The Rogue EZ Curl Bar – easily one of the most well-received and sought-after pieces of training equipment released in the last year. An instant success; just about every batch made available since its initial release has sold out the same day (it took me over three months to catch one in stock and place an order!) Are you wondering what makes a curl bar so popular?
Well not to spoil the review, but it’s popular because it’s better than the competition. It shames pretty much every other curl bar on the market in at least one way, but typically in half a dozen different ways. Basically if the Rogue Curl Bar isn’t shaming another curl bar with its features, it’s doing so with its price.
I’ll discuss just about every aspect of the Rogue Curl Bar in this review. I’ll also address some things you probably wouldn’t think of by just reading the product page. Finally, I’ll compare the Rogue Curl Bar to both the cheap, box-store curl bars and the other premium curl bars. By the time you finish this article you will know more about curl bars than you imagined possible.
Rogue Curl Bar Review – Specifications
- Weight: 30-pounds
- Shaft diameter: 28.5 mm *
- Shaft finish: black E-coat over chrome
- Shaft length: 31.5″ (not rackable)
- Knurling: mild/moderate *
- Sleeve diameter: 50 mm/1.96″
- Loadable sleeve length: 10.5″
- Sleeve finish: bright zinc
- Total bar length: 54.5″
- Sleeve Assembly: snap-ring/bushing *
- Made in USA; 5-year warranty
- Price: $195
* The Rogue EZ Curl Bar is basically a cambered Ohio Bar. It has the same 28.5 mm shaft diameter, the same knurl pattern, and the same sleeve assembly (bronze bushings and snap-rings). Those of you who have handled any Ohio Bar variant will already know what to expect from the Rogue Curl Bar in terms of performance, quality, and overall feel.
What is E-Coat?
E-coat is an electronically applied, non-metal based paint. It’s basically just an alternative to black zinc and black oxide that offers superior resilience, better corrosion resistance, and in the case of black zinc, a more secure grip. E-coat is uniform in appearance, vibrant, and less likely to fade out. It also won’t turn green!
Resilience and attractiveness is nice, but how does e-coat feel? I would rank the texture and grip of e-coat right about where I would rank black oxide. I think it’s just barely less pleasing than raw steel bars, but miles ahead of black zinc and decorative chrome (another all too common curl bar finish.) It’s essentially an affordable, grippy, black chrome. I like it.
Knurl quality is excellent – perfect for this application. It’s the same knurl pattern found on Rogue’s Ohio line (SS excluded.) It’s consistent, grippy but not coarse or sharp. It’s functional yet comfortable. Between the feel of e-coat and the knurl on this bar, chalk is definitely optional (as are those silly, fingerless gloves.)
Additionally, there are no gaps in the knurling along the length of the bar except for the very center. That means regardless of where you place your hands on this bar you will find knurl. Most curl bars have very limiting knurl patterns – lots of bare sections; lots of gaps.
The unloaded weight of the Rogue Curl Bar is 30-pounds – a nice and convenient round number. Many of the inexpensive curl bars on the market (and even some of the nicer models) have ridiculous weights – weights that make our brains ache when trying to do what should be simple math.
For instance, the XMark EZ Curl Bar is 22-pounds, the CAP Super Curl Bar is 18-pounds, and the Marcy EZ Curl Bar is 13-pounds! Now I’m not suggesting anyone over the age of five couldn’t do the math involved with these bars, but why would we want to? 5-pound increments, please and thank you.
Do you wonder why these bars are so light despite them being the same length as nicer curl bars? They are hollow. Hollow bars are cheap to produce, cheap to ship from overseas to your local Wal-Mart, and they are absolutely susceptible to bends. Not a fan.
As previously mentioned, the Rogue Curl Bar uses the same bronze bushings and snap-ring assembly as the Ohio Bar. This is great – most other curl bars are pinned (hex bolts), and pinned bars simply suck. They rattle, they don’t spin well at all, and the hex bolts like to work themselves loose (which can be dangerous!)
Bushing assemblies are safer and more durable. The sleeves will spin reliably for the life of the bar, and the whole assembly requires practically no maintenance – maybe a drop of oil once or twice a year. Also because of Rogue’s strict manufacturing tolerances, there is virtually no lateral play in the sleeves. This equates to less friction, less wear and tear, and less noise (squeak squeak).
The sleeves of the Rogue Curl Bar are 10½” long, which is about 60% longer than the majority of box-store curl bars (typically around 6-7″). This is a substantial difference that not only allows for more total weight on the bar, but it also allows for those of us who own bumper plates to still load this bar up without having to go buy thinner plates.
To illustrate the difference, my old CAP curl bar with 6″ sleeves could only hold one 45-pound basic bumper plate and collar per side – maybe another 10-pound plate if I let collar hang off sleeve slightly. That basically means that the limitations to what I could ever possibly curl were based on my equipment, not my strength. Well that’s a pretty lame situation to be in.
With 10½” sleeves it doesn’t matter what kind of plates you own. At that length the bar can be loaded to about 275-pounds with basic bumpers, 375-pounds with competition bumpers, and even 225-pounds with the super thick HI-Temps – and these totals include normal sized collars fully engaged with the sleeves (HG, OSO, etc.) I don’t curl 225-pounds. Do you?
The sleeves of the Rogue Curl Bar are 50 mm in diameter (1.96″). This means that it is compatible with any and all weight plates, bumper plates, and change plates that are manufactured to IWF or IPF specifications (50.4 mm opening).
I only mention this because many of the imported EZ curl bars sold in American sporting good stores have 2″ sleeves (50.8 mm) rather than 50 mm sleeves. These 2″ sleeves are only reliably compatible with cast iron plates or same-brand rubber-coated plates. You should expect to have issues fitting the precise, IWF/IPF-compatible 50.4 mm plates onto 50.8 mm sleeves (for obvious reasons).
Alternative EZ Curl Bars?
The Rogue Curl Bar is fantastic; it’s an amazing piece of equipment. Is it the best option though? Based on price and features I certainly think so, but I’ll tell you about a couple of the alternatives and let you decide. First though, let me go ahead and address the cheap, box-store curl bars first..
Rogue vs the imports
I refer to these bars as ‘the imports’ because regardless of brand (CAP, Body Solid, XMark, Troy, Marcy, etc) they are all mass-produced, low quality bars made in Asia. Each brand may have slightly different specifications and seemingly random pricing, but if you spend enough time looking at all these $30-$70 curl bars like I have, you start to see that they share a lot of the same negative traits. Some of the more notables include:
- hollow shafts; evident by their low overall weight.
- very short sleeves – as short as 6″.
- pinned sleeves (hex bolt).
- chrome variations have spray on, decorative chrome paint that will not remain on the bar.
- odd weights and shaft diameters.
There are other things to look out for with the cheap curl bars, including very short overall length, poorly and/or unevenly cambered shafts, and inferior bushings (brass and nylon, for instance). There is also the issue of premium plates and bumpers not fitting on the sleeves – an issue that cannot always be discovered by reading the product description.
What you ultimately buy for your gym is your business, but I really, really believe that buying what’s pictured above is a mistake. We have so many better options now for curl bars. Treat yourself. Buy something you’ll be proud of – something you’ll be excited to use day-in and day-out. Don’t buy a $49 curl bar.
vs American Barbell Stainless EZ Curl Bar
The American Barbell EZ Curl Bar would definitely be my second choice for a high-end curl bar. It has pretty much all of the same features and the same high level of craftsmanship as the Rogue Curl Bar. It even has the added benefit of a stainless steel shaft. Due to the cost though, it was still my second choice (yes, stainless steel is great, but $295 is just too expensive for a bar that’s functionally no better than the Rogue.)
Additionally, the American Barbell Curl Bar has way less knurling than the Rogue. The Rogue offers knurl for every possible hand position you could take – both for curls and crushers. The AB has very isolated knurling, which more or less dictates to you where you can hold the bar.
Finally, the distance between collars is 31½” on the Rogue, and 36¾” on the AB; yet the sleeves are about the same overall length. This means the AB is longer than the Rogue. Sadly, it’s not long enough to be rackable so this difference in length is just whatever. Neither advantage or disadvantage.
vs Ivanko OBZ-55 EZ Curl Bar
The Ivanko OBZ-55 is very similar to the Rogue Curl Bar. They both have the same shaft diameter, nice long sleeves, and bushing systems. They both weigh 30-pounds, and both are made in the USA. The only notable differences are the finishes (black oxide on the Ivanko), isolated knurling like on the AB, and the price.
Forget the knurl, it’s the price is where most people are going to have a problem with the OBZ-55. With an MSRP of $383.50, it’s nearly $100 more than the American Barbell Curl Bar and $200 more than the Rogue Curl Bar. Since there are no real benefits to owning the Ivanko over the Rogue (other than to say you own an Ivanko), I don’t see me ever recommending this bar. Nobody can argue the fact that Ivanko makes great equipment, but sadly they remain just too cost-prohibitive.
BTW: Ivanko has another curl bar (the OBZ-30B) for closer to $250. Do not confuse the premium OBZ-55 with the OBZ-30B, as the 30B is the equivalent of a $60 box-store curl bar (imported, thick shaft, pinned sleeves, etc.) It’s technically better than say a CAP bar, but worth no where near its asking price.
Premium EZ Bar Specification Chart
|Rogue EZ||AB SS EZ||Ivanko OBZ-55|
|Weight||30 lbs||31 lbs||30 lbs|
|Shaft Diameter||28.5 mm||28.5 mm||28.5 mm|
|Shaft Finish||black e-coat||stainless steel||black oxide|
|Sleeve Finish||bright zinc||hard chrome||black oxide|
|Made in USA||yes||yes||yes|
Bullet Points – Pros
- Premium components – solid steel shaft, bronze bushings, and snap-ring assembly (versus a hex bolt.)
- Cambering is smooth and fluid with good angles – comfortable for all hand sizes. Very well done.
- Good weight – bar feels substantial. Nice round number for easy mathulating as well.
- Almost double the loading capacity of cheap curl bars.
- Perfect knurling – grippy yet comfortable. No sharpness.
- Maximum knurl coverage – no gaps.
- Beautiful finish, and virtually no chance of shaft corrosion.
- 100% American-made.
- Significantly less expensive than comparable curl bars.
Bullet Points – Cons
- While less expensive than the other premium curl bars, Rogue’s Curl Bar is obviously a lot more expensive than cheap, imported bars.
- Not rackable. I mean it’s not supposed to be, but it would be nice.
- Difficult to find in stock.
TL;DR and/or Review Summary
It’s obvious to me that a lot of thought and consideration went into every single facet of the Rogue Curl Bar during its development – nothing was overlooked or skimmed over. From knurl depth and placement to the length and angle of the cambers, everything about this bar feels superior to other curl bars. It is comfortable yet secure, requires virtually no maintenance, spins as reliably as any Rogue Olympic bushing bar, and it’s priced reasonably and competitively.
Additionally, at 10½”, the Rogue has the longest sleeves of any 50 mm curl bar that I know of. I feel like it’s safe to say that you will never curl more weight than you can load onto this bar, and that’s a lot more than can be said for curl bars with short 6″ sleeves.
I really don’t like to get unduly excited about things, but I really, really dig this curl bar. It definitely makes the list of top-10 Rogue products ever. I don’t regret paying $195 for, and if it somehow went missing I’d buy it all over again. I’m not alone on this either. Everyone who uses my gym loves having it around. So if you don’t want to buy one, at least find a friend with one a try it out. You’ll dig it, I promise.
I apologize for the length of this article, but thanks for reading and enjoy your workout!
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