With so many bar manufacturers and styles out there it is hard to settle on one bar. The bar is what I consider the "tires" on the road. There is no such thing as "one bar fits all" solution. That would be the same as saying a racing slick is the best tire for off-road racing. It simply is not true and any company who tells you their bar is the best for everything is lying to your face. Some suppliers have taken the approach of making a "do all" bar which is best at nothing but decent for all. Choosing the best bar for your home garage gym really depends on the types of lifts and exercises you plan on doing. A Crossfit athlete has many needs and optimally should use two types of bars but can get away with a "do all" barbell while an Olympic lifter requires an Olympic bar with great whip (or flex). A power lifting athlete who does heavy back squat, bench press, and dead lift should use a power bar with center knurling. Below I have broken down some of the bar characteristics that define it's use.
Tensile StrengthThis is the overall strength of the bar stock measured in Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI). Different alloys have different tensile strength but one thing for sure is that as tensile strength increases usually so does the price of the bar stock which in the end increases the price of the bar. True competition Oly bars have a tensile strength of around 210,000 PSI. Most mid-grade bars have a tensile strength of around 115,000 - 165,000 PSI. Typically speaking a bar manufacturer will use lower tensile strength alloys in their Olympic bars and higher tensile strength alloys in their power bars. This makes total sense since most athletes can squat and deadlift more than they can Clean-and-Jerk.
This is the thickness measured in Milimeters of the bar stock itself (the part you grab). As thickness increases so does the overall strength of the bar. High-end Olympic bars such as the Eleiko brands are 28mm on the dot. Not 28.4mm or 28.5mm like a lot of the mid-grade bars are. A "power bar" used for dead lift, squat, and bench press is usually 29-30mm and has center knurling.
Knurling is an old machining process of putting "grip" on the bar. All bars have some sort of knurling with either an Olympic knurl mark or a power lifting knurl mark. Some hybrid bars have both. It is pretty easy to tell which bars are made more for Olympic lifting versus Power lifting. If it has center knurling then the bar is intended to be used for power lifting (i.e. back squat, dead-lift), if it does not than it's intended use is for Olympic lifting.
Most mid grade bars have an actual weight of 20kg (Mens) or 15kg (Womens). An actual "competition" grade bar (certified by IWF) will actually weigh what are suppose to within a few grams. The IWF certification does cost the bar manufacture money to use the certification so they naturally will increase the price of their bar to the end user.
You have two main types of collars being used. A bushing bar has either a brass or zinc bushing inside the collar which is what actually makes contact with the bar itself. A bearing bar has some type of bearing that rolls over the bar. Bearing bars cost more than bushing bars because of the extra materials required to make the bearings. I don't think the actual manufacturing cost is that much more, but most bar suppliers charge a lot more for their bearing bar verse a bushing bar. Some bar manufacturers will say they never use brass since brass is very maluable and will bend, warp, and wear out much faster than a zinc bushing.
So which barbell should you choose? It really depends on what your goals are. Are you competing in the CrossFit Games? Get our Hybrid Bearing Bar. If you plan on competing in an olympic weightlifting event then definitely get the LYNX OLY. Powerlifter or just like to crosstrain by doing the three big lifts? Get our Larabar.