Best Olympic Bar Under $200

By | 2018-09-03T13:49:22+00:00 June 22nd, 2017|Categories: Equipment Guides|Tags: , , , , , , |15 Comments

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 $300 is a lot of money.

If that’s you, read on.

You can spend $700 on a new bar if you really want to. Only lifters putting up big numbers will discover why it’s so good. Plus, it 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 Finish Tensile
Strength
(PSI)
Spin Knurl Marks Price
Rogue Echo 28.5mm Bright Zinc 190,000 Composite
Bushing
IWF $195.00
CAP OB-86B
Beast
28.5mm Black Zinc
Phosphate
130,000 Steel Bushing IPF $187.50
Rage Phoenix 2.0 28mm Black Oxide 155,000 Bronze
Bushing
Dual $199.00
Rep Sabre 28mm Bright Zinc 150,000 Bronze Bushing Dual $149.00
Fringe Wonder Bar 28mm Black Zinc 205,000 Bronze Bushing Dual $199

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
Sleeve Surface Smooth

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.

The Echo’s composite bushings are cheaper than bronze, don’t wear out, and spin consistently over time, but the spin isn’t as delicate as bronze.

Rogue stands behind their products, and you know they’ll be around for years to come. It’s one reason people often go for Rogue when in doubt.

Also see Rogue’s Boneyard Bars in their closeouts, which have cosmetic blemishes off the production line. You can sometimes get a Boneyard Ohio Bar for under $200, which is a better bar than the Echo..


CAP OB-86B “Beast”

cap ob-86b

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

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. 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 of the CAP Beast

I had the CAP bar for a while to use myself.

Note that I 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 I’m not a big fan), 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
Sleeve Surface Grooved

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

  • 28mm shaft, down from 28.5mm. 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 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.


Rep Sabre

Diameter 28mm
Shaft Finish Bright Zinc
Tensile Strength 150,000
Sleeve Spin Bronze Bushing
Center Knurl Your Choice
Knurl Marks Dual
Sleeve Surface Grooved

As of writing, the best priced bar on the list!

Rep Fitness has gained a reputation since 2012 for having equipment that rivals Rogue in quality, bit slightly lower in price. That holds true here, with the Sabre coming in lower than the Rogue Echo Bar.

Note that unlike with some suppliers, Rep does not offer free shipping, preferring instead to keep their product prices low and charge actual shipping costs, saving you money on larger purchases. Otherwise the shipping costs are built into the product price and and you end up overpaying on larger orders unless the store has a discount structure for large orders.

The thing that stands out with this bar is the tensile strength is not very high at 150,000. It should be ok for home use, but you could run into trouble with people abusing it in group or commercial environments. It’s a simple fact of life that people do not treat other people’s property as good as they treat their own. Commercial gym owners have learned to get more heavy duty stuff than they would think is needed.


FringeSport Wonder Bar v2 (Bushing Version)

wonder bar v2

Diameter 28mm
Shaft Finish Black Zinc
Tensile Strength 205,000 PSI
Sleeve Spin Bronze Bushing
Center Knurl No
Knurl Marks IWF
Sleeve Surface Smooth

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.

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.

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 as easily as black oxide. 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.

About the Author:

David Kiesling
David founded Adamant Barbell in 2007 and Two Rep Cave in 2018. Lately he spends his free time practicing archery and hang gliding.

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LAWMAN
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LAWMAN

Wright Equipment is making barbells in the USA that are great values for the money, you might check them out next time you do an article like this. I bought the basic box bar with bearings, $200 or so. Has cerakote & bearings, & for $200, it’s a great value for Olympic lifts.

Fedguy
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Fedguy

I think that the Vulcan one basic is an excellent dual purpose/cross fit bar. The quality that goes into all Vulcan bars is hard to beat in the $250 price range. For an additional $35 I upgraded my order to the Vulcan standard bearing bar. It is USA made vs imported and has a lifetime warranty for use in commercial gyms and cross fit boxes, It should last decades in my home gym

Fedguy
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Fedguy

Oops. I did mean the standard bearing version. I haven’t had very long but the knurling is perfect for me and the fit and finish blows away the bars in my local box gym. Now to eventually get a set of bumper plates for safe cross fit workouts. Not a good idea to drop iron weights on the bar.

Fedguy
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Fedguy

Bronze oilite bushings vs bearings on this bar. The spin is very good though. The standard bar is a premium bar under $300

Willy B.
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Willy B.

@ 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… Read more »

Randy K
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Randy K

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?

Randy K
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Randy K

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.

Michael W.
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Michael W.

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… Read more »

Willy B.
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Willy B.

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

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