by Michael M. - NJ
This Olympic bar review is for the Ironcompany 7' 20kg Black Zinc V2 Olympic Weightlifting Bar – Model: ICWCFB
I acquired this bar a few weeks ago. It arrived on my door step on Black Friday, so I've had a few weeks to try this out performing various lifts in various settings.
The barbell arrived encased in a heavy duty cardboard tube. It is almost unfair to call this cardboard because it doesn't give its durability justice. It was extremely well packaged. The ends of the tube were capped with thick "donuts" made of composite wood, which was each secured to the tube with two screws on each end. This was the best packaging of a barbell I have ever received. The bar arrived damage-free making its way from California to New Jersey.
Once removed from the tubing, I visually went over the bar. There were no dings, dents, scratches. The bar was straight, the sleeves spun without fail. The black zinc shaft is very eye catching. The sleeves are machine ribbed. I generally prefer a mirror smooth finish on the sleeves but it is a very slight ribbing. It is not to the point of being like a washboard. Once I put the bar to use I found this not to be an issue at all. The knurling upon inspection seemed on the finer side. The web site describes the knurl as "medium". I would describe it as "medium-light". But I will get to that soon when I go over the bar in actual use.
Here are some close-ups of the knurl and the ribbed sleeves:
Probably the most notable thing that caught my eye was how narrow the collars were and they have an indented groove down the middle. They didn't appear that way on the web site. For a moment I almost thought they sent the wrong bar even though all other specs were exactly as described. I contacted JP at Ironcompany and he explained to me that that the collars were a redesign. The groove is for a customizable rubber band that can be placed around the collar in order for clubs color code their bars. Pretty cool! (Ironcompany has since updated their pictures on the web site to reflect this new design).
Here's a close-up of mine:
From the initial conversation to delivery of the bar, JP was always promptly available to answer questions. He informed me when the bar shipped and followed up to make sure I received it. He always answered my emails immediately. As a matter of fact, the question above about the collars was asked and answered in between sets of Bent-Over-Rows that first day I was using it.
This is a 28.5mm diameter bar with no center knurl. I knew off the bat that this would not be a bar I would use for squats. I was primarily interested to see how it would perform doing lifts from the floor, outside the rack. This is where this bar excels. The first time I used this bar was to do some bent over rows. I was using iron plates, specifically Ivanko OMEZH's. I mention this because those particular plates are known to have very tight tolerances. They fit very nice and snug on the bar. The ribbed sleeves were not an issue whatsoever. I was able to do my warmup sets w/o collars and the plates stayed in place very nice.
Black Zinc Finish:
I have never used a black zinc bar. I don't know if that is different than "black oxide" so I didn't know what to expect. I know it looks awesome, but wasn't sure if it would affect the grippiness. Upon gripping this "median-fine" knurl after a few reps I loved how this felt in my hands. I don't know if it is the 28.5mm, the black zinc, or a combination of both. But the grip was unbelievable. I was able to perform my heavier sets with a very strong grip. Much better than other bars I have use with a more aggressive knurl with a different finish. My take on this is that the black zinc along with this medium-fine knurl makes for a better grip than say a more aggressive knurl with a different coating. Add a little chalk and it is perfect.
I never thought this bar would be something I would use for benching. But I had a light day coming up, so I figured I would give it a shot. I currently use a 29mm raw steel bar for bench, so you know where I am coming from. I wasn't overly thrilled with this bar for the bench press. No shortcomings with the bar itself, just my personal preference. The 28.5mm diameter is just too narrow for my liking.
Strict Overhead Press:
You would think if I didn't like the diameter for the bench press, I would feel the same about the OHP. Maybe because the weight is lighter on OHP, but the bar was very comfortable in my hands. I may or may not continue using this bar for the Press. Still undecided.
As with the row, I love pulling from the floor with this bar. The grip is perfect. It also has a nice amount of flex in it to take out the slack before the weights break the platform on heavy sets. This bar is now officially my new deadlift bar. Here is a quick 10 second clip of me pulling 495 lbs with bumpers. You can see the nice flex the bar has:
This is where this bar really excels and what I believe the bar should be used for. Up until now, I have mentioned lifts I performed in my home gym, using iron weight. I had the opportunity to take this to a buddy's CrossFit gym and really test this bar out in a commercial setting. We loaded the bar up with both training and competition bumpers. We put it through the ringer with Power Cleans, Jerks and Snatches. The bar saw multiple drops from waist, shoulder and overhead. Now, this type of lifting is not my forte as my technique sucks. But it wasn't just my buddy and I using this. We got some of the trainers and some real animals handling this bar. No rookies here on these tests. The bar performed to everyone's satisfaction.
Using Rogue competition bumpers, the smoothness in the spin of the sleeves was excellent. There is no slop in the sleeves. The whip is ideal and exactly what you want for these fast movement lifts. It is a bushing bar. Why anyone feels the need for a bearing bar is beyond me when you can get this quality from a bushing bar.
I noticed no ill effects to the bar after that harsh workout. It is back in my basement home gym and I continue to use it for everything except Squats and Bench. It will be babied in my possession. Not because it needs to be, but because I currently only lift with iron weight which I don't like to drop. Owning this bar and seeing how it performs with bumpers has prompted me to now be in the market for a set of bumpers.
I am confident this bar can stand up to a commercial environment. If you are in the market for an Olympic bar under $300 there is no need to look beyond this. Even if you have a higher budget, I see no reason to spend more.
In a Nutshell:
For a moderately priced bar you get outstanding:
Knurl, grip, finish, accuracy, sleeve spin, appearance, whip, and durability. I highly recommend this barbell. 5 Stars
Here are a few more photos: