Bells of Steel Functional Trainer
User Review( votes)
A very nice functional trainer for the budget-conscience shopper who still wants something that can last a lifetime with proper care.
- Under $2000.
- Excellent multi-grip pull-up bar.
- Very little drag (corrected with Super Lube).
- Compact design for smaller spaces.
- Great weight stack with Kg and Lbs listed.
- 14-gauge steel isn’t commercial grade.
- A lack of included accessories.
Bells of Steel makes the best functional trainer for under $2000 and that’s a claim we’ll gladly stand behind. While it may not have the heaviest weight stacks, it makes up for that fact by offering one of the most unique pull-up bars we’ve found so far.
The excellent features found on the Bells of Steel Functional Trainer don’t stop at its unique pull-up bar so let’s dive in and see what makes it so special.
Bells of Steel Functional Trainer Frame
Let’s start with the most obvious difference between this functional trainer and some of the others we’ve looked at. Bells of Steel has chosen 14-gauge steel, slightly less thick than the 12-gauge steel we love on our gym mainstay, the Titan Fitness Functional Trainer, and our favorite overall trainer, the Rep Fitness FT-5000. Still, the steel is solid and with a limited lifetime warranty, it’s not something to be overly concerned about.
The first thing you’ll notice after setup is the compact nature of this functional trainer. It’s one of the smaller options we’ve encountered with dimensions of just 30″ in depth, 53″ in width, and a rather short 81″ to the top of the frame. If you’re taller than 6″ you might want to look at other trainers with a few more inches of added pull space.
Accompanying the smaller footprint are four feet that feature rubber grips. The rubber helps keep the trainer in place while avoiding some shifting that may occur.
There are two crossbars found on the back of the trainer. One of those crossmembers is used to hold accessories while the other is only used for stability. Many trainers are not offering accessory pegs on both crossmember sections and it’s sorely missed here but for the price, it’s not a dealbreaker.
The frame is coated in a powder coat that feels fairly pedestrian but it gets the job done. It’s honestly not one of the nicer frames we’ve seen in terms of design but reviewers love it, commenting on the Bells of Steel website that it feels incredibly solid and operates without any issues.
Sam B. from Canada writes on the Bells of Steel review section:
“This unit is solid and smooth. The footprint is perfect for a home gym yet functions like a high end commercial functional trainer. I’m seriously impressed.”
The weld points appear to be clean, a good sign of solid craftsmanship, and one of the first ways we review frames in person.
Overall, the frame is exceptionally decent and for less than $2000 that’s a pretty amazing accomplishment.
Bells of Steel Functional Trainer Pulleys And Cables
The Aluminum pulleys found on this functional trainer are made from aluminum, a product that has become a near necessity among this type of product in recent years. Aluminum allows for a very clean pull with less drag and that’s the case with the Bells of Steel Functional Trainer. Aluminum pulleys also last longer than plastic and have a higher weight rating to help avoid any type of cable collapse.
The pulley handles on this unit are solid, allowing for an easy grip with their rubberized grip while the pop pins glide in and out of place effortlessly. Reviewers have had no issues we’ve discovered with the handle system and everyone seems to enjoy the 16 available handle positions for each side of the trainer.
The handles also swivel with ease, placing added emphasis on stabilizing your movements during each pull.
If there’s one annoyance we have with this functional trainer it’s the lack of numbering on the pulley bars. We’re used to seeing laser-cut numbering these days or at least a simple engraving but that’s completely lacking in this case.
Overall, it’s a solid pulley and cable system that we really enjoy.
Bells of Steel Functional Trainer: Weight Stack
The Bells of Steel Functional Trainer features two weight stacks that offer 160 pounds of weight each. Because the trainer features a 2:1 pull ratio that means you’re maximum pull weight is just 80 pounds per side. For most people, this is plenty of weight. For powerlifters, you might want to look elsewhere for functional trainers with heavier weight stacks.
The actual weights glide nicely along their guide rods and all of the weights are accompanied by brightly colored, easy-to-read weight indicators in both Kg and Lbs. We really likely the weight plates provided by Bells of Steel.
The company also provides a nice pop-pin that glides effortlessly into place, just as it should.
Pro tip: If you want to avoid potential drag, both on this trainer and other cable machines, we recommend placing some Synethic Super Lube on the guide bars for your weight plates. We use it about every 2-4 weeks and the synthetic version which you can purchase on Amazon, is paint-safe!
Bells of Steel Functional Trainer Accessories And Pull-Up Bar
With a price of less than $2000, we’re not surprised by the lack of included accessories for this functional trainer. Bells of Steel only provides two handles that can be used for a good number of exercises but those handles hardly make for full use of the trainer. The handles are decent but nothing to write home about.
The good news is, you can purchase professional-grade accessories online and many of them are decently priced. You can also find tons of accessories online for decent prices. Here’s a starter set from A2ZCare with 5-stars and over 4,000 reviews and it’s less than $60 with prime shipping.
Where this functional trainer really shines and it’s something I will rave about for a long time, is the inclusion of a multi-grip pull-up bar. Adding this type of pull-up bar to a power rack can easily cost several hundred dollars and Bells of Steel includes it at no additional cost!
While I would have liked to see some knurling on the steel multi-grip bar, I’m willing to accept that it’s simply powder-coated and textured. Other functional trainers allow for wide and narrow pull-ups and chin-up grips while this bar allows for different griped angles to be achieved.
Given the height of the functional trainer, it’s easy for an average height man or woman to get a grip on the pull-up bar which is also a great motivator for getting in a few pull-up or chin-up sets even if they weren’t planned.
Overall, I would love to see more accessories but the pull-up bar is a nice trade-off in terms of value.
Bells of Steel Functional Trainer Assembly
Take our advice and don’t try to follow written directions, it’s one of the biggest complaints with this trainer and others on the market.
Thankfully, the team at Bells of Steel seem to recognize the pains of assembly and have put together a simple video that will have you up and running in only a few short hours.
For what it’s worth, one person can put together all of the current functional trainers on the market by themselves, it just takes a bit of extra time. I put together my nearly 1,000-pound trainer on my own in about two hours.
The Bells of Steel Functional Trainer cable machine is a very solid piece of home gym equipment. While it may not be commercial-grade, it’s close enough for a cost under $2000. The company has put a lot of thought into its functional trainer and it shows from its solid frame to the not-often-seen multi-grip pull-up bar that they have chosen to include. I spent a lot of time looking at online reviews for this trainer and I was pleasantly surprised by the reactions from buyers, to the point that I almost question my personal decision to spend $2400 on a similar unit.
There are some excellent reviews for the product HERE.