Vulcan Strength, as I've mentioned before, is perennially underrated in the gym equipment space.
They make some of my favorite gear, including my #1 pick for a power bar under $350.
Recently they've launched their new urethane bumper plates, and overall I'm very impressed.
As urethane continues to become more and more popular, it's nice to see some additional options out there, because let's face it… urethane isn't the cheapest.
Thankfully Vulcan has introduced a urethane bumper plate that is very compelling on the price front. Not to mention, they perform well and they look amazing.
In this review, I'll take you through everything you need to know about these plates as well as how they stack up with some of the other urethane offerings.
Let's do this…
- Vulcan Urethane Bumper Plates Overview
- Overall Construction
- Plate Thickness
- Pros & Cons
- Full Rating
These Vulcan bumper plates are some of the most beautiful plates I've ever laid my eyes on. I absolutely love the inset, contrast lettering, and the colors are extremely vibrant. They perform very well, they're the thinnest urethane bumper plates I've seen, and they're priced right.
The specs are consistent with IWF standards and the materials are noticeably high quality. The hole diameter provides for the tightest fit I've personally seen on a bumper plate.
Check the full spec list below:
Diameter: 450mm – consistent with IWF standards
Weight: 10LB, 25LB, 35LB, 45LB, 55LB
Thickness: 10LB – 0.70″; 25LB – 1.49″; 35LB – 1.69″; 45LB – 1.90″; 55LB – 2.11″
Durometer Rating: 90 (very low bounce)
Center Hub: Hard chrome, 5.51″ in width.
Collar Opening: 50.4mm (1.98″)
Color: 10LB – black; 25LB – green; 35LB – yellow; 45LB – blue; 55LB – red
Flanges: Inner and outer for protection and easier grip
Weight Tolerance: +/- 1%
The Vulcan urethane bumper plates are built with a solid one-piece construction, and they offer a smooth hard chrome steel center hub. The insert measures 140mm and it has a hole diameter of 50.4mm, which is consistent with other urethane offerings, as well as the IWF. This insert is also one piece, and it's smooth on both sides. This means, unlike a rubber competition plate, that you won't have to worry about tightening any locking bolts over time.
I greatly prefer the smooth look over the traditional urethane hubs that Rogue, Intek, and Titan Fitness use. Vulcan Strength, American Barbell, and Hammer Strength use this sexier hub style, and I greatly prefer it. Surrounding the center hub and the edge borders are two raised flanges that assist in preventing metal-on-metal contact. They also make it easier to grip the plate, although I will add these are not the easiest plates to maneuver when laying flat.
As mentioned, the hole diameter is very tight. Perhaps the tightest I've ever used. I tend to think this may benefit the health of the bar after repeated drops, but I do wonder if this will lead to any cosmetic issues on the sleeve.
Generally speaking, I think there's a bit of a misconception out there that all of these urethane plates are made in the same factory. While there may be one or two out there that share a common manufacturer or mold, from what I've gathered, this is not commonplace in the urethane world. The Vulcan urethane plates are clearly unique in that they offer inset lettering and a single number design (i.e. the weight is mentioned once at the bottom, not twice on the sides). American Barbell, as another example, offers one centered seam around the plate, whereas most others offer two seams adjacent to the edges. This further demonstrates that it's highly unlikely all of these are built in the same factory.
When you buy a premium plate, such as these Vulcan bumper plates, you expect a high-level calibration to ensure accuracy in weight. Rest assured, these plates are very accurate. I weighed each of these plates, and all were within the stated 1% with exception to the 10lb plates, which were slightly outside of the range. Personally, this isn't a big deal to me because I don't use 10 lb bumpers – I stick to change plates that are traditionally more durable.
Note: do not drop a barbell with only 10 lb bumpers loaded. They will warp very quickly. This goes for any 10 lb bumper plate.
As you will see in these images, the remaining plates are very dialed in when it comes to accuracy to the stated weight.
We all want to lift a metric crap ton of weight. While most of us will never see our barbell sleeves absolutely maxed out to the ends, plate thickness does play an important role in how much can be loaded. To take it further, it can also play a factor in how the weight moves. 405 lbs of calibrated discs is going to feel different than 405 lbs of Hi-Temp bumpers because the weight is distributed differently across the bar due to the thickness.
As it relates to the Vulcan urethane plates, the thickness is quite good and it's also consistent. That is, each plate has the exact same thickness as its respective counterpart. That said, there are some very slight deviations from what is stated on the product site for the 55's, 45's, and 10's.
After measuring my Vulcan set, my findings were as follows:
- 55 lb plates: 2.11″ & 2.11″ (product site shows 53mm, or 2.09″)
- 45 lb plates: 1.90″ & 1.90″ (product site shows 48mm, or 1.89″)
- 35 lb plates: 1.69″ & 1.69″ (product site shows 43mm, or 1.69″)
- 25 lb plates: 1.49″ & 1.49″ (product site shows 38mm, or 1.49″)
- 10 lb plates: 0.70″ & 0.70″ (product site shows 18mm, or 0.71″)
Aside from the rather meaningless discrepancies, I'm extremely impressed with the overall thickness.
They are the thinnest urethane bumpers I've come across.
Take a look at this comparison chart. To compare apples-to-apples, I'm comparing the claimed thickness on the websites. Keep in mind, I have validated the Vulcan's as per above, which are largely in-line to the below figures.
I'm actually surprised to see such a big gap between Vulcan and the AB/Rogue urethane plates. Again, this isn't going to have a huge impact on performance, but major kudos to Vulcan for creating some of the thinnest bumper plates on the market.
Bumper plates can range in the amount of bounce they produce. On one end of the spectrum, you have Hi-Temps that have a lot of bounce. On the other end, you have competition bumper plates that produce a dead bounce. This bounce, measured by what is known as the shore durometer rating, is an important distinction when making a decision.
The shore rating uses a 0-100 scale – the higher the number, the harder the material and the ‘deader' the bounce. Hi-Temps measure around a 75 on the scale, where competition plates sit in the low-to-mid 90's. These Vulcan Strength urethane plates measure a 90 on the scale, which is excellent. Urethane, by the way, does typically have a slightly lower shore rating than dense rubber.
Compared to the several sets of competition rubber plates that I own, there is virtually no distinguishable difference in bounce.
One of the reasons why urethane plates have grown in popularity is that they are more durable than rubber.
Is this something that the average garage gym owner is ever going to notice? Probably not.
Is this something that a weightlifting facility will notice as they continue to drop weight thousands of times each month? Quite likely.
While Vulcan Strength hasn't explicitly stated a drop-test number, based on the overall construction, I'm confident these urethane plates are going to last years of abuse.
The process of creating a urethane plate has essentially been perfected since they were first attempted in the 1980's. I see little discernible difference between these and say, the American Barbell urethane bumpers, which have been drop tested over 50,000 times from 8.5 feet. The end result of those plates? They were dirty.
Without similar claims, it's hard to say the Vulcan urethane plates would match that, but I simply don't believe they would materially underperform the general urethane population.
Up to this point, urethane plates have been fairly similar in the looks department. Raised lettering, dual number call-outs, etc… Some, like American Barbell, offer a more subtle approach where the lettering is the same color as the plate. Others, like Rogue, offer a higher contrast look.
Nobody has done what Vulcan Strength has done with their urethane plates. These plates look so incredibly badass. When everyone else designed raised lettering, Vulcan designed inset lettering. When everyone else designed dual weight call-outs, Vulcan designed one. When nobody else added a logo, Vulcan added theirs. The gray lettering offers some contrast, but it's still subtle. It just looks amazing.
In terms of color, Vulcan did a great job. Color design is another distinct benefit of urethane because you can precisely color match to whatever your heart desires. That isn't possible with rubber plates. Vulcan's urethane plates are vibrant and beautifully colored. The 35 lb plates, unlike ANY others I've seen, are more like a highlighter yellow than a traditional yellow. This is the one change I would make, as I do think the highlighter look is a bit distracting and it looks almost out of place compared to the others. Then again, I never use 35 lb plates anyway, sooooo…
Overall, I can't say enough good things about how these plates look – they're simply awesome. Well done, Vulcan.
As mentioned above, the price on these Vulcan bumper plates is pretty darn good. Typically, urethane plates are the most expensive bumper plates given their advantages over rubber (durability, smell, color).
In terms of the price, the Vulcan urethane plates are priced fairly competitively with Rogue, well below American Barbell, and above Titan Fitness. They also include free shipping on sets to everywhere east of Colorado. If you're located west, shipping rates will range from $45-$75 depending on how much weight you buy.
Have a look at the table below, comparing the Vulcan urethane plates to other urethane offerings.
As you'll notice, the individual pairs of Vulcan plates are priced above the same at Rogue and Titan, but well below American Barbell. On the sets, however, Vulcan Strength offers nice savings compared to Rogue and huge savings compared to American Barbell. At a cost savings of only $90, I think the 340lb set of urethane Vulcan bumper plates makes a lot of sense compared to Titan given the reputation and quality of Vulcan's products.
All-in-all, these Vulcan bumper plates are priced exceptionally well for urethane plates.
- The overall construction of these plates is seemingly very good with a solid one-piece construction.
- Urethane is an extremely durable material – these plates are going to stand the test of time.
- Aesthetically, the plates are amazing. I love the inset lettering, I love the addition of the logo, and I love the minimalist weight call-out.
- The weight tolerance is very tight – they're all within the 1% threshold except for the 10lb bumpers, which are juuuuust outside.
- The profile of the plates is thinner than every other urethane plate I've seen, and they're even thinner than some competition bumpers.
- With a 90 durometer rating, the plates provide a nice, dead bounce that's ideal for all styles of lifting.
- Raised flanges on the outer part of the plate help for easier gripping.
- The pricing on the urethane Vulcan bumper plates is very nice compared to other urethane offerings.
- Urethane plates are more slippery than rubber plates. While the pebble texture does seem to help, they require a little more attention when moving.
- The 35 lb plate, aesthetically is a little odd with the highlighter yellow. It kinda sticks out compared to the others.
When it comes down to it, there just aren't many negative things to say about these Vulcan urethane plates. I'm very pleased with their performance, their aesthetics, and their value.
If you're in the market for urethane bumper plates, I'd give strong consideration to Vulcan Strength.
Bars used in this review:
If you have any questions on these plates or bumper plates in general, please leave a comment below. Likewise, if you own these plates and want to chime in with your own thoughts, please do so!
As always, I appreciate any feedback.
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The bar is loaded,