The American Barbell Stainless Bearing Bar is one of the best Olympic barbells on the market today. With an innovative needle bearing design, stainless steel shaft, and great price point, this is one of the best barbells currently being made in the US.
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American Barbell Stainless Bearing Bar Review
When determining what the best route to take when looking at Olympic/bearing barbells it's important to keep a few things in mind. What we test in the barbells we review is the type of steel, how well the barbell spins, aggressiveness of the knurling, how much whip the barbell has, and the finish of the barbell.
The American Barbell Stainless Bearing Bar is specifically designed for Olympic Weightlifting which is determined both by how they specify the bar, but also the specs. It's made in the US, meets IWF specifications, and being a stainless bearing shaft, it's capable of handling anything you throw at it.
For starters, American Barbell has crafted this barbell by using 190k PSI tensile strength steel with needle bearings.
Stainless steel has become more popular in recent years within the barbell industry, and for good reason. Stainless steel is a well-made corrosive resistant steel that can withstand the elements while hanging in the garage or on the platform. Most finishes like Oxidate, Zinc, Chrome will fade over time, but since this is a raw steel barbell, the barbell is built to last.
With it being stainless steel, it makes it very easy to keep this barbell looking clean, even with minimal amounts of maintenance.
The tensile strength of an Olympic Barbell should typically be more than 150k PSI to be considered and preferably around the 190k is ideal. The tensile strength is a good predictor of how much weight it will take the barbell to permanently bend.
Compared to other barbells, the American Barbell Stainless Bearing Bar does not have the highest tensile strength. For instance, the Vulcan Professional Olympic Barbell is much stronger at 225k PSI tensile strength. The Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Competition Barbell is 215k PSI tensile strength. The Vulcan Professional barbell is $600 while the Eleiko is $1,049 without free shipping.
However, despite some companies playing up the idea that tensile strength is all that matters, it isn't. In fact, there are many other factors involved.
For most people, the 190k tensile strength shaft should be more than enough.
Based on the shaft diameter of 28mm and tensile strength, this barbell performs as well as Rogue or Eleiko's top bars, albeit with a much more passive knurl.
One part of barbells that is often misunderstood is the rotation system. Many people believe that the more a bar spins, the better. But, this is not necessarily the case. Yes, you do want a bar that is designed for Olympic Weightlifting to be able to spin well unloaded, but it is more important for the bar to spin effortlessly when loaded, and to do with a smooth start and stop.
The American Barbell Stainless Bearing Bar utilizes needle bearings for its rotation system. The bearings American Barbell utilizes is said to be larger, stronger, and have a higher load rating than what other companies are using. This is probably a reason the bar spins so well when loaded.
American Barbell has come up with a unique way of increasing the durability of their bearings as well as rotational smoothness by using concealed bearings. Not only does this increase the lifespan of the barbell, but we didn't notice any change in spin rate when heavily loaded.
For comparison, Vulcan's Professional Olympic Bar includes 4 German engineered needle bearings in each sleeve. Eleiko has rounded out their IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar with 4 precise Olympic needle bearings in each sleeve. To our knowledge, neither of these barbells cover the needle bearing with a sleeve in between the bearings and shaft.
The American Barbell Stainless Bar Bearing also comes with a dust and chalk sleeve that keeps the inside of the barbell shaft clean to increase the lifespan as well. This is a pretty unique feature that we foresee more companies copying in the future.
Although the shaft utilizes stainless steel, the sleeves on the Stainless Bearing Bar are hard chrome plated with a recessive weld that attaches the barbell collar to the sleeve.
This hard chrome will be able to keep from getting scratched and chipped while loading and unloading weights. Although it would be cool to see stainless steel sleeves, the increased cost would be enormous with minimal performance improvements.
One feature of the American Barbell Stainless Bar that is unique to AB is the recessive weld that allows the weights to remain flush against the collar. Not only is it functional, but it also looks great. This same sleeve is used on the American Barbell Mammoth Bar (see our full review here.)
A feature of the American Barbell Stainless Bearing Bar that may be welcome by many is its passive knurling. In my experience, the knurling on the AB Stainless Bearing Bar is some of the most passive I've used on a barbell at this price point. Most Olympic Weightlifting Bars at this level are much more aggressive.
Knurling truly comes down to personal preference so although I like a more aggressive knurl, many of the people that come and train with me prefer the knurl on this bar. If you've never used a stainless steel bar, it's quite the treat.
Yet another unique feature of the AB Stainless Bar is the center knurling that they've dubbed, ‘Ghost Knurling.'
This ghost knurling is exactly what the name implies, hardly noticeable. It does provide a little tack for someone who likes a center knurling for back squat or for cleaning, but overall very passive. I love a center knurl and the ghost knurling is the perfect depth. American Barbell really got it right with this feature.
Finally, the AB Stainless Bar features branding on the inside of the collar and a bright blue end cap. It's simple and understated, just what I like.
The American Barbell Stainless Bar is without a doubt one of the best Olympic barbells available. If you're in the market for something high-end, we would highly suggest this bar.
The American Barbell Stainless Bearing Bar is one of my favorite barbells, with that being said there are a couple of things I would suggest.
Personally, I prefer a little more of an aggressive knurling. I find myself having to chalk-up when I am about to lift with this barbell. Again, knurling is personal preference and I just prefer my barbells to have a little more aggressive feel.
For the price of the barbell, it might be good to have a little higher tensile strength to match that of the Rogue Pyrros Bar. Not super important, but it would be a nice feature.
The last thing would be to have stainless steel sleeves instead of the chrome finish. Stainless steel finish is more corrosive resistant than chrome and will last longer. This would probably increase the price of the barbell, so maybe just have it as a possible option.