The Bells of Steel Trap Bar 2.0 is one of many trap bars on the market, however, it is one of the only with rotating Olympic sleeves and happens to be at a pretty good price point. After using the bar over the course of three months for trap bar deadlifts, shrugs, and carries we can recommend the Bells of Steel Trap Bar 2.0 to anyone wanting a budget-priced trap bar that is superior to all at its price point (and some above.)
One of the most popular questions we field at Garage Gym Reviews is, “what trap bar do you suggest?” The reason for this question coming up so often seems pretty obvious to us, but maybe not to you who don't spend most of your waking moments writing, testing, and comparing gym equipment. The reason is that there are so many trap bar options available without a clear winner, even for various price points.
The Bells of Steel Trap Bar/Hex Bar 2.0 is not the best trap bar we've ever used and it doesn't meet all of the things we've ever wanted in a trap bar. But, for under $200, it's an excellent trap bar with some unique features that we think sets it apart from the competition in its price range. Good knurl, decent weight capacity (warrantied for 700 LB), and rotating Olympic sleeves make the Bells of Steel 2.0 Trap Bar a great option for most garage gym owners.
Table of Contents
- What we like about the Bells of Steel Trap Bar 2.0
- Potential Improvements
- Bells of Steel Trap Bar 2.0 vs Rogue TB-2 Trap Bar
- Bells of Steel Trap Bar 2.0 vs Others
- What to Look Forward To
- Full Rating
- Where to Purchase
What we like about the Bells of Steel Trap Bar 2.0
You may not believe it, but the Bells of Steel Trap Bar 2.0 is one of the only trap/hex bars on the market that feature rotating Olympic sleeves. Nearly every barbell purchased today features rotating sleeves, whether through the use of a bushing or bearing system, but hardly any trap bars.
Here's the reason I think that's the case: barbells (and even curl bars often) feature rotating sleeves so the bar can rotation without the weight plates turning. This is most important for the classic, Olympic lifts like the snatch and clean and jerk that require explosive, dynamic movements with wrists turning from being over the bar to under the bar.
A trap bar, also known as a hex bar is used mainly for deadlifts, carries, shrugs, and sometimes overhead presses. Most of these movements would not necessarily be considered “explosive” in the way that the Olympic lifts (although they can certainly be done explosively with lighter weight.) However, more importantly, none of these lifts require the wrists to be turned over during the movement which is the main reason Olympic bars have rotating sleeves.
This said, power bars are used most often for the slow lifts like the squat, deadlift, and bench press, yet nearly every power bar worth your attention features bronze bushings.
So, if power bars, which are used for movements that don't require the wrist turnover of Olympic Weightlifting barbells, utilize a rotation system, then why don't trap bars?
I say all of this to point out that although the Bells of Steel Trap Bar 2.0 doesn't need a rotation system, I'm glad it has one. It's smooth, feels and sounds good when lining up during deadlifts, fits plates well (and holds a lot of them), and doesn't leave powder coat chips revealing raw steel that eventually faces corrosion on the sleeves.
I foresee most companies attempting to innovate on their trap bars soon (partially because the United States Army plans to use the trap bar deadlift in its testing) and I predict, and hope, that many will include rotating Olympic sleeves.
So yes, the standout and most separating feature on the Bells of Steel Trap Bar 2.o is the sleeves and bronze bushings, and yes, we like them.
Outside of the sleeves, the bar is honestly like most other budget trap bars, which isn't a bad thing. The bar uses a non-disclosed tensile strength steel (when not displayed, I just assume it's not impressive, likely around 150K PSI) which is shown in the bars warrantied weight capacity of 700 LB. Although most won't deadlift over 700 LB on the trap bar deadlift, there are some who would and it seems silly to include such long sleeves with a bar unable to handle the weight that can be attached to it.
During use, I did notice the bar bending some at heavy weights, especially during heavy block pulls. This is typical for this style of trap bar and although less than ideal, doesn't affect the performance beyond what's expected for the price point.
The knurling on the trap bar is okay. It's listed as having an aggressive knurl, however, in real life its much closer to a medium knurl that is lacking in consistency (similar to the Bells of Steel Power Bar.)
The part of the bar I like most of all is without a doubt the fact that it costs less than $200. Many garage gym owners don't need to spend over $300 for a trap bar that does pretty much the same that this bar does for much less. Some things are worth spending more on, however, I don't see many reasons for spending more than this on a trap bar. Save your money and spend it elsewhere (on the garage gym of course.)
We like the Bells of Steel Trap Bar 2.0, but there are certainly some areas that could see improvement that shouldn't dramatically change the price.
The biggest problem we've seen with the bar we received and from what we've heard from others that have ordered the bar is that the packaging is less than what it should be. In fact, our packaging was so bad that our bar literally showed up without any packaging. The bar was literally sitting on my porch with a shipping sticker on the shaft.
This is obviously an issue, but I think it's even more of an issue because within the copy on the Bells of Steel website it says, “Because of their awkward shape and weight, trap bars are notorious for breaking through their box in transit and getting damaged. In addition to heavy-duty cardboard and straps, I added in wood lining to help prevent the bar from shifting inside the box during transit and busting through.”
I was hoping this issue was one-off, but I've heard a similar problem has happened with others including some reviews on the Bells of Steel website.
In addition to the packaging, the knurling on the bar could be more aggressive and more consistent. There are some parts of the bar that have been flattened and even have no knurling at all due to the shape.
Although we'd love to see the bar wider so it was rackable (it currently is not), a thicker bar stock at a higher tensile strength so it felt better in hand and was stiffer, but for the price, we can go without these.
Bells of Steel Trap Bar 2.0 vs Rogue TB-2 Trap Bar
The trap bar we most often recommend when asked, “what's the best trap bar” is the Rogue TB-2 Trap Bar.
Despite the Olympic Sleeves on the Bells of Steel Trap Bar 2.0, which we do feel are vastly superior to Rogue's fixed, powder coated sleeves, we still feel the Rogue TB-2 Trap Bar is superior to the Bells of Steel Trap Bar 2.0. However, we do feel that the Bells of Steel Trap Bar 2.0 is a better value.
The knurling on the Rogue TB-2 Trap Bar is superior to the Bells of Steel version and it's also much stiffer, rackable, and able to handle much more weight. It also features the dual height bars that the Bells of Steel version does, but it's also, as of this writing, $100 more.
So, at this point in time, we would recommend the Rogue TB-2 Trap Bar over the Bells of Steel Trap Bar 2.0, unless you're on a budget, which we find most garage gym owners to be.
Bells of Steel Trap Bar 2.0 vs Others
The Bells of Steel Trap Bar 2.0 lines up with many other trap bars. In fact, it seems like they're using similar if not the same steel and design as the infamous Cap Barbell Trap Bar that can be had for around $100, but added Olympic Sleeves. For the price, the Bells of Steel Trap Bar 2.o ranks high.
In comparison with the bars in a similar price point, I don't see any that I feel would be preferable to this one.
What to Look Forward To
Trap Bars will be an area that continues to be improved. I've recommended to multiple companies to improve their trap bar offerings and every company says they have things in the works.
One, in particular, we're looking forward to is the Kabuki Strength Trap Bar that Chris Duffin teased on Instagram which featured exchangeable handles and an open design. We'll see how that pans out in the future.