A few years back I wrote a guide on the best bar under $200. As you no doubt have seen everywhere, prices have gone up over time with inflation and other factors, leading to your options being severely limited with a $200 limit. To give you a better view of things, I’ve bumped the limit up to $250 and rewrote this with an updated crop of bars.
You can spend $400 (or much more) on a new bar if you really want to. There are reasons to, for experienced lifters in certain situations. For the rest of us, moderately cheap bars are good enough.
You do need a good bar and not a cheapo bar like one selling for $100 or so, or included in a basic 300 lb olympic weight set, for a few reasons I’ve gone over elsewhere. But you might balk at seeing people spend $400 on a new bar. If that’s you, and you want to get a decent bar that should perform just well enough to do the trick, this guide is for you.
Table of Contents
All of the bars below are 7ft long and weigh 45 lbs or 44 lbs (20kg), the right size for a general purpose bar that will serve well enough for all barbell movements.
|Bells of Steel Utility Bar||28.5mm||Black Zinc||190,000||Brass Bushing||Dual||$199.99|
|Titan Atlas||28.5mm||Chrome||220,000||Bushing & Bearing||IPF||$224.99|
|Rep Sabre||28.5mm||Bright Zinc||150,000||Bronze Bushing||Dual||$229.99|
|Shaft Finish||Black Zinc|
|Tensile Strength||190,000 PSI|
|Sleeve Spin||Brass Bushings|
The founder of BoS started the company in 2010 selling push sleds and kettlebells in Canada, and over the years they added a large selection of heavy-duty equipment and expanded to a US location in 2018. I’ve bought plates from them. Good experience.
Overall this might be the best bar on this page if you do a lot of high-rep cleans or snatches, as it has the softest knurling.
BoS says these are brass bushings. I wouldn’t stake my life on it, but I believe that’s incorrect. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc and makes for a soft, decorative metal that can’t hold up in applications like this. Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin and is a harder metal that is more commonly used for strong bushings in all kinds of industrial applications and has a lower friction coefficient against steel to let it spin nicely. Granted, there is a grey area in some alloys that that include copper, zinc, and tin. Anyway, you don’t need to know all that, but point being, I think these have to be bronze bushings and you shouldn’t worry about the possibility of them being brass in this bar or any other bar, regardless of what the product details say, because brass would not make sense.
|Tensile Strength||220,000 PSI|
|Sleeve Spin||Bearings and Bronze Bushings|
Titan Fitness came out with this bar in 2017. Prior to that they only had the typical $100 economy bars that you should generally stay away from.
They are known for having low-priced equipment, particularly their power racks and squat racks, which copy Rogue’s designs and cut some corners.
Even a partial needle bearing bar is amazing to see at this price point. To clarify, this bar rides on 10 needle bearings per sleeve, with bronze bushings on the inside end. This gives it a really good spin. If you do any olympic lifts, this is one you should consider.
This is also the strongest bar on the list at 220,000 PSI.
Basically, the reason you see this bar with such good features for such a great price is because the market is so competitive. There are thousands and thousands of garage gym users who are looking for a low priced bar.
|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.
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. Other products of theirs like benches and accessories are arguably junk.
I had 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 bar is very dated. The tensile strength is not up to the standards of modern bars. It uses steel bushings, which have a higher friction coefficient with the steel sleeves than any other bushing material. Several years ago it was a good bar for the price, for light enough lifting. It’s when you have to drop a bar on the safety bars of a rack, or you drop it badly cockeyed on the floor with bumpers, or bounce hard out of the hole during a 400lb squat (yeah, most of us don’t have that problem), the low 130,000 PSI might show itself with a bent shaft.
|Shaft Finish||Bright Zinc|
|Sleeve Spin||Bronze Bushing|
|Center Knurl||Your Choice|
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.
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 questionable for the abuse of dropping a loaded bar on safety bars in a rack.
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.