About a year ago, Vulcan released a new version of the black rubber-coated hex dumbbell; an innovative new dumbbell that abandoned the partially knurled steel handle found on the vast majority of hex dumbbells, and replaced it with a textured, highly tactile, rubber-coated handle.
These rubber-grip handles not only offer a far superior grip to classic steel handles (even in high humidity, or with sweaty hands), they are also infinitely more comfortable to hold on to; especially if you’re sporting calluses. And with no exposed metal they’ll also never rust.
I reviewed Vulcan’s Rubber Grip Pro Dumbbells back in November 2017 so I won’t totally re-review them here, but you can read that review here if you want to learn about more of this product’s perks (and there are more of them.)
Enter Rep Fitness
As it turns out Rep Fitness recently released their own take on this very same product, and a few of you have asked me how their rubber grip dumbbells stack up against the originals from Vulcan. Well since I own pairs from both vendors I thought I’d take a minute to answer that very question. Are you ready for it?
They are exactly the same product.
That’s right, these two hex dumbbells are absolutely identical. Their handles have the same textured “knurl” pattern, the heads have the same soft, rounded edges and the same layout & font where the weight of the dumbbell is molded in, and they are both more compact than their standard, metal-handled counterparts. They are even both assembled using the same method (heat interference.) The only difference is the brand name stamped on the heads.
Incidentally, the Vulcan review I linked to above would apply just as well to Rep’s version of this product – everything except for the pricing, of course.
So which one do you buy?
So if they’re the exact same product why pick one over the other? Well there are a number of factors that may impact where you choose to buy. Here’s a list of the most noteable:
- Price, of course (see the chart below for pricing specifics.)
- Availability. Neither Rep or Vulcan ever seem to be fully stocked, so you may be forced to use one over the other depending on when you need/want your dumbbells.
- Set variety. Both Rep and Vulcan each offer a set configuration that the other does not.
- Dumbbells over 100 pounds. Vulcan offers 105 lb – 120 lb dumbbells; Rep does not.
Rubber Grip Dumbbell Pricing – Rep & Vulcan
|Rep Fitness||Vulcan Strength|
|5 lb – 50 lb set||$649||$648|
|5 lb – 75 lb set||$1459||$1397|
|5 lb – 100 lb set||$2459||–|
|55 lb – 100 lb set||–||$1790|
|105 lb – 120 lb set||–||$1016|
|25 lb pair||$75||$84*|
|50 lb pair||$140||$194*|
|100 lb pair||$260||$347*|
* Comparing prices on pairs using retail prices alone won’t work because Vulcan includes shipping in their pair prices while Rep does not. You are going to need to get a quote from Rep using your zip code to see how pair prices compare. You can do this simply by adding pairs to the cart and using the shipping quote feature found on the shopping cart page.
Pre-shipped set prices are pretty close between these two, with Vulcan being just a tad less expensive. That having been said, Vulcan is on the East Coast while Rep is in the Midwest, so your best price is probably going to be based nearly entirely on which vendor is closer to you. Those of you who do happen to live on the East Coast will likely get the best set prices overall because you benefit from both a lower retail price, and from being relatively close to Vulcan’s distribution center.
Whether you’re interested in pairs or sets, you should always price both manufacturers out regardless of where you live because you never know who’ll give you the best price to your door. And remember, embedded shipping is not always the most cost-effective way to pay for shipping, so avoid making any assumptions (see this article on shipping.)
At the end of the day…
Since the Vulcan and Rep rubber grip dumbbells are precisely the same product, and since most of you won’t be after 105lb+ hex dumbbells, it’s going to come down to price in almost all situations with the decision maybe sometimes coming down to availability. This is a good situation for us to be in as customers.
You really can’t go wrong either way though. Both vendors are reputable and both offer a warranty. Just get those shipping quotes, and before you know it you’ll have the best home and garage gym dumbbells on the market.
Great comparison. I was told that there is only ONE year warranty on the Reps. Not sure why.
Oh no kidding? I had to ask a lot of questions of Rep directly since their product description page is not thorough in this case. They chose to talk up the benefit of having “warm” dumbbells in the morning on that page rather than how they are more compact, more comfortably, grippy, durable, and all of that other far more important stuff. Looking at that response again I notice they did not clarify about the warranty. I’ll have to follow up again.
Yeah, I spoke directly with one of the managers, and I was informed that they are only going the one year warranty on those. I asked if they had the same type of friction welding as the regular straight-handle dumbbells and he said yes. I also asked if there is any chance of the rubber on the handles separating from the shaft, and I didn’t get a definitive answer. He said he did not have any other information he could provide on the dumbbells, but did reiterate the lifetime warranty on the straight-handle ones.
I really wish that Rep would clearly outline the BENEFITS of the product better…. like what you said about them being more grippy, durable, no chance of ever separating from the shaft, compact etc.
If these are the same product as the Vulcans, then why not offer a full lifetime warranty on them as well? As time goes by, I’m becoming much more anal about ensuring what I buy will last me for a long, long time. That’s why I stick with companies like Rogue. I have not bought, nor will I ever buy, anything from Titan. The same with any other cheap box-store type of manufacturer. I don’t understand why some people STILL choose to buy crap from those companies. To save money? To get more for less? You get what you pay for. I’d rather spend more up front and get something that will last me forever (well, almost) than get a cheap deal only to have to buy it again.
My motto: buy quality, buy once. Period.
That is odd about the warranty. Maybe I’ll get a better answer on that.
I’m in total agreement. I don’t play around with that cheap stuff. I’m not even willing to buy a Titan rack for comparison purposes. Everyone already knows the verdict. The people who would buy that kind of product despite a bad, revealing review are just going to ignore me, think I’m ignorant, or even call me a shill – and then they’ll buy it anyway. Can’t save everyone. /shrug
My contact says that you were misinformed by a fellow employee. It’s lifetime on home use, 1-year on commercial. So that’s good news.
Hmmm…. the person I spoke with at Rep probably wasn’t specific enough about what the year was for. Obviously for commercial use. I’m glad to know that it’s a lifetime warranty for in-home use.
I have 7.5, 10, 12.5, 15, 20, 25, and 30 lb. straight-handle Rep dumbbells. I’m going to get more. Do you prefer those, or the rubber handle Rep dumbbells you compared with the Vulcan Pros? I’m just trying to decide if I should get more straight handle ones or buy some rubber handle ones. Your opinion matters :)
I prefer the rubber-handled dumbbells. I still have mostly standard ergo pairs and honestly I’m just happy to have the variety, but if I could choose a whole set again from the start I’d definitely go rubber grip.
Thanks for comparing these. I have been wondering about the differences too.
Vulcan’s website says theirs have a Lifetime Commercial warranty vs Rep saying theirs has a 1 Year Commercial warranty. This initially made be believe the dumbbells were made differently, but maybe it’s just a business practice? I’d use them for my home gym so they’re equal from a home warranty perspective.
Seems to be some conflicting information however from Rep related to temperature interference fit vs friction welding construction.
If you look into interference fitting you’ll see that it basically is friction welding. Friction welding is old news, but interference fit sounds new and exciting =P
Vulcan may more aggressively be seeking commercial/military/school orders and has to offer a lifetime warranty to get those sales, I don’t know. Rep actually has a commercial dumbbell option already – the urethanes. Who knows though.
In terms of end result / quality, agreed.
Did Rep mention anything about the weight accuracy for their rubber handle dumbbells? Vulcan’s page says 1% for their Vulcan Pros. On Reps Amazon page for their straight, metal handle dumbbells, they claim this: “Weight is accurate to within 3% for 25 lb and under, 2% for 30 lb and above.”
Thanks again for your great site and responding to comments / questions.
They did not. They updated the product page but did not include accuracy levels.
I didn’t discuss that at all in the article did I? I didn’t even think of it for some reason haha. I’m bad at my job.
Speaking of REP urethanes…they look identical to ROGUEs urethanes.
Besides looking the same, you guys think they are the same?
I actually emailed rep awhile back about their rubber DB’s. The person who emailed me back didn’t give any specific comparison with Vulcan (which I asked about), and she said, “they are slightly smaller.” That’s honestly my biggest complaint with Rep Fitness is that they don’t have enough details about all of their products on their website. I know a lot of these companies use the same manufacturing plants and companies, so it probably is the same. Rep kettle bells and urethane DB’s look identical to Rogue. A lot of these accessory fitness equipment pieces are made in China anyway at same manufacturing plants (rubber ply plates, DB’s, KB’s, etc…). In your pictures above you don’t show a rep and a Vulcan of the same weight next to each other.
Rep and Vulcan rubber grip bells are indeed the same product. Reps aren’t smaller than Vulcans, Reps and Vulcans are smaller than non-rubber grip dumbbells.
I’ve previously mentioned that to Rep about the more thorough product descriptions as well, and they are making those adjustments over time. I’ve seen some improve already, but I obviously can’t tell you if and when they’ll overhaul every product description. They probably should, and I’d certainly do it for them if they paid me, but I don’t see that happening haha.
I’m getting ready to invest in a 5-100lb set and I’m torn between the following three options, Rep Fitness Straight Handle Dumbbells, Rep Fitness Rubber Grip Handle Dumbbells, and Vulcan Pro Hex Dumbbells. I’m on the West Coast so Rep Fitness is about a hundred dollars cheaper for me than Vulcan, but Rep doesn’t tout their drop test and Vulcan backs their product with a lifetime warranty for both home and commercial use. I also spoke to a CSR at Rep, and they say their tolerance is 3% on the dumbbells whereas Vulcan is 1%. It seems like if I want Rubber Grip Dumbbells, Vulcan is the way to go since it seems they hold their warranty to a higher standard and probably have had better QC, even if they are the same product. I really like the rubber grip aspect, but for long-term use (I want these to last 10+ years), I’m worried that the rubber will wear down over time, so would it make sense to just get the straight handle dumbbells.
I genuinely don’t think these two products are at all different (the rubber coated). Rep has an issue with getting product descriptions up to par in my opinion… when I do reviews I confirm info and ask additional questions when data is missing, and I tend to walk away asking myself why they don’t put this info in their descriptions in the first place.
The warranty is a non-issue if you’re not a commercial facility because the lifetime still applies to you, and honestly if you had a dumbbell issue after buying a full set I promise either of these companies would make it right.
All that said, if you still feel better about Vulcan then by all means go that route. A hundred bucks on a set this large isn’t that much of a stretch if you get piece of mind from it.
Finally, we don’t yet know how these coated dumbbells age over the decades. It’s not cheap rubber, I can already tell you that, and I am optimistic about them myself, but we just don’t know. There’s nothing wrong with the straight-handled Reps so if that also gives you piece of mind to go that route, go for it.
At the end of the day I think all of the options that you’re considering are solid. They really are the best option anyway because the alternative is cheap dumbbells or commercial dumbbells that cost 3x as much money.
I ended up getting the Rep Rubber Grip dumbbells primarily because shipping was slightly cheaper, and they had affordable dumbbell racks. I can confirm that these appear to be the exact same product as the Vulcans, as one of them even had a Vulcan stamp that looks to have been erased (residue is still visible). The boxes arrived in very poor shape and almost all the dumbbells have scratches, scuffs and inconsistencies in the coating. In your experience, are scuffs and scratches more visible on these over the standard hex dumbbells? The rubber material around the heads seem to be more softer than standard hex dumbbells. I sort of wish I went with Vulcan as these appear to be the QC rejects of Vulcan’s lot.
That sounds awful. Dumbbells almost never make it to your door without the boxes being wrecked, but the dumbbell should still look pretty normal either way. You could probably stick a label on the dumbbell itself for shipping and it would maybe be dirty, but still fine upon arrival. Still, with Vulcan ghosting and lots of unusual damage to the heads I’d tell Rep to take them back and replace them with dumbbells that have been inspected by them personally. I seriously doubt Rep is choosing to sell seconds, but if they manufacturer is taking advantage and packing up seconds the result is the same to you.
Any updates on this?
Vulcan has the 5-75set in stock and Rep won’t have them for another 5 weeks. According to rep sales person, Vulcan may be a bit more compact but couldn’t give me any further information on their differences.
Do you have any further updates given your use?
I don’t personally think there is a functional difference between the two, nor do I believe one is more likely to outlast the other.
If I had to buy a full set tomorrow; either for myself or for a gym; I would base my decision totally on price and availability.
Have the rubber handles held up well so far? The main selling point for me would be the smaller size and friction welded heads but I also want something (especially this expensive) to last a LONG, LONG time. I’m just having a hard time imagining the rubber grip would be as durable as hard chrome. However, do the ubiquitous “ergo” chrome handles end up rusting and flaking in the long term (I’m not sure if there are some cheaper versions that are decorative and others that are a hard chrome)?
So far not a single issue for me. They’re not getting used by dozens of people a day like if they were in a global gym, of course, but still there are zero signs of wear.
Pretty much all of the rubber hex dumbbells with ergo handles are finished in decorative chrome. That doesn’t have to mean they use the absolute cheapest of chrome finishes that come off in flakes, but they certainly aren’t using industrial hard chrome. A lot of my collection is still ergo-handled hex and while they do not flake, they absolutely do rust.
For what it’s worth I still think these are the best feeling dumbbell for a non-commercial dumbbell price. I’ve even had a few commercial pairs in here to check out for the manufacturer and while they are definitely nice and build to last, I still prefer that rubber handle to the fixed-width, fully-knurled handles. The rubber is just so comfortable and not slick at all. Even the light knurls found on dumbbells is somewhat slick by comparison.
Just doing you review as I’m looking to buy a set of these leaning towards Vulcan since they’re at 1% for weight accuracy and since they’re about 30% more compact in size. Tho, on Reps website they say their ripper gripped dumbbells are also smaller in size but not saying how much. By any chance do you know which ones are more compact to the other?
They’re basically the same dumbbells, different logo on the heads. Buy on price, or if you just like one company more than the other. Same product
Any tips on cleaning these? I bought a 5-100lb set from Vulcan last month. They arrived a bit dirty from the factory on some of the pairs.
Just a mild degreaser. Simple Green, 409, etc.
Okay so I spoke with someone at Rep Fitness earlier today, because I noticed on their website that the Rep rubber grip hex dumbbells are getting an upgrade…. same dumbbell but the sides of the heads now have the weight number. So if it’s a 50 lb. dumbbell, it will say 50. It’s the same printing as their urethane dumbbells (Rogue’s use the same font for the n umber as well). So…. I have 5-30 lb. pairs of the regular Rep straight handle dumbbells, and 35s, 40s, 45s and 50s of the Rep rubber grip hex dumbbells. Now my OCD comes out and I say to myself, “Hmmm, it would be really cool to have a complete set with the new numbers on the sides, all of them looking the same instead of having half of the straight handle and then more pairs of the rubber grip ones with the original printing on the sides of the heads. I could sell all the dumbbells on CL and then just buy a whole new set with all the new printing. Let’s pause for a second and think about how STUPID that would be. a) I would never get all the money back for what I paid for my dumbbells because I bought them in pairs, not a whole set. b) It’s ridiculous to want to get rid of my awesome dumbbells JUST for an aesthetic reason with a number only. and c) what the heck am I thinking?
J? Your comments on this? As always, I value your thoughts. I know that you too have a variety of dumbbell pairs and you have previously said that you are already invested in them, so what’s the point of getting rid of them and spending more money?
haha I’ve thought of this same thing… replacing my set with a matching set. Currently I have pairs of 5-100-lb with various pairs coming from Rogue, Rep, Vulcan, CAP, MDUSA, Bolt, and York. But I never do it though, because I think that’s kind of insane. Yes I could recoup a decent amount of the money for a set by selling all of these, but if the point was to upgrade (which I realize you’re going for more of an aesthetic, lateral move) which it would be for me, I’d still be spending a fortune, and at the end of the day I’d have the same damn thing I had before, a set of 5-100 dumbbells.
Still that said, in your case I don’t think you’d be spending a whole lot, especially if you were willing to be patient on CL to get what you want. I can almost see doing it in your case, BUT, I wouldn’t do it if you plan to buy 55-100 and don’t plan on doing that now, because they will change again. They will all always change again and again. And you’ll be in the same predicament.
Yeah you are right. There will always be changes. Even minor ones like this aesthetic change. It’s been bugging me all day…. should I sell the dumbbells and get a whole new rubber grip set from Rep JUST so they all match!! Grr… my mind is messed up. My dumbbells ARE all Rep… half of them are the straight chrome handle ones and the other is the rubber grip ones. Apparently once the pairs are sold out of the rubber grip ones they will no longer sell pairs, just the sets. I guess those ones aren’t selling as much as the chrome straight handle ones.
I’m 47, an older lifter, and honestly man, I can’t press more than 60s, and I have a rule for myself, if I can’t press them or row them then there is no point I. Haven’t no really heavy dumbbells because I can use my two loading pins for farmer carries, shrugs, etc. it’s really no big deal having these two types of Rep dumbbells. Like I said they are ALL Rep … I like that. Maybe I will just buy the 55s and 60s and be done with it.
Yeah I say stop thinking about it. Order the couple you’re missing and spend your money on something else entirely. Something new.
Yeah I think you are right. I’ve been thinking a b[out it some more and really, this is just insane for me to think about selling all my nice Rep dumbbells JUST to buy another set for aesthetics! Stupid! I’m going to order a few more pairs while I still can before they sell out, then spend money on other things that I would like to get, like an open trap bar, football bar (that Elite FTS American cambered grip bar looks so slick!), and and and… not sure yet haha.
By the way, I’m not trying to brag at all, but I built on a really awesome belt squat onto my HR-2 rack, just using parts from Rogue that I bought. I bought a ten-foot piece of 12-guage steel, had it cut to roughly 49 inches each, then took it to get nicely powdercoated. I’ll see about maybe getting an instagram and then you can see. I’m pretty proud of it myself.
I would be very interested to see that. And I am sorry that the kids have made us own Instagram accounts lol
I’ll be happy to show it to you man. The way I put it together is different than what you have probably seen before, or like the way BoS show it on their site with that belt squat jammer arm hack. I’ll get an instagram set up and then I’ll let you know. And yeah… to be honest, I am not a huge fan of social media. It’s great for business and stuff, including what you are doing here man, but on a personal level, I’m not a fan. Instagram could be cool though, as long as I stick to cool stuff like lifting weights. haha
It’s lame. I neglected IG for like five years. Oops
Haha I hear you man. I just quit facebook, and twitter over two years ago. My life is better without them. I always find it interesting to see new equipment and stuff people are buying haha
Looking at the pics here and the pics on Vulcan/Rep websites–my eyeball tells me the Vulcans are more compact/shorter then the Reps any info? Not that at this time u can get ahold of a set–but my interest is there
Well they started out the same, but if one of them has made modifications to their design in the last year it’s possible there is a size difference now. It’ll be very minor though without a major price change because they are already as compact as it’s safe to be.
If you keep looking on that website you’ll notice where Rep lists the length of their handles at 4″ and Vulcan lists theirs at 5″. Unless one or both are lying on their website and I can only speak to Vulcan being 5″, Vulcan is most definitely not shorter and they are definitely not the same length.
I’ll have to go look at that. I certainly don’t think they’re an inch different
Thanks for your thorough review of dumbbells on your site! These rubber grip dumbbells look like they’re slightly ergonomic. Do you think straight rubber handles would improve these dumbbells? What if they were fully knurled? Also any thoughts on the rubber “pebbled” knurling vs the traditional diamond knurl?
Hrmm that’s an interesting question… if they were straight. I really don’t know, but I want to think that the ergo shape of the handle helps with the grip in the absence of actual knurling. The ergonomic shape is probably better for the rubber grips, and no I don’t think a typical style of knurl in rubber does much of anything. Probably makes it worse as the dumbbell will likely feel as though it’s shifting you the hand.