Monday, 23 June 2008

Karakal Badminton Rackets

Today is Karakal time, a funny name for a badminton racket manufacturer don't you think? It actually comes from Belgium, hence the weird name. Karakal have being going since 1978, and they moved into the UK market in 1981. In 1985 they purchased the rights to the UK and Ireland, not too sure what the hell this means, but they also got the rights to the rest of the world in 1991, and changed the name to Karakal Worldwide Ltd, their own new name. They now distribute to over 40 countries around the world, so they are a big player in the racket world.

I suppose they are most famous in the UK for their badminton over grips. These grips sold like you would not believe, they still do to this day, but almost every other manufacturer has copied the original design, so we now have more choice than ever before. Karakal grips are still the best in my eyes though, always will be too, although they have got carried away with some of their more recent designs.

Karakal are also famous for creating the lightest badminton rackets in the world. 70 grams to be exact, which is light enough thankyou. I think Karakal pushed the envelope as far as they could when the "in thing" was to make rackets as light as possible a good few years ago. However, there is one problem with light rackets, and that is, it is hard to generate the power wwith them. Of course, this need not be a problem if you want manouverability, you will get this in spades with a 70g bat. If you like defending, or want quicker reaction shots, then this is the one for you.

I have played with the SL70, and the new M-TEC 70, and to be honest, you do need very good technique to get the power, mine probably isn't good enough, as i did struggle to belt the shuttlecock as hard as usual. Yet, again we come back to stroke production and technique, the absolute bedrock of your game. Let me just say that if you string the SL70 to 30lbs tension and play a full season with it, you should book an early appointment with the physio to help get your shoulder and arm back. This is a hard core racket, but is perhaps not designed for power players, more for the deceptive stroke players, or net players. But, if you can swing fast enough then give it a go, it could be the just the right fit.

The flagship model is of course the SL70, which has been around for a good few years now. The latest incarnation now has nano technology in it, with graphite and magnesium. The weight is 70g, but there is no mention of the balance point, although i don't suppose it has one either way it is so light you wouldn't notice. The new model also has the Muscle-tec strigning system, which increases the sweet spot, and allows for higher tension, 30lbs to be precise. The price is about £69.99.

The all new M-TEC 70 ISO, is very similar to the SL 70 but has an isometric head shape. It is 90% nano graphite and 10% titanium, but weighs just 70g. The price is also £69.99 where i looked. This seems to be just a preference of the classic head or the isometric, so the choice is yours.

The SL80 is next, and it weighs 80g, with nano graphite and titanium. The Karakal SL80 also has the muscle tec stringing system, so you can go upto 30lbs tension. This could be useful if you want a little more weight, but it is still very light compared to everything else on the market today. Very limited supply of this racket in the UK, not many vendors sell it, but i have seen one for sale at £54.99.

The Karakal M-TEC 80 retails for £52.99 and is the same as the SL 80 but with isometric head shape. The flex is medium stiff and is designed for all round play. The maximum stringing tension is 24lbs on this one, but you will be able to go higher than that. Incidently, this racket had a special offer with it, of 4 Karakal grips thrown in.

There is also the M-TEC 75, which is 75g with an isometric head, and a medium stiff flex. The best price is just £39.93, which is a very good deal for a decent intermediate racket.

There are a few other models a lower prices, which follow the same path as every other manufacturer. However, if you fancy something a bit different then Karakal could well be a good alternative. I have seen quite a few reviews of Karakal badminton rackets, and most of them are favourable, so they must have something going for them. The prices are also very favourable compared to Yonex.


jack said...

hyy i was wondering if you have ever tested the karakal tour gel and if its a good racket for an offensive player who smashes frequently.

antony said...

Hi jack

Sorry i have not tested that racket so cannot comment on it.