Crux Prime versus PhysiX - Internal Review

The Crux Prime delivers the power and flare the line is known for, but has a few surprises up its sleeve to offer a bit more control.


The PhysiX and the Crux Prime have more in common than one might think - performance being one of the lesser accords. Let's take a trip down Memory Lane and see how their genealogy relates, shall we?

The PhysiX features a coverstock that has never been introduced to the United States until now, and a core that the world has yet to see: the Atomic Core. At first glance, the Atomic Core automatically connects itself to the Storm brand. There’s no doubt where this shape came from! But it’s not all pizzazz. The inlets surrounding the classic Oval Bolt actually do serve a purpose. They form very large RG bands the ball doesn’t want to deviate away from as its rolling towards the pins. This creates a ball motion that is tough for 35 pounds worth of bowling pins to exact their will upon.

Review: Hank Boomershine on the Atomic Core

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBl-XCLgW6s&t=84s

NRG Hybrid has never been put on a catalogue featured, domestically released ball. So it’s fitting that it is featured on a shape that very well may be the most iconic design to ever leave Brigham City, Utah.

We’ll admit, behind the scenes, we were indecisive as to what cover we were going to wrap the Atomic Core in when it was time to unveil it to the public. I mean, when you have so many good ones at your disposal, it makes it kind of hard to decide! We don't develop balls just to develop balls; each one has a specific purpose with a design intent. So during the time of development, Bowl Expo 2018 was just around the corner in Las Vegas, Nevada. We decided to take the top three coverstock contenders that could potentially marry with the Atomic Core and let the public decide this ball’s fate. Keeping the core a secret, NRG Hybrid was the eventual winner based on the feedback we received from the public testing and the PhysiX became so. What were the other two test covers, you ask? One was R2S and the other that came in second place by photo finish is what we refer to as “SPEC” today. Believe me when I say we are always testing experimental shapes and fascinating covers here at the bowling ball factory. The Catalyst Core was a design that the masses were demanding to be brought back and what better way to do it than with an all-new cover!

The vertical cavity that’s nestled in the center mass of the Catalyst shape acts as a deliberately-placed balance hole which is very user-friendly when you’re able to drill into it and not affect its dimensions too much.

The Crux Prime has all the ingredients of a dangerous weapon from the baseline.

The chemistry behind SPEC is enough to warrant its own full-length seminar, so we won’t dive too hard into the details here. But it is important to note that this material grips the lane unlike anything that has ever left the Utah plant. In a nutshell, the innate Ra of SPEC is slightly higher than our other primary coverstocks that don’t use an ancillary additive or enhancer. Chemical friction, surface roughness, and COF’s are commonalities in the bowling game we know today. But there is another component to bowling ball development and performance that ties in directly to the endless tapestry that is ball motion: chemical tackiness. For instance, a pearl/polished ball has a very high dry lane coefficient of friction. A ball like this is extremely tacky when it encounters arid lane material. Put this ball on oil, and its COF becomes almost nil. SPEC material, however, creates virtually the same adherence on dry lane material at any given surface. This extra “cling” the ball produces gives the wielder added bearing and control especially when needing to get the ball to shape properly after moving in deep with heftier launch angles. The result is sustained entry angle into the pins and prevention of the ball migrating forward too quickly (rolling out). For lack of a better term, this “cohesion factor” the Crux Prime creates when it touches the lane largely makes up for the decline in surface profile which results in a minimal loss in backend reaction over time.


Now that these balls have names and directions, it’s time to dive into the nitty-gritty an expose as many details as we can about the Crux Prime and PhysiX.



BOWLER STATS:

Launch Speed: 18mph

RPM: 490

Tilt:

Rotation: 45°

PAP: 5” straight over

Layout Used for Test: 5 x 3 x 2 (35° x 5 x 30°)

Surface Used on Both Balls: 3000-grit Abralon

Oil Pattern: Beaten Path, 41’, 1:4.04, 24.25 mL

The layout chosen for these two balls was 5x3x2. As always, Storm’s VLS system is an original conception and is the only layout system in the industry that takes the shape of the weight block into account.

 

THE TEST:

For this study, I decided to use Kegel's 4:1 Beaten Path. I knew this pattern would showcase the differences between these two balls exceptionally well. I tossed 30 shots on SPECTO with each ball, averaged the results, and created composite motion paths for each along with a comparison chart utilizing the hard data SPECTO provided. Both balls were resurfaced prior to the test using a Storm Surface Factory machine with fresh Abralon pads for each to achieve the most consistent finish possible.

 

THE RESULTS:

The Crux Prime breathes new life into the Premier line with the never-before-seen SPEC coverstock. There were some palpable differences between the Crux Prime and the PhysiX that challenges the conventional way we think some of these chemical formulas behave. I found this the case both objectively and subjectively. Let's refer to the former, shown below.

Solids are widely accepted as balls that require heavier volumes to perform as intended, comparatively to pearls and hybrids. The Crux Prime naturally settled me about 5 boards deeper than the PhysiX, but the interesting part was what happened on the backend. At over a degree more entry angle at the point of impact, the Crux Prime left me astonished time and again. This really came in handy when I started to see the ball checking a little early and I crept inside to find my easy float through the fronts once again. This doesn't make the PhysiX a bad ball or under-performer by any means, there's a time a place for each and every ball. NRG Hybrid has an innate chemical friction built into its substructure thanks to the Nano additive we utilize in it. This makes the ball want to lose its axis rotation fairly quickly (higher rev rates only amplify this) so the PhysiX set down point was always just outside the Crux Prime for me. With its earlier breakpoint, the PhysiX at 1000 or 2000-grit would be enough to tackle the heaviest of the heavy that I would ever see here in Northern Utah.

 

The chemical adhesion (mentioned earlier) the Crux Prime creates to the lane is observable and very much welcomed. Its able to maintain its mid-lane read with no shortfall of entry angle. We all look for that "unicorn" reaction where the ball is clean through the fronts, strong mid-lane, great continuation through the deck, and hits like a truck. If you are reading this and you've found the prodigal ball that does it all, please drop me a line because I will pay dearly for it. If there was ever a ball I've rolled that does it all and then some, this is as close to that fabled reaction I've ever seen. The tackiness it seemed to produce when it encountered dry lane kept the ball from jerking too hard off the spot. "Controllable angle" sounds like an oxymoron, but the Crux Prime provides it with ease. I can't wait to see how this coverstock performs on future cores - symmetrical and asymmetrical alike.

 

CONCLUSION:

True to its heritage, the Crux Prime continues to impress me every time I pick it up. When I needed to be aggressive and step in to sling the ball farther out, I could tap into the Catalyst Core's power potential with as little effort as moving up 6" on the approach. I also liked the response of the cover when I was looking for friction up front. I felt accurate with the Crux Prime in my hands, and I was confident from multiple angles. Overall maneuverability was excellent, which made it very easy to get my swing into position and free up my grip. The out of box 2000-grit surface demands a pretty slick environment to thrive on, so taking it up to 3000-grit for this test was a good decision as I see myself being able to use it on a wider variety of conditions and in different bowling centers. There was enough of a difference between the PhysiX and Crux Prime for me that I would justify reserving a spot for each in my bag when traveling to future tournaments.

Highlights from the test:

 Storm has a full-time tech representative ready to answer any questions you have about the Crux Prime or any other Storm product. Please call (800) 369-4402 (Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm MST) or send an email to tech@stormbowling.com (anytime).


International Balls - The Truth

Overseas balls have acquired a cult following in recent years. But what makes them so special? They’re round just like any other ball. They can knock down ten pins just as effectively as any other Storm piece. Slightly different names and colors, though. And in Storm’s case, they smell pretty good most of the time. The number of calls and emails we receive asking for more info or how to obtain these international releases is staggering. To interpret their surge in popularity we need to take a closer look at just what they are and what they mean to the rest of the world.

We techies commonly refer to overseas balls as “private labels” or “OEMs” (original equipment manufacturer) – balls that are produced by one company (Storm) but are marketed by another company (overseas distributors).

The international market is significantly different than the US market for several reasons. The primary reasons are differences in customs, sales, and etiquette. For example, in the United States, if a bowler does well with a particular type of ball, it’s not uncommon to find several of the same balls in a league, or even on the same ball return rack. Word of mouth travels fast where we are. International etiquette is significantly different. For example, if one bowler is doing well in a league or tournament with a particular ball, it is bad form to copy that bowler and buy the same ball. As such, if you are the bowler with the ball, you have an advantage. But if you are the bowler without the ball, you are at a disadvantage. I have experienced this firsthand in my travels all across Japan. Therefore, many of our international balls are almost identical to the standard US release with very small variations, if any. The primary differences are simply the colors, logos, and surface finishes. Otherwise, they are USBC approved with very little difference in reaction or performance compared with what is currently available in our product line.

Another key difference is international distributors are usually exclusive to a particular brand. Many of our international dealers only sell Storm brand name products and equipment. As such, they need a larger selection of equipment to sell because they don’t have the same variety available to them since they choose not to associate with any of the other major international brands. Whereas in the US, all of the local distributors have equipment available for sale from any of the major brands. Hence, our product line needs to be expanded for our international customers since they can only sell so many of a particular ball before the market is “saturated”. Storm will release around a dozen balls per year domestically whereas close to 100 different balls get sent to international waters every year. Again, the major differences most of the time are simply cosmetic, with the occasional exception of a core/weight block design whose rights are owned by a certain international distributor that grants them exclusive rights to that shape.

Given these reasons listed above, many of our international partners ask for contractual rights to a particular ball and for a limited quantity. Storm typically runs these exclusive balls only one time and sells them all directly to the distributor that placed the order; sometimes in runs of only a few hundred. Occasionally, a few balls return from the international market to the local market via travelers or returning military, but this number is very low and availability is definitely limited. Once they get poured here in Brigham City, Utah they leave shortly thereafter.

Despite being well-nigh similar in performance to our standard lineup, private label balls undoubtedly turn the heads of many for those lucky enough to pick one up. Be prepared to shell out a few bucks, however. It’s not uncommon for enthusiasts to pay $300+ for one of these rarities. No matter what kind of ball you decide to toss, just be sure that it has that good lookin' Storm logo on it somewhere!

 


Code X versus Alpha Crux - Internal Review

The Code X offers performance engineering tuned for enhanced response

 

In the competitive bowling ball market, any ball that doesn’t do better than “good enough” simply can’t compete. Thankfully, this isn’t an issue for the Code X. Although its styling is a bit conservative for this line, the Code X is classically handsome and appeals with strong performance. The colors aren’t the most polarizing, which makes the ball hug the lane for a truer read, but that’s a personal opinion not shared by everyone. If you like your styling more subtle than stand-out with a side of performance that leaves you saying “Wow, I didn’t know a ball could do that…” then the Code X may be in your not-too-distant future.

The big news here is that R2S Solid has come into play for the first time in a long time in a Premier line ball. Not all conditions require wide-footprint coverstocks with high oil displacement ratings. R2S has been a flagship formula for Storm and is synonymous with some of the most successful balls in recent history like the Hy-Road and !Q Tour. Of all the coverstocks Storm has used, R2S responds to dry lane friction better than anything else. When this benchmark type chassis coats a weight block that’s as dynamic as the RAD4, I’d be hard-pressed to find something that offers this much versatility.

Even though it’s a solid ball, for me, it resembles a matte finish pearl the way it turns the corner. The Code X made easy work of the 47’ mid-volume pattern we currently use in our Monday night Storm Scratch league, which is something I’ll admit to having my fair share of struggles on this year. Because this particular house uses super high-friction synthetics, any ball with too much friction built in, chemically or mechanically, would read as soon as I set it down with nothing left down lane. The Code X doesn’t utilize R3S or Nano technology like its Premier line counterparts, so it skated through the high-friction fronts with ease but retained the mid-lane read and backend change of direction I’ve come to love from my top-drawer asymmetrics.

BOWLER STATS:

Launch Speed: 18mph

RPM: 490

Tilt:

Rotation: 45°

PAP: 5” straight over

Layout Used for Test: 6 x 4 x 3 (55° x 6 x 40°)

Surface Used on Both Balls: 3000-grit Abralon

Oil Pattern: Beaten Path, 41’, 1:4.04, 24.25 mL

The layout chosen for these two balls was 6x4x3. As always, Storm’s VLS system is an original conception and is the only layout system in the industry that takes the shape of the weight block into account.

THE TEST:

For this study, I decided to use Kegel's 4:1 Beaten Path. I knew this pattern would showcase the differences between these two balls exceptionally well. I tossed 20 shots on SPECTO with each ball, averaged the results, and created composite motion paths for each along with a comparison chart utilizing the hard data SPECTO provided. Both balls were resurfaced prior to the test using a Surface Factory machine with new Abralon pads for each to achieve the most consistent finish possible.

 

THE RESULTS:

If you currently roll the Sure Lock or Alpha Crux, but are hesitant make the commitment on another solid Premier line ball, then rest easy. R2S breathes new vigor into the line which helps differentiate it plenty from its Nano-based cousins. I found this the case both objectively and subjectively. Let’s refer to the former, presented below. The numbers don’t lie. With almost 1.5° more entry angle at impact, the Code X handles the corner like that of a racing-tuned suspension on a car that’s designed to dig in to the curves of a snaky, winding road. That may not sound like a lot, but spread that measurement over the last 15 feet of the lane and that can mean the difference between washing out and a high flush strike.

Telling the story further, this isn’t a case where the numbers deceive. Subjectively, too, I found the Code X carried considerably better from the deep, inside line compared to the Alpha Crux. The engine that is the RAD4 worked just as flawlessly as the cover. With the layout I chose, it transitions smoothly and quickly. On the comfort side of the equation, I was more than confident from far inside with regards to kicking out the corners than I’ve been as of late with balls of the like. The Alpha Crux lost its axis rotation so quickly, it reminded me just why that ball truly is designed for the heaviest of heavy conditions.

CONCLUSION:

If my !Q Tour and Code Black were to fall in love and start a family, their progeny would undoubtedly be the Code X. It’s an excellent blend of power, dynamics, and everyday versatility. It is the bowling ball equivalent of having your cake and eating it, too. Backend responsiveness is immediate and gratifying, without sacrificing what a solid ball is supposed to do up front. I do appreciate the Code X’s quieter exterior as it pirouettes its way down the lane with empyreal grace, yet remains tasteful for what it is. The Code lineage has discernibly paved the way for the Code X, and it’s the Code X that’s going to carry on this sterling reputation for quite some time.

 

Highlights from the test:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=075-SkU9hBA

 

 Storm has a full-time tech representative ready to answer any questions you have about the Code X or any other Storm product. Please call (800) 369-4402 (Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm MST) or send an email to tech@stormbowling.com (anytime).


Drive versus Timeless - Internal Review

Zach Trevino loves his Drive, and here's why...

When the Timeless was first introduced, Zach struggled to keep it reading the correct part of the lane before it was too late at the end of the pattern. This is not the ball’s fault, however. His higher ball speed combined with his higher degree of tilt all but promotes skid throughout the lane. Mix in a high RG, polished shell with our cleanest cover (R2S) to date and the struggle becomes very real for a player with his specs. To combat this, Zach took the surface down to match his Drive at 3000-grit Abralon – something he encourages most people who call into Storm to do when experiencing similar difficulties. “I will be the first one to admit that Timeless just wasn’t the ball for me” said Zach. “I drilled one pin up strong and one pin down smoother and it was the latter that only found its way into my bag for one specific scenario - the mega burn.” He added “Using a slower buffer, my pin down Timeless was very useful for when the pattern really got trashed and I had to keep my angles tighter from inside. I don’t have the loft game and often get cornered late in blocks because I have to throw weaker equipment with tighter angles. The Timeless allowed me to bump the dry and it wouldn’t over react when it saw friction. Nonetheless, it was very conditional and didn’t get much use.”

Zach wasn’t the only one who felt “trapped” with the Timeless. Taking this into consideration, we went through many iterations of the intended design with the Drive while ultimately settling on an R2S/Nano blend that we cleverly titled: R2S Nano.

Zach sometimes struggles with stronger covers like this stating they “normally aren’t good for me as it usually results in the ball being too cover driven and just lazy.” However, he later affirmed that his “initial impressions weren’t anything as what I had expected. In this case, that was a good thing! It was as if the ball had so much more shape and read in the mid’s (which Timeless was severely lacking) and just never quit.”

BOWLER STATS

Launch Speed: 17mph

RPM:400

Tilt: 15°

Rotation: 60°

PAP: 4 5/8” over, 1/2" up

Layout Used for Test: 4 3/8 x 5 1/8 x 2 3/4   (65° x 4 3/8 x 45°)

Surface Used for Each Ball: 3000-grit Abralon

Oil Pattern Used for Test: Beaten Path, 41’, 1:4.04, 24.25 mL

RESULTS:

Zach rolled each ball 20 times on Kegel's Beaten Path. We took SPECTO readings at the beginning, middle, and end to compare the results for each ball.

Following his preemptive impressions, Zach started an arrow deeper due to the significantly stronger cover and surface prep. There was never any question the ball would miss the spot from too much length.

After about 10 shots with each ball, Zach felt he should have moved more at this point. Every shot with the Drive was high flush, but a little too high sometimes tripping out the 4-9 several times. The Timeless was the ball Zach felt comfortable with at this point because it was not seeing the friction as severely as the Drive.

SPECTO does a fantastic job of showing the difference in shape with both balls. The breakpoint distances are pretty tightly grouped even though the Drive is over an arrow deeper towards the end of this test. The Timeless needed a straighter trajectory with less launch angle to find the pocket. Overall, Zach preferred the shape and location he had to play with the Drive being inside the track of the Timeless with fresh oil instead of out in the dirt.

Zach has already dedicated a slot in his Open Championships bag for the Drive saying “It is a true improvement as opposed to just being a follow-up with another Belmo logo on it. It’s a unique piece that is going to end up in my tournament bag headed to the OC's this year. It provides that stability and continuous motion needed to control tougher conditions and create area when there isn’t much room for error.”

 

With the same layout and the same surface for 20 shots the Drive, on average, when compared to the Timeless produced:

+6.43 boards deeper set-down

+0.64° launch angle

-1.16° entry angle to pocket

+2 feet of backend

 

Highlights from the test:

https://youtu.be/MEIkyCeRpsQ

 

 Storm has a full-time tech representative ready to answer any questions you have about the Drive or any other Storm product. Please call (800) 369-4402 (Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm MST) or send an email to tech@stormbowling.com (anytime).

 


Knowing Your Roll

Why It's Important

There are many variables that can affect the way your ball rolls. Some are related to the way you release it and your unique delivery. Other variables can be credited to that evil lane man and how he conditions the lane. Then there are factors that are above and beyond anyone’s control, and, no matter how hard you try, you cannot change them. We are going to discuss the subtle distinctions in how you roll the ball that play a bigger role than you might think. Understanding these characteristics will help you in choosing your next ball and, furthermore, help your pro shop operator decide a layout for your brand new toy.

Did you know that your ball actually decelerates as it travels down the lane?

The chemical composition in conjunction with the surface preparation of the coverstock matters greatly. A solid coverstock with a low grit surface texture will lose speed at a higher rate than a polished, pearlized coverstock. Friction reduces ball speed, so this actuality is highly linear with that of wood lanes or lanes that have not been oiled in a long time. In the published Ball Motion Study conducted by the United States Bowling Congress, the ideal bowling ball speed is about 17 miles per hour measured at impact with the pins and about 20-21 miles per hour when the ball is released onto the lanes. Bowlers with high ball speeds and without the revs to match can be considered “speed dominant.” They will typically favor more aggressive surfaces and layouts to help their ball pick up sooner on the lane. “Rev dominant” players with slower ball speeds typically like less aggressive balls, layouts, and surfaces to help prevent their ball from overreacting.

 

What is rev rate?

Rev rate is a calculation of the amount of revolutions a bowler imparts on a ball. The common unit used is revolutions per minute, or RPM. Over the years, bowlers have generalized the RPM gamut into three categories: stroker, tweener, and cranker. Understanding your rev rate (and its relationship with your speed, axis tilt/rotation) is important because it helps to categorize your specific needs as a bowler. Knowing what type of ball to buy, what techniques need to be applied, or the type of wrist device needed all depend heavily on your rev rate.

 

What is axis tilt?

Axis tilt is the vertical angle at which the ball rotates. Commonly known as spin, axis tilt is determined by the position of the thumb during the release. If the hand turns too early, the thumb exits on top of the ball. Bowlers with a high degree of axis tilt will be able to see the top of their hand during the release and follow through. The resultant path of a ball with a higher degree of axis tilt is extended and the amount of backend potential is reduced. Oily lanes become quite difficult when the core is rotating in a vertical fashion, but is actually favored on drier lanes. Being able to have the thumb exit at the bottom of the forward swing minimizes axis tilt. The lower the axis tilts, the sooner the ball will enter its roll phase before making impact with the pins.

Axis rotation is the horizontal measure of the angle of the ball's revolutions, and much like axis tilt, it is also determined by the bowler’s release. Axis rotation is commonly known today as side roll. When the ball has no axis rotation, the fingers exited directly underneath the ball at the 6 o’clock position. End-over-end roll (0° of axis rotation) removes all hook potential from the ball regardless of the amount of revolutions, speed, or lane conditions. High amounts of axis rotation (90° of rotation) will cause the ball to skid further, but unlike axis tilt, will cause an intense hook angle at the breakpoint.

Players with high amounts of axis rotation will favor drier lanes, and lower amounts of axis rotation usually like more oil. Higher amounts of friction will cause the ball to lose axis rotation at higher rates. Initial axis rotation, ball speed, axis tilt, and lane friction all dictate when side revolutions become end-over-end revolutions. Generally speaking, balls skid, then hook, then roll. Less rotation will shorten the skid phase and get the ball into the hook phase earlier, while maximum rotation will extend the skid phase of the ball and increase its hook potential down lane. Manipulating your axis rotation is a valuable tool because it will change the ball’s reaction while still allowing you to stay in the same part of the lane and use the same break point. Ideally, you would like to limit lateral moves on the lane because it forces you to make multiple adjust­ments. And often, particularly on challenging conditions, the zone you’re going to have to play and the break point are pretty defined.

Through practice, you can alter or enhance your ball speed, rev rate, axis tilt, and axis rotation.  The best bowlers in the world have the ability to manipulate any and/or all of these at a moment’s notice. Technology of the sport today only enhances the subtleties of your game. Rubber balls and wooden surfaces did not place an emphasis on shot making versatility.  Ball technology and oil patterns of the modern era force quick-changing conditions and different parts of the lane to be utilized that were not in play thirty years ago. Knowing your roll is more important now than ever before.


Check Out The Sure Lock

The Sure Lock is available now at a pro shop near you. This solid addition to the Lock family features a lot of continuation in a ball that is designed for heavier oil. The Sure Lock features the RAD-X Core and the GI-17 Solid Reactive Coverstock. It comes out of the box at 2000 grit factory finish.

“If you’re looking for a ball that will read the midlane but still give you the continuation through the backends, the Sure Lock is the ball for you,” said Steve Kloempken.

We’ve got a couple of ball reaction videos on our YouTube channel featuring Storm Staff Members, Darren Tang and Dan Higgins. Be sure to head to our Storm Bowling channel to check them all out.

Have you added the Sure Lock to your bag? Be sure to let us know what you think by reaching out to us on our social media channels or using the #StormNation. We can’t wait to hear what you think!

Click here to view the Sure Lock ball page