This is a review of the new Rogue Fitness Stainless Steel Ohio Bar. In this comprehensive review I’ll go over the Stainless Steel Ohio’s technical specs, the benefits of stainless steel, knurl pattern, sleeve rotation, and elasticity. I’ll also compare the SS Ohio to the American Barbell SS bars, comment on comparisons to other stainless bars, and finally I’ll talk about how the new SS Ohio Bar compares to the classic Ohio Bars. As always, if I miss anything important or if you have a question regarding the review, leave a comment below.
Updated February 2018 for accuracy, grammar, etc.
These are the technical specifications taken from the Rogue website. They are copied here for quick reference.
- 20 kg men’s multi-purpose bar
- 28.5 mm stainless steel shaft
- chrome finished sleeves with 16.4″ of loadable length
- dual composite bushing system
- 195,000 PSI tensile strength shaft
- dual Olympic/powerlifting marks
- unique, medium depth knurl with no center knurling
- average whip typical of Ohio line and other 28.5 mm bars
- manufactured in Columbus, Ohio, USA
- limited lifetime warranty
- $350 before shipping
- 5-star rating based on 20+ reviews (at time of writing)
- full product description
If I may add something that isn’t very technical, the Stainless Ohio is an extremely beautiful bar. The flawless surface of the stainless steel shaft in conjunction with the polished chrome sleeves simply makes for a stunning piece of equipment.
Stainless Steel 101 (Finish, or lack of)
Stainless steel is still an uncommon material to use for Olympic barbells. Not only is it more expensive to manufacture and harder to work with than carbon steel, there really isn’t much of a performance benefit gained from lifting with a stainless bar. It makes you wonder why anyone would bother with stainless steel at all, right?
Well there are two things to consider about carbon steel when it comes to bars. First of all, nothing feels as natural and secure in the hands as an unfinished, raw steel bar shaft – no applied finish can compare. Secondly (and unfortunately), bare steel rusts – and it does so quickly and easily.
Because of this rust issue almost all steel bars are finished with either a chrome, oxide, or zinc finish. These applied finishes definitely help reduce and/or eliminate rust, but they also strip away that naturally secure grip and superior feel of a bare bar. In a way you’re trading performance (grip security) for protection from rust.
Stainless steel is the way around this issue. By using stainless steel over carbon steel you get that same natural feel of a raw bar, that same secure grip, but zero rust. Seems simple enough, right? Well the problem has always been the extra cost. Up until pretty recently a stainless steel bar could cost as much as $200 more than it’s raw steel equivalent. That’s a lot to pay for oxidation protection when you can simply dip that bare steel shaft in chrome and effectively achieve the same protection. For $200, to hell with the feel.
Here we are now about to head into 2017, and we can buy a multi-purpose, stainless steel Rogue Ohio Bar for just a hint more than the classic black oxide Ohio. Not only does the SS variant feel more secure, it will always feel that way. There is no finish to wear away, the bar won’t chip or fade out, and you’ll really never have to do much more than take a soft nylon brush to it to remove chalk, dust, and skin. You certainly won’t be scrubbing rust off unless you live in the ocean. Yes it’ll still cost you more than a steel bar, but not by nearly as much as it used to.
Does stainless steel really not rust?
It is extremely unlikely that you will ever have to deal with rust on a stainless steel bar. That said, there still are some very rare circumstances in which stainless steel will oxidize. Going into detail on this subject is a whole separate article, so fortunately these topics are already addressed elsewhere. You can read about stainless steel and the conditions that can cause rust here or here.
The important thing to know is that rust on stainless is easily managed, and the bar is easily restored. Stainless truly is the ideal bar shaft material.
Knurl and Grip
As Rogue Olympic bars go (that is, non-power bars), I’ve always felt that the Matt Chan Bar has the best knurling and overall feel. It’s aggressive but not uncomfortable, and despite it having a zinc finish (or chrome, in some cases), the grip is simply flawless; just very secure in the hands. In the review that I did for the Chan Bar a couple years back, I gave the knurl a 10/10 rating. Well today I think I can safely extend that same perfect score to the SS Ohio Bar.
The SS Ohio’s knurl is a tad less aggressive than the Chan but it is still a superior knurl to what is found on the rest of the Ohio line (not to mention all the competition’s multi-purpose bars). Combine this moderately aggressive and consistent knurl with the flawless feel of an unfinished, stainless steel shaft and you have an incredibly firm grip… the perfect grip.
So whether you use the SS Ohio for high-rep Oly lifting, maxing out on deadlifts, or simply as bench bar, I think that you’ll be pleased by the grip confidence that this bar offers, and by the overall feel of bare shaft. The only thing that I would change in terms of the knurling is that I would have included a passive center knurl, but what can you do.
The whip of the Stainless Steel Ohio Bar is moderate; pretty average really. It’s consistent with the rest of the Rogue 28.5 mm bar family (like the Ohio, Chan, Rogue Bar 2.0, etc). In other words, you can count on slightly more flex than a power bar, and noticeably less flex than a 28 mm Olympic WL bar.
Since the majority of what Rogue does with barbells is centered around CrossFit, and since most lifters (regardless of their training choices) are not cleaning over 225 pounds, the lack of shaft elasticity in Rogue’s non-professional WL bars will never be an issue. That is to say that if you’re not a veteran weightlifter or Rich Froning, then worrying about the whip of your WOD bar is probably a total waste of energy. Focus on the aspects of a barbell that directly impact you – the knurl quality and grip, finish, sleeve rotation, and so forth (all of which this bar has in spades).
Sleeve Assembly & Rotation
Unlike the rest of the Ohio Bar line, the Stainless Steel Ohio bar uses composite bushings instead of cast bronze bushings. This is a big perk as far as I’m concerned, as I tend to find Rogue’s bronze bushing bars to be overly loud and require more frequent oilings than bars with sintered bronze bushings. Composite also seems to handle much more weight before becoming compressed. That compression of course causes sleeve rotation to deteriorate.
The spin is pretty much flawless for a multi-purpose bar. It’s more than adequate to provide smooth, reliable turnover in the two Olympic lifts, but not so erratic that it’s a nuisance when pressing or squatting. Rogue really has found a nice balance when it comes to the rotation of their bushing bars regardless of which bushings they use. Other than the aforementioned noise, I’ve never encountered an issue with their sleeve assemblies.
It is also worth mentioning that because of the composite bushings, the SS Ohio is indeed much, much quieter when dropped. I’ve dropped my other Ohio bars onto the mat from no more than an inch or two and found the noise to be unreasonable for such a short drop, but the SS Ohio sounds much better. It doesn’t scare the neighbor’s cat.
Rogue Stainless Steel vs American Barbell
American Barbell currently offers three different, unfinished, stainless steel barbells. This includes the SS Pro Bearing Bar ($675), the SS Precision Training Bar ($450), and the Elite Power Bar ($450.)
There was a fourth stainless steel bar offered. A couple years ago AB offered the 28.5 mm SS WOD Bar, a bar much more similar to the new Rogue SS Ohio than any of AB’s current stainless bars. It was a limited-run bar and it sold for a very reasonable $299, but because of how good of a deal that it was, those bars are obviously long gone.
Without the SS WOD in the line-up, the closest thing that American Barbell has to the new SS Ohio is the Precision Training Bar. Both the Ohio and Precision are composite bushing-based Olympic bars with stainless steel shafts and chrome finished sleeves, but that’s just about where the similarities end. You can see how the specs differ in the chart below. I’ve also included the SS WOD for those of you who are aware of that bar, but perhaps missed out on that deal.
|Rogue SS Ohio||AB Precision||AB SS WOD *|
|Tensile Strength||195,000 PSI||190,000 PSI||190,000 PSI|
|Shaft Diameter||28.5 mm||28 mm||28.5 mm|
|Knurl Depth||medium – firm||mild||mild|
|Hash Marks||dual-marked||Oly only||Oly only|
* this is just for comparison purposes, the SS WOD is no longer offered.
There doesn’t appear to be much difference in the stainless steel used in all of these bars. Coloration isn’t any different from bar to bar, the feel is consistent among them all (I own the Ohio, WOD, and SS Pro Bearing), and about the only thing that sets the shafts apart is the quality and depth of the knurling.
American Barbell has notoriously soft knurl on their bars which I think gives Rogue a slight edge. When I compare the feel of my SS WOD and SS Pro Bearing to the Rogue SS Ohio, it’s clear as can be that the Rogue has a superior grip. That’s not to say that the American Barbell bars have a bad grip (it’s hard to have a bad grip on a stainless steel bar), just that the Rogue’s is better – much more substantial.
As if the grip and feel of the Ohio wasn’t enough to make it more appealing, the Rogue SS Ohio is $100 less than the American Barbell Precision Training Bar. Granted, the Precision is a 28 mm Olympic bar rather than a 28.5 mm multi-purpose bar, but that’s still a pretty big price difference. This is especially true when you factor in that superior knurl of the Ohio.
At the end of the day each bar has its pros and cons, and while the AB bars may be slightly more ‘elite’, the Ohio is definitely a much better deal and much more accessible.
Rogue Stainless Steel Ohio vs SS Bar x
Direct bar comparisons between the Rogue SS Ohio and other stainless steel bars are by and large unreasonable comparisons to make, as the bulk of the market’s stainless steel bars are higher-end Oly bars. In addition to the American Barbell SS Bearing Bar, you’ve got bars like the Vulcan Absolute Olympic Bar and the Ivanko OBXS-20KG Olympic Bar; both of which are premium, professional barbells. We’re talking about higher quality, higher tensile strength metal, premium needle bearings, and just overall better performance.
The Ohio is a multi-purpose, bushing-based gym bar. The stainless steel is used because of the superior grip and resistance to oxidation, but at its core the SS Ohio is still a simple Ohio bar. Don’t get me wrong it’s a fantastic bar, and a very welcome addition to my gym, but to put it up against an Ivanko SS Oly Bar is just going to make the Ohio look bad. And why shouldn’t it?, the Ivanko is a $1200 barbell.
It’s apples and oranges, at least until more mid-range SS bars (like the retired SS WOD) hit the market.
Stainless Steel Ohio vs other Ohio Variants
So how do the classic Ohio bars stack up to the new stainless steel Ohio? Should you even consider purchasing one of the classic bars, or is the new SS Ohio a no-brainer?
The classic Ohio Bar has a base price of $282, and it is a zinc bar. A black oxide variant is offered for just a few bucks more at $295. Both of these OG Ohio Bars feature a 190k PSI shaft and cast bronze bushings versus the 195k PSI shaft and superior composite bushings of the SS Ohio. Both the zinc and oxide bars will fade and chip over time, and the oxide bar will also oxidize, but the stainless won’t fade or rust.
So for no more than $68 extra you can upgrade the classic Ohio Bar to the Stainless Steel Ohio Bar ($350) and get a stronger shaft, more reliable spin under heavier loads, a much better grip, and no worries of fading, chipping, or rust. Seems good to me. Unless you are already stretching the budget to afford a zinc Ohio, it’s about the easiest decision ever.
As always, I hope this review has been helpful in your quest to find equipment worthy of your gym. If you liked this article, please share this article somewhere.
According to Rogue’s social media rep, the SS Ohio Power bar is on the way which looks like it will be my next purchase. Vulcan indicated they don’t plan to offer their power bars in SS much to my disappointment.
I figured that would be the next obvious stainless bar for Rogue. If the bare steel Ohio Power and this stainless Ohio is any indication of what a stainless Ohio Power would be, it should be a pretty badass bar.
Exactly. I’m really pumped for a bar that doesn’t technically exist yet.
Looks I was just a bit too early to the show (ordered the zinc finish with my Black Friday purchase)… Any ETA on the release of the SS Ohio Power bar?
Might have to sell the one I have and go for the SS when it is released…
No I have no clue – its all rumor still until the day it just shows up
Great review as always. I am quite interested in one of these bars as well. Personally, I find the composite bushings to be a bit of a compromise to keep the cost less than a bronze bushing bar. A Rogue CS person kind of eluded to that; however, I agree that all bushings have their pros and cons.
It may be worth mentioning that another Ohio variant is the Castro Bar (which I am considering buying). It’s the bare steel version of the Ohio Bar at a price of $262.00, which is $88 less than the Ohio SS.
I would love to get my hands on one of these SS bars before buying, but I am not sure that’s realistic. Interestingly, I sort of find bare steel bars to be endearing and don’t mind the maintenance as it sort of adds a bit of appreciation for me. But….at $88 difference….it’s makes me think a little harder before I jump for a Castro bar.
Additionally, I completely agree with you that a bar with a finish on it stinks (aside from a nice chrome on an OLY bar). All of my bars will be naked if I can help it.
Actually, the cast bronze bushings that Rogue uses are also a compromise. They are cheaper than self-lubricating bronze bushings (like Oilite), require more frequent oilings (being that they’re not sintered), and tend to make more noise. Technically, cast bronze is stronger than sintered bronze, but when did you last hear of a bushing breaking? I believe that the composite bushing is an upgrade from cast bronze, and an acceptable alternative to sintered bronze. The improved rotation under load and far less noise of a composite bushing vs a cast bushing is easily demonstrated.
Nice review, as usual. This bar should dominate the market at its price point. I guess you’ll have to go back and change your knurl rating on the SS AB bars now to 9/10. I was fortunate enough to grab the SS AB WOD when it was available (thanks to your review ) and it’s really is a joy to use. I’m sure the SS Ohio is also exceptional.
I thought about doing that. There’s no reason to change the SS WOD review being that it’s long gone, but at $800 for the SS Bearing Bar, the fact that a $350 bar improved upon stainless knurl might be enough to warrant an edit. I’ve gotta find a classy way of going about that before I do it though haha
Thanks for the response. Well, I have learned something new that I didn’t know about the Ohio bronze bushings.
I am still considering the Castro, but the SS makes me stop and think for sure.
I agree that this bar is going to do really well at this price point. I too got the AB SS WOD bar and probably won’t ever need to get anything else, but if I were in the market today I’d definitely get the SS rogue as my multipurpose bar, no question. I always thought that the price of the AB was due to a fluke though, and wonder if Rogue can keep the bar at such a low price for long.
That price will likely remain. It’s not so much that Rogue is giving the SS Ohio away as it is American Barbell has been able to get a premium for stainless steel because their only real competition was charging even more money for their stainless bars (Ivanko). Now AB will likely lose a lot of sales to the SS Ohio because nearly $150 difference to upgrade to the Precision and $450 to upgrade to the SS Pro Bearing just seems ridiculous.
The SS WOD was a steal even by today’s standards though, so there should never be any regrets surrounding that bar (but yes, the obviously still had plenty of margin in the SS WOD).
Oh definitely no regrets. I just meant that in a normal marketplace I didn’t think an SS bar of that quality could be had for that cheap. Rogue is doing it for pretty darn close at $350 and if they can keep the price down like you say, then I think other companies are going to have to try to find a way to compete bc it will make a lot of non SS mid-level bars obsolete imho.
Quick question, how does ss Ohio bar compare to AB stainless super Power bar?
I’ve read your reviews on both, and I’m just wondering, considering Ohio bar could be used for powerlifting as well.
The Super isn’t around anymore, but it was still a better power bar than the SS Ohio. Of course the Super is not $245 better than the SS Ohio.. not by a long shot. Assuming the Super was still around, the Ohio would be a better choice for almost everyone. I think the Super and the Super’s replacement, the Mammoth, will be negated by the upcoming SS Ohio Power Bar unless AB cuts their prices significantly.
Thank you for your response!
I’ve gotten super power on a closeout, for 360(with red end caps). From what I can tell, knurling is uniform, middle knurl is same as rest of the bar. It is very grippy, almost never needs chalk. I’ve used eleiko xf bar before, knurling is super soft, it doesn’t compare. Also used older York barbells, as well as again faster 2.0 team barbell, but AB that I have still has way better grip. Will wait for Ohio ss power bar, because I do like slightly sharper knurl, although one I have on AB super power closeout is best I’ve felt so far(from the ones I had chance to use).
Yeah you got a hell of a deal at $360. A lot of people paid $595 for that bar, and while I won’t say that it wasn’t worth it at the time, it certainly isn’t anymore.
It’s interesting that you ran into an Eleiko XF with knurl softer than the Super. It should not have been like that.
Maybe I’m wrong about eleiko type bar, it’s my friends, he’s had it for about 20 years, and I thought that’s what he said, it might be different version. For sure is eleiko, but I was surprised how smooth/soft knurl felt, almost turned me of eleiko completely. At any rate, really loving my super. Looking forward to more reviews from you!
That Eleiko can’t be an XF because it didn’t exist 20 years ago. However, Vlad is correct as to the knurling.
I have two Eleiko Competion bars. One is new with the familiar cheese-grater knurl. The other is 22 years old and has a knurl so soft it makes the AB SS Olympic bars seem aggressive. Completely worthless without chalk. Great feel/whip though; maybe better than the new bars.
Yeah that clarification makes a lot more sense now. And you’re right, even a 3-year old Eleiko can’t be an XF.
Still, I’ll bet all these weak-knurled, 20+ y/o Eleiko’s are still straight though
Thanks for clarification guys. Yeah, not sure why I said xf. Bar sure is straight though, and looks fairly new, never been cleaned or maintained( it doesn’t spin quite the way I’d imagine it, but still solid). Other then soft knurl, guess everything else is really great quality.
Straight as the day it was pulled from the tube. Also remains as tight and quiet, with no degradation of spin or feel. Doubt the new one will be as robust…
No not like the originals, but they’re still better than most bars on the market. Not really by enough to justify their cost for off-stage lifting, but some folk have the cash to burn, and if that’s the case then you might as well own one.
Great review! Glad I ordered one already. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
UPS actually delayed my shipment because their Jacksonville hub was so full they ran out of room and couldn’t unload anymore trucks (so they say). Must be that time of year!
As always, thanks for the great review. I have the AB SS WOD bar and the closeout AB SS SPB (the sandblasted version, not the heat-treated one) and love them both. The $299 WOD bar was an unbelievable deal – one year in and it’s still perfect. But I am left feeling like I would LOVE the SS Ohio bar. Just can’t see adding a third bar to my home gym.
Hmm… for home gym setup (Oly and crossfit) would you prefer the AB California bar or the Rogue SS Ohio Bar for $75 more?
SS Ohio easily.
Thanks! My plan is this bar, and then in the long run (4+ years) upgrade to an American Barbell SS bearing bar. Thanks for the great review!
The AB Performance Training Bar is on sale currently for $275. is the SS Ohio Bar still the why to go for a garage gym?
Also, what are your thoughts on the AB Cali bar with the new cerakote coated shaft?
I’ll have some thoughts on that very soon. Mine just showed up today but I haven’t pulled it from the tube.
That is a very nice finish.. the knurl is standard American Barbell, but just like with their stainless line, the grip is still solid. Obviously I’ll fully review this bar, and I will spend a lot of time trying to compare stainless with this Cerakote, but out of the tube I’m very optimistic.
It’s a good price, no doubt. I can see taking advantage of that. Technically I like the SS Ohio a bit more because it’s a stickier bar, but $75 is $75. Both will go the distance though.
Thanks for the info. I’m looking forward to your review of the Cali Cerakote.
Excellent review as always.
I currently own both the Rogue bar 2.0 and Matt Chan bar in satin chrome. The Chan is by far and away my favorite bar due in large part to its knurl: more aggressive but not at all unpleasant, passive center, and widened outer spacing. The satin chrome feel and ease of maintenance also makes it top notch in terms of aesthetics and practicality.
Whether Rogue is doing away completely with this chrome variant (as they seem to have done with the chrome on the original Ohio line) remains to be seen, but I’ve been looking for another bar for…. well just for shits and grins I suppose. Initially I’d planned on going for another chrome Chan bar, but because of the aforementioned details, I’m not sure if that’s possible any longer. Knowing that the SS variant of the Ohio has slightly more aggressive knurl makes me lean that way, but I too wish it had a center knurl.
I do find your observations about composite bushing noise being less than bronze bushings to be interesting, as my own experience has been the opposite. I have always found the composite bushings on my Rogue 2.0 to be hands down MUCH louder than my bronze Chan bushings despite identical maintenance schedules. Perhaps this has changed since it was an early 2.0 product.
Yeah so, the 2.0 is really loud for some reason, but the SS Ohio is less so. However, both Rogue bars in question are louder than American Barbell’s composite bushing bars (all of them), and I don’t know why that is. Perhaps AB just uses more expensive bushings – I know they do with bearings so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise. I don’t have access to that kind of detail unfortunately.
Also, and this is just a maybe, but being that the chrome Chan is a few years old, it may have sintered bronze bushings instead of the cast bronze that Rogue uses across the board now. I checked my notes on the Chan review (I too have the chrome variant) but I didn’t make any specific notes on the bronze bushing type. Oops.
Truth be told though, buying the SS Ohio to add to a Chan/2.0 collection isn’t really expanding on your arsenal by much. They are all different, sure, but also more of the same. But that may be exactly what you want, I don’t know.
Would you put the SS Ohio bar’s knurl closer to the 2.0 or the Chan on the spectrum of aggressiveness?
Honestly, the 2.0 doesn’t even get used anymore in the past couple years since buying the Chan, so I would indeed like another bar that is more similar to the Chan. I just can’t bring myself to buy the black zinc version of it. Losing that chrome option really sucks. I’ve questioned Rogue about the possibility of a SS Chan bar, but they merely referred me to their suggestion team.
Hey! Are you going to review their SS Olympic bar? Haven’t seen any?
It’s unlikely. The SS Ohio was; at least in my mind; different enough from the standard Ohio line to warrant a review. No zinc, better bushings, chrome sleeves, and of course the stainless steel with knurling exclusive to that bar. The SS Olympic WL Bar is not much different from the standard Rogue Oly – only the shaft material is different. Same knurl, sleeves, bearings, and so forth. It’s a given that the shaft will feel better as stainless, but overall the bars would seem completely interchangeable to most lifters.
To be fair though, had the SS Oly come out before the SS Ohio I would have jumped on it just to get an idea of how Rogue’s stainless felt, but fortunately the SS Ohio was first – fortunately because I think that bar needed a review more than the Oly bar does.
Having said all that, for the very minimal price difference between the chrome Oly and the stainless Oly (only $60 difference), I think that the stainless is a much better buy. It’s worth pointing out that the stainless variant has no center knurl though, which I find peculiar.
Sorry long answer..
For those interested, Rogue has what it calls its Boneyard Bars, which are Rogue barbells with finish blemishes, slight knurling issues, etc for a discounted price. Some people have reported very minor scuffs or plating marks on the bars that are otherwise 100% perfect.
Where I’m going with this is Rogue just put up some of the stainless steel Ohio bars in this section for a ridiculous price of $295. If you don’t necessarily need a mint condition bar (although it may be close), a stainless bar for that price is crazy.
Thx for the tip, Scott! Based on your advice I bought an SS Ohio from the Rogue Boneyard and could not be happier with the purchase. You’d need a VERY sharp eye, almost a magnifying glass, to detect the ever-so-slight imperfection in the knurling of the bar I received. And thanks JBurgeson for the review of this bar and other gym equipment. You’re the best on the web at helpg ppl like me make informed buying choices.
So I am shopping for a bar and came across this post. I was looking at the Boneyard bars and noticed this message
*Note: Boneyard Bars will not come with composite bushings
Some bars normally come with composite bushings. If the Boneyard Bar you are purchasing normally includes composite bushings, it will instead be built with bronze bushings. You can check the regular page of the Boneyard Bar you are looking to purchase to determine if it normally includes composite bushings or not.
Can you coMment on the size of the composite bushings vs the composite bushings American Barbell uses? I’ve been told that the composite bushings that Rogue uses aren’t as thick leading to quicker wear and tear.
Yes this is what American Barbell says – that they use industrial-grade bearings and bushings.
Technically yes, you could say that they would last longer/wear better. The thing is that no one is really having issues with bushings wearing or cracking anyway (be it composite or bronze). I mean so sure, over-sized bushings are kind of a selling point, but it shouldn’t play a huge factor in your decision when picking a bar. I certainly wouldn’t give up something I truly wanted in another brand’s bar because I was worried the bushings would fail sooner. Then again, if all other things are equal, go with the AB.
Really though, I just don’t think this will ever come into play during the life of your Rogue or American Barbell bar.
Thank you very much for the great review. I’m in the market for a new barbell and I’m hoping you could steer me in the right direction since no local facility owns the bars I’m considering. I primarily work out in my garage gym in Connecticut so durability is my primary concern and I’m leaning toward stainless steel, good to high quality multipurpose bar to use for bench pressing, overhead pressing, squatting, rows, power cleans and power snatches. (I use a trap bar for deadlifting so a cheese grater knurl is not a priority.) I’d consider myself an intermediate lifter (390 lb squat, 315 bench, 255 hang power clean) and given that I’m 41 and juggle other priorities I have no false aspirations of competing. My budget is pretty flexible and I’m currently considering the AB stainless precision training bar, the Rogue Ohio stainless bar, as well as the Rogue Pyrros bar and AB SS bearing bar if they provide enough stick for squatting. Also because I’m only a casual olympic lifter would it be overkill of me to get a bearing bar? Thanks for you time!
You probably don’t need bearings, but if you are doing variations of both the clean and the snatch and those numbers are constantly moving upwards, it wouldn’t hurt. But no, probably not a requirement.
Now if you wanted a bearing bar, there is no reason you can’t do a 400 pound squat or 300 pound bench with an Oly bar. I squat with the AB SS Pro every time; I just like how it feels and I like the way it sticks; being stainless and all. The Precision will feel exactly the same, as it’s just the SS Pro with bushings. I’d imagine the Pyrros is similar still, only I don’t know what the rest of the knurl feels like on that thing yet. I’m sure it’s not excessively sharp though; that just doesn’t seem like Rogue’s style.
I have this suspicion that the Ohio line (stainless or otherwise) would not be the last bar you purchased. It’s a great bar and a great value, but let’s just say that while I own one, it doesn’t really get used with bars like the AB Pro and XF sitting next to it.
Your lifts are solid. Get an appropriate bar for that. The fact that you don’t need aggressive knurl is kind of a blessing because the lack of aggressive knurl is American Barbell’s only real drawback (aside from their slightly above-average pricing haha). Otherwise they make some of the best bars around – domestic or otherwise. Also AB’s needle bearings are track bearings, so if you are squatting/benching/pressing with their bearing bar, the sleeves won’t spin erratically.
Thanks so much for the detailed and quick response. You’re a great resource and keep the reviews coming.
Trying to decide between OPB SS or Ohio Bar SS. Main lifts will be squat, bench, deads, press and rows. I want sufficient knurl for dead but don’t want to cheese grate my nose on a press that gets too close. Any opinion given those criteria?
The SS Ohio has really good knurl, a bit sharper than your average multi-purpose bar. I reviewed that bar and have some images of the knurl here https://www.garage-gyms.com/rogue-stainless-steel-ohio-bar-review/
I’d say that unless you specifically care about the center knurl of the Ohio Power Bar (which is about as extreme as center knurling gets), maybe lean on the standard SS Ohio instead. It’s not as though the SS Ohio is any less of a bar for the big three than the SS Ohio Power. I sure don’t grab at the Ohio Power Bar for accessory work, nor do I even squat with it because of the center.
Just to make sure I’m not being vague, the SS Ohio has sufficient knurl for deads
Great – Thanks for the reply!
So I picked up a stainless steel Ohio bar from the boneyard about two weeks ago for 250. I love it. The grip is significantly better than the 2.0 bars that we have at my YMCA.
The SS Ohio is the only Ohio Bar with decent knurling, and that 2.0 is ridiculously passive. I was in a gym recently that was outfitted completely in 2.0’s and a single TPB. Should have been the other way around.
deciding between SS ohio (not ohio power bar) and ABB elite power bar for garage gym / starting strength. For some reason I’m nervous about lack of center knurl for squats but like the “versatility” of the ohio bar compared to the ABB elite. How do you feel about no center knurl for squats?
It’s just preference. It’s just a little added security to have the center but plenty of people squat issue-free without that center. I don’t know how important the versatility is if you’re not snatching though, and I personally like the AB bar over the Ohio(s) – especially the OPB (which I realize you didn’t mention, but just saying).
Rogue recently released a new variant of this bar with SS shaft AND sleeves (vs SS shaft and chrome sleeves) for an extra $75 ($470 vs $395 for the original SS bar). I’m wondering though if SS sleeves are really necessary or worth shelling out the extra cash. Have you found the chrome sleeves on yours need much maintenance?
If the bar is kept in a garage in a humid climate, you will get some light rust on chrome sleeves. It can be removed with a soft brush and some elbow grease. In my opinion, I think $75 would be worth the upgrade, especially if you plan on using it regularly for years.
haha well, I like it on the say the Vulcan Absolute SS and the new Rep because they don’t give you the choice. You kind of have to have (and pay for) the stainless sleeves on those two particular bars.
When given the option like Rogue has done (and who knows, maybe they will phase out the chrome-sleeved variant), I find making the decision to pay more for a sleeve finish / material upgrade a harder pill to swallow. Chrome is not a bad finish for sleeves.
That said, the stainless sleeves will age more gracefully, and it’s definitely classy. If you can afford it, why not – pay the difference. If you can’t or don’t want to, don’t sweat that either because like I said, chrome is still a good finish for a sleeve. It’s not the end of the world to not have SS sleeves. And no, I wouldn’t sell an existing SS OPB with chrome sleeves for less than was paid for it to upgrade to a new fully SS OPB. Absolutely not.
Great review, as always. I’ve spent a ton of time on your website as I’ve started building out my home gym. Question for you: Any thoughts on the SS Ohio bar vs. the AB SS gym bar? I’m willing to invest the additional $100 if the quality is there. I also prefer the center knurl on the AB bar.
Thanks for any thoughts.
The SS Ohio Bar is the only Ohio Bar I like. I’m a huge American Barbell fan personally, and my own personal favorite bar is an American Barbell bar, but I think that gym bar is just the Elite Power Bar by a different name. I think the Elite is a great power bar, but if you’re looking at an Ohio I’m guessing you aren’t looking for a power bar specifically, in which case I’d have to favor the Ohio. If you were, I’d suggest that you to spend the extra $45 for the Mammoth if you were going to spend $450 on the Elite.
But yeah, American Barbell doesn’t have as diverse a selection of barbells as Rogue or some others. Even the knurl is the same across all bars. They make the best bars, but they just don’t have a wide selection. The major differences between all of them is pretty much shaft diameter and material/finish.
Excellent review and comments. Question for you. For a home gym multi-purpose barbell, would you go with the Ohio Stainless or the AB California Cerakote? Assume this is going to be the only barbell I own. Have both showing up in a few days, but will only keep one. I had the cerakote Ohio for a few weeks while waiting for the AB to ship. Liked it. Didn’t love it for whatever reason.
Will the 28mm shaft be a detriment on Big 3 type lifts? Am attracted to AB’s fit and finish and how quiet they are, but not sure the 28mm shaft holds up on the slow lifts. And if the Rogue stainless, louder and not as pretty sleeves/welds and all, isn’t just a better overall bar. Would love your thoughts given that I know you love AB.
Are you only doing the big three? Are there Olympic lifts involved? I ask because, why a multi-purpose bar versus strictly a power bar?
Honestly, unless you’re putting up some pretty impressive numbers it really doesn’t matter what diameter your bar is. A 225 bench is not going to be all bouncy and whippy just because your bar is 28 mm rather than 28.5 mm. I personally happen to enjoy pressing with 28 mm bars, and when it comes to squats I am completely indifferent.
As far as American Barbell versus Rogue, I’m a huge AB fan. I use their bars almost exclusively when I’m not reviewing. If I super-set I have two AB bars out. Now I have no issue with the Rogue SS Ohio specifically as I think it’s the best bar in the whole Ohio-bar line-up, but I own that bar too and I can’t remember the last time I pulled it off the wall to actually load up.
Thanks for the reply. And qood question on why not just a power bar. I debated that for quite a while, and ultimately decided I wanted the versatility in the event I trended towards incorporating more olympic lifts. Historically, I have focused more on power lifting movements and general strength barbell movements. But, now that I have built out the home gym area due to Covid, I have a bit more freedom and time to experiment. Will for sure be incorporating cleans and snatches. Also, didn’t necessarily want a center knurl for front squats (passive would be ok) and preferred smaller diameter than 29 for deadlifts. Basically, 1 bar to do it all. Maybe that changes down the line and I incorporate a separate power bar.
I’m not a big guy in general, and as of yesterday, I am now in my mid-forties, so my numbers are never going to be crazy. Bench would probably top in low to mid-200’s, squat in low to mid-300’s and DL mid-to-high 300’s.
So, if I am reading you correctly, sounds like if I don’t want a power bar, you’d go with the Caliornia over the Rogue Ohio SS?
I personally would rather have a 28 mm bar for everything than a 28.5 mm bar, but in the end it probably won’t matter because almost no one is ever happy with just one bar in their own gym.
But yes, I’d be leaning heavily on the American Barbell California, or even the Stainless Steel Precision if you wanted the SS like the Rogue.
And happy birthday! =p
Thanks. May I ask why you would prefer a 28mm vs 28.5 for a do it all bar? Have noticed others say that as well, but would be helpful to understand the reasons why.
I just prefer the feel of the 28 mm shaft. It’s really just a preference of 28 over 29, with there being less change between 28 and 28.5 while still being a slight difference in feel. It’s really quite amazing how we can discern such a small change. Go from a 28 mm bar to a 27 mm deadlift bar and the difference is incredibly obvious as well. In the end, it’s just like knurl or finish… it’s just a preference.
California Bar just arrived. I gotta admit, the fit and finish is on another level compared to the Rogue bars I previously owned. Pretty surprised. Not a single mark on it. It is quiet as can be. And zero slop in the sleeves. Have not used it, yet, but the 28mm felt good in the hand when moving it around.
Yeah, they know what they’re doing over there at AB. I talk them up for good reason =P
Ohio stainless arrived yesterday. Played around with it a bit this AM. Love the knurl and the feel. But after using the AB, I simply cannot stand how loud and clanky the Ohio is. Especially on deads. Beautiful bar, but took me about 3 minutes of use to know it is being sold and the AB is staying.
What you recommend as a good power to compliment the California? Stainless option and perhaps a non-stainless option?
I know I said I was only going to have 1 bar, but…you know how that goes.
I do know how that goes!
Rep Deep Knurl EX for the stainless option – totally different knurl than the California; it won’t feel like you have the same bar. Maybe the Texas Power Bar for non-stainless.. or the Mammoth if you know you’d love AB’s knurl on a power bar.
Interesting choices. What about the AB SS Elite?
The Elite is great too, but the Mammoth is just more bar for not a lot more money, and it’s been on sale a lot for less than the Elite. Either is fine though. I own both, and intend to keep both indefinitely.
Following up. So, I ended up nabbing a full stainless Ohio Power bar. Kind of mixed on it, which means I am never going to be fully happy with it. Some days I like the knurl, other days I don’t. And like all other rogue bars I have had, it is loud. Couple questions:
1. Just how light is the mammoth bar knurl? How does it compare to the California Bar?
2. Is the elite grippier than the Mammoth? Enough to make a real difference on deadlifts? Does the 190 tensile strength matter in reality?
3. Finally, ignoring cost, how would you spot the kabuki power bar into the equation?
Appreciate all the insight. Thx.
All American Barbell bars have the same knurl. Cali, Mammoth, Elite… all of them. It’ll feel a little different from bar to bar based on the finish, but not by much. It’s a great knurl and it sticks way better than you’d think, but it’s no OPB or TPB. The difference in tensile strength between the Elite and Mammoth really won’t matter for most people. They could probably just lie and claim that they were the same and I dare say no one would ever notice.
Regarding Kabuki’s power bar, I think the base price is ridiculous, and for no good reason. It’s a bragging-rights bar. It’s very nice, yes, and it is a high-performance power bar (as high-performance as any power bar really needs to be), but so is the Texas Power Bar, or the AB Mammoth.
If I was ignoring cost on a barbell, I’d rather have a Vulcan Absolute SS Power Bar, or even Eleiko Comp Power Bar. You know what though… I have more bars than I know what to do with and I still deadlift with a Buddy Capps and do everything else on an American Barbell. Friends are always grabbing at the Rep Deep Knurl (and there’s much nicer bars that cost two and three times as much on the wall). I agree with you that the OPB isn’t a forever bar, but it’s not because you didn’t spend enough – if you know what I mean.
So, after spending some more time with the OHP, I just don’t like the knurling. Most seem to love it, but guess I am in the minority. I find it more abrasive than sharp, and it just shreds my hands on dead lift day. Took your advice and ordered a Mammoth. They are out of stock, but contacted AB and was able to place an order. Do you know they are changing the ceraokote color to “elite smoke”, which is a dark grey?
With that said, the delivery date for that bar is unknown. So, in the meantime I read one of your other articles on the Eleiko bars. I’m not spending $1000 on the performance power bar, but am intrigued by the $700 Rack Bar. I know you seemed to dismiss it because at the time you believed it lacked a center knurl, but it actually does have a center knurl.
It seems like a lower priced substitute for the Performance power bar. Am I crazy for considering this bar instead of waiting for the Mammoth (the Eleiko would ship in a couple days)? Hard to find any reviews of it. What is the 1.2 knurling like in relation to the Mammoth and OPB? The price differential between the Rack bar and Mammoth doesn’t matter to me if it arrives 2-3 months before the AB and if the knurl is superior and doesn’t tear up my hands. Interested in your thoughts/opinion.
Yeah, it does have that center now. That helps a lot.
There probably won’t ever be much in the way of reviews simply because it’s expensive; arguably way too expensive for a 29 mm bushing bar. It’s a nice bar, as all Eleiko bars are, and I certainly don’t fault anyone who can afford it from buying it (or any of their bars for that matter), but outside of this Covid shortage I don’t see myself making the Eleiko recommendation that often. But, since we ARE dealing with the Covid shortage and your Mammoth could ship in a week or in 10 weeks, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to consider if it’s actually in stock.
The 1.2 knurl will feel closer to the OPB than a Mammoth, but not the same by any means. Eleiko knurl is generally more aggressive than other manufacturer’s as a rule, but the 1.2 is their middle-of-the-road knurl, with the 1.5 being much more similar to the OPB than the 1.2. But, the Mammoth is closer to their 1.0 than the 1.2.
If you’re going to be deadlifting with whichever of these you end up with (as in, you don’t own a DL bar), then the Eleiko may be a better option. If you do own a DL bar then I couldn’t recommend the Mammoth enough.
I hope that answer helps, and that I didn’t miss anything.
Thx. Yah, want to be able to deadlift with it. Which is the lift I really dislike the OHP bar on. I do a bit more volume at the moment vs heavy singles, so I am sure either would be fine in all honesty.
Moot point on the Eleiko. The Mammoth just shipped. Amazing that all stuff is out of stock on the website, but if you contact them directly, stuff is available and ships. Others have had same recent experience. Excited to give the Mammoth a go!
Well there you go haha
Sorry for continuing to bug you. But one last thing. Sold my stainless OPB and planning to roll with the Mammoth. Also planning to sell my Cali as I don’t think it makes sense to have two similarly knurled multi-purpose bar from AB when I have a proper power bar from the same company. Think I would be better off by having a legit Oly bar to compliment it.
My question, am I wrong to think I can deadlift with a 28mm Oly bar? Would seem fine since DL bars are 27 and I prefer the 28 shaft to a 29 on that lift. So, maybe a more aggressively knurled Oly bar would fit the bill?
Have you used the Rogue Pyrros? How would you say the knurl compares to a stainless steel standard Ohio bar? How about the Eleiko Performance trainer?
I know you like the Vulcan Elite, but anything else I should be thinking about? Would like a passive center knurl. Stainless is preferred. I know you also like the AB, but not sure that solves my desire for a little more aggressive knurl for deads.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with pulling a 28 mm bar.
I have not used the Pyrros. Of the 28 mm Rogue Oly bars that I’ve handled (specifically the Rogue Oly and the Euro) I have not been overly pleased with the knurling. I found them both to be pretty tame for professional WL bars. Because of that, I honestly really never got excited about the Pyrros, so I can’t tell you if it’s actually any different than the rest of the line. I really have to believe that it wouldn’t compare to the NxG Performance when it comes to knurl aggressiveness.
Yeah you’re not going to find a good 28 mm Oly bar without the center. Rogue used to offer that on the standard Oly but I’m not sure if they do anymore, or if they ever did on the stainless variant. Best you can do is passive, but that’s not hard at least. There’s that Vulcan Absolute… that’s a pretty nice bar, but it’s also pretty expensive – though at least not as expensive as the NxG.
In my comment below, for the Eleiko, am referring to the NXG Performance Weightlifting bar.
Thanks for the feedback. Yah, you are probably right on the rogues. I have gotten rid of 4 of them in 3 months so I should probably avoid buying another. Ha.
Using the rogue Ohio bar stainless Knurl as the baseline (since that is a pretty good knurl), how would the following compare:
1. NXG performance weightlifting
2. NXG XF – has same 1.0 knurl as the performance, but guessing is a bit more mild.
3. The AB stainless Olympic bearing bar. Assuming this has same knurl feel as the Elite Power bar?
Zeroing in on those, as it seems like they have track bearings (maybe not XF, but that has bushings as well) and will result in more controlled spin that will translate better to the non-Olympic lifts like DL.
I’ve owned both the Performance and the XF, but my XF wasn’t an NxG. If they’ve actually adjusted the knurl of the XF down with NxG, then it’s probably on par with the SS Ohio. If they haven’t and it’s still about what it’s always been, then it’s more aggressive than the SS Ohio. The Performance is definitely a little grippier than the SS Ohio. In neither case is the difference massive, but it is noticeable in my opinion.
The SS Oly Bar from AB feels the same as the rest of their bars.
The bearing aspect of professional Oly bars for deadlifts is the only real potential drawback, and it probably won’t even be a problem. The bushings in the XF and Rack Bar would obviously not have any risk of this issue. You know what you like in terms of diameter, I get that, but I’m really tempted to just try to browbeat you into buying a 27 mm deadlift bar. As specialty bars go, it’s definitely in my top two (for anyone with a decent deadlift anyway).
That is very helpful. I am very tempted by the Eleiko’s. Even if it is to just scratch the itch. Only hesitation is chrome. Kinda wanted stainless.
Smart option is probably a stainless AB…with smartest being the precision trainer and not the stainless bearing. But “smart” is often irrelevant in these type of decisions. Ha.
Would get DL bar in a second if I had more space or more hiding places from my wife. Trying to limit myself to two main bars I am happy with before expanding to specialty bars.
Forgot to ask, how quiet are the eleikos? Realize probably not like AB, but do they rattle/clank like Rogue?
Eleikos aren’t loud bars at all. Could you imagine a bar that expensive sounding like an Echo Bar?
Haha. I just got some new Rogue Training bumpers with the color stripe. Holy hell are those things loud when I slid them on the OPB. It made my decision to sell that bar immensely easier. The AB Cali is also quite a bit louder with those plates, but very tolerable.
Know Eleiko has grooved sleeves. I think smaller grooves than Rogue? Hopefully quoted. Didn’t want to order and then realize I can’t use some of my plates due to noise (have a 2 yr old and twins arriving in 3 weeks).
Thanks for all the help and insight. Think I am going to grab an XF, or the AB precision stainless bushing (which I assume is basically a stainless California bar without the dual marks) if I can’t get the XF. Given the main motivation is pulls, with some light oly sprinkled in, I think you are right on that a professional bearing bar may not be the best. XF seems to accomplish the main purposes of what I am looking for. And gives me something different than the AB knurl on the Mammoth.
Update: Eleiko XF just arrived. Wow, does it have a passive knurl. Not what I was expecting. More passive than the AB Cali. No horizontal sleeve slop, but definitely vertical. Rattles and clanks if you shake it up and down. Like an Ohio. For $600+, don’t know what to think at the moment.
AB Mammoth arrived last week. New color is a dark gray. In between Cali and old mammoth color. Knurl feels exactly like the Cali. Couple blemishes on the cerakote. Horizontal sleeve slop on one side. Both issues are surprising to me for AB. As such, have held off from using while I decide whether to return, exchange, or live with it.
Rep deep knurl popped up yesterday for the first time in months. Have that on order now. Ha.
Think the hunt will continue on the 28mm. Don’t think the XF is the answer based on light knurl and cost.
I don’t think that bar is supposed to be passive. Mine wasn’t. It also shouldn’t be possible to describe it as something that rattles and clanks. Not for that kind of money.
Drop the AB with no weights from a few inches on your mats. If the slop side makes more noise than the other, something is wrong. Exchange it. That is surprising for AB, but I suppose shit has to happen sometimes… to someone.
You’re doing alright at least in terms of actually finding bars available to order. I guess that’s something haha
Yah. This is my first chrome bar, but the XF is very slippery. Without chalk, when gripping tight, I can easily twist my grip around. It almost slides around. The Cali is noticeably grippier. It is better with chalk, but borderline unusable for any type of pull without it. On the clank, if I hold it in hang clean stance and shake it up and down, sleeves move vertically and it clanks like a standard Ohio bar. Maybe I’ll link a video later and you can tell me what you think.
I’m not too excited for you about that Eleiko. Slippery and clanky. No bueno. They gonna make you pay to ship it back? Or have you not even said anything to them yet?
Have not said anything to them, yet. Wanted to first get opinions if it was normal. Will take this off board and shoot you a quick video directly via email in a few hours. Am sure Eleiko will give me hard time re: shipping.
Thank you for this informative post! probably one of the best on the web.
I’m currently in the process of setting up a home gym, without budgetary limitations, and I have a question- what is the best all-arround barbell for crossfit? given that I will only purchase 1 barbell, and it will be stored in outdoor conditions but covered.
Thank you, Shay.
So, there isn’t really an answer to that because personal preference on knurl, finish, etc come into play and definitely impact the experience, but for an outdoor bar I would definitely lean on stainless steel or Cerakote; or ideally Cerakote-finished stainless steel. The only bar that’s a multi-purpose bar with that set up that I can think of is the Matt Chan Bar. It’s probably a bit of overkill unless you live in the jungle, so something like this SS Ohio Bar would be a good choice… and this bar has pretty solid knurling as well. So does the Chan. I don’t personally care for the rest of the Ohio line in terms of knurl though.
American Barbell has a nice Cerakote multi-purpose/WOD bar… the California. Milder knurl, but still a solid grip. I’m a huge fan of AB bars personally.
I’d definitely avoid anything with no finish, a zinc finish, and even a chrome finish (shaft, that is). All of these will oxidize outdoors; even the chrome eventually (again, speaking of the shaft, not so much the sleeves as those aren’t getting manhandled and aren’t knurled.)
Thank you for the swift reply.
So from what I gather, the SS Ohio bar and the Chan bar are pretty much the same in terms of CrossFit usage?
And another question, would you recommend the chrome or the cerakota sleeves in the Matt Chan bar?
Yes, more or less. Some subtle differences but I don’t think they’d impact CrossFit. And in your case, Cerakote sleeves.