If you are following my instagram @justinforte you saw a sneak peak at an upcoming bar review. Well, it is finally here.
Introduction to Vulcan Pro Bearing
But before we jump into the bar review lets meet Vulcan Strength for a moment.
Little bit of background on the company
“We started selling exercise equipment in 2008 . Mostly commercial gym equipment and treadmills etc. Later on we started selling more “functional” Strength Training equipment. We all have a history in athletics and strength & conditioning. Like a lot businesses we are a group of individuals that come together to form Vulcan. Kinda like **Voltron**.
Little bit of background on the bar itself
- Hard Chrome Plated, – Hard chrome plating, Industrial chromium plating, or engineered chrome, is used to reduce friction, add wear resistance, or increase corrosion resistance. It is very hard, measuring between 66 to 70 HRC. Hard chrome tends to be thicker than the decorative treatment, typically ranging from 0.075 to 0.25 millimetres (0.0030 to 0.0098 in). Hard Chrome plating is the most chip resistant of chrome platings and a fairly expensive process. Hard chrome can last a lifetime as it is far thicker and harder than traditional chrome plating or bright zinc plating. Although stronger than standard chrome plating, it can be chipped with metal to metal contact with sharp edges as with any plating. Metal change plates that do not have beveled internal edges are not recommended. V-Lock All Rubber Change plates are the only way to completely eliminate the possibility of chrome chipping from change plate damage.
- 8 precision German Needle Bearings – Very smooth rotation
- IWF Specification Knurling and marks, Center Knurling – The Vulcan Men’s Professional Olympic Bearing Bar has a traditional Olympic Bar knurling that is moderately aggressive, center knurling is of a lower depth than outer knurling to prevent chafing of the neck during cleans. This is a professional grade bar for competitive lifting and high level training.
- Construction – Snap Ring Construction featuring the highest tensile strength snap ring in the industry. Sleeves are one piece construction, cut from solid steel. The sleeves will never depart, or cease in this bar. 20kg weight +/- 10 grams,. Lifetime Warranty. Warrantied from bending or Sleeves departing during normal use. Tensile Strength: 241922.8836 psi Yield Strength: 223,052.78psi. These are true numbers verified by metallurgical analysis performed
Through testing combined with their own experience, Vulcan has developed a system of quality control as well as knowing what is available in the market and how they stack up vs other brands. They know why the best bars in the world are the best and they know how to get very close to this standard while still maintaining a competitive price.
Ok cool. So formalities aside, lets get into ze meat and potatoes.
I spent the past few weeks using this bar solely as my training bar at the gym. Below I will go over topics such as knurling, feel, spin, etc. but also how I felt it performed during training. Feel free to post any questions below.
First up, lets talk about knurling.
While I am a huge fan of this bar and the knurling, I would like to note that while the knurling in photos looks super aggressive, it is actually quite mild in comparison to other bars. Too mild to use for a competition but certainly excellent for an everyday training bar. Using it with dry hands was a little odd, but I don’t live life without chalk on my hands anyway, so this is not a concern, but for those that are light on the chalk generally speaking, I would suggest chalking up a bit more as this bar does enjoy a rigorous chalking… if ya know what I mean. I don’t know what it was but I had to travel for work and when I came back to this bar, the knurling felt better. Not sure if it was just because it was under so much use from my training partner or if it was that I just spent some time without it but I came back and really enjoyed being back to this bar again.
In contrast my training partner didn’t find this to be the case for his oven mitt like bear claw hands and really enjoyed working with this bar all week and has become one of his favorites to use on a daily basis.
So to compare, not as aggressive as an Eleiko but not as grainy as a DHS or Pendlay but with good grip.
3 shades of knurling
The knurling is one of the more interesting pieces of the bar in terms of uniqueness. Usually on a training bar there are two types of knurling. One for the center and then the rest of the bar. Interestingly enough, the knurling on this bar has 3 flavors. Center knurling, clean grip, and snatch grip. Maybe other bar manufacturers do this and I am unaware but it is certainly more pronounced on this bar.
The center knurling
Perfect! I can’t say much more to better describe it but the center knurling on the bar is just the right amount. Sticks on back squats, on cleans and front squats, but does this without tearing my throat up or digging into my skin. I really can’t say much more except…. nailed it!
Clean grip knurling
To me, this was the stickiest of the three zones. My hands really feel like they are going against the grain and have traction to grip and rip without too much messing around with setting my hands, adjusting, setting, adjusting, etc.
Snatch grip knurling
The most aggressive of the three and when I say aggressive I do not mean when you grab the bar you scream “ouch!” as if you just tried to cuddle a porcupine. But more the knurling on the snatch grip feels like it is positioned better for the angled position we have to use for this grip and it is slightly more aggressive out of the three zones.
The 15kg bars actually do have a very light center knurling like the men’s bars. Vulcan reports no complaints about this so far as they were used by the women at the 2014 Ohio state championship. Kat Lee, a 58kg lifter from Rubber City Weightlifting who trains exclusively on this bar, has not reported anything negative. Realistically, it helps regardless when doing squats. It’s not the IWF comp standard but Vulcan doesn’t make an IWF competition anyway.
For those of us that are not at a higher level of weightlifting (yours truly) where whip becomes utility, whip is something we notice from bar to bar in terms of the bar impact on the body, the sound the bar makes, and how it feels carrying the bar through the hips and sending it upwards like a rocket.
I don’t know how to describe it best but some bars, when making contact with your hips, feels like you are trying to punch through a steel wall while others feel springy and elastic. This bar was impactful, springy, and has a great sound to it.
Bearings and sleeves
For me, this bar is in the top tier for smoothness with the bearings and spin. Engineering aside (German needle bearings), the spin on this bar is amazingly crisp and smooth. With my DHS bar you can hear the individual bearings roll as the sleeve makes it rounds where with the Vulcan bar, all that seems to be in motion is the sleeve. The good construction and solid assembly really make this happen.
Now in terms of spin effectiveness, there is almost no drag on the bar as you dive underneath. In reality my gym’s Eleiko and my DHS also have a similar performance in this case, so while excellent, the isn’t much of a difference in the effectiveness of the bar spin. Though, in comparison, this bar is one of the smoothest.
Now for the one thing missing. My one gripe.
By no means is this a gripe enough to actually prevent the purchase of a bar but on the sleeves of the bar, there is no ribbing and the plated chrome is very smooth. Depending on the plates you have, based on the diameter of the plate and how will it matches to the diameter of the bar sleeve, you may get some slippage of the plates in its early life stages while it is still new. Over the past few weeks the plates have been sticking more but at the same time, training with collars until this break-in happens is just fine.
Bar spin with 165kg (160 + 2 x 2.5kg locked and tightened collars)
Sleeve spin with 40kg (below)
Performance while training
vs. DHS Bar
If I could have the construction, bearings and sleeves of the Vulcan bar (buttery smooth) and the fine sandy knurling of the DHS bar, perfecto!
Does that mean the DHS is not constructed well? Certainly not, it is an awesome bar. Does that mean the knurling on the Vulcan is no good? Not at all. In fact when I came back from traveling for work it was like gripping a whole different bar and enjoyed training on it this week. My training partners so far prefer the Vulcan over the DHS for knurling.
While I personally do like my knurling to be a tad more aggressive, this bar has been excellent in terms of performance and enjoyed by many of our gym goers. I just spent the week traveling for work. training at other gyms, and I have been looking forward to getting back to my gym and this bar. As I mentioned above, when I came back to being away from the bar, my original impressions of the knurling not being enough changed and really enjoyed todays training session and utilizing this bar.
Additionally I would like to add the very pretty chrome plating certainly helps in making it a visually appealing bar. For its price range and performance this bar certainly meets and exceeds expectations in some aspects.
- Would I sell my DHS bar at this point? Probably not but that’s because I probably wouldn’t break even for a similar priced bar but both are very nice.
- Would I buy this over a ZKC? Tough call, both bars are really good, and I just competed on ZKC equipment and was reminded how much I like their bars as well. I think it would come down to price point. Which at this point ZKC is $800 so I would lean towards Vulcan.
- Would I sell a Pendlay bar to switch? Yes.
Warranty and Durability
I have used this bar for 1 month, my DHS for a year, and other miscellaneous bars over the years. I have not seen a broken DHS, Vulcan (I know short term usage but it still counts), Werksan, or Eleiko so far. I have seen broken Rogue WL bars (yes multiple) but saved by their great customer service. Broken Pendlays saved by good’ish customer service (sometimes). Personally, I would rather have a good bar that doesn’t break over a bar that breaks with good customer service. Does that mean an Eleiko, DHS, Vulcan, or Werksan are unbreakable? Of course not.
It may sound obvious but of course Vulcan as a company will state just like any other that they stand behind their products and they are proud of them. Which is true, they have said that. The reality is that I have only used this bar for 1 month and I cannot give you a sense of durability over time from 1 month alone of training except that it has handled by 4 different lifters over the past month in various weights from 80kg snatches to 160kg clean and jerks to 180kg pulls to 200kg squats with dropping the bar after, without a problem.
For some perspective, Vulcan put themselves out on a limb by letting me review their bar as it is up to my own discretion/opinion as I maintain control of my reviews because I am not paid for them. Which also means they are confident enough in their bar to put it in the public’s eye if that counts for anything. They also seem to be pretty honest and frank in my conversations with them about the bar.
Bringing it all down to brass tacks, their warranty is listed on this page which you can hold them accountable for and seems pretty straightforward.
Now is the Rogue bar a terrible bar? No and they are very comparable to a Pendlay but if I had to pick in terms of price range and the growing number of choices, I would only buy them if it were a bulk deal with an awesome discount.
What I have see on the Rogue WL that breaks has to do with some mixture of the collar and bearing that would cause the bar to lock up. Once again, their customer service is awesome so anyone that I have heard/seen have that issue pretty much had a full on replacement bar.
I will say once more, I have not spent a comparable amount of time with the Vulcan but in comparison to the number of drops and amount of weight stacked on the bar, the Vulcan is still going strong and the RogueWL bar in our gym had already broken with only one person using the bar for a few weeks.
Disclaimer: Comparisons are generally always going to be unfair to someone but unfortunately with the lack of access to this kind of equipment in sporting goods stores, comparisons are the only reference points we have as consumers for reference points. I apologize if anyone/company may feel the opinions are unjust. Just email me if you are one of those people/companies so and we will chat about it.
Editor’s Note: The Vulcan Professional Bearing Bar is available direct from Vulcan Strength for 599.99