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The Hot Cell
Review Date: 4 November 2017

Reviewed by:
Storm/Roto Grip staffer John Brockland
Style: Stroker Rev Rate: 280-310
PAP: 5.50" over and 1" up

Though my earliest days of adult bowling and the “prime” of my bowling ability were in the 80’s when urethane equipment was the norm, as for most everyone else urethane hasn’t really played any significant part in my bowling arsenal since the advent of reactive resin equipment in the early 1990’s.  To be honest, with my lower end rev rate there has never been any need.

Through the late 90’s and early 2000’s, I was still agile and strong enough (and to be honest my release was getting bad enough from bowling exclusively on STL house shots) that if the lanes were hooking too much I just amped up my ball speed, laid off it “a little more than usual” with my release, fired it up the track, and all was good.    In the late 2000’s, with the thought of turning 50 in sight and after a six-month layoff from the game because a bulging disc in my neck needed to be nursed back into resorption, I decided to try to start things from scratch as I got back into the game.  The hope was to be ready and able to take a shot at some PBA50 competition some day.  My natural inclination toward sports has never been anything but methodical rather than powerful and this comeback wasn’t going to change that.  So one of the things that resulted in that comeback, no doubt in some measure because of a fear of reinjuring my neck, was significantly softer ball speed than I had ever had before. 

Even at that, though, there’s never been an instance in which using urethane equipment over a “weak” resin ball made sense.  It would result in surrendering too much carry power for me on house shots and even as I started doing more sport bowling, the short patterns I encountered along the way (including recent years bowling national PBA50 events) haven’t required me to use anything less aggressive than a weak layout on an !Q TOUR EDITION or, at the weakest, something like a Roto Grip RUMBLE.  The only time in recent years I’ve used a PITCH BLACK for strike shots has been at the famed and wacky Petersen Classic.   In all other instances, I just cannot create enough motion downlane with a PITCH BLACK in today’s bowling environment for it to make any sense for me to try to really score with it.

 However when Roto Grip broke ground with the HOT CELL, for the first time that I know of putting a dynamic asymmetrical core (the same Nucleus as the rest of the awesome CELL series) in a urethane ball, I thought maybe there might be a new option here for me.  That’s exactly what I’ve found.

 This winter league season, in one of the bowling centers where I bowl league, the lanes started out hooking more and earlier than ever for an STL house shot which typically have little width or volume on the right side anywhere right of 15-board (or the wood surface in the track area is so worn that it doesn’t matter).   With anything HP-2 or stronger in resin equipment I found myself needing to start the first game at 20-board at least and that just doesn’t result in any ability for me to keep up with the typical STL scoring pace at all.  I was letting my team town averaging barely 210 for the first few weeks.   When the HOT CELL became available I gave it a try.  There was nothing to lose.  It produced solid sets of 670 and a small 700 before the proprietor changed oils and adjusted his house pattern a bit.  At that same time, there were other new releases I had to give my time and attention to in order to be doing my job as a staffer so the HOT CELL went back into the bag.

 The layout on my HOT CELL is a standard high pin layout for me.  The Dual Angle System specs come roughly to 60 x 5 x 40.  What I found is that it’s a good four to five boards stronger for me than the PITCH BLACK in terms of where I have to play the lanes on a typical house pattern.   The most significant difference is that with a PITCH BLACK I have little to no chance of creating effective ball motion down lane unless the shot is executed really well.   Everything with the PITCH BLACK has to pretty much be up-and-at-em.   The strength of having a dynamic asymmetrical core in the HOT CELL provides me a measure forgiveness that is super valuable for me in that regard.   On a typical house shot I found myself able to play the oil line kind of like the “old days” with the HOT CELL.  It afforded me a pinch of mistake room to the left.  Even on the edge of the heaviest part of the pattern volume a miss into the oil was a flat ten with the HOT CELL when the PITCH BLACK would have been a bucket or worse for me.  More significantly it allowed me the kind of mistake room to the right that I only remember having had with urethane in the “old days” at the tail end of a second block in local tournaments when we would typically have A and B squads bowling two qualifying blocks each throughout a day with no re-oil.  I can give it away into the dry and get recovery.   All that said, it’s crucial to remember that this is still urethane motion.   It’s not at all the same as a “weak” resin ball.

  I could see the HOT CELL being a decent option for senior league bowlers who prefer to play a direct line on the lanes and who struggle to control resin equipment because of significantly diminished ball speed.  The HOT CELL will help you keep it in play, but you’ll likely surrender some carry.  Nonetheless,  9-spare always adds up better than a split and an open fame.  Serious tournament bowlers will want to take a look at the HOT CELL for their arsenal, I believe.  I’m not aware of another urethane ball  on the market that will create this kind of motion.

Lbs. RG Diff. PSA  Diff. 
16 2.52 0.048 0.017
15 2.52 0.056 0.018
14 2.57 0.046 0.015
13 2.60 0.040 0.008
12 2.62 0.040 0.008
11 N/A N/A N/A
10 N/A N/A N/A