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I don’t think it would be much of a stretch to say that Rogue Fitness sells more kettlebells than anyone in the world. Not only are they one of the easiest companies to purchase from, but their prices are also some of the most affordable for high-quality kettlebells. After using the standard Powder Coat Rogue Kettlebells for over 5 years and then recently receiving the latest, made in the USA E-Coat Rogue Kettlebell, I felt it was time for a Rogue Kettlebells review. Let’s get into it.
Although Rogue Fitness predominantly sells made in the USA equipment that comes out of their 700,000 Sq. Ft. facility, historically, their bumper plates, dumbbells, cast iron plates, and kettlebells have all been imported from various places including China.
Up until recently, all of Rogue’s Kettlebells (including the Thompson Fatbells) have been made in China. Due, in part, to the high demand for home gym equipment as of late, Rogue sought out other places to manufacturer their kettlebells. The result is the new Rogue Kettlebells - E Coat.
The Rogue E-Coat Kettlebells are made in Cadillac, Michigan by Cadillac Casting, a company who has been making automotive parts for over a century. You can still buy the imported Rogue Kettlebells, but as we’ll discuss, we doubt you’ll see a reason to.
Kettlebells are an extremely simple product. They feature a round handle that is connected to the ‘bell’ portion of the kettlebell, are made out of cast iron, and often have a machine bottom. Although from a macro view, this seems like there would be all there is to discuss, however, as you swing, carry, and load kettlebells you realize that they’re not all the same. These differences are what separate the new Rogue E-Coat Kettlebells from the imported Rogue Kettlebells (which I foresee them removing altogether–more on that in a moment.)
As previously stated, the powder coated Rogue Kettlebells are imported from China. It has always been weird that a company that so highly prided themselves on being made in the USA sold imported kettlebells. I get it in that they were much cheaper and that was needed in order to compete, but still, it’s nice to see them bringing the manufacturing for these back home.
I do want to make it clear, however, that just because a product is imported, that does not automatically mean it is inferior. Some of my favorite kettlebells are the Kettlebell Kings Kettlebells that are an imported bell, but have an excellent finish. China ≠ poor quality. USA ≠ high quality. That’s a very elementary level of logic that although plays itself out often in the home gym community, is simply untrue.
This said, the new E Coat Kettlebells from Rogue are made entirely in the USA out of a new manufacturer for Rogue, Cadillac Casting in Cadillac, Michigan (man, that name just sounds sweet.) This does a few things for Rogue and their customers. It allows Rogue to have greater quality control, to make quicker changes, and to stock items quicker. It also allows Rogues customers who want to support US manufacturing to do it on yet another item that will pilfer the floor of their garage gyms.
The different finishes between the standard Rogue Kettlebells and the E Coat Kettlebells is the other big differentiator. Most cast iron kettlebells that exist on the market today use the same powder coat as what’s used on most squat racks. It’s a standard black powder coat that in order to achieve even coverage is laid on thick and, removes the grip that comes from the natural cast and ends up chipping and rusting underneath over time.
Few, regardless of if they sell an alternative or not, would argue that powder coat is a superior finish to E-Coat or Cerakote.
As their name indicates, the new Rogue E-Coat Kettlebells us an E-Coat finish that was initially developed for the automotive industry and is now being used on kettlebells as well as barbells like the Rogue Ohio Power Bar. This isn’t surprising as the founder of Rogue, Bill Henniger, formerly worked for General Motors and has brought many things from the auto industry into manufacturing strength and condition equipment, like assembly lines.
E-Coat is superior to powder coat for a few reasons. First off is the fact that E-Coat is more durable than powder coat. When you clank kettlebells together during snatches or swings, powder coat with chip and then end up rusting. E-Coat will not. E-Coat is also able to be applied thinner than powder coat which allows the imperfections in the cast iron to provide the grip and make it easier to clean. If you’ve ever tried cleaning powder coat, you know how difficult it is. E-coat is much easier despite being able to hold chalk just as well.
Cast Iron Vs. Ductile Iron
The last big difference between the imported kettlebells and the new made in the USA versions from Rogue is the actual iron that’s used. Rather than using cast iron on the new kettlebells, Rogue is now offering ductile iron, a vastly superior material. Ductile iron is one reason that we prefer the Sorinex Center Mass Bells to the Rogue Thompson Fat Bells. Ductile iron uses graphite nodules that increase the tensile strength of the iron as well as it’s resistance to rust.
So, let me break this down, not only are the new Rogue E-Coat Kettlebells made in the USA, but they use a superior finish and iron than the originals. And, here’s the best part for those building a budget home gym–they’re the same cost as the old ones.
The only improvement that we’d suggest is adding color rings to the handles for easy identification (which we’ve been told will likely come down the road.)
In the end, we see little reason to recommend the standard Rogue Kettlebells anymore. The new E-Coat Kettlebells from Rogue Fitness are the best kettlebells for most people currently available.
Rogue is obviously not the only ones making and selling kettlebells. Here are a few that we think are worth noting.
Rep Fitness Kettlebells are practically the same kettlebell as the imported, powder coat version from Rogue. Rogue’s often come out a little cheaper depending on where you live, but the new E-Coat Kettlebells from Rogue are superior to Rep Fitness’ offerings just as they are to Rogue’s old model.
Kettlebell Kings make fantastic kettlebells. I actually like Kettlebell Kings Cast Iron Kettlebells so much that I put an entire doubles set in my garage. Their powder coat finish is much smoother in comparison to most imported kettlebells and their entire finish is more consistent. This said, should Rogue begin offering their E Coat Kettlebells with color rings, I’d have a hard time recommending Kettlebell Kings current offering over Rogues. Rogue’s are cheaper, made in the US, and use the superior E-Coat finish.
Sorinex Kettlebells are very comparable kettlebells to the new Rogue offering. They’re made of ductile iron here in the USA and are very consistent. They do use a powder coat finish and they are more expensive, especially when you factor in shipping, but they’re nonetheless a similar bell. This said, it would be hard to recommend them over Rogue due to the higher price point for what is a very similar kettlebell.
Are Rogue Kettlebells any good?
Yes. Although they're priced competitively, they're a high quality cast iron kettlebell.
How are Rogue's Competition Kettlebells?
They're good but don't offer the price advantage like the E-Coat and Cast Iron Kettlebells Rogue sells.
Why don't the E-Coat Kettlebells have color weight identifiers?
I've heard this is something that could come in the future. Rogue is currently focused on getting kettlebells to market as quickly as possible, I would assume.
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