While urethane bowling balls have lost their dominance over the bowling ball market in recent years in favor of reactive resin bowling balls (and advancements in technology surrounding them), there is still definitely a place for urethane bowling balls on the bowling landscape. In fact, there are still plenty of players out there who prefer bowling balls with a urethane cover stock over anything else! It’s all about feel and results, and urethane bowling balls can definitely do the trick for the right bowlers.
Most pro shops will try to talk you into a reactive resin bowling ball for your strike ball, especially with all of the new variations which hit the market regularly. However, this article may be enough to make you a urethane bowling ball convert – especially if you have a bowling game which complements urethane bowling balls’ unique strengths and specifications.
What Are Urethane Bowling Balls?
By the late 1950s, plastic/polyester bowling balls had all but replaced rubber as the bowling ball of choice at bowling alleys around the world. However, plastic/polyester bowling balls have innate limitations which can deaden hook shots and leave intermediate and advanced bowlers wanting more out of the most important tool in their game arsenal.
Enter urethane bowling balls – born in the late 1970s to instant fanfare by bowlers who wanted much more hook potential out of their bowling balls. Urethane bowling balls provide a gradual, easy-to-control hook which lacks the sharpness and back-end violence of newer reactive resin bowling balls.
There are two types of urethane bowling balls on the market to choose from – urethane pearl bowling balls and urethane solid bowling balls. Urethane solid bowling balls create more overall surface friction than urethane pearl bowling balls, thus they tend to hook sooner.
Some bowlers like this in the overall scheme of their shot, but the trade-off is that urethane solid bowling balls usually carry less innate energy into the pins than urethane pearl bowling balls because of the early energy expenditure. So, pearl urethane bowling balls will usually hit the pins with more overall oomph that solid urethane bowling balls thrown with the same hook shot.
Pearl urethane bowling balls carry a higher average price point than solid urethane bowling balls, but you can definitely find both at a reasonably similar price point when you’re approaching the high end of the quality spectrum. Neither of them are going to massive investments on the level of the most expensive reactive resin bowling balls, which is music to many a budget bowler’s ears.
The Difference Between Urethane And Reactive Resin Bowling Balls
Urethane bowling balls may lack the overall hook sharpness, hook variance, and back-end reaction of reactive resin bowling balls. However, they make up for it in valuable predictability – especially on dry lanes. Urethane bowling balls have much more lane length than reactive resin bowling balls on dry lanes, and such control and length is crucial in such conditions
A nonporous urethane cover stock can create a predictable and repeatable path to the pins in any oil condition too! If you’re new to hooking or can’t find your mark with the variance in your hook shot with a reactive resin bowling ball, urethane bowling balls could very well be your answer.
Reactive resin bowling balls are built to react to oil conditions by absorbing oil and working with oil patterns to create nuanced shot patterns. Urethane bowling balls are built to cut through oil, doing their own thing and giving the bowler much more control over the ball’s path and overall destination.
Reactivity can do a lot of great things for the right bowler, but that’s just the same for what urethane bowling balls’ predictability can provide for a bowler who either needs more control or can get more out of a more natural, predictable hook shot.
It’s all based on preference and feel, no better and no worse. Also, remember this – urethane bowling balls are the base for almost all reactive resin bowling balls, so there’s definitely a winning method to the urethane bowling ball’s madness.
6 Of The Best Urethane Bowling Balls
- This bowling ball ships undrilled with no holes unless you add Drilling services; Hammer, as fatal, was the leader in the bowling industry for urethane technology in the 1980's
- Hammer is taking that technology and merging it with the iconic Black widow bowling ball line
- The Hammer Black widow urethane takes the successful gas mask core and wraps it with a urethane Cover stock
- This combination offers the hook of the Black widow with the predictability and consistency of urethane; this bowling ball is carbon fiber Infused
- Carbon fiber is one of the toughest materials on earth; Hammer decided to add this material to the inner core of this ball for added strength and durability
The Hammer Black Widow’s many iterations are among the most trusted and well-reviewed bowling balls in any online marketplace you can think of. The Hammer Black Widow urethane bowling ball is no different – mixing Hammer’s trademark hitting power with a durable urethane cover stock that turns obvious power into repeatable, desired results.
- Hammer’s trademark asymmetric Gas Mask core ensures maximum energy upon pin impact, doesn’t displace needed oomph before the ball hits the pins.
- Comes with an industry-leading 3 year warranty which ensures that your investment is both worthwhile and lasts a long time.
- Extremely durable urethane cover stock counterbalances the asymmetric core to splendid effect, provides a unique mixture of lane length and back-end power.
- Beginners may struggle with the asymmetric core’s hook potential, might find it a bit too touchy when attempting to learn and fine-tune a hook shot.
- Cover stock is more aggressive than a traditional urethane cover stock, so be forewarned if you’re looking for something more predictable overall.
- Control Solid Urethane Coverstock
- Capacitor Core
- 1000-Grit Pad Factory Finish
Are their wooden lanes around your neck of the woods? Are you playing most in drier lane conditions? If you answered yes to either of these, you may have a friend in the Storm Pitch Black urethane bowling ball. It’s a fantastic throwback to the best urethane bowling balls of the past, but its Capacitor symmetric core provides an updated hitting power and energy-storing capability.
- Its Control Solid Urethane cover stock provides the ultimate in lane length and predictability on dry lanes and wooden lanes. You’ll stay on the lane longer and with more power.
- Capacitor core technology regulates your ball’s energy expenditure and flare potential, giving you a massive energy burst upon pin impact.
- Fantastic price point for all the bells and the whistles of one of the more effective dry lane bowling balls on the market.
- Medium and heavy oil lane conditions cause major problems for this ball, especially when it comes to hook potential. Beware.
- Can be a little bit ornery even used as a spare ball in oil conditions that are not ideal. It’s pretty much a dry lane and wooden lane special.
- Cover stock: U1S Pearl Urethane
- Core: Traditional 3-piece
- Factory Finish: 3500-grit Polished
- Reaction: Low
- Recommended Lane Condition: Light
You know what you’re getting with the Storm Mix urethane bowling ball – a fantastically predictable urethane wonder which combines a traditional symmetric 3-piece core and a beyond durable urethane cover stock for repeatable, powerful results. It’s a dry lane powerhouse than can also do wonders as a spare ball in any lane conditions.
- The first-generation U1S urethane cover stock is the strongest and most wear-resistant cover stock in Storm’s vast bowling ball arsenal.
- A fantastic straight spare ball option for advanced bowlers who are looking for undeniable predictability to pick up spares with ease.
- Can generate an easy, solid hook with the right bowler putting it into motion.
- The Storm Mix is a fantastic dry lane ball, but its hook potential gets submerged and somewhat muted in medium to heavy oil conditions.
- It’s a fine strike ball for beginning bowlers and intermediate bowlers, but it can leave advanced bowlers wanting more in terms of back-end reaction and pin carry.
- Urethane Pearl cover stock
- Symmetrical LED core
- 500/1000/2000 Abralon
Looking for a urethane bowling ball with a stronger back-end reaction and finish than most? The Hammer Purple Pearl urethane bowling ball is the right ball for you! While most urethane bowling balls are usually much more effective on dry lanes, this one is actually the reverse. It gives you fantastic hook potential on medium to heavy oil lanes with a similar power to a reactive resin bowling ball.
- Provides a smooth arc hook shot which reacts similarly to a reactive resin bowling ball in heavier oil conditions. Perfect for taming an unwieldy hook shot.
- LED core adds a dash of predictability which sacrifices hook sharpness for a solid, controllable hook that still has a fantastic finish.
- The back-end reaction on this ball is at the top of the line for all urethane bowling balls. The right bowler and the right throw can create some amazing pin trajectories!
- The back-end reaction may be way too strong for beginning and intermediate bowlers. It can be really tough to tame if you’re not used to it.
- While the ball is good for dry lanes, it’s not a dry-lane powerhouse like other balls on this list. It’s better in medium conditions than most, but not as effective on dry lanes as others.
- Cover stock: PWR+CTRL Pearl Urethane
- Weight Block: Tour Block
- Factory Finish: 2000 Grit Abalone
- Color: Orange Pearl
- Flare Potential: 3-4 inches
The Storm Fever Pitch urethane bowling ball is an upgraded version of other Storm Pitch bowling balls, offering a much more aggressive cover stock which creates a more angular, violent pin impact. It’s revolutionary new cover stock technology is also extremely durable, offering a fantastic light oil hook potential and great straight-line power elsewhere.
- PWR+CTRL cover stock provides the length of a normal urethane cover stock, but it adds a more powerful and distinct back-end flourish which increases pin violence and carry.
- Tour block symmetric core adds fantastic predictability and lane length, counterbalancing the more aggressively nuanced cover stock to maximum efficacy.
- A great mid-performance ball and introduction to urethane bowling balls for those who have been skeptical about their perceived limitations in the past.
- Its stronger back-end motion can be a little daunting for beginners who are looking for a more gradual, controllable hook motion.
- It loses some of its hook potential and pin violence in heavy oil conditions, deadening to a much more muted version of itself.
- Explosion Potential; Because sometimes tradition needs an upgrade
- Core: Often imitated but never duplicated, the Nucleus Core dates all the way back to the original Cell and it has been a fan favorite ever since
- Even though it is asymmetrical, it has the continuous roll and motion of a symmetrical ball no matter how it is drilled
- Cover: The Brand Spanking New Radioactive Solid Urethane cover will produce the truest read we have ever seen at Roto Grip. No additives, no mixtures, just pure urethane baby
You want the apex of urethane bowling ball hitting power? The Roto-Grip Hot Cell urethane bowling ball has you covered. Its revered Nucleus core technology stores up energy in a way that other bowling balls simply don’t, releasing upon pin impact in a way that creates pin trajectories completely unique to a urethane bowling ball.
- Radioactive Solid urethane cover stock provides the most aggressive and reactive urethane cover stock we’ve ever played with, portending fantastic hook potential and violence.
- Upgraded technology from the beloved Roto-Grip Cell series takes all of the best from its predecessor and moves it forward into a high-performance urethane bowling ball wonder.
- Asymmetrical Nucleus core has fantastic hook potential, but it also offers more lane length and controllable tracking than most asymmetrical cores.
- Cover stock is way too aggressive for beginners, especially on dry lanes. It can be a beast to handle if you’re not used to such technology.
- Price point can be a bit prohibitive for those looking for a budget urethane bowling ball option.
Do Urethane Bowling Balls Absorb Oil?
Urethane bowling balls are much less porous than the newest reactive resin and particle bowling balls on the market. Thus, urethane bowling balls stay on the lane longer and with a more controlled pattern because they are not built to absorb lane oil.
This decreases their overall reactivity to lane conditions, as reactive resin bowling balls absorb oil as a means of creating friction and reacting to different lane environments. This makes urethane bowling balls much better as a whole on dry lanes, but can prove problematic for them when the oil density gets much more apparent.
Urethane bowling balls may not have the market share they used to, but that doesn’t mean they’re outdated. In fact, there are plenty of bowlers out there who’d benefit from a urethane bowling ball over a reactive resin bowling ball as their strike ball of choice.
And, there are plenty of bowling lanes (and lane conditions) out there where a urethane bowling ball can do much more overall damage than their reactive resin counterparts. Urethane bowling balls are a classic for a reason. For the right bowler in the right place, they are one of the best investments you can make in your game.