A urethane bowling ball serves a few purposes in today’s competitive bowling environment.
- Urethane balls offer new bowlers an affordable entry point for buying one’s first ball.
- These balls allow league and tournament bowlers the ability to “ball-down” from reactives in light or short oil or in burn conditions. Because urethane equipment hooks earlier and covers fewer boards than reactive equipment urethane balls provide exceptional control of one’s breakpoint.
- Urethane bowling balls typically offer both high-rev bowlers and slow speed bowlers an option for playing straighter lines to the pocket without resorting to polyester.
Modern Urethane vs Old School Urethane
These days you hear a lot of talk about old-school urethane vs modern urethane. You also hear terms like classic urethane or original urethane formulations.
Do you know the difference between it all?
Back in the 80’s urethane was the modern technology in bowling equipment. It offered bowlers who had previously used rubber in the 50’s and 60’s and then polyester equipment in the 70’s a new option for hooking the ball more than ever before.
Most urethane balls produced in the 80’s were made from pure polyurethane formulations. These covers were wrapped around pancake weight blocks and they hooked as much as the urethane shell would allow.
These days urethane balls are frequently blended with plastisizers and various resin additives that change the way they read the lane. Reactive resin balls, both solids and pearls, are made the same way. They are all urethane balls at the base layer and the proprietary mixtures of additives make them react the way they do.
Modern urethane balls typically include the same types of resins found in reactive balls but less in most cases so as to preserve that urethane style of ball motion. Balls like Hammer’s Purple Pearl Urethane or Motiv’s Covert Tank are examples of this.
Modern urethane balls are also now wrapped around high performance weight blocks which makes them all hook more than their counterparts from the 80’s and early 90’s.
The True Motion from Brunswick is a prime example. This ball uses the exact same urethane formulation as their original balls made in the 80’s. The difference is that the True Motion features the symmetrical Magnitude 035 core – the internal engine for a much bigger hook than their Rhino’s of the past.
The RotoGrip Hot Cell and the Black Widow Urethane are examples of this too expect they wrap their shells around high flaring asymmetrical balls which increases their hook potential and makes them feel a bit more like solid reactives than old-school urethane.
In the modern game of bowling urethane balls are frequently made for two different purposes:
- They are sold as entry level balls for new bowlers who are just learning the game.
- They are also frequently marketed to high caliber bowlers as an option for increased control of the breakpoint.
The best bowlers in the world tend to throw urethane equipment as a way of controlling the ball motion at the end of a pattern, in short oil conditions, or burn conditions to name just a few.
The equipment is also getting more complex than ever before despite being made largely from the same coverstock material that was used in the 80s.
Most brands since 2010 have made various types of urethane balls including reactive urethane, pearlized urethane, and classic urethane. The reactives and pearlized versions tend to include additives into the surface of the coverstock that allows the balls to hook either a little more than “old-school urethane” or a little later.
Many modern urethane balls also utilize modern cores that help the ball flare, turn over, increase continuation, and drive through the pocket better.
In my opinion this makes many of these balls look (and act) a lot like some of the weak reactive balls on the market.
Even less common these days are complete and total throwback balls. If you want a ball with a pure polyurthane cover like those used in the 80’s and a pancake weight block then your choices are slim.
The current Storm Mix and the retired Storm Polar Ice (2011) are close but I believe they are slightly different coverstock formulas that cause them to read a bit more although I can’t prove it.
In any event balls like these will have a very mild reaction to friction and will sail through oil – they will react unlike anything else on the market and can’t be duplicated without punching a 30 year old ball.
Now, with all of the said, let’s start comparing the current urethane balls being offered by the major bowling ball manufacturers today.
Looking for the Best Urethane Bowling Ball For Your Bag?
Aren’t We All? Let Me Give You My Opinion.
I’m going to assume that you’re looking to buy a urethane ball in the near future and that you want to know what current options are available to you… also, I’m sure you want to know what the difference is between all the urethane equipment on the market.
They’re all round aren’t they? What could possibly be different about them all?
In many cases it’s simply not clear to the casual bowler the difference between one ball and another but as you get better it becomes easier to identify the minute differences. It becomes easier to understand why one ball might be a better fit for your bag than another… even if they are all quite similar.
The bowling ball manufacturers also don’t always heavily market their newest urethane equipment either (compared to some of their premium reactive options) so there’s just not as much buzz to go by or information to review.
As a bowler I personally throw two-handed (with thumb) around 19 mph. I have a rev rate of about 500 rpms and my track is a full roll.
As a full roller I get a ton of ball surface contact to the boards with each throw – roughly 18-20 rings per shot – so urethane balls have a dominant place in my arsenal just as they do with many other high-rev pros.
Below you’ll find a list of all the urethane balls currently for sale plus a few more that may have been recently discontinued from all of the brands in the business.
I’ll do my best to not only list them below but compare them a bit so you can make a better informed decision on which one (or two) are right for you.
Lower on the page I’ve got a section where I have tried to list out some of the older urethane equipment that isn’t being produced any more that you may be able to find online, on eBay, at a local pro shop’s used ball rack, or at a random garage sale. If you want to jump to that section you can using this link.
Let’s first look at a quick and dirty list of all the current offerings from all of the bowling brands and then we’ll dive in to short reviews and comparisons of them.
The Big List of Current (2020) Urethane Bowling Balls
The balls and brands listed below are presented in no particular order. Click the link on any of them to jump straight to my comments on that particular ball.
- Brunswick True Motion
- Hammer Black Urethane
- Hammer Black Widow Urethane
- Hammer Purple Pearl Urethane
- Storm Pitch Black
- Storm Fever Pitch
- Storm Pitch Purple (Available Feb 2020)
- Storm Mix
- Motiv Covert Tank
- 900 Global Honey Badger Urethane
- 900 Global Badger Infused Pearl Urethane
- Lord Field Old School
- Legends (by Lane Masters) Iron Diamond Urethane
- Lane Masters Saver
- Pyramid Pathogen Plague Urethane
Brunswick True Motion
Released November of 2017 – This is the old 80s era urethane coverstock formulation wrapped around the modern Magnitude .035 core. This gives it the classic shape and reaction of urethane but with a stronger bite in the mid lane that allows the ball to cover more boards. The True Motion will read very early in true urethane fashion and will cover more boards due to it’s strong core.
Hammer Black Urethane
Released October of 2015 – Early and Smooth – A classic urethane ball motion with added continuation due to the dynamic LED Core. This ball will be similar to the True Motion because it’s based on the original urethane formulas of the 80’s and early 90’s without resin blends. The LED light bulb core is symmetrical and causes the shape of this ball to differ ever so slightly from the True Motion.
Hammer Purple Pearl Urethane
Released October of 2016 – This ball reads lanes slightly later than traditional urethane balls do due to extra pearl additives mixed into the coverstock. As a result you will see some mid-lane traction rather than early traction and a continuous backend arc. This ball has the same LED Core as the Hammer Black but the pearlized urethane cover is all that is needed to delay the read, further shape the hook, and cause it to cover slightly less boards that the Hammer Black.
Hammer Black Widow Urethane
Released December of 2017 – This is a dull surfaced ball that reads the lane early and flares a lot resulting in a urethane ball that actually has a fairly strong back end. In fact this is one of the strongest urethane balls on the market due to the Gasmask Asymmetric Core common to many high performance Hammer balls. This ball will flare more, will be more angular, and will hook more overall compared to traditional urethane balls like the True Motion or Hammer Black.
Storm Pitch Black
Released May of 2014 – This ball uses what they call a control solid urethane coverstock that is somewhat porous meaning it has to have some added resins in it making it a hybrid that closely resembles pure old-school urethane.
This ball uses a symmetric two-piece core that has a moderately low differential of .022 and moderately high RG of 2.57 (15-lbs). As you might expect it will flare minimally and want to go slightly longer despite the urethane-early-to-read shell.
Most people will find this ball reacts a lot like the new Hammer Black Urethane and hooks slightly less overall compared to the Brunswick True Motion which picks up earlier and coers more boards with it’s more dynamic core.
Storm Fever Pitch
Released February of 2019 – This is pearlized urethane that Storm calls PWR+CTRL Urethane. This obviously hybrid shell will push longer and have a more angular motion down-lane than urethane balls are typically known for.
The Fever Pitch IMO is an obvious alternative to the Hammer Purple Pearl. The thing that makes in interesting to me however is the lack of a core – they call it core-less. The flare potential and ball motion are all derived from the coverstock formulation much like that of a ball with a pancake weight block Like the Storm Mix.
Storm Pitch Purple
Released February of 2020 – This is a new blended/hybrid urethane ball with a shell called Rev-Control Urethane – it should be mildly porous like many modern urethane balls are.
This ball uses the same symmetric Capacitor core in the Pitch Black which has a 2.57 RG and a .022 Diff (15-lbs) and should flare minimally but the cover formulation is different as is the box finish.
The urethane formula is probably a lot like a very weak reactive ball because this ball will read about the same distance as the Pitch Black and despite low flare it should cover more boards later down lane. I have yet to see this ball in action but I suspect it will look and feel a bit like Hammer’s Black Widow urethane.
First Released July of 2013 – This ball comes in a variety of color combinations some of which are new, others of which have been discontinued.
This is a low flare potential pearl urethane ball using the 1st gen U1S urethane coverstock from the Ice product line.
It’s got a simple 3-piece core (pancake weight block). Many league bowlers use this as an alternative to the plastic spare ball while other bowlers use it for straighter angles to the pocket.
This ball is also a near carbon-copy of the older Storm Polar Ice which used the same U1S cover and the same pancake 3-piece core. The only real differences between the two are the colors and the logos.
In my opinion the Mix (and discontinued Polar Ice) look like the weakest urethane balls made today. They react a lot like the pearl urethane balls from the 80s, the old Brunswick Phantom from 1991 comes to mind.
Motiv Covert Tank
Released June of 2019 – This ball is advertised to be a next generation urethane that glides through the heads, flares more, and has more backend. The strong symmetrical core aids with drive making this ball feel almost nothing like old-school urethane.
900 Global Honey Badger Urethane
Released April of 2019
900 Global Badger Infused Pearl Urethane
Released July of 2019 – This ball is a pearlized urethane ball that is made of 70% pearlized reactive coverstock and 30% urethane coverstock making it feel like your standard urethane ball with some added length and a lot of flare potential.
Pyramid Pathogen Plague Urethane
Released March of 2018
Here are Some Recently Discontinued Urethane Balls You May Find Here and There
DV8 Tactic Control
Released in July of 2018 (Discontinued in late 2019) – Unlike the True Motion this urethane cover is a bit more engineered. It uses a less dynamic core and the cover includes additives that give it a pinch more length than the True Motion resulting in less overall hook and a touch of porosity.
900 Glabal Boo-Yah!
Released July of 2015 (Discontinued in late 2019) – This is a low track flare ball with a symmetrical core. It will roll early but won’t burn up in the heads.
Rotogrip Hot Cell
Released November of 2017 (Discontinued in Late 2019) – This is a solid urethane ball with a high-end asymmetrical core. It will flare more than the tamer options on the market.
Motiv Tank Rampage
Released May of 2017
Motiv Combat Tank
Released January of 2018
Balls With a Classic Urethane Ball Motion
From the above lists of in-production and recently discontinued balls lets look at the classic (old-school) urethane balls first. Each of these balls fits the description of a new urethane ball that rolls similar to those that were made 30 years ago in the 80s and 90s.
#1 – The Storm Pitch Black
Pearl Urethane Balls – Added Length
These balls are modified urethane coverstocks that let the ball push slightly further down lane before changing direction. In most cases these balls are slightly more angular and hook rough about the same, the difference is the shape. Not quite angular enough to be considered reactive but for urethane they turn the corner much more aggressively.
#1 – The Storm Pitch Blue
Below I’ve Listed a Ton of Older Discontinued Urethane Equipment Sorted by Manufacturer
Click the brand in this list to jump to that section and please note, I highly doubt I have made a comprehensive list. I’ve done my best to list out as much as possible but I’ve probably missed some random ball out there.
Old Brunswick Urethane Equipment
There are definitely a few additional urethane balls that Brunswick put out since the 80s but this is a good list of the discontinued balls that you might be more likely to come across on used racks.
- Brunswick Edge Red Urethane (1981)
- Brunswick Edge II Brown Urethane (1983)
- Brunswick Headhunter Urethane (1990s)
- Brunswick Twister (1990)
- Brunswick Phantom (1991)
- Brunswick Blue Rhino Pro Urethane (1992)
- Brunswick Blitz Black Urethane (1998)
- Brunswick Groove Urethane (2005)
- Brunswick Avalanche Urethane (2010)
- Brunswick Karma Urethane (2012)
- Brunswick Fanatic BTU (2016)
- Brunswick Fanatic BTU Pearl (2017)
- Brunswick Eclipse Reactive Urethane (xxxx)
Old Storm Urethane Equipment
- Storm Natural Pearl (2011)
- Storm Polar Ice (2012)
- Storm Super Natural (2013)
- Storm Pitch Blue (2016)
Old Motiv Urethane Equipment
- Tank (2013)
- Rebel Tank (2015)
Old Hammer Urethane Equipment
Hammer has a colorful past and is widely known as one of the finest makers of urethane bowling balls dating back to the original Black Hammer in the early 80’s.
I have a full page dedicated to the review and comparison of all the old Faball & Hammer urethane balls here.
Old Columbia 300 Urethane Equipment
- The Classic U2 (2012)
Old Lane Masters Urethane Equipment
Old Lord Field Urethane Equipment
- Burning Up
Old Seismic Urethane Equipment
- Desperado (2010)
- Desperado LE (2011)
Old 900 Global Urethane Equipment
- Shadow Ops (2018)