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The Rep Fitness PowerSpeed Bar showed up alongside another bar we plan to review from Rep Fitness, the Excalibur Bar.
Rep Fitness has started using boxes for their bars and to be honest, I'm not a fan. Both boxes were torn up with the collars a bit scratched. I suggest adding more padding to the box, or just using the tubes. It may be more expensive, but it's worth it and will lead to fewer returns on Rep's end.
Thankfully, the PowerSpeed Bar came out of the box in pretty good shape all things considered.
The Rep Fitness PowerSpeed Bar is one of the most unique Olympic Barbells to be released in recent memory. Having used a large number of barbells and specialty bars (my Wife jokes that I'm a hoarder...", I've seen a lot of different ideas come and go. Thick bars, thin bars, bars with a ton of knurl marks, bent bars, square bars, circular bars, bars with spotted knurling, plated bars, and a million other combinations have all come across my squat rack.
And all of this innovation is for a good reason. The barbell is a staple in every gym worth its salt in the world. And typically not just one barbell, but ten, twenty, thirty, or more. With so many barbells being bought and used, and the general build staying relatively unchanged for half a century, there's definitely room for innovation.
So, before I get into my opinions on the PowerSpeed bar, I want to commend Rep Fitness on pushing the envelope. I love seeing innovation in our industry as I think it's lagged behind for so long and we're just now, finally seeing companies really compete through creativity and innovation. Rep Fitness has been coming out with some awesome equipment lately, and at affordable prices. They're at a great price point for most people to get bit by the garage gym bug.
With this said, after using the PowerSpeed Bar for quite a few sessions (I'm currently squatting every day and it's been used for every one of those reps) I'm not completely sold on the bars competitive "advantage" over other bars.
Before I get too far into the review, here are the basic specs for the PowerSpeed Bar:
To break all of that down, the PowerSpeed Bar weighs in at the standard 20 Kilogram weight which is the widely regarded standard for power bars.
The steel used for the shaft is STRONG. At 215K PSI Tensile Strength and a 29MM diameter, I knew this bar would be stiff and it is. Not the greatest for deadlifts, but feels great for benching and most importantly for squatting. Although most people could get away with a much lower tensile strength, it's nice having the piece of mind that a 215K PSI rated bar provides.
The 29MM diameter shaft has pretty much become the standard for power bars, and for a bar that's used for squatting, the thicker the better (to a certain point.)
The PowerSpeed Bar utilizes bronze bushings, that, again, are the standard for most barbells, and especially power bars. Bronze bushings are extremely reliable and affordable. Although many bars have started to use composite bushings, bronze is still a reliable choice that will be around as long as you plan to use the bar. If you do pick up this bar, wait a couple of weeks to judge the spin as bronze bushings typically take a bit to get broken in.
Also, in relation to the bushings, this bars tolerances are TIGHT. There's hardly any side to side movement of the sleeves, a very good thing.
The bar comes with the option of either hard chrome plating or a manganese phosphate shaft coating. Having never owned a bar that used manganese phosphate, I decided to pick that option so I could see how it performs over the long run. The manganese phosphate feels similar to Cerakote's chalky feeling and so far I'm a fan. it's not the prettiest coating, kind of a like a dull brown, but if it stops corrosion it's a coating we could recommend.
The knurling is one of the best features on this bar. Power bars are designed in large part for low rep, high weight movements. Therefore, I want something that isn't going to slip out of my hands or off the back of my shirt. Rep Fitness nailed it with this knurling. It's deep and aggressive, similar to a Texas Power Bar and will likely be loved by many.
We like that Rep Fitness is trying new things. It may seem like we're "bashing" their bar, but that's the nature of being honest in our reviews.
The idea of making it easier to slide on j-cups is great, but the disadvantage of being able to grip out wide is too big of a disadvantage for most people. One idea I have is to simply make the knurling more passive at the end of the bar, that way there's still something for people to grip, but it accomplishes the original intent of the bar.
The next glaring weakness of the bar is the smooth sleeves. I don't see a reason to have bare sleeves other than cutting costs. They may have a good reason for it, I just don't see it. So, my suggested improvement would be to rib the sleeves.
Finally, both of the end cap stickers are peeling off the bar. I've seen this happen with other imported bars and it is an annoyance. In my opinion, this is the shining point for branding the bar, make it memorable and exude quality. I do like the etching on the inner sleeve, however.
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