In September 2012, I purchased an Ivanko OBXS-20kg-29mm stainless steel barbell, and after using it for awhile, I wanted to provide some initial impressions about the use and performance of the bar. I had started my home gym with the Ivanko OB-20kg which is excellent; however the non-standard knurl pattern made it difficult to deadlift without scraping my shins due to the narrow smooth area of the bar. Plus I liked the idea of having a stainless steel bar for the longevity and rust resistance. I live in Florida, so humidity is high for most of the year.
Buying: Ordering was straightforward. I purchased it online from Gtechfitness which was painless and hassle free.
Arrival: It arrived from Gtechfitness (actually they drop ship from Ivanko directly) in 8 calendar days (Figure 1). The ends of the container were a little smashed in (Figure 2) which had me initially worried, but when I opened the package there were no problems with the barbell sleeves. The only thing I was not happy about where some small scuff marks on the smooth portion of the bar itself (Figure 3). Initially I had thought about sending it back, but then realized it probably doesn't matter except cosmetically, and it will probably get more scuffed over it's lifetime of hard use. I doubt this was a shipping issue as there was no damage to the package in the middle.
Build Quality: As you would expect for an Ivanko product, the build quality is exceptional. The entire bar is stainless steel except for the bronze bushings that attach the bar to the sleeve (Figure 4). The sleeves turn very smooth and there is there is even a hole at the ends of each sleeve where you can apply oil if the sleeve no longer turns smoothly (Figure 5).
Use: I love using this bar. It feels solid in the hand and the knurl has a great feel. Compared to the black oxide OB-20kg, I have 2 comments: 1) When I first picked up the OBXS-20kg-29mm, I noticed that the knurling was sharper than the OB-20kg. This may be because this is a power bar and not an olympic bar like the OB-20kg. I've never felt the knurl on the OBX-20kg so I can't say whether there is any difference between knurls on the black oxide bars, but I thought this was worth mentioning. 2) The knurl placement is a big improvement for me over the OB-20kg, as the OBXS-20kg-29mm has a much wider unknurled part of the bar excluding the center knurl (Figure 6). I can deadlift without scraping my shins and the inside edges of the knurl pattern mark the right place to put my index fingers when doing overhead presses. I often see posts criticizing Ivanko barbells for their non-standard knurl pattern. I think this is mainly is because most people have only used or read about their black oxide bars and have never looked into the stainless steel bars. It's nice to know that Ivanko offers the standard knurl pattern if you are looking for it, albeit at a high cost.
Conclusion: What's not to love?: Quality product, stainless steel construction, 218,000 PSI tensile strength steel, excellent knurl. I love this bar and would buy it again. It feels and works great and I'm sure it will outlast me given its stainless steel construction.
Figure 1. Arrival - still in the package
Figure 2. Closeup of the package ends showing the smashed down edges
Figure 3. Closeup of the scuff marks on the smooth part of the barbell
Figure 4. The Bronze Bushing
Figure 5. The Sleeve End
Figure 6. Comparing the knurling between the Ivanko OB-20kg (top) and the OBXS-20kg-29mm (bottom)