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Valor Fitness BE-11 Smith machine review: Worth the money for home users?

By James Jackson
Last Updated on 19th August 2020

We usually focus on finding the best Smith machine home gym for our UK readers. But when I came across the Valor Fitness BE-11 Smith machine and its army of positive user reviews, I figured that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share my thoughts.

I won't spoil the ending, but one thing that I'll say is this: it's rare to find a light commercial Smith machine at this price that has genuinely impressive durability. In other words, if you buy the Valor BE-11 today, it's a one-time investment, because this thing's sturdy! And you most certainly won't need to replace it (unlike most store-bought fitness equipment).

Let's get into the Valor BE11 Smith machine review.

side view of the Valor Smith machine
Pros
  • Includes linear bearings for a smooth ROM
  • Offers ample Olympic weight plate storage
  • Has a solid 500lb weight capacity
  • Great for squats and bench press exercises
  • Sturdy bar has knurling for a better grip
  • Solid steel construction
Cons
  • Counterbalance system costs extra and has multiple user complaints
  • Instructions aren't the best

Valor Fitness BE-11 Smith Machine facts and figures

Offering a biomechanically-optimal 3-degree slant (known as a 'reverse-pitch' design), the Valor Smith machine makes each rep more effective by aligning your joints in their anatomically correct positions. This ultimately leads to better muscle stimulation and, of course, with a good enough diet, more actual muscle growth.

image showing the optional chain attchment

The grip-friendy knurled barbell has a starting weight of 21lbs or 35lbs, depending on who you ask. While the bar weight is a bit vague, it doesn't discount the effectiveness of this robust Smith machine.

This isn't one of those flimsy little barbells that feels more like a kids toy. Oh no. This light commercial barbell is a weightlifter's best friend because the knurling enables you to maintain a firm grip, which in turns helps you generate more power on your key lifts.

As for the frame, it's built from heavy-duty 12 gauge steel and comes with case hardened guide rods, hence why Valor Fitness are one of the only brands in the industry to offer a genuine 60-day money-back guarantee.

  • Dimensions: 53.5" L x 88" W x 81" H
  • Unit weight: 300lbs
  • Weight capacity: 500lbs
  • Type of bearings: linear
  • Warranty: 3 years frame, 1-year parts
  • Estimated assembly time: 2-3 hours
  • Price: CHECK CURRENT PRICE

Valor Smith machine BE-11 design

Frame

close up of the counter balance upgrade fully installed

As mentioned at the start of my Valor BE 11 Smith machine review, this robust training unit benefits from an integrated 3-degree frame tilt so that your limbs are always in their biomechanically-correct positions.

Not only does this reduce joint stress, but it also recruits far more muscle fibres because your body isn't forced into unnatural positions. This actually means you need to spend less time in the [home] gym because each rep is much more effective than usual.

Barbell

a counter balance system for weight training

The 32mm thick knurled barbell is another interesting talking point. It has a comfortable 21lb starting weight, but by integrating the BE-11 with the optional counterbalance upgrade, you can reduce the bar weight to zero. That's right; the barbell will literally float in mid-air (providing that there are no weights on it) when you hook it up to the counter balance system.

Of course, seeing a bar floating in mid-air is a cool way to impress your lifting friends. However, the real benefit becomes apparent if you're a beginner because the counter balance upgrade makes weight lifting more accessible since you can start from extremely low resistance levels.

That said, while the actual Smith machine didn't receive that many complaints, multiple users found the counter balance system to be quite lacklustre in comparison. Some people noted that it would make an awful clanging noise during use, which made them nervous as to what was going on under the hood, so to speak.

barbell with ample space for weight discs

Personally, I think counter balance systems are overrated anyway. So unless 20lbs is too heavy for you, you're probably better off saving yourself some money and just sticking with the central unit.

Either way, the barbell offers 17" of disc space per side for your weight plates, so you can definitely lift heavy too if you're into bodybuilding or powerlifting.

Related Product: Yukon Smith machine

Storage

two storage posts for weight plates

On the storage side of things, Valor Fitness gives us 2 Olympic plate pegs for our weights. Unlike other Smith machine storage options, the pegs on the BE-11 actually fit bumper plates. This design makes it an excellent addition to any free weight based home gym setup that you already have.

Moreover, I like that the plate pegs aren't located too high. The positioning makes the weight discs more accessible, yes. But it also means that you stay well clear of any nasty accidents that could potentially arise due to weight plates falling from height (more common than you think).

As a side note, you can check out our review of the Weider Pro 8500 Smith Cage Strength Trainer if you're looking for an all-in-one system, rather than a standalone Smith machine.

Valor Smith machine BE-11 build quality

the counter balance system installed on the unit

The Valor Athletics BE-11 Smith machine earns its light commercial grade status with an impressive 4" x 2" 12 gauge steel construction. Naturally, this sturdy build gives the frame greater stability and means that you don't have to worry about the unit shaking when you attempt a new max lift.

Similarly, the bar latch, rotation components and linear bearings are all made from the same solid steel. Besides being able to withstand wear and tear with ease, this robust design makes the Valor Athletics BE-11 Smith machine extremely low maintenance. No calling out the repairman every 6 months like with other products!

Valor Smith machine BE-11 safety features

two storage posts for weight plates

While free weights have their place, nothing beats the safety of a Smith machine when you train alone like me. And with 14 steel lockout points, you can test your strength with complete peace of mind when you buy the Valor BE-11 because you can re-rack the barbell at any point in the rep with a simple wrist turn.

Add in the fully adjustable safety catches and the impact-absorbing springs, and you can see why the affordable BE-11 has a fantastic track record in the safety department. It's like having your own personal spotter, but without the clumsy mistakes.

Valor Smith machine BE-11 assembly

The Valor Be 11 Smith machine comes in 5 boxes:

  • Box 1 - 80" L x 12" W x 4" H (51 lbs)
  • Box 2 - 80" L x 12" W x 4" H (51 lbs)
  • Box 3 - 59" L x 11" W x 10" H (66 lbs)
  • Box 4 - 50" L x 7" W x 6" H (44 lbs)
  • Box 5 - 26" L x 9" W x 8" H (46 lbs)

Although some users felt that the instructions lacked detail, the actual assembly is relatively straightforward. Like with the Titan Fitness Smith machine, It only takes a few hours to put together as long as you don't tighten anything until you're asked to do so.

To complete the job, you'll need a good socket set and a wrench.

Just know that some pieces might not quite go together perfectly unless you really hammer them in.

Now for the FAQ part of the review. Let's see if the upgrade is really worth the money!

FAQ

What are the Valor BE-11 dimensions?

The dimensions and measurements of the Valor BE-11 Smith machine are 53.5" L x 88" W x 81" H.

What is the Valor Fitness BE-11 Smith Machine made of?

The Valor Fitness BE-11 Smith machine is made from 12 gauge steel.

Should I get the counter balance upgrade?

image showing the optional chain attchment

If you're a rank beginner and would struggle to lift 20lbs right off the bat, then the counter balance system might be worth the cost. But considering the sizeable number of complaints I saw in various Valor Fitness BE-11 Smith machine reviews, I think you're better off saving your money.

In fact, I think the LC-53 chains are a much better purchase because they enable to you to make the concentric part of each rep more challenging, which is great for improving your lockout strength on various exercises.

What flooring do you recommend I buy for my Valor Athletics Smith machine?

I recommend this waterproof, easy-to-clean Innhom gym flooring.

It's made from high-density EVA foam, has a thickness of 0.4" and offers some of the best floor protection in the industry, which is a must for something heavy like the BE-11.

What weights should I buy?

If you want quality without spending a fortune, then I recommend these enamel-coated cast iron weight plates from CAP Barbell.

They're available in over 10 different sizes and are machine drilled for extra precision, so you don't have to worry about them not fitting on your barbell.

What sturdy adjustable bench works well with the Valor Fitness Smith Machine BE-11?

This newly-upgraded Fitness Reality bench is a great choice because it has an 800lb weight capacity, an adjustable leg hold down and a nice wide seat and backrest, which makes your workouts much more comfortable. Plus, unlike other benches, it actually folds up for storage, which is really helpful if you're working with limited space.

Should you buy the Valor Fitness Smith Machine for your home gym?

If you want a Smith machine with linear bearings and ample Olympic weight plate storage, then the Valor BE-11 is an excellent choice. This sturdy yet affordable machine ticks most of the boxes by offering a smooth range of motion (thanks, linear bearings), a 12 gauge steel frame and a 500lb-strong barbell.

I particularly like the 3-degree frame slant because it makes your bench press and squat reps feel that bit more natural [1].

Yet at the same time, there's a big focus on safety. Thanks to the adjustable bar stoppers, you can aim for new personal bests without the assistance of a spotter. Plus, with 14 evenly-spaced lockout points, safety is always just a wrist turn away.

I hope that my Valor BE 11 Smith machine review was helpful. And good look with your home workouts!

Editor's Choice
Valor BE-11 Smith Machine
side view of the Valor Smith machine
  • Linear bearings provide a remarkably smooth bar path
  • Rock-solid 500lb loading capacity
  • Knurled barbell helps you maintain a secure grip
  • Very sturdy construction
  • Includes 4 plate pegs

 

James Jackson
I'm a former academy rugby union player who specialises in strength and conditioning for competitive athletes. I split my time between coaching the next generation of British talent and creating hands-on gym equipment case studies at Smith Machine UK.
At Smith Machine UK, we create in-depth tests of the latest and greatest gym equipment on the British market so that you can create your dream home gym.
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