Eleiko new NxG Barbell lineup- complete review and comparison

2017 Eleiko NxG Weightlifting Barbell complete review

Competition vs. Training vs. Performance

NxG Rack, and Power lock Weightlifting bars

Eleiko recently launched their new NxG Barbells.  Word on the street is these new bars are significantly improved and a massive update to their iconic weightlifting barbells.  Is this fact or marketing fiction?  Are there distinctive upgrades to justify the hype?  We spoke to Rickard Blomberg, one of the owners at Eleiko to get the inside story.

The Eleiko NxG movement-
NxG is an acronym for next generation.  So what’s different?  After speaking at length with Rickard, apparently a lot!  It’s more complicated than a simple bar update or a new logo.  Together they represent a beacon of change.  Eleiko is aggressively moving in an entirely new direction.  For decades Eleiko has been one of the biggest names in weightlifting.  Well known for high-quality products with an almost cult-like following.  They have, as many businesses, had their ups and downs over the years. The downs were mostly concerning the quality of their discs, but their bars are world-class.  They’ve proven themselves to be extremely consistent and a leader in the market with very few issues.  Rickard said for the next generation of athletes they are still committed to producing top-quality weightlifting competition equipment, but that market is minuscule compared to the number of big-box retail gyms around the country (and the world for that matter) who are now expanding their equipment arsenal to include Olympic weightlifting platforms, bars, and discs due to the increased demand caused by Crossfit and the desire for functional strength training.  Eleiko’s end goal is to be a complete one-stop shop and supplier for not only barbells, discs and noise free platforms (which he says people are loving very much), but also power racks, GHD’s, squat racks, benches, rigs and lots of other free weight related equipment.  Eleiko very recently finished construction of a massive, brand new, fully modernized factory.  Equipped with CNC equipment, robotic welding and product handling, and other state-of-the-art goodies.  Gone is the old school factory where you can see a bar stress test being performed.  Having this new factory at their disposal, my guess is selectorized equipment will be in their future.  Purest of the sport might see this as a sellout but from a business perspective its a wise move.  Change is difficult to accept for some, but the only constant in life.  Onward and upward.

To see this audacious vision become a reality Eleiko recruited Roy Simonson.  Roy is Eleiko’s project and production manager who deals daily with, among other things, the barbell development, design, and production.  He’s a veteran and extremely successful pioneer of equipment manufacturing from America, who has decades of experience.  Roy started Eagle equipment, which went on to become Cybex, and then he started Free Motion.  Both of these were massive game-changing equipment companies.  Roy recently relocated to Sweden to work in-house and take the helm of the new factory.

Under his direction the Eleiko barbell lineup is more extensive, with more choices, 22 to be exact, yet it’s easier to understand the hierarchy and each bar’s intended market.  To the laymen, the previous lineup was a bit confusing.  Eleiko’s barbell lineup now includes curl bars, trap bars, para and powerlifting bars and many others.

A subjective view is vital to a review of barbells because lifters go by feel and experience, not by stats. But to be fair and balanced, we reached out directly to Roy at Eleiko’s HQ for explicit details, clarification, and facts.  He tolerated an hour plus of my tedious and pressing questions.  If he is reading this, thanks again for your patience.

How are Eleiko Bars made?  

Learning how these bars are made was of special interest to me.  Growing up in Cleveland, a blue collar city, I had numerous manual skilled-labor jobs.  One, in particular, was working in a machine shop that serviced the auto industries’ tool and die makers with precision tool steels.  This experience and practical understanding of CNC machines; horizontal lathes; vertical Blanchard grinders, and other industrial equipment made it easy to follow along when Roy was explaining.

First, let’s start with the steel: 

Eleiko does not produce its own steel, and I don’t think any weightlifting equipment manufacturer does.  However, they do get it made domestically in Sweden by a very specialized aerospace/specialty steel manufacturing plant.  The formula and specs are specific to Eleiko’s demands and have not changed in decades.  The big news is that the plant who manufactures their steel has recently updated and modernized their facility with new technology so their steelmaking process yields the finest steel available.  The end result is a “cleaner” steel.  Roy said that the plant, due to the aerospace protocol, produces outstanding steel without impurities or flaws.  It’s the polar opposite of some mass produced pig-iron.  The steelmaking plant runs a massive batch for Eleiko that fulfills their needs for an entire year, then ships to Eleiko as needed.  They do it this way to keep quality and consistency as high as possible between each and every barbell, year after year.

Before the cold rolled steel bars are shipped to Eleiko they are manually inspected, cut to a length of 2200mm, heat treated, straightened and ground on a centerless grinding machine to 28mm with a tolerance of +/- .01mm.  After the bars arrive at Eleiko the knurling is added, and the ends are prepared for the retaining clips.  The plating process follows with layers of copper, nickel then chrome is applied. Eleiko has experimented with different thickness of plating and they have realized that the thinner the overall coating is, the more resilient and effective it will be.  Thicker coating fills knurling, changes the diameter, adds weight and also tends to crack and potentially dislodge and peel from the flexible steel. Super shiny bars have a thicker coat of copper and nickel plating which explains why the new NxG bars’ coloring is slightly different than previous models.  Prior to coating, extreme care is taken during surface prep to assure a great bond of the plating.

The knurling, bar-end treatment, and coating processes could potentially add minimal distortion to the bar, so once again the bar is straightened prior to assembly.  It may seem a bit redundant, but quality and perfection is their goal.  Interesting to note is that each and every 28mm bar blank could end up becoming their premiere Competition Bar, so extreme care is taken to maintain maximum quality for every single bar at each step of the process.

Knurling-

This was a very interesting and enlightening discussion.  Apparently, there’s no industry standard for how to gauge, classify or identify the severity or style of knurling.  Reason being is that the process is more artistic than robotic and has, even with the most modern technology, some form of subjectiveness that still applies. To add the knurling, first, the bar is placed into a CNC lathe.  Using a CNC is new for Eleiko.  Previously, their bars were done on traditional lathes and hand machined by Spinge – an Eleiko employee for 30+ years that now oversees 3 workers who perform this task.  Contrary to popular belief, a minimal amount of metal is actually removed when the knurling is being machined into the bar stock.  Their lathe has 2 small discs, also referred to as bits, that have a right-hand and left-hand pattern set at 180 degrees from each other.  As the bar rotates in the lathe, the bits act the same way a field plow through dirt would and forcefully pushes and distorts the steel. This process is actually squeezing the steel into the shape desired.  The bits are obviously very very hard and extremely sharp steel to be capable of distorting heat-treated forged steel.

The aggressiveness of the final knurling is determined by 3 factors:

1) how many revolutions the lathe makes prior to advancing the bits to the next portion to receive treatment.

2) The squeezing process from tension on the bits.  Higher tension equals higher peaking and pointedness.

3) how sharp the bits are. The bits typically last for 4-5 bars then need to be replaced.

Number three is the tricky one.  Due to the quick dulling of the bits, keeping consistent knurling from bar to bar is a challenge, to say the least.  Eleiko’s previous product lines had occasions when the Sport Bars had equal or stronger knurling than the Competition Bars which should never be the case.  With the introduction of the new CNC machines, Eleiko has a significantly higher knurling consistency on the NxG product line.  After the machining is complete the bars are separated based on the intensity of the final knurling, then tagged, bagged, palletized and isolated to avoid any confusion during plating and assembly.

If you look closely and inspect aggressive knurling you either see a pyramid point or a diamond-flattened top.  A diamond-flattened top is a result of a very strong squeeze of the bits, along with multiple deep revolutions which resulted in an extremely high peak.  But the peak was excessive, so it was ground flat afterward.  The NxG IWF Competition Bar’s aggressive knurling was engineered to create a perfect pyramid point.  Eleiko will occasionally run the bars through a traditional lathe and press emery cloth against them to take off the utmost burs, but this only a very mild treatment and not the norm.  A medium knurling looks like it has a “volcano” top because the squeeze of the bits was moderate and the rotations were average. Not allowing the steel to come to a full point leaves the center depressed. This volcano look is typical for normal, everyday bars.  The center of the competition men’s barbell is unique because the knurling is extremely mild.  Produced with negligible rotations and tension.  All the bars that are labeled “IWF” follow IWF protocol, which mandates all men’s bars must have center knurling. It is allowed to be mild, yet must be there.  This is the least aggressive knurling you will find on any Eleiko barbell.

notice the accuracy on the edges of the NxG

In my opinion, the IWF Competition Bar knurling provides the best grip surface.  The IPF Powerlifting Bar is the same shape, however, wider revolutions were used to create an even bigger pyramid and an overall more aggressive pattern.  For maximum deadlifts this is great, but not so much for doing a clean and ripping open your jugular.

The NxG Competition Training bar uses the same knurling formula as the NxG IWF Competition Bar, however, they are the 3-5th bars machined with the bits whereas the comp bars will be cut 1st and 2nd.  This machining order yields a negligible difference in the final product. It is pretty much unnoticeable by touch or sight when we had them side by side.

The NxG Performance Weightlifting and XF Weightlifting Bars use the volcano style for a more mild, user-friendly feel.  This is 100% noticeable without even touching them.  Just looking at them next to a competition bar it’s obvious they are very different by the texture and depth.  Our gym members who don’t compete really liked the feel of the Performance NxG bar we have.  It’s designed and actually perfect for everyday use because it won’t kill your hands, but gives a solid grip and feel.  Our high-level lifters prefer the Competition and Training bars because the more aggressive knurling gives them confidence when pulling big weights, even if there’s potential of large chunks of skin ripped off in the process.

The Sleeves-

The sleeves are a two-piece construction composed of a 50mm cylinder attached to a flange.  The Powerlifting and Rack bars have a thin flange which can accommodate more weight being loaded, whereas the IWF Weightlifting bars must comply with IWF specs so they have a wider flange.  Roy told me that there is no actual human interaction in the sleeve manufacturing process.  The pieces are now robotically loaded, welded and off loaded without being touched by hands.  Afterward, they are individually inspected with a level of scrutiny that Roy felt compelled to point out no fewer than six times— Eleiko has zero tolerance for flaws.  They look for any porosity, defects, scratches, or any other issues that don’t maintain their extremely high standards.  He rated their quality at 99.999%.  If ANY flaws were found that sleeve is not used on a lower product line as many would think, instead they are scrapped and recycled.  After the inspection is complete the sleeves move to the CNC milling process. They are machined to 50mm with a tight tolerance of +/- .025 mm, which is about 1/1000 of an inch.  Eleiko manufactures the majority of their sleeves but occasionally uses a local vendor when demand is extremely high. They maintain the same quality standard regardless of where the sleeve is made.  The sleeves have only a couple variations, unlike the bars which have numerous.

When training with brand new bars and discs, the discs seem to always be super slick on the sleeves.

I have been to dozens of international competitions over the years that used brand new equipment and witnessed professional lifters having discs flying off under normal, every day lifting conditions when collars are not used. This issue seems to subside as the bars break in so I’ve always assumed there was some coating on the sleeve that made them slippery that broke down with time.  This also happened to us when we trained on of the new NxG Weightlifting Training Bars.  I was not surprised because I expected it.  Roy told me there was no coating and I was taken aback.  Confused, I asked what the manufacturing tolerance on their discs was. He told me that the hole size in the discs is 50.4mm.  I found this extremely odd that they would manufacture the discs so loose and oversized, especially considering the amount of precision that was taken manufacturing their barbells.  But this explains the slippery disc issue.  It’s not the bars.

The End Caps and Clips-

The NxG bars have a significant improvement in the end caps and clips.  The 2015 IWF Competition Weightlifting Bar had a threaded cap. This was a massive change from 1990-2010 era bars where the end caps were pressed in and a real pain to remove.  Back then destroying the caps to service the bar was standard practice.  The threads were an advancement, however what screws in screws out.  Using Blue Loctite on the threads became the norm because the caps notoriously fell off.  The NxG bars use neither of these methods.  The new caps have a groove machined into them.  With a snap ring fitted into the end of the sleeve, the cap is now pressed on and snaps in place.  It’s the best of both worlds.  Snaps in place to stay put but also makes it easily removable to service if the need arises.  There are 2 access holes in the cap to allow the use of a tool to get the cap off. The bar label is also different.  Before it was just a puffy sticker to identify the bar. Now, it’s a combination of a very thin plastic adhesive seal which covers the access holes and fits snugly in the end of the cap.  Finally, an identification sticker is placed on top of that.  After removing these stickers to check out the internals, they didn’t re-stick so I’ll have to get replacements.  Their goal was to make the sleeve “sealed” to protect the internals.  This is very important because sealing the end protects the bearings from dust and dirt that causes wear, ergo premature failure.  End cap improvement is trivial, yet welcomed.  It also means you can skip the Loctite.

Over the years I have had bars fail and almost always it was due to a retaining clip.  Retaining clips are used to hold the sleeve onto the end of the bar shaft. They are thin, fragile and eventually break. The metal they are made from allows them to be flexible so they can be installed, however, its also its Achilles heel. The force from slamming on weights during loading or dropping a barbell unevenly and these thin clips are not happy.  I’ve loaded a bar and when the disc hit the flange, the entire sleeve slid all the way to the center knurling.  If a bar stopped spinning, occasionally I would get lucky and find a small dog ear that broke off the retaining clip that was floating around and got wedged into a bearing.  Once I got the cap off and gave the bar a shake it would fall out and boom!  Bar fixed.  Usually, when a retaining clip fails the sleeve slides on or off the bar sometimes causing damage to the bearings.  With NxG bars they have eliminated the frail retaining clip and replaced it with a massive, two-piece thrust washer.  The groove machined into the bar to accommodate this monster is over twice the width of the former slit used for the retaining clip.  With the size of this washer, I can’t imagine this setup failing under the same conditions as the old models.

Bearings and spin-

In my opinion, this is the most significant update in the new NxG line of barbells, and how it really sets itself apart from all previous models.  For decades Eleiko had used German made, drawn cup needle roller bearings with open ends. This is the exact same bearing I found inside my vintage Uddeholm barbell (also made in Sweden) when it failed.  I contacted the manufacturer of the bearings in Germany, which were used by Eleiko, Uddeholm, and many others, and Matthew asked me if they were “possibly on a weight bar?” I laughed and asked how he knew and he said: “we sell the manufacturers tens of thousands of these per year.”  From personal experience, these bearings are very reliable and I have only had a few failures in 35 years.

During my conversation with Roy, I inquired about the number of bearings used inside the new sleeves and he prefaced it by saying that discussing that stat could very well lead down a slippery slope. Reason being is that a higher number of bearings does not equal better performance.  I agreed and he continued.  He went on to explain that there is a sweet spot with the number of bearings (or total width of coverage) used.  Too few and the bearings fail, but too many and the steel can fail.  He said that most people understand that Olympic bars bend and oscillate, but many don’t realize that they also bend within the sleeves. The entire bar flexes, not just the center.

Bearings are made of hardened steel, harder than the bar and similar to the bits which mill the knurling.  If the entire sleeve was filled from one end to the other with bearings there is no room for give, then the first bearing located just inside the sleeve will act as a wedge.  As the barbell flexes under load the ends are being held firmly by the thick, inflexible sleeve while transferring all the force to that one very specific spot.  The result: either that bearing will fail or the bar will rupture.  I have seen barbells snap before and it’s always just inside the sleeve, and I have also seen the first bearing distort and squeeze out of the inner sleeve. This is the primary reasons that powerlifting bars don’t use bearings, but instead, use bushings.  Also because there is no real reason for a powerlifting bar to easily spin.  Bushing bars are the ultimate choice for long-term use under the heaviest loads because there is nothing to fail except the steel itself.

After countless calculations combined with decades of experience, Eleiko’s solution was to have 2 bearings on each end of a sleeve, a 8 total bearings per barbell — exactly like the previous bars.

So if the number of bearings hasn’t changed, what has?  The bearing itself.  Instead of sticking with the status quo Eleiko chose to use a closed-end sealed bearing.  This is very important for two reasons.  First, durability. This style of bearing is structurally unyielding because it’s a complete functioning unit that was engineered and built with precision to spin internally onto itself. You can chuck one of these against the wall and it would likely still function. Try that with an open end bearing and you would have needles flying everywhere.  Sealed bearings slide on top of the barbell as a complete unit. They do not use the bar as a functional part of the bearing by having the actual needles touch the bar, unlike the previous bearings. Barbell steel was engineered for lifting weights not withstanding the wear of bearings after hundreds of thousands of revolutions.  Secondly is feel.  A bar that has tighter tolerance bearings will have a more snug spin and therefore “feel” different when lifting.  This is a big deal.  A quick note: Eleiko also added a thin green silicone washer on the inner end of the sleeve (opposite the end cap) to help make the sleeve dust proof. I was a bit surprised to see this.  It was machined in very nicely with an attention to detail and overall quality that’s really is a step up from all previous models.  Eleiko bars now appear to be made in a high-tech factory, not some dudes basement.

This small change in bearings makes a big difference in spin. When the bar has no load (sitting on the floor) and clowns try to spin it with their foot it won’t spin well.  Immediately they will assume that the bar is junk. This has been the exact method and reason many dislike Uesaka bars.  It is downright false.  If they would put the barbell in a rack, load plates on it so the bearings are under load, then spin the weighted sleeve they would see how well both the NxG Bars and Uesaka bars actually spin when it matters – under load!  From my experience when a bar spins really freely without load its worn out.  Now if I had to choose between a rusty house bar with zero spin and an old Olympic bar that had a ton of spin, obviously I would choose the latter, but neither is ideal.  Look, when a bar spins that freely and you are mid lift, the rotation you put on the bar when changing direction can cause the plates to continue to spin when the bar is overhead or during recovery. If the discs are moving during a lift that rotational force can cause a loss of balance. It also creates a strange and inconsistent “feeling” when lifting. The plates should never rotate during a lift. They should finish as they began from the floor. If a bar is too tight or too loose, disc rotation can result.  Tighter bars make it harder to change direction. Sloppy bars make it easy, but inconsistent and sometimes uncontrollable.  Ideally, you want the best of both worlds.  If you have loose fitting plates, or discs that are not in balance they can also cause the bar to rotate. Having a tighter bearing or a stiffer spinning bar will help to overcome (but not totally) crappy discs.

There was an instance back in the 70’s when a barbell manufacturer tried to make the bars spin absurdly easy.  At that meet, 5 people dislocated their elbows.  Point is, there has to be a balance.  These new bearings address that balance.  And for the record, don’t put your foot on a bar, it’s disrespectful and makes you look like an amateur.  You are lifting weights for exercise, so don’t be lazy and bend over and use your hands to adjust the bar.

Assembly-

When Eleiko assembles the new bars they have 4 assembly stations.  All four stations have a scale that is accurate to 1g and certified with frequent inspections.  Each individual part of the barbell is put on the scale at one time to be certain that in total they weigh, including the assembly grease, 20kg +/- 10g.  Too much grease can put a bar out of spec.  10 grams is such a small amount that each tiny thing matters. This tolerance is due to IWF certification for Official Barbells, which is +.1% to -.05%.  Because all the bars, sleeves, bearings are all machined to such tight specifications, a variation of weight is nearly impossible.  We weighed the IWF Competition Bar and it was exactly 20kg on our scale.  The NxG Performance was also 20.00kg. The IWF Competition Bar and IWF Weightlifting Training Bars have +20/- 10g due to IWF specs. (Women’s bars are +15/-7.5g.)  There is no mandatory standard on the NxG Performance Weightlifting Bar or XF bars due to them not being IWF spec, however, they are internally kept at +/-15-20g. This weight variation is mostly from the assembly materials and very little from manufacturing.   After final assembly, the barbells are tagged and bagged, ready to be shipped out.,

Lineup comparison of new NxG Eleiko Bars-

The premier Eleiko barbell is the new IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar NxG, which succeeds the Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar.  The IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar NxG Is calibrated and certified to IWF specs for international competition.  It has a certification sticker on the center of the bar and ships with accompanying paperwork.  IWF spec means that it has the exact weight, dimensions and aggressive knurling as its predecessor with the differences being the aforementioned steel, bearing, plating and end cap upgrades.  Because it’s Eleiko’s flagship barbell it comes with a lifetime warranty, and of course a brush to keep it clean.  Retail price for this new hotness is $1049 on their website.

Eleiko has remaining inventory of the previous version it replaces, the IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar and they are blowing them out!  If you don’t care about the new upgrades, want a competition bar for less loot, or looking for a bar that will last a lifetime at a bargain price, you can snag one here for the same price as the IWF Training bar of $829 and free shipping in the USA!!  If you want more info on the Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar, check out the review we did on the original bar here.  Might be worth a look since they are still available and on sale.

Either of these bars is great to have.  For over 20 years I have only trained on two competition bars.  I purchased mine used and pre-owned training bars were not common place.  The only issues I’ve had with this bars were the end caps kept coming off, and as the bar broke in the spin became a bit too fast and loose.  Besides that, they have been golden.  The actual sound of lifting on any NxG Bar vs any used previous version Competition, Training or Sport Training Bar is very different because of the tighter bearings.  As a bar gets a bit looser from use, and even though it’s very minimal wear, literally a few thousands of an inch, it gives the bar a louder and more distinct rattle when you make contact with your body. The internal wear doesn’t need to be much for the bar to feel and act differently. The new NxG bar with its sealed bearings will be interesting to see over time if it stays as tight as it is new.   The snap-on end caps are probably the thing I like the most. To me, there’s nothing worse than spending a G-wiz on a barbell to have the caps fly off.  It’s like having a wheel come off a Koenigsegg. It just doesn’t make sense.

If you want the best Eleiko has to offer and the ability to use it at an official IWF competition then the IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar NxG is the one for you.  If you don’t plan to stick it in a closet and use it only for competitions then it’s likely overkill.  Unless of course, you have money to burn, want to see how durable your hands and neck are, or simply like the super sharp feeling. When we used this barbell for a training session everyone’s hands, even international-level lifters took a tiny thrashing.  One lifter even mentioned that his neck had hickeys.  This sharp bar should be reserved for competitions or may be used as an expensive training bar for meet prep.  Most people I know that got a competition bar for training eventually rubbed wood, emery cloth or sandpaper across the bar to knock the edges down a bit.

Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Training Bar, NxG — Replaces the Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Training Bar

The Eleiko IWF Weightlifting Training Bar NxG is just about identical to the IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar NxG with its quality, calibration, materials, specs, bearings, color, etc. Actually, there are only minor differences. It does not come with a sticker and certification from the IWF, but fortunately still comes with the cleaning brush; has a 12-year warranty instead of a lifetime; and the knurling is a tiny (and I mean very tiny) bit milder, designed for daily training by serious professionals.  It would be about the same as a competition bar after about 3 months of use.  Still aggressive by most peoples standards.

I would recommend this bar to very serious lifters for a few reasons. First is that it’s good to have a barbell that is as similar as possible to what you will b.e competing with in a big competition.  The knurling, spin, and overall feeling vary from bar to bar and brand to brand.  In a competition setting, you want to stack the deck in your favor as much as possible so using a barbell that is nearly identical to the one on the main stage will help best prepare you for that situation and eliminate one variable.  It’s the reason we have 5 different competition bars on hand at our gym.  We train with the barbell the target competition will be using.  Secondly, it will last your entire career, without fail. You and that barbell will have many encounters and share many success and failures together. For a retail price of $869 vs the previous version, which is still available at $829, it’s a no-brainer to opt for the newest version for less than 5% difference. The bearings, caps and more consistent knurling totally make this an easy choice.  It’s also over 17% less than the IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar NxG for basically the exact same bar without a sticker!  If you are a serious competitor and only going to have one bar, then this should be it.

Eleiko Performance Weightlifting Bar NxG — Replaces the Eleiko Sport Weightlifting Bar

I believe this bar is the sweet spot in their lineup if you already have an IWF Weightlifting Training Bar NxG, IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar NxG, or not looking to compete frequently at national-level competitions.  This bar has the exact same steel, sleeves, bearings, plating, caps, and attention to detail as the top two bars.  The differences are it’s not calibrated and has different knurling. That’s it!  Earlier when the manufacturing process was explained it’s important to remember that producing each individual component to a high level makes it nearly impossible to have a barbell that has any variation in weight. With absolute certainty, I am convinced that if you don’t have an entire set of calibrated, IWF competition discs and fractional plates then the odds of the weights being further out of spec is far greater than this bar will ever be.

We purchased 10 of the previous Eleiko Sport Weightlifting Bars because I knew that the bearings, steel, and sleeves were all the same as the top two bars so I figured after a year of use they will all look the same, and for $699 it was a great deal.  I was right.  After 5 years our used competition bars resemble the sport bars. You literally can’t tell them apart.  Not even if you wanted to because the caps identifying them have all fallen off.   Only by close inspection of the serial numbers and user inflicted marks (from epic misses) can we identify them.  All our used bars feel about the same now. This is why we set aside a training bar for pre-competition preparation and a new competition bar for meets. Correction – only the caps on the men’s bars have come off.  Every women’s bar looks as they did from day one, including one that we have from the 90’s.

When we brought the NxG Performance Weightlifting Bar to the gym to share with everyone multiple people noticed the unique sound when the bar came off the hips, and that the discs only rotated slightly after the bar was lifted off the platform.  After inspection, I realized this minimal rotation was caused by egg shaped discs that have been distorted over time and their imbalance caused the bar to rotate when the discs were suspended off the ground.  Older bars with loose bearings spun much more with these unbalanced discs.  The knurling is milder than the Competition and Training bars, so it’s a feeling that takes no time to get used to. No break in time, and didn’t murder peoples hands.  It’s actually ideal for most training situations.

Our strategy is to use the NxG Performance Weightlifting Bar (previously Sport Training Bar) for daily training.  When we’re 2-3 weeks prior to a competition, switch to an IWF Weightlifting Training Bar NxG.  The last max day we break out the competition bar for only the 1 or 3 max attempts to simulate the meet. This is the ideal situation.  Using a competition bar all the time will murder your hands until it wears down (or you develop crocodile skin), but then its purpose is defeated.  The retail price of this bar is $729.  To spend over 19% more for a Training bar or almost 44% more for the Competition bar doesn’t make sense for the majority of people.

Overall I really like this bar.  Like I mentioned, we already have IWF Competition bars, so if I was going to get more bars for our gym these would be the ones.  If you miss a snatch on this bar I can guarantee you it’s not because of the bar.

A few thoughts on two other bars in the Eleiko lineup:

Eleiko Power Lock Weightlifting Training Bars

When I first moved to Las Vegas I trained at Golds Gym on Flamingo.  It was the best gym in town until it closed a decade ago, then ABG took over that title :).  I didn’t have my Eleiko Bar sent from Cleveland yet so I was forced to use the equipment they had there.  That included an unknown grooved bar with collars and half split Ivanko bumpers.  After looking at photos on the internet, it looked exactly like a Russian bar.  I HATED that bar!  Each time I would drop it on the pot-holed floor with those non-elastic rubber coated steel wanna be bumpers the collars would jam. I had to keep a 2.5kg plate handy to smack the release button or I couldn’t get them off.  Looking for a plate between every weight change.  What a hassle. Sometimes kicking the crap out of the side of the outside disc would loosen it up, but not often.  To remove the collar you had to hold the release button the entire way off or it would lock into a subsequent groove.  The real joy came when I would be holding the button in and sliding the collar off and the skin on my outside lower palm under my pinky would get pinched between the collar in a groove.  Holy hell, that sucked.  I can’t tell you how many times the collars got spiked and I had blood blisters 2” long on my hands.  FYI, having a collar ricochet back and hitting your shin when it was chucked at max velocity at the floor is not fun either.  When I tried to use the normal gym spring clips, they wouldn’t slide over the sleeve and took two hands and a wrestling match to get them on or off. It was so infuriating.  Normal collars would not work on this bar, so I was forced to take my chances with the corresponding collars and just try to be careful not to pinch my hands.  The floor was so shoddy lifting without any clips would send the bar one direction and the discs another.  Joking aside, I would have an entire side unload from the bar skipping across the floor.  Another drawback of this style was when you loaded bumpers, change plates would seem to always land in one of the grooves.  The small metal plate would be flopping all over during a lift, so lifting without collars was not an option. If you dropped the bar without collars or clips the change plates would fly off and bounce around the gym.  Once I had a change plate fly super high, land, and roll 15+ feet across the gym and cracked a wall mirror.  Don’t let me forget to mention that bar spun worse than a dreidel in wet concrete.

Now even though I have never touched this Eleiko bar, and have NO intentions to, I’m fairly certain that it rotates 1000% better than the one I trained on.  The clips might also work perfectly without incident, however, the idea of grooves still seems really really stupid and completely unnecessary.  On a traditional bar with good clips or proper collars, the need for grooves is zero.  The original bar was designed by communists, and if their engineering of cars was a showcase of their abilities, it’s understandable why Cuba has American cars from the 50’s everywhere.

NxG Rack Bar-

One of the new bars that caught my eye and I thought was a great idea is their Eleiko NxG Rack Bar. This bar is an “anti-snatch bar” as Alex Murray from Eleiko phrased it.  There is no knurling near the sleeves.  The goal is to protect racks and benches from being marred by knurling.  Knurling that’s extremely wide is totally unnecessary on a health club’s “house” bar anyway.  It was a brilliant idea to eliminate it if you’re training is not weightlifting specific.  Over the years I have seen hundreds of bars in numerous gyms where the contact patch of the bar against the rack has knurling that is smashed and useless.  Why it was put there in the first place is simple: most bars were manufactured and ultimately purchased by people who don’t lift.  Bars were clearly copied from original weightlifting bars and as gyms evolved to add more racks and benches, the bars never changed.  Eleiko finally used their brain and this bar handles those issues.

When the bar is released it will retail for $679.  It will replace the Eleiko XF Fitness Bar, which at $499 is a solid deal.  Four major differences are the NxG is 29mm vs 28mm for the XF; the warranty is 12 years vs 10; the NxG has eliminated all bearings and the XF has a combo of bushings and bearings, and the markings are dual on the XF and powerlifting only on the NxG. The steel is also different, which we previously covered, but really of minimal consequence because the steel is the same or better than the previous IWF Competition Weightlifting Bar which has a lifetime warranty, so I wouldn’t worry.  In commercial gyms where knuckleheads leave bars loaded, drop them in cages, etc.  I would probably wait for the 29mm NxG bar to be released because the thickness will be slightly more resilient under those situations, but nothing is idiot proof.  While squatting or pulling bigger loads (+275kg) you will feel a notable difference between a 28mm and 29mm barbell.  The oscillation is much less and makes walking out a squat much easier.

Its 29mm diameter and hand markings are identical to IPF Approved powerlifting bars. (At the time of this review Eleiko had made one run of 40 bars, on 29mm bar stock with both weightlifting and powerlifting markings.  A very rare item if you are a collector.  When these are gone all future NxG Rack Bars will only have the powerlifting markings.)  The NxG Rack bar has great knurling, although not as sharp as Eleiko’s IPF approved bar, stiffer flex due to the additional 1mm thickness over the XF, and lack of knurling on the ends make this a perfect choice for benching, pulling and squatting in power cages.  Made of the same high-quality specialty steel as their elite bars with a 1500kg load capacity. If you want a wonderful bar specifically for a bench or power cage this is the one.

The bottom line is these bars were already some of the best available, and now only better.  We will be posting a video on our Youtube Channel comparing these to other brands.   Look for it the near future.

 

Weight: 20 kg             Length: 2200 mm            Grip: 28 – 29 mm

Sleeves: 50 mm         Finish: Nickel plated       IWF certified: Yes and No

Manufactured Location: Sweden

 


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7 Comments on “Eleiko new NxG Barbell lineup- complete review and comparison

  1. Thank you for this write up. As a gym owner, local and national meet organizer, the detailed information about bar differences is valuable.

  2. This couldn’t of come at a better time! I was just looking to pull the trigger on the older competition bar as I just competed in the AO2 down in Miami and its the second time I’ve used an Eleiko comp bar and wow, what a difference compared to others. I have a really nice competition spec barbell from American Barbell that I’ve been using for the past 2 years but since I’ve recently started competing and have used Eleiko’s training and comp bars, I’m on the fence as to what barbell I should pick up. I was 99% sure I was going to pull the trigger on the old Eleiko comp bar as I love the grip of it. But, I was looking to use it for my day in and day out training. However, it seems that may be too much on the hands as you’ve posted about here. Its tough because the comp bars are on sale at the moment and it seems like a great deal considering it also has a lifetime warranty versus the 12 year on the NxG bars. I think in the end after reading your review I’ll pull the trigger on the new Eleiko NxG training bar since its designed for that purpose: training where as I’ll never host or take a comp bar with me anywhere.

  3. hello. thank for this genius article. i own too a Vintage Uddeholm Barbell and i show it on my youtube (alan levy). these bar is a present of my coach and he like me ..we have no sure if collars are real “Uddeholm”.. if you can see it and confirm me….(.its screw system with a rubber band in middle crushed and asure locking without metalic contact against sleeve..)…+ are .best balance and no sleeves stress…lonely – is longer than a classic system and i loose loadable zone….

  4. Nxg bar is very beautiful… but i prefer classic very aggessive knurling of mine (same 2015 W.L.competition of your exemple but with sleeves of local vendor..just bar is numeroted and marked “Eleiko”…loool i have learn this interresting detail in your post)…for me its best bar of all time. i never fear with it (front squat very loaded is best test of trust…..lool) Eleiko is the Rolls Royce of W.L

  5. Thanks for the review. Are your performance bars starting to loosen up in regards to the spin now that you’ve had them for a bit? I realize they won’t spin as freely as the older training bars because of the new design but have you been able to get roughly 1 revolution out of shaft?

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