The Fringe Sport Power Bar is a relative newcomer on the power bar scene, but I've got a feeling this bar will be around for a while.
Priced below $300, this offering from Fringe Sport represents a nice value when compared to some of the other power bars out there that are more expensive.
While you're not going to get some of the higher-end offerings like stainless steel or Cerakote, you're going to get a nicely spec'd bar that performs well and looks pretty cool in its own right.
I'm personally very happy to see Fringe Sport getting into specific-purpose bars because it provides consumers more options while also pushing other companies to continue to evolve.
This bar, for example, has a unique matte finish that I've never seen on any other bar outside of what Fringe Sport has been making lately. This is the kind of creativity that I love to see in the gym equipment space, and it's something I can really appreciate about what this company, and others like it, are doing.
So if you're looking for a nice looking power bar that will help you break PR's without breaking your bank, you may want to consider this one.
The Fringe Sport Power Bar is rated based on the Garage Gym Lab Universal Barbell Score. Read more about the ‘UBS' here.
Fringe Sport Power Bar
Obviously one of the most important aspects of selecting a power bar is ensuring that the specs are appropriate for… wait for it… powerlifting!
You'll be happy to know that this bar is built to satisfy the requirements as set forth by our powerlifting federation overlords, including the IPF. No, it's not IPF approved, and it likely never will be (along with most other power bars out there), but for training purposes, this bar is perfectly suitable to get you competition ready.
Bar Weight: 20kg
Shaft Diameter: 29mm
Center Knurl: Yes – Same Pattern
Knurl Marks: Powerlifting
Shaft Coating: Matte Chrome
Tensile Strength: 216,200 PSI
Yield Strength: 206,900 PSI
Bar Length: 86.6″
Distance Between Collar Faces: 51.5″
Loadable Sleeve Length: 16.3″
Sleeve Coating: Chrome
Made in: Taiwan
When I'm considering a power bar to purchase, the knurling is one of the first things I look at. While it's completely subjective and it can differ based on the lift being performed, I generally prefer a more aggressive knurl (particularly on deadlifts).
I think most would agree; however, that there's a fine line between an aggressive knurl and a razor-sharp knurl. Nobody wants to shred their hands during training unless you either like pain & suffering or you're fishing for jaw-dropping Instagram reactions… maybe both… weirdo.
Either way, there's a balance that, if struck, will provide you ample grip for your lifts without causing too much skin damage. The fringe Sport Power Bar does a nice job of striking this balance. The knurling is definitely on the more aggressive side but, as you can tell from the photos, there are no sharp points. In fact, Fringe has made a point to blunt the points (see what I did there?). In doing so, they've removed a lot of the uncomfortable sharpness that wouldn't contribute to your lifts in any beneficial way. To compare it to the popular Rogue Fitness Ohio Power Bar (review here), the Fringe Sport bar isn't as aggressive, but it's definitely more aggressive than some other bars out there.
In my review of the Fringe Sport Weightlifting Bar, I mentioned that I discovered a small section of the knurl that was blemished near the collar. When inspecting the power bar, I noticed a similar section also near the collar. Like with weightlifting bar, this issue is well outside of where I would grip the bar, so it will never have an effect on performance, but I did find it a little odd. To be fair, it's a really small section and I'm just being picky.
Overall, I think Fringe Sport did a really nice job with the knurling on their power bar. I've used the bar on all the big 3 lifts several times now, and I've been impressed each time. It feels particularly good on deadlifts – I find that I can get pretty heavy before having to chalk up. On squats, the center knurl is plenty grippy without causing irritation on the back when squatting low bar. I do like a less aggressive knurl when benching straight bar, so I like that this bar isn't quite as coarse as the Rogue OPB.
Again, knurling is largely subjective, but I think most would find this bar to have a great pattern for powerlifting.
The shaft on this bar measures 29mm, which is standard for most powerlifting bars. When coupled with a strong tensile strength of over 216,000 PSI, this diameter helps in creating a rigid feel that one would expect with a powerlifting bar. You're not going to experience much whip on this bar at all unless you're really loaded up weight wise.
The center knurl on this bar is 4.75″ long and it has the same pattern as the rest of the bar in terms of depth, feel, etc.. As I mentioned in the knurling section, this bar is nice on squats because it offers a good grip without carving up the back. I'll still probably stick to my Rogue Ohio Power Bar on heavy low bar squats, but the Fringe power bar is a nice change-of-pace bar for volume work and high bar squats.
The powerlifting knurl marks, distanced approximately 32″ apart, are within IPF specs. If you've read some of my reviews of other barbells, you know that I'm a stickler for knurl termination points. Fringe Sport passes the test on their power bar. The knurl marks and the flat steel sections all have clean endpoints, which satisfies my OCD nicely.
The sleeves on this bar are grooooovin.' They're somewhere between a smooth sleeve and a Russian sleeve – a very interesting design indeed. I was honestly kinda dreading them because I normally don't like grooved sleeves as much as smooth ones. My biggest gripe with grooved sleeves is the noise they make. I find it to be rather annoying, and I don't find the presumed benefit of reducing plate slide to be enough to outweigh this annoyance.
Somehow, someway, these excessively grooved sleeves are almost as quiet as the bars I've used with smooth sleeves. Now, I'm sure there's some perfectly reasonable explanation based on groove depth, sound waves, etc… but I'll leave that to the Sir Issac Newton's of the world and I'll just say it's pretty freakin' sweet.
The sleeves themselves are operated via a 4-bronze bushing system, which promotes a consistent, albeit limited, spin. This is not surprising certainly, as power bars aren't made to spin for any length of time. The important bit is that the sleeves spin freely. The diameter of the sleeves is 1.96″ despite what the Fringe Sport website says about them being 2″. This is consistent with power bars and olympic bars in general.
The loadable sleeve length on the bar is 16.3″, which is pretty standard for power bars. How much weight you can load onto the bar is dependent on the types of plates you're using, but the bar itself is made to handle basically anything you throw at it. During the manufacturing process, they actually deflect the bars to 2,200 lbs, so I don't think you'll have any trouble in that respect. For reference, I can load over 600 lbs of competition bumpers with room for a collar at the end. And no, I can't lift that (yet?)… but maybe you can!
The final note about the sleeves is that there is very little play laterally or vertically. This makes for a smoother, more quite lift.
I'll be honest, chrome is definitely not my first choice for a bar. I train in a humid North Carolina garage and, as such, I generally prefer bars that have good oxidation resistance. As you can see on the chart below, chrome is not the best at fighting off rust. Given the price point on this bar; however, chrome seems fair. Other suitors in this price range have similar finishes ranging from bare steel to black zinc, so I can't really knock it.
I'm not sure if the “matte” will help fight off rust or not, but at least it looks cool. As it relates to feel, this bar feels like a normal chrome bar. It's not going to provide you that raw feel from a bare steel or stainless steel bar, but it does feel good in the hands. Combined with an aggressive knurl, I haven't had any issues gripping the bar.
I must admit, from a pure aesthetics perspective, I wasn't quite sure what to think of the matte chrome finish when I first heard of it. I know it's popular on football helmets, and matte in general is “in”, but I was a bit hesitant with a barbell.
When the bar arrived and I was able to see it in person, I was pleasantly surprised. It's a cool look, and it's quite different from the other shiny chrome bars I own. The bar does have an element of shine though, as the sleeves are noticeably brighter. I don't really mind it – it makes for a neat contrast. My biggest question is how the finish will fare over time. While I don't currently have any scratches on the bar, I could see where this finish could be more unforgiving.
As cool as the matte chrome finish is, Fringe Sport did miss on one thing: the end caps. Don't get me wrong, the design itself is a really nice. It's a simple design with a convex outer layer that gives it a 3D look. The execution; however, is not so good. Curiously enough, the power bar has an end cap design that appears to be one piece. This seemingly differs from my weightlifting bar, which has the design stuck to the sleeve and then the outer layer attached to that. I'm not entirely sure if that's intended or if it's unique to my particular power bar, but on either bar, it's the same result. The adhesive doesn't hold, which is causing the end cap to peel off of both bars.
This is one suggested improvement that I think Fringe Sport should look into. It's minor and it doesn't affect performance at all, but we gotta look good while we lift! I mean, our Instagram stardom depends on it!
OK, back to the good stuff. On the inner face of the collar, Fringe Sport etched their name along with a model number for a polished look. I personally like when companies do this. Vulcan is another example who a company who does something similar on certain bars.
Fringe Sport Power Bar – Pros and Cons
- The knurling on this bar is aggressive without being sharp. Even if you're coming off a bar with a mild-to-medium knurl, the adjustment period isn't going to be major. It's great for all the big 3 lifts.
- The bar has really nice value. Priced at $299 with free shipping, it represents a solid cost-friendly powerlifting bar option. Fringe Sport often runs deals on bars too, typically around 10% off.
- It's spec'd to meet IPF and other powerlifting federations' guidelines.
- Aesthetically, I think it's a very nice looking bar with the matte chrome finish and the etched lettering.
- The performance of the bar is noticeably good. It has a solid strength rating, very little whip, and predictable rotation in the sleeves.
- I prefer smooth sleeves vs. the grooved sleeves on this bar. This is a matter of preference though. I just don't find grooved sleeves to help all that much with plate slide. I'm thankful though that these sleeves aren't as loud as other grooved sleeves. Honestly, this could almost be a ‘pro.'
- Oxidation resistance isn't the best with chrome, but it's not the worst either. You may need a little more maintenance time with this bar if you train in a humid environment. Some 3-in-1 oil should do the trick.
- Fringe Sport should address the issue with the end caps. They simply won't stay on.
I mentioned earlier in the article that I'm happy Fringe Sport is offering bars specific to certain lifting styles. I think this power bar is an excellent entry for them into the powerlifting space. If you're looking for a nice power bar that packs a lot of value, this can be a really nice option for you. I would say its closest competitors at that price point are the Rogue Ohio Power Bar, the American Barbell Grizzly Bar, the Rep Fitness Stainless Power Bar, and the Buddy Capps 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 this bar 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,