Sunday, April 22, 2018

Badminton Racket First Impressions: Yonex Astrox 88 Speed

This is the racket that current world number 1 Men's Doubles player Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo uses. Coming off the lackluster experience that I had with the Astrox 77, I wasn't really keen to give this racket a try.

But after a few visits to the store I decided to cast aside the feeling of betrayal lingering from the AX77  and pick up a 4U AX88S with Yonex BG66 Ultimax strung at 29lbs.

What struck me first was the short handle of the racket. The Yonex Astrox 88 Speed is boasted to be 10mm longer the the conventional racket, though I think most of it comes from the shortened wooden grip handle and thus longer shaft and head frame.

As a fan and former collector of Carlton rackets, I am quite fond of the short grip. This allows me greater variety in my swing and the shots come off sharper. Whipping the racket also gives it more power than with a conventional handle.

And so the moment came to take it to the court, and I must say it impresses. Right off the bat I notice the extreme quickness of the racket, wielding it in defense has got to be one of the best feelings. I am able to confidently twist and turn the shuttle away from the attacker and into an advantageous area of the court.

Being a 4U racket the back court smashes kind of takes a hit. I'm getting moderately heavy smashes from the further half, although not as hard as those I'd throw off with a 3U Yonex Nanoray Z-Speed. However, I do notice two things - I'm able to quite the angle on the shots by adding a little wrist pronation, and also the shots are dead on target.

Backhands for this guy are not the most ideal, being a 4U and also strung at such high tension. I suppose I will get better with this racket as time goes.

One last thing before I sign off. There is one particular shot that this racket pulls off amazingly, and that's the cross-court forehand drive (so happens it's my favorite shot). The shuttle comes off it so fast I was left stunned with I first executed the shot with the racket.

So far the Yonex Astrox 88 Speed has been a positive experience. Accuracy and speed seems to be its main stay, but the power I can generate is no small matter either.

Let's get a few more games with this guy before we throw in the review.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Badminton Racket Review: Yonex Astrox77

Hey guys, found out some other site's been taking my article wholesale, so be a sport and bookmark the original site - http://everythinggoeshere.blogspot.sg

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Disclosure: This review has been amended as I found out that the racket was actually a 4UG5. 

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This is one strange case where I write the review before the first impressions. I've had enough time on the court to give this a good shot, so enjoy.

Out of the darkness of racket technology drought comes the Yonex Astrox77 - a seemingly practical combination toying with different kick point and weight transfer, going back to the classics of racket design away from marketing gimmicks like adjustable weights or *gasp* sound enhancing metal.

First impressions with the racket were less than promising, the racket lacking in both areas of attack and control. I found my clears and attacks down the side missing terribly, to the brink of racket throwing.

First thing I tried was changing the Aerosonic strings to something a little more familiar - the Nanogy 98, which did improve things somewhat. But before long the shots were back to being wayward and off target.

So after a few more sessions on the court with the racket, I am going to give the Yonex Astrox77 the time it deserves.

Here it goes.

Note: This is a review of my experience after using the racket for a few sessions. I am by no means a professional player, and so you should take my judgment with a pinch of salt. I welcome comments of any sorts.

Yonex Astrox77
Est. Dry Weight: 85g (4U, but felt 3U to me)
Grip Size: G5
Balance: Even, though after the NGB98 string change it feels head-heavy
Stiffness: Mid-Flex
Strings: Yonex Nanogy 98 @ 27lbs

Defense
The relatively small head frame of the Astrox77 will pose as a problem for some when it comes to the faster attacks, though the even balance of the racket somewhat makes up for it. I found lifting the racket from a ready position an ease, and from then on it's just grappling with using the small head to contact the shuttle at a good angle.

Those who are observant will notice that the racket is a little longer than most - and perhaps it's that feature that lends itself to a particularly tough time defending body shots. The slightly longer frame also contributes to a slight loss in shot making, the counter shots redirecting the shuttle from one side of the court to the other a little harder for me to pull off.

Attack
The marketing promises a more solid smash with sharper angles, which at least is partly true for me. The Yonex Astrox77 manages to pull off a few really steep smashes, catching the opponent off a little for the sneak win.

Power was the drawback for me though, the racket seemingly lackluster when it comes to the big smashes, coming off really short when I put my entire shoulder into the hit just to watch it soar back over my head.

However I did find the drives to be really useful. Perhaps the whip-like nature of the shaft and the even balance distribution allows it to swing and transfer power sideways more than downwards.

Control
Oh my gosh this is where the racket really loses points for me. As an old man now, a lot of my game plan revolves around moving the opponent around the court in order to open the opportunity up for a decisive one-shot.

Cross-court clears, out. Straight smashes, out. Straight clears, short. Net drops, not too bad. Backhands, let's not talk about it.

The Yonex Astrox77 seems really good only for straight drives, the shuttle really whizzing to the intended spot most of the time.

Looks
The electric yellow and galaxy blue of the racket is attractive without being too garish. What I appreciated about this racket is that it decided to use gloss paint; we've been witnessing matte paint on rackets for far too long.


Yonex Astrox77
"What's wrong with the ZF2?"
Defense: 7
Attack: 7
Control: 6
Looks: 8



Wednesday, December 06, 2017

New Badminton Racket Launch: Yonex Astrox77

Well, here's where I get a little excited. The new Yonex Astrox 77 boasts a greater ease in swing transition, steeper smash angle and sharper drives. It's designed and built to fit today's fast-paced badminton games, and from what I've experience so far, it's pretty much whatever it promises.

But before I go into the First Impressions, I would like to put up a post to try and explain why this racket might be the next big thing.

All images from www.yonex.com


The rackets packs the heat with a few technologies

  • New type of graphite
  • Rotational Generator System
  • Enhanced sweet spot


With one in hand, and some time on the court with this already, I will attempt to dissect the different marketing claims of the racket.


1. New graphite material - Namd


What it is:
The short of it all is that the new material allows the shaft to flex more during hard swings for more power, and flex less during sharp swings for more accuracy. 

By bonding the resin material directly onto the graphite instead of having them fill up the space in between, the shaft of the Yonex Astrox 77 takes on its dynamic properties that allows for fiercer attack. 

How this translates: 
I definitely feel it on the drives - they hit very quickly and sharply. Even the smashes appear to be a little more steep than usual. For now I do feel that the racket makes a difference when it comes to attacking, to the extent that I look for chances to utilize the drive. 

2. Rotational Generator System


What it is:
Ok Yonex this is a little too much marketing. Even the graphics above are trying a little too hard to explain that this racket is easy to swing around. So basically the "system" works like a swing, where the counter weights at either end contribute to reduce the inertia in reversing the motion - sort of like that perpetual motion device that you buy for your desk.

How it translates:
As campy as it sounds, the system actually works. Although this isn't new to the world of badminton (RSL and Prince both have similar weight distribution systems), the application of this in a complementary style to the flex properties of the shaft makes a rather lethal weapon on the court.

While I've not had the chance to test this racket extensively in doubles play, the ease of turning might actually give your defense game a boost too.

3. Isometric Head Shape


What it is:
This is a timeless classic. When the isometric head shape was introduced to the badminton world it allowed players all over the world to hit harder, faster and more accurately. 

By using a flat top on teh racket head instead of the conventional oval shape, the string bed stretches to increase the sweet spot, allowing a higher repulsion rate for that extra bit of punch in your swings.

How it translates:
The best way to witness the isometric head shape at work is to get your hands on a conventional shaped racket and have a go. You'll notice two things - that your hits aren't as accurate as they used to be, and that they tend to have a little less power than compared to a modern shaped one.


With that said, all that's left is for me to introduce the newest addition to to the Yonex line of rackets - the Astrox 77. 


To sum it all up, the new Yonex Astrox 77 may be very well fitted for the new BWF rulings that make games a matter of attack. With its offensive traits and its quick movement potential, the racket is set to make waves. 

First Impressions soon.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Badminton Racket Review: Yonex Duora Z-Strike

Hey guys, found out some other site's been taking my article wholesale, so be a sport and bookmark the original site - http://everythinggoeshere.blogspot.sg

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First impressions here.

This took awhile didn't it?! Because of the lack of court time I could only get enough experience with the racket now to give a fairly justifiable review.

Given the lack of racket makers now, the speed at which new rackets and innovations are pushed out are sorely lacking compared to back in the days when guys like Hart, Toalson and Prince were in the game.

That leaves Yonex with a lot of leeway to produce and push out innovations like the Duora at their own pace. When the new frame was released I wondered how much it could help with my game.

The Yonex Duora 10 proved to be a little of a disappointment, with my preferring the backhand side of the racket for regular play. I wondered what would happen if I were to use a similarly weighted Victor Bravesword instead.

My sentiments towards the gimmicky innovation carried on to the Z-Strike. The shaft of this one was a little thicker, and the head a lot heavier and bulkier. This was probably to make up for the lack of attacking prowess in the Duora 10.

Having had enough time on the court with this guy, I am going to say that I've not really changed my opinion on the whole Duora thing, but this has a few needed improvements over the Duora 10 that will make it a good addition to a player's arsenal.

Here goes.

Note: This is a review of my experience after using the racket for a few sessions. I am by no means a professional player, and so you should take my judgment with a pinch of salt. I welcome comments of any sorts.

Yonex Duora Z-Strike
Est. Dry Weight: 88g (3U)
Grip Size: G5
Balance: Head Heavy
Stiffness: Stiff
Strings: Yonex Nanogy 98 @ 27lbs

Defense
Not really good, like with any head heavy variants that I've used. If any of you were old enough to have used the Yonex Armortec 900 Power you will find a striking similarity in this racket. The bulk frame does not give much to your movement on the court and the racket speed becomes compromised when you try to lift or move it around for defense.

As someone who prefers the defensive game - turning the tide around with a well-placed block or drive - the Yonex Duora Z-Strike is a little tricky to handle. At times I lift the racket for a block to find that I'm just that little off the ideal hitting spot, resulting in a less effective response.

This is especially relevant when your opponent is coming in at you hard with his attacks, leaving you with less time and more opportunity to get that dreaded frame hit off a defensive attempt. At the end of the day I suppose the racket was built with offense in mind.

Attack
For me the racket was an improvement over the Duora 10, offering several boosts to the head frame construction. It feels surprisingly like a Voltric, and many a times during the course of the review I had wanted to go check it it's a Voltric Duora Z-Strike instead.

First of all the head frame got a boost in thickness. This really gives it a good extra amount of punch when it comes to hitting the shuttle. A slightly thicker shaft also adds to the energy transfer, resulting in a more powerful stroke towards the opponent.

Following the recommendations of the Duora technology, the flat broad side is held as the forehand stroke. This results in a larger downward force (which translates to a larger upward force during defense) on the hit. This really works on the court when you put in a smash, as you can feel a substantial amount of pressure coming from a smash.

People who like to smash will really like this racket. The extended attacking capability of the Yonex Duora Z-Strike is a very good improvement over the more dainty Duora 10.

Control
This is where it gets funny. While heavy racket rackets offer a more stable frame that contributes to better control, I experience a very peculiar phenomenon when swinging with the Z-Strike, particularly on the long clears.

With this racket I am not able to aim my long clears well at all. The shuttle seems to sway very awkwardly to the sides, resulting in a straight out or a less the optimal angle (that means I get attacked). While I can chalk this down to my lack of game time, the same feeling does not come when I switch the racket.

This situation presents itself again when I try to smash down the line. There are times when the shuttle wouldn't be as accurate as I wanted it to.

On netshots and drives the racket performs as a head heavy one should - giving the shuttle a good stable base to bounce off on the soft shots and allowing a great transfer of energy on the fast flats.

Looks
We've not had a white racket for awhile, and the fresh combination of white, black and streaks of orange and red make the Yonex Duora Z-Strike a nice racket to look at. What I can perhaps pick at is the lack of the backhand/forehand decal that was so very helpful in the case of the Duora 10.


Yonex Duora Z-Strike
"The new glass cannon"
Defense: 7
Attack: 9
Control: 8
Looks: 8

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Badminton Racket First Impressions: Mizuno JPX 8.5

Hey there badminton fans! I know it's been awhile since I wrote anything - I've been recovering from a strained knee and haven't been able to play. Seriously think that my time is near and it won't be long till I'm reduced to watching videos and wishing I was prancing on the court instead.

Sad thoughts aside, I've managed to get my hands on the new Mizuno racket. Striking blue and black artwork aside, the racket offers a peculiar head frame shape that produces an odd performance on court.

The shaft is slim and flexes towards to the cone, making it a very nice racket to do those check smashes that I love. As the strings go on the racket and the tension is pulled across the head, the frame sharpens and you're left with a nice sharp head shape akin to the Z-Smash.

It felt lighter than expected on the swing, and there seems to be a little weight loss during the swing. Perhaps it's the sword/box hybrid of the head frame that made it really ergonomic. It doesn't make the sharp swish of the Victor Bravesword, nor the loud woosh of the Yonex Voltric Z-Force.

On the court the strangeness continues. The racket is amazingly efficient for backhands. I repeat - the Mizuno JPX 8.5 gives amazing backhands. I was able to reach any corner of the court without much effort. However, the forehand shots barely reach the end.

What?!

It took me a two games of singles and a lot of hitting to finally get the whole point of it all.

I'll lave you guys to figure out and guess why as I prepare for the review. :)

Coming soon is also my review on the Yonex Duora Z-Strike. Stay tuned!