The Tier 2 stuff is the recycled rubber bumpers, such as by Chapman, BFS, the cheaper Yorks (i.e. not the competition Yorks). The differences are size (recycled rubber bumpers are much fatter), cost (about half), appearance (any color you like as long as it is black) and bounce (All rubber-bumpers bounce pretty high). Durability for use by one person won't be much of a factor.
Tier 3 bumpers are like VTX, Ivanko, or any other brand that uses very thin rubber or urethane over metal. They don't last.
Like I said, you are not going to get 200kg of recycled rubber style bumpers to fit on a bar. S What I would suggest is to get enough of the recycled rubber bumpers for your Olympic lifting needs and make up the rest with a different style - such as competition-style iron plates in kilos (Ivanko, for example). Or...
Get your lower weight bumpers (10kg, 15kg) in recycled rubber (~$210) and then spring for Werk San 20s and 25s ($628) so that you can fit more weight on the bar.
Here's a video of 145kg of bumpers in action. Most of the bumpers are of the recycled rubber style. (The inside bumpers in red - 25kg - are not recycled rubber.)
Note how much room they take up on the bar and how high they bounce when dropped.
Here's 40 kilos more, in the better bumpers:
Note how much less room they take up on the bar.
Again, for Olympic lifting it's unlikely you'll be using that much weight unless it's for squats. The second video is a kid who did 830 lbs. in the deadlift as a teenager...
Personally I'd rather have good bumpers and a moderate priced bar than a good bar and not enough bumpers or crappy bumpers.
(Message edited by lincoln on November 08, 2005)