Best Olympic Bar Under $200

Share:

You’re convinced you need a good 7ft bar and not a cheapo bar like one included in a basic 300 lb olympic weight set, but you balk at seeing people spend a week’s salary on one. You want it as a tool for weight lifting that will last a long time, but you wonder if you’ll regret spending $300 on one.

If that’s you, read on.

You can spend $700 on a new bar if you really want to. And you might discover why it’s so good once you start using it. The reality is it only makes sense for competitive athletes who want to be lifting on the same bar they have at the meet.

For bars strictly under $200, I’ve narrowed it down to this short list.

These include bars for both powerlifting and olympic weightlifting. There aren’t many of them in this price range, so I thought it best to just include both rather than write a separate article.

Click a name to hop to the detailed description further below.

Model Diameter Shaft Finish Tensile Strength Spin Knurl Marks Price
Rogue Echo 28.5mm Bright Zinc 190,000 PSI Bushing IWF $195.00
CAP OB-86B 28.5mm Black Zinc Phosphate 130,000 PSI Bushing IPF $161.00
Rage Phoenix 28mm Black Oxide 155,000 PSI Bushing Dual
Get Rx'd WOD Bar 5.0 28mm Black Zinc 190,000 PSI Bearing IWF $170.00
Fringe Wonder Bar 28mm Black Zinc 205,000 PSI Bushing Both $197

ALL of the bars above have NO center knurl, are 7ft long, and weigh 45 lbs or 44 lbs (20kg).

Note: I have the prices above set to auto-update, so I apologize in advance if any of them jack up the price to over $200 and make me look stupid. (please let me know in the comments at the bottom)

There are other bars that make it under the $200 cutoff, but they don’t stand out enough for you to pick them over any of these. I also didn’t include the cheap economy bars that sell for $115 or so.


Rogue Echo

Diameter 28.5mm
Shaft Finish Bright Zinc
Tensile Strength 190,000 PSI
Sleeve Spin Composite Bushing
Knurl Marks IWF

The Rogue Echo is Rogue’s lowest priced high-quality bar. It uses the same exact shaft as most of their other bars, with differences only in the bushings and other parts.

It’s basically a downgraded Ohio Bar, their current flagship bar, to get the price under $200 just for the budget shoppers! Here’s what they downgraded:

  • One set of IWF knurl marks instead of dual IWF/IPF
  • Bright zinc all over, no other coating options

Other than the end caps, I believe those are the only differences between the Echo and Ohio. That’s not bad for a $80 price cut, as I see it.

 


CAP OB-86B “Beast”

cap ob-86b

Diameter 28.5mm
Shaft Finish Black Zinc Phosphate
Tensile Strength 130,000 PSI
Sleeve Spin Brass Bushing
Knurl Marks IPF

CAP re-branded the OB-86B in 2015 with a green “Beast” label on the ends. The other change was the black oxide coating is now black zinc phosphate. Other than that, it’s the same stand-out bar they’ve been selling for years.

Let me get one thing clear. CAP has a ton of junk products. Right down to plastic cement-filled dumbbells and plastic jump ropes. It’s like the quintessential Chinese dollar store products. I believe C.A.P. actually stands for Chinese Athletic Products.

On the other hand, they actually make a few really good products, and their price points are low even on them. Most notably their line of barbells is great, and some of their dumbbells and weight plates are fine too. At the moment I sell mostly Troy and York plates, but I’ve sold tons of all models of the CAP barbells, and I don’t get any complaints.

The bodybuilding.com forum has a thread devoted to this bar, with links to reviews as far back as 2010. Come to think of it, I’m not sure when this bar was first made, but CAP had it in 2007 when I first started doing business with them.

The gist of opinions I’ve heard is people do like it but also acknowledge that it isn’t the strongest bar. Go ahead and drop it with bumpers. That part isn’t a problem. It’s when you drop a bar hard on a rack, or bounce hard out of the hole during a 400lb squat (yeah, most of us don’t have that problem), that your eyes start to widen. At 130,000 PSI, the math does indicate that this bar can’t hold up like some others, and hey, that’s why it’s so low priced.

Because the steel isn’t as strong, that gives it a ton of whip as you get up close to 300 lbs, so this is actually a pretty good bar for cleans. For the same reason, it’s not so good for powerlifting style squats.

It’s worth mentioning that this is the only bar on this list with IPF knurl marks, those little 1/2″ wide smooth spots you use as finger guides. The iPF marks are not quite as far apart as IWF. It just affects the hand placement you’re used to.

My Personal Evaluation

I have the CAP bar at the moment and have been using it.

Note that I do NOT lift a lot of weight. As of writing I’ve only cleaned 205 and deadlifted 315 on it.

The spin really does make a difference in how easy it is to rotate your grip during the catch. It’s no needle bearing bar, but it’s got brass bushings and spins good on them. Every bar I’m listing here has good spin though.

Now the noise. I like this one. It’s mostly just the thud of the bumpers. That’s what you want. I’ve used bars that had rattle on the sleeves, and a little rattle means a huge clanging sound when you drop it. And really that can’t be good for the bar.

I have no problem with the grip. The knurling is just fine. You know, all knurling feels a little different and is hard to describe. It’s not just a matter of what’s deeper. The pattern makes a difference. The shape of the peaks, all that. At first I wasn’t sure I liked it, but it quickly grew on me and I found it to be easier on my soft woman-like hands than the Troy AOB-1200B bar I had prior to this (which I am not including in this review because it was lousy), without sacrificing gripping power. The zinc phosphate coating lends itself to good grip too. It doesn’t wear off as quickly as a black oxide coating.


Rage Phoenix 2.0

Diameter 28mm
Shaft Finish Black Oxide
Tensile Strength 155,000 PSI
Sleeve Spin Steel Bushing
Center Knurling No
Knurl Marks Dual IWF/IPF

Rage redesigned their Rage Phoenix in 2017. New with this model over their old one is:

  • 28mm shaft. This can be slightly easier to grip for heavy pulls than 28.5mm. It’s not much, but it matters.
  • Black oxide finish. The old one was bright zinc. The black oxide helps your hands stick to it a little more.
  • Dual knurl marks, making it the only bar on this list with dual IPF/IWF marks for easy hand placement no matter what exercise you’re doing.

 

It isn’t Rage’s strongest bar, but the typical home user in a garage will do great with it. Those dual knurl markings are a big deal, and if you’re really OCD about even hand placement then this could be the one for you.


Get Rxd WOD Bar 5.0

wod bar 5.9a

Diameter 28mm
Shaft Finish Black Zinc or Chrome
Tensile Strength 190,000 PSI
Sleeve Spin Needle Bearing
Knurl Marks IWF

This is made with high level WL bar features. Needle bearing sleeves for maximum spin sensitivity. A true 28mm diameter for olympic lifting.

Needle bearings are expensive. That’s the reason that no other bars on this list use them. Get Rx’d was able to pull off a partial needle bearing bar with the WOD Bar 5.0.  They actually do have bushings in the sleeves too to keep the price low while taking advantage of bearings to assist smooth rotation. So a 100% bearing bar is going to spin better, but come on, for the price point it’s pretty darn good.

Some folks prefer bushings. Needle bearings are good for cleans, to rotate your hands under the bar easily during the catch. Otherwise when you’re at your limit you’ll tweak your wrists. But powerlifters don’t need that kind of spin at all, and they prefer the normal amount of spin that bushings provide, to keep things under control better.

The other thing about this bar is the true 28mm shaft. Olympic lifters adore this size because it fits most men’s hands so well and they can get a nice hook grip on it. 28mm is the IWF spec. And any thinner than 28mm and it starts getting too whippy and weak. That’s why women’s 25mm bars are so expensive; they have to be made with really good steel.

The black zinc plating, if you go with that rather than chrome, is a durable finish. A zinc plating is a little thicker than some others, and it’s applied as a plating rather than a coating. This means it fills in a little of the knurling, accounting for some of the smooth, easy feel on your hands. It also means it’s more of a solid layer, like chrome, so it’s not going to wear off easily. Zinc is the same stuff they put on some screws at the hardware store. Unlike chrome, it doesn’t get slippery when your hands get sweaty.


FringeSport Wonder Bar v2 (Bushing Version)

wonder bar v2

Diameter 28mm
Shaft Finish Black Zinc
Tensile Strength 205,000 PSI
Sleeve Spin Bushing
Knurl Marks IWF

Most of the bars on this list are made with bushings in the sleeves, but the their Wonder Bar is available in both. So I just want to be clear I’m referencing the bushing version that makes the cut under $200.

Anyway, this is the strongest 28mm bar out there for this price, at 205,000 PSI tensile strength. Fringe is competitive on their pricing for everything, and they give free shipping.

One thing about Fringe is they offer a really generous 365-day return policy, even for stuff in used (but usable) condition. And in the first 30 days they’ll even pay to take it back. I don’t know of any other supplier of this kind of equipment that does this. So they rank the best on the risk scale if you’re feeling jittery.

  • Was this Article Helpful?
  • yes   no
Share:

9 comments

  1. Willy B. 27 June, 2017 at 05:19 Reply

    @ Randy K. 26, June 2017 21:55 comment

    Randy K.,

    I was in your shoes not long ago… I was analyzing & over analyzing all the lifting equipment options out there…it can be very stressful, especially if you have to stay within a budget & you want to get stuff that will grow with your needs…I am sharing the routes I chose for barbell & bumper plates.

    If you can be patient the X Training Elite Bearing Bar 2.0 could be had for much less. Back in March/April it was $199 & the X training Elite Competition bar 2.0 was only $150.

    I ended up getting the X training Elite Competition Bar (190k psi bushing) for $134.50 out the door shipped to my house in very strong cardboard tube (no damage). I bought on sale through Again Faster & Joel from “As Many Reviews As Possible” gave me his an additional 10%off promo code for Again Faster. (Find one of his Youtube videos or blog & ask for his most current promo codes). The Competition bar has plenty of spin for me for cleans, c & j. The true 28mm bar made a notice grip difference for me.

    My Bumper Plate recommendation is Diamond Pro bumper plates. They have two diffrent styles the standard imported & the crumb bumper plate made in ALabama. The good part is they are both the standard 450mm in diameter.

    I can only speak for their import bumper plates, they are awesome! I have the 55lb, 45lb, 25lb, 15lb, &10lb sizes. The 10lb & 15lb are slightly smaller diameter so they don’t make contact with the ground on a loaded bar. The 10lb is slightly smaller than the 15lb bumper. All of my bumper plates have been dropped with loads greater than 300+ lbs. from about waist height/finished deadlift height. They have a nice dead bounce.

    Walmart.com – Is were I order my Diamond Pro bumper plates…FREE SHIPPING & VERY Competitive pricing. All plates have been delivered to my house free shipping from Walmart via FedEx /Ups & none have been damaged. They are clean not greasy when they arrive. The only downside is Walmart.com is like Amazon, Best Buy etc…if they find you are interested in an item through your I.P address the price can fluctuate + or – 20%. So clear your cookies or go incognito mode to get the best prices.

    If you want I can email you pics of the bar & plates…There are so many choices & on paper they all look the same…Best of luck!

    Willy B.

  2. Randy K 24 June, 2017 at 16:34 Reply

    Looking for a good bar for Olympics specifically and some squats and other accessory lifts. Based on your review the Get Rxed WOD 5.0 seems the right bar. I was wondering what would you recommend?

    • David Kiesling
      David Kiesling 26 June, 2017 at 07:53

      Randy, yep, that is probably the most popular bar here, and I think it’s the best choice because of the bearings. Nothing spins like a good bearing bar.

    • Randy K 26 June, 2017 at 21:55

      David

      What do you think of the X Training Equipment elite bearing Olympic barbell? With their bar and set of 260lbs bumpers collars comes only to 558 with free shipping on amazon. Watched a review and believe it the best bang for your buck bar under $200.

    • David Kiesling
      David Kiesling 27 June, 2017 at 08:32

      Randy, the XTraining bar looks good, but it’s way over $200. Normally once you start getting into bearings the price starts shooting up, which is why the WOD Bar 5.0 is unusual.

  3. Michael W. 28 March, 2017 at 07:52 Reply

    Hi David,

    Thanks for the great write up. What do you think about the XMark Fitness Voodoo Bar. It cost $192, Snap ring, brass bushings, 185,000 tensil at 28 mm, with moderate flex. I read the reviews from Amazon and from the xMark site, most all of them were 5 stars. One review on Amazon said the knurling would make a man out of you, but others said the knurling was normal and fine. Another said the bar had flexed with 200 lbs, so not sure if it will bend more than the Echo.

    I considering this bar or the Rogue Echo.

    The reason I came across this bar was it is part of a package called the Deadlift Package that includes 280 lbs of bumpers plus the bar for $542 and free shipping. $38 less than the cost of 260 lbs of Rogue Echo bumpers and the echo bar.

    Since I live in an apartment in NYC, I will not be throwing the weights around and dropping them, but I want the rubber plates because they are quieter and will potentially cause less damage to the floor compared the iron plates. Hence I don’t need top of the line bumpers.

    What are your thoughts? spend the extra $38 go with a well known and reputable brand or save money and get the extra weight too? That is if you think bars are indeterminably similar. My numbers are pretty low. At 51, I weigh 185 and Kettlebell front squat 125 for 3 sets of 5, and deadlift 220 for 2 sets of 5.

    thanks again.

    • David Kiesling
      David Kiesling 28 March, 2017 at 10:39

      Hi Michael,
      I was looking over the specs of the Voodoo a while back. It was the first bar I saw with that manganese coating. There was also an old video of it being lifted and dropped to concrete with a forklift with some crazy amount of weight on it. Anyway, I’d go with the Rogue setup. I imagine I personally wouldn’t mind using the XMark set, but Rogue has experience in selling a huge volume of good quality equipment and improving little things over the years that they’ve learned by trial and error, like using good snap rings that won’t break, that if it comes down to paying just a little more I’d prefer to do Rogue and know for sure what I’m getting. Plus, the Echo 10lb bumpers also almost the size of the others, while the XMark are more like the size of iron plates and so can’t really be used alone for light weight cleans/snatches off the floor.

  4. Willy B. 9 March, 2017 at 07:27 Reply

    I am Looking for a new home-gym barbell in this $200 range. Used for both Olympic & powerlifting. Weights on bar rarley get up over mid 500lbs. I need one that is built to last, but not break the bank. The stats on paper make it hard to choose. So What would you recommend having touched & used a variety of bars?

    Diamond Pro bar $179 *this is a Usa made – (i have their bumper plates & slam balls – those products are goid quality, so im assuming this would be also)
    Wonder bushing $199
    Rogue Echo bar $195
    Cap Beast $139

    • David Kiesling
      David Kiesling 9 March, 2017 at 11:45

      Hi Willy,
      I see Diamond Pro has zero information on their own site about their bars. Just a couple pics. I know they’ve been around a few years, but that’s just weird to me, and I get nervous easily. I see Walmart has some info on their listing. On paper it looks fine. Walmart has some of the best buyers in the world on staff who negotiate rock bottom pricing, so I’d wonder what corner had to be cut on this bar to get the price low enough for Walmart to buy it.
      The CAP Beast is good, but with the weight you’re pulling I’d say you could use an upgrade.
      I’d personally go with the Wonder over the Rogue just because it has brass bushings that give a little better spin. If you don’t do max attempts on cleans, then the spin doesn’t matter so much (to save your wrists from a bad transition) and the Echo would be good, and you’d get the extra finger marks on the Echo.

Leave a reply