This little post will state my (subjective) review of the Rogue Euro 28MM Olympic WL Bar and the Texas Power Bar. But first, some fundamentals:
Bushing vs Bearing
Proper weightlifting bars with rotating sleeves fall into two categories, bushing and bearing bars. The difference between them is that bushing bars rely on solid rings of (usually) bronze with relatively low friction between sleeve and bar, whereas bearing bars (usually) have needle bearings which rotate more freely. Cheap bars may also feature ball bearings, but those are not meant for serious strength work.
Bushing bars are relatively stiff compared to bearing bars, but may carry heavier loads without damage - we are talking way north of 200 kg here, just in case you were wondering if it matters to you. Also, quality bushings are usually cheaper than quality bearings.
Rogue Euro 28MM Olympic WL Bar
Olympic weightlifting type bar, which means: More whip, great sleeve spin due to its needle bearings, marks at IWF standards. The bar has a center knurl, like every bar should (but a lot of the Crossfit-associated ones don’t - I leave any guesses as to what this says about Crossfit and proper Squats to you). The knurl on the sides feels very comfy in my hands. Exactly the right depth and sharpness. The center knurl is relatively passive - but should suffice to keep the bar in place on heavy squats.
The chrome coating doesn’t do very much. Leave chalk on the knurls and the bar will start to build up rust. Regularly brush the bar with a plastic hair brush and coat it with your favorite oil (e.g. WD40) as you would do with bare steel bars.
The collars between bar and sleeve are thin - so thin in fact, that you will have problems to use this bar inside the Rogue Monster Lite series power racks, mostly on squats. Upper body work should be ok. With regard to squats you can remedy the situation by loading up some smaller plates first to increase the distance between the bigger plates and the rack. But still, this is kind of a stupid thing.
I looked up the rack measurements featured in Rippetoe’s Starting Strength, they have the same overall width as the Rogue Monster Lite series: 49 inches (or 124.5 cm in actual units). I feel like that’s a tad too wide for bars with slim collars. But that might just be my very personal problem. Interestingly, the inner width of Rip’s racks is only 41 inches, two inches less than the Rogue racks.
[End of Update]
Texas Power Bar
I got the Zinc covered version from Capps Welding. The Zinc means it won’t rust, but otherwise I am pretty disappointed in this bar. Yes, I knew that it would have less sleeve spin due to having bushings, but this thing is so incredibly stiff that it can hardly be called a rotating-sleeve bar. Even with additional lubricant, it has far too little spin for my taste. The bar is also known (shall I say feared?) for its knurl - so sharp that it resembles a cheese grater more than anything else. That goes for the center knurl as well as the side knurls - you will definitely be able to tell your bar position after squatting by the red line that it leaves on your back…
The bar is known for it’s sturdiness (deadlifts of > 600 kg), but otherwise I cannot really recommend it.
[Update 01.01.2016: Replaced wire brush with plastic hair brush]