If you’re reading this, then you probably already know that when I say, “Which is the best barbell?”, I’m not just talking about Uesaka vs Eleiko. I mean the best barbell, period. Almost any serious lifter would acknowledge that Uesaka and Eleiko are 1 and 2 when it comes to the best barbell you can buy. But, who is 1 and who is 2?
Before we go any further, I want to acknowledge what I feel is an important point. I am not an affiliate for either Uesaka or Eleiko. Uesaka doesn’t even have an affiliate program (trust me, I asked) and Eleiko has an issue with their affiliate sign-up process that renders the sign-up form broken.
In other words, I don’t make a dime whether or not you buy either bar – or if you buy a bar at all. Whether I prefer Uesaka or Eleiko bars is one of the questions I get asked quite a bit so I’m throwing my two cents into the internet.
Given the status of both Uesaka and Eleiko, you would think there would be more comparisons out there than there are. However, I have a pretty good theory as to why there isn’t. Both bars are going to set you back almost a grand each, so I can’t imagine there are that many people outside of maybe an Olympic Weightlifting gym that has both.
I just so happen to have been training with both for the last couple of months. I recently started lifting in my newly outfitted Garage Gym with my Uesaka Barbell. In our school’s weight room we have Eleiko Barbells. Due to scheduling, I’ve been lifting at both locations a couple of times a week.
I figure if that doesn’t qualify me to compare the two, then what does?
So, here we go – Godzilla vs King Kong, Lebron vs MJ, Uesaka vs Eleiko – A True Battle of the Titans.
Uesaka vs Eleiko
|Spec||Uesaka Training Bar||Eleiko Training Bar|
|Material||Habanese Steel||Proprietary Steel w/Chrome Coating|
|Rotation System||Uesaka Rotation System||Needle Bearings|
|Knurling||Hand Pressed||1.2 Sharp Weightlifting Grip|
Uesaka’s knurling is hand pressed. A Uesaka craftsman, literally, does the knurling by hand – not a machine or factory robot of any kind. This is actually pretty amazing when you think about it. It basically makes each bar a work of art. They are the only barbell manufacturer that does this.
The knurling itself is not overly aggressive. It’s designed to give a great bar feel and grip without tearing up your hands from everyday use.
Eleiko’s knurling is made by a machine press. When a press is brand new it creates very aggressive knurling. These first bars off the line become Eleiko’s Competition Bars.
As the press continues to be used the knurling it creates becomes less aggressive. These bars become Eleiko’s Training Bar. Less aggressive knurling is more advantageous for training purposes.
So when you get an Eleiko Training Barbell, you’re essentially getting a competition level barbell with less aggressive knurling.
The Eleiko knurling is still more aggressive than Uesaka. It’s noticeable, but not a huge difference.
Spin / Rotation
This is where the Uesaka Bar really excels in my opinion. Uesaka uses a dry rotation system that doesn’t require lubrication and is perfectly balanced. The bar spins flawlessly when you want it to. Once you receive a snatch or clean, the bar stops spinning which makes your catches noticeably easier.
Snatching with a Uesaka barbell is something you almost have to experience to appreciate. The rotation is so perfect that you can’t even notice or feel the bar rotate. It’s exceptional.
Eleiko uses precision needle bearings that do an amazing job of creating a super smooth and fast spin. The spin on an Eleiko is perhaps the best in the world… except when compared to a Uesaka.
Durability / Maintenance
Both of these barbells are going to last you a long, long time. This is even more true if you’re just about the only one using it (as opposed to in a gym setting). As long as you take care of the bar, and perform regular cleaning and maintenance, either bar should last you a lifetime.
Uesaka backs up that idea with a lifetime warranty. Chances are, you’ll never need to use it though. Maintenance involves regular cleaning with 3-in-1 oil and a nylon brush (More on Cleaning an Olympic Barbell). The rotation system needs no oil, so don’t go shoving WD-40 into the sleeves.
Eleiko bars come with a 12-year warranty although Eleiko bars generally will continue performing at a high level well past that. Like Uesaka bars, regular cleaning and maintenance are all you need to keep it working great.
The only thing you should be really mindful of, with either bar, is moisture if you lift in your garage in a humid area. Moisture can create rust on your barbell. If you keep it clean and maintained you should have no issues.
Both bars are going to run you around $900. At the time I’m writing this, an Eleiko Training Bar is $915 and a Uesaka Training Bar is $885. Either should be considered an investment into the next 20+ years of lifting you’ll be doing on them. You can sometimes get lucky with catching refurbished bars on sale at Uesaka’s website and I would highly recommend going that route if it’s an option.
I’m going to give you my opinion on which I believe to be the better bar of the two, but I would encourage you to try to get your hands on each bar yourself before purchasing.
Do you have any weightlifting gyms close to you? Call them up and see what kind of bars they have. It would be worth it to do a drop in lift just to try the bars out. You may get lucky with a Crossfit gym too, but they are more likely to have less expensive bars.
Winner of Best Barbell on the Planet
It’s probably pretty obvious by now, but I think a Uesaka Training Bar beats out an Eleiko Training Bar hands down. That’s really saying something considering I still think Eleiko is the second best bar on the planet. I honestly believe though that Uesaka is just that much better than everyone else.
When you take into consideration the craftsmanship, the feel, the performance, the durability and the consistency of every Uesaka Barbell made, there just is no comparison.
If you have the opportunity and resources there is nothing else that I recommend more strongly or with more conviction that buying a Uesaka Barbell. It’s a decision you’ll never regret.