This is a review for the most up-to-date version of the 20kg men’s Wonder Bar V2 by Fringe Sport, a bar that has been heavily refined over the years while still maintaining it’s sub $200 price point; a price that even includes the shipping, mind you.
Like all other products that they sell, Fringe Sport is incredibly proud of this bar. If you don’t believe me, go read the bar’s product description; or any product description really. They’re really kind of ridiculous sometimes, but they are thorough! I’ll give them that!
In any case, since I now have the new Wonder Bar V2 we’re going to see if it’s anything to be proud of.
Wonder Bar V2 Review – Specifications
- 20 kg men’s Olympic bar
- shaft diameter: 28 mm
- dual IWF/IPF hash marks
- tensile strength: 205k PSI
- yield strength: 160k PSI
- sleeve assembly: snap-ring
- rotation: Oilite bronze bushings (a bearing variant also exists)
- whip: poor
- loadable sleeve length: 16″
- finish: black zinc (shaft & sleeves)
- knurl: mild/moderate
- warranty: 1-year return policy, lifetime warranty against defects
- price: $199 (bushing variant)
Wonder Bar V2 Review – Sleeve Assembly & Rotation
The Wonder Bar can be purchased with bronze Oilite Bushings for $199 or with economical needle bearings for $20 more. I have only the bushing variant so that’s the only variant I will be commenting on in this review.
As a side note; and take this with a grain of salt since I haven’t handled the bearing version of the Wonder, but I don’t tend to recommend economy bearing bars to people. People who actually need an Olympic bearing bar know who they are and if they are spending less than several hundred dollars on their bar they are probably selling themselves short. That said, if you just want to have a bearing bar, by all means, have at it.
The bushing variant of the Wonder Bar utilizes bronze bushings and the sleeve assembly is held together using a snap ring design. This is all pretty standard.
The Wonder Bar V2 has a perfectly normal spin for a bronze bushing bar. Turnover is smooth and reliable and I can’t see rotation ever being an issue for a WOD no matter how strong of a CrossFit athlete you are. No complaints in the spin department.
It’s worth mentioning that I had a previous version of the Fringe Wonder Bar, and although I really like the looks of Fringe Sport’s fancy metallic end caps, the way they rattled around in the sleeve drove me bonkers. I must not have been the only one to notice this because this issue has been rectified in the current version. No more rattling.
Finally, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Wonder Bar is much quieter to drop than many comparably priced (and even higher-priced) WOD bars. Very quiet actually.
Wonder Bar V2 Review – Bar Shaft & Elasticity
The Wonder Bar V2 sports a 28 mm, high tensile strength, moderate yield, alloy steel shaft. The shaft is rated at 205k PSI and has a 160k PSI yield rating.
As the price and the specs would indicate this is somewhat of a mid-range shaft, and this is all fine and good considering that the Wonder Bar is an economy bar – designed to be used for general strength training and WODs. So mid-range it may be, but you’re not gonna bend or destroy the Wonder Bar unless you have a 600-pound squat, and somehow mistook this bar for a power bar.
Regarding the elasticity, the Wonder is pretty stiff. Matter of fact, I have to give Fringe Sport a little bit of credit here because even they describe the bar as having no whip. It’s been my experience that most economy bars with stiff shafts are still described by the manufacturers as being whippy even though they absolutely are not. I get quite tired of having to contradict the manufacturers on things like this and thankfully I don’t have to do that here.
All in all the Wonder Bar has a perfectly good shaft for the price point. I could do without the black zinc but I’ll talk about that later.
Wonder Bar V2 Review – Knurling
The Wonder Bar V2 is dual-marked and has no center knurl. The knurling itself is moderate; pretty mild when compared to a high-end Olympic WL bar. This is a common theme among WOD bars though, and it has been my experience that CrossFitters and the typical gym rat are not only unaccustomed to anything overly aggressive but also don’t tend to like it when confronted with aggressive knurling. In other words, the knurling on the Wonder V2 is about where it should be considering its audience – not too sharp, not too soft.
The deadlift is probably the only lift that would benefit from something more aggressive, but heavy deads are not generally prescribed in WODs; at least that’s my understanding. Chalk is always your friend with WODs simply because those sets are so long and chalk will need to be your friend with the deadlift as well – that is if you plan to pull heavy with the Wonder.
Other than that, snatch, clean, bench, press, squat, and row away with the Wonder Bar.
Wonder Bar V2 Review – Finish
The Wonder Bar V2 is finished entirely in black zinc. As many of you know already I am not a big fan of black zinc. It looks sharp new but it chips and scuffs easily and gets kind of ugly as it ages. Now I suppose there’s nothing wrong with a barbell that looks like it’s been used and abused, but I still prefer bright zinc on economy bars. It just ages better and chips less.
All that said, it is kind of hard to complain about the finish on a bar that’s $199 delivered. It’s a pretty solid intro/intermediate WOD bar at this price and at least it has a finish.
Wonder Bar V2 versus Rogue Bar 2.0
The Rogue Bar 2.0 is a 190k PSI, 28.5 mm, dual-marked Olympic bar, and it’s the Wonder Bar’s biggest competitor.
These two bars aren’t exactly the same in terms of their features, but they are quite similar in terms of their performance and they are both economy bars designed to target the same type of customer; CrossFitters, and those needing an affordable general-purpose gym bar.
So what’s different between these two? The price, for starters. The Rogue Bar 2.0 sells for $265 plus another $20 or so for shipping versus the Wonder’s $199 delivered. Now the 2.0 is technically a slightly fancier barbell, but I’m just not sure that it’s worth $85 more than the Wonder Bar. Let’s talk about it and see.
Both bars have black zinc shafts which I don’t care for, but the Rogue Bar does have bright zinc sleeves instead of just more black zinc. The Rogue Bar also has a mild whipper shaft despite it being thicker at 28.5 mm. I find the bright zinc sleeves to be a huge perk because that finish looks and ages better, but that difference in the whip is mostly irrelevant considering the Rogue Bar’s target customer; so that’s not much of a perk.
The Rogue Bar also has grooved sleeves that allow you to customize the bar’s look a little, but this has literally no impact on function or performance so I don’t attach any real value to it. Additionally, the Rogue Bar is a domestic product. This does have a significant impact on pricing and you may be perfectly fine paying more to know your bar was made in the USA.
Last, but not least, the Wonder Bar is infinitely quieter to drop than the Rogue Bar. This may not matter to you, but it definitely matters to those with irritable neighbors or sleeping family members.
So who wins? I’ll actually let you decide that one.
Wonder Bar V2 versus Vulcan One Basic
The Vulcan One Basic is another big competitor to the Wonder Bar, and like the 2.0 it is still more expensive than the Wonder. The Vulcan has more similarities to the Wonder than the Rogue Bar does including a 28 mm shaft, the use of bronze bushings, a similar knurl depth, and the fact that it’s imported.
What makes the Vulcan One different is the price ($249 shipped versus $199 shipped), and the use of a hard chrome finish instead of black zinc. That hard chrome finish on the Vulcan is a big improvement over black zinc. It looks nicer when new, it will look that way for many years longer, and the hash marks are much easier to see in a dark garage gym.
The warranty on the One Basic is short at only four years, but let’s be honest, the likelihood of you calling in a defect even after the first 6-months is very slim. Everyone likes to see the words “lifetime warranty”, but what does that really mean?
I like the Vulcan One Basic more than the Rogue Bar 2.0 if you’re going to spend more than the $199 demanded for the Wonder, but I also think that if you’re pushing into that $250 to $300 range you’re just too close to a mid-range bar to not spend a little more. If you’re just looking for a solid, reliable WOD bar at an economical price, you should probably stick with the Wonder.
Wonder Bar V2 Review – Summary & Final Thoughts
I liked the previous generation of the Wonder Bar less than I like this one. It has been much improved in the last couple of years. Now personally I have fancier bars than this one and you all know it, so I’m not going to sit here and tell you the Wonder is my new favorite bar, but if you are a novice to intermediate CrossFitter or even an almost-hardcore gym rat looking for an affordable, reliable new barbell then I have zero issues recommending the Wonder. It’s a solid bar at a fair price.