About a year ago, Rogue Fitness released the Ohio Power Bar; a bar that would completely replace the old Rogue Power Bar; Rogue’s only self-branded powerlifting bar. With only two unique power bars being sold by Rogue at the time (Rogue Power & Westside Power), and both of them having all-too-similar specifications, the addition of the Ohio Power was much needed. Why though?
The late Rogue Power Bar was sort of an underwhelming power bar. The tensile strength rating of the shaft was below average, the knurl needed work, it was only available in solid black zinc, and it cost about $25-$50 more than it probably should have. In addition to all of that, Rogue’s other bars (the CrossFit and Oly line) had all recently received a substantial steel upgrade, and those new and improved specifications just made the Rogue Power Bar look weak by comparison.
Fortunately the Ohio Power Bar picks up where the Rogue Power Bar left off. It boasts a significantly higher tensile strength rating (205,000 PSI vs 155,000 PSI), multiple weight & finish options, and even a lower starting price. The Ohio Power Bar is everything that the Rogue Power Bar was not, including solid competition for the other mid-range power bars currently on the market; the Texas Power Bar included.
Updated January 2018 – added info about new stainless variant.
Rogue Ohio Power Bar Specifications:
The majority of these specifications are direct from the bar’s product page. I include them here for quick and easy reference while reading this review.
- 20 kg men’s power bar, or 45-lb men’s power bar.
- 29 mm shaft diameter.
- Tensile strength rating of 205,000 PSI.
- Yield strength is unknown.
- Highly aggressive knurling; IPF markings.
- Center knurl is present, and not passive.
- Cast bronze bushing system.
- No whip; very rigid.
- Loadable sleeve length: 16.25″ (45-lb) and 16.875″ (20 kg).
- Snap-ring sleeve assembly.
- 20 kg version has friction welded sleeves and is IPF-approved.*
- Made in Ohio, USA; lifetime warranty.
* The friction welded sleeves are just a high-tech method of attaching the two parts of the sleeve (first seen on the Euro.) Other than giving you about half an inch of extra loadable length on each sleeve, there is no functional advantage to having this feature. It’s cool, but it won’t enhance your gains or anything like that, and it is more expensive.
Going for the 45-pound variation of the Ohio Power Bar will be a no-brainer for most of you; not only because of the difference in cost, but also because most US-based athletes train with pounds rather than kilograms anyway. If you need that extra half inch of sleeve length on each side, you probably need some thinner plates.
As of 2017 the kilogram variant of the OPB is IPF-certified.
Ohio Power Bar – Whip
Surprise! This 29 mm thick, high tensile-strength power bar has no elasticity to speak of. The Ohio Power Bar is as rigid as they come. Power clean? Sure. Clean and jerk? Not so much.
Ohio Power Bar – Sleeve Rotation
The sleeve assembly is standard-Rogue. The Ohio has a pair of cast bronze bushings in each sleeve; all held together with snap rings. In terms of rotation, it feels just like a Rogue Bar 2.0, Ohio Bar, Matt Chan Bar, and so on. In other words it’s adequate, reliable spin.
Since the bushings are cast bronze (not sintered), you might need to hit them with some lubricant a couple times a year. However, since this is a power bar and not actually meant for the quick turnover of an Oly bar, it’ll probably be more like once a year.
All-in-all, the Ohio’s sleeves are exactly how they should be. No issues, no complaints, and I see no reason for anything to have been done differently. Hell if anything, the sleeves spin better than they need to, but I don’t see anyone having a problem with that.
Ohio Power Bar – Finish
You have a little bit of flexibility when it comes to finish. If you go with the 45-pound version of the Ohio Power Bar you get a choice between bare steel, or a black zinc shaft with bright zinc sleeves. With the kilogram version, you only have the zinc option. Sadly no black oxide version exists, and only the bare steel option will get you away from having at least some of that silly black zinc on your bar.
Update: stainless steel is now available on both versions ($395 & $425).
I ordered the bare steel version of the Ohio because it’s a power bar, and the natural feel of raw steel during a heavy lift is superior to zinc in every way. Steel is gripper than zinc, and it looks a lot better too; especially after a couple years of heavy use. Remember that all zinc fades, and can change color over time. Bright zinc will usually just dull (think of galvanized hardware), but black zinc will both dull and discolor, turning an awful shade of green.
Bare steel feels better than zinc, and it costs less as well, but it does require a little upkeep. Occasionally rubbing the bar down with oil and brushing out chalk, blood, dust, and sweat is very helpful in keeping oxidation at bay. It’s not a full-time job, but it is still a responsibility, and neglecting to do this will result in a nasty, rusty barbell that’s harder to restore than it would have been to keep clean in the first place. Plus, a well-kept and cared for raw steel bar will develop a natural patina that not only makes the bar look classy and old school, but also eliminates the need for so much upkeep.
It’s only fair to point out that zinc can be maintained as well. A lot of the same maintenance (minus the steel brushes) will help keep zinc looking nice for longer, but no matter how well you take care of a zinc bar, it will never feel as good as a raw bar. It’s all preference though. All variations weigh 45-pounds and bring gains to the table, so it’s whatever.
Ohio Power Bar – Knurl
The knurling is where I am the most impressed with the Ohio. For a power bar I find it to be right on the money; maybe even perfect.
I dislike having to label the knurling as very aggressive, but by today’s standards it is. When compared to what passes for a medium-depth knurl bar these days, the OPB is significantly deeper, sharper, and coarser. If you’ve been doing your lifting on one of the many mass-produced multi-purpose bars that run for about $200 or so (think Team, One, Rocket, etc.) you’ll feel the difference immediately, and perhaps even find it uncomfortable.
I realize that it’s a little bit of ‘apples to oranges’ to compare a power bar to a functional WOD bar, but I suspect that a lot of novice powerlifters will be coming from such bars. As in, I doubt that folks are giving up their Eleiko or Ivanko comp bars for a new Ohio.
On the other hand, experienced powerlifters will be more than prepared for the Ohio Power Bar’s knurling, and possibly even more impressed with it than the knurl of their current bar. I say that because despite the aggressive rating of the knurl, it’s no more aggressive than a TPB or a comp bar, and while the grip is no less secure, it certainly feels more comfortable than many other bars.
My point is that whether you have to adapt to the knurl of a power bar or not, I think you’ll ultimately be impressed with the quality, security, and comfort of the OPB’s knurl. At the end of the day, the knurling on this bar is extremely well done and Rogue deserves some major credit for doing such a good job with it.
The only issue that I’ve had with the Ohio’s knurling is that the center knurl is exactly as aggressive as the rest of the bar. Most of us don’t squat shirtless, but that may bother the few of you who do. Also, it may interfere with you repping out some C&Js. I don’t know why you’d be doing that with this bar, but someone will try it so I’m just letting you know. That center knurl is to be respected.
Ohio Power Bar Review – Summary
The power bar market is small when compared to the Olympic WL and CrossFit bar market. The primo power bars out there are expensive; Ivanko, Eleiko, Titex, the stainless bars from American Barbell and Iron Wolfe, and so on. The other end of the spectrum is the box-store garbage like Troy, CAP, and the other imported power bars. The mid-range power bars that are reliable, strong, yet still affordable pretty much consists of this Ohio, the authentic Texas Power Bar, and a couple other obscure bars. I have no problem with the TPB but I still favor the Ohio because it’s warranted forever, less costly, and available in something other than black zinc.
There are some near-alternatives to the OPB like the Burgener & Rippetoe (B&R) Barbells (York or Rogue), but for straight powerlifting, the knurl of the Ohio Power makes it a better choice. The B&R has pretty solid knurling and it too is bare steel, but it’s not quite “power-bar” aggressive, and being that it’s still a multi-purpose bar, it does have a bit more flex to it (at least the York version does; I can’t speak to the new Rogue B&R). **
You’ve also got the Louie Simmons Westside Power Bar as an option, but truth be told it’s really just a branded, more expensive version of the Ohio Power Bar (well, same $325 price tag as the 20 kg Ohio, but $75 more than the bare steel 45-pound Ohio). Now if you’re a fan of Louie and/or Westside Barbell and you want to be supportive, or for some reason you want an all black zinc power bar (hrmm), then by all means grab the Westside Power Bar. It’ll be about the same lifting experience.
Is the Ohio for you?
The Ohio Power Bar is an outstanding deal, and I think that most folks will be totally happy with it. There are a couple of scenarios in which I would suggest considering a different bar though.
For starters, if your budget exceeds the $250-$325 price range of the Ohio, I would suggest looking at stainless steel power bars. Stainless steel bars are much nicer, and you just can’t match the feel and resilience of stainless, but it will set you back a pretty penny. American Barbell has a couple great stainless steel power bars that are worth every cent they cost.
update: and now you can stick with the Ohio Power Bar and get stainless steel too.
The other reason would be for those who just don’t like aggressively knurled bars. There are a those who want the stiffness and thicker shaft of a power bar, but just don’t care for the sharp knurling. If that’s you, I would suggest either the York B&R Bar, or the American Barbell Power Bar. Both of these bars have a secure grip with a softer knurl, and both are in the same neighborhood as the Ohio Power Bar (in terms of price.)
To wrap this review up, I give the Ohio Power Bar 5-stars. Of course no bar is for everyone, but a well-constructed, reliable bar that does exactly what it’s designed to do deserves to be recognized. Check it out!