Rep Fitness Rackable Curl Bar Review, Good But Not Perfect

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rep curl bar featured image

video review

Key Points

  • End-to-end stainless steel.
  • Stainless quality is a big step up from their previous stainless steel bars.
  • Easily rackable on standard racks.
  • Great sleeve spin and construction quality.
  • The knurl locations drive me crazy.
See more details and the current pricing here on Rep’s site
person training with a rep fitness stainless steel rackable curl bar
Training with my Rep Fitness rackable curl bar

My Quick Take

Over the past seven months, I’ve used the Rep curl bar twice a week. The primary movements I use it for are curls, close-grip bench presses, barbell rows, and skull crushers.

On the whole, I enjoy almost every aspect of this bar. Almost.

But there’s one thing about this bar that bothers me every single time I use it. Even after seven months, it’s still enough for me to keep my eyes out for something else.

My problem (and make no mistake, it’s my problem, not something that will bother many of you) is that the knurl is only applied in four small sections, all narrower than the width of my hand.

When I grip the bar, my hand is about 80% gripping the knurl and 20% gripping the bare bar.

Does it affect my grip on the bar? Nope. It doesn’t functionally affect the bar or my use of it at all. It’s ultimately a mental issue on my part.

One of the most essential characteristics of a barbell is your connection to it. That’s why I’m such a big fan of stainless steel bars. There’s nothing between you and the bar. The connection is solid!

But with this bar, all I can do is think about how the knurl bothers me and feels weird in my hand. It screws up my connection with the bar.

It’s kind of like having a tiny pebble in my shoe. Sure, I can still walk fine, but dammit, I’ve got to get rid of that pebble!

Does that mean you won’t absolutely love this bar? No!!! I’ve had several friends tell me that it’s a complete non-issue for them.

In fact, if it wasn’t for the knurling issue, this would be THE curl bar for me. As you’ll see, even with my dislike of a couple of things, it’s still the best rackable option out there.

GymCrafter score: 8/10

  • Bar Use – Specialty
  • Weight – 35lbs
  • Length – 74″
  • Distance Between Sleeves – 51″
  • Loadable Sleeve Length – 10″
  • Diameter – 30mm
  • Bushing/Bearing – Hybrid
  • Sleeves Ribbed – No
  • Knurl – Medium
  • Center Knurl. – No
  • Shaft Coating – Hard Chrome or None (Stainless Steel Bar)
  • Tensile Strength – 190 KSI (Hard Chrome); 200 KSI (Stainless Steel)
  • Tolerance – 3%

What I Like About The Rep Fitness Rackable Curl Bar

Let’s start with the finish options. I opted for the stainless steel version.

I always prefer a stainless steel bar whenever that’s an option. Just like their stainless steel power bar, I was not disappointed.

The look and feel of the completely stainless steel bar is precisely what you’d want. Great looking and has the most corrosion-resistant finish available! (yes, more than even Cerakote!).

You can also get this bar in a matte finish hard chrome for a hundred bucks less. Hard chrome, while not my favorite, is my number two preference for barbells. It seems to feel the least like there is a coating on the bar, and I’ve never had issues with its durability, either.

I love that they offer this bar at a lower cost with a great finish, as not everyone can fit a stainless bar in their budget! Especially for a specialty bar that isn’t going to be all that versatile.

Center portion of the Rep rackable curl bar
Look at that beautiful stainless steel!

One of the biggest pains in the ass about specialty bars is they can be very hard to load. Fixing this issue is something that many fitness companies have addressed.

They fixed this issue with trap bars by developing the open-back trap bar. This design allows an integrated floor jack that makes loading and unloading plates easy.

For EZ curl bars, they fixed this issue by making them rackable. Previous to this, curl bars were all relatively short. That meant that to load and unload plates from them. You had two choices.

One was to balance the bar on your bench, grab a plate in each hand, and gingerly load them simultaneously.

The other was to put the bar on the floor and lift each end as you loaded your plates. A complete chore that I would rather skip than use my short EZ bar (true story!).

You can now rack your curl bar and load plates like any other barbell by simply making the bar the same length as a standard barbell.

I’ll never buy another short EZ curl bar again.

rep fitness rackable curl bar compared to 48
The Rep Fitness rackable curl bar next to a short, 48″ non-rackable EZ curl bar

One of the drawbacks of buying barbells online is that you can’t see the small details. Specifically, you can’t tell a bar’s build quality until you’ve got it in your hot little hands.

Rep seldom disappoints in this area; their rackable curl bar is no exception.

The knurl terminations (one of the first things I look at when determining manufacturing quality) are spot on. They are clean and crisp and exactly what you’d want.

While I don’t particularly appreciate where the knurl is located, I love the feel of the knurling itself. It’s grippy without being overly aggressive. 

The sleeves spin well and freely with no weird noises or hiccups, even with no plates loaded. Plates glide on and off this bar’s smooth sleeves.

I bought the stainless steel version and love the quality and look. The gunmetal gray color of the stainless is even, durable, and polished.

While I haven’t seen this particular bar in hard chrome, I’ve seen other bars from Rep in that material, and it’s always well done and without blemishes.

Bushing on sleeve of rep fitness rackable curl bar
Endcap of Rep Fitness stainless steel rackable curl bar

All quality barbells have sleeves that spin. This is done with either bushings (typically on power bars) or needle bearings (usually found on high-end Olympic lifting bars).

One of the primary reasons for this is safety. You never want the inertia of a plate spinning or moving on the bar (which they do when lifting) to spin the bar in your hand.

That results in a loss of control and a possibly dangerous dropped bar.

With an EZ bar, you are no longer gripping a straight section of the bar. Instead, you are grabbing angled segments.

If an EZ curl bar doesn’t have excellent sleeve spin, those angled sections can quickly come right out of your hand.

They use a combination of bushings and needle bearings on the Rep rackable curl bar. At first glance, I thought this was overkill. But then I realize how important it is for this style bar to remain stable.

The sleeve spin on this bar is exactly what it needs. Another indication that Rep really thinks about product design before producing a product.

Bushing on sleeve of rep fitness rackable curl bar
One of the bushings in the Rep rackable curl bar.

What I Don’t Like About The Rep Rackable EZ Bar

As mentioned above, I really like the quality and feel of the knurl. I just don’t like where the knurl is applied.

The knurl is only applied in small patches on the small, straight sections of the bar. There are four patches that allow you to have grip in the two customarily used hand positions.

My first issue with this is that the patches are smaller than the width of my hand. So when I grip the bar, I can feel the edge of the knurling. It distracts me.

My second issue is that I like to grip an EZ bar in more spots than these standard four.

I enjoy going with a wide grip when pressing with an EZ bar. I also like a very narrow grip in some cases. And sometimes, I just want to cheat my grip a little left or right.

With the way the knurl is applied to this bar, I can’t do any of that.

Knulr section of the Rep Fitness rackable curl bar
These knurl spots just don’t fit my hands.

A traditional barbell’s sleeves average around 16″. The sleeves on the Rep rackable curl bar are only 10″.

If you only used this bar for curls, that wouldn’t be a problem. Even the strongest human can only curl so much weight, and a 16″ sleeve isn’t needed.

But I’m a big fan of versatility. That means I use my gear for as many things as possible.

For the rackable curl bar, that means using it for bench pressing, barbell rows, upright rows, and barbell shrugs.

Since I use bumper plates, I can see myself running out of room on the sleeves at some point. Not that it’s a huge deal, but since they made this a full-size rackable bar, I’m puzzled why they wouldn’t include standard-length sleeves.

Sleeves of regular barbel vs Rep Fitness rackable curl bar
A standard Olympic barbell sleeve next to the sleeve on the Rep rackable curl bar.

Who The Rep Rackable Curl Bar Is Best For

If you have been looking for a rackable EZ curl bar, there’s a lot to like about this Rep bar. But is it for you?

You’ll most likely love this bar if you do a lot of direct arm work. It takes the elbow-friendly positioning of an EZ bar and makes it rackable and a breeze to load.

If you’re tired of the true pain in the ass that is loading a short EZ bar, a rackable version like this one from Rep is a game changer.

This bar also allows you to start off with it in your rack at precisely the correct position for the movement you are performing.

No more picking it up off the floor to get to your starting position. If you plan to lift heavy with your EZ bar, this rackable model will really help you!

Alternatives To The XXX

Normally, in my reviews, this is where I list some other options for people who feel the product I’m reviewing won’t work for them. In this case, I don’t really have one. I haven’t found a better option for a rackable curl bar than this one. If you know of one I should try, let me know at tim@gymcrafter.com.

Rep Fitness Rackable Curl Bar
rep rackable curl bar

The Rep Fitness rackable curl bar is one of the best rackable curl bars on the market, but it does have flaws. Specifically, the location of the knurling can be distracting to some lifters. While the knurl does provide adequate grip, it is only applied in 4 small segments on the bar. The bar is otherwise extremely well made, comes in 2 finishes, and is a solid addition to most home gyms that have a rack.

Product Brand: Rep Fitness

Editor's Rating:
3.5

Pros

  • Rackable
  • Available in stainless steel and hard chrome
  • Great sleeve spin
  • Grippy knurl
  • Comfortable to use

Cons

  • Knurl placement
  • Sleeve length
Photo of author

AUTHOR

Tim Steward has been training at home since he got his first weight set from Sears in junior high. Over 30 years later, Tim has helped thousands of people build home and garage gyms that they love and use regularly. He also holds CPT and Nutritionist certifications with the ISSA and is an NCCPT nationally accredited trainer. When Tim is not training or writing about home gyms, you can find him at the dog park with his two Australian cattle dogs, Anny and Beans.

10 thoughts on “Rep Fitness Rackable Curl Bar Review, Good But Not Perfect”

  1. I have this bar and it’s awesome. The knurl has never bothered me and I’ve never wished it was in more spots. We used to have the Rogue and it had more knurl but the knurl hurt my wife’s hands (and mine if I’m honest). The sleeves also weren’t attached very well. We were surprised as Rogue is supposed to make quality gear. We think the Rep is made better and we like the knurl better too.

    Reply
    • Ugh, there’s a reason you don’t see me buying any Rogue gear to review. Glad that you like this bar! It’s still my currently used bar. I think the knurl issue I pointed out is mostly in my head. Thanks for posting this comment, it’s a great perspective I didn’t include in the article.

      Reply
  2. I thought the same thing about the knurl pattern, but it’s never really been an issue for me. I’ve only had the bar a couple of weeks, but I really like it so far.

    Reply
    • I really think it’s mostly in my head. Thanks for sharing this, I think it’s what most folks will think about the bar.

      Reply
    • Thanks for posting this. I think my review might be a little harsh and it’s nice to hear from people with this more positive opinion!

      Reply
    • I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m very interested. It has knurling where I want it. I’m not a huge fan of the black and gold color, but I know a lot of people are. I’ve never been disappointed with one of their products, so if you have your eye on it, go for it!

      Reply
  3. It is not in your head. I bought the Rep rackable curl bar and returned it due to the limited knurling you mentioned. I loved the slightly thicker shaft, the stainless steel, and the smooth spin of the collars but that knurling placement drove me nuts. If and when Rep gets the knurling right, I will purchase the bar again.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment! It’s nice to know someone else felt the same way. I’m normally a huge fan of pretty much anything Rep makes these days, but this one certainly didn’t live up to my hopes.

      Reply

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