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Vulcan Elite 3.0 Olympic Weightlifting Training Bar Review

Vulcan Elite 3.0 Olympic Bar Review

The Vulcan Elite is a 28 mm bushing bar designed specifically for Olympic weightlifting. It is the more affordable “training” version of the $600 Vulcan Professional Bearing Bar, with the biggest differences being the use of bushings instead of bearings, and of course, the price.

In terms of classification, the Vulcan Elite 3 is much like the American Barbell Performance Training Bar and the Rogue 28 mm Olympic Training Bar. All of these bars are 28 mm IWF-spec’d Olympic Weightlifting bars that utilize bushing systems rather than more expensive needle bearings and they are roughly $200-250 less than their needle bearing counterparts.

Update January 2018: Vulcan is now up to the Elite version 4.0, which is more or less the same premium piece of equipment as the 3.0. Matter of fact, all that has changed is the end cap is now machined, and the knurling was tuned again per customer feedback. 

What’s New with the Elite 3.0

Not much changed in the 3.0 version of the Elite. There was a minor knurl change; more of a fine tuning to improve the grip, and the finish on the shaft was changed from the industry-standard bright zinc to a grippy, dense chrome. I don’t have the previous Elite 2.0 so I can’t make a “then and now” direct comparison of the grip, but I can say that the current 3.0 grip is very good; definitely superior to zinc, and even polished chrome in terms of feel (polished is prettier though).

Vulcan Elite 3.0 Olympic Bushing Bar Specs

Vulcan Elite 3.0 review - specifications

Here are the specifications for the Vulcan Elite 3.0 as found on the bar product description. Additional information is included, as I do tend to harass the manufacturers when I want to know something not offered.

  • 20 kg (+/- 10 grams) men’s bar, 28 mm chromoly (chromium molybdenum) steel shaft.
  • IWF-specification knurling, including a passive center knurl.
  • Bronze bushing system.
  • Semi-aggressive knurling. *
  • Grooved sleeves for Olympic friction plates.
  • Dense chrome shaft finish, hard chrome sleeves.
  • Lab-verified minimum tensile strength rating of 218,000 PSI.
  • Minimum yield-strength rating of 206,000 PSI.
  • Most elastic Olympic training bar on the market.
  • Lifetime warranty against bending or sleeve separation.
  • Price: $369 w/ free shipping.

* It’s actually not all that aggressive. See the knurling section below and I’ll explain.

Vulcan Elite 3.0 Knurling & Finish

The product description for the Vulcan Elite states that the knurling is semi-aggressive, and that each knurl has multiple contact points that make for a very secure grip. Personally I do not think that I would describe the knurling of the Elite as being “aggressive”, and I’ve yet to hear anyone agree that it is aggressive in the traditional sense. It’s a very good knurl; especially in combination with the galvanized feel of dense chrome, but sharp or coarse it is not.

It does need to be said that many manufacturers base their knurl ratings on their own line of equipment. That is to say, relative to other Vulcan bars the Elite is aggressive, but it’s not so aggressive relative to what most of us really consider to be aggressive, like an Ohio Power Bar or NxG Competition Bar.

Close up of the Vulcan Elite knurling

All-in-all, I think the combination of knurl depth and the unique finish makes the grip and feel great. It is secure and comfortable enough to use as a daily Oly trainer, but it wouldn’t prepare you for an actual professional Olympic competition bar – and if you’re used to an actual aggressive bar, this may feel underwhelming (at least in this sense).

Vulcan Elite Sleeve Rotation

The Elite’s sleeve rotation is right where it needs to be; it spins well. It is a bushing bar, so it won’t spin on the rack for 10-minutes like a needle bearing bar will, but that has never really been important anyway. What’s important is the turnover during a lift, and that’s as smooth as can be – reliable, yet not erratic.

Not only do the sleeves spin well, but there are also no indications of any other sleeve or rotation issues. The Elite is quiet when the sleeves are spinning, and there is no excessive or unusual noise when the bar is dropped. The sleeves exhibit no unexpected lateral play on the shaft indicating tight construction tolerances. I have no reason whatsoever to think or suspect that this bar would ever not spin well.

Vulcan Elite Elasticity (whip)

For the Elite, Vulcan used a very high-quality chromoly steel that has incredible reflexive properties. Simply put, the Elite 3.0 is both strong and whippy. One of the nice things about bars with insane whip like the Elite here is that they tend to exhibit that whip at slightly lower weights than would be considered normal, which makes them a nice choice even for those lifters that aren’t putting up a lot of weight yet. When your weights do start getting up there, well you’ve already got a bar that whips like a professional Olympic bar that costs twice as much.

More On That Finish

The finish on the shaft is a very unique unpolished, dense chrome.. It’s actually kind of dirty looking, and I’ve read a number of reviews where customers think the bar would be pretty if it had any other finish on the shaft. I thought it was pretty unique at first, but I have to agree now that it does indeed look pretty grungy. It has a nice feel to it; it’s very sticky and easy to hold on to, but it could be better looking still I think.

The beautiful chrome sleeves of the Vulcan Elite 3.0

Fortunately the sleeves are standard polished chrome. Maximum oxidation resistance and a clean, professional look. Just keep those steel, box-store change plates away and you’ll keep that chrome looking nice for a long, long time.

How Does the Elite 3.0 Compare to…

At the beginning of this review I listed out some other bars that would fall into the same bar category as the Elite. I’ll discuss some of the subtle difference between the Elite and those other bars below.

Elite vs American Barbell Performance Training Bar

This is tough competition for the Elite 3.0 and 4.0, mostly because of price. At only $295 the American Barbell Performance Trainer is entirely finished in chrome, has a great composite bushing system, and is American made.

The Performance Trainer does lack the strength and whip of the Elite, and knurling is much more grippy on the Elite, but $70 (well $50 after shipping) is a huge price difference. I guess technically the AB is a more attractive bar because of all the hard chrome, but that probably shouldn’t guide your decision-making process.

I think the Elite is infinitely better performance-wise, but I’d certainly take the AB over the Rogue if budget is a concern.

Elite vs Rogue 28 mm Olympic Trainer

Rogue is Rogue, and you can almost never go wrong with a Rogue product. The Rogue Olympic Trainer has the same American-made, 190k PSI shaft as the professional Rogue Olympic WL Bar (the Games bar), which means that the feel and whip of the Trainer will be the same. The technical specifications of the Rogue are great, it’s made in the USA, and it has a reasonable price.

In terms of performance the Rogue 28mm Olympic Trainer does not compare to the Elite. The Elite has a better grip, better rotation system (oil-impregnated bushings versus cast), and it’s both stronger and whippier. I’d take a chrome, whippy Elite over the zinc Rogue any day, and if I didn’t want to spend $369, I’d go for the $300 AB Performance.

The Rogue Trainer is available in two finish options, but honestly it’s more of a color option since both of them are entirely finished in zinc (either black or bright zinc). Like I said, the Rogue has the best price of any of these training bars at $325 for either finish, so I can see it being a contender if budget is important. As with every bar here, the Rogue has a lifetime warranty.

Vulcan Elite Review Summary

So there you have it. The Elite is a very nice bar at a reasonable price. Not the cheapest bar in its class, but easily the best

Feel free to ask questions or give your own feedback in the comments.


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{ 100 comments… add one }
  • Brian S May 1, 2015, 7:59 am

    What is a passive knurl?

    • jburgeson May 1, 2015, 8:20 am

      It’s softer. It doesn’t provide a good grip, but it’s a little extra texture for when the bar is on your back for a back squat. Almost every bar nowadays either has a super soft center knurl, or no center at all. Unless you one-handed snatch like a Circus strongman, you probably don’t want an aggressive center.

  • Rob May 12, 2015, 10:58 am

    Would you ever use this bar for non-oly movements, like power lifts, rows, etc…?

    • jburgeson May 12, 2015, 11:16 am

      Yeah if I was going to own one bar I wouldn’t see any reason not to use the Elite for everything. It’s stronger than most power bars, it just has a bit more flex to it under large loads. No dual marks, but who really cares. IPF marks are just for legal bench grip anyway.

      • Rob May 19, 2015, 6:05 am

        I took your advice and got the Elite. I unboxed it yesterday, and man, you can tell that it’s a high quality barbell. The center knurl is barely noticeable, and I don’t feel like it would cause any chafing. I appreciate your review on this, and you are spot on on all accounts. :)

        • jburgeson May 19, 2015, 7:29 am

          Awesome, congrats. And thank you. That shaft coating feels nice doesn’t it?

          • Rob May 19, 2015, 7:39 am

            Very much so. It definitely is more aggressive than I’m used to, but that’s not a bad thing. There’s going to be some thigh rawness on occasion, but that’s a little something I like to call “hard work.” :D

            • Rob August 13, 2015, 1:35 pm

              In your “tell me that’s not a classy bar” photo, have you seen any brownish oily residue collected in that gap? Mine does, and I’m praying that it’s not rust. I’ve only had the bar for a few months now and don’t expose it to rain, pools, oceans, a water hose, peeing dog, or any other sort of activity that would introduce moisture (outside of humidity) into that area.

              • jburgeson August 13, 2015, 1:55 pm

                I use that bar a couple times a week and I hadn’t noticed anything, but to make sure I went out there and shined a Maglight into the inside sleeve. There is nothing on the surface, but I can see the oil a few mm in. The oil is brownish, but that’s not unusual at all. Also you know that the components that you can’t see (inside of sleeve, shaft under the sleeve, etc) are not finished, and if you took the sleeve off pretty much any bar, you’d find some rust. All the oil or grease in there helps to prevent that of course, but it happens.

                You can clean that oil out but if there is an excess of oil in the bushing, you may have to clean it up a couple more times. It’s not anything to worry about. Eleiko for instance over greases their bars for transit, and that crap seeps out of the sleeve for months it seems. It sucks cause I grab collar to collar for snatch and getting it on the hands is obviously not helpful for a good grip, but I just gotta keep cleaning it until there is no more excessive grease.

                Unless you see actual rust on a finished section of the bar, or if the sleeve actually seized or something, I wouldn’t worry about it.

  • Todd May 18, 2015, 12:23 am

    After reading this review, this is the one! Not even going to try out that american barbell WOD bar or wait for the Vulcan standard anymore. I’ll review what I think of it for powerlifting too.

    • jburgeson May 18, 2015, 8:41 am

      I’ve got a Standard, but I’ve held off on reviewing since it’s not in stock anyway. It’s great, but the Elite is better.

  • Joe May 23, 2015, 4:42 pm

    Love your site. Great info. I am looking to get my gym a decent weightlifting bar. Honestly none of us are lifting much weight but the elite sounds great. My only concern is with the chrome sleeves. I have a set of Rogue HG plates will these do much damage to the sleeves? I do throw metal 5s and 2.5s on should I get rubbers?

    • jburgeson May 23, 2015, 4:48 pm

      Thanks Joe. No the steel insert in bumper plates won’t hurt the sleeves, only the metal change plates. Just visualize how smooth and rounded off the insert in a bumper is compared to the sharper edges of change plates; plus they are thinner and usually have larger holes giving them more opportunity to bounce around. I’d get some rubber coated change plates if I were you. At least with pounds you only need 2 pair instead of the 6 that are available for kilograms.

      • Joe May 24, 2015, 7:08 am

        Thanks that is what i figured. But, I’m not an expert so I just wanted to make sure. I was prepared to purchase the vulcan pro bar but like I said none of us are lifting much weight. So I figure use the elite till we are then upgrade. Either way I would need rubber change plates and I can use the money saved from getting the elite to buy them. Thanks again!

  • Kelvin May 23, 2015, 11:40 pm

    I need clarity on the knurling and the use of the Vulcan Elite Training Bar for high rep Crossfit workouts.

    • jburgeson May 23, 2015, 11:57 pm

      What are you asking exactly? Should/could you use this for high-rep sets?

      Well this bar does have a center knurl. It’s passive, but it’s there.

      The rest of the knurl is moderately aggressive. I don’t consider it to be sharp at all, but other people tell me that it is definitely more aggressive than what would be considered “average”. Keep in mind this is not technically designed for CrossFit, but rather normal Olympic training, which of course is much smaller working sets.

      Honestly though, I don’t think the bar is too aggressive for CrossFit, but that’s totally subjective and what I think may not be what you think. The real question is if you are okay with that center knurling.

  • clay May 24, 2015, 7:19 am

    Could this bar be comparable or a substitute for a deadlift bar? They both seem to be very flexible. Thank you.

    • jburgeson May 24, 2015, 9:48 am

      Now when you say deadlift bar, do you mean just a general power bar, or one of the many bars specifically designed to be used only as a deadlift bar?

      The answer is probably going to be no either way though.

      If you’re just talking about a power bar, they are usually 29 mm instead of 28 mm like Olympic bars. That extra mm of diameter of a power bar adds some decent rigidity to the bar that helps to control that flex and bounce. All bars will flex to some degree under the weight of a heavy deadlift, but Olympic bars tend to bounce around a lot more, and most people don’t like that bounce in static lifts. The bar can handle deads; the strength of the Elite is higher than most power bars, it’s just that tensile strength doesn’t necessarily equal stiffness

      • clay May 24, 2015, 11:28 am

        Thanks for your input. You give some awesome insight into equipment and you saved me $300+ dollars on that AF Klokov bar…it sounds so good on paper. Tons of great info on here.

        • jburgeson May 24, 2015, 12:04 pm

          Thanks Clay. I appreciate that

  • Brian June 2, 2015, 11:55 am

    I’m looking for a 2nd bar for my home gym. I already have the Ohio power bar for my powerlifs. I just need a 2nd bar for my GF to squat with (28mm) and that I can also use for power cleans. Would you recommend this bar over the Vulcan Basic for my purposes? My power cleans are relatively light (sub 250 lbs).


    • jburgeson June 2, 2015, 1:06 pm

      For just power cleans and squats, you’d be fine with either. They’re both very similar in design; very tight tolerances, good spin. Knurl is a tad more aggressive on the Elite, but if you’re used to the Ohio Power you won’t even notice, and the knurl wouldn’t impact your gf doing squats really. The Standard is a tough bar; nothing wrong with it. I have one, but have been holding off on the review since its been out of stock anyway… got other things to work on in the meantime. The only other thing would be that the Elite has a more pronounced whip to it. If you prefer to own a whippier bar for down the road, maybe go with the Elite. If you’re more of a Big-3 lifter other than the power cleans, then maybe the Standard is a better fit.

  • Spencer June 2, 2015, 6:41 pm

    Between the Vaughn and the Vulcan, which would you recommend? Strictly for Olympic lifts and Squats.

    Each seems to be of exceptionally good quality for the price and I’m having difficulty swaying myself either way – considering I’ve never lifted with either.

    • jburgeson June 2, 2015, 7:26 pm

      It’s a toss up if you’re willing to pay for either. The Vaughn is more expensive, but it’s got a lot of spin for a bushing bar; more than any other I’ve seen. Finish is comparable; both have chrome sleeves and unique, sticky-feeling shaft finishes. Warranty is the same, both free shipping. Vaughn is hard to see in low light cause of that manganese. Kinda of a non-issue if have decent lighting. I haven’t played with a Vaughn in a while, but I remember it being about as whippy as any Oly bar, though Vulcan will tell you their bar whips more, and it may very well be true, but not by a ton.

      My biggest issue with the Vaughn, and they may have changed this so it might be worth asking FS if you’re leaning on it, is that they were shipping these in a box rather than a tube. Boxes that big and heavy don’t always show up looking like a box still.

      • Spencer June 2, 2015, 8:42 pm

        This is precisely the reason I am having trouble deciding – they are so similar it almost hurts.

        Well, when in doubt let the price decide. Thank you for the reply!

        • jburgeson June 2, 2015, 9:46 pm

          Yeah you got it. Good luck =p

  • Terrence June 28, 2015, 11:24 am

    Great site, it has been an immense help to me in deciding between the Rogue Oly training bar and the Vulcan Elite

    Thank you

    • jburgeson June 28, 2015, 11:32 am

      Thanks Terrence

  • clay July 11, 2015, 6:49 am

    How badly would steel Olympic plates damage the sleeves? I have some decent plates, York Legacy, and there are no sharp burrs in the holes of the plates. Even if the sleeves get nicked up a bit, would the only problem be cosmetic? Thanks.

    • jburgeson July 11, 2015, 10:08 am

      Yeah it’s mostly cosmetic. Plus, even bumpers have steel inserts. It’s the smoothness, rounded edges, and snug fit of bumper inserts that make them easier on bar sleeves. Those junk steel plates from Sears or Wal-Mart have sharp edges, imperfect holes that are too big and not even round, etc. Those are the plates that really screw up bars. But ya, even if your plates do cause minor cosmetic damage, that’s all it would be. You’re not going functionally destroy a bar. Having said that, I still wouldn’t drop a bar loaded with steel plates.

  • Pr August 4, 2015, 7:41 am

    Would this bar make a good all rounder bar? Hood For Both General Static lift, And Oly lifts. I’m between this and the chan bar.

    • jburgeson August 4, 2015, 9:53 am

      It could be used as such, but the Chan probably fits that multi-purpose role slightly better.

  • Dan August 13, 2015, 12:33 pm

    Great review! I’m looking to buy a bar for my home gym to use mostly for snatch, clean & jerk, and squats that is not super expensive. I’m nearly sold on the Vulcan elite training bar based on your review. My only concern is I have the fat Hi-Temp bumper plates and I’m concerned that they might give the bar too much whip at heavier weights since you said the bar already has a lot of whip. I’ll only be going up to about 110kg in cleans and 150kg for squats. Do you foresee any issues? Thanks!

    • jburgeson August 13, 2015, 1:31 pm

      No I don’t think you’ll have a problem. Whip variation among like bars is actually more subtle than not. I guess with a pair of 20 or 25 kg HI-Temp wheels on each side you use up about as much sleeve space as twice as many comp plates, so I think it will feel ‘whippier’ because of that, but if you’ve already been using the same weights on a different bar I doubt you’ll notice much difference unless your previous bar was just rigid as hell.

      I’m not sure about the squats. I’ve had that much weight on the Elite for squats and it didn’t feel awkward to me… and I even squat ATG and kind of bounce out of the hole, which is really where you get that unwanted flex. However, I’ve got narrow plates that aren’t using 80% of the sleeve so everything is a little closer to center. Again, I think how much more flex you feel in those static lifts depends mostly on what bar you’re coming from. If you’ve been using a 28.5 or 29 mm bar up until now, yeah it’ll feel different. If you’ve always used a true 28 mm bar, not much different.

      Also keep in mind, the Elite is a beast of a bar in terms of its properties. Tensile and yield are crazy high; it’s designed to be loaded up. The only catch is that your plates are huge, and that offsets the weight distribution on the bar itself. You’ve got CrossFit plates but you’re lifting way beyond CrossFit numbers.

      • Dan August 13, 2015, 2:03 pm

        Thanks for the quick and detailed reply! I do most of my heavy lifting at a gym with 28mm bars but often for moderate weights I’ll lift at home on my wife’s 25mm rogue bella bar so it I’ve become accustomed to the whip on that bar with heavy bumpers. I dont think the whip shouldn’t be an issue. Sounds like it’s the right bar for me!

        • jburgeson August 13, 2015, 2:09 pm

          yeah you got it, enjoy it.

  • Anthony Loarte August 18, 2015, 1:48 pm

    Help me build my garage gym under $2k. I’d like a cage (leaning toward rogue r4), bench, Olympic bar (multipurpose bar mainly bench, squats, tbar etc) weights 260+, dips station etc. I’m 5’10 180 pds. And in relatively good shape. What would you get with a $2k budget?

    • jburgeson August 18, 2015, 2:22 pm

      I’d do an R3 over and R4. Both need to be bolted down, and the R4 is bigger than most people are comfortable with when trying to squeeze things into a garage. R3 still has more than enough depth to it, plus it’s cheaper. From Rogue you can also get your dip attachment and landmine attachment for T-Bar work, and a Chan bar if that appeals to you. Chan is still my favorite multi-purpose bar, and it makes a better S&C bar than Oly bar anyway. You really don’t need the Elite bar here if you’re not Olympic lifting, but you certainly could; still a nice bar. Bumper brand also matters less if you aren’t Olympic lifting, but if you are then go with Vulcan or OFW. Rogue utility bench is the strongest bench for the money. All of this should still be well under $2k, not counting the shipping though. OFW will ship bumpers for free and that can be a big deal, but none of the Rogue stuff will ship for free. About all you’re missing are some collars which you can either get for $5 or $40; either way no biggie.

      • Aloarte August 19, 2015, 1:52 pm

        Good advise..I believe Rogue throws in the collars in for free with the purchase of a rack and Olympic bar. I do have the room for the R4 but I’m not oppose to saving $. I will check out the OFW bumpers and begin to stretch my 2k. Greatly appreciate your time.

        • jburgeson August 19, 2015, 1:55 pm

          Ah yeah, I forgot about the free collars. Nice catch. Good luck!

  • Craig August 27, 2015, 9:23 am

    About how soon would you say the Vulcan begins to exhibit usable whip? It sounds like the knurling and sleeve action are pretty much perfect. I’m not putting up huge numbers (Back squat 115kg, clean 97kg) but I’d love a bar with a bit of extra flex to it at lighter weights. I’ve been lifting on an Ohio bar and while the knurling is nice, it’s pretty stiff for the numbers that I have and I’d rather not have a dual-knurled bar anyways. Think the Vulcan is ideal in this situation?

    • jburgeson August 27, 2015, 9:50 am

      Your clean weight is actually about where you’ll feel some benefit from the elasticity. Since you’re coming from an Ohio, you should notice a difference between that 28.5 mm bar and a 28 mm bar right away, and It’ll only get better as your clean numbers go up. I don’t want to exaggerate the differences at that weight though; it’s not huge or mind-blowing at 100 kg, but Vulcan bars do tend to whip earlier. I don’t think it will change a whole lot right away, but it will be beneficial to have a 28 mm bar as you progress. Plus, I hear that about dual marks fairly often. Olympic lifters don’t want those power marks there. I’m kinda whatever about them at this point, but I still understand.

      • Craig August 27, 2015, 10:50 am

        Sounds like a winner then. And the finish is pretty low maintenance? Might be an early birthday present to myself if that’s the case. Sounds like a killer barbell.

        • jburgeson August 27, 2015, 10:54 am

          Yeah the shaft looks galvanized; pretty cool and ugly at the same time, but I haven’t had to do anything to maintain it yet. Zinc always wears though the more you use it, but it looks as though this holds better than the black zinc as I see no difference yet. Sleeves are completely hassle free since they’re chrome. You don’t have to brush and oil this like a bare bar though; none of that kind of maintenance.

  • Gil Greenlau September 1, 2015, 10:33 pm

    if price is not a consideration, which would you chose: the Vulcan Elite 3.0 or the AB Precision Training Bar? Thanks…! GdeG

    • jburgeson September 2, 2015, 1:26 am

      Ya if money was irrelevant, the stainless.

      • Gil Greenlau September 2, 2015, 9:30 am

        Since I must pay NC tax on the Elite anyway, gotta go with the AB stainless. Thanks for your quick input…

  • Dan September 30, 2015, 3:28 pm

    I got the Vulcan Elite 3.0 about a month ago. I’ve been using it for olympic lifts and assistance work (squats, pulls, etc.). Here’s my review:

    1. Whip: The whip is really nice. Catching heavy cleans is relatively soft on the the shoulders.
    2. Strength: For a 28mm bar, this bar feels STRONG. Some of the lower end Pendlay bars feel like they do not return to straight after repeated use. This bar starts to bend with about 140kg on it but returns to straight afterwards. I am confident it will hold up for a long time.

    1. Spin: The spin is fine. It spins relatively well, especially for a bearing bar, but nothing to write home about.

    1. Knurling: To me, the knurling does not feel sharp enough for olympic lifts. It’s not as soft as a worn down globo gym bar, but I’ve used Rogue weightlifting bars, DHS training bars, and pendlay bearing bars and I prefer the knurling on all of those compared to the Vulcan Elite 3.0. Also, the center knurling is almost comically soft. I specifically wanted a bar with center knurling for use during squats but the center knurling on this bar serves almost no purpose.
    2. Finish: This is one the biggest cons of all in my opinion. I was quite stunned when I opened the package and immediately saw that the bar has a sort of matte finish to it, rather than that shiny finish I am accustomed to seeing on high quality bars. While I don’t think it really affects the quality of the bar, I just really don’t like it and I don’t think the photos of the bar’s finish on Vulcan’s website show the finish clearly.
    3. Packaging: The package that the bar came in was standard cardboard which is fine but there was no notice on the packaging that the bar should not be stored vertically. It seemed clear the bar had been stored vertically since the bar arrived quite greasy from lubricant that leaked out of the sleeves during transit.
    4. Sleeves: Another huge drawback in my opinion. As a weightlifter, I’m accustomed to not using collars during most lifts. I’ve performed olympic lifts and assistance work in this fashion using many bars and have never really had an issue with plates sliding. This is NOT the case with the Vulcan 3.0 Elite. Especially during squats, it feels like if the bar does not remain perfectly straight, the plates will start to slide. I WOULD NOT LIFT ON THIS BAR WITHOUT USING COLLARS.
    5. Price: Taking into account the numerous cons versus few pros, I think the bar is overpriced.

    I’d rate this bar 3 out of 5 stars. It’s hard to find a reliable 28mm bar with decent spin for under $400 so I’ll give Vulcan credit for that. I really wanted to love this bar but I cannot rate this bar more 3 stars due to the soft knurling, slippery sleeves, cheap looking finish, and inflated price for a bar with these flaws.

    • jburgeson October 1, 2015, 9:51 am

      Hey Dan, thanks for the feedback. I happen to agree with you about the knurl not being nearly as “aggressive” as the description makes you believe, but I do think that the finish holds pretty well despite not being very attractive. If the knurl actually was more aggressive, the combination of that added sharpness and sticky finish would make for a great feel. In any case, I won’t agree/disagree with every comment since I already did above! =p

      • Dan October 1, 2015, 10:34 am

        Thanks jburgeson. I also meant to say that the bar spins relatively well for a bushing bar, not a bearing bar. Have you noticed the issue with the plates sliding around on the collars? Is it possible this could be due to the type of bumper plates I’m using (Hi-Temps)?

        • Rob October 1, 2015, 10:42 am

          This happens to me too. I use Vulcan plates, and they slide off very easily. I actually prefer it this way, as I always double up on spring collars anyways, so sliding isn’t a big deal to me, except when I’m done with a workout, dead tired, and don’t want to fight with pulling off weights. :)

          • Craig October 1, 2015, 10:58 am

            Hmm. Maybe glad I held off buying then. I don’t want a bar with the plates sliding off when I’m snatching triples.

            • jburgeson October 1, 2015, 11:00 am

              Are you guys really not putting collars on the bar at all and expecting the plates to stay put? Am I missing something here?

              • Craig October 1, 2015, 11:11 am

                A little bit of play is okay, but if its bad even with competition plates that you need to use spring collars to keep them on then its probably best to use a different bar. I don’t like having to use collars

              • Dan October 1, 2015, 11:17 am

                Of course the plates will move around some without collars and I’m accustomed to readjusting the plates after each drop if not using collars. What I’m saying is that when I squat for example, if I readjust the bar a little while it’s on my traps or if the bar tilts just a little one way or the other while it’s on my traps, the plates slide a bit when not using collars, enough so that I have to rerack the bar and readjust them. I have squatted on many bars without using collars and have not experienced this issue.

              • Rob October 1, 2015, 12:33 pm

                I never have, and never will, ever lift any amount of weight without collars on the bar. It’s for this reason that I don’t mind how easily the plates slide on this bar. I actually prefer it.

                • jburgeson October 1, 2015, 3:12 pm

                  I can see doing single lifts without collars, but I personally don’t think I’d want to rep squats without them… and I don’t. Still though, I concede that the Elite has a smoother sleeve since those grooves are too far apart to impact full-size plates, but I would have never thought any less of the bar as a whole because of it. For those that use collars 100% of the time, the smoothness is actually a feature because it makes removing plates easier. Six of one, half a dozen of the other I guess.

    • Rob November 19, 2015, 7:56 am

      Just reading the new comments that came through on this bar, and re-read this. Question. Is it bad to store bars vertically? I made a plate/bar rack and use PVC pipe to store the bar vertically.

      • jburgeson November 19, 2015, 12:07 pm

        No it’s not bad, I store many bars vertically. Just don’t drop the bar into a vertical position; they’re not designed to take on any real force from that direction.

  • Matt Stoner October 23, 2015, 4:26 pm

    Hi I think there is a mistake in your review as you have stated the shaft is a satin zinc when in actuality its “thin dense chrome” plated. Thin dense chrome has better wear and corrosion resistance over hard chrome and any other zinc or black oxide finishes available. Its thinner application and high bonding strength will not chip or peel from the base metal like hard chrome can. Just something to consider.

    • jburgeson October 23, 2015, 4:48 pm

      Yeah Vulcan changed the product description to say chrome instead of zinc about a month ago. I knew about it but I just completely forget to look further into that and make the change. I of course have that bar and nothing about it looks or feels chrome which is why I didn’t just automatically update the article. I’m writing it down though lol, thank you for pointing it out.

  • Michael October 30, 2015, 7:17 pm

    hey man love your reviews. Im currently torn between this vulcan elite 3.0 vs the american barbell ss wod bar. Mainly to be used for oly lifts, big 3 strength lifts, and some light crossfit. broken down into 50,30,20 percentage break down. Would the vulcan elite be too whipy for dead and benching (not strong prob pulling 300, bench around 200)? for my situation which would you choose?

    • jburgeson October 30, 2015, 7:32 pm

      Neither bar will be jumping around under that kind of weight in the bench/dead, takes more than that before it becomes a problem. And hell, not everyone even minds that bouncing.

      Something you may not have considered is the AB SS Precision bar which is slightly more appropriate for the Olympic lifts than the WOD while still being stainless, if the stainless appeals to you. It’s also on sale for a couple more days. I would go with either the Elite or the Precision though, not so much the WOD since you’re so heavy on Olympic lifting. Not that it wouldn’t work, but with the Precision on sale for close to the cost of the Elite, it’s a much better choice than the WOD. There’s a link to the AB sale on this post https://www.garage-gyms.com/black-friday-cyber-monday-gym-sales/ where you can see that Precision.

      If for whatever reason the Precision isn’t going to work, then of the original two I would say the Elite; again because you do so much more Oly than slow. I count CrossFit as Oly, so that’s 70%

      • Michael October 30, 2015, 10:44 pm

        Thanks for the reply. Between the ab precision and the 3.0 elite which would you go for. would ss be worth the extra 40-50 bucks over the chrome moly of the elite?

        • jburgeson October 30, 2015, 10:58 pm

          I’m not gonna lie, I am a huge fan of the stainless bars. I have three of them in the gym now, and of all my bars they make up two of my three favorite bars.

          The interesting thing is that the Precision is a bushing variation of the SS Pro Bearing, the $795 bar. The Pro is incredible, and the idea of buying that bar for less than half price and only giving up the bearings seems pretty good to me, especially when the bushings are very good high-load bushings. It’s the exact same bar aside from those bushings. Now if the Precision was normal price at nearly $500, I wouldn’t be suggesting it over the Elite at $340’ish, but it is on sale and I think all of the stainless bars that are on sale are steals.

          Of course this says nothing about the Elite. It’s a very nice bar, and if it was 30%+ off as well I may be suggesting that instead, but it’s not.

  • clay October 31, 2015, 10:51 am

    Would you consider the Elite as having the most whip in the $400 price range?

    • jburgeson October 31, 2015, 3:30 pm

      Of the bars I’ve worked with, probably so yes. Nothing obviously better without reaching into the higher price ranges.

      • clay October 31, 2015, 4:24 pm

        Thanks. BTW, AB should cut you a commission check. I read some customer reviews on their site and they attributed their purchase from your reviews on this site.

        • jburgeson November 1, 2015, 1:13 am

          I saw those too. I just wish they were links so I can get some backlink juice! lol but ya, I do appreciate the folks who mentioned the site. Every little bit of that helps

  • Sean November 18, 2015, 2:25 pm

    There is a guy on Starting Strength forums saying that this bar is a “rebadged” Gymway bar. He seems pretty knowledgable about bars. I went to Gymway Barbell’s website and their specs to their weightlifting bar mirrors the Elite and it appears that the bar can only be purchased in units of 100. Have you ever heard of Gymway. They are based in Taiwan and the poster on the forum also says that Rep Fitness are Gymway bars. When companies outsource the production of “their” barbells is it just a generic stock bar? I just found it interesting.

    • jburgeson November 18, 2015, 2:38 pm

      Yeah some Vulcan bars are Gymway bars; not sure about Rep. The Vaughn might be as well. But I don’t know what rebadged means. They aren’t pre-made bars with a Vulcan logo if that’s what you mean, they are designed by and made for Vulcan by Gymway. This isn’t like a CAP bar with a different logo or something like that.

      Gymway is the only place to buy a bar if you’re not going to make it yourself. Of the half dozen or so manufacturers in Taiwan and China, they put out the best product by far. Also, you do not have to buy stock bars from them. The stuff on their little website is not the be-all, end-all of their capabilities or inventory. You can have them built to whatever specifications you like.

      Don’t fret about Gymway, they are capable of making bars just as nice if not nicer than many of the domestic manufacturers. I love a US product, and I wouldn’t be caught dead with an imported CAP bar or something like that, but I have no problem with a Gymway bar. If you don’t want imported I understand, but don’t let anyone convince you that because Gymway is in Taiwan that it must be bad, because that’s absolutely not the case.

  • sean November 18, 2015, 4:54 pm

    Thanks for the info. I had no idea about how bars get outsourced. Maybe I understood wrong, but what I read into the forum post was that Gymway had a generic bar with base specs and a company would just put their name on it,thus “rebadge” or “rename”. I did not know that a xompany would give Gymway specs and that they would custom manufacture. BTW how is the whip of the the Elite compare to AB 28 mm bars?

    • jburgeson November 18, 2015, 5:59 pm

      Well you certainly can order bars “off the rack” like that. And, on more than one occasion, things that Vulcan has brought to the market have been copied. Not just them, of course, but I personally know of a couple. That’s extremely easy to do when you deal with Asia because they have nooooo problem making the same thing for someone else. There are some very big and popular companies that have products that they didn’t develop even though you only know of their version, not the original.

      In answer to your question, I have only stainless AB bars, and the 28 mm I have whips fine.. not super whippy, certainly not lacking. The Elite and the Vulcan Pro has a bit more flex to them, especially the Pro. I can’t speak to the steel AB bars, but I suspect it’s the same as I was told that the idea was to make the SS perform like the non-SS Pro bar.

  • John Doe January 19, 2016, 9:40 pm

    I am planning on purchasing bumpers and an olympic bar in a few months. I will be doing powerlifting and olympic training. Obviously I need an olympic bar for oly-lifts, but will it work for powerlifting? My only concern is my deadlifts turning into tsunami bar deadlifts. Anyway I probably need around 250#s of bumpers, and I think the vulcans would be the best option. I like the elite 3.0 bar, but want to save money by buying a bar/plate set. Would the bar that comes with it be that bad? what would be my best financial option be?

    • jburgeson January 20, 2016, 12:21 pm

      You can buy Vulcan bar+bumper packages that include the Elite so that’s easy enough. The Elite can handle both types of lifts, but it is at its core an Oly bar.

      • John Doe January 21, 2016, 6:31 pm

        Alright thanks. Olympic training looks really fun and I want to start but Im pretty sure it isnt really a sport like powerlifting is for kids my age. I would love to do it as a sport in highschool if it existed in Texas

        • jburgeson January 21, 2016, 9:53 pm

          There are plenty of places to train the Olympic lifts with qualified coaches either in a class or one-on-one in any decently sized city; though no, I don’t think you’ll find it in many high schools; which is a shame. One could easily argue that Olympic weightlifting transfers to the football field just as well as the big three (I think the only reason for having a weight room in a high school is for the football team, right? Especially in Texas!) Matter of fact, the power development along with the strength gains may make the snatch and clean superior… but I am no professional in that regard so I may not know what the hell I’m talking about anyway =p

          But ya, I know of a handful of places here where I am in Austin to get coaching. No doubt that would be the case anywhere.

          • John Doe January 21, 2016, 10:09 pm

            Ya… I was talking about like there isn’t Olympic lifting competitions for high schoolers like there is for power lifters. Not as a school competition but more of a club, only a few high schools even have a powerlifting team. So far I have read online that hyde park gym has the best trainers if I were to eventually need a coach after I finished my 5×5, but I don’t want to do Olympic lifting if I can’t eventually compete

            • jburgeson January 22, 2016, 2:29 am

              There isn’t a ton of info online for this guy as I don’t think he spends a lot of time on the computers, but Oleg at OK Weightlifting is probably your best bet for an Olympic coach in the area. Oleg is a Russian Olympian, and the last time I was up there he had a nationally ranked US lifter as an apprentice coach. Both of these guys have been on the stage, and that’s a big plus if you’re looking for someone to take direction from.

              Hyde Park is a cool place, and I wouldn’t dare knock it, but they do have a lot of “trainers” in the global gym sense, not so many coaches. You’d want a coach if you wanted to compete, and compete you could.

              • John Doe January 24, 2016, 5:01 pm

                Thanks for showing me that guy,he sounds like a great coach. The only thing I am worried about is how thin the destination line is between olympic weightlifting and crossfit.

                • Craig January 24, 2016, 5:29 pm

                  There is a very, very, very thick line. Olympic weightlifting is training for 3 near-max singles for each discipline in a competition setting. Crossfit is Crossfit. Crossfit has incorporated the Olympic movements, but that is the extent of it. Aside from that, the two sports have very little in common.

                • jburgeson January 24, 2016, 6:32 pm

                  Because he’s next door to a CrossFit gym? I’m sure a lot of those CrossFitters come over for lessons, but the CrossFit box has their own trainers. Oleg trains true Olympic WL. No doubt about it. Look at his sharing a wall with a box as a way to stay in business. He had a place all to himself not too long ago, but I guess that’s just too expensive when you train only two lifts, and not CrossFit, powerlifting, or the usual BS exercise that a global trainer would push on someone. But anyway, when the time comes for you that choice is yours. I don’t get anything for telling you about him. Just sharing =p

  • Josh January 24, 2016, 4:44 pm

    You said for the sleeves to avoid box store change plates. Would you recommend investing in all new weights since I have only box store weight plates?

    • jburgeson January 24, 2016, 6:28 pm

      Well not everyone cares if the sleeves get scratched. It’s really up to you. If you see damage happening faster than you’re okay with, perhaps replace the plates that are causing the damage. If you’re not Olympic lifting (dropping the bar) the damage should be minimal anyway. Either way, no bar is going to look brand new forever assuming that it’s getting used regularly.

      I point that stuff out because people that exclusively Olympic lift are going to just destroy a nicely finished bar in no time at all with loose fitting plates, and while most Oly lifters have bumpers, a good number of them aren’t willing to invest in nice, rubber change plates, and those small steel box-store plates can do just as much damage as a steel 45.

      • Josh January 24, 2016, 6:33 pm

        I don’t drop the weight ever really. I deadlift a lot and I don’t drop it either. I know my bar wont look perfect forever but I do want my almost $400 investment staying in tip top shape for years to come. I was looking at Vulcan website and they have good bar plus bumper plate deals. Just pondering if it is worth it.

        • jburgeson January 24, 2016, 6:40 pm

          Yeah, I’d be a salesman to tell you that you absolutely must upgrade to bumpers for a powerlifting style program. They’re nice to have, sure. The noise alone is all the reason I need to stay with bumpers even if I never did another power clean. The only reason I’d say that it’s a bad idea is if you are over there deadlifting 600 pounds; you’ll be short on sleeve space with standard bumpers. If it doesn’t prevent you from payin the bills to upgrade and you want to preserve the finish and make less noise, go for it. I do think that the V-Lock change plates are a must for anyone though, especially if you lift in pounds as there are only two pairs. I have V-Lock, Rogue, and Eleiko change and honestly the V-Locks are the best deal and have 0 chance of scratching a bar.

  • Tys February 18, 2016, 10:42 pm

    Are you planning on reviewing some the higher end barbells from Vulcan. I was looking to purchase a bearing barbell since I am investing more time to focus on OL.


    • jburgeson February 18, 2016, 11:52 pm

      I don’t know. I’ve been keeping an eye on the stainless version of their bearing bar.

      I’ve got the bushing version of the Standard, and it’s a great bar. I can’t see how merely using bearings instead of bushings would alter it and make it a bad bar. The Pro I’ve not handled. I’ve heard good things, and I’ve seen what it can do, but I’ve not physically put my hands on it. I want to, but just haven’t. For what it’s worth, I’m not reluctant to recommend Vulcan for bars. I’ve seen enough of them to have faith in all of them, as their track record is flawless so far. Are you considering any other brands as well? That is, is there a reason for the interest in their bars vs others?

  • Tys February 19, 2016, 8:00 pm

    I am from western Canada and seems like options are limited unless I pay more for shipping. He exchange rate does not help either. If money was not an option I would like an elieko set but don’t want to spend that much.
    I priced out the rogue chrome WL barbell with 140kg training plates and 25kg change plates. the total was just over $2610 including $200 for shipping.
    Based on your previous reviews on Vulcan I figured I would give them a shot. Priced out the 185kg competition. Bumper and bar set with the professional Olympic bar from barbellbros.ca. total was $2580 with free shipping and also included collars. Should also note barbell bros emailed a $100 discount.
    What are your thoughts

    • jburgeson February 19, 2016, 10:24 pm

      I didn’t know they even had that partnership. Man they get quite the premium up there eh? $500 more than US prices. Did you get a shipping quote from Vulcan to see what that would cost to drop freight to Canada? Couldn’t be $500, right?

      Also have you considered maybe paying the premium for the bar but maybe getting just basic kilo bumpers there in Canada somewhere? Was that Rogue quote from Rogue Canada or the US store?

  • sean June 19, 2016, 2:00 pm

    How do you think the whip and quality of the elite matches up with the 28mm standard? I like the fact that it is made in the US

    • jburgeson June 19, 2016, 3:08 pm

      The Standard is meant to be super durable – it’s like Vulcan’s gym/box bar. That said, I’m not exactly sure how much more durable it could really be. I mean, I have both of those bars, and I expect both of them to last a lifetime. Of course I’m also just one guy, so I’ll never really abuse them like if they were in a public gym being used by dozens of people who don’t know how to treat a bar. Fact is, both of them are great bars, but if I was more of an Oly lifter than strength trainer/powerlifter, I’d go Elite every time – it’s just a better, whippier shaft.

  • sean June 20, 2016, 3:41 pm

    Was talking to Vulcan about when they were getting some Elite’s in and they mentioned that the bearing version is coming out soon. You probably already knew that. That should be a great bar.

  • Kal November 18, 2016, 7:58 pm

    Thanks for reviewing this bar, I’m loving being able to read everyone’s experience with it. I’m drawn to it due to it being able to be used for olympic lifts and also having center knurl for <$600.

    How loud is the bar when dropped? I've heard Rogue bars are particularly loud. I was wondering how this compared to say an Eleiko or an American Barbell Training bar.

    • jburgeson November 19, 2016, 9:42 pm

      It’s not loud. American Barbell bars are the quietest that I know of while Rogue bushing bars are the loudest, but construction is tight on the Elite so it’s nothing like dropping an Ohio or 2.0.

  • Paul Claveloux February 10, 2018, 12:54 pm

    Hi, JB! This question is probably a very subjective one, but how would you compare the quietness/noise level (when dropped) of the Elite 3.0 to the American Barbell (AB) line of functional training bars? I have the AB Training Bar, which was my first all purpose bar (i.e. I haven’t been doing Olympic lifts for a long period of time). Didn’t realize how quiet my bar was till I compared it to a Rogue Ohio Bar I’d purchased off of Craigslist. It was a great deal, and I’d hoped the Ohio Bar would be good secondary bar, but I was in shock at how loud the Ohio Bar was when dropped… It sounded like glass breaking in comparison to my AB Training Bar. Should probably also mention, I workout in my basement and usually later in the evening after my kids go to bed, so I specifically bought the bar and plates (Vulcan Alphas) I did it hopes of keeping down the noise level. That said, I think the AB Training Bar is a great general purpose bar, but I’m starting add a lot more Olympic lifts into my workouts and have been exploring the options for a bar with a bit more whip. Greatly appreciate any insight you may be able to provide!

    • jburgeson February 10, 2018, 1:13 pm

      Paul the Elite makes what I consider to be a normal amount of noise when dropped. It’s not at all like Rogue’s bushing bars which are indeed quite loud, but also not as quiet as American Barbell’s bar. Honestly I don’t think anything is as quiet as an AB bar. I wouldn’t be nearly as reluctant to toss an Elite around in a basement as I would an Ohio.

      But you know, your AB bar is a 28 mm bar too. Sure the Vulcan Elite is a higher whip bar but how much of that you’ll even notice depends on where you’re at with that clean.

      • Paul Claveloux February 10, 2018, 1:31 pm

        Greatly appreciate the insight, JB!

  • Patrick February 14, 2018, 5:33 pm

    I’m in the market for a general purpose bar, will be doing both olympic and power lifts, both on the lighter end of weight. I was about to buy a Vulcan Standard 28.5mm bar but noticed the Vulcan V3.0 Elite on closeout for $290 ($4 more than a new Standard). I’ll be doing more olympic lifting than power lifting and am intrigued by the Elite’s ability to show whip at lighter weights. I also like the idea of subtle center knurl. Will the Elite suffice for lighter power lifts or will I be too limited and find myself shopping for a companion power bar?

    • jburgeson February 14, 2018, 5:37 pm

      The Elite is fine for power lifts, even up to moderately heavy loads. It’s a great bar, and a great choice since you already know you’ll favor the Oly lifts. All you give up are powerlifting marks from the dual-marked Standard, but that shouldn’t be a determining factor.

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