Why are Bumper Plates so Expensive? [Best Low-Cost Bumpers]

Bumper plates come at a higher cost than other equipment because they use expensive materials. The high-density rubber and coloring used in bumper plates are more expensive to produce than traditional metal plates. Additionally, competition-rated bumper plates are put through rigorous quality and weight tests to ensure they meet IWF (International Weightlifting Federation) standards. However, you can save money on your home gym by purchasing cheaper bumper plates sold as “training plates.”

Why are bumper plates so expensive?

Are Bumper Plates More Expensive Than Iron Plates?

Bumper plates are typically more expensive than iron plates. If you’re considering steel plates vs bumper plates for your home gym, the cost may be a deciding factor. You can often get a lot more weight at a lower cost by choosing metal plates.

  • It is common for bumper plates to come at a higher cost than iron plates.
  • Bumper plates are more durable and versatile than metal plates.
  • Weigh the pros and cons, as well as your workout style, to determine if bumpers are worth the money.

On the flip side, you get what you pay for. If you plan on dropping your bumper plates on concrete, they’ll hold up much better than cast iron. This makes bumper plates a more versatile choice for a home gym.

3 Reasons Why Bumper Plates are More Expensive than Iron Weights

It’s not enough to simply say that one type of gym equipment is more expensive than another and leave it at that. After all, bumper plates weigh the same as their metal cousins, right? So, why the big difference in cost? Let’s dive in and find out.

Cost of Materials

The components that make up a bumper plate are simply more expensive than what it takes to make a cast iron plate. Rubber, which is the main component of a bumper plate, costs more than iron. This is due to the fact that rubber is mainly produced in countries far from the manufacturer, such as Thailand. In comparison, iron is mined in China, the USA, and Canada, which are also manufacturing hubs. It’s far cheaper to get local iron for cast iron weights than to import rubber for bumpers.

  • Rubber is a more expensive material than iron due to the fact that it often must be shipped long distances.
  • Iron is mined in manufacturing-heavy countries and is often cheaper than rubber.
  • Bumper plates incorporate a steel insert, which is a high-grade metal that is more expensive than unrefined iron.

Second, while iron plates are 100% iron, bumper plates include a steel insert. This steel insert is made of a higher grade, more refined metal than cast iron. This adds to the cost of bumper plates.

Cost of Manufacture

In addition to the cost of materials, bumper plates have a more complex manufacturing process than their cast iron alternative. Rubber must be refined, colored, then molded into shape. Finally, the steel collar that allows you to easily load the bumper onto the barbell must be fitted into place.

  • Raw rubber must be processed, colored with additives, then molded into shape to make a bumper plate.
  • After processing, coloring, and molding, bumper plates are fitted with a steel collar.
  • Iron plates are made by pouring iron into molds, then painting it.
  • Due to the additional steps required for making bumper plates, the manufacturing cost is higher.
  • Higher manufacturing costs result in a more expensive product

Iron plates have a simple manufacturing process. Iron is poured into molds and allowed to cool. Then, the iron plate is painted. This production and coloring process is much faster and cheaper than dyeing and molding rubber.

Standards and Testing

Many types of bumper plates go through rigorous testing and weighing processes. This is because several bumper plate brands certify their weights as competition plates. This requires them to meet the standards put in place by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). These standards also specify that high-grade, dense rubber must be used and that bumper plates must be color-coded by weight. You’ll often see these bumpers advertised as Hi-Temp bumper plates.

  • Many bumper plate brands put their products through additional standards to meet IWF competition specifications.
  • Testing equipment, as well as a lengthy testing process, increases the cost of producing bumper plates.
  • Iron plates are not used in competition, so they are not required to meet these rigorous specifications.

Iron plates are not used in IWF competitions or as Olympic weight plates, so they do not need to meet high manufacturing standards. In fact, the weight of untested iron plates is often less accurate than bumper plates. You may pay more for bumpers, but you get higher-quality plates.

How Can You Get Bumper Plates for Cheap?

If you want bumper plates at a lower cost, there’s a simple solution—training plates. Training plates, unlike competition plates, do not have to meet IWF standards. They are not colored, are often made of recycled rubber, and do not have to meet standards for Olympic weightlifting. You can find them at a much lower price than competition bumper plates.

  • For less expensive bumper plates, purchase black “training plates.”
  • This set of training plates is available at a lower cost than a comparable set of colored plates.
  • Compare the cost of bumper training plates with these similarly-rated iron plates.
  • Search local used listings for bumper plates—bumpers are so tough that used plates are seldom damaged.

Start your search by looking for black plates that advertise themselves as “training plates” and say they have been made from “crumb rubber” or other recycled rubber. To further reduce the cost, check out used equipment listings. Someone may be selling the bumper plates from their home gym, allowing you to get a great set of competition bumper plates at a discount.

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Why Do Bumper Plates Cost So Much?

Bumper plates are more expensive than iron plates because:

  • The rubber and steel used to manufacture bumper plates is more expensive than iron.
  • Manufacturing bumper plates requires more steps and materials than making cast iron plates.
  • Many bumper plates are put through rigorous tests for competition weightlifting—iron plates are not.

While some types of bumper plates truly are a cut above the rest, your garage gym doesn’t require plates certified for Olympic weightlifting. Reduce your investment in weights by opting for black rubber training plates. You’ll get bumper versatility and durability at a cost comparable to that of iron plates.

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