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Old Forum Who can comment on quality of SF kettlebells?

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Jeff

Level 6 Valued Member
I feel tacky asking this on the SF website.  I hope I don't offend Pavel or anyone else, but....

DD kettlebells used to be the standard that all other kettlebells were judged by.  They were made in America at first but are now made in China.  I don't know if the quality has gone down since then.  I think that Art of Strength kettlebells are very good, and made in America.  How do the current DD, Art of Strength, and Strong First kettlebells compare in terms of quality?  I have less expensive kettlebells that are no doubt of inferior quality.  I want to expand my kettlebell inventory and am willing to pay a little more for better quality.  Considering the fact that these should last the rest of my life, the better kettlebells are still a good deal.  Strong First kettlebells are less expensive than DD and Art of Strength.  Are the raw materials and craftsmanship as good?  I have never actually seen any of these kettlebells and think they are all probably better than the cheap kettlebells that I currently have.  I also know that the kettlebells that I have looked at in the local sporting goods stores have a very cheap feel to them.
 

Bill Been

Level 6 Valued Member
 

 
The bells StrongFirst sells are made by Perform Better. I have two 8s, two 10s, a 12, a 14, a 16, a 24, and a 32. Each of the singles is coupled with a DD bell to make pairs of all sizes, which gives a nice opportunity for direct comparison.
First off, the quality is not an issue at all. Are they as "pretty" as DD bells? No. They're not. They have a very slightly rougher exterior and they don't have that look like they could be part of a precision machine like DD bells do. They come with the rubber "foot" thingy screwed into a tapped hole in the base. This hole will also accept that screw-in intermediate weight thingy that makes an intermediate step between bells. The rubber foot thingys might be nice if you were forced to set them down on nice wood floors or something, but that's about it. Way too much friction for forceful cleans if you train on rubber matting. At the lower end of the range - up to 14 kilos - the handles are significantly smaller in diameter. My two "mismatched" pairs of PB and DD bells, the 12s and the 14s, make this pretty obvious. The smaller diameter itself is fine on the matched 8s, and 10s and the mismatch makes no real difference. Once you get to 16kg, the diameters match the DD bells. In the larger sizes, my DD bells (found on Craigslist) are some of the crappiest KB castings I've ever seen and the PB bells are easily nicer. I had to sand for hours to make the 24 and 32 even useable. I know there was a bit of a "dark time" in the history of DD quality, and I have two examples from then. That said, my "new" DD bells from last year kinda sucked until I sanded off that confounded "e-coat" they brag on, which manages to be both sticky and slick at the same time. Down to bare metal, the handles are now spot on.
Probably the two biggest points in their favor is that buying them is supporting a business that has been a great support to StrongFirst's astoundingly competent startup, plus the prices are unbelievable.  My last order, had I bought the same 9 bells from DD, would have cost the equivalent of PB "throwing in" the 24 kilo. Do not hesitate.
All that said....Rogue/Punch kettlebells may very well be the cat's meow. I have a pair of 28s from Rogue. Whole 'nuther animal. Made in 'Murica, thick handles that hold chalk, impeccable quality, brutal look. Only problem is sporadic availability.
 

Mike Lindner SFG II

Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
I really like the Perform Better bells. Similar dimensions as what LifeLine USA had on some of their more recent bells but with a little rougher finish. The rubber bottom is easily removable. I took them off of mine just because it was too much friction when halo'ing from one side to the next with Getups.

 

All time favorite brands for bells right now are Rouge and Perform Better. Both have great quality and for almost half the cost of the same size bell from DD.  To give a comparison I did some price shopping a 36kg for the end of the year. Before shipping this is what I found.

DD: 176

Perform Better: 99 (I think this might have been the end of Summer Sale)

Rogue Fitness: 89

 

Someone had told me that Rouge used the same molds that DragonDoor did at one point but I can't find anything that verifies or discredits that so just a rumor for now. My personal experience is that the Rouge 28kgs feel pretty damn close to the DD 28's though.

Mileage may vary with shipping make one more pricey in the end than another but i'm pretty certain Perform Better and Rouge are my brands for a long time.
 

eddouble1

First Post
I don't own any SF KBs but I own ROGUE KBs and I must say these are QUALITY!!!! DD has finally have a competitor when it comes to MORE Kettlebell for the money!! Highly recommend ROGUE for KBs!!!
 

Steve W.

Level 7 Valued Member
Rogue has two line of KBs, an American made line that appears identical to the Art of Strength/Punch KBs, and a Chinese made line.

I recently got a pair of the 20kg Chinese bells. They are similar in dimensions to my DD 20kg, but definitely not identical. The base is also very narrow, more so than I would prefer. Otherwise, I like them a lot. The casting is very clean and even, and the finish is nicely textured (enough for a good grip but not overly rough). I also like that the finish is a thin coating. I don't really care if the finish on a KB is durable, but I hate a thick coating because if and when it chips, the surface becomes rough and uneven.

I am not a fan of the PB bells I've had, but I got them a long time ago and they may not be the same as the current ones. The paint was thick, chipped easily and bled onto your hands, and the weight marking was not cast into the bell, but was a plastic insert glued into a depression in the casting that inevitably popped off, leaving a jagged edge.
 

JamesO

Level 4 Valued Member
I've been interested in investing in some nice bells, too.  Right now I have two Apollo's, an Ader, and just got one of the non-USA made Rogue's (not the "Rogue Kilo" line, but their newer "Rogue Kettlebell" line).  I love the feel of the Ader's handle, but wanted the rougher texture of the Rogue.

I'm actually a bit disappointed in it.  Lots of seams along the top and bottom of the handle.  The bottom of the handle also has a few powder coat boogers.  It isn't comfortable to swing.

Rogue is discontinuing the "Rogue Kilo" line, so I was wondering what people think of the Punch bells (same as the Rogue Kilo) or Lifelines?
 

Mike Lindner SFG II

Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
I have Lifeline bells (24kgs on both) and I like them. The finish does wear off after a while but overall smooth texture that is not so smooth that the bell feels like it will fly out of your hands if they get sweaty.
I thought I remember hearing that Lifeline might be discontinuing their bells (or maybe just clearing out inventory for newer versions). In either case I'm noticing some sales on them now so I say go for it if your size is in stock otherwise wait for Rogue or Perform Better to stock up.

Side note, Perform Better customer service is awesome! Had an issue with an order yesterday and they had everything taken care of promptly and politely. Loved the experience!
 

JamesO

Level 4 Valued Member
I should say that I sent Rogue a few pics of my bell.  They got back to me right away and said it was below standard.  They're shipping a new one out to me.  Great service from them as always.  I'll wait to see what the new bell is like before deciding which way to go.  I wish the 18 lb. bells didn't have a pink band around the handle, but you can't win them all.

I'd love to know where you've seen the Lifelines on sale.
 

Mattsirpeace

Level 4 Valued Member
Quality excellent, design optimal, service unforgivable.

Two years ago I bought PerformBetter bells at the 12, 16, 20, and 24 kg increments.  The quality was excellent.  One solid piece, with the handle perfectly round and no protrusions.  Earlier versions were welded.

There is no one perfect kettlebell design.  There are different hand sizes, there's the question of one hand or two, and the question of traditional or competition.  The PF bells strike a great balance.  The handle is just wide enough for two-hand swings.  But not so wide that the bell is wobbly for cleans or in the way for doubles.  The handle is slightly thick, which means fewer calluses.  The mickey mouse ears handle is good for goblet squats.  The handle height is about right;  I have XL or XXL hands and would prefer if the handles were a centimeter taller.  But for most people using the smaller sizes the handle height will be close to perfect.

But the customer service is a nightmare.  One of my bells was backordered.  They sent it to me a week later, but charged me twice -- once for when I placed the order and again for when they actually shipped it.  I called them and the operator said no, they only charged me once.  I checked my bank statement, called them again, and this time the operator said that I ordered and received two such bells.  It was really easy to prove my claim because of the UPS records.  PerformBetter didn't cooperate and I wasted months emailing them and my bank to get credited back.  It was so annoying I called and emailed PerformBetter and told them to erase my information, stop sending me catalogues, and never contact me again.  They apologized and agreed.  Then a few months later they sent me an end-of-the-year billing statement for the imaginary bell I did not order or receive.

No cognitive clumping.  The PF bells are excellent, probably the best.  But the infuriating incompetence with basic bookkeeping means I simply can't trust them with my credit card information ever again.
 

McLaren

Level 5 Valued Member
Thanks as well for all the info. I have just been contemplating over the last couple of days of replacing my heavier bells with the SF ones as I have small hands. The smaller handles will be nice.
 

Mattsirpeace

Level 4 Valued Member
PF bells have handles somewhat thicker than other models.  It's good.  When the bell rotates in your hand there is more surface area, which disperses the friction and means less skin irritation.  Even for smaller hands.  Handle height means the distance from the top of the handle to the body of the bell.  This does matter.  The under 24 kg sizes are about right for medium hands.
 

Sven Heidenreich

Level 1 Valued Member
I went with Rogue bells due to price and comments I've read about their finish and have been very satisfied with the quality.  I'm very satisfied with the purchase.  Previously I owned both old and new varieties of DD bells.  I prefer the Rogues.
 

BP3peat

Level 1 Valued Member
Take a look at Kettlebells USA. Ive purchased a 32KG and 36 KG, both were factory seconds at a very nice discounted price. The factory second was purely cosmetic. Handles were smooth w/ no sanding required.  I currently own DD, Apollo, and two other unknown brands. I personally prefer the KB USA over the DD because I like there E metrix coating. Its a little more abrasive, but the finish is rock solid. Chipping has not been an issue. The handles are  thick for my xxl hands. I tried to purchase a Rogue KB but the kg I wanted was unavailable for months. Stay away from Apollo and any other off brands you come across on Ebay unless $$$ is the deciding factor.  You can really tell the difference w/ the heavier bells  in quality. Just my 2 cents.
 

Mike Lindner SFG II

Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Lifeline bells all have "special price" listed here:

http://www.lifelineusa.com/products/strength/kettlebells.html

 

In my opinion, go with Perform Better or Rouge if you can't get a decent deal on Lifeline
 

JamesO

Level 4 Valued Member
Those prices are fantastic.  With the current pricing and free shipping, a pair of 16's is $3 less than a pair of the Rogue's shipped.  Hmm.  I might order a pair of 8's to see what they're like and because I don't like the pink band on the Rogue's.  I was planning to order a few other pairs mid-January.
 

e3photo

First Post
I am also new to KB's,and I just got a couple of bells for S&S. I did a lot of looking,and ended up getting them here….http://www.fringesport.com/collections/kettlebells

I am very pleased with the quality. They had competitive prices and free shipping.

 

Regards,

Emerald
 

McLaren

Level 5 Valued Member
I just received an email update on my order of the 24kg and 32kg and am looking forward to using them. The handle size and height look so much better than the two I have now in that weight. Most of my lighter ones are DD.
 

Jason Ginsberg

Level 4 Valued Member
I've bought 2 or 3 bells from perform better over the last year and have been very satisfied with the quality. They're better than the ddoor bells from the last few years, and MUCH better than the older ddoor bells I have.

Customer service was also excellent. I emailed them with a question and they were very prompt in their responses; in addition, I ordered the bell on a Friday afternoon, and it was delivered the following Monday, right before Christmas (a 48kg no less; and no my deliveryman was not happy). That is extremely impressive.
 

HUNTER1313

Level 6 Valued Member
Not to knit pick or anything, but there seems to be a little hate for lack of a better term for DD bells when not too long ago they were touted as the golden standard.

Anyways,I have been looking at the Muscledriver bells. They have several styles to chose from. And the shipping isnt too crazy. Sure beats trying to ship a bell from the US to Canada.
 
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