All bumper plates pretty much look the same on a nice clean white background as they are displayed on most websites these days. But what you really want to know is how they will perform and what will they look like after six months or six years of use. With easy access to overseas manufacturing, the market has been flooded with many different types of bumper plates and it can be hard to tell what is what when comparing them online. To help you decide on which bumpers would be best for you, let’s take a quick look at the three points mentioned above: materials, construction and purpose.
Virgin Rubber Bumper plates are made from fresh rubber, if you like – rubber that hasn’t been recycled or used before. So there is no mixture of polymers, glues or bonding agents in the base material before the manufacturing process begins.
Good quality plates, the ones you really want, start out from a clean source. Lesser quality plates will start from a cocktail of industrial chemicals from who knows where. Having said that, don’t confuse this information with the make-up of recycled rubber plates, which we’ll talk about in a minute. If you are in the market for high quality, every day plates, you want virgin rubber plates.
Vulcanised rubber is the second part of the equation in high quality plates. Vulcanised rubber has gone through a chemical bonding process where, usually sulphur, has been introduced to create a stronger bond between the chemical chains in the rubber making the rubber more durable. Think of all the super durable rubber you use in everyday life: car tyres, soles of shoes, hoses, etc. Vulcanised rubber is the good stuff and it’s what you want in a bumper plate.
Recycled Rubber Bumper Plates aren’t too bad either
Having said that, there is a good case to be made for recycled rubber bumper plates. There are a couple of benefits to mention right off the bat: They are environmentally friendly and you can usually use recycled rubber plates for outdoor uses.
Recycle Rubber plates like Crumb Rubber Bumper Plates are some of the most durable plates going around. They are usually very dense with a super low bounce too. This is due to the mixture of recycled rubber shavings along with the polymer bonding agents. All these materials are mixed together and pressed under high heat for a longer period than most bumpers to make sure the polymer chains connect and the bond sticks.
One final note about recycle rubber bumpers too. This mixture of materials usually creates damper or quieter sounding bumper plates. So, if you are training in an area where the noise of dropping bumper plates is a concern to you and your neighbours, Crumb Rubber Bumper Plates might be exactly what you are looking for.
Training and Competition Bumper Plates
Training Plates and Competition Bumper Plates are what you want if you are looking for the best materials available. You are getting the best quality Vulcanised Virgin Rubber which is precision manufactured to IWF and IPF specs. If you’re in this market, it’s competitive at the top and you can’t go wrong by buying training or comp plates from a reputable brand. There is one thing to look out for though. The little screws I the large steel collars of elite plates are known to loosen up over time. Make sure to check the screws every couple of weeks or when you hear the plates start to rattle.
Or look for plates like our Competition Plates or Training Plates which have in built rubber grommets in the screws to prevent them from loosening. A great feature of Again Faster Bumper plates you’ll love.
We’ve kind of covered this in the materials section already so no need to drag this out too long. The best indicator of quality these days is social proof. If the brand has good coaches, gyms and athletes that have been backing them over a long period, you can be confident you’re getting a good set of bumper plates.
In the functional fitness space, if the company has been around for 10 years or so, and are still one of the industry leaders you know they are producing good gear. Clearly, they have provided good equipment for the industry and community and have been rewarded with consistent return business to keep them afloat.
The two extremes here are an athlete training for the Olympics and a group of friends banging out some reps in the garage. The Olympic athlete needs Training Plates or Competition Plates and the group of friends would be fine with Virgin Rubber Bumper Plates or Crumb Rubber Bumper Plates.
Competition and Training plates are manufactured to strict international specifications. So imagine if a weightlifter sets a new world record lift to find out it is actually half a kilogram less than the record because the plates and bar hadn’t been manufactured to strict standards. That would be disappointing. It doesn’t matter so much if you’re hitting the 5:30 class or doing a few clean and jerks with your friends.
If you’re buying bumper plates for your gym however, or you just like to have the best gear possible, there is no reason why you can’t step up to elite level plates.
Elite plates will give your gym a professional edge on your competition and you are likely to attract a more committed clientele who are willing to pay higher membership fees relative to the enhanced service and equipment you provide. And if you go with elite plates at home, you’re going to have them FOREVER! So when you’re still using them in 20 years’ time, the cost will be easily justified.
What kind of warranty is important to you?
You’ll also want to consider warranty when buying bumper plates. What matters to you more: better pricing on the front end or long term service and security backed by a lifetime guarantee?
You’ll get a 6 – 12-month warranty with most entry level plates and a lifetime guarantee with most elite level plates. For most people, it can be hard to justify the cost of elite level plates upfront but if you happen to have a problem with any of the gear later, it would be nice to get a replacement product no questions asked instead of having to come up with a few hundred dollars to replace the item.
Do you know about the Again Faster Bumper Swap?
Okay. One last thing to mention, which you’re going to like. We have program that allows you to trade in all your old bumper plates (regardless of their brand) and receive a discount toward brand new Again Faster bumper plates. If you go with the OPEX – Rollover option, you could have brand new bumpers for your gym every three years. How good is that!
So there is some useful information to help you make sure you get the bumpers that are right for you.