Sunday, August 12, 2012

Badminton Racket Review: Li-Ning Woods N90

So it's time for the big one. The racket that Lin Dan uses. The one that produces as much haters as supporters. The Li-Ning Woods N90.

First impressions of the racket was good - the control was top notch, and the stiffness worker more for it than against it. The cautions on the web made sense - it is a punishing racket to use. But one with a decent technique will find the Li-Ning Woods N90 a very professional racket.

So how did it perform for me?

This review is my opinion of the racket from using it in my games, my style. There are a lot of ways to play badminton, so take this review with a pinch of salt. I'm here to tell you, in as much accuracy as I can, how my games went with the racket. Comments welcome!

Ok here goes.

Li-Ning Woods N90
Est. Dry Weight: 90g (3U)
Grip Size: S2 (eq. Yonex G5)
Balance: Head Heavy
Max String Tension: 28lbs
Flex: Very Stiff
Strings: Yonex Nanogy 99 @ 25lbs

I use this racket for singles play.

This racket is HEAD HEAVY. Holding it in your hand you could feel gravity just trying to pull it from you. It's no joke that players who do not have confidence with their skills should not try the Li-Ning Woods N90. There are 3 main reasons why.

I will start with the first - defense. If you're not able to successfully receive at least 7/10 smashes thrown at you and place them in a good enough position to deprive your opponent of the second attack, then this racket is not for you.

I found the N90 a tad slower than most of my head heavy rackets, and this is reasonably so. The very stiff shaft and the weight orientation is not forgiving to one who cannot defend well. Those going for power can opt for a lighter and less stiff racket that will no doubt increase your game play better than the Li-Ning Woods N90.

That being said, I've found the defense of the N90 to be rather substantial, though less than that of it's cousin the N90-II. Blocks can be decently placed to areas of the court, and the tight net drop blocks off a smash is brilliant.

Though I experienced a slower speed lifting the racket from a low position on the second smash, which means I'm more likely to suffer a loss from the follow up smash, the initial defense were pulled up well and satisfactorily.

Expect good things out of this racket when it comes to defense, but also expect the defense to be less than what you're used to.

This is a no brainer. A head heavy racket with a very stiff shaft can only mean that the attacks coming off the N90 can only be extreme.

On a smash, I could literally feel the shuttle trying to run away from the string bed, slicing through the air as it makes it way to the opposite site. As stiff as the racket is, it delivers in terms of shot power. This racket is a rocket launcher.

As always, there's a drawback to all this power. One who uses the wrist watch out. This racket is not really recommended for you. The stiffness of the racket runs down to the handle, and this in turn will pull your wrist down much more than the other attacking rackets will.

The Li-Ning Woods N90 will injure your wrist if you don't practice caution.

The extreme weight distribution of the racket is also not one to be disregarded. After a few long rallies you can feel the acid build up in your arms and making the next shot that little bit harder. By the end of the session, you'll notice a loss in shot power and distance.

The N90 can take down its user as fast as it can decimate its opponents.

I caught myself walking around the court a few times today during my singles games. That's always a good sign that I'm in control and can dictate the pace of the game.

The N90 gives me a level of precision that is very much desirable. The stiffness of the racket gives your shots very little variation and thus offers you a high level of control along with overwhelming power and a semi-reliable defensive prowess.

Alternative clears, drop shots, pushes and drives were all very well-executed as I used all four corners of the court to my whim. The Li-Ning N90 accords me a level of control comparable to my even balanced rackets like the Yonex ArcSaber.

One thing I noticed though, the backhands were crazy hard to pull off well. The stiffness of the racket works against you here, requiring almost perfect technique to execute. As the racket leaves your body and your elbows and and wrist start to supinate, you will very much feel the racket bring your wrist down a few more degrees than you'd like.

And with the weight of the racket working against you when you throw a backhand, I would sincerely recommend those who cannot consistently perform back-to-back court backhand clears to try more overheads when wielding the N90.

From maintaining my defensive game to turning the pace and going offense with a well-made block, the Li-Ning N90 keeps up with the game that's going on in my mind, allowing me to ease up on trying to make the shuttle keep to its flight path and concentrate on pushing the opponent around the court and watching the magic happen.

This one's a little off. Plainly decorated with red, black and a hint of white on the head frame, the N90 speaks volumes with its simple design. The paint work is definitely unassuming to its potential.

It's like the fortune of having a good game is depicted with the primary red color, while the outcome is marred between the opposing clouds of white and black at the tip of the Li-Ning Woods N90.

Li-Ning Woods N90
Defense: 8
Attack: 10
Control: 9
Looks: 7


Unknown said...

Hi,If Li-Ning Woods N90 II compare with Li-Ning Woods N90 and Voltric 80 which is the best racquet?

Arthur said...

Hi, depends on what game you're playing actually.

The Voltric 80 has got to be yonex's most user-friendly racket, giving the player a very satisfying blend of offense and defense. It might feel head heavy at first, but you'll grow to love the ease at which it gives your shots.

The Li-Nings are a little harder to master. With both coming in heavier and harder to swing than the VT80, and the N90 being a darn stiff racket, I'd go for the Yonex racket if it's down to my personal choice.

And if you like hardcore attacking, then you'll want to experiment around with the N90 / -II. Be warned, your arms will hurt if you've got less than good technique.

Anonymous said...

I like double and I play it good and I wanted to buy a new racquet to play double please tell me which is good for me.

Arthur said...

If you're already a good player than I'd recommend whichever you like :)

Take a look at your game and see what's missing? If you're looking for more offense then you might want to experiment with higher tension strings or a head heavy racket.

Different shaft stiffness also counts towards the quality of your game, so you'd want to go about those too.

Anonymous said...

N90 is extra stiffer than N90 II. Is that true?

Arthur said...

Yes, I would think so too. It's also more than a Voltric Z-Force in my opinion.

Unknown said...

hi,i have been using armotec 700 for years now im planning to shift my rackets im just confused wat to buy zforce or n90 my smashes are very good and i play singles most of the time,,i know zforce has 3u and 4u does n90 also have 3u and 4u or it has only 1 version that is plzz and give ur opinion on n55 too

Arthur said...

If your smashes are great then the Z-Force should be the best bet.

It's got the strongest smash of the lot. Very stiff, very powerful.

Anonymous said...

Based on your current experience, which of these rackets do you think is the best for pure power? I have a hard smash as well as a fast drive, and my current racket is a Brave Sword 15. I think that my speed is largely owing to the frame, even though i am capable of delivering speed even on my cousin's Thruster K8000.

I do not tend to use my wrist often as I am a tennis player that switched over to badminton.

SO what do you think? Awaiting your response!


Anonymous said...

Also, I would like to add in an additional racket suggestion: the Li Ning Woods N80. I saw Jan O Jorgenson's smash with it: and it was true, it did pack a punch. Secondly, his block and recieving seemed to significantly improve too. So, if you claimed that the Li Ning N90 Woods is a bit of stiff and heavy , why not try the N80? I heard it is heavier, but has faster speed due to its aerodynamic structure(resembling Lamborghini car frame...weird)

Looks like a BS LYD to me though:)

LI Ning is kinda famous for its copying skills....

SO, having written thus far, I would like to request from you such a review, or have you already tested it out?

Hope to hear from you soon!

Arthur said...

Hey Hugo! Thanks for reading!

I would very much like to try the N80, but the problem is the racket is very expensive this side of town and I've not had the change to get my hands on a good priced one :(

Rest assured, the moment I get one I'll be flying around the court with it!

Anonymous said...

Thx for your reply Arthur :)

After reading your reply to that "nameless reader" that questioned on the Victor TK8000, I think that perhaps stiff rackets might not be the one that generates alot of power after all.

Based on my current experience, with the VT80 that you claim is flexible as well, I will ate these rackets in the power factor:


After trying out my friend's AT700 yesterday, which LD used to use previously, I swung with it and found that it suited my style quite nicely.

However, I had some problems with my smashes. Sometimes, when I hit the racket, it was as stiff as a board! The shuttle bounced off it stiffly.

However, unlike most other rackets, I feel that this one rather supports the arm. As I had once mentioned, I am a tennis player, and as such I commonly use my hands.

I read your reviews on the VTZF and VT80 as well, well done as usual, but I find a little problem: You had claimed that the VT80 was flexible, but on the website, they described it as stiff.

SO after all this, and knowing that I prefer speed rackets, which one do you think is best for me? the VOLTRICS or the LI NING N90s?


Arthur said...

Wow Hugo this is tough...

I'll start off with the VT80. I found that it flexes more than the Z-Force when swung, and that gave me quite a bit more angle for my smashes when I use my wrist.

This characteristic also applies when I compare the VT80 with the N90. I was able to feel more flex from the shaft.

If I were to choose between the two in terms of speed play, I would rate the VT80 higher than the N90.

Also because the VT80 is more user-friendly, it'd be a lot easier to get a good game on. The stiffness of the N90 becomes punishing when you don't hit the sweet spot.

Off-topic comment. I've used an AT700 as well, and while it offers good strength, it's generally too heavy for me to handle properly... Speed is out the window with me when I'm using it...

Hope that helped!!

Anonymous said...


Arthur does this stuff relate to badminton?
Anyway, pls stop spamming here.

Arthur said...

Hah.. this happens all the time. I've got to clean the thread sometimes :)

The spam filter doesn't pick them up.

Anonymous said...

Hello Arthur, u wanna trade this racket for Windstorm N70ii? Looks more control-based which is what you are looking for :)

Arthur said...

Hi there. I've had an N70-ii before, and didn't like the feel of it.

The N90's a pretty cool racket. Looks good too :)

Thanks for the offer though!

Anonymous said...

Hi Arthur , I would like to seek for your opinion ... I would like to ask which racket will you recommend between the Li-Ning Woods N90 and the Li-Ning Woods N90-II ? I am looking for power and also control ....

Arthur said...

They're cut pretty close, so it's up to you to choose between the two.

I'd put it down the stiffness of the shaft and the head heaviness.

N90 is stiffer.
N90-II is head heavier.

Personally, the color scheme for the N90-II rocks.

Anonymous said...

I've heard from my saying that the N90 is a deadly weapon that produces heavy smash , but how does the N90-II compares to it ? Is the N90-II capable of producing such smash ? Or does it come close to that ?

Anonymous said...

I've heard from my friend*

Arthur said...

From my experience, the N90-II is totally capable of producing a powerful smash.

I think it's the lack of people who has the racket the leads to the N90's popularity.

Anonymous said...

Hi Arthur , Would like to ask if this racket is suitable for doubles ?

Arthur said...

Sure, why not?

The stiffness and the weight of the racket might mean that you're coming into defense a little slower, but the smashes sure will be satisfying!

Anonymous said...

I would think a N90ii is better. I've tested it and it seems powerful engough. I'm only 13.

Arthur said...

I personally think the N90-II is a little too heavy to be effective in doubles.

Prefer a lighter racket to get my defense up :)

Unknown said...

I've used the N90 for over a year now. The initial feeling of stiffness and head-heaviness has gone. I wouldn't call the N90 stiff or head-heavy now compared to Yonex Z-force. It's rather flexy and head-light. The N90 has blinded my eyes and became my go to racket. Will purchase a 2nd one to keep the smashes coming.

Unknown said...

How do you compare the N90 to the N90 III ?

Arthur said...

I don't have as much experience with the N90 as you do, so it's still hellava stiff and head heavy for me.

Comparing the two, the N90-III gives me a much better defense, which leaves me more options as to the shots I can play.

Not a heavy smasher, so the power rating doesn't really matter as much to me.

Weijie said...

hello! thank you so much for your reviews, I enjoyed reading them a lot :)

I've two N90s and a N90 III, having used them for a few years now and I love both models. I switched over from the Yonex AT700 and found the N90 really similar in the overall feel. Both are head heavy, but the N90 does feel more solid and it is really more durable than the AT700 which the frame failed after two years without any clashes. The third series N90 provides faster shots, but feels less powerful in the smashes.

How will the N90 compare against the Yonex voltric z-force II? Or the Voltaic 80? I'm in the market for a couple of new rackets for competition use and thinking of switching from Li Ning and back to Yonex heh.

Arthur said...

Hey Weijie, thanks for reading and I'm glad you like what you see...

Well you seem to know what you're doing so I'm not too sure I could give you any better advice that you've not already thought of.

Let's compare the N90 vs the VT80 first. The N90 is a lot stiffer and probably better for your jump smashes and for shots that are snappier and without long swings.

The VT80 is more flexible and more suited to doubles play where you get more time to swing. More power from me at least.

The VTZF-II is a marvel. If you're able to deal with the smaller head frame I would recommend it over the N90. Faster swing speeds at the same stiffness equates to a good increase on power and accuracy.

I'm a fan of the N90, but when the ZF-II came along I just had to give the 3U version a try. Not a bad choice, I have to admit.

Unknown said...

Is the Li Ning Woods N90 LD the same as Li Ning Woods N90? The reason why I am asking is because i saw some feedback saying the LD version is a lower end version of the normal N90

Arthur said...

I wouldn't know. I've not tried the LD version.

People always say things. It's up to you to try what they say to validate their claims :) also one of the reasons why I started reviewing so many rackets.

People say things.

Anonymous said...

Hi auther ,

I am a heavy smasher and im usingn a vt80 now. I play a lot of doubles and rarely singles. I dont think my wrist is super strong but decent enough.

Im planning to change a racket , may i know if you would suggest any rackets ? Im currently looking at vtzforce 2 , n90ii and n90iii.


Arthur said...

Hi Reginald, you sound like you favour attack over all other elements in a racket.

Go for the ZF2.

Anonymous said...

Hi Arthur,
I am an intermediate player. I my smashes are okay and I'm more or a defence player. I use a Yonex Carbonex 7000+ for doubles and wanted to upgrade to a better Racquet. My friend has a Yonex Nanoray 70DX (Re-Strung to 30lbs), I found that this Racquet helped me improve my overall game and smashes too. I'm confused if I should buy this Racquet or if I should buy a Yonex Arcsaber as other experienced players have suggested so. Please help. Which Racquet would u recommend?


Arthur said...

Hey there Glenn,

I have no impression of the Carbonex 7000+ or 70DX.

If you had a good experience with the Nanoray then you might want to go for one along the line.

I would also recommend buying a Made-in-Japan racket. It'll cost a little more, but I've found that the Taiwan and China made ones lacking in quality.

Anonymous said...

Hi Arthur!
Could you help me out with choosing the right Racquet? I love smashing and have tried different Yonex Racquets such as the Nanoray 6000 and the Arcsaber 9 but none have been able to give me the extra power and feel that I want.
I want a Racquet that's head heavy (at the top, or if not at at the top of the head then the whole head). This Racquet should have a good - medium flex and well a slightly bigger grip size because I have big hands!

Could u list 3-4 Racquets that meet this description with 1 being the heaviest and closest to what I just described and 3 or 4 being the lighter ones but still close to what I just described.
Any make and model would do.

Also could u please answer another question for me!
For smashes to be great, should the string tension on a Racquet be more (<30lbs) or less (>25lbs) and why.

I'd really appreciate it if you could help me out with this!!


Arthur said...

Hey there,

For generally better quality game play, I would advise against anything not made in Japan.

There are two ways to improve your power game - coaching and new racket. Let's go for the easier approach.

I have found that two rackets improved my power game - the ZForce 2 and the ZSpeed.

Both rackets have been reviewed on the blog. Have a read and see which one suits you more.

String tension has also been discussed on the blog. Generally, each player and racket responds to different strings and tension. There is no model answer, so I'm afraid you're going to have to spend a little more money to get the right combination.