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Vulcan Professional Olympic Weightlifting Bar Review

Vulcan Professional Olympic Bearing Bar - Garage Gyms Review

This is a review for the Vulcan Professional Olympic Bar, one of the most competitively priced high-performance Oly bars on the market. Priced at only $599, the Pro boasts a ton of premium features including high tensile and yield ratings, great whip, smooth spin, and a beautiful, industrial chrome finish. While it should be obvious that this is a lot of bar for the money, most lifters are still going to want to know how well the Vulcan Professional compares to the heavyweights.

Well I’ve had my Vulcan Pro for a couple of months now and I am already convinced that it holds its own against the more expensive IWF Olympic bars. It offers the same level of performance and the same quality of components, yet the price is much more accessible. No detail of the Vulcan Pro appears to have been overlooked or half-assed, and I believe this bar is a compelling alternative to the $700+ mainstream Olympic WL bars.

Of course this is just my opinion. I’m still going to thoroughly examine and comment on this bar feature-by-feature so that you may draw your own conclusions about the Vulcan Pro.

Vulcan Professional Olympic Bar Specifications

  • 20 kg IWF-spec men’s bar
  • 28 mm shaft diameter
  • high whip
  • medium to moderately aggressive knurling
  • passive center knurl
  • 50 mm sleeve diameter – micro grooved
  • lab-verified tensile strength rating of 241,000 PSI
  • lab-verified yield strength rating of 223,000 PSI
  • industrial chrome finish (hard chromium)
  • 8 German precision needle bearings
  • lifetime warranty
  • $599 shipped

There is also a 15 kg women’s variation of the Pro available for $579, and it too is manufactured to IWF specifications. You can view the women’s Pro here.

Vulcan Pro Olympic Weightlifting Bars at the 2016 RVA Open

15 kg Vulcan Professional Olympic Bar at the 2016 RVA Open.

Who is the Vulcan Pro for?

The Vulcan Professional Oly is a high-performance, competition-worthy bar. It’s perfect for unsanctioned weightlifting events big and small, and as an intermediate to elite-level Olympic training bar. Experienced CrossFitters who intend to transition into the sport of Olympic weightlifting could also benefit from owning this bar, as it’s better than any multi-purpose WOD bar, and it will never need to be replaced or upgraded as your dedicated Oly bar.

Vulcan Professional Bearing Bar at the Ohio State Champsionships

Vulcan Professional Olympic Bar at the 2014 Ohio State Championships

Specification & Performance Details

Sleeve Assembly: The Pro has one-piece, chrome finished sleeves. The sleeves are attached using snap-rings, and the length of the sleeves are micro-grooved to help keep rubber change/friction plates in place when used without/outside collars.

Rotation: The Vulcan Professional is assembled with four precision German needle bearings per sleeve. Sleeve rotation is smooth, quick, and consistent (demonstrated in above video.)

The use of eight to ten total bearings is pretty standard for premium Olympic WL bars, and the use of German needle bearings is a solid indication that the bar was designed to very high standards with both durability and performance in mind.

Knurling: The knurling of the Pro is said to be aggressive in the product description, but in reality it’s more of a medium knurl. For comparison purposes, it has a little more bite than the Rogue Euro, but it’s not nearly as sharp as IWF Competition Bar.

Vulcan Pro 28 mm Olympic Bar - knurling close-up picture

Vulcan Professional Olympic Bar – knurling close-up

Passive Center Knurling - Vulcan Pro Oly Bar

Vulcan Professional Olympic Bar – center knurling close-up

Eleiko IWF Training Bar - knurling close-up

NxG IWF Olympic Training Bar – knurling close-up

The Vulcan Professional is grippy enough for max-effort singles, but where it really shines is in a training environment. Its lack of excessive sharpness lends itself better to doubles and triples (or more) than the aggressive IWF stage bars, and it does so with no other sacrifices to performance. That is to say, you get all the performance of a competition bar, only with a milder knurl.

Remember that knurl preference is subjective. What I call medium will be aggressive to others. Just keep in mind that I get to handle a large variety of bars and I feel very confident about shying away from ‘aggressive’ and leaning towards ‘medium’ when describing the Vulcan Pro’s knurling. 

Elasticity: The Vulcan Professional has reflexive properties that are more akin to the higher tensile strength bars like the 205k WerkSan and the 215k Comps than lower tensile strength bars like the 190k Rogue Oly or SS Professional. You won’t find the Vulcan Pro to be very springy at low weights like many of the lesser training bars, but it’s still whippy as hell once you hit that 100-120 kg threshold. Vulcan clearly built this bar to accommodate experienced lifters; not beginners.

If your Olympic lifts are still on the lower end and you want to experience some flex in your bar, look at the Vulcan Elite instead of the Vulcan Pro. The Elite will not only display whip at lighter weights, but going that route will cost you hundreds of dollars less (and still take your training well into the intermediate zone.) Just FYI, the whip of the Elite is out of this world for a $369 bar. Just a super fun bar.

Finish: The Pro is finished sleeve to sleeve in bright, beautiful hard chrome. Unlike many manufacturers that use nickel chrome or decorative chrome and simply call it hard chrome because you won’t know the difference, the Pro is the real deal – true industrial chromium.

Beautiful industrial chrome finish of the Vulcan Pro

A classy looking finish is great, but the true purpose of having a quality chrome finish is to protect the steel from oxidation/corrosion. High-quality finishes like hard chrome last much longer than decorative finishes, and that equates to a better looking bar that will require almost no maintenance.

Another benefit of having a quality finish is the feel. True chrome isn’t slick like decorative paints and zinc finishes, so it helps with your grip rather than weakening it. I realize that chalk is kind of a given in Olympic lifting regardless of knurl and finish, but the better the overall grip, the less time spent with your hands in the bucket.

Vulcan recommends using something like the V-Lock Rubber Change Plates instead of cast iron change plates as a way to increase the life of the finish. This is good advice for any bar, as cast iron is about the surest way to destroy sleeve finishes. V-Locks are amazing plates – I have them in both pounds and kilos – but whatever rubber change plates that you already have will do just fine.

Vulcan V-Lock rubber Olympic change plates

Vulcan’s Rubber Olympic Change Plates – Accurate to with 0.5%

Price Comparisons

Below is a chart comparing the price of the Vulcan Professional Bar to various other premium Olympic bars. The prices given for the IWF brands are for the training bars, not the competition stage bars. You can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $200 more for the competition variants.

Vulcan Rogue Euro Zhangkong Uesaka NxG Trainer
 15 kg $579 $799 $899 $869
 20 kg $599 $695 $799 $899 $869


The Rogue Euro is actually awaiting IWF certification approval. It will be interesting to see what happens to that $695 price tag if and when that is finalized. I’m guessing that the price will either go up, or there will be a second “Competition” Euro.


In terms of performance, reliability, and value there are really no cons or drawbacks to even talk about. Between development and revisions, nothing about this bar has been overlooked. It has strong steel, great whip, quality components, and a beautiful, durable finish. Obviously I can’t complain about the price – it’s more affordable than pretty much all of its competition.

It’s conceivable that athletes that are beyond conditioned to the sharpest of competition bars may find the Vulcan Pro to be too mild for their taste, but that’s a knurl preference thing. No bar has knurling that 100% of people are going to be happy with, so it’s hardly a drawback in the typical sense.


On the off chance you’ve come across a used Vulcan Professional, it might help to know that older versions of this bar didn’t have the micro grooves in the sleeves; the sleeves were just as smooth and shiny as can be. The current version of the Pro does have grooved sleeves though. Just FYI!

2015 Version of the Vulcan Pro Olympic Bar - sleeves have no grooves

The Vulcan Pro of 2014/2015. Same beautiful hard chrome sleeves, but no grooves. 

Vulcan Professional Olympic Bearing Bar - grooved sleeves close-up

The current Vulcan Pro has grooved sleeves.

Vulcan Professional Olympic Bar – Summary

I’ve owned probably half a dozen different Vulcan bars over the years and every one of them has lived up to my expectations. From the economical multi-purpose bars like the Vulcan One and Vulcan Standard to the higher-end Olympic bars like the Elite and Absolute, they all offer a lot of bang for the buck. The Vulcan Pro is no exception.

Would I recommend the Vulcan Professional Bar? Absolutely – the Pro offers the same level of performance as the expensive IWF Olympic bars without the added expense of an IWF sticker. The Pro even meets all the requirements to be an IWF-certified bar, but we should probably celebrate the fact that it’s not because of what the presence of that sticker would do to the cost. There is no shortage of high-dollar, certified bars anyway, so it’s nice to have the quality, reliability, and performance of an IWF bar in a more affordable package.

Do you already own the Vulcan Pro, or have access to it in your gym or training center? Leave a comment and tell us what you think of it.


† Image credit to Justin F. from his review of the Vulcan Professional Bar back in November of 2015. That review can be found on the WLForums here. He did a great job on that review btw.

Trivia: can you find the Vulcan pun?

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Brent July 11, 2017, 7:52 am

    Hey JB,
    Vulcan strength has their men’s and women’s pro bars at a discounted price in the closeout section [i.e., scratch and save].

    • jburgeson July 11, 2017, 12:58 pm

      Oh yeah, looks like it. That’s a crazy price! Thanks Brent

      • Austin July 27, 2017, 11:51 pm

        How would this compare to one of American barbells high end bars? The price is hard to resist.

        • jburgeson July 28, 2017, 12:51 am

          Like in what way specifically? Performance? It depends on the skill level of the lifter. I think the Pro more closely resembles professional IWF bars, and a veteran lifter would feel more at home with the Pro than with the AB Oly bars. On the other hand I think that AB makes some of the highest quality bars on the market that perform better than average, just not exceptionally. Some of ABs bars are also more expensive than they maybe should be which doesn’t help.

          It just depends on who the bar is for. The average lifter might like an AB bar better because it has softer knurl, a more refined build, and is just a prettier bar. The Pro has a better grip, a professional feel, and exceptional performance (which is what ultimately matters). Actually the Pro is very reminiscent of the DHS and ZKC bars, only with better quality control than DHS and much better pricing that ZKC. Does this help at all?

          • Austin July 31, 2017, 12:06 am

            Thanks for the feedback. I was speaking more from a performance aspect. You speak very highly of AB, especially their SS bar and I was more curious if you had to choose one for yourself which one you might recommend.

            I had been looking at American barbell but after reading this I might have to check out Vulcan too…especially with the price being so competitive. Would you imagine that the stainless steel version of this bar might perform on par with the pro as well? Seems like most of the specs are the same.

            • jburgeson July 31, 2017, 12:43 am

              If I were buying inventory for an Olympic training center I would buy the Vulcan Pro. If I was buying a personal bar for my own gym and I didn’t mind the extra money, I’d buy the SS.

              I borrowed a first-run Vulcan Absolute Oly Bar some time ago, and I remember it as being just as much bar as the Pro. The knurl needed work on that first draft, but Vulcan knew that and had that corrected on the next run. I haven’t seen that updated version but I have no reason to suspect it’s not completely corrected – probably the same knurl as the chrome Pro. Again though, for a competitive environment, I would go Vulcan Absolute over AB SS Pro, but for a non-competitive lifter I would save almost $200 by getting the AB. It’s still an amazing bar.

              Keep in mind that the AB SS used to be $799. That price was driven down considerably when Rogue jumped into the stainless market (for a lot less). I’d say I don’t know how Vulcan gets $850 for the Absolute in this market, but it’s out of stock again so they must be selling.

              • Will August 16, 2017, 4:32 pm

                Jumping in on this conversation since you brought up the stainless rogue bars. Have you gotten a chance to mess with the new rogue oly wl ss bar?

                Ever since I’ve been checking your site regularly and seeing all the praise for stainless and to a lesser extent raw bars I’ve been jonesing for a stainless bar of my own. I’m on an in stock waiting list for that vulcan absolute bar you mentioned, got my eye on the ab ss since the price drop, and now the new stainless rogue wl bar is here… heard good things about the chrome version and the euro so wouldn’t stainless be even better? Only issue with that bar is no center knurl at all, and I emailed rogue to which they replied they had no plans to offer a center knurl on the stainless version like they do with the regular. I’m really trying to find a “one and done” bar for the Olympic lifts to train with. I’m not a beast by any means but I do hope to one day compete so I’d prefer to drop some money on a high performance bar so I don’t have to buy another one down the line. Apologies if that was too long winded, basically vulcan absolute stainless vs ab ss comp vs rogue oly wl ss? Maybe I’m looking at the wrong bars?

                • jburgeson August 16, 2017, 6:17 pm

                  I haven’t handled the Rogue SS Oly – I don’t know a soul who owns one and I haven’t had any plans to pick one up. I do however own the American Barbell SS, and the Euro, and I had for a time the Absolute SS. I suspect that the lack of center knurl aside, the Rogue SS is just as much bar as the American Barbell SS. The AB has some features that the Rogue doesn’t but I don’t think they’ll impact 99% of lifters. For instance, AB uses these industrial bearings that simply cannot be slowed – but it’s not as though regular needle bearings have an issue with this anyway – at least in this application.

                  Of the three, the overall best is probably the Vulcan. It’s the strongest, it has the most aggressive knurl, and in your case it has the center knurl you want. It also has stainless steel sleeves which is a pretty nice touch in my opinion – no finish anywhere on that bar. It is however very expensive for a non-certified bar – and commonly out of stock.

                  Knurl aggressiveness is definitely Vulcan > Rogue > American Barbell. American Barbell can really turn that knurl up a couple notches long before it becomes potentially offensive, but in the case of the SS Pro the grip is still solid. The weaker knurl has more impact on their non-SS bars really. But if you really want the bar to bite back, that one will not.

                  I would say pick between the Vulcan and the American Barbell. Don’t not get center knurl if that’s what you want on a bar – makes no sense for you to settle on a purchase this expensive. That wouldn’t be “one and done”. Especially since the AB is actually cheaper than the Rogue right now.

                  Hope this is helpful.

                  • Will August 17, 2017, 11:05 am

                    Very helpful thank you!

                    I scrapped the rogue and compared the AB and Vulcan side by side like you said and decided the Vulcan was worth the extra cash. Some of the points you made such as being better for a competitive environment, more aggressive knurling, much stronger steel, and just being a better overall bar really swayed me. Plus the one area the AB is “better” being the bearings which you say doesn’t really apply to weightlifting, seems more of a cool factor to me. Not knocking the AB, it’s definitely #2, I just think the Vulcan is the better bar – and for nearly 200$ more it should be!

                    I suppose I could make the same argument and say why not 200$ more and go with something even shinier! Haha.

                    Really though thanks a lot man. You seem to really know your stuff so I appreciate the help since I’m just getting into the garage gym thing. I had never even heard of a lot of great brands like Vulcan or Ironmaster for example before I came across your site.

                    • jburgeson August 17, 2017, 11:13 am

                      Yeah absolutely, my pleasure. I hope the wait isn’t too long on getting that Vulcan restocked.

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