Ashaway are more well known for their strings, but they also have a wide range of badminton rackets, clothing, shoes, and other badminton accessories. Ashaway have a great reputation, mainly due to their racket strings, which have proved to be very popular over many years. Building on this solid foundation, they have begun rolling out badminton rackets.
The flagship range is the Kevlar series. The top racket is the Ashaway Kevlar 8000SQ. At the time of writng this, it is not yet available in the UK. It comes out in July 2008. Looking at the Ashaway website, it says this racket is extra stiff, and head heavy, with a weight of 89g. It has an isometric head shape, and is re-inforced with kevlar and high modulus graphite. This seems to follow the pattern of most expensive racquets, with stiff flex and head heavy balance. The price, well i don't know yet, but i expect it to be around the £100 mark, which means Ashaway are going straight into Yonex territory, so this had better be a quality product to compete. Ashaway actually price this at £119 on their website, but it will probably sell for less at the online badminton stores.
The Ashaway 7000SQ is next up, and is alomost the same as the 8000SQ, but appears to be a bit lighter at 86g. Extra stiff flex and head heavy balance are the main points of this bat. Stringing tension is around 26lbs, but you can go higher than this if you like. It is retailing at about £92.99, which is expensive to me.
The Ashaway 6000SQ follows a similar pattern, but has less weight, at 84g, and has a slightly less stiff rating. It still has a head heavy balance point, and the isometric shape. Ashaway say this racket is designed especially for doubles play, however, they then boast that England player, Nathan Rice uses this racket. The problem is that Nathan is a singles specialist, so what is he doing using a doubles bat? The answer is simple really, he likes this racket. Don't fall for the marketing talk. I mean come on, how on earth can any manufacturer claim that they have made a badminton racquet specifically for doubles play? You play the same shots in any form of badminton play, ie, smash, drive, block, drop, slice etc. Think about this the next time you look at the crap that is being said by the manufacturers.
I am systematically going through all the many ranges from the many different companies, and just telling you what they, and the online stores want you to believe. I have my own opinions on this, and no doubt you do as well, if you have read any of my other posts. You have to make your own mind up, but be aware that all that i say is just a reference for you, taken from the manufacturers. I can give you my own personal views on these rackets, but it won't be of much use to you. Why? because i don't play like you do, and vice versa. What i think is a good racquet, you may not. It is all personal, and that is it, period. Who am i to tell you that you should buy such and such a racket? Only you can make that choice. I have told you that i use the Carlton Airblade Tour, but this doesn't mean you should go out and buy one. No doubt there are some of you who have used this model and thought it was crap, that it didn't have any power or control, or whatever. All i know is that i like it, it is pretty cheap, and that is the main reason, the cost.
Yes i can go out and buy the most expensive bat out there, but the difference it would have on my own game would be hardly noticeable, i guarantee it. It pains me to read all these reviews on the forums that go on about how such and such a racket has improved the accuracy of a smash, or that drop shots are much closer to the net with this amazing new bat. What a load of crap. The only thing that will make your smash more accurate is your technique, not the racket. Seriously, if you give me 10 different racquets, all strung at the same tension (this is important) the difference in my smash accuracy will be virtually nothing, unless i start messing around with my own technique. It will be the same for you as well. In fact, if for some strange reason you do truly think your accuracy has improved by changing rackets, then your technique is inconsistent, and no racket on earth will help you out with this. There is one more important factor in all this, and it is more important than your technique, it is footwork, the most fundamental and often ignored part of badminton. I have not mentioned it until now, but it is so important, and i will cover footwork in future posts.
I think i have got a little side tracked here!! Ok, back to Ashaway badminton rackets. The 6000SQ will cost you around £53.55 if you look hard enough.
The 5000SQ is next up, and is lighter still than the others in this range, at just 82g. The flex is medium/stiff, so it's a little more flexible than the others. It still has a head heavy balance, and the isometric head shape. Price is about £47.59.
The next series in the Ashaway range is the Superlight series, and the range topper is the Superlight 79SQ, which weighs just 76g and has a medium flex rating. It has the isometric head shape, and the head is re-inforced with titanium and ultra high modulus graphite. Ashaway have a recommended retail price of £90 for this, but i have seen it priced at £49.47. 76grams is very lightweight, and it is almost as light as the Karakal models, so if you want an alternative to Karakal, then this could be the one.
The Ashaway Superlight 79 is virtually the same but has a conventional head shape, and for some reason it weighs 79g, so it's fractionally heavier. In case you hadn't guessed yet, the SQ stands for Square, or isometric. The price is £38.07, so it is about £10 cheaper than the isometric version. If you can hit the shuttle in the middle of the strings you won't need an isometric head shape to help you, so in this case you can save yourself £10 and get a normal head shape.
The Ashaway Superlight 78SQ has a medium flex and weighs 75g, as does the Superlight 78 with the classic head shape. Apparently this is a real players racket, according to Ashaway. What does this mean? More marketing bullshit is what it means. The superlight bats have sold well, and a few badminton stores have sold out of this range, so they have proved to be quite popular. Expect to pay about £45-£50 for these two versions.
The last in the Superlight range is the T5, which is also available in conventional and isometric head shapes. The weight is 79g, with a medium flex and head heavy balance point. There is also kevlar in here for extra strength, which the more expensive 78 and 79 don't have for some reason. Prices are about £40.
The Palladium range is next and has three models to choose from. First up is the Ashaway Palladium XT600. Palladium is from the platinum series of metals, and this provides more strength, which allows these rackets to be strung to higher tensions. The XT600 has a stiff flex, is head heavy and weighs 89g. I have not seen any of the palladium series on sale in the UK yet, but the recommended retail price is £79.99.
The XT550 is the same as the 600, but has a medium/stiff flex and weighs 86g, so a bit more lightweight here. Price is £69.99. The XT500 has a medium flex and weighs 84g. Price for this is £59.99. All these racquets have the isometric head shape.
The Ashaway Electro range is next up, which have nano carbon technology, making them lightweight but also strong. The Electro Nano is the most expensive and has a medium flex and weighs 81g. Price is £54.73. The others in the range are the Electro Pink, which is designed for the ladies and is bright pink. It is also supplied with bright pink strings and a pink bag, so you will not lose this even if you tried. Priced at £60 on the Ashaway website.
The Electro VG has a metallic gold colour, with a medium flex and weighs 84g. This has proved more popular than the others in this range, and you will pay about £46.27 if you shop around a bit.
The Ashaway Electro VB has a flexible rating and weighs 82g. However, at central sports they say this weighs 75g, so i would take the information from the Ashaway site first. Price is £34. We also have the Electro VR, which is the same as the VB, but in a different colour as far as i can see. Priced the same too. The Electro VP, is purple, and is the same racquet.
The final series is the Nano Dynamic range which will be available from July 2008. The Nano Dynamic 130 is the range topper and weighs just 75g with a flexible shaft. Priced at about £45. There is also the Nano Dynamic 80, 70 and 60 which are about £34.99 or there abouts. I have seen them for less though, and they could be a decent starter choice if you don't want to spend much.
All in all, Ashaway badminton rackets offer just about everything you need, and the price range is huge, from cheap to expensive. Based on their reputation for quality strings, their racket range could well prove to be just as successful.