This is an evaluation and review of the two new Stainless Steel Curl Bars by Rep Fitness. I purchased both the 30-lb, 55″, standard-length EZ curl bar, and the 35-lb, 72″, Rackable EZ Curl Bar; both in stainless steel (chrome versions are also available.)
I wanted to pick up the rackable variant because rackable curl bars are a product that I get asked about much more often than you would probably imagine, but I also wanted to grab a standard Rep Curl Bar so that I could make a more accurate comparison between it, and the two most commonly purchased curl bars on the market; the Rogue EZ Curl Bar and the Vulcan Curl Bar (both of which I also own).
In this review, you can expect the typical list of specs, features, pros and cons, and my own opinion about the overall quality and performance of these two Rep curl bars. We’ll also see how they stack up against Rogue Fitness and Vulcan Strength.
Rep Fitness EZ Curl Bar Specifications
- shaft diameter: 30 mm
- total bar length: 55″ (rackable: 72″)
- distance between sleeves: 33½” (rackable: 51″)
- weight: 30-lbs (rackable: 35-lbs)
- loadable sleeve length: 10″
- rotation: single bearing & bronze bushing per sleeve
- knurling: partially knurled, moderate depth
- finish options: stainless steel or hard chrome
But First, Rackable Curl Bars – Why Oh Why?
I think a lot of you will be wondering why anyone would possibly want a rackable curl bar. I mean, isn’t it the general consensus that we need to keep people out of the power rack for curls?
Well in a global gym, yes. God, yes. But in your own garage gym? It’s your rack! Nobody is standing behind you wanting to squat or press, and setting your curl bar on the spotters or J-cups makes it easier to load, and easier to start each set since you don’t have to pick the bar up off the floor each time. It’s convenient!
I’ve used a standard-length curl bar for as long as you have – pretty much forever. But ever since I set up my garage gym I’ve set my curls up on my spotter arms. It can actually be set up with a normal EZ bar; meaning you don’t need a rackable curl bar, but the plates end up inside the arms; which makes loading a little more complicated. With a rackable curl bar, all that extra work goes away and you can move through your weight changes just as easily as if you were using a normal Olympic bar.
I’ve also found a few other uses for my Rep rackable curl bar, my favorite of which happens to be for good mornings. The shape of the center of the bar when turned upside down feels really good for that movement. I feel like it just sits in position better than a straight bar. Yes one could also do this with a standard-length EZ curl bar, but that bar is just too short to get my hands where I want them, and even if that wasn’t an issue I’d still have to load up on the floor and manually get the bar into position (basically an EZ bar power clean into a press.)
Worth Upgrading / Replacing a Standard-Length EZ Bar?
I love having a rackable curl bar, but I still don’t think that I would suggest that anyone with a standard-length EZ curl bar that they’re otherwise happy with run out and buy a rackable curl bar as a replacement. It’s neat, but it’s not going to change your world to switch from a standard-length curl bar to a rackable curl bar.
That said, if you’re currently in the market for new curl bar, or you have just been waiting for a solid rackable curl bar to hit the market, then by all means add the Rep Rackable Curl Bar to your list of potentials.
My Thoughts on the Rep Curl Bars
I’ve been reviewing a lot of Rep Fitness products in the last year or so because not only are they unloading new product after new product, they are releasing products that truly do rival the market leaders – specs, performance, build quality, and especially price. These two new curl bars are no exception to this trend. I really like these new Rep stainless steel curl bars, and I’ll talk a little bit about why that is.
Rep’s curl bars are solid steel bars; they are not hollow. Weighing in at 30-lbs for the normal length curl bar and 35-lbs for the rackable variant, they not only have a good weight to them but they also have a nice, easy to work with, round number too. I really like that.
Build quality is as good as any other bar I own – specialty or Olympic. Each sleeve contains both a bushing and a needle bearing, and there is no slop in the sleeve assembly. This kind of assembly is typical of a multi-purpose Olympic bar which, by its very nature, would need to handle much more weight than a curl bar will. In other words, this method of assembly is more than adequate for a curl bar. There’s no reason this bar shouldn’t last forever.
I’ll just get this out of the way first. Yes, the Rep curl bars are only knurled where you place your hands. Rep did not knurl the bar from end to end like Vulcan and Rogue do. This does not matter at all – it does not impact your ability to securely grip the bar. There is more than enough knurl present to establish a firm grip.
One of the nicest curl bars on the market before the Rep Stainless Steel Curl Bar was intro-duced is the American Barbell Stainless Steel EZ Curl Bar. It too sports knurling only where one would actually place the hands, and nobody thought it was questionable on that bar.
Moving on, the pattern and depth of the knurl is great. It’s a moderately-aggressive cut that, when combined with the raw stainless shaft, makes for a very secure grip. It’s grippy with a reasonable amount of bite to it. Definitely not overdone, but also not too mild.
Keep in mind, an EZ curl bar doesn’t need Ohio Power Bar knurling to be functional. Even if you’re curling some seriously impressive weights, it’s still not like you’re curling 315-lb. Still, I will compare knurling of the different brands when I start talking about your other options.
Stainless Steel Finish
The stainless steel variant is simply beautiful. Not only is it beautiful, it’s naturally tactile and 100% immune to rust. A good looking bar is definitely a plus, but a bar with a good knurling and a naturally grippy finish is nothing to scoff at. Add to that the natural resistance to oxid-ation and you’ve got three very good reasons for going with stainless over a finished bar.
Stainless steel definitely comes at a premium. Not factoring in any other manufacturers, the Rep SS Curl Bar is about $100 more than its chrome counterpart. That’s a 40% increase in price to upgrade from finished steel to stainless steel (rackable variant – $259 vs $159). Is it worth it? Well I certainly thought so. As I mentioned, stainless steel won’t rust, it feels better in the hands, and it”s more attractive. Additionally, it won’t fade, chip, peel, or discolor. Even scratches are not only less likely, but less obvious.
Both the standard-length Rep EZ Curl Bar and the Rackable variant have exactly the same camber angle, and that angle is very reminiscent what’s found on the Rogue Curl Bar; both of which are a little more subtle than what’s found on the Vulcan Curl Bar.
I really don’t think the camber on any of these bars is bad. I can go from one curl bar to the other without feeling like I just had a major change in equipment. All three of these brands have a much stronger and more pronounced angle than what you’d find on a $50 Marcy or CAP curl bar, which on some of those can barely even be called a camber.
In the interest of full disclosure, the Vulcan camber is my favorite, but I’m not even positive that I could tell you why that is. Is it my monster hands? the way I hold the bar? something else entirely? I just don’t know! I think it just feels slightly better in my hands.
Rep SS Curl Bar vs Vulcan Curl Bar
The Vulcan EZ Curl Bar is the curl bar I’ve received the most inquiries about, and no doubt one of the best-selling curl bars on the market.
The Vulcan came out not too long after the release of the $200+ (shipped) Rogue Curl Bar, and it dropped with a price that was significantly lower than Rogue’s ($140 delivered). This [much] lower price tag along with specifications that rivaled the Rogue made it an extremely popular option, and it continues to sell well to this day.
The Vulcan Curl Bar has a black oxide finish on the shaft and chrome on the sleeves. With only a $10 difference between the chrome Rep and the black Oxide Vulcan (the Rep being the lower-priced bar), I think the Vulcan is going to find it has some competition now.
That said, I don’t think the Vulcan is gone as a serious contender. Black oxide is a superior finish to hard chrome in terms of grip (not so much in terms of oxidation protection though), and you’d have to upgrade to the $229 SS Rep Curl Bar to get a bar that feels as grippy in the hands. The Vulcan Curl Bar also has a great feeling camber and a really grippy knurl!
The Vulcan EZ also has nearly 2″ more loadable sleeve length than the Rep curl bars which will count for something for you big, gun-toting folks who are using basic bumper plates. Of course, the Vulcan is the only one of the lot that will oxidize, and with relative ease at that.
At the end of the day, I don’t have a problem with the Vulcan or the Rep curl bar. I think they are both great options. However, the whole discussion is moot if you a) want a rackable curl bar, or b) want the best of both worlds (a solid grip and oxidation resistance) in the form of a stainless steel curl bar, and you are willing to pay the premium for that.
Rep SS Curl Bar vs Rogue EZ Curl Bar
There’s no doubt about it, the Rogue EZ Curl Bar is a very nice curl bar. It’s got a great feel to it, a good weight, and whatever in the world an e-coat is ages much, much better than an oxide or black zinc finish does (the Rogue Curl Bar always seems to look pretty damn new.)
The Rogue Curl Bar is over $200 shipped, so you’re probably not surprised to hear that this is a solid product. I think the knurl of the Rogue is the weakest of the three, but it’s not at all bad (remember, curl bar; not Olympic bar.) The sleeves spin fine, the shaft diameter is ideal (28.5 mm versus Rep’s 30 mm), and the zinc on the sleeves is holding up almost as well as the e-coat (almost). There’s really nothing to complain about in terms of features and specs.
The price is a bit on the high side though. Even before the Vulcan Bar was released I think the consensus was that the Rogue Curl Bar was a little pricey. Remember, there was a time not so long ago when the typical garage gym curl bar was a $50 CAP from Amazon or local sporting goods store, and there’s nothing nice about a $50 curl bar (they have like no knurl, no spin, barely any camber, and the shaft is hollow.)
In any case, the market does change, and I believe a fully-functional, high-performance curl bar was something that people actually wanted, and Rogue delivered that, and that’s great! Only now, that high Rogue price is starting to feel even higher. First because of Vulcan, and now because of Rep Fitness. Today you can get a fully stainless curl bar for only about $30 more than what Rogue is getting for their non-stainless curl bar.
|Rep Curl||Vulcan Curl||Rogue Curl||Rep Rackable|
|Shaft Diameter||30 mm||28.5 mm||28.5 mm||30 mm|
|Shaft Finish||varies *||oxide||e-coat||varies *|
|Sleeve Finish||varies *||chrome||zinc||varies *|
* remember that the Rep curl bars are available in chrome or stainless steel. Rogue and Vulcan curl bars are only available in one flavor.
Rep Curl Bar Review – Summary
At the end of the day, you just want to know which one I’m going to keep right? That should tell you all you need to know.
I’ll tell you, of course, but it’s not that simple. For starters, I already own them all, so it’s one thing to decide which bar among many bars to keep. It’s another thing entirely to decide out of all these which to buy as a one-time purchase. This is further complicated by the fact that I didn’t buy the much more affordable chrome variants from Rep or the fact that these three companies are not the only guys making curl bars!
Well full disclosure, I’m definitely keeping the rackable Rep Curl Bar. It’s just a fun, versatile bar to have, and it’s stainless, so the thing is going to last and look new forever.
I’m also going to keep one of the standard length curl bars, but truth be told I cannot decide which! The Vulcan knurl is hot, but it just doesn’t make sense to keep a black oxide bar with another stainless option right there for the taking. The cambers of the Vulcan are also really pronounced – they feel the best. I just don’t know. Someone ask me in the comments a few weeks out which I chose and I’ll let you know!
What to Buy! Not What to Keep!
It almost doesn’t matter anyway. You guys (and gals) aren’t deciding which bar to keep but rather which one to buy, so let’s talk about that!
Overall my favorite is the Rep in stainless steel. At just $30 north of the Rogue Curl Bar; the bar that thousands of people have decided was priced reasonably enough; I don’t see how going from zinc and e-coat to totally stainless for $30 isn’t an obvious choice. I mean, you’ll get that superior grip, no finish to scratch and wear away, and better oxidation protection. It also just looks prettier to me (though you may like the black, and that’s ok too!).
That said, a $200 curl bar isn’t always in the cards. Your budget may be closer to that $100 mark than being well over $200, in which case you’re not going to be paying that stainless steel premium.
For a lower budget, I recommend the chrome variant of the Rep or Vulcan’s black oxide curl bar. Both of these are superb bars. The Vulcan is cheaper to your door since the $140 price includes shipping, and the knurl has a little more bite, but the chrome version of the Rep will no doubt look better for longer, as black oxide does still oxidize.
What about EZ bars from not one of these companies? What if you don’t wanna drop even $100 on a curl bar?
I checked out a lot of curl bars back when I was reviewing the Vulcan and Rogue bars, and I was not all that impressed with what I was seeing for under $100. I’ve even had my share of the box-store curl bars (well, a couple anyway), and I was happy to ditch them. It’s not as though they break, they just feel like garbage – weak knurl, bad cambers, hollow shaft, and pinned on sleeves. They just leave a lot to be desired, and if you care enough about biceps to buy a curl bar, just buy a decent curl bar and be done with it.
Rep Fitness did a great job with their new EZ curl bars. Once again, they’ve put out a very competitive, high-quality product at a price that just demands attention. They even went so far as to offer a premium version as well. What’s not to like?