Equipment review

Demo racquets: try before you buy

Last week I got my hot little hands on some high end badminton demo racquets. I have to confess I’m attracted to nice-looking racquets. If that makes me shallow, I’m guilty as charged. In my defence, I’ve been loyal to the same badminton racquet and only looking to change because of my shoulder injury.

My coach advised me to stick with one racquet at a time. He also said it was best to buy several of the same racquet because:

  • manufacturers often discontinue popular racquets
  • strings can snap during a game or tournament and you’ll need a backup
  • racquets can easily break from clashes in doubles or an uneven stringing job that puts stress on the frame, etc.

They say “a bad workman blames his tools” but I’m realistic about this. A racquet won’t make my defence and netplay like Lee Yong Dae. Nevertheless, I’m looking for a lighter racquet because my shoulder tendonitis and bursitis are bothering me again. Also I’m hoping a lighter racquet could help with earlier preparation, faster hands, quicker grip change. Valid reasons, no?

voltric-70-etune

The Yonex Voltric 70 Etune (4U/G5 version) was a little too flex for my liking.

The process of adjusting to a new racquet also takes time. My coach suggested trying the 4U/G5 version of the Yonex Voltric 70 Etune. From the specs it’s a moderately flexible racquet with a customisable head weight. Hope’s demo racquet at EZ Box  was strung with the bottom grommets attached using BG66UM at ~25 lbs. So far, so good. When I tested it during training and social games, I thought “it’s too flex. I can feel it spring back when I tap the shuttle or hit a smash”. The weight and head weight felt right but the vibration felt odd. I gave the demo racquet back and asked Hope if she had a stiffer one. She suggested the Yonex Voltric 80 etune (4U/G5) but didn’t have a demo of it. Oh well.

Arlo was in the shop when I returned the demo racquet and he suggested trying some Victor racquets. The latest Victor Jetspeed 10 and S12 were recommended, as well as the HX600. But as I left he reiterated that it’s best to stick with the one racquet. “What’s wrong with your racquet?” I humbly replied, “nothing”.

js12

The Victor Jetspeed 12 is a great racquet and it plays well, but I wanted to rip out the demo’s VS890 strings.

I tried two demo racquets during Gilbert‘s social session at Victor. Note: avoid the mistakes I made. Don’t test racquets during a busy social session where you’re with unfamiliar people and you’re under pressure to carry the game. It’ll just mess up your timing. Don’t test a racquet with unfamiliar strings or grip if possible. It will add only extra variables.

What happened? I reverted from the JS12 to my usual racquet in the second match to finish it off. I gladly returned the HX600 demo racquet after the third match and left early. By that point, my temper was frayed – I was stuck carrying the game, getting attacked and couldn’t defend to my usual ability. My opponents made many unforced errors and after the last one I ended the match. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I’m not proud of it. But I achieved my goal of testing those demo racquets.

HX600.jpg

The demo Victor HX600 was strung with VS800 at ~ 26 lbs. The original grip had been removed and just had a thin, worn overgrip. I didn’t know how to appreciate it, it was really uncomfortable.

I’ve decided to stick with my current racquet for the time being. There’s honestly nothing wrong with it. The money saved from buying new racquets can be used for other things now. Yay!

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