Reviews: Ergo R188 Alpha
The Ergo R188 Alpha offered by Ultraspinners and manufactured in the Phoenix, AZ USA is an updated version of the popular budget priced, premium built Ergo Max spinner with, as the name suggests, an R188 bearing in place of the 608 bearing used in its ancestor. The Ergo Alpha shows us that fidget spinners, and your experience spinning is really a combination of all the parts of a spinner coming together to create a unique spinning experience. Change the metal, shape or bearing and you have an entirely new spinner.
The first thing that struck me when I picked up the Ergo Alpha was its weight. It's not a large spinner in terms of its footprint or spin radius at a modest 2.1". It's fine really for even smaller hands. It is chunky though. Combine its 1/2" thickness with a relatively heavy metal like brass and you get a compact, pleasantly plump 100g spinner. It makes sense that Ultraspinners initially chose to outfit this design with a 608 bearing.
The second thing I noticed is that it is lopsided. Not in an unbalanced, bad machining sort of way, but the 3 arms are ever so slightly distorted or twisted around the center. This twisting of the arms combined with flowing curves around the body of the arms as they seamlessly flow into the center of the body which is stepped down to the 3/16" thickness of the R188 bearing gives it, you guessed it, a very ergonomic feel when in hand. The chamfering along the edges is more pronounced along the inside of the spinner arms than the points. This spinner was designed with comfort in mind and it achieves that for sure.
The large aluminum threaded buttons are by necessity thick to clear the distance from the spinner core to the outer thickness (just enough clearance for table spins) and step up in a series of circles to a smaller center finger hold where they are then slightly concave. This is a small design detail that Ultraspinners really nailed. The buttons can't make the spinner, but they can break it. These buttons are really well done, even in aluminum, and bolster the overall goal of making this thing an easy spin.
So, the Ergo Alpha is comfortable to spin. Great. But how does it actually spin? Usually I have a pretty good idea of how a spinner is going to spin just by looking at the specs and price range. We're somewhere between budget priced and middle priced with the Alpha. The spin though is premium. The move to an R188 bearing in a spinner this size was perhaps driven by the 608 to R188 core craze. And while each bearing size has it's strengths and weaknesses, I think the migration here was a smart move. This thing can really hum.
The R188 stainless steel bearing is whisper quiet. It gives enough tactile feedback to let you know you're spinner is spinning without letting anyone else know. I'm a big fan of stainless steel R188 bearings and it's perfect in heavy spinners like this. I don't see how a hybrid ceramic or full ceramic would really improve this spinner. The stainless can easily spin for 5 minutes in this heavy brass body. Why sacrifice all the great benefits of stainless steel bearings chasing anything longer than that?
There is no detectable wobble coming from my wobble detector (my hand) which seems like exactly what you'd expect from this well-balanced thick brass spinner. And despite that thickness and heavy weight, the Ergo Alpha really is easy to handle. I found it a little easier to spin with a thumb-pointer finger grip than a thumb and middle finger grip, but that's all just personal preference.
The Ego Alpha with it's new R188 bearing is a mid-priced premium performance spinner. On the heavier side, but still easy to handle, it is one of the longer spins you'll find in a tri-spinner of this small footprint. Another triumph for Ultraspinners and a win for the fidget spinner industry.
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