A Comprehensive Guide to Fidget Spinner BearingsXtensions Of Me
The fidget spinner boom is totally unprecedented and it’s been mindboggling to see a previously non-existent toy become a worldwide sensation within the space of a few months. It’s helped to get many entrepreneurs onto the business scene and for those who used to make bearings for other purposes, such as skateboarding, it’s been a dream come true.
Without a quality bearing though, you’re going to be left wanting with your fidget spinner. Thankfully, our guide is going to get you informed, so that you know what you’re looking for when you go to buy a fidget spinner.
What is a fidget spinner bearing?
Bearings were originally made for skateboards and roller-skating before fidget spinners came about, connecting the axle to the wheel. But now, bearings are the crucial part in ensuring that a fidget spinner is a success.
The bearing is made up of a big ring and a small ring, which encase ball-bearings – different bearings have more or fewer balls. The ball bearings race around in a racer and are held at various points by the cage.
All bearings will have the features specified above, but some will also have shielding, which has its upsides and downsides.
Bearings with no shielding are ideal at first because there’s nothing on the bearing that can slow the balls down, therefore helping to achieve fast and long spins. However, the exposure of an unshielded bearing means that it gets dirtier more quickly as particles and lint sneak in, adversely affecting spin time, meaning you’ll have to clean it more regularly.
Shielding, therefore, helps to keep your fidget spinner bearing in better condition. The best fidget spinner bearings will let you remove the shielding so that you can keep it on when the spinner is not in use and take it off when you’re using it to enhance long-term performance. Not all shielded bearings have this removable feature though, so check to see that the product has “ZZ” in its description before you buy.
While fully sealed bearings sound good in principle as they prevent dirt from getting in, the bad news is that these bearings are often fully-greased when you buy, and since you can’t get in, there’s no way of cleaning them out. If you never plan on carrying out maintenance on your spinner, though, they might be for you.
The ball bearings roll between the rings, leaving the rings to move on their own. It’s this process which allows the fidget spin to spin.
There are a number of different bearings out there that you can use with your fidget spinners. The most common ones available are R188 and 608 bearings, but we’re also starting to see more 606 bearings come on to the market. Each have their advantages and disadvantages and we’re going to assess those below. Furthermore, we’ll show you which bearings some of the most prominent fidget spinners use.
Which bearing is best?
The popular consensus is that the R188 bearing is superior to all others, but that only applies if you’re seeking long spin times. Why does the R188 offer better spin times than the others? The dimensions play a big role, with the R188 diameter almost 10mm smaller than the 608, measuring just 12.7mm. With fidget spinners typically being small- as many people want them as every day carry (EDC) items – the smaller bearings are preferable as this allows the body of the spinner to be maximized, without the spinner being oversized. Small bearings and more mass are conducive to longer spin times. The R188 bearings are sold in thicknesses of 1/8 inch and 3/16 inch.
The balls in the R188 bearings are smaller than those in the 608 bearings and therefore the friction and resistance when the balls go along the races is much less. Hence, the spin time will be longer than that with a 608.
However, if R188 bearings were without fault, then we wouldn’t see any other bearings. So what’s not quite up to scratch with the R188? As you may know, cleaning bearings can be very difficult, and the smaller set-up of the R188 makes it even harder to clean than normal. Moreover, because the bearing is smaller, the likelihood of it wobbling is higher. 608 bearings are more stable and subsequently the spin quality is generally better, even if it isn’t as long – those who like to fidget a lot will probably go for a 608 bearing. R188 bearings are also usually more expensive.
How to convert a 608 bearing into an R188
The good news about 608 bearings is that with a bit of nous, they can be converted into R188 bearings. Some companies have developed 608 to R188 adapters which are, essentially, R188 bearings with a little body so that they can snugly fit into a 608-designed fidget spinner. This is awesome as it doesn’t take anything away from the look of your spinner, nor will it affect spin times.
In addition to being able to use both 608 and R188 spinners with 608 spinners, the adapters also allow for easy removal of the R188 bearing, which in turn makes it a little easier to clean. The bearing typically twists off, either to be cleaned or to be replaced by a new one. This ensures that you can have a fidget spinner which spins at optimum performance all of the time.
A few of the 608 adapters on the market
Let’s consider a few of the 608 bearing adapters that are currently on the market.
One of the best-selling adapters is the #Revcore 608 to 188 bearing core. This one is popular because the bearing can be detached quickly and because it is compatible with a variety of buttons.
The Neo Drive 608 Bearing Adapter System is a pack which comes with the spinner and a 608 to R188 adapter. This spinner uses the nifty cross-slot design in the threaded lid, which lets you remove and reinsert the bearing with a coin in just a few seconds.
Also liked is the Kong 3-in-1 Fidget Spinner, a product sold in a package, with the fidget spinner itself, a 608 bearing and an adapted 608 to R188 bearing. Furthermore, the Kong 3-in-1 uses a quality R188 bearing in the 10-ball bearing. You can get the whole set for just $19.99 which really does strike as a bargain.
If your bearings are lubricated, then spin time is going to be drastically reduced, so it’s imperative that you clean them thoroughly before use. We also advise staying away from bearings with rubber seals, as the additional friction is detrimental to spin time. Buying a well-shielded bearing is also a good idea as the extra protection will limit the amount of dirt that gets into the spinner.
Here is a more in-depth look at the pros and cons of each type of bearing.
Full ceramic bearings
Full ceramic bearings are bearings where everything – the races, the cage and the bearings – are all made out of ceramic. The lighter ceramic, which also happens to be less prone to resistance, is great in getting the longer spin times. Also importantly, ceramic bearings won’t be lubricated when you get them so won’t require cleaning.
Ceramic bearings are, however, rather expensive which is why not everybody uses them. There’s also a couple of different types of ceramic that can be used – zirconium dioxide and silicon nitride.
In a sentence: Ceramic bearings are great for enhancing spin times and come ready for use straight away, they’re just pricier than the rest.
Steel bearings tend to be much cheaper than ceramic bearings, yet they still provide a good spinning experience. Here, the races, cage and balls are all made of steel. Unfortunately, many tend to come pre-lubricated so will need to be given a clean if you want to extract the most out of your finger spinner. The bearings tend to come pre-lubricated because they haven’t been manufactured for fidget spinning, but for products like skateboards.
In a sentence: Steel bearings are ideal as they’re both cheap and easily modified – as long as there’s no permanent shielding – to help promote longer spins.
Ceramic hybrid bearings
Ceramic hybrid bearings combine the best qualities of the steel and ceramic bearings into one ultimate bearing. The races are made out of stainless steel to limit friction as much as possible, while the cage and balls are made of ceramic. The lack of resistance in a ceramic hybrid spinners helps to produce extraordinarily long spin times.
In addition, ceramic hybrid bearings also break in over time as the ceramic balls wear into the racer and create an ideal line to race around.
In a sentence: Ceramic hybrid bearings are specially designed for fidget spinners and therefore the best that you can buy – and they’ll only improve with use.
Maintaining your fidget spinner bearing
Because of the other primary uses that bearings have had before, not all of the bearings you buy will be in shape for fidget spinner use when you get them, so you’ll need to give them a clean. They also get dirty over time too, so if you use your fidget spinner a lot, then you’re going to have to clean it regardless.
To help remove any lubrication or grease present when you first get your spinner, apply a strong solvent such as rubbing alcohol to oust it. This won’t take long at all and will have an astonishing impact.
You’ll need to be a little careful about which solvent you use as you wouldn’t want to erode any of the bearing, so opt for something mentioned, such as acetone. Wearing gloves is advised if using acetone so it doesn’t get on your skin. Totally detach the bearing from the fidget spinner when you go to clean it so the solvent doesn’t erode any of the spinner itself.
Step-by-step cleaning guide
Step 1: If your fidget spinner bearing comes with a shield, remove it. You can do this with a screwdriver or a dart.
Step 2: Immerse the bearing in your solvent (rubbing alcohol or acetone) and ensure that it gets all in and around the ball bearings. Spin it so the whole bearing is cleaned.
Step 3: It’s now time to dry your bearing. Take it out of the solvent and then blow some hot air onto it, perhaps using a hair dryer. The solvent will naturally evaporate too so this should take just seconds.
Step 4: If your bearing came with shielding then re-attach it.
Fidget spinner bearings with metal (steel and ceramic hybrid bearings) may end up rusting over time, which will significantly lower spin times. This can be countered by soaking the bearing in vinegar and then repeating the cleaning process stated above.
What fidget spinner bearing should I buy?
Each of the three types have their pros and cons. It’s just a case of applying those to your situation.
Obviously, each bearing is ideal for somebody otherwise it wouldn’t exist. A steel bearing is perfect for those who are on a budget and aren’t so bothered about quietness or spin times. If money is no object then why not go all the way and buy a ceramic spinner which will bring those extra minutes. And a ceramic hybrid is great for those somewhere in the middle, and if you don’t mind having to get rid of the grease or lubrication that it may come with.
The best fidget spinner bearings
Here are the best 608, R188 and 606 bearings currently available on the internet.