This is a quick review of the Vulcan Strength 1-Basic Safety Squat Bar (SSB); an affordable yet fully-functional alternative to pretty much every other safety squat bar on the market.
Being offered for the low price of $209, the Vulcan 1-Basic Safety Squat Bar sports a 700-lb max capacity, true 50 mm sleeves (no axle collars needed), single-piece [stitched] vinyl pad (meaning no rotating/sliding pads), and shipping is even included in the already low price.
Is it the fanciest safety squat bar on the market? At $209, of course it isn’t. Does it work? Of course it does!
Vulcan Safety Squat Bar 1-Basic – Specifications
- weight: 24 kg (approx 53-lbs)
- maximum capacity: 700-lbs
- length: 88″ (2235 mm)
- distance between sleeves: 63″
- loadable sleeve length: 12″
- camber position: 8″ and 45º off-center (relative to handle position)
- sleeve diameter: 50 mm (true Olympic size)
- handle spacing: 12″ (9¼ with pads equipped)
- one-piece vinyl pads *
- finish: black powder-coat
- handles ship unattached (threaded)
- warranty: 3-years on bar, 3 months on pads
- price: $209
* by one-piece I mean the pads are connected via some stitching. They are not actually a single, molded piece like you see on some safety squat bars. Even though this isn’t nearly as nice as a true, molded, one-piece pad, it’s still better than three individual pads; which I will discuss in more detail as I get into the review.
Vulcan 1-Basic SSB Review – Camber
As you no doubt already know, the safety squat bar is a cambered squat bar with handles. It’s designed to allow lifters with mobility issues in the shoulders, elbows, and/or wrists the opportunity to still squat, and with no pain. It’s also just an excellent squat bar for athletes with no injuries who just want another alternative to the squat, and one that does wonders for the lower back and the rest of the posterior chain, I should add.
The length and position of a safety squat bar’s cambers relative to the handles can make a big difference in how the bar feels during the lift. That is, where the weight is relative to your center of mass. It can also make a pretty big difference on how easy it is to get into position under the bar (I’ll explain this), but regardless of how any given safety squat bar is designed in terms of camber and handle positioning, a safety squat bar should always push the torso forward forcing the lifter to maintain and upright position throughout the lift. It should also be possible to completely let go of the handles without any risk of the bar falling off your back.
The Vulcan 1-Basic Safety Squat Bar has a fairly good drop in position from the shaft to the sleeves; about 8″; and the angle at which the handles are positioned relative to the sleeves really keeps the bar in position well (about 45º). This is different than most economy SSB’s, in that they tend to have the handles hanging from the shaft on the exact same plane as the camber and sleeves (look at the Titan SSB or Bells of Steel SSB to see what I mean.)
Now what Titan and B.o.S. are doing does work but as the weight gets up there you have to rotate the bar 45º (moving the weight upward) in your J-cups just to get into position for a lift off. It’s extra and unnecessary work, and it ends up putting more pressure on the shoulders. It’s not a huge deal one way or the other, but it is something to think about. Also, the Vulcan is still less costly than these other two basic safety squat bars, so there is that too.
Vulcan 1-Basic SSB Review – Handles
As I touched on in the specifications, the 1-Basic ships with the handles detached. They are threaded into the shaft by you when you receive the bar.
Packaging and shipping the Vulcan 1-Basic like this (rather than welding the handles to the shaft) reduces shipping costs. Even though the 1-Basic SSB has shipping embedded in the price, it still lowers the overall/total cost of the bar. That is to say, it would cost more than it already does if it was a welded bar, and this is intended to be an economical SSB, after all.
The only drawback to this build is that you’ll probably need to pick up some Loctite because the handles will rotate loose in your hands if you don’t lock them down somehow. Having to re-tighten over and over is annoying, obviously.
Vulcan 1-Basic SSB Review – Pads
The pads of the Vulcan Safety Squat Bar are similar to the round squat pads that you might recall seeing at the global gyms; those circular, foam pads that people use around the shaft of the bar when they don’t like the feeling of steel bar shaft on their back. There is a 12″ pad around the bar shaft, and two short versions around each handle for your shoulders.
These pads are simple, but they do work. Most of the time these pads are used on a safety squat bar, the pads are independent; three separate pads that can spin and slide around on the bar. With the Vulcan SSB, all three of these pads are stitched together, preventing them from moving around on the shaft and handles. It’s a nice, very cost-effective touch.
Are the pads comfortable? They’re fine, but not amazing. Some of the fancier SSBs like the Rogue SB-1 Safety Squat Bar have much nicer pads, but you’ll pay for that, of course.
Vulcan 1-Basic SSB Review – Sleeves
The sleeves of the Vulcan 1-Basic SSB have the advantage of being true Olympic sleeves. They are 50 mm in diameter rather than being the typical 1.91″ scheduled steel tubing that is found on most powder-coated specialty bars. What this means is that you don’t need to own special axle collars to use this bar.
The sleeves are welded to the shaft; they do not spin (nor do they need to on a SSB.) The welds that hold the sleeves to the shaft are also not at all pretty, but they are thick and very strong. The 1-Basic sleeves may not be much to look at up close, but the bar will last.
Vulcan 1-Basic SSB Review – Finish
The Vulcan 1-Basic Safety Squat Bar has a simple, black powder-coat finish. There’s really nothing special about the finish. It’s black, thick, and it’ll protect the bar shaft from oxidation.
It’s a fairly resilient finish everywhere but the sleeves. The loading of plates; especially steel plates; is going to wear away at the finish. I have only minor chipping at the very end of the sleeves so far, but I can definitely see it getting worse over the years. But hey, what bar with black, powder-coated sleeves doesn’t experience this.
Pros and Cons
- Extremely affordable safety squat bar; very competitively priced (especially when it is on sale.)
- Higher than average maximum weight capacity for such a low-priced safety squat bar.
- Stitching the pads together prevents them from sliding and/or rotating around the shaft and handles.
- The camber and the angle of the camber relative to the handles is in a really good spot. The bar stays in position on the shoulders/back with no effort in keeping it balanced or centered required.
- The rubber grips do not appear to slide off the handles. That is to say, they have never moved on me.
- The handles are threaded into the shaft upon delivery. This reduces the cost to ship the bar – or in the case of a bar with embedded shipping like this one, it reduces the overall cost of the bar.
- Fit-and-finish is meh. This is not the bar you buy if you care about the aesthetics of your safety squat bar. It’s functional, but it’s not the prettiest thing.
- The handles can loosen and turn in your hands. They’ll never actually come completely out since the threads are just so long and require over a dozen rotations, but loosening is still kind of annoying. That said, a little Loctite will fix this with no problem.
- Whether you lift in kilos or pounds, the total weight of the bar is not a round number.
Vulcan 1-Basic SSB Review – Summary
The Vulcan 1-Basic Safety Squat Bar is a very budget-friendly safety squat bar. There’s not much about it that’s special or unique, but it’s a solid design and it’s strong enough for 98% of squatters. It should also be within just about anybody’s budget at only $209.
Now I certainly wouldn’t recommend an economy SSB for a high-traffic commercial gym, or a powerlifting gym with a bunch of big squatters, but for the average garage gym owner just looking to get a no-frills safety squat bar that that can do the work at an affordable price, the Vulcan 1-Basic may be your bar. Again, it is not the most attractive safety squat bar around, but it works well and the price can’t be beat.
When it comes down to it, you know how much you can squat and what you’ll be expecting from your safety squat bar; both now and in the foreseeable future. You know whether the Vulcan 1-Basic is enough bar for you or not or if you need to spend a couple hundred more.