Bells of Steel Rackable Curl Bar – Not What I’d Hoped For

Last updated on September 14th, 2023 at 12:28 pm

I’m a huge fan of rackable curl bars. If you have a rack, it’s the only type of curl bar I recommend. So, when I got the opportunity to test out the Bells of Steel rackable curl bar, I took it.

First, the bar looks amazing on the Bells of Steel website. Black cerakote with titanium-coated sleeves? Yes, please!

I’ve now had that bar for quite a few months (I received it in the fall of 2022, and I’m writing this in the summer of 2023) and am ready to give you the rundown.

Is it as good as I’d hoped it would be? Ummmmm. Wellllll. You should probably read the rest of this review before buying one.

Bells of Steel rackable curl bar store on wall

Is The Bells of Steel Rackable Curl Bar Worth Your Money?

No. I don’t like this bar. Not at all.

The rest of this review explains several reasons why, but if you want a cool-looking, black and gold, rackable EZ curl bar, you should head directly over to the Fringe Sport website here and check out their Midas rackable curl bar.

It has all the looks that make this Bells of Steel option attractive, but is actually made well with a quality finish! Not to mention, it costs considerably less too!

The finish is poorly applied. Both the Cerakote and titanium have significant issues. I was prepared to take the owner’s word that this was an anomaly, but it’s not.

I just happened to be in Indianapolis not long after receiving this bar. Bells of Steel has a showroom there. So I stopped in.

Setting aside the complete indifference of the two guys working there that day, I saw a wide assortment of Bells of Steel products: racks, benches, bars, and much more.

Without exception, there were finish issues on all of it. Splotchy Cerakote, faded titanium, and easily worn-off powder coat were everywhere. It turns out my curl bar was the rule, not the exception.

Poor finish on the Bells of Steel rackable curl bar
This splotchy application of the Cerakote is across the entire bar.

The finish is not the only issue with this bar. It’s also poorly made. Both sleeves make a weird clicking sound as they spin. And they barely spin in the first place.

Last is the “cheese grater” knurl. It’s way too sharp for most people. I’m sure it’s fantastic at grating cheese, but it’s not ideal for human skin. It’s not even applied well. It’s messy and uneven at best.

So, a few months ago, I emailed the owner of Bells of Steel to let him know of the issues I found with his bar. While he was very responsive when they sent the bar, it was radio silence as soon as I pointed out problems.

I sincerely hope that’s not how they handle all problems brought to them by their customers.

So, as you can imagine, I don’t recommend this bar. Other options are better. Sure, they aren’t black and gold but they’re better in every other way they can be.

How I Got My Bells of Steel Rackable Curl Barl

It’s very important to me that I share this part.

I get offers for free gear all the time. The deal is they send me a product, and I write a review. 

I turn down those offers 99% of the time.

So when the owner of Bells of Steel reached out to me to see if I’d like to review one of their bars, my first thought was an immediate “no.”

But after talking to the owner, I had a moment of weakness and gave him the okay to send me the bar. I was literally looking for a rackable curl bar at that time, anyway. So why not, right?

Here’s why not.

All of the sites and YouTube channels out there reviewing tons of gear they didn’t pay for have two glaring problems.

First, I don’t trust them to be 100% honest when they don’t spend their own money.

Second, you simply can’t write a good review if you haven’t actually used that gear in your own training for an extended period. You just can’t.

When people send you gear to review, there’s an unwritten expectation that you’ll be at least partially positive. I’ve seen Coop do this repeatedly on Garage Gym Reviews.

integrity quote
Words to live by, especially when giving others advice!

He will clearly not like a product for an entire video, only to still recommend it at the end. Whatever makes him a buck or two, I guess.

There’s also an unwritten expectation that you’ll get the review out asap, preferably on the launch day of a new product.

That means that these guys all got this product, tested it, and filmed a review in the space of a week or two. Sorry, that’s not testing or real-world use.

That’s giving it a once-over paired with a positive review the product doesn’t deserve.

(I want to shout out to Gluck’s Gym on YouTube. He’s the only one I know of being brutally honest in his reviews. He’s the only one who’ll actually come out and tell you a product is bad and not to buy it. It costs him money short term, but he’s honest anyway. I don’t know the guy, but I really like him because of this!)

Typically, I pay full price for everything I review. I buy it as a customer, not a business. In return, I have no qualms in writing accurate and honest reviews.

I should have posted this review months ago, but I felt obligated to Bells of Steel because they sent the bar for free. I even considered not posting this review at all.

And right there is the problem with free gear to review. It colors any honesty or integrity you might have, no matter how dearly you hold to those values.

So, I’m posting this review anyway. I’ll probably never get to work with Bells of Steel again, but I’d rather give you honest info than try to lie in order to build a business relationship. And, to be honest, after visiting their showroom, I’m not excited at all to try anything else they make.

The Specifics

I never like reading negative reviews that are too general. I always prefer specific examples over broad descriptions like “poorly made.” So let’s take a close look at this bar’s four main problem areas so you can see exactly why I don’t recommend it.

The Cerakote Finish is Poorly Applied

Cerakote is a great way to add color and design to metal products. It was first used on barbells by American Barbell as a way to add color to their multi-purpose California bar.

Cerakote can be done right. To give credit where it’s due, Rogue does a great job with it. But that requires a lot of thought and planning. Bells of Steel did neither.

closeup of cerakote on bells of steel barbell
A close up of the Cerakote issues.

The Cerakote is blotchy, splattered, and unevenly applied on the curl bar I received from them. It’s too thick in some areas and clogs the knurl in others. It’s so bad that I immediately contacted Bells of Steel when I received the bar.

They assured me it was not normal, and their other bars weren’t like that. When I visited their Indianapolis showroom, I found otherwise.

Virtually every Cerakote product in that showroom had the same issues.

The Titanium Finish Was Also Applied Poorly

Bells of Steel is the only company I know of using titanium to coat their barbell sleeves. On their site, it looks really cool. It’s too bad that the titanium finish quality is on par with the Cerakote next to it.

Faded titanium on bells of steel curl bar
The faded and uneven titanium on the sleeves was like this when I opened the bar.

The titanium on this bar (and others in their showroom) is uneven. It’s faded in spots and heavily applied in others. It looks terrible, even from across the room.

Not much else I can say here except it’s one more instance of photos online not representing what you get in real life.

Cheese Graters Are For Cheese, Not Your Hands

One of the big marketing callouts on the Bells of Steel site is their “cheese grater” knurl pattern on many of their bars. If you’re a big, tough gym rat, that’s what you want, right?

It’s not manly training unless there’s blood!

There’s certainly a place for an aggressive knurl pattern. But it’s not on a curl bar. And it’s not on any bar meant for the general public.

Unless you are a long-time powerlifter with calluses to match, it’s best to keep your hands away from cheese graters unless it’s Taco Tuesday!

The Build Quality is Sketchy

Sometimes, I’m willing to overlook finish issues if the product under that finish is well made. This one is not.

The first time I loaded plates on the sleeves (which are ribbed, which I hate, but others like that, so I’m not saying anything else), I gave the plate a spin.

This is how the bar was out of the box. Adding lubricant did not fix this. You can also see how uneven the titanium is as the sleeves spin.

Instead of a nice, even, smooth spin, I heard a clicking noise. Something is bound up inside the sleeve.

To make matters worse, it happens on both sides. That tells me it’s not an anomaly. It’s not a “rare defect,” as I was told. It’s how this bar is made. And no bar should make this noise when the sleeves are spinning.

The Verdict

In most reviews, I take the time to offer alternative products or point out who might enjoy what I’m reviewing. In this one, I will just say don’t buy it. Any other rackable curl bar is probably better.

The fact that I emailed the owner all of the above issues months ago and never heard back speaks volumes.

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Bells of Steel Rackable Curl Bar - Not What I'd Hoped For
bos curl bar

0/5, do not buy. The quality on this bar is some of the worst I've seen. No response from the company when I reached out with the issues, either.


  • It's rackable


  • Finish is terrible on the bar and sleeves
  • Sleeves make a weird clicking noise
  • Sleeves don't spin well
  • Knurl is too aggressive

8 thoughts on “Bells of Steel Rackable Curl Bar – Not What I’d Hoped For”

    • I had such high hopes for them, especially after some positive YT reviews. Ever since GGR was bought out, you can tell their only focus is pushing products and makinh money, not actually giving honest reviews of anything anymore.

  1. I’ll make this very long story short. I ordered the Tower weight stack July 4th, since then UPS lost three of the six boxes, it’s taken numerous phone calls to Bells of Steel with consistent errors on their part and UPS to try and correct the problems. Parts are missing, and now, Aug. 7, nothing has been resolved because Canada is closed. No one in their Indiana store wants to help.

    • I had a terrible experience in their Indianapolis location. It’s basically a powerlifting gym that’s fully equipped with BOS stuff. The 3 guys I met when I went there had zero interest in helping me with BOS stuff. They were clearly there to run their little gym and that was it. Sorry you are having a bad experience. The more I deal with them and the more I’ve heard customer feedback, the more they go on my do not buy list. I hope it all gets resolved eventually!

  2. This place sucks. I can’t believe Brandon and Coop recommend it. Thanks for the honest review, you’re the only one I see telling the truth about this imported crap.

    • I think that’s a little harsh. Yes they have quality control issues. Yes their stuff is made in China to hit a price point. Yes they focus on non-functional things like fancy coating to set themselves apart instead of spending that money on better made products. But all that said, there is a huge customer base for companies like this. It’s how Titan Fitness has been successful.

      Not everyone is a gym rat. Not everyone cares about how smooth the sleeve spin is. Not everyone cares about how pretty welds or finishes are. A lot of people just want a cool bar for their garage gym that holds weights and allows them to lift. And they can’t spend hundreds of dollars to do that.

      Low prices come at a cost. That cost, in gym equipment, is quality.

      Would I buy any Bells of Steel stuff for my own gym? Probably not. But I do regularly recommend it to people on tight budgets. I think their racks and benches are great examples of decent low cost items.


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