Bulldog Gear Hybrid Bumper Plates 2.0 Review

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I was delighted to pick up a 100kg Bulldog Gear Hybrid 2.0 bumper plate set to review recently. Having used steel plates exclusively for years (literally!) it is awesome to reacquaint myself with a decent set of rubber plates.

Honestly, I’ve been blown away. I had high expectations, but I wasn’t expecting them to be THIS good! I’ve captured my thoughts below – but if you have any specific queries you want answered please hit me up through he contact form or comments box below!

Bulldog Gear Hybrid Bumper Plates 2.0 Review

At a glance…

  • Full size rubber bumper plates available in a black or coloured finish
  • Check them out right here, right now!
  • Awesome & unique design incorporates grab handles AND knurling
  • Offer excellent value for money as a mid-range set of bumper plates in the UK
  • BUT a 1 year warranty feels a BIT stingy to me

Short on time? Check them out now

Click the picture to check out the availability and current pricing options

Specification

Ultimately I picked the Hybrid 2’s because of their competitive price and awesome spec. Some of the highlights for me were: 

  • 2x moulded handles on each plate
  • Chamfered and knurled edging to help grip the plates
  • 450mm plate diameter is in line with IWF and IPF guidance
  • Stainless-steel insert to mount on the barbell
  • Designed for 50mm Olympic barbell sleeves
  • Virgin rubber
  • Kilograms only (no pound plates)
  • Available in 5kg, 10kg, 15kg, 20kg and 25kg increments
  • 1 year warranty on all plates except 5kg which have a 90 day term
  • Black or coloured rubber available

Having used these plates extensively I am really happy with my choice and I struggle to see a situation (outside of review & research purposes!) where competition plates would be worth the extra money for a typical home gym user.

What I like about Hybrid 2.0 Bumpers

In day-to-day use these plates are awesome and I actually like them MORE as time goes on as the little touches make themselves known. Here are some of the highlights:

Unique design: Moulded handles & grip

What attracted me to the Hybrid bumper was the unique handle moulded in to the circumference of the plate.

Close up of the moulded handle and knurled grip on the chamfered edge: All really nice details on these plates
Close up of the moulded handle and knurled grip on the chamfered edge: All really nice details on these plates

The handles have a thin lip on the inside of the plate with a flat edge on the circumference. The rest of the circumference has a contrasting chamfered lip.

This is a simple but really cleaver bit of a design for a few reasons:

  1. The handle actually works – it looks quite inconsequential in pictures but the lip offers tangible support when carrying plates. I have been shuttling pairs of plates in and out of the garden recently and the lip makes a huge difference to comfort and reduces the awkwardness of handling plates.
  2. Chamfered edge makes it easy to pick the plate up – other than the handle, the rest of the circumference has a chamfered edge. This makes it a breeze to pick the plate up when it’s flat on the deck. NOT something I can say about calibrated plates!
Close up of the neat contrasting handle & grip on the Bulldog Hybrid 2’s
Close up of the neat contrasting handle & grip on the Bulldog Hybrid 2’s

Another nice feature on these is a knurled finish along inside and outside lips. As you would expect this helps you keep a decent grip on the plate which would otherwise be a little slippy to cart around.

Much quieter than steel plates

In all honesty noise was NOT a priority when I was buying plates. I have lifted regularly with calibrated steel plates for years – my family are used to the noise!

BUT now using bumper plates the noise when lifting is DIFFERENT. It’s like the sharp edge of the noise has been nicely rounded off. More of a gong-type sound than a fire alarm!

I still use my steel plates, but for rep work I’m regularly sandwiching them between these rubber bumpers to enjoy the dampened effect it has on the noise when lifting.

And my other half likes it too 🙂

Coloured accents are nicely executed

Predominantly black bumper plates are much cheaper than full coloured equivalents and show less grubby marks. Luckily for us the Hybrid 2.0’s are available in colour or black so the choice is ours 🙂

Coloured accents around the edges of the plates help differentiate between weights - blue (20kg) pictured here
Coloured accents around the edges of the plates help differentiate between weights – blue (20kg) pictured here

I went for a set of black plates. This was ideal for me as I was wanting to test these plates inside my garage gym AND outside in the garden so I felt black would show up LESS marks.

Having spent the past few years with a full set of Rogue Calibrated kilo plates I did wonder… Should I have gone for full colour coded bumper plates?

I am glad I did not. I lean the plates against things in the garden or place them on my patio regularly. Coloured plates would show the dirt far more easily (it’s bad enough on black never mind on bright red rubber!)

The flashes of colour on the face of the plates are enough to help differentiate between plates and the design is really neat and tidy. The coloured lines are countersunk which means the paint won’t rub off in regular use which was a concern I had initially when ordering.

Black plates are also a little cheaper which appealed to me as a ‘second’ set of plates (after my steels)- but if you would prefer a full colour set you can get these very Hybrid 2.0 plates in FULL COLOUR as well.

Virgin rubber construction: No smell!

There are a ton of comments and forum posts out there complaining about brand new rubber plates stinking their home gyms out.

Each plate arrived in a plastic bag in separate boxes. There was an initial whiff of rubber when removing from the bag (pictured) but it dispersed immediately
Each plate arrived in a plastic bag in separate boxes. There was an initial whiff of rubber when removing from the bag (pictured) but it dispersed immediately

I’m not going to lie – I was a little worried about this when ordering and even had a backup plan to leave them in a storage box in the garden for a few days to air them out! 

Fortunately I need not have worried as there is NO lasting scent from the plates.

Each bumper plate arrived wrapped in a plastic bag within a cardboard box – when unboxing there is an initial gust of a rubber smell but once the plates are removed from their bag the smell dissipated straight away.

Crucially I was up and running within minutes and my garage gym has had NO residual smell hanging around which is great!

Packaging was excellent

Bulldog shipped 100kg of Hybrid 2.0’s on a pallet with each plate wrapped in a carrier bag within an individual cardboard box. The boxes themselves were extremely robust with reinforced staples and tape holding them together.

UNWRAPPED: Delivered via pallet, my bumpers arrived in great condition individually boxed
UNWRAPPED: Delivered via pallet, my bumpers arrived in great condition individually boxed

Every plate I received was perfect.

A couple of the boxes had dents from where they had been wrapped or been bumped in shipping somehow, but crucially EVERY plate was perfect.

Plates were individually boxed on the pallet - some superficial damage to the corners of some boxes (pictured) but all plates were in perfect condition
Plates were individually boxed on the pallet – some superficial damage to the corners of some boxes (pictured) but all plates were in perfect condition

Why am I labouring this point?

Well I had a TON of defects when I bought Rogue calibrated steel plates due to damage from shipping. So many in fact that I actually ended up getting a partial refund from Rogue.

Rogue had shipped each plate in a cardboard box similar to Bulldog – but instead of grouping them together on a pallet they sent then individually and the boxes picked up a fair bit of damage along the way leading to a few paint chips and scuffs.

Shipping damage to my calibrated Rogue plates: No such issues with my bumpers
Example of shipping damage to my calibrated Rogue plates: No such issues with my bumpers

Bulldog likely come out on top here because black rubber is more durable and therefore easier to ship than painted steel, and the sheer distance and amount of time in transit is much reduced with them being UK based compared to Rogue Europe shipping from Finland.

Specification is bang on

Each plate is exactly what I expected – 450mm diameter on the button. This makes it easy to mix and match between plate sets and ensures the barbell is always at the ideal height when working from the floor (deadlifts, rows, etc)

Further I’ve even gone so far as to weight the plates – admittedly on my bathroom scales!! In my set 2x 10kg plates are exact, 1x 20kg plate is exact and the other within 140 grams and the 2x 15kg plates are within around 90 grams of stated weight.

So overall weights are WELL within the usual 1% – 1.5% tolerance expected at this price level.

Width, diameters and weights: All bang on specification and exactly what I was looking for
Width, diameters and weights: All bang on specification and exactly what I was looking for

One improvement I would suggest to Bulldog would be to publish the tolerance of each of their plate sets – at the moment some sets state their accuracy level and others make no mention whatsoever of it. As a result I went in a little blind on what to expect accuracy wise. This small improvement would take minutes to add to their website.

Awesome reviews: Don’t just take my word for it…

With an overall score of 5/5 from 59 (yes – fifty nine!) different reviews these plates are getting some rocking feedback!

Overall the feedback and experiences are really similar to my own which is reassuring – at least I haven’t missed anything 🙂

So if you don’t believe me, you can check out the numerous short reviews on the Bulldog site here.

Value for money

At the time of writing 150kg of brand new bumper plates retail for £525, or £3.50 per kilo which is VERY competitive.

Given the unique design and features I think this offers great value for money.

I personally went for a smaller set (100kg) which while being slightly more expensive per kilo saved me around than £100 compared to the heavier set. I did this for a few reasons:

  1. I already have other plates available to supplement any lifts that exceed the 100kg + bar limit of the Hybrid 2.0 bumper plate set
  2. Primarily bought to learn Olympic lifts or rows I estimate the maximum I will need for these would be 120kg + 20kg barbell
  3. Storage wise I was running out of space to keep different weight increments
  4. I can top up my set with additional plates if needed by ordering pairs in future

You can of course pick and choose the plates to suit your own tastes and lifting preferences.

100kg vs 150kg plate set: Personally I was running out of storage space (pictured!) the 100kg was a better solution for me personally as I have other plates available to supplement
100kg vs 150kg plate set: Personally as I was running out of storage space (pictured!) the 100kg was a better solution for me. I can use other plates to go heavier if needed

When powerlifting I like my 25kg plates however I am happy to build my bumper plate set around the 20kg plates in the 100kg set initially and add any more 20kg or 25kg plates as I build up my Olympic lifts over time.

What I think could be improved on these bumper plates

While I am really pleased with these plates, there is always room for improvement!

Warranty duration

Bulldog offer a 1 year warranty (if appropriate matting is used) on the 10kg, 15kg, 20kg and 25kg plates and a shorter 90-day warranty on 5kg plates (it’s pretty common to have less generous terms on 5kg bumpers).

Having tested these plates extensively I just can’t see there being significant issued arising with them – so why not offer an EXTENDED warranty for additional peace of mind? The amount of returns they receive must be TINY, so by doubling or tripling the duration of the warranty just how much more cost or administration would they incur?

Stainless steel inserts: An area of weakness on bumper plates but so far the Hybrid 2.0’s have been PERFECT
Stainless steel inserts: An area of weakness on bumper plates but so far the Hybrid 2.0’s have been PERFECT

If I had to guess – not a lot. AND it would help encourage more people to pull the trigger on them.

Bulldog – if you are reading this – consider extending your standard warranty! A longer ‘no questions asked’ warranty would be AWESOME, stoke HUGE confidence and build goodwill with customers. 

I think this could really elevate the brands bumpers in to the premium tier.

Should you buy these bumpers for your home gym?

If you’re looking to buy a great value set of bumper plates in the UK then these could be PERFECT for you.

There are CHEAPER plates available, but they miss the unique handle and knurled finished which I think is AWESOME as it helps a TON when I’m carting the plates in to my garden for summer workouts as well as for general handling in a relatively small home gym.

This is one of the features that is seriously growing and growing in usefulness the more often I use the plates. Compared to the thin calibrated Rogue steel plates handling these bumpers is a breeze.

The best value bumper plates on the market are the ones YOU will use the most… Personally I LOVE taking mine outside in the sun… Gratuitous picture attached from a GPP day in the summer sun!
The best value bumper plates on the market are the ones YOU will use the most… Personally I LOVE taking mine outside in the sun… Gratuitous picture attached from a GPP day in the summer sun!

There are more EXPENSIVE plates on the market as well such as full IWF certified competition plates. If you compete regularly or you have the budget going spare then these plates are SUPERB, but I think most people would be better served spending money elsewhere in their home gym.

Overall the Bulldog Gear Hybrid 2.0’s are, for me, the Goldilocks of the bumper plate market. 

Premium features and unique design but at an affordable price with the cost reductions coming from not being calibrated to IWF levels (which is +/- 10 grams!!) and, in my specification, having the body of the plate in black with coloured accents instead of fully coloured also reduced the cost.

If you are undecided between bumpers and steel plates then you can check out my view on that here, but in summary bumpers are GENERALLY better for a home gym in my experience due to their reduced noise and wear & tear inflicted on your property, but there are situations where steel are superior such as when you’re lifting very heavy (250kg+) and space on your barbell is running out, or when you’re on a tight budget.

Click the picture to check out the availability and current pricing options
Click the picture to check out the availability and current pricing options

In my gym I use both bumper steel plates and I couldn’t be happier with the combination.

Conclusion

It is safe to say I am delighted with these plates. The build quality. The price. The value they bring. Everything has been really EASY with them. If you’re looking for the best value bumper plates in the UK then I think you would well advised to check these out yourself.

The one weak link I’ve identified is the duration of the warranty. Given the obvious quality of the product I am surprised Bulldog don’t offer a longer warranty as I imagine the claims would be few and far between with most issues arising in the first month or so anyway. I doubt this would cost them much to implement and it would be a MASSIVE deal for the customer base (us!)

On balance I am delighted with the plates and I think most of us with home gyms in the UK would be too!

Check them out on the Bulldog site now.

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