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Ball Review

Hammer: Spike Hook 50 • Length16 • Breakpoint Shape 16.5

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Manufacturer’s Intent: “The Spike starts with the return of a high RG core shape to the Hammer brand, and pairs up with the popular GTR III cover- stock from the Taboo Jet Black [February 2012],” notes Jeff Ussery. “With length built in to the core, and backend built in to the cover, the Spike is Hammer’s answer on medium to dry lanes.” Core Design: A newly

designed high RG symmetric core powers the Spike. The RG is 2.56. The differential of .054 created nearly 6 inch- es of total flare for us. Higher location pins help quicken the breakpoint motion compared to lower position pins. Coverstock: The GTR III is one of

Hammer’s cleanest covers through the fronts. This pearlized orange and blue reactive responds quickly off friction and has limited traction in oil. The ball is sanded with 800, 1000 and 2000 grits prior to high-gloss polish being applied. The Ra measurement is 1.5, with an effective surface grit reading of 5450. Test Results: Hammer has a long tra- dition of smooth-motion, lower RG cores

in the mid-priced/mid-performance segment, such as the Arson lineup and Chalk (May 2013). This time around, Hammer increased the RG significantly, which enhanced front lane push and breakpoint angu-

larity. The Spike’s GTR III pearl cover also contributes to this increase in back-end motion. Overall hook and backend will fit between the Arson and Taboo line for many players. If you’re looking for the length but a smoother move, use Ebonite’s Blueprint software to help customize the best layout for your indi- vidual style.

When to Use: The Spike is all about providing clean, easy length with a quick, hard move off friction areas. Players can play a few boards inside the oil line and send it and bend it for a hockey-stick ball motion, especially on fresh house or Sport shots. On broken-down patterns, the back- end may be somewhat tempered, but still stronger than many lower RG core designs. Speed-dominant types may find a friendlier motion shape with a light surface scuffing to increase the mid-lane traction and help the ball slow down sooner. The Spike helps add yet another motion shape to a stellar lineup of equipment from Hammer.


Brunswick: Strike King Hook 47 • Length 17 • Breakpoint Shape 15.5

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“Our goal was to upgrade the performance in our entry-level product line,” says Brunswick R&D engineer Aaron Koch.

“We achieved our goal by developing a new coverstock called SK13 Reactive. This new coverstock is a skid/ flip, low friction shell that will create excellent length with a quick response to

friction on medium to light oil lane conditions.”

Core Design: The newly developed symmetric core shape is a familiar light- bulb variation. The RG is 2.57, with a conservative .028 differential. We saw only 3.5 inches of maximum track flare with our strong 3.5-inch pin distance layout. This core shape has proven itself again and again over the last 30 years with its usability and effectiveness.

Coverstock: Brunswick’s SK13 reactive coverstock comes finished with a 500-grit sanding, followed by Rough Buff and finally a high-gloss polish. Colors are available in black pearl, red/gold pearl, blue/red pearl or a pink/purple pearl. Response time off dry is quick. Oil traction is very limited. The measured Ra value is 1.45, with an effective surface grit reading of 5550.

Test Results: With the Strike King’s box polished finish, we saw effortless length followed by a quick, moderately strong move off the end of the pattern. It was almost a “Mini-Me” version of a skid/flip ball motion. Hitting and carry power were good, but with carrydown, we did notice some down-lane oil wiggle. Our least favorite lane condition was a wet/ dry side-to-side house pattern, as the polished surface was too weak in the oil and too aggressive off the burn. We found that a surface change to 4000 allowed the Strike King to match up much more favorably on this type of pattern. With the ball sanded to 1500, we saw a great look when facing the new 52-ft. PBA Badger pattern.

When to Use: As with many highly polished pearl symmetric core designs, the best match-ups will be on lighter oil varieties with reasonably clean backends. This held true for all color variations and drilling layouts we tried for the Strike King. With the box polished finish, most will find exceptional length and a crisp, hard arc or snap off the friction area. Yet, as mentioned, we were quite surprised at the aggressive nature we experienced after sanding the surface down with 800 and 1500 Sia Air pads.

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