Fringe Sport is beginning to really make a push into the barbell scene with more specificity in terms of lifting styles. They've recently launched the weightlifting bar, the hybrid bar, and the power bar, and they are doing so at very reasonable prices.
In this review, I'll be taking a look at the weightlifting bar, which comes in at under $400. At that price, this bar represents a really nice value.
No, it's not going to compete with the Eleikos and Uesakas of the world, but unless you're training for a competition, do really need a bar that is 2.5x as expensive?
Trust me, I'm ALL FOR the super high-end equipment manufacturers. If you can afford it and you want it, get it.
But if you're looking for something with a little more value that will absolutely get the job done, the Fringe Sport weightlifting bar is a definite contender.
Fringe Sport Weightlifting Bar
This bar is spec'd nicely and it has some interesting little nuances with the finish and the sleeves that I'll discuss below.
In general, I think Fringe did a nice job with this bar. The whip is great, the knurl is very well done, and aesthetically it looks really cool. I'll mention a couple of concerns I have below, but I don't think they materially impact the performance of the bar.
On a semi-related note, Fringe Sport has amazing customer service. I had an issue, I called them, and they resolved it right there on the phone. Color me impressed.
Back to the bar: for the money, this is a pretty freakin' sweet offering.
Let's get into the review.
Bar Weight: ~20kg (mine is 19.75kg)
Shaft Diameter: 28MM
Knurl: Medium depth with good grip
Center Knurl: Yes – passive knurl pattern
Knurl Marks: Single IWF spec'd rings
Shaft Coating: Matte Chrome
Tensile Strength: 216,000 PSI
Bar Length: 86.6″
Distance Between Collar Faces: 51.2″
Loadable Sleeve Length: 16.3″
Sleeve Coating: Chrome
Bushing/Bearing: 4 needle bearings
Made in: Taiwan
The Fringe Sport weightlifting bar has a solid tensile strength of 216,000 with a yield strength of nearly 207,000. Respectively, that represents the pounds-per-square inch it would take to break the bar and to physically deform the bar. Unless you're dropping this from overhead onto rigid safeties, I think you'll be just fine.
The bar has a diameter of 28mm, which is right in the wheelhouse for an Oly bar. This contributes to creating a very whippy bar that is ideal for weightlifting movements. If you prefer to pull on a 28mm bar and you don't have access to a smaller-diameter deadlift bar (compared to a power bar), you can actually use this bar to deadlift as well. Obviously, there will be a lot of whip and it will be a very different pull than what you would expect with a rigid power bar, but there's something to be said about overload with a whippier bar.
The shaft has single knurl marks spec'd to match IWF regulations (35.8″ apart). The rings offer clean termination points, which I really like in a nerdy way. This in no way affects performance, but it's something I look at on every bar as a measure of craftsmanship and attention to detail. The shaft offers a passive center knurl that I'll describe in detail below – also with clean termination points.
Lastly as it relates to the shaft, the distance from collar-to-collar is 51.2″, which also meets IWF requirements.
If you're looking for a weightlifting bar that has a more aggressive knurling, you've found it. While knurl is largely a subjective thing, I really like a more pronounced feel that leans towards the aggressive side. The knurl on this bar isn't going to gash you or anything, and it's not to the level of a moderate-to-aggressive power bar, but in the context of Olympic weightlifting bars, it has a little more bite to it.
As you can see in the photo above, the knurl is cut pretty deeply in a diamond pattern with the tops chopped off. In fact, they actually form what Chris Duffin refers to as a volcano top where they're slightly pitted in the center. This creates a more aggressive knurl without the sharpness that a peaked top would provide.
If you like a more passive knurl and you're using the bar for high volume work, WOD's etc… you may find the knurl to be a bit much. For singles and doubles, on the other hand, you should be fine regardless of your knurl aggression preference.
Speaking of passive knurl, the bar does offer a center knurl section that measures 4.72″ wide. The pattern here (see photo below) is very flat, shallow, and diamond shaped. It's definitely mild. From the front rack position, I find it to be very comfortable. When used on back squats, it has enough stickiness to grip the back well while not causing any discomfort that a more aggressive center knurl could.
When inspecting the bar, I did notice a small section of the knurl that had a surface blemish near the collar. It's not in an area that I would grip, so it doesn't affect the performance at all, but it's something to keep in mind. It likely slipped through the QA/QC process, and I'm sure Fringe Sport would happily replace the bar or offer a partial refund if I approached them about it. From what I've heard from other Fringe owners, their QA/QC is actually quite good despite the majority of their bars being manufactured in Taiwan. I don't think this imperfection is the norm.
Sleeves & Spin
The sleeves on the Fringe Sport weightlifting bar are pretty unique. It's not because they're grooved, which many are, but it's rather because they are reeeeeeally grooved. Like, if this sleeve was named after a movie, it would be named after the 1998 blockbuster hit ” How Stella Got Her Groove Back.”
While the point of the grooved sleeve is to assist in keeping the plates in place when not using a collar, I just don't see that much benefit. The plates move just as much as a smooth sleeve in my experience – maybe slightly less, but not much. Typically, grooved sleeves produce a more audible zzziiiiiiiiiiipppp noise when loading and unloading plates, but to my shock and awe, this bar doesn't. Considering the grooves are much more pronounced, this was very surprising to me. I'm not sure if the grooves themselves reduce the noise or if it's the slightly larger sleeve diameter that creates a tighter fit. Either way, I'm happy because I find the noise on other grooved sleeves to be pretty annoying.
The loadable sleeve length is 16.3″, which is about par for the course when it comes to weightlifting bars. I can load over 600 lbs of competition bumpers on this bar with a collar at the end. Fringe claims that the bar has a weight capacity of 2,200 lbs. Of course nobody is lifting that, but I think it's safe to say you'll be fine to load this bar with a good amount of weight.
Let's talk about spin for a second. Spin is certainly an important consideration when selecting an Oly bar. Sure, it's super sexy and hypnotizing to watch a bar sleeve spin for days, but that's not really the end-all-be-all. What you really want is a spin that feels friction-free and doesn't end abruptly. That is, it spins freely and slows down to a stop over a certain number of rotations.
With its 4 needle bearings in each sleeve, the Fringe Sport weightlifting bar offers a consistent spin that lasts for a while. I wouldn't say it spins as long as some other higher-end bars, but it's certainly no slouch in that department. If you're looking for a bar that turns over nicely and feels great, then this is a really solid choice.
The last thing I'll add about the sleeves is there is practically no vertical or lateral sleeve play. This is a real nice-to-have, as the bar is much quieter this way when dropped. There's no rattle, which I really appreciate because I get my fair share of rattles with a 5-month old
running crawling laying around.
Ok, this bar looks pretty cool. The matte chrome sounds a bit gimmicky on the face, but it's actually a nice look. It's a unique finish that stands out when sitting next to the shiny chrome bars in my gunrack. I am a little curious how it will fare over time, but I think the matte finish is, how do they say it… lit? Sounds good to me, fam. The bar feels like a normal chrome bar from a touch standpoint too, so I don't think the matte has an impact in that respect.
The sleeves are quite a bit brighter than the shaft, which doesn't bother me a bit. In fact, I can appreciate the contrast in the overall look. On the inner face of the collar is an etched “FRINGESPORT” with what looks like a model number of sorts. I can dig it.
The one thing I am disappointed with aesthetically on this bar is the end cap. I actually really like the design of the end cap itself. What I don't like is the clear sticker that's applied to give it a 3D look. While it does look cool, the sticker seems poorly executed. It is coming off on both end caps in several spots. In my opinion, the adhesive could be improved so that it doesn't detract from what is otherwise a nice looking end cap.
Overall though, this bar looks slick.
Fringe Sport Weightlifting Bar – Pros and Cons
- Priced at just under $400, this bar has really good value compared to some of the other higher end bars that can exceed $1,000.
- The knurl on this bar is on the aggressive side when compared to some other weightlifting bars. It offers great grip, but without a lot of sharpness. Some might find it a little too aggressive for high volume work, but otherwise it's very suitable for all Oly movements, in my opinion.
- The center knurl is very passive. This creates a comfortable front rack position as well as a high bar back squat position.
- The sleeves are operated by 4 needle bearings that offer a consistent spin.
- Aesthetically, the bar looks great. I really like the matte chrome look on the shaft and the etching on the inner collar.
- The specs are generally very good and they're in-line with IWF standards.
- I don't find the grooved sleeves to help all that much with reducing plate slide. I prefer smooth sleeves myself, but at least these sleeves don't make the loud noise others typically do.
- The end cap sticker either needs to be retired or the adhesive needs to be changed. They simply won't stay on, and it appears that other owners are suffering the same fate.
If you're a value-conscious consumer looking for a quality weightlifting barbell, I think the Fringe Sport weightlifting bar is a very strong option. The $399 price tag is very compelling. When you couple that with frequent sales that include price drops and free shipping, it becomes even more attractive. In fact, as of the time of this review, the bar is on sale for 10% off with free shipping. In case you hate math, that's $359 to your door. That's a sweet deal if you ask me.
As I mentioned before, this bar isn't going to compete with the likes of Eleiko, Ivanko, Uesaka, etc… but you're also not paying near the premium that you would with those bars. With the Fringe Sport option, you'll get a great everyday bar that is perfectly suitable to perform a variety of lifts including Oly movements and even deadlifts if you want some whip action.
If you have any questions about this bar, please leave a comment below. Likewise, if you own this bar and you want to chime in with your own thoughts, please do so!
As always, I appreciate any feedback. If you found this review useful, please feel free to share it on social media!
The bar is loaded,