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.
Table of Contents
These include all 7ft 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.
|Rep Sabre||28mm||Bright Zinc||150,000||Bronze Bushing||Dual||$189|
ALL of the bars above have NO center knurl, are 7ft long, and weigh 45 lbs or 44 lbs (20kg). The center knurling just worked out that way. If any bars under $200 have center knurling, I’ll include them.
Note: Prices tend to increase over time. If any of these shoot over $200, please leave a comment below! I have already had to remove a couple bars from this article when their prices shot up by $40.
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.
|Shaft Finish||Black Zinc Phosphate|
|Tensile Strength||130,000 PSI|
|Sleeve Spin||Steel Bushing|
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. They make a few decent products, and their price points are low even on them. Most notably their line of barbells is good, and some of their dumbbells and weight plates are fine too.
I had the this CAP bar for a while for my own use. Note that I only cleaned 205 and deadlifted 315 on it. There’s very little rattle on the sleeves. I had no problem with the grip. The knurling is average. The zinc phosphate coating didn’t start to wear off as quickly as the black oxide coating on my previous bar.
The bodybuilding.com forum has a thread devoted to this bar, with links to reviews as far back as 2010.
On the downside, this is not the strongest bar and not even up to the standards of modern bars. Several years ago it was a good bar for the price, for light enough lifting. Today it’s out of date. Likely you’ll be okay dropping it on the floor 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), the very low 130,000 PSI might show itself with a bent bar.
The steel bushings on this bar lead to about the worst spin available. Modern bars have either bronze or composite bushings. It’s some kind of molecular thing where steel-on-steel makes for more friction than against those other materials.
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.
|Shaft Finish||Bright Zinc|
|Sleeve Spin||Bronze Bushing|
|Center Knurl||Your Choice|
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.
You can very often get a Boneyard Bar in Rogue’s closeouts, which have cosmetic blemishes off the production line but are otherwise fine. I’ve seen Ohio Bars and B&R Bars listed there for under $200.
If you don’t see one at the moment, check again in a few weeks. I see them listed more often than not.
The Rogue Echo Bar used to be a good choice under $200, but they have since jacked up the price.