So what's unique about the PIVOT Power Rack?

on August 03, 2022

The original idea for PIVOT Bed didn't have a power rack attachment. It was a simple product with a high-quality wall bed, an extendable pull-up bar and dip bars with the emphasis on opening up space to exercise. Within a few months of inception, I'd thought of adding a power rack, and even designed some of it in a crude fashion, but our thinking was more about Minimal Viable Product – a concept which is big in the software world, where I'd spent all my career to this point. However, as we progressed and got closer to our crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, we decided to invest the time and money in developing the power rack idea. We were starting to think that our MVP meant more than the basic idea. We're glad we did, because we sell a lot of them and we'd have struggled to get past our funding goal on Kickstarter.com without it.

When I started looking at existing power racks and how to integrate one into our bed design, I was amazed at what I found. Even the fold-out power racks were incredibly crude (I can think of only one exception), and the regular, stationary power racks were the most generic of product one can imagine. Different paint and marketing seems to be all that separates them, and everything appears to be done to save money by making the design simpler - and worse. A basic power rack is cheap for a reason – there are no engineering challenges to overcome and there is very little skilled fabrication needed. Laser cut some tubes, weld some flat brackets on the ends of some of the tubes, powder coat it, throw it in a box with some cheap nuts and bolts and sprinkle marketing on it liberally.

Design Notes

To allow the rack to pivot under the bed, we needed to introduce some neat ideas and engineering. Without telescopic feet the bottoms of the uprights would simply hit the floor, preventing pivoting. Not only have we added this telescopic mechanism to each upright, but we've done it with a premium lever which ensures that we can drive the feet into the floor for a secure contact every time. In addition it allows us to add our Weight Plate Storage solution to one or both sides of the rack. No other folding rack we're aware of allows weights to be stored on the rack and the space benefits this brings to a bedroom gym are enormous. A further benefit of the lever design is that it removes all the weight of the power rack, accessories, stored weights, and of course what you rack on the barbell from the bed's latching mechanism and pivots. To deal with uneven bedroom floors we've integrated adjustable levelling feet which are 'set and forget' during assembly/installation.

As the uprights must fit under the bed when horizontal, they need to be the same length as the bed, which is reasonably short for a rack - certainly too short for a good pull-up bar height. So we've added extendable telescopic sections at the top of each upright to allow you to set the pull-up bar at 2.5m+ (8.2ft). To allow a smooth telescoping action, we use 2-part structural adhesive to bond strips of tough nylon to the inner, telescoping steel tube and this prevents metal grinding on metal. 

Rather than have the two folding 'arms' pivoting on pins dropped through crude holes in the mounting brackets, we've used self-lubricating bushings, like everywhere else where we have movement within PIVOT Bed. As a result we have a smooth, silent pivoting mechanism which will last a lifetime. No steel grinding on steel and a "that'll do the job" attitude from us.

Is it stable and secure?

We've had a lot of people use a PIVOT Power Rack, and I can't remember a single one who didn't comment on how stable and sturdy it is. That seems to be what's on their mind – can a rack on a bed really be sturdy and secure? It can, and it is. Our bed is much stronger than most timber walls, which is what most folding racks are attached to. We use tighter manufacturing tolerances than normal, and that prevents movement between parts. The lever mechanism detailed above means that we are unique in how grounded and connected to the floor our rack is. PIVOT Bed is a heavy product, especially when you add a mattress, some stored weight plates and perhaps a barbell (which can be clamped to the bottom of the bed using our optional storage solution). We stipulate that the PIVOT Bed must be attached securely and structurally to either the wall behind the head of the bed or screwed into the floor, but this is due to the physics of how weight transfers during the pivoting motion. It has little to nothing to do with the stability of the product when vertical, though it does further improve the stability.

You've safety tested it, right?

Well yes, of course we have. Many months ago, I was appalled to find that safety testing in this industry is, believe it or not, self-certification. Companies can literally just tell you they have tested their equipment, with nothing to back it up. Think for a second about what that means for all the ridiculously cheap equipment you keep eyeing up on Amazon. Is any of it safety tested? I have my own views.

We test to BS EN ISO 20957-1 Stationary Training Equipment – General Safety Requirements and Test Methods, which is a globally recognised, British Standard. It's widely misunderstood, with many brands failing to understand important concepts like 'safety factor' and therefore quoting misleading figures.

Most companies – I hope – at least perform the basic, static strength tests necessary. For example, a pull-up bar must be tested to x2.5 what the 'rated' figure is. We rate our pull-up and dip bars to 130kg, and this means we've tested them to 325kg. This is easy – hang some weight plates off the equipment for five minutes and check it hasn't bent.

What of the even more important dynamic, stress testing? This is actually difficult to test as one must be able to, for example, simulate a user at your rated weight (130kg for us) performing 12,000 pull-ups. After an extensive search for a company to help us with this, we found one – who quoted between £25k to £30k for a day in their lab. If something broke before reaching the rating we wanted, we'd have to redesign and return to pay again. It's no wonder so few brands seem to do this testing. We couldn't pay this much, so we found an engineer who'd worked on a Martian drill for the European Space Agency and set him to task to develop us a custom, computer-controlled test rig. A few months later and we had our test rig – we hook it up, tell it how much force to apply (up to 7500N, equivalent to around 750kg), and how many repetitions to complete. It whirrs away, attempting to bend our equipment out of shape and embarrass us – and it did so on a couple of occasions. What we felt was strong enough after static tests proved completely inadequate for these dynamic tests, and we wouldn't have caught these potentially dangerous shortcomings without this. We can now test and re-test our equipment when necessary, after every minor change if we feel it necessary. 

Worried about how much weight you can put on it?

Don't be, we've tested each individual upright to many hundreds of KGs so even the strongmen among you won't get close to taxing it.

How long does it take to set up and put away again?

This depends on what accessories you have but it ranges from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes. Release a strap, fold the arms out, push the lever down on each upright to extend the feet into the floor, attach your accessories and work out. We have many customers using PIVOT as their main bed, it's so simple and quick to use.

Is it just like a normal rack?

Yes and no. Clearly, if you've read the above, you'll know how different – and better! – it is compared to a regular rack. But dimensionally it's very similar. We've kept the distance between the uprights in the middle of the road so barbells won't present any challenges, and we use standard metric measurements for upright width, pins and hole spacing. We could have tried to create our own little ecosystem, but we'd rather our customers were free to use any accessories they want from other brands. 

 

Will my floor be able to cope with the weight?

Tough one to answer, this. We don't know your floor, so we can't really comment universally. PIVOT should be installed close to a wall – it needs to be either screwed to the wall or to the floor – and this should mean that the weight of the product is supported from underneath. If your wall is in the middle of a long span of floor joists, unsupported from below, then you will need to get a structural engineer to assess your unique scenario. If there is structural support for the wall then there really shouldn't be an issue with installing PIVOT as the weight is kept close to the wall, but you must use common sense (or the common sense of someone more knowledgable in this field...) to determine if your flooring will be adequate. As a rule of thumb, new build houses should be fine and really old houses with wooden flooring which sags will not be fine. This is true of performing any exercise on home flooring, though, it is not specific to PIVOT Bed. Most flooring can be strengthened using techniques such as 'sistering' joists, etc.

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