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Joseph Hart 03-23-2006 08:50 AM

Here is my last bar question...Really.

What is the most important characteristic of an Oly lifting bar? PSI rating, needle bearings, springiness, knurling, looking pretty:wink:. There seems to have been enough questions about bars that it should go in the FAQ. Then Lincoln wouldn't have to field our questions all the time.


Lincoln Brigham 03-23-2006 12:20 PM


1. Certification for competition

That basically means getting someone else to do the leg work for you on whether or not a bar is any good. I.W.F. certification is the best for Crossfit purposes, certification from one of the numerous powerlifting organization would be a distant second-best. I.W.F. certified bars are expensive though.

2. P.S.I. rating of the steel and type of steel.

Pounds per Square Inch; how much pressure it takes to put a permanent bend in the steel. Cheap bars are 65k P.S.I. Great bars are +200k P.S.I. Chapman bars use T-17 steel, for example, as do many of the best bars. Beware bars that have been chrome plated, as they tend to be cheap bars and have flaking and strength issues. Stick with plain steel or black oxide bars.

Load ratings of 500, 700, or 1200 pounds are crap. Nobody has EVER done a 1200 pound lift on a $200 28mm barbell rated to 1200 lbs. Such a bar wouldn't cut it even if you could find someone to lift that much somehow. Take a 500 lb. rated bar and try a 500 lb. clean & jerk on it and it'll snap like a twig. It's a rating that is made up out of thin air.

2. Needle bearing vs. bushings

Cheaper bars always use bushings. Competition weightlifting bars usually use bearings.

3. Standardized specifications

Does it weigh what it says it does? Many don't, e.g. the Eleiko training bar is really about 19 kilos, not 20, a curious flaw on an otherwise excellent product. Are the ring spacings standardized (i.e. same as certification spec) so that you can easily find your grip width on any standardized bar? Or are the ring spacings unique to this manufacturer? (e.g. all Ivanko bars.) Does it have a weird and unique feature like octagonal collars that are non-functional and put there for marketing purpose only? (i.e. IronGrip) Is the grip 28mm (weightlifting) or 30mm (powerlifting) or 25mm (ladies weightlifting)?

Ironically, there are no standards or certifications for "standard" bars. Length, weight, knurling, and bar diameter/hole size will be all over the map. Quality of steel is univerally poor. Many "standard" plates will not fit on all standard bars, because the hole diameter varies from 1" to 1 1/8" to 1 1/4". Generally "standard" bars are a horrible choice when purchasing new from a cost/effectiveness perspective. Do not purchase unless you paid less than $20 (used) for an entire set at a garage sale. If you continue lifting for more than a year or two you'll only end up selling it at a garage sale yourself sometime down the road.

4. Knurling

Knurling should go just about all the way out to the collars. Some stop 4" short of the collars, which is hell on us taller folks who like to snatch. For Crossfit and weightlifting purposes the center of the bar should have either very light knurling or none at all. The depth of the knurling should be acceptable to your preference. (e.g. Uesaka bars has knurling that resembles carnivorous teeth. If you like your knurling that aggressive, great. If not, you'll hate the Uesaka bar.)

5. Reputation

Your bar doesn't have to be a competition-certified bar, but does the manufacturer know how to make such a bar? Do you know people who have used this bar and liked it? Does the company know the difference between a powerlifting bar and a weightlifting bar?

"Springiness" of a bar fits under this category, as I know of no objective way of measuring this characteristic. A powerlifting bar with a 30mm grip WILL have less spring than a 28mm weightlifting bar, that at least is for sure. Unless you can clean & jerk more than 120 kilos or deadlift more than 400 lbs. this is not an important issue, however.

6. Weight

Hey, there are other barbells out there besides 20 kilo (aka 45 lb.) men's bars. You can get bars with rotating 50mm sleeves (aka Olympic bars) that weigh 5 kilos, 15 lbs., 30 pounds, 15 kilos, 20 kilos, 45 pounds and even heavier than that. You have a choice! Pick a size that suits you. Grandma won't appreciate a $800 Werk-San I.W.F. Certified Mens' Barbell; it weighs more than she can even deadlift. A $115 aluminum bar that weighs 15 pounds would make her much happier. I've found that 15 lb. and 30 lb. barbells are the best general purpose weight for women, kids, rank beginners and older folks, not the competition-style men's 20kg (aka 45 lb.) bar.

7. Cost

You get what you pay for, generally. Maybe you don't need a $700 bar, but nonetheless it is going to be a better bar than a $150 bar. It's okay to have a cheaper bar; I have both.

Now, I want some rich relative to buy me that $912 gold-plated Eleiko barbell. I doubt I'd be able to lift any more weight on it, but then again maybe I would....

Joseph Hart 03-23-2006 12:36 PM

Thanks. I am going to save this, because really you have answered my questions and bar manufacturer questions have been beaten to death on the boards. Thanks again.


Jason Billows 03-23-2006 03:12 PM

Wow, that's really helpful. Thank to Joseph for asking and Lincoln for answering.

I have been in the process of looking for a bar and bumpers for a couple of weeks now and was feeling pretty overwhelmed. Some suppliers were telling me I needed to go to a comp bar and some were saying I didn't need to spend that much. Prices range so much that I was getting really confused. This post will really help me put things into perspective and allow me to make a more educated bar purchase.

Now, could someone please chime in and provide a similar run down on bumper plates? I have searched the forums and found some info, but it seems there are more options out there than have been commented on the forum. I have been finding all rubber, brass centred bumpers, metal centred bumpers, coloured vs. black and numerous manufactureres, all of which seem to have people for and against them. Hopefully someone can shed some light on them for me.



p.s. Lincoln, how'd you learn to pray and levitate at the same time. Cool!

Paul Findley 03-23-2006 03:26 PM

I got the new style black thinner Kraiburgs, I am happy with them. I am not so happy with the place I got them from. My 35# have been on backorder for 4 weeks, and I am having to ask way to often for updates. Also UPS lost my 15# plates, that was an interesting process...first time a carrier lost my stuff.

Look for "Free Shipping" as a price differentiator.

I think I have realistic expectations. I am assuming that not a lot of people buy bumpers, and the molder/distributor/warehouse/wholesaler/whatever "" (who I did not directly purchase them from) is not in a big hurry to setup and run my 2 plates.

Mark Madonna 03-23-2006 05:54 PM 375301&brand=Factory%20Direct%20Fitne

The rubber bumpers on Amazon seem like a good deal if you can figure out shipping, the only bumpers I have bought are from Scott at BS Olympic.

mark garrett 03-23-2006 05:55 PM

.02 from the cheap seats, again-
For what most people here are doing, you probably don't NEED top line stuff. Most people here are learning the lifts and need gear good enough to make things enjoyable(as Kono would say). If my observations are correct, then I would say the new "York International" is not going to be beat for the money. The BFS-type bar is cheap and good too, but, IMHO, the York is better. The reasons for my opinions are admittedly small and probably biased as I have 7 Yorks and I like them. The York has some "life" to it, but not like a Chapman or even a York trainer. The sleeves are sweet, as good as a Chapman, better than York trainer. (I put a 10k with collar on and spun it to see which won, both were longer than my attention span). The BFS bearing bar wasn't slick new, but has gotten better with age/use/lube and now is good. If you have the money, go for a Chapman or whatever, it is worth the money and will last you a lifetime. If you have a background in OLYs then you already have an opinion anyway and probably know what you are going to get.

Bumpers- I have old and new Yorks, old and new Kraiburgs, Hi-temps, and a BIG stack of junk by various manufacturers. New style Kraiburg 10Ks fall apart at the inserts, other sizes fine. Hi-temps have steel inserts and I really like them, but they are ONLY IN POUNDS, huff! Old York and Kraiburgs are as big as the back tires on a 69 Chevelle, but they last forever. My replacements will come from Glenn Pendlay's devilish creations, unless I win the lottery.
Once again- ,02 from the cheap seats mg

Mike Rosenberg 03-23-2006 07:01 PM

more food for thought...

I had a discussion with Frank Eksten (currently 1st VP of USA Weightlifting) a few years ago regarding what weight of bumpers to buy. His comments were buy more 10kg and 15kg bumpers. There is no need for casual lifters to get 25kg bumpers. You are immediately at 70kg (75kg with proper collars) with 25kg bumpers. Using more 10kg and 15kg bumpers to get to the weight you want distributes the weight over more surface area that will contact the ground and will thus create less wear and tear on the bumpers.

John Seiler 03-23-2006 09:35 PM

Great post Lincoln! It should be in the FAQ's.

Don Stevenson 03-24-2006 04:34 AM

I've got a cheap bar, an Ivanko and access to a mid priced bar and Eleiko and Uesaka bars at the gym so here are my thoughts.

1. The cheap bar may be ok for the basics but if the collars are bolted on and you can't trust the bar not to bend then it doesn't inspire much confidence and I wouldn't do any heavy O lifts with it. I got it for free and it lets me run bigger group workouts so i'm not complaining!

2. The Ivanko I got cheap, secondhand and with the collars rusted into place. Some oil fixed that and proves pretty much that a quality bar just never dies. The only problems with the Ivanko are its cheese grater knurling and F$%%ING stupid non standard mark up. I'd use this for heavy powerlifts but the knurling in the middle tears up the legs during cleans.

3. Mid priced bar at the "health club". Chrome plated with slick knurling so as not to hurt the sensitive hands of the affluent members. I've used this bar for heavy deads and stuff and it bowed a long way but sprang back. Knurling not confidence inspiring.

4. Uesakas - Can be very hard on the hands and recently i've been mostly using the Eleikos and noticed i haven't torn as many callusses during snatch pulls. Also noticed that the older Uesakas don't rotate as freely as the Eleikos.

5. Eleiko - just nice all round. If I buy another bar it will be one of these however keep in mind that i'm starting to take O lifting seriously and I could probably get away with a lot less.

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