Fitness Deep Knurl Power Bar EX
- Fully stainless steel power bar, both the sleeves and the shaft.
- Stainless steel is extremely resistant to both scratches and oxidation.
- Sleeves have no grooves or ridges - they are completely smooth.
- Aggressive knurling is (subjectively) an 11/10.
- Very beautiful bar. It's hard to top the fully stainless steel power bars.
- Extremely competitively priced for a fully stainless steel barbell.
- Lifetime warranty offered.
- Poor sleeve rotation - A lot of drag. Wouldn't be my go-to bar for power cleans.
Great review as usual! I love the AB SPB that I recently picked up and find the knurl to be amazingly grippy and sticks better than my previous zinc OPB without being aggressive.
So, what’s your personal preference based solely on knurl feel between the Rep bar and the AB SP or Elite bars disregarding price or sleeve build?
Thanks, Clayton. Yeah so my favoritism towards the Super has a lot to do with the fact that I pull with an actual deadlift bar. I do not need to make the milder-knurled American Barbell work for that heavy lift. I agree that American Barbell has surprisingly grippy knurl considering the lack of aggressiveness, but if I had to have a single power bar for all three lifts I think I would still prefer the Deep Knurl. I can pull with the Super/Elite, and have, but it’s just not ideal. At least for me.
I really don’t care about the sleeve rotation issue, and honestly I have a strong feeling that issue is somewhat exclusive to my bar. It would have come up somewhere else at least once. The bar is pretty heavily reviewed already even for being so new. Anyway, my intention was to break the bar down again on both ends and lubricate it to see if that helps, but I didn’t want to do that for the review because a brand new bar shouldn’t need sleeve maintenance.
Thanks for the response and the great added info. IMO, I think a strong case can be made for a minimum of a PB & DLB in one’s bar collection even if not pulling heavy weight. I say this because I don’t compete so there isn’t any consideration for organized competition regulations; I simply love the advantages of the 27mm shaft in terms of grip feel, absence of center knurl, overall length and whip.
I haven’t used the SPB for dead lifts because I too use an ODLB and there are no plans to make any changes. However, I have fallen in love with SS bars and when someone comes out with a fairly reasonably priced SS DLB I’ll be swapping mine out for sure!!
That’s why I dropped that tidbit to Rep, as I’m fairly certain they read my reviews of their equipment. They sure better be! Rogue certainly has one in the works. I don’t think Texas Power Bars messes with stainless since tooling up for working with that material is quite the ordeal supposedly.
I’m hopeful that most companies read your reviews and can take the input for their products! Thankful for your time and site and I’m excited about purchasing a SS DLB when available! Have a good day.
Excellent review! I have been wondering about this bar for a few months.
I have the SS Absolute bar. It’s a good bar, and I’m surprised to hear that the Rep Deep Knurl is possibly more even aggressive than the SS Absolute, which I consider on the edge of being too aggressive (for me).
I agree about the price difference between them….I would not recommend the Vulcan over the Rep regarding performance. I only bought the Vulcan as part of the bar and bumper package, which made the price much more reasonable. Seems like it saved about $150 off of the $599 price if I remember correctly.
Thank you, Jordan. Yeah that’s a pretty good discount. I’d lean on that bar for $449 shipped.
Hey John, now that you’ve had experience with both, is there any real advantage to going with stainless steel over industrial hard chrome sleeves when deciding between two different barbells? Looking at the pics of your AB Elite and OPB, the sleeves still look absolutely mint with no rusting.
No, I think stainless sleeves are a novelty unless it’s not actually hard chrome. If it’s decorative chrome or say bright zinc, I’d be all over the stainless. American Barbell’s chrome is different than the rest though – it’s such a nice, thick coating. I’ve only got superficial scratches on my Super Power Bar after all these years, and none of them deep enough to get to the bare steel and cause rust.
Your AB sleeves look to be in better shape than the ones on my newer boneyard bar! Does Rogue use as thick a layer as AB, and is it hard industrial chrome?
Nobody does sleeves like American Barbell, at least that I’ve seen. I don’t think Rogue uses a “hard” chrome, it’s just decorative. It’s not like the cheap, flakey decorative chrome that you’d see on a $35 curl bar at Wal-Mart, but it’s not hard chrome, and it’s definitely not as thick.
I just noticed something with the Rogue AB hard chromed sleeves which might be a good reason to get stainless steel sleeves. Between each set of loading/unloading weight plates, if I rub my hands on the sleeves I get a small layer of shiny grey/silver chrome dust. This is probably due to the friction of changing plates but is surprising considering I am using Vulcan Alphas with smooth inserts and v-lock rubber change plates. Can you do me a favor and see if yours does the same?
Oh absolutely that happens. I know the dust discolors your hands and seems like a lot of material, but it’s not. It would take ages to get through that chrome with the smooth, stainless inserts like on your Alphas.
The grooves and ridges on some sleeves don’t help this btw. The most heavily used bar in my gym has hard chrome sleeves and grooveless, but I can still wipe that shiny dust off those after every session, but there is still a LOT of chrome left.
Out standing review. This is the kind of information that can really help getting the best for the money a one time shot.
Thank you, Mike. I appreciate that.
Another excellent review! I’m thinking about getting either the SS OPB (with SS sleeves) or this Rep SS Deep Knurl bar. I’m curious about where you mentioned you prefer the knurl of the Rep SS Deep Knurl over the OPB. Could you elaborate more about that and what it is you don’t prefer on the OPB knurl? I’m wanting a bar that could be the one and only that I use (I don’t do any Olympic lifts, just training centered around squat, DL, bench, press, both high and low rep ranges) and I’m interested in an aggressive grippy knurl that isn’t like grabbing a cheese grater. I know personal preference factors into this and just wondered about your preference for one over the over.
Gosh, I’m not sure how to explain it because it’s just feel. I have never been the biggest fan of the Ohio Power Bar’s coarseness. It feels rough to me. I wouldn’t be upset if I was stuck with an OPB and nothing else forever, there are certainly many poorly-knurled bars out there that I’d have way more issue with, but given the choice, there are those I prefer, like the Deep Knurl or the Absolute.
Yeah, it’s just preference. The OPB knurl isn’t bad at all. Ask any of the probably tens of thousands of people who own one. It’s just me.
Thanks, that’s helpful to know.
On a different note – with 20kg bars like this, in your experience does that small difference in weight compared to 45lb bars make any noticeable impact on training? As someone who has only owned 45lb bars I guess I’m just wondering if I’m gonna need to throw on 1lb to a 20kg bar (if I were to get one like this) to make sure I’m lifting the same weights as I’m used to or if that’s just not really that important at all. I don’t compete and don’t plan to so I don’t really care about having a 20kg in that regard.
If you’re not competing I don’t think it matters. If you’re not using calibrated weights then it matters even less because you’re already kinda lifting a mysterious weight. If you are OCD like many of us, you can either subtract that pound from your recorded lift, use the 1/2 pound plates to make up for that difference in weight, or go all out and buy some kilo plates haha. But no, really, the fact is that if you’re adding weight to the bar each week then you’re getting stronger and that’s what matters. The numbers are just a reference.
I have this bar in order—largely based on your review. I’m starting to get concerned that the knurl will be too aggressive and wondering if I should switch it over to their v2, before the order ships. I’m coming from a global gym where the bars are pretty worn down, so I don’t think I’ve ever really experienced “aggressive” knurl. My hands are fairly calloused already. What are your thoughts? Will this knurl be too much for higher rep ranges on bench press or military press? This will be used as an all-purpose bar (not doing any Olympic lifts though).
I think honestly, if it’s even bothersome to you at all at first, that you’ll get used to it in days. You’re way better off with a grippy knurl than the worn down, basically knurl-less bars of the global gyms, or even the fresh knurl of a deliberately mildly-knurled bar. Also, if ever a bar like the EX was going to be uncomfortable, it’s going to be on very, very heavy presses, not so much the high reps. It’s a little different to want a milder knurl for high reps when you’re pulling long sets of cleans or something (though I suppose that could be argued.)
I say let them ship it. I’ll be surprised if it takes more than a week after receiving it before you come back to say you’re glad you kept it.
Really appreciate it. I’ll let you know how it goes as soon as it arrives!
How has it been, Amir?
Great review again. You have me seriously considering adding this bar to my home gym. I just let a friend borrow my AB Super Power Bar since his gym is closed due to COVID-19. I was using the AB SPB for squat and bench exclusively. I use an old Chrome Chan bar for press and power cleans and a bare steel OPB for deadlift.
So I’m thinking about grabbing this or the AB SS Elite Power Bar for Squat and Bench. Which would you recommend? Any idea where they manufacture the REP bar?
Thanks for always being a dependable source for equipment reviews!
Hey Nate, thank you for that. I appreciate it.
So the Elite will feel exactly like your Super except for the fact that it’s .5 mm larger in diameter. Knurl is the same.
The Deep Knurl EX is much more aggressive; more like your deadlift bar, though not exactly the same.
Assuming you’re going to be getting the Super Power Bar back at some point, there’s not much point to owning the Elite. I’d say give the EX a try in that case.
If the Super was gone and you were 100% content with the feel of that bar, I’d suggest replacing the lost Super with the Elite.
I just know the Rep bars are not made in North America. There are some imported bars in which I can actually identify the Asian manufacturer, but the EX is not one of those bars. It’s an import though.
Great review again. You have me seriously considering adding this bar to my home gym. I just let a friend borrow my AB Super Power Bar since his gym is closed due to COVID-19. I was using the AB SPB for squat and bench exclusively. I use an old Chrome Chan bar for press and power cleans and a bare steel OPB for deadlift.
So I’m thinking about grabbing this or the AB Elite
This looks like a duplicate… did you see my response to your first comment?
Thanks for this stellar review. With the times being as they are, I am one of the legions starting a home/garage gym; basically returning back to how I started out with lifting (although all my equipment was budget and shared with a roommate then, on a patio in the merciless Florida sun/humidity).
Even though I live on the opposite side of the country now, and that I will have access to a garage, I’ve been only considering stainless steel bars because of my experience.
I’m having a really difficult time deciding between the REP V2, the REP EX, or the AB Elite Power Bar — so this review has been instrumental in helping me figure out what I actually want in a “forever bar” because you directly compare the last two. It’s just a question of knurl (and a little bit aesthetics + some monetary value).
I feel like I gravitate towards bars with tamer knurl; at least that was the way I remember when I was in a gym like Barbell Brigade (with a lot of bars to choose from). But in recent times, I have been just grabbing whatever is available (forced to workout in busier gyms) and using specialty bars because they’re fun and useful (when I see Rep’s lineup of specialty bars, that’s something else that weighs in on my decision; I think it would be cool to get a small arsenal of stainless steel bars of various functions from the same place).
I could get the Elite for $325 shipped, but it will be a closeout/blem bar (no return or warranty). One of these Rep bars would be $415~ shipped to where I am. This is a humdinger of a choice for me.
Should I accept the Deep Knurl into my heart, or go with the V2’s more moderate knurl? Or save some dollaroos and go with a potentially flawed AB bar.
Also, a weird question: how easy would it be to swap out the Rep bar’s endcaps? Not a huge fan of their look, if only because I am a designer by trade and the typography on them, to me, is a bit amateur.
People don’t generally have issues with the blemished bars. I’ve heard soooo few complaints over the years, and mostly it’s people splitting hairs. Double-track knurl in one spot, or a finish error somewhere that doesn’t impact anything in terms of function. The question really is the knurl, because they’re all very different. I love American Barbell’s bars. Their bars make up two of the three bars I personally favor when I’m not reviewing something. That said, I don’t pull with my AB power bar, I use a deadlift bar. If you are going to be deadlifting this bar then I’d say go with the EX. If not, or even if you’re typically a straps guy on heavy pulls (which I won’t debate lol), then $325 is a great price and that may be the way to go.
I don’t know what end cap system they use on the V2, but you would not be swapping caps out on the EX. It’s basically a sticker on that thicker cap (you can see it in this review where I’ve disassembled the sleeve). Some bars, like even AB’s bars, the artwork/branding is on what basically amounts to a metal coin that gets pinned between the inner workings and the snap rings. I can see that being easier to swap out. You may, however, be able to take the sticker off and turn that EX cap around. It may lead to some lateral play though, I’m not sure.
I hope this helps
Just arrived yesterday (delayed shipments due to COVID madness). This bar is AMAZING. Love the knurl. So thrilled with it. Just to confirm, it’s basically maintenance free right? I should just wipe it down with a clean rag from time to time and brush dead skin from knurl. No oiling or anything right?
Correct, maybe once a year a single drop of 3-in-1 oil in each bushing, but the stainless should require nothing more than skin/chalk removal with a nylon brush.
I was in a similar dilemma between the V2 and EX. Finally got the EX and am really happy with the knurl. It’s super grippy, but not painful. Given they are the same price but the EX has a forever warranty (vs 5 years on v2), I’m really happy with my decision.
Hey Coop, awesome site and thanks for all the reviews.
I’ve narrowed down the barbells but can’t decide which one to get. I don’t know if it’s worth it to cut back and where to save some money between these choices.
Here’s the things I’m looking for and wondering if you can make a recommendation for my home gym I’m starting to build.
1. I want to own only 1 quality barbell in my Home Gym.
2. My focus has been on Big 3 but I want explore Cleans (will not be my main focus.)
3. Maintenance free for the years when stored and not in use, aka last forever and pass it down to kids one day.
4. Prefer 29mm(thicker) and good knurl when benching, because I have XL hands.
Is the Matt Chan that much better for deadlifting because of the wider spaced outer knurl and less aggressive knurl?
Can you not explore cleans with the other powerlifting bars?
-$339(Free Shipping): VULCAN ABSOLUTE V2.0 POWERLIFTING [Shaft: Black Oxide / Sleeves: Chrome]
-$325 + Shipping: ROGUE CERAKOTE OHIO POWER BAR [Sleeves:Cerakote / Sleeves: Cerakote]
-$379 + Shipping: REP DEEP KNURL POWER BAR EX [Shaft: Stainless Steel / Sleeves: Stainless Steel]
-$395 + Shipping: ROGUE MATT CHAN [Sleeves: Cerakote / Sleeves: Chrome or Cerakote]
-$395 + Shipping: ROGUE SS OHIO POWER BAR [Shaft: Stainless Steel / Sleeves: Chrome]
What do you think?
Coop is at garage gym reviews dot com
I’m sorry JBurgeson, I’ve read all your reviews but I thought it was the same person but just in a different layout format and address link. Your reviews and insight are excellent! Would you be able to give your recommendation for my question above? I would appreciate your expertise. Thanks.
It’s all good, Lenny.
The Chan isn’t that much better for pulling just because of the spacing. If you’re a shin-dragger when pulling then yes, it can be helpful, but otherwise it’s just less knurl on the bar. The Chan is also aggressive by Rogue standards (for what is technically not a power bar to them), but not aggressive by power bar standards. Also, it’s a 28.5 mm bar. Having said all that, the Chan is a popular bar and it meets at least some of your criteria.
So all of the bars you’ve listed will last, and they’ll all function just fine for cleans. The Ohio Power Bar, Absolute, and Rep Deep Knurl have fairly aggressive center knurls which may or may not bother you in the rack position. The Ohio has no center knurl and the Chan has a very passive center. The Ohio is going to feel a lot like the Chan, but with the different knurl spacing and finish. I’d probably avoid the black oxide if you think the aesthetics are important over the long haul as well, and maybe even favor the stainless Rep if that’s really important.
Truthfully I have no issue with any of these bars from a functional or longevity standpoint. Two of them aren’t 29 mm, one of them has a weak finish. Of the two left, the EX and the OPB, I personally favor the Rep. I think the center knurl of the OPB is a nightmare, especially if you really do intend to put cleans/power cleans into the mix (not that the EX isn’t pretty close in terms of that center.)
I hope this helps. Feel free to follow up.
Thank you for your help. If I went with the OPB, do you highly recommend spending $70 to go from a Cerakote shaft to Stainless? Or should I save the money?
It’s really a personal choice. Cerakote will last a long time, but with use it will show signs of wear. Stainless won’t really. Now you can scratch stainless if you try hard enough, and it actually can develop rust under certain conditions, but it can always be restored easily enough. I’d say since you’re wanting to do a “one and done” barbell purchase, it’s probably worth the $70.
Great reviews, you truly knowledge your stuff. Quick question. Have you experience any corrosion on yours. I live in VA (coastal region) and I’ve seen my bar develop some slight corrosion on the center knurling. It’s barely noticeable, but I’m OCD about my bars so I tend to baby them. I believe you mentioned living in one of the Carolinas so maybe you’ve seen the same things. Thanks.
A little bit lately, yes, but we’ve been kind of negligent lately with the AC and with all this humidity (Central Texas btw). I’ve got a few bars that are going to require what would normally be an unnecessary cleaning =/
We don’t know what series of stainless steel this bar is made with. Some series have lower chromium levels in exchange for higher carbon (higher strength.) It could be 302 instead of 304. I do have other stainless steel bars that are not oxidizing in the same conditions so….
We’re just going to have to oil and brush them out.
Would you say this rust issue slightly dampens your praise for the Rep Deep Knurl? I’m very tempted to pull the trigger on this bar thanks to the glowing praise it’s received from you; Coop; and Adam, but I would be worried if the stainless steel doesn’t quite perform as advertised.
Eh, not really. It is a little annoying that a stainless bar requires any maintenance at all, but the bar still feels so good, and the price; assuming it hasn’t changed lately; is great.
I intend to see here in the next week or so the extent of the oxidation and how difficult it is to clean. I’ve been playing with a different bar for the last few weeks so the EX has been a little neglected.
Thanks for your notes on the oxidation. I just bought a Deep Knurl and am now afraid of rust, haha. Did you figure out how much rust your bar got? Were you able to remove the rust easily? I’m a bit annoyed that a SS bar can rust!
It wasn’t bad and it comes off easy enough. It’s a little annoying, but I have other SS bars that get a hint of it here and there. I’m also kind of begging for it. I leave the AC In the garage on all night then open the garage door here in humid ass Central Texas. Takes mere minutes for everything to get visibly wet with condensation.
As an exclusive or primarily bench press / pressing bar which of these or others would you suggest? I am unaware if there are specifically made bench press bars. I don’t think so. I’m looking for a power bar primarily as a bench presser. Would purchase a second bar if squats/dl ever took off but given injury and age that may not be happening. I’ve been thinking the Rep Stainless Steel Power Bar v2, but I’m actually surprised as popular as the bench press is that there aren’t bench specific bars as is the case for deadlift and squat. I appreciate thoughts on the better bars to bench press with. Currently use an old York Power Bar.
I guess in a way you can think of the power bar as the bench bar. It’s the squat and deadlift that needed to break away.
I like the Rep Deep Knurl. I’m wondering though, if it’s to be an exclusive pressing bar, if there’s really the need for such an aggressive knurl. Maybe something milder… like the American Barbell Elite Power Bar?
It’s really just preference. If you like a lot of bite then this is a great choice, and it is stainless. The American Barbell is probably the only other thing I’d suggest looking at. It too is stainless, just not nearly as aggressive. If you’re not pulling the thing you don’t need so much bite.
The rep EX deep knurl is out of stock at the moment – it costs about $475 shipped. Available right now is the Rogue 20K Ohio Power Bar Stainless Steel with chrome sleeves; it ships at about $485 to my door. I don’t need a power bar (have a raw one), but it’s rusty and I want a stainless steel bar. Get the Rogue or wait for the Rep to be back in stock?
I like the REP more, but they aren’t so different I’d be willing to not have a bar around for possibly months.
Cool, I’ll wait. The bare steel bar that I have is fine but tarnished; it’ll serve it’s purpose until the EX is back in stock.
Between this and the Texas Power Bar, which would you choose? I like idea of the 28.5 mm shaft for a better grip. Would you kindly consider doing a full review on the Texas Power Bar when you have a chance?
I like the narrower bars myself. That would be a tough call. If TPB offered their bars in stainless I think there would be a lot of trouble for their competitors. That would be quite the bar!
I own both the REP Deep Knurl EX and the fully stainless OPB. I personally like the OPB much more than the REP bar. The REP bar knurling is too aggressive for volume work or any pressing, IMO. It’s fantastic for pulls, but that’s it. The sleeve rotation grinds on the REP bar (mine is only 6 months old) and after a few months, the smooth sleeves (which I also hate) started forming rust in a moderately humid environment. I can’t wait to sell the REP bar and buy a second stainless OPB.
I get not everyone liking the aggressive knurl. No bar is for everyone when it comes to knurling. But even that aside it sounds like the EX just isn’t the bar for you in any way haha, and that happens too!
The sleeve rotation on the EX Rep annoys me a bit. I think I can get over it. My normal bar is the raw OPB. I slightly prefer the Rep knurling. I bench, squat and press with these bars. Prefer 28 mm for pulls and less knurling, better for my thumb arthritis. In fact i like my wifes Bella for deadlifts.
I’m looking for the quietest bar possible. I have a debilitating hearing sensitivity and it’s the only thing that matters to me. Price is irrelevant.
I am looking at this bar because of the flawlessly smooth sleeves for quieter plate loading, and American Barbell bars because of how tight people say the sleeves fit to the bar making for quieter handling.
How tight are the sleeves on this bar and how much rattling noise is there when deadlifting? How bad is the AB sleeve texture for plate loading noise?
If sound was your only consideration, which bar would you pick, or would you pick some other bar?
No bar will compare overall to an American Barbell bar when it comes to sound. The grooves in the sleeves of an AB bar require you to actually get your face up to the metal to see the microscopic grooves. They texture is virtually nonexistent. The only noise loading plates makes is the sound of two metal objects sliding down one another. There is no grinding from the texture like 95% of other bars out there. As far as play in an AB bar and sound it makes when dropped, it’s still the quietest bar that I know of by a long shot.
The Deep Knurl is decent in terms of sound but it’s not an AB bar. Rep’s Power Slide is actually quieter, at least in my opinion, but I’d still lean on an American Barbell if noise is truly the most important thing to you.
That’s a pretty solid recommendation. I might have to go with an American Barbell bar then, even if the sleeves aren’t perfectly smooth.
The reason I’m all wound up about this is these two videos:
The sound: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LkJ5Ldb_qY&t=430s
Him talking about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IU6iA9H33C0
The thing is I don’t know how that sound is going to affect me when I’m in the same room with it. He’s not using the best mic, and he only does a small plate, so I just don’t know.
Maybe the solution here is to get an American Barbell for deadlifting because that’s when the sleeves bounce around, then see how much of a problem the sleeve texture noise is in person, and maybe get a REP or some other smooth sleeved bar for other movements. My bank account though.