Best Olympic Weightlifting Barbell Reviews 2021: Oly Bar Guide


On this page, I’ve compiled short reviews of the best Olympic weightlifting barbells on the market. Use this as a resource to find the best Olympic bar for your home gym.

Keep in mind when I say “Olympic weightlifting barbell,” I’m not just talking about any generic ~7 foot long bar with ~2 inch diameter collars used for general weight training. I’m talking about barbells designed specifically for the lifts done in the sport of Olympic weightlifting (i.e. snatch, clean and jerk, and the many Oly training variations)

If you already know you need an Olympic weightlifting barbell and are familiar with the typical specs and features, continue on.

If not, I recommend first reading my barbell buying guide. It covers the differences between Olympic bars vs power bars vs multipurpose bars and how to select the best barbell for your home gym.

Best Olympic Weightlifting Barbells Under $400 (Budget Oly Bars)

While $400 may not seem like a “budget” bar, it’s important to understand that Olympic weightlifting barbells are on average priced higher than both power bars and multipurpose bars.

Bells of Steel Bar 2.0 Review

Bells of Steel Bar 2.0

Key Specs

  • Weight: 20kg (44lbs)
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Tensile Strength: 240k PSI
  • Knurl: Medium to moderately aggressively
  • Center Knurl: No
  • Shaft Finish: Hard chrome
  • Sleeve Finish: Hard chrome
  • Rotation: 4 needle bearings and 1 stainless steel bushing per sleeve
  • Knurl Marks: Dual (IWF and IPF)
  • Bar Length: 2200mm (86.61 in)
  • Loadable Sleeve Length: 411mm (16.2 in)
  • Manufactured: Imported
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Price: $299.99
Bells of Steel Bar 2.0 - Sleeve

Reasons to Buy

  • The Bells of Steel Bar 2.0 has fairly aggressive knurling for an Oly training bar. This is great if you’re training consists mostly of low-to-medium rep sets of the Olympic lifts.
  • There’s no center knurling. This is ideal in a training bar, since center knurl serves no function in the core Olympic lifts. It can just get in the way.
  • It features a hard chrome finish on the sleeves and shaft. This provides above average protection against rust, scratching and chipping.
  • It uses needle bearings, which is rarely seen in a bar at this price point. There are 4 per sleeve and they work well, with the spin being fast and smooth. There’s also one stainless steel bushing in each sleeve.
  • It has deeply grooved sleeves. This helps keep the plates in place, particularly if you use rubber change plates.
  • It has dual IWF and IPF markings. This comes in handy if you want to use it for any of the power lifts, or if you want to use it for Crossfit style training. However, as I’ll get into below, some may not like this bar for Crossfit.
Bells of Steel Bar 2.0 - Shaft with Knurl Markings

Reasons Not to Buy

  • If you do Crossfit style training or a lot of high rep sets for the Olympic lifts, you may prefer a bar with softer knurling. But if you like a more aggressive knurl for your WODs, this is your bar; some actually prefer this knurl for higher rep sets.
  • Despite being 28 mm, the bar is not as whippy as you might expect. This may be because it uses such strong steel (240k PSI). To be clear, it’s certainly not stiff like a powerlifting bar, but it could use some improvement here. That said, you may only notice this if you’re already fairly strong on the Olympic lifts.

Buy Now – Bells of Steel Bar 2.0 »

Vulcan Training Olympic Bearing Barbell Review

Vulcan Training Olympic Bearing Barbell

Key Specs

  • Weight: 20kg (44lbs)
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Tensile Strength: 191k PSI
  • Knurl: Medium
  • Center Knurl: No
  • Shaft Finish: Hard Chrome
  • Sleeve Finish: Hard Chrome
  • Rotation: 4 needle bearings per sleeve
  • Knurl Marks: IWF
  • Bar Length: N/A
  • Loadable Sleeve Length: N/A
  • Manufactured: Imported
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Price: $319.99
Vulcan Training Olympic Bearing Barbell - Sleeve

Reasons to Buy

  • The Vulcan Training Olympic Bearing Barbell is well-priced for what you get. It makes a great choice for anyone just starting out in Olympic lifting.
  • It’s one of, if not the, lowest priced barbells to feature needle bearings instead of bushings. They may not be premium quality bearings at this price point, but all user feedback indicates they’re more than adequate and give the sleeves good spin. You could argue that the beginner users of this bar won’t benefit from the better spin that bearings provide. It is nonetheless a “nice to have” feature.
  • It has a hard chrome coating on both the shaft and the sleeves. This is a great finish for durability. It’s highly resistant to scratches/chipping. It also provides above average protection from rust. It’s an upgrade from a previous version of this barbell that used black zinc, which is prone to scratching and fading over time.
  • The knurl is moderate. It’s just aggressive enough to stay in your hand during heavy low rep sets. At the same, it won’t kill your palms during higher rep work.
  • It comes with a recessed center knurl. This is clutch if you want to do squats with this barbell as it will provide some traction. Yet, the center knurl is soft enough that it won’t cause discomfort in the front rack position.
  • There is a version of this bar with dual IWF/IPF knurl markings, which is nice if you want it for multipurpose use. Though, that version loses the recessed center knurl, which I think would’ve been better to leave. In any case, some lifters will prefer the dual markings for their training.
Vulcan Training Olympic Bearing Barbell - Shaft with Knurl Markings

Reasons Not to Buy

  • This is not an extremely whippy bar. It’s still 28mm so there is definitely whip there. But it’s not what you get from higher end Oly bars.
  • The price of the bar indicates that the bearings used aren’t the most premium. I’ve heard no complaints. But the point is more expensive bars will have better bearings, and thus at least marginally better rotation.
  • If you’re intermediate or beyond in the Olympic lifts, you’ll be better off with a mid-range or high-end bearing bar or even a bushing bar. Even though this is a bearing bar, it lacks somewhat in other categories that more advanced lifters will care about (e.g. whip, overall bar strength).

Buy Now – Vulcan Training Olympic Bearing Barbell »

Rogue 28mm Training Bar Review

Rogue 28mm Training Bar - Shaft and Sleeve

Key Specs

  • Weight: 20kg (44lbs)
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Tensile Strength: 190k PSI
  • Knurl: Medium
  • Center Knurl: No
  • Shaft Finish: Black zinc
  • Sleeve Finish: Bright zinc
  • Rotation: Bronze bushings
  • Knurl Marks: IWF
  • Bar Length: 86.6 in
  • Loadable Sleeve Length: 16.25 in
  • Manufactured: USA
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Price: $335
Rogue 28mm Training Bar - Shaft

Reasons to Buy

  • The Rogue 28mm Training Bar is the least expensive Olympic training bushing bar that’s made in the USA. It’s even a great deal among imported bars.
  • It has great knurling. It’s moderate; not aggressive and not dull. You’ll have enough grip for the heavy lifts (with either no chalk or just a little) and still be able to do higher rep sets without tearing up your hands.
  • It spins well for a bushing bar, though it may need to worn in a little bit when you first get it.
  • The whip is good on this barbell. It’s not the whippiest, but it’s great when you consider the price.
  • The construction quality is top notch: Even knurl, even finish, tight sleeve tolerances, and the bar is tested for straightness before leaving the factory.
  • This bar is made in the USA by Rogue, who is known for their great manufacturing and quality control.
Rogue 28mm Training Bar - End Cap

Reasons Not to Buy

  • If you like this bar, but don’t want the black zinc shaft, there is a better version: it is also available in cerakote for $30 more. This is a better option to go with over the zinc because it has a more grippy texture and better oxidation resistance. If you want a bar that has more natural tacky feel to it, go with the Vulcan Elite V4.0 Bushing Bar which has a unique unpolished chrome finish. To get much better than that, you’ll need to go with a raw or stainless bar. And a stainless bar will put you in a higher price range.

Buy Now – Rogue 28mm Training Bar »

American Barbell Performance Training Bar Review

American Barbell Performance Training Bar

Key Specs

  • Weight: 20kg (44lbs)
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Tensile Strength: 190k PSI
  • Knurl: Mild to medium
  • Center Knurl: No
  • Shaft Finish: Hard chrome
  • Sleeve Finish: Hard chrome
  • Rotation: Composite bushings
  • Knurl Marks: IWF
  • Bar Length: 86.5 in
  • Loadable Sleeve Length: 16.25 in
  • Manufactured: USA
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Price: $395
American Barbell Performance Training Bar

Reasons to Buy

  • The American Barbell Performance Training Bar gets a lot of praise from customers for the impressive amount of whip. The whip is noticeable even at moderate loads.
  • This bar has a relatively mild knurling like all American Barbell bars. However, it still has a very grippy feel to it thanks to the high knurl point density. This characteristic makes it an excellent choice for an Olympic training barbell because it can be effective for both heavy low rep work and higher rep work.
  • It has a very smooth and consistent spin. You may think the spin is subpar if you spin the unloaded sleeve, but this is because of the composite bushings. Once weight is added, these bushings spin more smooth and consistently. This is true even under extreme loads. No seizing whatsoever.
  • It’s an incredibly quiet bar during use and especially during drops because of its composite bushings and tight sleeve construction.
  • The hard chrome finish adds good corrosion resistance and excellent protection against scratches and chipping.
  • This bar is made in the USA just like all American Barbell bars. This is a major reason for it’s excellent construction quality.
American Barbell Performance Training Bar - Sleeve

Reasons Not to Buy

  • While the composite bushings are great, some lifters may want to upgrade to a needle bearing bar. However, just know that a cheap needle bearing bar won’t be better overall. If you like everything else about this bar, you’re in luck because there is an AB Performance Bearing Bar that’s otherwise exactly the same.
  • If you want a stainless steel bar for better grip and oxidation resistance, there are some good alternatives. The AB Precision Training Bar is one such choice. It’s essentially the same as the Performance Training bar, but with the upgrade of stainless steel.

Buy Now – American Barbell Performance Training Bar »

Vulcan Standard 28mm Olympic Training Barbell Review

Vulcan Standard 28mm Olympic Training Barbell

Key Specs

  • Weight: 20kg (44lbs)
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Tensile Strength: 196k PSI
  • Knurl: Medium
  • Center Knurl: Yes
  • Shaft Finish: Nickel chrome
  • Sleeve Finish: Bright zinc
  • Rotation: Oilite® oil-impregnated bronze bushings (2 per sleeve)
  • Knurl Marks: IWF
  • Bar Length: N/A
  • Loadable Sleeve Length: N/A
  • Manufactured: USA
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Price: $345.45
Vulcan Standard 28mm Olympic Training Barbell - Shaft

Reasons to Buy

  • The Vulcan Standard 28mm Olympic Training Barbell has mild to medium knurl making it suitable for higher rep work. This is a plus if you’ll be doing any Crossfit style training. It also is good if you like to do your heavy Olympic lifts with a milder knurl.
  • Whip is good. It’s not overly impressive, but it’s in line with other barbells in this price range.
  • The sleeves spin very well when loaded thanks to the sintered (oil-impregnated) bronze bushings and well-constructed sleeves.
  • It has a nickel chrome shaft, which provides great oxidation resistance and protection against abrasions. The sleeves are bright zinc, which is an adequate choice at this price point.
  • It’s one few bars that Vulcan makes in the USA. You can expect solid build quality and tight tolerances.
Vulcan Standard 28mm Olympic Training Barbell - Sleeve and Shaft

Reasons Not to Buy

  • If you want slightly more aggressive knurl, go with the Vulcan Elite V4.0. You lose out on it being American-made, but you also gain a higher tensile strength and a center knurl. Otherwise, they’re both solid Olympic training bushing bars and their prices are almost the same.

Buy Now – Vulcan Standard 28mm Olympic Training Barbell »

Vulcan Elite V4.0 Bushing Barbell Review

Vulcan Elite V4.0 Bushing Barbell - End Cap and Sleeve

Key Specs

  • Weight: 20kg (44lbs)
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Tensile Strength: 221k PSI
  • Knurl: Medium
  • Center Knurl: Yes (passive)
  • Shaft Finish: Thin dense chrome (matte)
  • Sleeve Finish: Hard chrome
  • Rotation: Oil-impregnated bronze bushings
  • Knurl Marks: IWF
  • Bar Length: 2200mm (86.61 in)
  • Loadable Sleeve Length: 16.375 in
  • Manufactured: Imported
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Price: $369.99
Vulcan Elite V4 with Medium Knurling

Reasons to Buy

  • The Vulcan Elite V4.0 Bushing Barbell is one of the whippiest bushing bars on the market. It’s one of the major characteristics that makes this a popular barbell.
  • The sleeve rotation is excellent on this bar for a bushing bar. It’s better than many run-of-the-mill bearing bars. It spins well at light and heavy loads alike. It uses sintered bronze bearings and a tightly constructed sleeve assembly to achieve this.
  • It has medium outer knurling. It provides just enough depth for grip on the heavy lifts but it’s not at all “sharp.” It is possible to use it for higher rep work, too. Note that Vulcan uses “moderately aggressive” to describe this knurling. However, I have this bar and I think my description is more accurate when comparing it to other bars in the wider market.
  • This bar has a recessed center knurling, which I see as a big plus. Many training bars have no center knurl at all. Competition bars often have a more aggressive center knurl. The recessed center knurl is the perfect compromise. It gives you the ability to do squats and behind-the-neck work with enough grip to keep the bar on your back. Yet, the knurl is soft enough that it won’t cause discomfort in the front rack position.
  • It has an impressive 221k PSI tensile strength rating. This makes it one of the strongest Olympic training bars you can buy.
  • The shaft finish is thin dense chrome. This is different than hard chrome in a couple of ways: It doesn’t build up as much, so it doesn’t fill in the knurl as much. It also is applied with a matte finish. This gives you a feel that’s much closer to a raw steel bar. At the same time, it has excellent anti-oxidation properties like hard chrome.
  • The sleeve finish is hard chrome, which of course provides great protection against oxidation. It’s also is highly resistant to scratches and chipping, which you want here because you’ll be sliding plates on and off constantly.
Passive Center Knurling on the Vulcan Elite V4.0

Reasons Not to Buy

  • The Elite’s price is actually quite attractive. However, if you are on a tight budget and looking for a less expensive Olympic training bar, then the Rogue 28 mm Training Bar is a good choice. You lose a couple attractive features (center knurl, better whip, chrome finish), but you save $70 and still get a good overall training bar.

Buy Now – Vulcan Elite V4.0 Bushing Barbell »

Best Olympic Weightlifting Barbells Between $400-600 (Mid-Range Oly Bars)

LUXIAOJUN Men’s Weightlifting Training Bar Review

LUXIAOJUN Men's Weightlifting Training Bar

Key Specs

  • Weight: 20kg (44lbs)
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Tensile Strength: 230k PSI
  • Knurl: Medium
  • Center Knurl: Yes
  • Shaft Finish: Hard chrome
  • Sleeve Finish: Hard chrome
  • Rotation: 5 needle bearings per sleeve
  • Knurl Marks: IWF
  • Bar Length: 2200mm (86.61 in)
  • Loadable Sleeve Length: 415mm (16.33 in)
  • Manufactured: Import
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Price: $415
LUXIAOJUN Men's Weightlifting Training Bar - Shaft

Reasons to Buy

  • The LUXIAOJUN Men’s Weightlifting Training Bar has an excellent price for a well-rounded Olympic bearing training bar.
  • The knurling is good. It’s not soft, but far from being super aggressive like a lot of competition bars.
  • The rotation is great. It’s very smooth and consistent, and can handle heavy loads without seizing. It uses 5 needle bearings per sleeve to achieve this.
  • This is a whippy bar. Its reflexive properties won’t leave you disappointed, especially at this price point.
  • It’s a strong barbell with an impressive 230k PSI tensile strength rating. That’s higher than the average Olympic weightlifting bar.
  • Each sleeve collar has an anti-bounce rubber ring. This protects the sleeves and bearings if you drop the empty bar on the floor.
  • It has a hard chrome finish on the shaft and sleeves. It’s a good finish for this price. It will protect your bar from rust and scratches without taking too much away from the grippiness.
LUXIAOJUN Men's Weightlifting Training Bar - Shaft and Sleeve

Reasons Not to Buy

  • This bar only has a 3 year warranty. The industry standard in this price range is a lifetime warranty.
  • It’s new to the market so there isn’t much long-term feedback on it yet.

Buy Now – LUXIAOJUN Men’s Weightlifting Training Bar »

American Barbell Stainless Precision Training Bar Review

American Barbell Stainless Precision Training Bar

Key Specs

  • Weight: 20kg (44lbs)
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Tensile Strength: 190k PSI
  • Knurl: Mild to medium
  • Center Knurl: No
  • Shaft Finish: Stainless steel
  • Sleeve Finish: Hard chrome
  • Rotation: Composite bushings
  • Knurl Marks: IWF
  • Bar Length: 86.5 in
  • Loadable Sleeve Length: 16.25 in
  • Manufactured: USA
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Price: $495
American Barbell Stainless Precision Training Bar - Shaft and Sleeve

Reasons to Buy

  • The American Barbell Stainless Precision Training Bar has a stainless steel shaft, which is always a welcome luxury. You get the grip benefits from the natural feel of the raw steel. At the same time, you get a highly rust-resistant shaft that requires minimal maintenance.
  • The sleeves aren’t stainless steel, but they are chrome, which is the next best thing. The chrome will resist rust and as well as abrasions.
  • The knurling is mild to medium, but is much grippier than you’d think by just looking at it. This is a result of the high knurl point density combined with the natural grip from the unfinished stainless steel shaft.
  • The bar has great spin. The composite bushings and precise sleeve construction are responsible for this. Technically, sintered bronze bushings would perform (slightly) better overall, but the composite bushing spin more smoothly under extra heavy loads.
  • This bar is extremely quiet. This is thanks to its use of composite bushings instead of bronze bushings (plastic is quieter than metal). Another major factor in this bar’s silence is the tight tolerances in the sleeve construction, which is another hallmark of American Barbell bars. This is a big plus if you need to minimize noise during your workouts (e.g. if you have a baby in the house).
  • This barbell is made in the USA by the detailed-oriented manufacturers at American Barbell. You can expect quality.
American Barbell Stainless Precision Training Bar - Shaft and Sleeve Closeup

Reasons Not to Buy

  • The whip on this barbell is good, but it’s not exactly a high whip bar. Some owners have said they expected it to have greater reflexive properties. If you want a bushing bar that’s known for its high whip, consider the Vulcan Elite V4.0.
  • The price on this bar is fair, but it’s getting toward the higher end for Olympic training bushing bars. You’re paying a premium for the stainless steel and for it being made in America. If this doesn’t quite fit your budget, consider one of the less expensive bars in this price range.

Buy Now – American Barbell Stainless Precision Training Bar »

American Barbell Performance Bearing Bar Review

American Barbell Performance Bearing Bar

Key Specs

  • Weight: 20kg (44lbs)
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Tensile Strength: 190k PSI
  • Knurl: Mild to medium
  • Center Knurl: No
  • Shaft Finish: Hard chrome
  • Sleeve Finish: Hard chrome
  • Rotation: Bearings
  • Knurl Marks: IWF
  • Bar Length: 86.5 in
  • Loadable Sleeve Length: 16.25 in
  • Manufactured: USA
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Price: $595

NOTE: This is essentially the same as the AB Performance Training Bar (see above) except it has bearings instead of bushings.

American Barbell Performance Bearing Bar - Sleeve

Reasons to Buy

  • The American Barbell Performance Bearing Bar has very good whip. You’ll notice it even at moderate loads.
  • It has the same mild to medium yet grippy knurl that you’ll find on all AB bars. This is the way to go if you want to spare your hands from the relatively more aggressive training bars (and certainly much more aggressive competition bars).
  • The bearings and the tight sleeve assembly in this barbell give it exceptional spin at any weight. It can handle even the heaviest loads and spin fast, smoothly and consistently.
  • The sleeves have a dust and chalk seal. This means better performance, less frequent maintenance and a longer bearing lifespan.
  • While not quite as quiet as the composite bushing version of the Performance bar, this is still a silent bar to drop thanks to the tight tolerances in the sleeve assembly (e.g. no lateral/vertical sleeve play; end caps tight; etc.).
  • The hard chrome is a classic finish choice that will protect the sleeves and shaft against rust and abrasions. You don’t get the same feel as a raw steel bar, but it doesn’t take too much away like a zinc finish would.
  • This bar is made in the USA. This will live up to, if not surpass, the good reputation of American made barbells.
American Barbell Performance Bearing Bar - Shaft and Sleeve

Reasons Not to Buy

Buy Now – American Barbell Performance Bearing Bar »

Rogue Olympic Weightlifting Bar Review

Rogue Olympic Weightlifting Bar - Shaft and Sleeve

Key Specs

  • Weight: 20kg (44lbs)
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Tensile Strength: 215k PSI
  • Knurl: Medium
  • Center Knurl: No
  • Shaft Finish: Bright Zinc
  • Sleeve Finish: Bright Zinc
  • Rotation: 5 needle bearings per sleeve
  • Knurl Marks: IWF
  • Bar Length: 86.6 in
  • Loadable Sleeve Length: 16.25 in
  • Manufactured: USA
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Price: $540
Rogue Olympic Weightlifting Bar - Knurling

Reasons to Buy

  • The Rogue Olympic Weightlifting Bar (also known as the Rogue Olympic WL Bar) is the lowest priced American-made Olympic training bearing bar.
  • It has a high tensile strength of 215k PSI, which is right in line with the high-end Swedish bars from Eleiko.
  • This bar has very good whip. There are whippier bars within its price range, but you will not be underwhelmed by this bar’s reflexive properties.
  • It has 5 high quality need bearings per sleeve that ensure a smooth and consistent spin.
  • Tolerances are tight in the sleeve construction, which makes for a quieter lifting experience.
  • Each bar is tested for straightness to within 0.015″ as part of Rogue’s quality control process.
  • This bar is made in the USA by Rogue. It holds up to the Rogue’s reputation for high quality manufacturing.
Rogue Olympic Weightlifting Bar - Shaft with Knurling

Reasons Not to Buy

  • If you want a better finish than zinc, there are a couple other versions of this bar including a cerakote option (black cerakote shaft + chrome sleeves) for $50 more and a stainless steel option for $100 more.
  • If you want a bar with a center knurl that’s also IWF-certified for competition, you’re in luck. Rogue has the IWF version at no extra cost. The outer knurl has the same pattern. The only notable difference is that it has a center knurl.
  • If you want a more aggressive knurl with a stainless shaft, center knurl and IWF certification, go with the Rogue Pyrros Bar, which is otherwise similar. It will cost you a bit more, though.
  • If you want the whippiest bearing bar you can get in this price range, go with the Vulcan Elite V4.0 Bearing Bar.

Buy Now – Rogue Olympic Weightlifting Bar »

Vulcan Professional Olympic Barbell Review

Vulcan Professional Olympic Barbell - Sleeve with End Cap

Key Specs

  • Weight: 20kg (44lbs)
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Tensile Strength: 241k PSI
  • Knurl: Moderately aggressive
  • Center Knurl: Yes (passive)
  • Shaft Finish: Hard chrome
  • Sleeve Finish: Hard chrome
  • Rotation: 4 precision German needle bearings per sleeve
  • Knurl Marks: IWF
  • Bar Length: N/A
  • Loadable Sleeve Length: N/A
  • Manufactured: Imported
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Price: $599.99
Vulcan Professional Olympic Barbell - Shaft and Sleeve

Reasons to Buy

  • The knurling is moderately aggressive, giving it noticeably more bite than the average medium knurl Olympic training bars that dominate the market. Yet it’s still less aggressive than the typical competition bar. It’s great for heavy low rep work. High rep work is possible, but many people will prefer softer knurl for that. In any case, this bar is designed for advanced Oly lifters rather than CrossFitters.
  • It has a passive center knurl. This is an excellent feature if you want some grip for doing squats or behind-the-neck Oly variations. It’s soft, so it won’t cut you up on cleans.
  • Each sleeve is assembled with tight tolerances using 4 German needle bearings. The rotation is quick, smooth and reliable.
  • This is a high whip bar built for advanced lifters. It’s dynamic properties are noticeable once you’re lifting at least a couple hundred pounds.
  • This bar is at the high-end of the spectrum as far as Olympic bar tensile strength goes, at a whopping 241k PSI, just eclipsing the Vulcan Absolute Oly Bar’s 240k shaft. Most bars don’t have their yield strength listed, but this one does. It’s an impressive 223k PSI, which is higher than the tensile strengths of nearly all other Oly bars on the market. This bar is STRONG. Period.
  • The shaft and sleeves are both coated in hard chrome. This is a typical and desirable finish for Olympic bars. It works very well for preventing rust, and especially guards against chipping and scratching. It does so without too much compromise in the grip/feel department.
  • The sleeves have a single piece construction and are grooved to help keep change plates on.
  • Overall, this bar can compete with the high-end IWF-certified bars in terms of performance, while beating them on price.
Vulcan Professional Olympic Barbell - Center Knurl

Reasons Not to Buy

Buy Now – Vulcan Professional Olympic Barbell »

Rogue Euro 28MM Olympic WL Bar Review

Rogue Euro 28MM Olympic WL Bar

Key Specs

  • Weight: 20kg (44lbs)
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Tensile Strength: 215k PSI
  • Knurl: Yes (passive)
  • Center Knurl: Yes
  • Shaft Finish: Cerakote (high gloss clear)
  • Sleeve Finish: Chrome
  • Rotation: 5 needle bearing sets per sleeve
  • Knurl Marks: IWF
  • Bar Length: 86.6 in
  • Loadable Sleeve Length: 16.25 in
  • Manufactured: USA
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Price: $585
Rogue Euro 28MM Olympic WL Bar - Shaft and Sleeve

Reasons to Buy

  • The Rogue Euro 28MM Olympic WL Bar has a medium knurl, much like the Rogue Olympic WL Bar. There’s not much bite to this bar. It does have has enough grip to let you do the heavier lifts, but it isn’t so harsh that it’ll tear up your hands in high rep sets or long training sessions.
  • It features a passive center knurl so you can squat and do behind-the-neck variations without tearing up your traps.
  • It’s a high whip barbell, with a bit more whip than the Rogue Olympic WL Bar. Rogue claims the European steel used in this bar helps with the dynamic properties.
  • The sleeve rotation is great. It’s quick, consistent and extremely smooth. You will have zero performance issues with these sleeves. There is less free spin (i.e. when spinning an empty sleeve) compared to the lesser priced Rogue Olympic WL Bar, but it’s overall smoother.
  • The shaft uses a high gloss clear cerakote finish. This preserves the aesthetic of the underlying steel while providing great oxidation resistance. I found one customer who reported some rusting within the first year of use, but there’s no widespread reports of this. The cerakote also preserves grip because cerakote has a non-slick texture to it.
  • This bar is IWF-certified for use in competition. This should be near the top of your list if you need an IWF-certified bar that’s not in or near the $1000 price point.
  • The sleeves are coated in a beautiful polished chrome. It won’t just look good. It’ll keep rust and scratches away, too.
  • It uses a strong 215k PSI shaft using a combination of EU and USA steel. This is right in line with with the tensile strength for other high end IWF bars like Eleiko.
  • The Rogue Euro, despite its name, is made in the USA. The manufacturing is top notch, as is the quality control.
Rogue Euro 28MM Olympic WL Bar - IWF Logo on Shaft

Reasons Not to Buy

Buy Now – Rogue Euro 28MM Olympic WL Bar »

Vulcan Elite V4.0 Olympic Bearing Barbell Review

Vulcan V4.0 Elite Olympic Bearing Barbell - Sleeve Collar
This shot is technically of the bushing version of the bar, but the unique sleeve design is the same on the bearing version.

Key Specs

  • Weight: 20kg (44lbs)
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Tensile Strength: 221k PSI
  • Knurl: Medium
  • Center Knurl: Yes (passive)
  • Shaft Finish: Nickel chrome
  • Sleeve Finish: Hard chrome
  • Rotation: 5 needle bearings per sleeve
  • Knurl Marks: IWF
  • Bar Length: 2200mm (86.61 in)
  • Loadable Sleeve Length: 16.375 in
  • Manufactured: Imported
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Price: $599.99

NOTE: This barbell is very similar to the Vulcan Elite V4.0 Bushing Bar, with the main exception being this one uses bearings, has slightly different finish and is more expensive.

Vulcan V4.0 Elite Olympic Bearing Barbell - Center Knurl

Reasons to Buy

  • The Elite V4.0 Bearing Bar is super whippy thanks to its chrome molybdenum steel shaft. This type of steel makes its reflexive properties apparent even at lighter weights.
  • The knurling on this bar is medium; not aggressive and not passive. It’s sufficient for both Oly singles and higher rep work. Note that Vulcan classes it as “moderately aggressive.” However, that’s not the best descriptor when comparing it to other bars on the market.
  • This bar features a 4 inch recessed center knurl. This is always a great feature to have in my opinion. It’s soft enough that it won’t irritate your collar bones in the front rack position. Yet it gives you just enough grip to help keep the bar your back for squats and behind-the-neck work.
  • The sleeves rotate quickly, smoothly and responsively thanks to 5 high quality needle bearings per sleeve and tight construction. Just note there’s a brief “break in” period to get them spinning to their potential because of the tight construction. While the bushing version of this bar also rotates excellently, this bearing version is a definite upgrade that advanced lifters will surely appreciate and benefit from.
  • This chrome moly steel gives this bar a super strong 221k PSI tensile strength shaft, making it one of the stronger Olympic bars on the market. Good luck permanently bending this bar without deliberately abusing it.
  • The shaft and sleeves are both finished in nickel chrome plating. This provides protection against rust while giving it an aesthetic shine.
Vulcan V4.0 Elite Olympic Bearing Barbell - Shaft

Reasons Not to Buy

  • If you don’t need a bearing bar, you can save $130 by opting for the Elite V4.0 Bushing Bar. You get essentially the same bar, but with oil-impregnated bushings instead of bearings and an arguably better (more tacky) thin dense chrome finish.
  • If you want to upgrade to an unfinished stainless steel bar with a comparable medium knurl, look into the Rogue SS Oly WL Bar. Just know you’ll lose the center knurl.
  • If you want a somewhat more aggressive bar while staying with Vulcan, check out the Vulcan Professional Bar. If you want a truly aggressive Vulcan Oly bar, go with their Absolute SS Bar, which also gives you an upgrade to stainless steel. Just note that the whip kicks in at higher weights on both of these alternatives.

Buy Now – Vulcan Elite V4.0 Olympic Bearing Barbell »

Best Olympic Weightlifting Barbells Over $600 (High-End Oly Bars)

Vulcan Absolute Stainless Steel Olympic Barbell Review

Vulcan Absolute Stainless Steel Olympic Barbell - End Cap

Key Specs

  • Weight: 20kg (44lbs)
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Tensile Strength: 240k PSI
  • Knurl: Aggressive
  • Center Knurl: Yes (passive)
  • Shaft Finish: Stainless steel
  • Sleeve Finish: Stainless steel
  • Rotation: 4 German needle bearings per sleeve
  • Knurl Marks: IWF
  • Bar Length: N/A
  • Loadable Sleeve Length: N/A
  • Manufactured: USA
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Price: $712.99
Vulcan Absolute Stainless Steel Olympic Barbell - Shaft with Knurling

Reasons to Buy

  • The Vulcan Absolute Stainless Steel Olympic Barbell is a fully stainless steel bar. That means the shaft AND the sleeves are stainless. Many other stainless Olympic bars have chrome sleeves. The stainless steel enhances the grip and tackiness of the knurl compared to finished bars. At the same time, it protects against oxidation and greatly reduces the amount of maintenance required.
  • The Absolute SS has an aggressive outer knurl that’s consistent and looks great. It will give you all the bite you need without being overwhelming for most. It similar to the aggressiveness of many competition Olympic barbells. That said, if you’re used to softer knurled bars, it may be too much for you. At the very least, you’d need to get used to it over several workouts.
  • It features a passive center knurl that’s soft enough that it won’t irritate your collar bones on cleans. Yet it will give enough grip for squats and behind-the-neck Oly variations.
  • It is super strong at 240k PSI tensile strength. This is well above average for an Olympic barbell.
  • The tensile strength of the Absolute SS doesn’t negatively effect its whip. It is indeed a high whip barbell, with it’s reflexive properties becoming apparent at heavier weights (i.e. beyond 200+ lbs).
  • Overall construction is top notch: Consistent knurling, tight tolerances and single piece grooved sleeves.
  • The rotation on the sleeves is super smooth, quick and consistent thanks to its tightly constructed sleeves with 4 German needle bearings in each one. The spin is everything you’d expect from a high-performance professional Olympic weightlifting barbell.
Vulcan Absolute Stainless Steel Olympic Barbell - Shaft and Sleeve

Reasons Not to Buy

  • If you want a professional stainless steel Olympic bar with milder knurling, you have a couple of options: AB Stainless Bearing Bar (mild to medium, but grippy), Rogue SS Oly WL Bar (medium) and the Rogue Pyrros Bar (moderately aggressive). Though, you’ll lose out on certain other features/specs that the Absolute SS depending on which alternative bar you choose.

Buy Now – Vulcan Absolute Stainless Steel Olympic Barbell »

Rogue Pyrros Bar Review

Rogue Pyrros Bar - End Cap

Key Specs

  • Weight: 20kg (44lbs)
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Tensile Strength: 200k PSI
  • Knurl: Aggressive
  • Center Knurl: Yes
  • Shaft Finish: Stainless steel
  • Sleeve Finish: Chrome (can upgrade to stainless steel)
  • Rotation: 5 German needle bearings per sleeve
  • Knurl Marks: IWF
  • Bar Length: 86.6 in
  • Loadable Sleeve Length: 16.3 in
  • Manufactured: USA
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Price: $600
Rogue Pyrros Bar - Shaft and Sleeve

Reasons to Buy

  • The Rogue Pyrros Bar is an aggressive Olympic weightlifting barbell. This makes it stand out from all of the other Rogue Olympic bar options that have a softer medium knurl. It has even a little more bite to it than the Eleiko Oly bars, which are noted for their sharpness.
  • It’s quieter to use and drop than most Rogue bars, which are typically quite loud.
  • The bar has great whip. It’s slightly whippier than the Rogue Olympic WL Bar. This will really only make a difference at very high weights, though.
  • It’s an unfinished stainless steel barbell. This gives a tackier feel to the shaft. This further enhances the grip of the moderately aggressive knurling. It also provides excellent oxidation resistance, meaning less maintenance is required.
  • The sleeves come with a hard chrome sleeve finish, which is great. However, you can make it even better by upgrading to stainless steel sleeves for an extra $105 so you never have to worry about the chrome diminishing over the long-term.
  • The sleeves were designed to have a more controlled spin than other Olympic bars. The sleeves may not spin as long or as fast as on other bars, but their rotation is nonetheless extremely smooth and reliable.
  • It is IWF-certified for use in competition. It’s up there with the Rogue IWF Oly WL Bar and the Rogue Euro for best value IWF-certified bars on the market.
  • The Pyrros Bar is made in the USA with precision and quality materials.
Rogue Pyrros Bar - Center Knurl

Reasons Not to Buy

  • If you want an even more aggressive knurl on a comparable stainless steel bar, your only choice is the Vulcan Absolute SS Bar. You also get a significantly stronger shaft (240k vs 200k PSI).
  • If you want a milder knurl on a comparable stainless steel bar, you have a few options: The AB SS Bearing Bar or the Rogue Oly SS Bar.

Buy Now – Rogue Pyrros Bar »

American Barbell Stainless Bearing Bar Review

American Barbell Stainless Bearing Bar

Key Specs

  • Weight: 20kg (44lbs)
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Tensile Strength: 190k PSI
  • Knurl: Mild to medium
  • Center Knurl: Yes
  • Shaft Finish: Stainless steel
  • Sleeve Finish: Hard chrome
  • Rotation: Bearings
  • Knurl Marks: IWF
  • Bar Length: 86.5 in
  • Loadable Sleeve Length: 16.25 in
  • Manufactured: USA
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Price: $695
American Barbell Stainless Bearing Bar - Shaft and Sleeve

Reasons to Buy

  • This bar has a high quality stainless steel shaft. This of course prevents rust and minimizes shaft maintenance. It also increases the grippiness of the knurl thanks to the naturally tacky feel of unfinished steel.
  • The sleeves aren’t stainless steel, but they’re the next best thing: hard chrome. This finish is one of the best for preventing rust and chipping. Plus it looks great.
  • It has the same mild to medium outer knurl that American Barbell is known for. There’s no bite to this bar, but it has more grip than you’d think thanks to its high density knurl point pattern. The grip is further enhanced by the stainless steel shaft. This is because unfinished steel has a natural tackiness to it. Plus, there’s no finish/plating to fill in the gaps between the knurl points.
  • The center knurl is even further toned down to ensure no discomfort on your collar bones during cleans. But the passive center still provides enough traction to support the bar during squats and behind-the-neck Oly work.
  • It’s a high whip bar, as any bar in this price range should be. It’s not particularly a standout in this regard, but it certainly won’t leave you disappointed. Like comparable bars, the whip kicks in a bit over 200 lbs and gets better the heavier you go.
  • The sleeves use a proprietary bearing technology, which is basically needle bearings with an inner race. These types of bearings allow the sleeves to spin smoother as the weight gets heavier. You’ll never experience seizing even at extreme weights. It still spins smooth at lighter weights, but it improves that performance as the weight goes up. They don’t free spin as fast or as long as some other bearing bars, but quickness isn’t as important as smoothness and consistency, which this bar exhibits.
  • The sleeves have dust shields to help prevent chalk and debris from getting inside and messing with the rotation quality. This also means less frequent sleeve maintenance is required.
  • The bar is super silent when dropping, thanks to the super tight tolerances of the sleeve and its internals.
  • The build quality on this Olympic weightlifting barbell is great. There’s no play in the sleeves and the look is pristine. This is in part thanks to it being made in the USA and also because AB cares so much about their construction quality.
American Barbell Stainless Bearing Bar - Center Knurl

Reasons Not to Buy

Buy Now – American Barbell Stainless Bearing Bar »

Eleiko Performance Weightlifting Bar Review

Eleiko Performance Weightlifting Bar

Key Specs

  • Weight: 20kg (44lbs)
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Tensile Strength: 215k PSI
  • Knurl: Aggressive
  • Center Knurl: Yes (passive)
  • Shaft Finish: Chrome
  • Sleeve Finish: Chrome
  • Rotation: Bearings
  • Knurl Marks: IWF
  • Bar Length: 2200mm (86.61 in)
  • Loadable Sleeve Length: 415mm (16.33 in)
  • Manufactured: Sweden
  • Warranty: 12 years
  • Price: $776
Eleiko Performance Weightlifting Bar - Sleeve and End Cap

Reasons to Buy

  • With the Eleiko Performance Weightlifting Bar, you get all the major features of the significantly more expensive Eleiko Training Bar and Eleiko Competition Bar. The only differences are that the Performance Bar isn’t calibrated or IWF-certified, and the knurl is slightly less aggressive (1mm vs 1.2mm on the Training Bar vs 1.5mm on the Competition Bar).
  • This bar has excellent whip. Eleiko weightlifting bars are world-renowned for their reflexive properties, and this particular one is no exception. The more weight you put on the bar, the more you’ll be able to appreciate its whippiness.
  • Despite having the shallowest knurl of the 3 Eleiko weightlifting bars, the Performance Bar does indeed have an aggressive outer knurl. The knurl is 1mm deep, which gives it a definitive bite. It’s not as intense as training or competition bars, but this is actually a plus if you want a bar with bite that you can still get through multi-rep sets and longer workouts with.
  • It has a passive center knurl that won’t irritate you in the front rack position. It’s useful for keeping the bar on your back during squats and behind-the-neck movements, but it won’t cut up your traps.
  • It has a strong 215k PSI shaft made from Swedish steel. It’s plenty strong and durable. As mentioned previously, the whip is still excellent despite the high strength steel. This is thanks to the raw materials of the steel and the treatment process that makes the shaft “strong yet flexible.”
  • The shaft and sleeves are both coated in a beautiful and functional chrome. It keeps oxidation at bay while protecting against chips and scratches.
  • The sleeves have superb rotation. Super smooth and reliable. The sleeves use a unique high quality bearing, only seen previously in AB bars. What makes it different than the typical needle bearing bar is that it has an inner race (i.e. a cylinder/ring to that the needles sit atop, and which slides over the shaft). These bearings have higher max load capacities than traditional needle bearings. The inner race removes direct contact between the needles and the shaft. This prevents potentially wearing down the shaft, and thus ensures smooth rotation over the very long-term.
  • Each sleeve has a dust seal to prevent chalk and debris from getting into the bearings and impairing the quality of the rotation.

Reasons Not to Buy

  • It has a 12 year warranty. At this price level and even less, you’d expect a lifetime warranty. That said, this bar will likely last much longer, especially if it’s just for home gym use.
  • If you want a somewhat less aggressive bar of a similar caliber, go with the Vulcan Pro. If you want a much less aggressive bar of a similar caliber, go with the AB Stainless Steel Bearing Bar.
  • If you need an IWF-certified bar and want to stay with Eleiko, then you should either upgrade to the Eleiko Training or Competition Bar. Otherwise, look into any of the Rogue IWF-certified bars if you want a lower priced option.

Buy Now – Eleiko Performance Weightlifting Bar »

Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Training Bar Review

Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Training Bar

Key Specs

  • Weight: 20kg (44lbs)
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Tensile Strength: 215k PSI
  • Knurl: Aggressive
  • Center Knurl: Yes (passive)
  • Shaft Finish: Chrome
  • Sleeve Finish: Chrome
  • Rotation: Bearings
  • Knurl Marks: IWF
  • Bar Length: 2200mm (86.61 in)
  • Loadable Sleeve Length: 415mm (16.33 in)
  • Manufactured: Sweden
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Price: $915

The Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Training Bar is the same as the Eleiko Performance Weightlifting Bar, with these key differences:

  • It is IWF-certified and calibrated.
  • The knurl more is more aggressive at 1.2mm depth vs 1.0mm.
  • It costs $139 more ($915 vs $776).
  • It has a lifetime warranty.

Other than these differences, the review above on the Performance Bar applies to this bar as well.

Buy Now – Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Training Bar »

Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar Review

Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar

Key Specs

  • Weight: 20kg (44lbs)
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Tensile Strength: 215k PSI
  • Knurl: Aggressive
  • Center Knurl: Yes (passive)
  • Shaft Finish: Chrome
  • Sleeve Finish: Chrome
  • Rotation: Bearings
  • Knurl Marks: IWF
  • Bar Length: 2200mm (86.61 in)
  • Loadable Sleeve Length: 415mm (16.33 in)
  • Manufactured: Sweden
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Price: $1,100

The Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar is the same as the Eleiko Performance Weightlifting Bar, with these key differences:

  • It is IWF-certified and calibrated.
  • The knurl is more aggressive at 1.5mm depth vs 1.0mm.
  • It costs $139 more ($1100 vs $776).
  • It has a lifetime warranty.

Other than these differences, the review above on the Performance Bar applies to this bar as well.

Buy Now – Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar »

Ivanko OBSNB Stainless Olympic Bar Review

Ivanko OBSNB Stainless Olympic Bar
Source: @efrenlifts – The Ivanko OBSNB Stainless Olympic Bar is on the right

Key Specs

  • Weight: 20kg (44lbs)
  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Tensile Strength: 218k PSI
  • Knurl: Mild to medium
  • Center Knurl: Yes
  • Shaft Finish: Stainless steel
  • Sleeve Finish: Stainless steel
  • Rotation: Bearings
  • Knurl Marks: IWF
  • Bar Length: 86 in
  • Loadable Sleeve Length: N/A
  • Manufactured: USA
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Price: $1,275.50

Reasons to Buy

  • The Ivanko OBSNB Stainless Olympic Bar is a fully stainless steel barbell. That is, both its shaft and sleeves are constructed from stainless steel. It’s common for other stainless steel barbells to only have a stainless steel shaft, with chrome sleeves.
  • This bar is strong, coming in at 218k PSI tensile strength. This puts it a bit above average when it comes to Olympic weightlifting barbells.
  • Ivanko puts extreme quality controls into place. This ensures every bar leaves the factory built to spec with precision build quality. Specifically, each bar is straightness certified (less than .006/ft. T.I.R.), weight calibrated to within 1/2 oz., mag tested, ultra-sonic tested and X-ray tested to check for tiny imperfections.
  • It has a 4.5 inch center knurl, which is a bonus if you want squat or do behind-the-neck work with this bar.
  • The whip is more medium compared to other premium Olympic weightlifting barbells. For example, Eleiko and Uesaka are both more flexible. But overall, it’s still acceptable, just not the best you can get for the price.
  • The knurl is mild to medium on this bar, making it better suited for those who like a softer knurl. It’s great if you want to spare your hands during long workouts or higher rep sets.
  • The sleeve rotation is excellent, as you can see from the video above. It uses precision German needle bearings to achieve this smooth and reliable spin.
  • Ivanko’s signature curved end caps give the bar a classic aesthetic that makes it stand out from all other bars.
  • The bar is made in the USA with almost obsessive precision and quality control by the barbell experts at Ivanko.

Reasons Not to Buy

  • The super high price makes this a very tough sell for most people. Years ago, this was your only option for a stainless steel Olympic weightlifting bar. However, time has passed and competition has increased. Now, you can get multiple stainless Oly bars for hundreds of dollars less. Examples include the Vulcan Absolute SS Bar, AB SS Bearing Bar and the Rogue Pyrros Bar.
  • There’s only a 1 year warranty. Though, I checked with the company about this and they said they would replace the bar if one every broke (which has never happened) and that they’d make it right if there was any manufacturing defect. The reasoning they give for the 1 year time frame is that any issues usually become evident fairly soon after buying.

Buy Now – Ivanko OBSNB Stainless Olympic Bar »



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