Fidget spinners have been available since the 1990s, but became popular during early 2017. They are advertised as a stress-relieving toy and to help people with focusing disorders such as ADHD, autism or anxiety to concentrate by releasing built up stress. We're looking for the best fidget spinner for a reasonable price!
Today there are hundreds of different designs for fidget spinners, but they all have some basic factors in common. The most central object for a fidget spinner is the ball bearings in the center of it, usually covered by a plastic or metallic protective lid. This bearing is what makes it a spinner, by reducing the friction between the inner and outer part of it, some fidget spinners can reportedly spin upwards five minutes from just a single flick.
The most common design is the tri-spinner, which has a ball bearing in the middle and then three prongs sticking out from it. You're supposed to hold the spinner between your thumb and either your index finger or your middle finger. You then use your other fingers to repeatedly lightly hit the prongs to set it in motion and keep it spinning. This is the basic operation of all fidget spinners, even though their design and materials can vary a lot.
There are fidget spinners made out of plastic, metal, even some luxurious ones made from cut rock. The material is usually mostly for aesthetics, but stronger materials do increase the durability and life length of the spinner in case you are a person that often drops stuff. I have broken a couple plastic spinners by dropping them many times. But the material does also affect the weight of the spinner, and this is very individual. I know people that prefer lighter ones that you barely feel in your hand, whilst I personally like the heavy-duty ones made out of metal. Generally, the heavier ones spin longer if they have a good bearing.
Talking about bearings, what are they? Without going too much into details, the ball bearing is an ingenious invention that utilizes two rings with a layer of small balls in-between them. This makes the rings able to rotate almost frictionless against each other, and this is used a lot more than you probably think. It's ball bearings that make it possible for bicycles to use so little effort and ball bearings are also used in a lot of giant industrial machines.
The bearing is probably the most important part of a good spinner. You want a bearing that gives as little friction as possible, this way the spinner can spin a lot longer without any interaction. The most common material for bearings is steel and other metallic alloys, which performs really well for its cheap price. Then there is the hybrid ceramic bearing, which uses ceramic balls but steel rings. The most common material for the ceramic is silicon nitride. This bearing is lighter than full steel and generates less vibrations and noise. And then there is the full ceramic bearing, that has both ceramic balls and rings. It provides the least friction, weights the most and is basically the best bearing, but at a higher cost.
Lighter weight, less noise and vibration, and more resistant to corrosion
Very high speed and acceleration, high durability, quiet, low vibration, and very lightweight
With that said, let's start looking for the best budget spinners! The original and most common design is the tri-spinner made out of plastic. Avoid these at all costs. I've seen some stores charge over $15 for them, but the truth is that they're purchasable on Amazon for as low as $2. And they are complete garbage. Their whole body is made out of plastic, they have metal bearings that aren't even lubricated and a spin-time of usually less than 2 minutes. They have horrible durability and after being dropped a few times the weights pop out and the spin becomes unstable. The horrible metal bearings in them generate quite a lot of unpleasant noise. Just don't buy them. And IF you decide to buy one, don't pay more than $2 for it. There are a couple of tri-spinners made out of aluminium with proper ceramic bearings out there, but they are usually priced at around $12-15. Whilst they are pretty good, it's a bit expensive for a fidget spinner.
Seriously, avoid these!
Triangle Aluminium Spinner
This triangle spinner has nothing more than its three prongs in common with the tri-spinner. It's prongs are solid and made out of aluminium, thus they don't require any additional weights like the plastic tri-spinners do. Being made out of metal and having a full ceramic bearing for barely $9 is a steal. It is probably one of my better spinners that I've used quite a lot. It's been dropped many times, as will all well-used spinners have been. And this one has handled it phenomenically. Not even a single dent on it. It has both the durability and spin properties that I am looking for in a good fidget spinner. Even though it's not performing quite as well as some of the more expensive spinners, you probably need to go up to at least $20 to out-perform this one. I don't really like to compare spinners with spin time, since it's such an unreliable variable. But this one can spin almost four minutes if you give it a really powerful flick. It does make a little bit of noise during its spin, but not really enough for it to be a disturbance.
Just beware that there are many factories mass-producing this kind of spinner, so always check the details when you order one. Make sure it is made out of aluminium or some other metal, and not plastic painted with a chrome colour. Also, always check the ball bearings. You preferrably want a full ceramic bearing.
Circular Disc Spinner
Then there's the more special designs. This round spinner has a steel bearing, but I find that it still spins quite as well as some hybrid spinners. I didn't quite understand why, but when I opened it up I found that it wasn't lubricated, which believe it or not, is a plus when it comes to spinners. Lubricant is applied to ball bearings to reduce heavy load and thermal accumulation, which is relevant in large and heavier machines. But since fidget spinners are so light and require so little force, the lubricant actually retards the torque.
The inner body is made out of plastic, which means that it's not going to be able to take too much of a beating. The circular design is, however, excellent at dispersing impact energy, which theoretically should reduce the mechanical stress on the plastic by quite a lot - as long as it lands on the circular disc. I haven't really done a drop test on my circular spinner, but i have dropped it a couple times whilst spinning, at it's only been scratched a little.
The reason I chose to include this fidget spinner in the list is because I consider it being the best spinner without prongs for less than $10. Most other freely designed spinners aren't produced in quite the same amount as these ones, and as a result are more expensive. A giant plus in my book is that you can put it in your pocket without jabbing yourself on any prongs, since it doesn't have any.
"Dragon" Triangular Brass Spinner
The "Dragon Spinner" has a cool design and is shipped in a nice round storage box. It has a hybrid bearing, but utilizes the R188 standard, which is a bit more effective than the 608 standard that most other spinners use. Most metal fidget spinners at this price are made out of aluminium, but this one is made out of brass, which is heavier and harder. That means that it is both more impact resistant and weights more. If you are a person that likes sturdy and big items, this is probably the best spinner for you. It balances great in your hand and is really satisfying to spin. It is priced at $9, which I think is very acceptable, since it's made out of brass and has an effective hybrid bearing.
This spinner does have a bit steeper learning curve though, since it has a smaller surface to flick it up to speed on. Though once it's spinning it doesn't want to stop spinning, partly because of its higher mass, which in my opinion is great.
Improving Your Fidget Spinner
Once you've got your spinner and used it for a while you might be noticing that it isn't spinning for quite as long as when you first got it. This is completely normal, and actually very easy to fix. What happened is that the ball bearing has attracted some dust and gunk, which is causing additional friction when it spins. What you want to do is clean the ball bearings and remove any lubrication from it, which I'll cover how to do in four steps:
Step 1: Remove the cap from your ball bearing in such a way that you see the inside of the bearing. Some spinners, especially the plastic ones, only require you to wedge the cap out whilst some can require you to screw the cap off.
Step 2: Clean the bearing with some solvent. Some commonly used solvents include acetone, brake cleaner, isopropyl alcohol or paint thinner. Put some solvent in a little glass or cup and soak your bearing in it. Note that if your spinner is made out of plastic, only use isoprpyl alcohol, since pretty much all other common solvents will dissolve plastiv and completely destroy your spinner.
Once you've soaked your spinner in the solvent, spin the bearing for a while and turn the spinner around so the solvent gets completely into the bearing and can dissolve all lubricant and remove any other contaminating particles.
If you doesn't have any solvent available, it is possible to clean it using hot soapy water, but you must make sure to get all the water out of the bearing.
Step 3: Once your bearing is cleaned out, use a can of compressed air to blow out and dry your bearing. This is extremely important if you used water in a metal or hybrid bearing, since the water otherwise will rust the bearing. A strong solvent will evaporate pretty quickly on its own, but you can speed it up by spinning the bearing and blowing on it with a hair dryer.
Note that solvents are flammable, and even though there isn't much of a risk of them catching fire from a hair dryer, be careful when using it around solvents and their fumes. I will not take responsibility if you set yourself or your property on fire.
You do not want to use a paper towel or rag to dry your bearing, since they can leave fibres inside your cleaned bearing, which will counteract the whole cleaning process.
Step 4: Put the caps back on and you're done!
- This small guide assumes that you're trying to get as long spin time as possible. The lubricant does reduce spin time, but it can make the bearing louder, especially if it's a metal bearing. If you, however, find that it's too noisy after you've cleaned it, you could try to lubricate it a little. You want to use as little lubricant as possible to get it acceptably quiet. You want to use a very light lubricant, such as bearing oil or valve oil. Avoid speed cream and lithium grease, since they are too thick.
- A bad ball bearing will not spin as long as a good one, even if properly cleaned and maintained. If you're still having spin time problems, consider investing in either one of the spinners above, or a better replacement bearing.
- Keep in mind that not all spinners are designed to have accessible bearings. Many manufactureres discourages consumers from opening up their spinners and modifying the bearings. Whilst there usually aren't any problems with doing this, remember that you're assuming and accepting the risk of something going wrong or you messing up and that it is your responsibilty if that happens. You might not want to open up the really expensive spinners that go for over $50, they usually have very good bearings and have good dust caps that prevent dirt from getting into the bearing and thus don't need cleaning.
If you're still having trouble settling on which fidget spinner to get, don't hesitate to leave a comment and I'll try to help you out as soon as possible!
Also, if you're feeling up to a challenge, check out some of the videos below to learn some spinner tricks to impress your friends with!