Article and photos by Justin.
Pallet of goods, freshly delivered off the freight truck.
Both ends of the tube were already open.
Thankfully, the bar was still inside.
I was a bit apprehensive about the bar's condition after seeing this.
Fortunately, the bar withstood the abuse.
Here is a 45lb plate fresh out of the box. As others have noted, the plates did smell pretty bad when they were first taken out of the packaging. However, the majority of the odor went away after washing plates with liquid dish detergent. The odor did linger around for a few weeks. It was nothing too bad, but I did notice a cigarette-like smell upon entering the garage each day. However, I must tell you now, two months later, the smell has dissipated to the point that I can only smell the plates if I hold them directly to my nose. The odor is definitely a non-issue and it should not affect anyone's buying decision.
Here are some of the plates and the bar up on the rack. Notice the black color on the 10lb plate looks a bit faded. This color change probably happened when I washed them with detergent. Fortunately, the integrity of the rubber remained unchanged and I found a way to get the color back, making them look brand new again--of course this time without the smell!
Ready for bench press.
Plates loaded on bar for standing press.
Here is a close-up of knurling. I have to say the knurling on this bar is superb. Granted, I haven't handled many bars. But I checked out the bars at the local Sports Authority and Sears (Two CAPs and an SA brand). They are nowhere near the same league of quality. This bar has the perfect balance of texture to give you a plentiful solid grip without abrading the skin of your palms like a cheese grinder. I couldn't quite appreciate what Mark Rippetoe was referring to in his book about sharp knurling until I felt those CAPs. Ouch!
Some of the plates lost their deep luster after washing them in detergent. I had a couple bottles of 303 'Aerospace Protectant' on hand for cleaning car interiors and noticed that the product also protects rubber. So I went ahead and gave a generous rub down with the solution on each of the plates.
And what a difference the conditioner makes! Before and After:
The rubber finish on the plates is by no means perfect. You will see some scratches and dings upon close examination. You can also see that the rubber surface has a mottled appearance. This is only noticeable in bright lighting conditions, such as flash photography. But it doesn't look bad either. The pic below show the worst imperfections (a scuff and an indentation) that I can find on the entire plate set. For those who prefer an absolute clean finish with no blemish marks, rubber coated plates are probably not for you. But I have seen plenty of painted plates get scratched up too. The IronMaster dumbbell plates are a good example, but people still seem to be pleased with them.
The depth of the steel sleeves at the center of the plates varies by weight, with the 45lb plate being the thickest. I measured the depth of this sleeve with a caliper and it comes out to 4.7 cm. Each lighter weight is progressively thinner.
So here is a rundown of my pros and cons of the Body Solid rubber grip olympic weight plates.
1) They are an absolute joy to hold and grip onto. The size and shape of the grip handles, combined with the slight softness of the rubber, really make the plates feel like an extension of your hands when you pick them up.
During each of my workouts (as we all do), I am constantly sliding plates on and off for every warm-up and working set of my exercises. The process is so effortless with these plates. The rubber provides just enough traction for the skin of your finger tips, so you don't ever need to worry about a plate slipping from your grasp.
Now I am sure that regular grip handle plates aren't bad either. But I have only used the solid round plates with a lip on one side, which is obviously more troublesome to separate from other plates and then hold onto and carry. The rubber coating is also nice that it works as a shock absorber, so you really can't ever pinch your fingers on these plates, even if you tried. Of course that also has to do with how the plates are shaped. When you stack the plates together, small spaces always remain for your fingers.
2) The plates are very quiet. This wasn't as important to me, but it is nice. Some people prefer the clanking of iron, so this might not be a pro for everyone. But these plates are never loud, even if you slap them together on the bar. When you return a heavy deadlift to the ground, the most noise you hear is the bar rattling its sleeves. I cannot even distinguish any noise from the plates.
1) When they are delivered on your driveway, you will smell the rubber odor. This is unavoidable. People on this forum describe it as a degassing process. For my set, it took a solid two weeks for the smell to dissipate. During the following two weeks, the smell remains on your hands after handling them. But after the first month of ownership, the smell is almost completely gone and really is a non issue. Today, I do not smell anything on them except for the conditioner I have wiped them down with.
2) I believe the rubber coating is certainly susceptible to damage over time. How much? I think it really depends on how you care for them. For me, they are not high maintenance plates. I keep the plates in a garage year round. Every six months, I wipe them down with Armor All or some other protectant to regain their luster, but that is about it. To date, the rubber coating shows no signs of degradation or excessive wear. Time will tell, but I am confident they will continue to hold up for many years to come.
Overall, I am quite pleased with my purchase. I also must say that I am very happy with the Body Solid Olympic bar The bar has a great feel in my hands and on my back. The knurling couldn't be better. I don't have another bar to compare it to, but I have seen the cheap CAP and SA bars at Sport Authority. Just by looking them and feeling their build quality (knurling, sleeves), I can say that they are not even in the same league of this bar.
This Body Solid rubber grip olympic weight plates set is one of the best purchases of fitness equipment I have ever made. I also love the four handle design. It really makes grabbing plates and switching the weight on the bar that much easier and faster.
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