Why adjustable dumbbells are expensive

8 Reasons Why Adjustable Dumbbells Are Expensive And What You Get For The Money

Adjustable dumbbells cost on average a minimum of $200 for a budget model and prices can easily reach the $500+ mark. So are these weights priced sensibly or are we being ripped off? This post shares 8 reasons why adjustable dumbbells are so expensive.

Adjustable dumbbells are expensive because the manufacturer and retailer need to pay costs to sell you the final product. These financial outgoings contribute to research, development, labor, factory upkeep, storage, and shipping. All these factors contribute to the final price of a dumbbell.

Before I took the plunge with adjustable dumbbells I thought they were overpriced.

But upon deeper research, I figured the price wasn’t too bad after all.

This post shares my research on why adjustable dumbbells cost so much!

I researched why my adjustable dumbbells are so expensive.

8 Reasons Why Adjustable Dumbbells Are So Expensive

Here are 8 of the main reasons why adjustable dumbbelsl are so expensive and cost so much:

1) Materials In Adjustable Dumbbells Add To Expenses

The materials in an adjustable dumbbell contribute to the overall cost. The cost of popular adjustable dumbbell materials- iron, steel, and rubber- is very cheap. But a lot of it is required to produce a functional adjustable dumbbell that can be sold on the market.

How adjustable dumbbell materials affect their price.

Spend some time comparing the reviews of a heavy premium adjustable dumbbell and a light budget one, and you’ll likely find that the latter often has more durability issues.

A few reasons contribute to this.

But one reason why expensive dumbbells cost more is that the manufacturer needs more metal and rubber to make the weight plates which contribute to the dumbbell’s total weight.

Metal is also required for the welding and fixings that contribute to its durability.

Why this makes adjustable dumbbells expensive:

Whilst iron, steel, and rubber are actually all very cheap to source, the costs can mount when you consider that each dumbbell is literally one solid chunk of metal!

This is just one of the reasons why adjustably dumbbells seem expensive.

Some of the money is going towards getting the metal/rubber from the ground to your dumbbell!

2) Adjustment Mechanism In Dumbbells Require R&D

The selector mechanism in adjustable dumbbells requires research and development from the manufacturer. R&D requires a team of engineers which costs money. But it allows the manufacturer to produce an adjustment mechanism that is as smooth and safe as possible.

Why research, development, and good design is important for an easy-to-use adjustable dumbbell and how it increases cost.

Take a look at the above example.

I’ve owned a proper Bowflex adjustable dumbbell (expensive) as well as a knock-off imitation from Ali Baba (cheap).

Whilst the knock-off model was much cheaper and superficially looks the same as the Bowflex, I can tell you they feel VERY different to use.

The imitation model has a clunky adjustment mechanism that gets jammed.

This is extremely annoying and leads to unnecessarily long workouts.

Ultimately, the Bowflex adjustable dumbbell was more expensive, but you could literally feel the R&D that went into the adjustment mechanism which was slick to use.

Why this makes adjustable dumbbells expensive:

Expensive adjustable dumbbells require R&D to produce a premium model. R&D is a big financial outgoing for the manufacturer, and often what sets them apart from their competitors.

3) Adjustable Dumbbells Contain Many Moving Parts

Adjustable dumbbells are more expensive than fixed-weight dumbbells because of their moving parts. These moving parts allow an adjustable dumbbell to select different weight settings from a single dumbbell unit. But producing these parts also contributes to the overall production costs of the dumbbell.

Why more moving parts in an adjustable dumbbell makes it more expensive.

Imagine a fixed-weight hex dumbbell.

It’s literally two weights welded onto a handle.

This simple design is obviously very cheap for the manufacturer to make.

Now imagine a typical adjustable dumbbell like a Bowflex.

Not only do they have moving parts on the outside (e.g. the dial) but also on the inside (e.g the internal locking mechanism).

These moving parts contribute to a lengthier production time, require more materials, and also increase labor hours!

The final product is an adjustable dumbbell that is safe and easy to use which is important for beginners.

Why this makes adjustable dumbbells expensive:

Increasing the number of moving parts in a dumbbell increases the overall time and labor required to manufacture the dumbbell. And this contributes to the final cost of an adjustable dumbbell.

4) Internal Locking Mechanism Contributes To Cost

Every adjustable dumbbell needs an internal locking mechanism to allow it to change weight safely. These locking mechanisms require raw materials, R&D, and labor to produce and incorporate into the dumbbell. This is increases the cost to produce a dumbbell.

How internal locking mechanism design makes adjustable dumbbells more expensive.

Without this locking mechanism, the weight plates would simply fall off the dumbbell.

And this is exactly what can happen with the cheap knock-off models (like the one shown in point #3).

I’ve had a weight plate fall of the dumbbell as I was shoulder pressing with this imitation adjustable dumbbell…..

The need for a strong mechanism also explains why adjustable dumbbells only go up to 90lbs.

I interviewed the guys at Muscle Squad about the importance of the internal locking mechanism:

“The internal components can be put under extreme stress, particularly on heavier dumbbell models. This means the internal discs holding each weight plate onto the handle need to be crafted from high quality materials.”

Muscle Squad

These locking mechanisms are also found INTERNALLY.

This requires a more complex production process compared to installing a locking mechanism on the outside.

And again, this contributes to the cost of an adjustable dumbbell.

And again, it means you get a safer and more reliable product.

Why this makes adjustable dumbbells expensive:

Locking mechanisms require careful design, production, and installation. This requires metal/plastic, factory costs, and in some cases manual labor from real people.

You may also be interested in my other article to find out how heavy selectorized adjustable dumbbells go.

5) Adjustable Dumbbell Weight Plates Are Expensive

Adjustable dumbbells feature multiple weight plates compared to the fixed-weight dumbbells that only contain a single weight plate on each side of the handle. This increases the requirement for more materials and a lengthier production line which explains why adjustable dumbbells are more expensive.

How increasing the number of weight plates on an adjustable dumbbell can increase it's price.

An adjustable dumbbell typically has a minimum of 5 weight settings. But some can have as many as 28 different weight increments!

Each increment is handled by individual weight plates or a combination of weight plates.

And each weight plate obviously requires money to produce!

But it also means you can enjoy different weight increments in a single dumbbell rather than forking out hundreds to by individual fixed-weight dumbbells in a set.

Additionally, increasing the number of weight plates also often increases the length of the dumbbell.

And this makes it even more important that the internal locking mechanism (see point #5) be strong, durable, and well-designed.

Again, this increases the price of the adjustable dumbbell.

Why this makes adjustable dumbbells expensive:

Weight plates need raw materials to manufacture. Additionally, increasing weight plate number also increases production line length. This requires extra outgoing costs from the manufacturer.

6) Complicated Production Line Adds To Cost

Adjustable dumbbells have a more complex design compared to fixed-weight dumbbells. Components in an adjustable dumbbell- such as weight plates, and locking mechanisms- need to be produced independently. This increases the production cost of adjustable dumbbells compared to fixed-weight dumbbells.

A fixed-weight hex dumbbell just needs two weight heads welded onto each side of the bar.

Some models are even made from a single cast mold.

This can be done with a simple automated production line. And this obviously has cost benefits for the manufacturer.

These cost benefits are in turn reflected in the cheaper price of fixed-weight dumbbells.

But adjustable dumbbells are more expensive to produce because of their individual components.

Why this makes adjustable dumbbells expensive:

A lengthier production line increases factory running costs, raw materials, and the need for manual labor from engineers.

7) Expensive Adjustable Dumbbells Usually Ship Free

Many adjustable dumbbell manufacturers offer free shipping with their dumbbells. Dumbbells are heavy and need to be well packaged in a bulky container for transportation. This adds a significant cost for the manufacturer and explains why adjustable dumbbells are so expensive.

In my opinion, free shipping is the biggest contributor to the overall price of an adjustable dumbbell.

Don’t forget that the dumbbells need to go from factory to retailer and then from retailer to you.

Money is required for both stages of the journey.

Manpower is required for handling, insurance is needed to minimize risk, and fuel is required to transport the dumbbells.

All of this costs money.

Shipping charges also explain why dumbbells and weights, in general, were so expensive in 2021/22 (height of the Covid pandemic).

During this time, there was a major disruption in many supply chains.

And this compounded the cost of transporting dumbbells.

Why this makes adjustable dumbbells expensive:

Fuel, logistics, insurance, handling, and import taxes all explain why adjustable dumbbells are so expensive.

You can go to my other post to find out what is a good price for adjustable dumbbells.

8) Manufacturers Need A Competitive Profit Margin

Adjustbale dumbbell manufacturers need to make money to pay their staff, fund research, development, and operate factories. This means they need a good profit margin on their products to stay in business. As a result, adjustable dumbbells can seem expensive to consumers.

Look.

Adjustable dumbbell manufacturers are a business at the end of the day.

They need to make money (on top of their expenditures) to provide you with a product.

And that product can actually save you a lot of money when it replaces an entire set of fixed-weight dumbbells which can easily cost over $800.

The manufacturer knows this.

But they also know they can’t be too outrageous in price.

There’s a lot of competition in the market. So if adjustable dumbbell prices were set too high, the manufacturer would likely lose a lot of customers and relevance in the market.

So whilst adjustable dumbbells may seem expensive at first. They really aren’t.

They actually offer great value for money!

Why this makes adjustable dumbbells expensive:

Dumbbell manufacturers need to make a profit on top of the money they spend designing and producing their dumbbells. This is why heavy adjustable dumbbells are so expensive.

For more details on why adjustable dumbbells are a great investment, you can go to my other article which explains if adjustable dumbbells are worth the money.

Conclusion

I’ve explained why adjustable dumbbells are so expensive.

As a consumer, it’s easy to look at a price tag and deem it too costly without considering the manufacturer’s expenses.

Adjustable dumbbell producers need to pay money to source materials, design, build, and ship the dumbbells to you.

And when you consider these dumbbells can replace multiple dumbbell weights in a set, the price may not seem so bad after all!

Do you think adjustable dumbbells are overpriced?

Let me know in the comments!

You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition I used to go from skinny to ripped!

Thanks for reading guys!

Peace Out,

Kal

(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)

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