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Cerakote although new to strength training is far from a new coating. Traditionally, it's been used most often on firearms and is used in many of the harshest environments in the world.
In all reality, Cerakote is a ceramic coating that is sprayed over something you want to protect. For barbells, what we traditionally see are zinc and chrome coatings; we also are starting to see more stainless steel barbells. Although these coatings have proven to hold up well over time, according to Cerakote as well as many independent, third-party testers, in a corrosion salt spray test, the Cerakote coating has proven to last over 70 times longer than both chrome and stainless steel.
In other words, there aren't many coatings, if any that are more durable than Cerakote. This is beneficial for the barbell owner as anyone who lives in a humid environment can attest to, barbells corrode and rust. In my own personal use of barbells coated in Cerakote, over a six month period including during the summer, there is no corrosion evident on a barbell I use almost daily. I can't say the same about any other bars.
The bar I'm actually reviewing is the Ohio Bar that is coated in Cerakote.
I've had an Ohio Bar ever since Rogue Fitness introduced them to market and although the newer ones feature some great updates, they've always been great barbells. Although the Rogue Cerakote Ohio Barbell is called the Ohio Bar, it's really a mash-up of the Rogue 2.0 Bar (the one that received our marks as the best barbell for most people) and the Rogue Ohio Bar with a special coating on the shaft and sleeves.
You see, the Rogue 2.0 Bar features the same steel, knurling, sleeves, and knurl marks as the Rogue Ohio Bar. The only differences between the two are the price and the indent in the sleeves of the Rogue 2.0 for customization and the bushings that are used (in fact, they're actually both made in the USA now which used to be the reason people bought the Ohio Bar.)
The Cerakote Ohio Bar features the same sleeves, shaft, knurl and other attributes of the original Ohio Bar, however, it's replaced the bronze bushings that are used in the traditional Ohio Bar with composite bushings which are what's used in the cheaper Rogue 2.0 Bar.
Is there a big difference between bronze and composite bushings? Not in my extensive experience, in fact, I've noticed that composite bushings spin a bit better when oiled than bronze bushings and they should both wear at about the same rate (there's a reason composite bushings are used by NASA more often than bronze.)
So, although Rogue calls the Cerakote Ohio Bar an Ohio Bar, it's somewhat of a Frankenstein, but that's not a bad thing.
The shaft of the Cerakote Ohio Bar is the traditional 190k PSI tensile strength that Rogue is known to use. It's a solid foundation to build from, and although many companies have higher listed tensile strengths, many are producing false numbers, and more is not always better. The steel Rogue uses is excellent for multi-modality training and has just the right combination of whip and stiffness for any type of training - from the Powerlifter to the Olympic Weightlifter.
Although specialists will be better served by more specialized bars, the Ohio Bar will get the job done in great fashion for any type of training. There's a reason it was used so often in the 2017 CrossFit Games and will continue to be used in the future.
As previously mentioned the knurl of the Cerakote Ohio Bar is the same as the original Ohio Bar. However, the Cerakote that is applied does make the knurling slightly less aggressive in my opinion.
This is going to be something to take into account, however, although the Cerakote feels slightly less aggressive, Rogue assured me the thickness of the coating applied is the same as the zinc that's traditionally applied. It's a small enough difference in feeling that it's likely just in my head.
One benefit of the Cerakote is it naturally feels less slick compared to zinc and chrome coated barbells. In fact, the Cerakote feels like there's a slight layer of permanent chalk that's applied to the steel. It's an awesome feeling and superior to every coating available outside of a raw steel bar (however, a raw steel bar will corrode almost immediately upon use.)
The Cerakote that is used on firearms is applied at a .001" thickness, and I would assume the Rogue bar is as well largely due to the fact that American Barbell sprays Cerakote at the .001" thickness level. At this level, the bar will resist corrosion and the performance of the knurl are affected, but not to a level that is entirely noticeable. I do think they could stand to do a thinner coat, but that may have a big effect on the corrosion resistance.
One innovation that Rogue has applied to the Cerakote Ohio Bar is coating the sleeves with the same Cerakote coating that is on the shaft. Other companies have stayed away from this (I'm not positive for the reason why,) but in my attempts at testing the durability of the coating with weights being slid on and off as well as dropped from overhead, the sleeves appear to be largely unphased.
One reason I always tell people to stay away from black zinc coated sleeves is because, after one workout, they will be scarred. The Cerakote coated sleeves up to this point have held up extremely well, and I will update this review should that change with time.
The final innovation on the Rogue Bar is more of a benefit for Rogue than the user, and that is applying branding to the middle of the shaft. This is the first bar, to my knowledge, that has had branding on the shaft. Typically, the only signifier of the manufacturer is on the end cap, but Cerakote opens up a wide array of options for branding and customization.
Imagine the opportunity to brand the barbell with your gyms name or even your personal name. The customization options are endless, and unlike anything we've seen in barbells. This is obviously ideal for Commercial Gyms, Personal Training Facilities, and CrossFit Affiliates, but it would also be pretty cool to see a bar with, "Garage Gym Reviews" in the middle.
Finally, the Cerakote Bar also comes with Rogue's legendary lifetime warranty against bending and excellent customer service. The Rogue Ohio Cerakote Bar is an awesome tool for anyone wanting more corrosive resistance or something unique.
The main improvement I would like to see is an increase in color options and the ability to customize or remove the Rogue text.
Many people will prefer the Rogue logo, but some will not or would like to have their own unique take on it.
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