If you’re anything like me, you took one look at the Rogue Ohio Bar with the Cerakote finish and suspected it may be the perfect barbell for your everyday lifting needs.
However, unless you’ve got cash coming out of your…ears, it’s a substantial investment. And, unless you live near Rogue’s facility in Ohio, you can’t get your hands on the bar before you buy. Most of us have to take the plunge just by looking at the website’s specs, and the collection of brief reviews left by (assumed) buyers.
I took that plunge and bought a red Cerakote Ohio Bar with black Cerakote sleeves.
I’ve had it for about 6 months now, and have used it no less than 4 days a week for all of the main Powerlifts and accessory lifts, as well as the occasional Oly lift. I load it up with Rogue’s Olympic Plates and their Color Echo Bumper Plates.
I’ve dropped the loaded bar numerous times for testing purposes, but don’t do it normally. The bar lives in what is essentially a large garden shed with no A/C or climate control of any kind (other than a pedestal fan).
Here is my comprehensive review of the Rogue Cerakote Ohio Bar. Hopefully my experience can help you make a more informed decision on whether this barbell is for you.
Rogue Cerakote Ohio Bar Review At a Glance
All-in-all this is a fantastic all-purpose bar. The 28.5mm diameter is suitable for all types of lifting (unless you’re a competitive Powerlifter or Olympic lifter), and combined with a standard knurl feels great in the hands. That probably has a lot to do with the Cerakote finish itself, which gives it a ‘sticky’ feel to it even without chalk.
I don’t think the sleeves’ spin is anything to write home about but they’re smooth and consistent, which is all you can ask for from an all-purpose bar. The finish on the sleeves has some scratching, but this has only been caused by the 20kg Rogue Olympic Plates (which I use a lot). Bumpers with stainless steel inserts slide on and off beautifully without leaving a mark.
The Cerakote finish looks great, and can be customized to suit your style or other equipment. It’ll set you back an extra $40, but is well worth the price, especially if your home or garage gym doesn’t have climate control.
Why put a Cerakote finish on a barbell?
First, a quick rundown on what a Cerakote finish is. Cerakote is a proprietary product made by NIC Industries.
Here’s a description straight from the horses mouth at Cerakote.com:
Cerakote is a Polymer-Ceramic Composite coating that can be applied to metals, plastics, polymers and wood. The unique formulation used for Cerakote ceramic coating enhances a number of physical performance properties including abrasion/wear resistance, corrosion resistance, chemical resistance, impact strength, and hardness.
It was designed for use in the firearms industry to protect weaponry from extreme environmental conditions (e.g., both combat and hunting, for example, often involves prolonged exposure to the elements).
While barbells aren’t often exposed to extreme environmental conditions, they are susceptible to damage of different kinds.
Most bars get knocked around and take impacts from being moved around, and from unracking and re-racking. They’re also exposed to corrosive materials in the form of sweat, skin acids, and other bodily matter. Many people also keep their barbells in garage gyms where there is no climate control (e.g., A/C). As such, physical damage and rust are the primary dangers they face. Thus, they need protection. Anyone who’s owned a bare steel bar knows how easily the knurl is damaged, and how quickly rust can set in.
Finishes such as black oxide, chrome, stainless steel, and zinc are those most commonly used for barbell protection. However, they have varying degrees of effectiveness to cost ratios. For example, zinc is relatively inexpensive but metal-on-metal contact scratches it to holy hell almost immediately. Stainless steel, on the other hand, is very corrosion- and scratch-resistant but it’s also very expensive.
The Cerakote finish is an innovation that is relatively cost-effective and both corrosion- and scratch-resistant. Unlike other finishes, it can also be easily mixed with paint to produce a near-infinite number of colorways and allow you to customize your barbell.
Is the Rogue Cerakote Ohio Bar any good?
Yep, I love it.
It performs better than any other barbell I’ve used:
- The standard knurl is a perfect depth for all of the lifting I do (primarily Powerlifts, accessory lifting and high-rep exercises).
- The spin is smooth and consistent while not being spectacular – but, I certainly wasn’t expecting spectacular from an all-purpose bar with composite bushings.
- The 190 KSI is plenty strong enough for the weight ranges I work in (max 300 lbs.) and provides a good whip that I hardly even notice it.
- The Cerakote finish gives the bar a sticky feel, even without chalk, that helps my grip feel rock solid. That said, it is prone to chipping / scratching on the sleeves.
Let’s look at these in more detail:
Rogue have used a standard knurl on the Cerakote Ohio Bar, much like on the regular Ohio Bar and many of their other barbells. It’s not particularly deep, and therefore isn’t aggressive. That said, it’s certainly not passive and I never have difficulty getting or maintaining a solid grip for any of the lifting I do.
The Cerakote gives the bar a different feel to more common finishes like zinc and oxide. Those finishes feel more slick to me, whereas the Cerakote finish feels ‘sticky’. I actually find I use chalk much less often with the Cerakote finish. On the occasions that I do use chalk, my hands stick to this bar like glue.
Some have suggested that the Cerakote Ohio Bar’s knurl feels less deep than the black zinc or black oxide finishes, however I would argue that’s likely to be purely in the mind of the user. In personal communication with Rogue, they’ve said that the Cerakote finish is applied at the same thickness as the other finishes, and thus the knurl is unchanged.
As far as all-purpose bars go, I’ve found this one to be exceptional. Of course, if you specialize in either form of lifting, you may be better off getting a specialist bar with the appropriate knurl depth.
There’s not a huge amount to say here. I’ve found the spin on the sleeves to be fine; smooth and consistent.
Rogue seem to have started using composite bushings in their bars, and that trend continues with the Cerakote Ohio. This differs from the regular Ohio Bar, which uses bronze bushings.
Does this make much of a difference to the spin? Honestly, I don’t know because I haven’t used a regular Ohio Bar. The spin on the Cerakote bar is absolutely fine for deadlifts, which is where I really notice the quality of a bar’s spin. I haven’t done enough Oly lifts to say whether or not it’s sufficient for them.
Anecdotal evidence from other reviewers would suggest that this bar is versatile enough to be used for Weightlifting if you don’t want to fork out the considerable amount of extra cash for a specialist bar.
As I said earlier, the whip isn’t something I notice much, which is probably an indication that it is in the sweet spot. The 190K PSI used in the Cerakote Ohio Bar is the same that’s used in the original Ohio Bar, and many of Rogue’s other bars, and provides a good whip.
The 28.5mm diameter gives it a little less whip than a specialist WL bar (IWF specs = 28mm diameter), meaning you might find it too stiff for serious Olympic Weightlifting. However, unless you’re lifting serious numbers on your Oly lifts, then this isn’t going to matter. And if you are lifting serious numbers on your Oly lifts, odds are you ain’t looking at this bar for that.
On the 28.5mm diameter shaft: I find this to be a good width for all the lifting I do. It allows for a solid wrap around grip when deadlifting and doing other pulling exercises, while being thick enough to prevent it from being uncomfortable when pressing.
There are three elements to discuss here: The shaft, the sleeves, and protecting the finish.
Six months into owning and lifting exclusively with it, the shaft looks as new as the day I got it. The red Cerakote finish is immaculate and gives it a premium look and feel. When I bought it, my wife couldn’t understand why I was buying such an expensive “stick thing”. When she saw it though, even she had to admit that it looked friggin’ good.
Much of my other equipment is red and black, and so the colorway I got (red shaft, black sleeves) makes the bar look like it was custom-made for my home gym. That’s one of the great advantages of the Cerakote finish.
The option wasn’t available to me, but Rogue now also have the Zeus Custom tool, which allows you to custom-build your Cerakote Ohio Bar with 13 colorways for the shaft, black Cerakote or Chrome sleeves, and your own text or logo on the shaft’s center.
Black Cerakote Sleeves
The only flaw I can offer for this bar is that the black Cerakote on the sleeves is prone to scratching and chipping. I use the 20kg Rogue Olympic Plates a lot, because you just can’t beat the quality of these plates for the price. But they have ridged holes, and when you slide them on and off the ridged Cerakote sleeves, they can scratch them up a touch. It’s not that bad and is easily managed with some standard barbell protection.
I’ve had no problems with the smaller Rogue plates (which don’t have ridged holes) nor my Rogue Color Echo Bumpers, which have stainless steel inserts and slide on and off as smooth as butter.
Every couple weeks, I give the sleeves a wipe down with a tiny bit of 3-in-1 oil on a rag. This has kept them looking as nice as possible and prevented rust from setting in where the Cerakote has scratched off.
Racking the bar straight on metal was obviously going to be a danger to the knurl and finish. Many J-Cups have rubber- or UHMW linings, specifically for protecting the shaft, but many still don’t. My squat rack has rubber lining on the seat of the cups, but not on the upright portion. So, I just bought some rubber strip meant for DIY non-slip flooring, and glued it to the upright portion of the cup. Now, my bar almost never gets metal on metal contact when I’m un-racking or re-racking.
Conclusion and recommendation
I’ll keep this short and sweet: The Rogue Cerakote Ohio Bar is the best barbell I’ve purchased for my home gym. It’s $40 more expensive than the regular Ohio Bar, but offers a bunch of advantages. I love the look and feel of it, and it performs as well or better than an Olympic barbell I’ve ever used.
If you’re wondering whether you should get one, just bite the bullet and order it. You won’t look back.