Looking for some new competition bumper plates?
Don’t want to pay typical competition bumper plate prices?
Fringe Sport just may be the answer.
Over the last couple of years, particularly the last 12 months or so, Fringe Sport has been introducing some nice products at great prices.
And frankly, I love it.
Having options is always a good thing, especially in the gym equipment space.
These plates feel great, perform great, look very nice, and they come in at a great price. When you add in free shipping, even on individual pairs (unlike Rogue, etc…), it makes for a very compelling option.
There are a couple differences that I’ll explain in more detail below when compared to the likes of Rogue, but I’m a definite fan overall.
- Fringe Sport Competition Plates Overview
- Overall Construction
- Pros & Cons
- Full Rating
There are a few key reasons why someone would buy a competition style bumper plate:
- Tight weight tolerance
- Thinner profile
- Dead bounce
- Highly durable
- Olympic Weightlifting
When compared to a traditional bumper plate, a competition bumper plate is simply better in all of the above categories.
Their stated weight is truer, you can load more weight on the bar, they have less bounce, they're far more durable, they're ideal of Olympic lifting, and they look beautiful.
Fringe Sport offers two different competition plates. They have a colored plate (Competition) and a black plate w/ colored lettering (Training).
Both of these plates offer the exact same specs. The only differences are aesthetics and price. I will be displaying both so that you can make the best determination as to which is better suited for you.
Material: Virgin rubber
Diameter: 450mm (tolerance of +/- 1mm) – consistent with IWF standards
Weight: lb (25, 35, 45, 55) or kg (10, 15, 20, 25)
Thickness: 25 lb/10kg – 1.25″; 35lb/15kg – 1.70″; 45lb/20kg – 2.15″; 55lb/25kg – 2.55″
Weight Tolerance: +/- 1% of stated weight
Durometer Rating: 90 (very low bounce)
Center Hub: Zinc coated, 7.75″ in width.
Collar Opening: 50.4mm (1.98″)
Color: 25 lb/10kg – green; 35lb/15kg – yellow; 45lb/20kg – blue; 55lb/25kg – red
Lettering: Raised with a matte finish
Flanges: Inner and outer for protection and easier grip
Warranty: 1-year full satisfaction guarantee and 5-year against manufacturer defects.
The Fringe Sport competition bumper plates are made with virgin rubber, which simply means new rubber. That is, it's not recycled. Because of this, you can expect a longer life, a nicer look, and a more pleasant smell (compared to recycled). If you have horse stall mats in your gym, you know what I'm talking about with the smell!
The plates are built entirely to IWF specs, which is what you would expect out of a set of competition bumpers. Everything from the width, to the collar opening, to the diameter… it's all dialed in.
The center hub is made of zinc-coated steel and it's secured with 5 locking bolts. These bolts can be adjusted with a simple Alan wrench, but I don't suspect they will need much adjusting. If you're constantly dropping from overhead, you may need to tighten them on occasion, but that's the case with any similar competition-style bumper plate. One thing to note is that some higher-end competition plates offer 6 locking bolts, but I don't think that it will make a material difference in performance.
Surrounding the center hub is a raised flange with just enough overhang to protect the plates from one another. Whether on the bar or stacked for storage, this flange serves as a barrier to prevent metal-on-metal contact. Similarly, there is another raised flange on the outer edge of the plate. This also serves as a protective barrier, but with the added benefit of being able to grip the plate more easily. This helps tremendously when loading and unloading weight.
When it comes to a competition plate, weight accuracy is paramount. I mean, it's one of the primary reasons to pay up for this kind of plate. While a few grams here and there may not seem like a lot on paper, it can actually lead to issues on the platform.
Unless you suck at gym math (it's hard, I know), you can rest easy knowing the weight on the bar is highly accurate with these plates.
Fringe Sport claims a 1% +/- tolerance to the stated weight of their competition plates. Having weighed each of my 45lb competition and training plates, I can confirm that the actual weight is well in-line with this tolerance. In fact, all 4 plates weigh 45.1lbs. While I don't own a full set of all the weight increments, my confidence is high that the other plates will also satisfy this tolerance.
If you've ever used a hi-temp bumper or a more traditional bumper plate, you've likely noticed that they're fairly thick. This does two things:
- It limits the amount of weight you can load on the bar, and;
- It changes the weight distribution on the bar
If you're squatting or deadlifting a considerable amount of weight, you're going to be quickly capped by how much you can lift if you're using a thick plate. With a Hi-Temp, you'd be hard-pressed to get anything more than 405 lbs on the bar. With a competition plate, however, you can load over 600 lbs on the bar with ample room for a collar.
As for weight distribution, if you're lifting with thick plates that extend to near the end of the bar, you will experience more flex. Alternatively, if you have most of the weight closer to the collar, you will experience less flex. This of course will also depend on the type of bar you're using, but the general notion remains. Mechanically, flex can have a big impact on overall performance of a lift, so it's certainly something to consider along with max load.
The Fringe Sport competition bumpers are very thin for a bumper plate, and they're consistent with other high-end comp manufacturers. Below is a comparison to Rogue and Eleiko comp plates as well as the American Barbell Urethane plates and the Rogue Hi-Temps. Keep in mind the figures below are the stated measurements from the manufacturer. On the 45lb plates from Fringe Sport, the thickness is actually 2.11″-2.12.” The Rogue Fitness competition plate thickness is actually 2.23″, which is quite a bit different from the stated 2.15.”
The hardness of a plate, as measured by the shore durometer rating, has a close correlation to the bounce of the plate. This shore durometer is measured from 0-100… the higher the number, the harder the material. So for example, a gummy bear would be near the bottom, whereas a shopping cart wheel would be near the top.
The Fringe Sport competition bumpers boast a shore durometer rating of 90, which is a very strong rating when measuring bounce. To give some perspective, a crumb bumper plate like a Hi-Temp has around a 75 durometer rating. Those plates obviously have considerable bounce.
The Fringe Sport plates have very little bounce. This means you can use them in a number of ways, from weightlifting to powerlifting. In any application, it reduces the risk of the bar bouncing around and it limits the need to reestablish positioning with the bar itself.
I'll take ‘low bounce' for $500, Alex.
When you add up the elements above, what you get is a very durable bumper plate.
- The high-durometer virgin rubber is very dense, which contributes to a longer expected life.
- The nearly 8-inch steel insert is securely fastened by 5 locking bolts, which virtually eliminates lateral warping.
- The raised rubber flanges remove metal-on-metal contact, thereby preventing damage to the hub.
With a durability profile like this, you can count on having these plates in your arsenal for a very long time. They're built to endure whatever lifts you through at them. I'm not necessarily suggesting you completely outfit a heavy-use commercial-like gym (CrossFit Box, etc…) with them (due to cost), but in a home gym or in a setting with limited users, they're going to last years.
If you're looking for sex appeal, competition bumpers are hard to beat. Whether you're looking at the full-colored comp plates or the black with colored lettering training bumpers, they both look awesome.
The plates themselves have a matte finish, but the colors are still vibrant. On the competition bumpers, the lettering is white, and on the training bumpers, the letters are in the IWF color scheme. I think they both look awesome, but if I had to pick just one to go with, I would probably pick the competition bumpers in full color. This is just personal preference of course.
I also much prefer the raised lettering vs just a painted lettering. It has a higher-end feel. That said, on the colored bumpers, I noticed that there are a few areas where the white on the lettering isn't applied thickly enough. Because of that, you can see just a little bit of the underlying color.
The steel hubs are zinc coated, which look nice, but I prefer the chrome hubs from a pure aesthetics perspective. You can see the side-by-side comparing the two hub styles below.
Overall, I think Fringe Sport did a nice job with the look of these plates. They look sexy on and off the bar!
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, if you're looking for competition plates without the “competition plate” prices, these are a great option.
In terms of price, the Fringe Sport plates compare most closely to the Rep Fitness competition plates. They're also quite similar in terms of specs. Still, the fact that the Fringe Sport plates come with free shipping makes them less expensive overall (depending on your specific shipping situation).
Have a look at the tables below, comparing some of the popular competition offerings:
As you'll note, the Fringe Sport plates are very competitively priced. In fact, when you consider shipping, they're the most cost-efficient option. Take the Rep Fitness 320lb set for example. The price is $750, but they have to be freight shipped, bringing the total to around $887, which is more than the $869 of Fringe Sport shipped.
Compared to Rogue, the savings are more apparent. On sets, which Rogue prices with shipping included, you're looking at a nearly 20% savings rate. Not too shabby.
To add the cherry on top, Fringe Sport often times will run a sale on plates, which can fetch you 10% or more off.
- These plates are very well priced for competition style bumpers. They pack a ton of value.
- The actual weight is extremely accurate. The weight tolerance is very tight and it's within the claimed range of +/- 1%.
- The thin profile of the plates means more weight on the bar and a tighter weight distribution.
- While the durometer rating isn't the highest of the competition, a rating of 90 is very strong and it's certainly enough to provide a dead bounce.
- Virgin rubber + raised flanges + large steel hub = long life expectancy.
- The raised outer flange makes gripping the plates easier.
- The plates look beautiful.
- The packaging was fantastic. They arrived in perfect condition. This is contrary to my more expensive Rogue plates, which were delivered in stapled boxes that left some indentations.
- The lettering on the fully colored competition plates could be improved by a heavier coat of white. On some of the letters, you can see a small amount of the underlying plate color.
- The virgin rubber is slightly slippery, which makes it a bit more difficult to grab and hold.
All in all, these plates are pretty damn awesome. Their specs are great for a competition bumper and I have no concerns with their performance or longevity. They seem very well built and capable of handling whatever you throw at them. Aesthetically, they look awesome, but they're not quite as polished as the Rogues or Eleikos of the world.
What really separates these plates from those is the price point. You might not be getting as much sex appeal, but you are getting a high performing plate at a relatively steep discount.
If you're looking for competition bumpers and you're trying to mind the budget, I don't think you can go wrong with these from Fringe Sport.
I'll also add that Fringe Sport has some of the best customer service in the game. Everyone I've spoken to over there has been great.
If you have any questions on these plates or comp plates in general, please leave a comment below. Likewise, if you own these plates and want to chime in with your own thoughts, please do so!
As always, I appreciate any feedback.
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The bar is loaded,