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Team Bar 2.0 Bar Review – The King of Meh

Team Bar 2.0 Barbell Review

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

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.

End cap removed from the Team Bar, exposing the horseshoe clamp and a ball bearing

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.

Outside end of a removed sleeve; larger opening for ball bearing cartridges

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.

Outer sleeve components of the Team Bar 2.0

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’.

A look inside the sleeve of the Team 2.0

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.

Close up of the Team Bar's knurling - very soft stuff

The knurling looks really good, but to me it doesn’t feel anything like how it looks. It’s way too soft for me.

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 Team Bar 2.0 in bright zinc

The bar looks very nice; especially for its price point. No complaints when it comes to the aesthetics. This picture does give you a chance to see the weak knurl from another angle as well.

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.


Additional Reading

  • 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.

 

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{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Sandarpan April 14, 2015, 8:09 am

    Wow. Great review. I wonder why they used bronze. I mean if it’s to hold the needle bearings in place, they could have used anything.

    • jburgeson April 14, 2015, 11:44 am

      Yeah I mean, it’s not that unusual to use a bushing in that situation, but it is unusual to mention the bushing in the product description. I’m pretty sure the Rogue Oly has a bronze bushing on that end of the sleeve as well, but they don’t bring it up because it confuses things being that it’s just a part, not a bearing. Like I said, it’s probably mentioned just to beef up the product description. To the average Joe, all of these parts probably looks pretty impressive.

  • Mustafa May 14, 2015, 12:54 am

    Hello, have you any plans on reviewing the eleiko xf bar?
    I’m looking for a multipurpose bar in chrome with available shipping to Norway.

    • jburgeson May 14, 2015, 9:32 am

      As a matter of fact, yes. I bought one just a week ago. I won’t have a review ready anytime soon, but I could answer any questions you might have.

      • Mustafa May 15, 2015, 10:57 am

        What do you think so far of the spin, knurling and overall quality?
        Do you think the bar would be okay to use as an multipurpose bar?

        • jburgeson May 15, 2015, 11:16 am

          I have been pretty impressed with the bar to be honest. The knurl is great; maybe even perfect. I realize that knurl is subjective, but I can safely say that it’s not soft or weak, and it’s also not a cheese grater. The spin is fine. Like I said previously, you can’t rack it, stick a plate on it and spin it all day, but it spins when it’s supposed to. And yes, I think that’s the point… to be a multi-purpose bar.

          I’ll still be reviewing the bar thoroughly; I’ve spent a lot less time with it than I will have by the time I publish anything. I’ll see if I can’t get some pictures of the knurl up in the next day or so. Weather is crap and I rely on natural light when I take pictures (garage lighting is weak), but I’ll try and get something.

      • Mustafa May 15, 2015, 11:09 am

        Okay, I saw your reply to Kelvin now about the spin and knurling.
        How do you think the XF bar compares to the rogue WL bar and at what weight do you think the spin would become noticeable when doing bench on an WL bar?

        • jburgeson May 15, 2015, 3:14 pm

          In terms of multi-purpose bars, XF is a better choice. For dedicated Olympic lifting, the Rogue is probably better. The XF shaft is amazing and very few can compare to Eleiko shafts, but the Rogue still has the bearings. Also, and you may not care (I don’t), but hardcore Oly lifters hate “Olympic bars” with dual marks, and the XF has them.

          As far as the spin and static lifts, I don’t really have that problem with any bar. I generally squat, bench, clean, snatch, OH press, and deadlift every bar I get, and still I’ve not had anything that spun too much for me. I only seem to get that on lifts that follow paths that are far from a straight line, like Good Mornings. I hear people say that about bearing bars and benches/squats, but I never got it… maybe my path is strict enough? I don’t know, I never thought of my form as being any better than the next guys.

          Any chance you meant the flex/whip while benching?

          • Mustafa May 17, 2015, 12:30 pm

            Thanks for the pictures and comments.

            At the gym I’m working out in they have an old Eleiko. It’s a Sport or WL. The knurling looks very similar to that bar, if not identical. And I’ve found that knurling to be fine compared to the PL bar, but for me it’s still aggressive enough and sticking to the hand. I’ve never used an Rouge bar, but judging from the reviews the knurling is amazing.

            I too have never experienced too much spin to be a problem. But I have read people claiming this to be potential problem. I have had problems with pain in my wrist when doing front squats with a eleiko PL bar, when I switched to the WL\sport bar it more or less solved that problem.

            I’m looking forward to reading your review on the bar. I’m pretty much doing the same lifts as you, expect I’m not doing the OLY lifts yet. Did you put your own rubber loop on the bar? The loop much more protecting compared to the one that is in the official pictures. At what point do you feel the whip on the XF bar would you say?

            • jburgeson May 17, 2015, 3:10 pm

              I didn’t put that there, no. They updated the bar recently, maybe they haven’t updated pictures yet? I hadn’t noticed the difference on that band to be honest… I did know that they stopped using the black finish though; it’s all chrome now on the new XFs. I’ll get back to you on the whip. I’ve haven’t put any real weight on that yet.. been taking it easy this last week or so thanks to my friend, tennis elbow. Tendinitis is kind of an inconvenience, if you know what I mean. Lot’s of leg work, no pulls.

              *edit: but if you’ve worked with the Sport or standard WL bar, that’s exactly how it should feel with whip.

  • Kelvin May 15, 2015, 9:41 am

    How is the rotation, whip and feel of the Eleiko XF bar compared to other Eleiko bars? Is it worth the purchase over other crossfit bars offered in the $250 – $300 by Rogue, Vulcan ($240-$285), American Barbell (AB) “The California Bar ($249)” and the “Stainless Steel WOD Bar” ($299), and the LYNX Hybrid Bearing bar ($245). The cheapest I can find to purchase the Eleiko XF bar is $515.38 (+$27.07 shipping).

    Your review of the feel of lifting with your AB Stainless Steel barbell has really peaked my interest in getting a stainless steel bar. AB has recently released, within the last 30 days it appears, the “Stainless Steel WOD Bar”. They use a 190K tensile strength stainless steel shaft and hard chrome sleeves. Here are the specs:

    •Application: Weightlifting, Olympic Weightlifting
    •Bushing System
    •Weight: 20KG
    •Diameter: 28.5MM
    •Length: 2200MM
    •Center knurl: No
    •Shaft: Stainless Steel
    •Sleeve: Precision ground steel with a hard chrome coating
    •Tensile Strength: 190K
    •IWF Specification
    •Made in USA
    •Warranty: Limited Lifetime*

    I am in the market for a bar to do high rep workouts and work on Oly lifts in the 225#+ range. I am considering the AB SS WOD barbell, as well as the LYNX hybrid bearing bar ($245) and the Eleiko XF bar if it is worth the extra money. Any feedback would be appreciated!

    • jburgeson May 15, 2015, 10:39 am

      The shaft on the XF is the same as the other Eleiko bars, so in terms of feel, whip, etc, it’s not really any different. The knurl is technically softer than the comp line, including the trainer, but it’s still a better grip than 9 out of any 10 other bars you could bring up, and honestly, it’s still got bite to it. The rotation is fine, only you can’t expect it to spin in the rack for half an hour like a comp bar with 10 bearings since the XF has bushings as well, but in terms of performance and turnover, the spin is there. Eleiko wouldn’t release a bar that didn’t spin, and the only people who will be bothered by “less” spin are those that think the rack test indicates a bar’s worth. It’s still an Eleiko. It’s made to all the same standards as the Oly bars, still made in Sweden, and isn’t outsourced or anything like that. It’s a very nice bar. Has those bands in the shoulders, but whatever lol.

      I am aware of the AB SS WOD bar. I also know that it’s not the same stainless steel that’s on their $800 bar. This stuff is a surplus steel they had for some other reason, and this bar is a limited run because of it. I have no reason to think there is anything wrong with it, but I can’t really talk it up based on my experience with the Pro SS bar; it’s apples and oranges, and the price should give that away… if you know what I mean.

      I don’t know anything about the Lynx bar. I do know that $245 doesn’t generally get you a good bearing bar. I’ve been asked about it before, but I don’t think anyone who asked about it ultimately bought it, so I haven’t even gotten feedback on it.

      So, I mean the XF is twice the money, and I don’t want to tell you to spend that much money considering the price on the other two that you’re considering, but the XF is a lot more than twice the bar for the added cost. You’re putting enough weight on the bar to care about your bar quality, so just keep that in mind. It is probably the nicest CrossFit bar around short of using a true competition Oly bar. I suppose you could argue that the benefit of the XF over comp bars is the lack of center knurl, and bushings that should ultimately allow the bar to handle more abuse. In theory, but it’s not like people are busting Eleiko bars anyway.

      • Kelvin May 15, 2015, 10:59 am

        Thanks for your feedback! You have gotten me closer to choosing a barbell.

        • Kelvin May 15, 2015, 2:29 pm

          J, I was told by Wyatt that the stainless steel used on their Pro SS Bar is the same as that on their WOD SS bar. Not sure what to think about that. I know this is the statement from an online posting stating the reason for the low price “How are we able to sell it so cheap? We have a surplus of stainless steel bar shafts, and limited warehouse space.” http://sandiego.af.craigslist.org/ssd/sgd/4999700714.html

  • ray October 3, 2015, 3:28 pm

    So I recently purchased this again faster barbell 2.0 about a couple weeks ago and boy do I have a few quibbles about it. It seems pretty consistent with some bad reviews except for one. The one good thing I’ve noticed receiving the bar was that the packaging wasn’t demolished. As for the bad…The sleeve wobbles, it has inconsistent spin on both sleeves, there were some blemishes on the inside of the sleeves, and the knurling isn’t the best.i contacted again faster about this and they don’t see that these are big issues…. I’ve worked with pretty decent bars before (rogue and pendlay) and I’ve never seen bar sleeve wobble like this bar. I posted a few videos on YouTube about this for again faster staff to review but they don’t think it’s an issue. I wanted to get your opinion since you’ve worked with various bars. Can you review those clips I posted on youtube? The title of the videos are : again faster 2.0 barbell spin discrepancy, again faster 2.0 barbell sleeve play/ wobble 5lb, again faster 2.0 barbell sleeve wobble/play. Am I crazy to think bars shouldn’t be made like this? Even my crappy 31mm no name bar doesn’t spin/wobble like this.

    • jburgeson October 3, 2015, 5:42 pm

      Hey Ray, I looked at your videos. The tests with the bumpers are difficult because most of that wobble is the bumpers themselves, and it’s pretty common to see that. However, when you had it on the ground and you spun the shaft with no plates, the wobble of the bar itself became apparent.

      Since I wrote this review (which never got any real attention, btw) I have heard of multiple issues with the Team bar, but mostly regarding the bends. I’m not sure if they are still there, but there were customer reviews on the product page itself that spoke of the bends right out of the box and even link to a video. Along with those kinds of complaints are the complaints of AF not wanting to replace these inferior products.

      I agree that any new bar should come out of the shipping tube wobble and bend free. Sometimes bars get damaged in shipping with minor scuffs or scratches, and I think those should be allowable, but any performance issue on a brand new product is absolutely unacceptable. In no way should a company that markets their products as “superior to the competition at much better prices” be okay with sub-par bars being shipped out.

      I don’t know how to best advise you to handle the situation because I hear time and time again how stubborn they are about their busted products being returned, but if it were me I’d not be happy with having to keep a bent bar. It may be a minor bend, but it shouldn’t be there at all. For every guy like you that notices that it’s bent right away, there are 10 guys who never notice and never ask for their money back. They get away with a lot; don’t let them make you keep it if you’re not okay with it.

      For the record, of all the bars that have come through the garage gym here, none of them show up bent. It’s not normal (outside of those box-store bars) for a bar to be bent at all, much less when it’s brand new.

      • ray October 3, 2015, 6:14 pm

        Thanks for taking your time to look at the videos and replying back. I respect your opinion a lot which is why i wanted to get an experienced weightlifter/ barbell connoisseurs view. On a side note I think your articles are in depth and fantastic. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one that sees that there is something wrong with this barbell and this company. Next time i buy a bar, it’s most likely going to be an American barbell or rogue. That’s what I get for believing that AF is as transparent as they say they are.

        • jburgeson October 3, 2015, 6:28 pm

          No problem at all, and trust me, you’re not the only one. I hope you get that resolved with AF without losing too much time or money.

  • Naz August 3, 2016, 6:16 am

    Hi J, any chance you could give me your opinion on Team 2.0 women’s bar vs Rogue Bella? I’m looking for a general purpose bar for supplementary home workouts (most workouts done at the box). Only a year into crossfit so weights are still light
    Thanks!
    N

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