Fringe Sport recently dropped the mic with their triple release of the new Lone Star Power Bar, the Longhorn Buffalo Bar, and the CeraColt Olympic Bar.
Looking at their full barbell lineup, I think they may have just added three new starters to the roster.
I've owned the original Fringe Sport Power Bar for over a year – this new bar is a superior offering, in my opinion.
It feels nice in the hands with an aggressive knurl, it's 100% made in the USA, it looks better aesthetically, and it performs really nicely… if you don't mind a 28.5mm power bar.
I know… I know…
You're probably thinking that you need a 29mm power bar.
I agree – you should absolutely have a 29mm bar, especially if you have intentions of ever competing in powerlifting.
BUT, training with a 28.5mm bar can actually be quite useful as a change-of-pace bar.
There's a reason the 28.5mm Texas Power Bar from Buddy Capps is widely considered one of the best power bars to ever grace the earth.
Speaking of, the Lone Star Power Bar from Fringe Sport takes absolute direct aim at the Texas Power Bar.
Just like a good old-fashioned westerner.
In this review, we'll be getting up close and personal with the Lone Star Bar, just like Clint Eastwood in that dramatic quick-draw scene in ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly'.
Was that movie even set in Texas? I don't know, but I'm running with it.
let's do this. Pew pew.
- Fringe Sport Lone Star Power Bar Overview
- Pros & Cons
- Full Rating
The Fringe Sport Lone Star Power Bar is rated based on the Garage Gym Lab Universal Barbell Score. Read more about the ‘UBS' here.
The Lone Star Power Bar is Fringe Sport's second powerlifting-dedicated barbell and I think it's a nice improvement over their first.
It is $70 more expensive ($369 vs. $299), but that is likely due to this bar being made entirely in the USA, whereas the other is made in Taiwan. As is always the case with Fringe Sport, both bars ship free.
My favorite part of this bar is the knurl, but it's also one of my least favorite parts of this bar.
Makes perfect sense, right? I'll explain later.
Overall, I'm impressed with the Lone Star Bar. I think it was smart to create an alternative power bar at 28.5mm since there aren't many out there. I'm happy to have it in my arsenal, and I'm excited to share my thoughts with you.
Bar Weight: 20 kg
Shaft Diameter: 28.5mm
Knurl: Aggressive Knurl
Center Knurl: Yes – Same Pattern
Knurl Marks: Powerlifting
Shaft Coating: Bright Zinc
Tensile Strength: 190,000 PSI
Bar Length: 86.5″
Distance Between Collar Faces: 51.5″
Loadable Sleeve Length: 16.35″
Sleeve Coating: Bright Zinc
Made in: USA
First thing's first: This bar is aggressive. You remember that high school cheerleading routine… Be Aggressive, Be-e aggressive, B-E-A-GG-R-E-SS-I-V-E…
Yeah, that's this bar.
We hear a lot about volcano knurls when describing a barbell – the kind that's pitted. Generally speaking, it's a preferred profile. It's not mild, like a hill, but it's also not sharp, like a mountain. It strikes a nice balance in the hand, we're told.
Typically this is true, but this bar is proof that merely having a volcano knurl does NOT mean it can't be really aggressive. If you look at some other volcano-knurled bars, like the American Barbell Grizzly Bar for instance, they are indeed quite a bit less aggressive. Why is that? Well, the biggest reason is that the points-per-square-inch ratio is different. The Grizzly Bar has a very high points-per-square-inch ratio. In effect, it spreads the pressure around the surface more as compared to a bar with a smaller ratio. In looking at the Lone Star bar you can quickly see that the points-per-square-inch ratio is considerably less. Because of this, it doesn't distribute the pressure around in the same manner, thereby leading to a more aggressive feeling bar. It's like laying on a bed of nails. If you watch people do it, you'll notice the nails are tightly packed – this distributes the pressure more effectively. Knurling is basically the same.
Another reason I suspect this bar is more aggressive is that the pit is pressed deeper during manufacturing. In the vast majority of applications, a bar's knurl is actually pressed, it's not cut. When you press a knurl bit against a blank piece of steel, it displaces the material to create the actual knurl. The more pressure, the more displacement. When you look at the Grizzly bar in comparison to the Lone Star Bar, you can see that the pit is much deeper on the Lone Star. Therefore, the edges surrounding the pit are more pronounced. In my observation, this contributes to the overall aggression. Also of note is the Lone Star pit is wider than others (e.g. Grizzly). This spreads out the points which, much like the bed-of-nails comparison above, adds to the aggressive profile.
It's interesting… I can think of several bars that have mountainous knurls – something commonly associated with aggressive bars – that are actually LESS aggressive than the Lone Star Power Bar.
In terms of application, Fringe Sport did a wonderfully consistent job here. The knurl looks great from end-to-end.
The Lone Star Power Bar offers a bright zinc shaft that looks really nice, but it leaves a little something to be desired in the feel department. For the record, I don't particularly like zinc. It's one of my least favorite finishes because it tends to create a slicker finish. This is what I was referring to above when I mentioned the knurl was my favorite aspect, but also not. So, while this bar is aggressive, it doesn't actually provide me the same level of grip as some other more medium feeling bars. That is, unless I'm using chalk. I've found that I have to chalk up earlier when I use this bar than when I do with some others. Once chalked up, the issue is more-or-less completely resolved, and it feels excellent.
The shaft, as mentioned is 28.5mm (28.6ish on my bar), which is not typical for the majority of power bars, which are generally 29mm. The tensile strength of 190k is in the relative wheelhouse of other power bars, but possibly on the lower end. If you've read any of my other reviews, I don't put too much stock into tensile strength. 190k is going to be perfectly fine for 99.9% of the population. The more useful measure, yield strength (the point at which a bar is permanently deformed) is generally not referenced by companies. Fringe Sport actually did publish theirs, and it's 165k. On the surface, this feels a little low to me. But, I don't exactly know how this translates since the measure is so rarely listed publicly. I could have numerous bars in my collection that have a similar yield strength and I wouldn't know. I can say that the other Fringe Sport Power Bar has a yield strength of over 206k. I suspect this could be a result of the shaft diameter. Regardless of the rating, unless you're dropping this bar from chin high on some safety bars, you're very likely to never experience an issue.
For comparison sake, the Texas Power Bar from Buddy Capps has a lower tensile strength than the Lone Star Power Bar (186k vs 190k). Given the same diameter, my suspicion is that the Texas Power Bar has a similar yield strength to the Lone Star Bar. The Texas Power Bar is one of the most popular and iconic power bars in the history of the sport, which further substantiates my theory: the 190k tensile strength and 165k yield strength of the Lone Star Power Bar are completely adequate.
The center knurl measures 4″ in length, which is actually pretty short. Every one of my bars that has a center knurl measures between 4.5″-5″. I would love to see Fringe Sport lengthen this center piece to give the back a bit more surface to grip.
The knurl termination points on the bar are well done and they're very pleasant to look at.
The sleeves on the Lone Star bar are grooved in more of a fine fashion than their original power bar, which had deep grooves. This is completely personal preference, but I prefer smooth sleeves on a bar. The grooved ones tend to make a loud zip noise when loading/unloading plates, which can be rather annoying. So, yeah – these sleeves are pretty loud. That said, a lot of people prefer grooved sleeves.
The sleeve diameter measures 1.96″, which is exactly what you would expect from a traditional barbell. The plates fit perfectly snug, and there's adequate room for a bunch of 'em. The sleeves are 16.50″ long, which is a little longer than most bars (16.25″). This is good for well over 600 lbs of competition bumpers and a collar. The actual collar on the bar is 1″, which is shorter by about 0.25″ than most other power bars. This is what allows for the additional loadable length. I prefer the look of the 1″ collars as well.
They're operated on a bronze bushing system, which is common and ideal for the squat, bench, and deadlift. The spin is very consistent and slow, which is exactly what one would expect with a power bar. They're affixed with a single snap ring and the fit is overall very tight – there is little-to-no sleeve slop in any direction.
Don't fear the 28.5mm shaft on this bar. It has its place in training, whether you plan to compete in powerlifting or not. From a performance standpoint, the Lone Star bar does a great job handling the big three.
Squats – This bar is one that low-bar squatters are probably going to love and high-bar squatters probably not-so-much. I do tend to high-bar squat these days when I'm not using a safety squat bar, and the knurl on this bar is definitely ‘extra.' On low-bar, it feels completely locked in. If you're not used to an aggressive center knurl, you're in for an adjustment period, but once you're used to it, you'll find it does its job really well. With a 28.5mm bar, you may expect a little more ‘whip' on the bar. I personally didn't feel it very much, but if you're squatting 500+ it may come into play to some extent. I don't think it's material by any means, but it is part of the reason I suggest also having a 29mm bar on hand.
Bench – Straight up, I don't personally plan on ever using this bar on bench. That doesn't mean it doesn't perform perfectly fine on bench, because it DOES. I just like a more medium knurl on bench since grip isn't a limiting factor. I'll also add that I'm benching with a buffalo bar the majority of the time these days anyway. With straight bar work though, I find this one to be a little too aggressive for my liking. For those who do prefer a more aggressive bar on bench, you'll likely find that this one fits the bill nicely.
Deadlifts – Hell yes… with a caveat. First of all, I love deadlifting with this bar. I pull hook grip and even though I don't have issues doing so on a 29mm bar, the 28.5mm diameter is more comfortable. Is there such a thing with hook grip? No, but it's *more* comfortable. I think there's a common misconception that a 28.5mm bar is going to be whippy. This isn't a 27mm deadlift bar. It feels MUCH more like a 29mm power bar than a 27mm deadlift bar. The caveat: you're almost guaranteed to have to chalk up sooner, as mentioned earlier. That's the trade-off with a bright zinc finish. That said, with chalk, it feels outstanding.
I think Fringe Sport nailed it with the aesthetics on the Lone Star Bar. Starting with the shaft, the bright zinc finish looks really nice. I think it will fare much better than the matte chrome finish that Fringe elected to use on their first power bar. The bright zinc is shiny and it generally just looks nice on my rack and wall.
The end caps are a million times better than their previous iterations. It seems like Fringe really listened to the customer and fixed their early generation end caps that had stickers. They peeled almost immediately and it completely ruined the look. The end caps on the Lone Star bar are absolutely awesome, in my opinion. I love the ode to the Texas state flag and it quite literally fits the name of the bar perfectly.
All-in-all, it's a really clean looking bar. Well done, Fringe.
- The bar has a really impressive and aggressive knurl profile.
- The overall construction of the bar is really nice. It's accurate and it operates really smoothly.
- It's 100% made in the U.S.A.
- The 16.5″ sleeve length is longer than most other power bars on the market.
- The 28.5mm shaft offers a nice change-of-pace and it feels great on deadlifts. If you pull hook-grip, you'll really like it.
- Aesthetically, the bar looks great. The bright zinc shines nicely and the end caps are fantastic.
- Fringe Sport offers a great lifetime warranty on the bar.
- Bright zinc is generally pretty low on my list of barbell finishes. While it looks nice and provides decent oxidation resistance, it is slicker than other finishes. You will absolutely need chalk on this bar, despite it being more aggressive.
- Grooved sleeves = loud zip noise when loading and unloading plates.
- The center knurl is pretty short at 4″.
Overall, I'm a fan of the Lone Star Power Bar. I think Fringe did right by creating a 28.5mm bar to compete against the Texas Power Bar from Buddy Capps. At the end of the day, I think it serves a purpose in powerlifting training, whether you're competing or not. Is it a daily driver? Probably not, depending on your knurl preference and training requirements as it relates to competition. Is it a great supplemental bar? I sure think so.
I think it comes down to this: If you're considering a purchase of a 28.5mm power bar, the Lone Star Power Bar should be in the running alongside the Texas Power Bar.
If you want to read more about power bars or powerlifting equipment in general, check out my ultimate guide to building a powerlifting home gym.
If you want to read about the Universal Barbell Score, check it out here.
If you have any questions about this bar or power bars in general, please leave a comment below. Likewise, if you own the Fringe Sport Lone Star Power Bar and you 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,