Vulcan Strength Standard Olympic Barbell Review

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The barbell marketplace has become overrun with imported bars as of late. I for one, don’t actually mind since the quality of manufacturing has gone up considerably for these bars, and prices are being driven downwards overall. Competition in the marketplace, like in our sports, is healthy.  Some import bars are actually pretty damn good, for example: the Vaughn Bar, Team Barbell 2.0, and the Klokov bar; but all of those bars have the same issue in common: the fit and finish.  All the barbells I own that were manufactured in the United States have this extra bit of quality to them that is missing from import bars. This doesn’t mean that the import bars are shoddily made, but that extra little bit goes a long way when it comes to barbell ownership. Most of us don’t own more than a single barbell for ourselves and it heavily factors into your lifting experience, so why not spend the extra $20-30 bucks to ensure yourself a quality piece of equipment that will last for years to come and the Vulcan Standard is just that barbell.

Specifications:

  • 20 Kg Olympic Bar
  • Made in USA
  • 28.5 mm Shaft Diameter
  • Bright Zinc Finish
  • 194,000 PSI Tensile Strength
  • IWF Markings, No Center Knurl
  • Medium Knurling
  • Grooved Sleeves
  • Oil Impregnated (Self Lubricating) Bronze Bushings
  • Double Snap Ring Construction
  • One Piece Sleeve Construction
  • Free Shipping
  • Lifetime Warranty

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This bar is a piece of art.  From the bronze bushings to the perfectly shaped diamond pattern of the knurl, everything oozes good ol’ American made quality.  An immaculate coating of bright zinc adorns the shaft and sleeves, probably the best I’ve ever seen on a barbell and even comes close to the Rogue WL bar’s polished chrome finish in terms of shine.  The diameter of the shaft is the standard 28.5mm that you’ll find on most multi-purpose/CrossFit bars.  With a minimum of 194k tensile strength, you won’t ever have to worry about putting a permanent bend in this bar.  You’ll only find a single IWF marking here, which I kind of find odd since the bar is 28.5mm rather than the IWF standard of 28mm, but don’t get me wrong, this is still a great Oly bar.  Hint hint: I would add an IPF marking for the next iteration.

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The absolute number one thing that sells this barbell for me is the knurling, quite possibly the most important aspect of a barbell.  To put it frankly, this is my favorite knurling of all time. To be fair, I’ve never used any higher end Olympic lifting barbells either, but compared to what I have used (Rogue WL, American Barbell, Pendlay), the Standard takes the cake. It’s super fine with a medium depth so it almost feels like it’s grabbing you back when you lay your hands on it; I imagine this is what Eleiko’s are like to a lesser degree.  If you don’t like light to medium knurl, you might not find it as perfect as I do, but I don’t think there’s anyway someone could dislike this pattern.  I would say it’s perfect for functional training and weightlifting; it’ll work for powerlifting but don’t expect the same grip a Texas power bar is going to give you.

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As more and more manufacturers switch to bearing or hybrid assemblies in the sleeves, the Standard sticks to the tried and true bronze self lubricating bushing.  Less fuss leads to more robust construction while still providing an adequate amount of rotation for the sleeve.  Bearings really aren’t designed to take the repeated drops of functional training, so if that’s your gig, you might want to stick with a nice bushing bar for the long run.  Sleeve rotation on the Standard is above average and silky smooth compared to other brand name bushing bars; it’ll even hang with some of the bearing bars out there.  If you’re wondering if this is going to affect your 100kg clean, it probably won’t.  Bushings will spin plenty fast for most normal to high end lifters. Vulcan states that the Standard has a medium whip profile, I found that accurate but it doesn’t take much weight for the bar to get going.

The sleeve itself is milled from a single piece of steel.  Lightly ribbed so that plates stay on alright without having to put on collars. Tolerances are really tight, there isn’t much play side to side.  Dropping the barbell with bumper plates yields a solid clang compared to the cheap rattle of barbells with more play in the sleeves.  I expect over time and repeatedly dropping the bar, it will rattle more, like any other bar.  It just is what it is.  One small but very important note is that the container the Standard is shipped in is as sturdy as the bar itself! The bar ships from Virginia and during it’s voyage over to SoCal, the shipping tube hardly sustained any kind of damage and the bar slid out without any hitches.

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Honestly the fatal flaw of the Vulcan Standard barbell is that it doesn’t say Rogue or Pendlay on it.  It’s a shame that most people will overlook (or won’t even know it existed) this barbell for the bigger brands, while this bar does everything better or the same as their comparable models, with better fit and finish.  At a retail of $285 shipped, it falls right in line with what a Rogue Bar 2.0 would cost shipped to SoCal. If you’re reading this, the Vulcan Standard might be the best barbell in it’s price range so please give it your attention and help spread the word about Vulcan and what they’re doing with the Standard.

American made.

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