How to Pick the Right Eleiko Bar – For Casual Lifters and Competitors

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Eleiko has earned huge respect for making among the best bars in the weightlifting world. They are based in Sweden and have a USA division that they distribute from as well. 

They are not cheap. If even $499 is out of your budget, we have an article comparing several WL bars under $300.

All Eleiko’s bars, even down the to XF bar, go through ultrasound tests, magnetic particle inspection, hydraulic jacks, and seven manual assessments.

The problem is they have several models and their website does a lousy job of guiding you to the right bar.

Here’s the chart you want:

  WL Competition Bar WL Training Bar WL Training Bar
(Power Lock)
Sport Training Bar XF Bar
Knurling Very Aggressive Aggressive Aggressive Medium Soft
Markings IWF IWF IWF IWF Dual
Calibration Within 10 grams under,
20 grams over weight
No No No No
Bearings 10 10 10 8 2
Bushings 0 0 0 0 4
Warranty Lifetime 10 Year 10 Year 10 Year 30 Day
IWF Certified Yes Yes No No No
Price $1,049 $869 $869 $729 $589 (20kg)
$499 (45lb)

Eleiko also makes a couple powerlifting bars, women’s bars, and lightweight bars. Those are all kind of different categories. I want to keep things focused here on the men’s WL (weightlifting) bars so I’m not pushing you all over the place and giving you a headache with too much to think about.

The “Power Lock” bar is exactly the same as the other WL Training Bar except its sleeves hae huge grooves in the old Russian WL bar style. Rogue started offering this too, with their new Russian Bar. It uses special collars, another $149. The advantage is it ensures the collars will never move through multiple drops. No more re-adjusting to make sure it’s tight. The downside is bumpers are harder to slide onto the bar smoothly. Not too bad though. The Russians don’t mind at all I guess.

These 5 bars all use the exact same 28mm shaft, same steel, from the same batch. That is confirmed straight from Eleiko. The only differences in the shaft is how the knurling is cut. Any claims of one bar being stiffer than another or using different steel are not true, at least as far as current generation bars go.

Notes on the attributes listed in the chart:

Knurling

The competition bar has the most aggressive knurling. To put it in context, it still isn’t as aggressive as the Rogue Ohio Power Bar, the classic Texas Power Bar, or the new Troy Texas Bar. For weightlifting movements your hands are sliding on it a lot more, and there’s a limit as to what you can take for even a few reps.

The XF bar is meant for athletes doing high-rep work such as in WODs, not 1RM attempts. These athletes need their palms to hold up and are ok with the bar not sticking to their palms so much.

This is straight from my contact at Eleiko:

All of our bars have the knurl pressed in in the same way with a sharp tool bit. The bit can do about 8 bars before it is too dull to do its job, at which point its tossed out. The first bar it makes has the sharpest knurl, the 8th bar has the least sharp. Generally the first two are comp bars, then WL Training, then ST, and the last 2 are XF. Since the process and tools are the same, the knurl is just more dull from bar to bar

Eleiko men’s bars all have center knurling, but the center knurling is all extremely soft, even on the comp bar. It’s enough to grab your shirt, but you won’t scratch up the front of your neck doing cleans or front squats.

Markings

These are the small 1/4″ smooth spots in the shaft’s knurling, a little wider than your shoulder width, that serve as finger guides. For consistency in hand placement, the IWF standard dictates that these marks are 910mm apart. IPF for powerlifting is 810mm. All Eleiko bars here hae IWF 910mm markings, and the XF bar has IPF as well, ie: dual markings. It just helps hand placement that much more. The XF bar is typically used by Crossfitters doing all sorts of exercises, not just olympic lifts, so the extra marks help.

Calibration

Competition bars used for competitions should be calibrated to exacting dimensions and weight. The weight can be .05% . For IWF competitions this is a strict requirement. That’s one reason for the competition bar needing to be accurate down to the milligram and millimeter. The other bars might be off by a few ounces or even a pound. The Eleiko men’s bars are all supposed to be 20kg / 44lb (except one of the XF bars that is explicitly 45lb), but there are varying reports on the non-competition bar actual weight such as 20.4kg / 45lb, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is an occasional bar that is elsewhere in that 43-45lb range.

Bearings & Bushings

The more bearings, the better, up to a point. Eleiko has settled on a maximum of 10. These are all needle bearings.

The importance of sensitive spin is for a few parts of the olympic lifts. When you’re doing the clean and are transitioning from the pull to the catch, your wrists have to rotate down under the bar without being tweaked. That’s the most severe spot, but to some extent this also applies to doing the jerk portion, and doing snatches as well. Powerlifters doing deadlifts, benches and squats don’t rotate the bar hardly at all and have no use for such a sensitive spin.

I’ve heard old bars in the past actually used ball bearings instead of needle bearings. Ball bearings were more prone to being squished flat when the bar is slammed down on one end into a vertical bar storage rack. Even te smallest amount of deformation in the bearings would ruin the spin. Nowadays with needle bearings that doesn’t really happen.

Warranty

Bar warranties are hard to rely on, but in some cases where you can prove you’re using an Eleiko platform and Eleiko bumpers, you could be eligible. On the other hand, and I don’t remember if it was Eleiko, but someone called up either Eleiko or one of the other top brands complaining about a bent bar and was told “our bars don’t bend.” 

Bars flex, of course, especially weightlifting bars, but a permanent bend in Eleiko bars from being dropped on a platform is surely extremely rare. In any case, the warranty offered might affect the price a bit. If they figure 1 in every several thousand bars will need to be replaced, they figure that into their costs and adjust the price accordingly. So the warranty gives you kind of an idea of how long they expect the bar to last without issues in the overwhelming majority of cases. The XF bar has a measly 30 day warranty, but still, I would expect it to almost always stay in good shape for years under constant years. Perhaps they know that this bar in particular might be used in environments where it’s dropped on a rack  (which is what really damages bars), whereas the higher end bars are used by lifters who treat them with more respect and only use them on a platform, never a rack, so as not to damage the knurling.

IWF Certification

Eleiko has had both their competition bar and training bar certified by the IWF (International Weightlifting Federation), basically the strictest (and most expensive) standard you can get for WL bars.

Other Good Stuff to Know

Coach Charles Poliquin briefly goes over the difference between the powerlifting, weightlifting, women’s, and aluminum bars. In this video he doesn’t compare the competition, training, and sport bars, as they are all weightlifting bars, but he does note that you can kind of tell if the Eleiko bar in front of you is a powerlifting or weightlifting bar by kicking it in the middle as it sits on the floor. The weightlifting bar has more flex and will vibrate more. 

Cooper from Garage Gym Reviews goes over an Eleiko bar in some detail, including the sleeves, knurling, and feel:

Some folks like to test spin a bar with an empty sleeve, no plates on it. Even good bearing bars like this don’t necessarily spin more than a few revolutions unloaded. Remember during use it’s the shaft that spins, not the sleeve, and it does so under load. Unloaded you can see how sensitive it is, ie: how easily it will rotate to a soft nudge. Then loaded you can see how smooth the rotation is.

One attribute of a really good bearing bar is a snug fit of the sleeves over the shaft, so that when you wiggle it, there’s no noise. Two benefits to that:

  1. A tight fit means a smooth spin when the bar is being tossed up into the air and it doesn’t have the consistent pull of gravity in one direciton, ie: real usage and not sitting on a rack. If it’s a sloppy fit, that’s going to impact its ability to spin exactly where you need it to spin the most, during your transition as you move your wrists around under it.
  2. A tight fit also makes a lot less noise! Just the thud, and maybe a small clang of the bumper hubs against the sleeve (or none, if it’s a great fit), but the real noise in inferior bars normally comes from the sleeve on the bar hitting the shaft. 

This video puts the Eleiko comp bar into context as compared to the Rogue Ohio Bar and Rogue 2.0.

Like a lot of bars nowadays, Eleiko puts tiny grooves on the sleeves that help keep plates and collars in place.

Where to Buy

Get the Eleiko bars directly from Eleiko Sport USA (Chicago, IL).

Their WL Training Bar and XF Bar can also be found on Amazon for the same prices. They are sold and shipped by Eleiko as well. 

 

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