This is a review for the newest adaptation of the Again Faster Team Bar, the new 2.0. Just a heads up, I have no hands-on experience with the previous Team Bars, so there won’t be any comparisons between the original bar or version 1.2. Just consider this a stand alone review for the 2.0.
Update 2016-2017: I highly recommend avoiding this bar and this brand entirely. Again Faster bars have been discovered to be extremely poor quality bars over not only the long-term, but even the short term. The Team is known to be bent right out of the shipping tube, or become bent after relatively light weightlifting. The sleeves are also known to seize entirely.
Additionally, when X-Training purchased the bankrupted Again Faster, they removed all negative reviews from the site (Internet Archive research can validate this). So not only is the Team Bar a train wreck of a barbell, the seller hides the user-reviews that were left to warn you of this.
AF Team Bar 2.0 Specifications
The following Team Bar specs are direct from Again Faster. Even though I mention the 15 kg women’s bar below, the review itself is strictly for the 20 kg men’s bar.
- 20 kg men’s bar w/ 28 mm shaft, or 15 kg women’s w/ 25 mm shaft.
- Dual marked with no center knurl.
- Mild knurling (it’s extremely mild).
- Snap ring construction.
- Tensile strength: 209,000 PSI.
- Yield strength: Unknown.
- Combination needle bearings and ball bearings.
- Available in bright zinc, black powder coat, or combination of the two.
- Price: $229 for men’s, $209 for women’s.
- Warranty: 60-day return policy.
- NOT made in USA
Team Bar 2.0 Review
The way I see it, there are three prominent features of the Team 2.0 that make it appealing to CrossFitters that are completely new to the bar market: a higher than average PSI tensile strength rating, the plethora of bearings, and the relatively low cost of the bar. In this review I’ll be looking at the entire bar (the knurl, sleeve assembly, elasticity, and finish), and I’ll tell you why this bar looks a lot better on paper than it actually is.
Let’s start with the sleeve assembly, as I believe it’s one of the more interesting marketing gimmicks of the Team.
Team Bar Review – Sleeve Assembly
The Team Bar 2.0 is a combination needle bearing/ball bearing bar. Each sleeve has three needle bearings, two ball bearings, a bronze bushing, and a steel bushing; for a grand total of 10 bearings and 4 bushings. Quite the variety for one bar.
Since other bars don’t seem to need all this nonsense to spin, I was curious as to why this one did. To satisfy my curiosity, I removed and disassembled one of the sleeves from my own Team Bar so that I could take a gander. I’ll show you some of the pictures that I took during the process and offer brief explanations of what you’re looking at.
In the above picture you can see the end of the shaft with the snap rings and the end cap already removed. I’ve pulled the sleeve back about an inch (towards the center of the bar) to expose the first of two side-by-side ball bearings and the horseshoe collar that functions to keep those ball bearings in place. Hidden between the two ball bearings is the cold-rolled steel bushing; which you can see a couple pictures down.
I removed the horseshoe collar, took out both of the ball bearings and that steel bushing, & then slid the sleeve free of the shaft. I’m a little confused by Again Faster’s decision to use ball bearings here rather than needle bearings (ball bearings don’t handle radial shock well; as needle bearings do), but other than that the outer assembly is pretty standard. There is nothing alarming, but certainly nothing fancy.
Here are all the components from the outer end of the sleeve. From the top: two snap-rings, the horseshoe collar, steel bushing, end cap, and the two ball bearings.
As you’ve probably already noticed, the use of the word bushing in this context is extremely misleading. Typically when we see bushings on a barbell spec sheet we think of a sleeve bushing; a type of bearing (like the bronze bushing in the image below.) However, the steel bushing in the Team is simply an isolator placed between the two ball bearings. It’s just an extra part, and one not deserving of the title ‘bushing’.
The inner ends of each sleeve are more normal. There are three needle bearings that are held in position by a single, fixed bronze bushing. While this inner bushing is the same cast bronze bushing you would find in actual bushing bar, in the case of the Team it’s not there for rotation; it just holds the bearings in place. It doesn’t even make contact with the shaft.
So… if the presence of so many bushings and bearings confused you when looking at the Team’s product description, you now know that you can more or less disregard any mention of the bushings. Despite the subtle implication, the bushings don’t directly assist in rotation; they’re just parts. Mentioning them is probably only done for marketing purposes; a way to make the bar look more innovative on paper. Matter of fact, it’s entirely possible that all these components being crammed into a single bar is what leads to the commonly-reported sleeve seizure.
When it comes down to it, the Team is a hodgepodge bearing bar being that it mixes needle and ball bearings. At least those ball bearings are on the outside of the sleeves though, and not under the shoulder (where the weight is loaded.) It’s just gimmicky really. A total novice to bar shopping is likely to be very impressed with the mention of all these components, not knowing that it’s actually a little silly.
Team Bar Review – Actual Sleeve Rotation
The Team has a very impressive amount of spin. Slap a plate on this bar and you can give it a whirl, go have a protein shake, and come back to that sleeve still going. This spin on the rack also carries over to actual lifts, so I have no complaints regarding sleeve performance. However, I am slightly concerned about the amount of noise the Team makes (see below).
I don’t know where this noise is coming from, but it’s probably not the needle bearings. My guess is that it’s coming from either the ball bearings, or it’s a result of something rubbing against the ball bearings (steel bushing maybe, or the horseshoe collar.) In any case, I am of the opinion that excessive noise from a brand new barbell is not exactly ideal.
Team Bar Review – Elasticity / Bar Whip
The Team Bar is a 28 mm bar with a higher than average (209,000 PSI) tensile strength. To me, that higher tensile strength makes the bar feel more rigid at light to moderate weights. It’s not too far off from the 28.5 mm Rogue Ohio line, and any bar will whip given the right amount of weight, but I wouldn’t look to the Team Bar to give you access to bar whip sooner than any other bar.
Does it matter though? Not really. At the end of the day, the Team Bar is a CrossFit/general strength training bar, not a professional weightlifting bar. If you’re a seasoned Oly lifter you should be considering very, very, very different bars.
Much more concerning to me is how often I’ve heard of this bar developing a permanent bend. Worse still, many customers have complained that the Team Bar actually arrived at their door bent. Let us not forget that this bar is sold by a company that manipulates specs and product descriptions, imports 100% of their wares, and has gone bankrupt on multiple occasions.
Team Bar Review – Knurling
We’ve come to what is arguably one of the most important aspects of any barbell (at least in terms of feel); the knurling. Before I continue, let me remind you that knurling is all about personal preference. You and I may completely disagree with one another, but we’d both still be right.
Sadly, I am not at all impressed with the Team’s knurl. Again Faster classifies the knurl as “mild to moderate with a secure grip”, but I found that without chalk, the grip is very weak. With chalk, the grip is about as good as a decently knurled bar without chalk.
I’m not at all opposed to using chalk, but it shouldn’t be a requirement for every lift at any weight; and in my experience chalk was indeed a requirement at all times.
In all fairness, this is a CrossFit bar, and a non-aggressive knurl is generally preferred for all the high-rep sets. Not only that, some people just happen to prefer a very mild knurling, and someone needs to provide an option for those folks too, yes? Well this is one of those bars.
So, if you are really into soft knurl, this bar may be right up your alley. I know of at least one person (whose opinion I absolutely respect) that likes the Team; knurling and all… and you may too. However, if you do tend to prefer a semi-aggressive knurl or even a “normal” semi-moderate knurl, you’ll probably dislike this knurl just as I do.
Team Bar Review – Zinc Finish
I went with the Silver Team rather than either of the black varieties. Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of black bars as it is, but I’m also not really sure what Again Faster means by black powder coat. Is it black oxide? black zinc? the stuff on a power rack? I just played it safe and went with standard zinc.
The zinc looks very nice overall. The finish on the Team Bar 2.0 actually looks cleaner and more refined than it does on the Klokov, which is kind of surprising since the Klokov is hard chromed and more expensive (turns out it wasn’t hard chrome on the Klokov after all; such tricksters!) It’s not polished out like you might be used to with some of the bright zinc Rogue bars, but it’s a good looking bar nonetheless.
Also, even though it’s not uncommon for brand new bars to have minor inconsistencies or some small, random blemishes in the finish, my Team is mostly blemish-free. Again, when it comes down to it, I find the bright zinc version to be an attractive bar.
My only concern, and the only thing I cannot really verify in a timely manner, is whether or not the finish is functional. That is to say, will the zinc actually provide protection from rust. 99% of the time I wouldn’t even worry about this, but my AF Klokov has more rust on it than my B&R ever has, and like I said the Klokov is supposed to have been finished in a hard chrome, but wasn’t. So what’s on the Team really, right? Anyway I’m hopeful.
Team Bar 2.0 Review Summary
Again Faster took features from many different types of bars and mixed them all together to create the new Team. It has super high tensile strength and a stiffer feel just like you’d find on a power bar, a 28 mm shaft and needle bearings like you’d find in an Olympic bar, dual markings with no center knurl like you’d see on a CrossFit bar, and then they topped it off with a knurl too soft for anything heavy. This bar is a true jack of all trades, master of none.
Is it a decent bar for $229? I used to think so, but with all the problems with bent shafts and seized sleeves, multiple bankruptcies, and deleting the negative reviews, I think one would have to be mad to buy this bar or any bar from Again Faster. Even buying it used for $100 is a risk. It was very compelling before word got out – even I hadn’t bent mine yet – but now we know much more, and I think this bar is a total bomb.
Of course this is all just my opinion, and Again Faster has done a great job of removing any traces of all the previous negative feedback while only allowing 5-star reviews to be seen in the product description since then. There’s a good chance you’ll think I’m AF hating, maybe be turned on by the low price and high specs, and buy this bar all the same. If that’s you, I truly hope it works out for you and the bar lasts forever. If it doesn’t, don’t say I didn’t try to warn you.
- AHR International: An Introduction to Bearings – This is a very condensed article about bearing types. This will give you an idea of why I am apprehensive about ball bearings in a barbell.