Most fitness centered individuals interaction with a barbell will only occur at a commercial gym. There, you use whats available, and most won’t even notice the difference or pay much attention to brand and style. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced people inside where they have started building their own home gyms, a trend that is likely to continue even after things open up. A barbell is a keystone piece of equipment in a home gym where a consumer will want to carefully weigh their options.
Rogue promises to back up its high price point with the best available quality and durability. The bottom line is that this bar should last a lifetime, we love to see more transparency in sourcing, and the use of recycled steel, but if you are in the market for a barbell, this is one of the best options.
The heart of the barbell is the 29MM steel shaft that boast 205,000 PSI tensile strength. This version of the Ohio Power bar stands out with its Cerakote coating. Cerakote, prominent in the gun manufacturing industry, is a ceramics based coating, known for its strong durability with thin applications. Cerakote is more resistant to rusting (oxidation) than other popular coating options such as chrome and zinc, leading to increased durability.
Iron ore is the main component in steel manufacturing, 98% of iron ore mined is used to produce steel. However, steel is 100% recyclable. Recycled scrap steel can be used as an input, and other additives such as carbon and manganese help balance the desired chemical composition. The two prominent types of steel production are blast furnace BF and electric arc furnace EAF. The BF process uses 25-35% old steel, and the EAF used more than 80%. It looks like we would want EAF processed steal for maximum sustainability, but I’ll touch on this more in the next section.
The cerakote process is a US Federal Trade Secret, so it is difficult to get details on possible impacts of this substance. It is likely based in clay, which can be energy intensive to process. It would be very valuable to learn about the chemicals involved in cerakote production and application, to understand if they outweigh the positive benefit of increased durability. However, I will point out an extremely thin layer of 0.001“ is used, so affects could be negligible.
The barbell is made at Rouge Factory in Columbus, Ohio Steel sourced from Niagara LaSalle facilities, an independent North America cold-finished steel bar producer. Niagara Corp claims their independence from any singular raw-material producer gives them a selective advantage in price and quality. This just means we don’t know exactly where the steel is coming from. The iron ore was likely mined in China, Brazil or Australia. Without information exact sourcing, we could only speculate on possible issues with mining. As of right now, steel is the only option when buying an olympic weightlifting barbell, so as a conscious consumer your best bet is to find a bar produced in the most sustainable fashion. Rogue could take initiative and get the proportion of recycled steel used in their supplies processes to help educate the consumer.
One unknown variable is the “Rogue Work Hardening,” process which makes the bars resistant to strain and stress. This is another secret that the consumer does not have public access to the details. However, in general, the work hardening process utilized plastic deformation, which uses no chemicals and only drawback is it might be slightly energy intensive.
Rogue has invested $2,000,000 in the last 5 years on scientific research and testing in order to offer the most durable bar on the market. Proof of their belief in this claim, the bar has a lifetime warranty on their bar against bending. Rouge also has a barbell care & maintenance guide to help their users equipment last as long as possible. On the outside this is just a competitive advantage, but a more durable bar will have to be replaced less often, so I see that as a sustainability initiative, it is much more than just compliance.
We value transparency very highly here at Voiz, and it appears that while Rogue isn’t making any false claims, they aren’t telling us all they could. Even if they have lots of room for improvement, it would be reassuring to see more details in materials sourcing, and their manufacturing process. I don’t want to devalue Rogues dedication to durability, as well as their dedication to domestic production, higher skill worker higher in their Columbus factory boost the local economy.