I’ve had the Rogue Ohio Power Bar for about 6 months now, so thought I’d share my thoughts on Rogue’s arguably most popular power bar. The Rogue OPB is often compared to the likes of the Texas Power Bar (or the TPB).
I was ordering a Rogue rack anyway so for them to ship the bar as well meant that I would save on shipping for the bar. Also being in Canada – a new TPB is more expensive and a bit harder to find. The process to find a solid power bar to last a long time was an arduous one. Here was my criteria:
a.) Center knurl. To me a great power bar, and a must have is the center knurl for back squats. This should have a little bit of bite at the minimum to grip to the back of my tee-shirt while doing back squats.
b.) Stiff bar. I didn’t want an olympic bar that had whip. I wanted a classic power bar that stayed as straight as possible for dead-lifting heavy weight, but still had good spin on the sleeves for setting up correctly in power lifts. Something in the 190,000+ PSI tensile strength.
c.) Medium to aggressive knurl. I’ve used power and olympic bars in the past where the knurl just provided no bite (old bars at the good old public gym), which is okay for some exercises, but ultimately sucks for deadlifts or barbell rows.
d.) 28-29mm diameter of the actual center part of the bar
e.) Easy to put on standard 2″ inner diameter plates
f.) Easy maintenance at an affordable price. I didn’t want to spend a fortune getting a stainless steel bar, and I also didn’t want to get a bare steel bar given the crazy change in climates here in Canada.
During my research – people swore by the feel and didn’t mind the maintenance (oil and wirebrush) but maintenance is something I like in the easy category. At the same time the finish has to be durable e.g. zinc or hard chrome – so not some crappy cheap coating that chips off easy.
g.) Didn’t really care about a specific type of bushings – as long as the bar is durable
h.) Under $400 brand new
i.) Regular size e.g. 7 ft, 45 lb
j.) Made in USA or Canada
With the above criteria in hand I narrowed it all down to the following bars:
a.) Cap barbell OB-86PBCK – Black Phosphate w/ Black E-coat sleeves
b.) Rogue Ohio Power Bar (Rogue OPB) – Black Zinc w/ Bright Zinc collars (so not the bare steel version)
c.) Rogue Chan Bar – All Black Zinc
d.) Rogue Westside Power Bar 2.0 – All Black Zinc
e.) Texas Power Bar (TPB) – Black Zinc w/ Bare Steel collars
f.) York Power Bar PB32004 – All Satin Chrome
Here’s how I got the choice down to the Rogue Ohio Power Bar. First of all the Cap barbell is difficult to get here in Canada – the Olympic barbell is easy, but not so with the power bar with the center knurl.
Also many reviews out there said the black ‘e-coat’ sleeves gets chipped off almost immediately when loading and unloading plates. Not a fan here as this can expose the steel underneath to premature rusting.
The Chan bar was a tough one to give up. I love the idea of having a mixed use Olympic and power-lifting bar. Some reviews also mentioned the black zinc on the sleeves comes off while loading and unloading plates. Not too much of a deal maker as Rogue is quality with a solid warranty.
Why I steered clear is the fact that the outside knurl starts wider than usual. This is supposed to be better so your shins don’t get wrecked, but that meant where you may grip the bar for a traditional non-wide grip deadlift, you may run the risk of not actually be holding onto any knurl and be holding onto the smooth part of the bar instead. For that reason alone the Chan bar wasn’t the ideal bar. I did like the idea of having a less bitey center knurl though.
The Westside power bar 2.0 just didn’t have a lot of reviews out there. Many were saying more aggressive knurl than the Ohio power bar. I would have loved to have tried this bar in real life – but given the amount of info and more reviews the Rogue Ohio power bar had, I ended up going in that direction instead.
The Texas power bar (TPB) was also out due to how expensive it was brand new compared to the Rogue bars. Also the idea of having bare steel collars didn’t quite sit well with me. I get it – any kind of real coating will get scuffed off anyway (depends on the bar), but I didn’t want the maintenance.
If you’re going bare steel, the Texas power bar vs the Rogue Ohio power bar in bare steel is going to be something compelling to look into – and tbh I don’t think you’d go wrong with either bar.
The availability in Canada for the Rogue OPB, especially if you’re also ordering a rack or weights may swing things a lot in Rogue’s favor. However if you’re in the US you may be able to pick up a nice used Texas power bar locally for cheap.
The York power bar 32004 was the big runner up. They have them in essentially all the Goodlife Fitness gyms here in Canada – so I’ve seen them take a TON of abuse and still look and feel good. The stain chrome is super hard and durable. I’ve yet to see one really chip.
The design of the bar is also pretty cool with the split sleeved design. Also the pricing and availability is great for this bar (you can pick up locally pretty easily in major cities in Canada), its also widely available in the US.
In the end the toss-up was really between the York bar and the Rogue Ohio power bar. I wanted something that had a bit more of an aggressive knurl, so went with the Rogue OPB.
The Rogue Ohio Power Bar (Rogue OPB or ROPB) looks great on the rack. It’s black center really looks slick against a black rack (I have a black Rogue rack). There’s a little bit of gloss to the center black color, I would say a mid-gloss with a very deep black color. So you get some awesome sheen coming off the bar in the right light (even on the knurl).
The actual sleeves themselves are a kind of mid matte-glossy grey steel color. I say this because there are matte parts and there are glossy parts.
The entire sleeve is ribbed to prevent any plate from sliding off too fast on it’s own. The part between the center and the sleeve which is grey also is ribbed, which I like – stops the bar from moving too much vs. a bare metal finish.
The grey sleeves have held up extremely well with no chips. However the grey doesn’t stay perfectly clean obviously as you’re constantly sliding plates on and off. The Rogue lock-jaw type collars work very well on this bar, with no give at all (in powerlifting and standard movements).
I’ve read in other reviews that the black tends to come off after a while. I haven’t experienced this and I’m fairly rough with the bar. To be fair the only thing that touches the black are the Rogue spotter arms, Rogue’s standard j-hooks, my hands, and parts of my body depending on the lift (back squats and deadlifts come to mind).
I’ve yet to have any issues with any of the aforementioned taking off any of the finish – the finish seems super durable.
The knurl feels great in the hand. It’s got some good bite (it will imprint your hand temporarily), and it is supposed to be aggressive, but I honestly don’t find it super rough for the hand. It’s not sharp or anything – it’s just that the design of the knurl really sticks to your hand.
I’ve used bars that have been a lot rougher on the hand, and for some reason didn’t stick as well. You won’t have any issues with the knurl being too soft here.
At the end of the day this barbell feels great. There’s some great bite when it comes to knurl and the bar itself feels like and has take a beating.
You can really see in some of the chamfered edges the level of detail and the quality of craftsmanship that has gone in this bar. It’s one of those things you have to see to understand.
Some of the exercises done a ton with this bar: Bench press, back and front squats, deadlifts, shoulder press, rows – all in conjunction with other Rogue gear (bench and rack where need be).
The bar is so strong that on the Rogue spotter arms, if dropped from high enough, it leaves an imprint on the plastic at the top of the spotter arms, but not a scratch on the bar!
Spin on the sleeves is buttery smooth (pretty damn near silent). It doesn’t spin forever, but its nice and just works – not much to really add here.
The Rogue bar came in bomb proof packaging. Seriously.. it’s insane! It comes in a super thick cardboard tube and at the ends are thin steel caps that are stapled on but huge staples.
There’s no way the bar could slide out and bust through the caps. Also the cardboard is soooo thick I don’t think there is any way it could really get punctured accidentally.
Knurl: Powerlifting (Aggresive)
Center Knurl: Yes
Knurl Marks: Powerlifting
Shaft Coating: Black zinc shaft , bright zinc sleeves OR bare steel all round
Bar Length: 86.52″
Distance Between Sleeves: 51.5″
Loadable Sleeve Length: 16.25″
Sleeve Coating: Bright zinc or bare steel, depending on what bar you get
Tensile Strength: 205,000 PSI
Warranty: Rogue’s Lifetime Warranty
If you’re looking for a solid power bar that meets the right powerlifting spec, a solid workhorse, and in more of a cheaper price range, then this bar is totally up your alley.
I can really see this bar lasting for a very long time – I honestly don’t think it would ever need replacing. The aggressive knurl (although not painful when doing pressing movements) combined with the craftsmanship as well as Rogue’s backing is absolutely amazing for the price.