It’s important to remember, before we get into this, that bearings were around long before spinners. Bearings weren’t designed for use in fidget toys, it was quite the opposite. The first spinners were built to fulfill a function with materials that were readily available and close at hand. It is the evolution of the fidget spinner that has led to many a conversation about which bearing is best suited to the role.
Let’s first take a look at the general design of a bearing so we know what we’re talking about.
As you can see, the basic components of a bearing are the outer and inner ring with rolling balls in between. Most will also have a separator, or cage, holding the balls in place. So, with bearings being such simple constructions, what are the variables that make one bearing type different from the next?
Let’s look at the main distinguishing features of fidget spinner bearings being, size and material type.
I’m only going to mention the two main sizes here, being the R188 and the 608 bearing. If you’d like info on other bearings you can head here to see just how many sizes there are.
The fundamental difference between the 608 and the R188 is size. The 608 measures 8mm across the bore with an outside diameter of 22mm, while the R188 measures 6.35mm across the bore with an outside diameter of 12.7mm.
What’s the difference in performance? Well, the larger diameter of the 608 add some extra friction and also take away some room to add mass at the extremities of the spinner. It is this reason that most premium spinners are made with the smaller R188. Have a look at the top spinners coming onto the market now, at the peak of the fidget spinner’s evolution (such as the B2 and the Aventador) and you will find an R188 bearing at its core.
As for materials, you will find a few different combinations. There’s the steel/metal bearing which is, as you would expect, made entirely from steel/metal. These are the most common for fidgeting. The steel/metal bearing gives good spin times with great feel and flick-ability. You will also notice that these spinners ‘sing’ when you hold them close to your ear during high rev spin sessions.
Next you’ll find the full ceramic or hybrid ceramic bearing. The difference with the hybrid ceramic bearing is that it will only use ceramic for the rolling balls and not the cage or rings, which would normally be metal/steel. A ceramic or hybrid ceramic bearing is used when a pure long-spin is the goal. These bearings tend to be super quiet and provide very little feedback.
Now, most of these observations are subjective and many will swear by their favorite bearing and will choose their spinner purely by feel. After all, the purpose of a fidget spinner is to provide a personally satisfying experience, so it would make sense that we judge what we like based on feel.
If you’re a collector or hobbyist who likes loads on info to compliment your collection, head over to the FIDGET SPINNERS reddit page for copious amounts of fact, fiction and just plain fun conversations!