Last updated on September 14th, 2023 at 12:30 pm
Technically speaking, you can build significant arm size and strength without doing any direct arm work at all. But my inner gym rat screams otherwise!
I can’t imagine spending a week in my garage gym without doing direct arm work at least once. And my tool of choice for that has always been an EZ curl bar. (here’s the very geeky reason why)
It’s not perfect, but it’s very good for the price. Let’s take a closer look and see if it might be the right curl bar for you.
Table of Contents
TLDR Review (The Short Version)
When I built my gym, an EZ curl bar was near the top of my list. It’s a tool I’ve used for years and will probably always use. So, I made my list of features and did a ton of research.
The Fringe Sport curl bar checked every box I was looking for. I wanted a black bar with bushings or bearings. I was looking for a specific type of bend where you grip the bar. And I wanted something from a reputable company instead of the cheap Amazon stuff I’d been buying up to that point.
The Fringe Sport curl bar didn’t disappoint in any of those areas. It was exactly what my research said it would be.
As I used it over the next few years, I always enjoyed it and never felt the need to look for something different or better. I love it when that happens.
But in the last few years, there were two things I started to wish were different on this bar: The finish and the length (it’s too short to rest in the j-hooks of my rack).
I love the aesthetic of the black zinc. And for a black coating, it hasn’t worn off like many other black coatings do (I’m looking at you Cerakote, Rogue E Coat, and black oxide). It’s stayed evenly applied over years of use.
But while the black zinc looks nice, it’s lacking in two areas. First is the feel. You can feel the black zinc coating between your hands and the bar. It’s a noticeably thick and kind of rough coating.
Not only does the zinc fill in some of the knurling, causing a reduction in grip, but it has a kind of powdery feel. This is why I’ve switched to recommending primarily stainless steel bars.
The other reason I’ve moved to all stainless is corrosion resistance. I recently bought the Rep Fitness rackable curl bar in stainless steel. So over the last 6-7 months, my Fringe Sport bar has been stored on the wall, unused.
In that time, a fair amount of rust has shown up. Now, it is cleanable, and the bar isn’t ruined. But it does prove out a major benefit of stainless over a coating like black zinc.
The other issue is an issue I have with all non-rackable curl bars. It’s hard to load. You must balance it on your bench and simultaneously load plates on each side or set it on the floor. Both are a complete pain in the ass.
Now that I’ve switched to a rackable curl bar, I don’t think I’d ever buy a shorty again. Is this true for everyone? Not at all. Short bars make up a majority of the market. But it’s something to at least be aware of.
Specs & Technical Overview
|Loadable sleeve space||9.8″|
|Bushing or bearing?||Bushings|
|Shaft finish||Black zinc|
|Warranty||Lifetime against defects|
Pros & Cons
- Medium knurl
- Broad knurl location
- Good sleeve spin
- Durable chrome sleeve finish
- Bar design
- Build quality
- Lifetime warranty
- Black zinc coating reduces feel
- Not rackable
Things I Like About The Fringe Sport Curl Bar
There’s a reason I used this bar for so long without looking for a replacement. There are quite a few nice features here. Let’s take a look at the best of them.
The first feature I like is the design. Specifically the bends in the bar where you grip it.
I’ve tested a metric ton of curl bars in the last several months, and I’ve noticed that there is definitely a right and wrong way to design the bar itself.
Some bars have angles that are too shallow. Others are so acute that you might as well be doing neutral grip dumbbell curls. Some bars have a flat spot in the middle, allowing you to use the bar for pressing. Others have a strange angle in the same area, making pressing uncomfortable.
Another common issue in many EZ curl bars is that the segments you grip are often too close together or too far apart.
With the Fringe Sport curl bar, they are ideally spaced. They also have the exact angles needed in a bar like this. This is how all curl bars should be.
One aspect I don’t like about my current rackable curl bar (the Rep Fitness rackable curl bar) is the location of the knurl. It only has four small sections, with the rest of the bar being smooth.
On this Fringe Sport curl bar, the knurl is applied liberally. It is located anywhere you might actually want to grab the bar, not just in the four intended spots.
Because I use my EZ bar to do more than just curls, having a broader area of knurling is advantageous. In fact, it’s a must have if you plan to do more than curl with your EZ bar.
Something consistent across every single Fringe Sport product I’ve tried is the build quality. They make things designed to be used hard; this bar is no exception.
I’ve put this bar through quite a bit of hard use, and it still looks and works like new.
Being a CrossFit focused company, they build their gear to be dropped, abused, thrown around, and heavily used in group training classes. This is why Fringe Sport bumper plates are the ONLY ones I’ll buy or recommend. They are proveably more durable than any other option.
The Fringe Sport curl bar is equally well made! From its 1,000 lb capacity (very high dor a curl bar) to its lifetime warranty, this bar is very well built!
Things I Wish Were Different About The Fringe Sport Curl Bar
As with most things you use for years, there are bound to be a couple of things you grow to wish were different. This Fringe Sport curl bar is no different.
The Black Zinc Finish
When I first planned on building a full garage gym, I was stuck on having black barbells. At the time, I knew nothing about barbell finishes or how they affect your bar’s performance. I just wanted my gym to look cool.
That’s at least part of why I went with the Fringe Sport curl bar. I was really looking forward to the black zinc finish.
When the bar first arrived, I didn’t think twice about it. It looked cool, and that’s what mattered. But when I started to test out other barbells, especially bare and stainless steel, I realized I wasn’t a fan of this finish at all.
The black zinc adds a texture to the bar that I don’t like. It also fills in the knurl at the expense of grip. Over time, I’ve grown to dislike the feel of this bar compared to stainless steel.
I’ve also found that black zinc isn’t the best option to resist corrosion over time. It will definitely rust if you don’t keep up with bar maintenance.
That said, I’ve let quite a few people try the Fringe Sport curl bar, and to a person, they all liked it. They all said no when I asked if the finish bothered them. So maybe it’s just me?
While this isn’t a complaint specific to the Fringe Sport curl bar, it is about ALL curl bars that are not rackable.
In plain terms, loading plates on a short curl bar is a pain in the ass. Not only is loading the plates a pain, but now you must pick up your loaded bar from the floor to use it.
Using an EZ curl bar is much easier if you can set it at the proper height in your rack for loading and use.
If you own a power rack, you owe it to yourself to get a rackable curl bar, not a shorty like this one from Fringe Sport. I’ve just posted a review on what I feel is the best rackable curl bar currently available that you can read here.
That bar, the Rep Fitness stainless steel rackable curl bar (say that ten times fast!), is currently being used in my garage gym. I don’t see that changing in the foreseeable future.
Who Is The Fringe Sport Curl Bar Best Suited For?
If you don’t have a rack or don’t have the budget for a rackable curl bar, this Fringe Sport curl bar is a solid option for you. I’ve recommended it to many people over the last few years, and it always gets great feedback.
There’s even a user review on the Fringe Sport website that cites my recommendation and how happy he is with the bar. Thanks, Oswaldo!
Alternatives To The Fringe Sport Curl Bar
If you like the idea of a short curl bar but don’t like the finish issues I highlighted with the Fringe Sport model, Rep Fitness makes a great short EZ bar that comes in either hard chrome or stainless steel. That would be a great option for you!
If you need to save a few bucks, get the Rep Fitness rackable curl bar in hard chrome. It has all the features that make that bar a strong choice, just with a less expensive finish. (Hard chrome is much more durable than black zinc)
Lastly, if you want a great deal on a rackable EZ bar that also looks amazing (with a very cool black and gold finish), the Midas rackable EZ bar by Fringe is a fantastic alternative!!!
Overall, the Fringe Sport curl bar has served me well for years. It’s a solid choice for a short curl bar in a black finish. That said, if you have the room in both your gym and your budget, opt for a rackable stainless steel or other non-black model.
What type of knurl does this bar have?
The knurling on the Fringe Sport curl bar is medium to medium aggressive. Because the black zinc fills in some of it, I’d lean more toward just medium as a descriptor.
How is the sleeve spin on this bar?
It’s good. Not as free as you’d want in an Olympic barbell, but it works well for a curl bar. As with all bars with spinning sleeves, regular maintenance will help performance.
How are Fringe Sport’s other barbells?
The Fringe Sport Wonder Bar is a perfect choice if you are looking for a great CrossFit barbell at a reasonable price. It’s got one of the best reputations in the industry.
If are looking for a short curl bar with a black finish, the Fringe Sport curl bar in black zinc is a solid choice. It's well made with a lifetime warranty and looks great. The finish isn't as nice as stainless steel, and it would be better if this bar was rackable, but otherwise it's a good choice.
Product Brand: Fringe Sport
- Well made
- Good sleeve spin
- Quality knurl
- Lifetime warranty
- Finish affects grip somewhat
- Rackable would be better