Bowflex SelectTech 2080 Barbell with Curl Bar review TL;DR: versatile, high quality barbell that won't take over your living room. Big arms, here we come!
I was admittedly very excited when I first learned about the release of the Bowflex SelectTech 2080 Barbell: a new adjustable barbell from the makers of the excellent Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Dumbbells? is this going to be the best barbell ever made? When I realised that a curl bar is also part of the package, I pretty much exploded with excitement and couldn’t wait to try out the new Bowflex barbell.
Excitement aside, I was a bit concerned about the relative lightness of the 2080 Barbell: even on the heaviest setting, it’s not quite as heavy as even the aforementioned Bowflex SelectTech 1090i Dumbbell, which is currently the best dumbbell in our opinion. Why, you might ask? Probably due to safety and ergonomics considerations, as I’ll discuss below.
Is the Bowflex SelectTech 2080 Barbell and Curl Bar any good for home workouts? We certainly think so, hence why it won the T3 awards 2021 in the 'Best Home Weights' category!
Bowflex SelectTech 2080 Barbell with Curl Bar: price and availability
Bowflex SelectTech 2080 Barbell with Curl Bar review: design and build quality
To discuss build quality, we must break down the Bowflex 2080 into three separate parts: the bar itself, the weight selector and the frame/weight cradle.
The bars – both the straight bar and the curl bar – are superb quality and radiate quality. The black finish is gorgeous and better still, the bars are knurled so the grip is spot on too. Also, the straight bar is marked to help you identify the right hand position for different lifts.
The weight selector is made of plastic and it’s pretty simple to use: turn the dial towards the ‘+’ icon and you add weight, while turning it the other way removes plates from the end of the bar. Each bar has one permanently fixed plastic covered weight plate at the end. Having these fixed plates help placing the Bowflex SelectTech 2080 Barbell back on the cradle properly.
Talking about the cradle: it’s probably the least impressive part of the Bowflex SelectTech 2080. It’s a hollow, cheap looking plastic that’s admittedly not used for much but it does hinder the overall quality perception of the otherwise fabulous barbell. There is also the issue of how the cradles sit at the end of the frame.
Since there is a weight extension option, it’s possible to move the cradles further out on the frame, but instead of having screw holes for the standard and the extended position, you need to slide the cradle into place and then tighten the screws. This is a fiddly process and you might end up having to adjust the cradles by trying to fit the weights on them; not ideal.
That said, once you have adjusted the cradles, they should stay in position, so at least it’s not an ongoing issue.
Bowflex SelectTech 2080 Barbell with Curl Bar review: workout performance
I was genuinely surprised how versatile the Bowflex SelectTech 2080 Barbell was when I first started using it. Originally, I was a bit concerned about the overall weight the barbell can handle and thought that for all the exercises I would use the barbell for, such as deadlifts and bench press, the Bowflex 2080 just wouldn’t provide enough resistance.
Bowflex was probably aware of this, this is why the curl bar is added, which I think is an absolute game changer here. Adding the curl bar opens up a whole new level of possibility, practically doubling the number of exercises you can perform with the Bowflex 2080.
Better still, the weight range is perfect for arm exercises, something the curl bar is especially suited for.
Here are just some of the exercises you can perform with the Bowflex 2080, with more than enough resistance: biceps curls, triceps extensions, overhead press, upright rows and even bent over rows. The list really just goes on and on.
As with the Bowflex SelectTech 840 Adjustable Kettlebell, the SelectTech 2080 Barbell holds its weight plates very securely, even when they are upside down. That’s a relief, as you can imagine. They will be upside down often, as there are no bearings inside the barbells.
You see, Olympic barbells have bearings so when you twist the bar, the weights themselves stay still. This is better for the hands, otherwise the knurling would grate away the skin doing deadlifts. But since the weight you lift with the Bowflex SelectTech 2080 Barbell is relatively light, you don’t have to worry about this, nor should you be concerned about the weights dropping as they are held firmly by the hooks on each end.
Just a quick note: make sure you select the right weight on both ends of the barbell before lifting it up. Also, when switching bars, the weight setting on both should be the lightest.
Bowflex SelectTech 2080 Barbell with Curl Bar review: verdict
Should you buy the Bowflex Selecttech 2080 barbell? Admittedly, it is not the cheapest home gym equipment but if you’re happy to pay the premium, you’ll get a barbell that was designed for home use and will even provide a sense of progression, thanks to its adjustable nature. It’ll definitely take up less space than a standard Olympic barbell and weight plates.
Should you buy the weight extension or the media rack? I would recommend not going crazy with the weights at the beginning: just see how you go and if you feel like you’re reaching the limits of the barbell, you can always buy the extra weight plates there and then. You might also think the media rack will help keeping the Bowflex 2080 organised but it probably doesn’t add all that much to the experience. If you’re planning on following workouts on a tablet and want to keep everything super organised, by all means, go get it, tiger.
Instead of the media rack, a better investment would be getting a good weight bench: that would enable you to do even more exercises with the Bowflex SelectTech 2080. If the plan is to build muscle with the barbell, make sure you supplement your muscle building efforts with the best protein powders and best protein bars. Maybe even mass gainers, if you find it difficult to gain mass.
Otherwise, enjoy the versatility of one of the best barbells in the market today and start sculpting those big arms (or start toning them, whichever applies to you).
Bowflex SelectTech 2080 Barbell with Curl Bar review: also consider
Want to go heavy? Consider the Bowflex SelectTech 1090i Adjustable Dumbbell. These bad boys are not cheap, but neither is the SelectTech 2080 Barbell, but the excellent build quality and the fact that this selectable dumbbell can go all the way to the heady heights of 41 kg mean it's worth considering shelling out if you like to get technological about your fitness.
Or you can workout in a more traditional way and get the Mirafit 5ft Olympic Weight Bars (2-inch sleeve) (opens in new tab) and some weight plates. Buying this barbell plus a 100-kilo worth of bumper plates will still cost you less than getting the Bowflex 2080, albeit storing all this gear won’t be easy for sure. Also, you would have to add a curl bar with to the mix in order to be able to perform all exercises you can with the Bowflex SelectTech 2080 Barbell.