Saturday, 5 July 2008

SOTX Badminton Rackets

Not many people in the UK will have heard of SOTX badminton as they are a newcomer to these shores, however, they have been growing at a rapid pace over in China. Now they have entered the UK market, selling all kinds of badminton equipment including rackets, shuttlecocks, bags, clothing and shoes. SOTX have been around in China since 2002, and now have over 300 stores in many major chinese cities. SOTX has also expanded into around 20 other countries, and is a very active promoter of badminton tournaments. This can only be good for our sport, a litte more competition doesn't hurt anyone, but it may help to reduce prices for us lot who buy badminton rackets and accessories.

It was only a matter of time before a major brand appeared from China, what took them so long? Yonex dominates in the far east, but they are Japanese, so perhaps SOTX can take away this dominance. They already appear to be eating into the market share. The potential to sell badminton rackets in the far east is huge, the popularity of the game is massive over there. If you think that 2 million people play badminton in the UK every week, imagine how many people play each week in the far east? How many racquets could be sold? Millions, this is a big business, a very big business indeed.

The UK market is dominated by Yonex and Carlton, and has been since i started playing. Over the last 10 years there have been a few more players entering the market such as the American suppliers like Wilson, Head and Prince. There are also a few less well established suppliers like Forza, Fleet, Browning, Inflight and so on. With 2 million players in the UK, there are 2 million potential customers to serve, and the badminton magazine that is delivered to all members of the BA of E is full of advertisements from these companies. They all want you to buy their rackets and accessories.

Back to SOTX, and they also have an ebay store where they sell all their stuff. After looking at the customer feedback, i can see that over the last 12 months, they have sold around 110 items, and all feeback is positive, not a single person in the UK has complained about their service or products. Most of the equipment they sell appears to be clothing such as tracksuits and t-shirts, and this is not suprising as you can pick up clothing for under £1, which is incredible. In fact i have never seen anything so cheap, jesus, you could get yourself 10 t-shirts for a tenner, tracksuits are not much more expensive either, and shorts for that matter. These are mental prices, and i am certainly going to have some of these, i will let you know what the quality is like when i get some.

Now to the actual SOTX badminton racquets, and there are lot's to choose from, with around nine different ranges. First up is the Commax Power Series, and the daddy of this range is the SOTX CP-7000. It is made from high modulus carbon with force-pro nano technology. You may be wondering what force-pro is. Well it is designed to reduce vibration to help protect your wrist, arm and shoulders. If you string your racket to high tensions you will get much more vibration going into your body, this can cause injury and give serious problems later on. This force pro stuff is meant to protect you, and seeing as the recommended stringing tension for this CP-7000 is 30lbs, you will need it. I think this could be a great idea from SOTX, no-one else has tried this to my knowledge. You will soon find out if it works, if your arm doesn't ache after a few matches. This could actually be very good news for shoulders and joints. At least SOTX is aware that high tension equals aches and pain. The CP-7000 has a stifness rating of 9.0-9.3, which means it is very stiff, and the weight is 83-89g, and it is head heavy. Now here is the killer, it costs a whopping £109. There are not too many badminton stores that sell SOTX yet, so you will end up paying full whack at the moment. SOTX also have an ebay store, and it is the same price there as well. I find this hard to believe, but the recommended retail price is £199 on the SOTX UK website. There is no way on earth they will sell any of these for that price, in fact i think they will struggle to sell any for £109. This racket really must be something else, but i guarantee it will come down in price to about half of what they currently advertise it for.

The SOTX CP-6000 has the same technology but is less stiff, at 8.5-9.0, and is a bit heavier, at 84-91g, the balance is more even. The price is £99, and you can string up to 30lbs.

The CP-5000 has the force-pro technology, weighs 82-88g, and is less stiff at 8.0-8.5. There does appear to be a large tolerance in the weight to me. 82-88 doesn't really tell me what the exact weight is, this needs to be more precise in my opinion. Max string tension is still 30lbs, and it costs £79.99. There is also the CP-3000 and the 1000 in this range, which appear to be very similar to the others, just less in price. The 3000 is £69.99 and the 1000 is £59.99. If the bottom of the range has this pro force technology it would be easier to just go out and buy this racquet, instead of forking out £109 for the 7000. After doing a bit of searching on the internet, there is only one authorised seller for SOTX rackets, and this is in the US. The price for the CP-7000 is $309!! This relates to about £155 in the UK. This makes it just about the most expensive badminton racquet in the world, and hardly anyone in the western world has heard of SOTX, until now, because i just did. SOTX are looking for agents to sell their stuff, now tell me how the hell are you going to justify that price? You would have to be a super agent to sell SOTX rackets.

If you think the CP range is expensive then take a look at the Woven range. The range topper is the SOTX Woven-16 and costs £129.99... gulp. It is made from 800D high grade carbon fibre and glass fibre, which give extra stability and control. It weighs in at 88g and has a stiff rating. It's party piece is that you can string it to 31lbs tension, if you can find a string that can take the stress. This range does not have the pro force vibration technology so you can kiss your arm goodbye if you string it at 31lbs tension.

The Woven-13 is next which has more flexibilty and is slightly heavier. This one costs £99.99...ouch. The Woven-12 is also very similar and weighs 86g with a stiffness rating of 8.5-9.0. Price is £89.99. The Woven 11i is a bit heavier at 89g, and is more flexible, price for this is £79.99.

There are another 9 rackets in this range, which are all very similar, and the bottom of the range is the Woven-2i, which still costs £49.99.

The Diamond Fighter range has 8 rackets, with the D-900 being the top one, and this costs £89.99. The Diamond Fighter range (where do they get these names from) has special memory alloy which reduces the ageing of the racket. How it does this i do not know, perhaps this racket forgets that it has been hitting shuttles and so lasts longer. It weighs 85g and is quite stiff, designed for professional all round play.

The SOTX D-800 is slightly more flexible and costs £79.99 and is designed for attacking players. The D-700 has even more flex and is £69.99. We go all the way down to the D-100 which costs £44.99.

SOTX also have a superlight series, which weigh in at about 75g. Funnily enough, SOTX claim these rackets are the lightest in the world, which we know they are not..re Karakal SL70? I wonder if Karakal know about this claim.

Overall i think SOTX badminton rackets are way overpriced at the moment. Time will tell if they start to sell in the UK, but at these prices i doubt they will. If they can get some stores to stock their goods they stand a chance, but the prices will almost certainly come down when this happens, that will be the time to buy.

4 comments:

Guan Sing said...

Hi there Antony,

Good blog you've got running here, always good to see different reviews of rackets to gain a better insight!

I realise that this post is a pretty old, but would like to make a comment on the SOTX stiffness ratings.

Basically, SOTX measure their stiffness by placing a standard weight on the racket head and measuring the angle of deflection(I can't remember which!). So a lower number would mean that the racket deflects less, which means stiffer.

So, 8.0-8.5 would be extra stiff (the stiffest that SOTX do them as far as I know), 8.5-9.0 stiff and so on.

Hope this helps and keep it going :)!

antony said...

Hi Guan
Thanks for the correction. It does look like it works back to front with the SOTX ratings. A bit confusing, but i guess every racket manufacturer has their own way of doing things. Thanks for the kind words.

Александър Еремиев said...

Nice guide, but SOTX D-600 is supposed to be stiffer than D-900 :)

Anonymous said...

Hi,

very late to post a comment but also i would like to point out

the sotx LG superlight series go down to 72gram for specific rackets

and this infact is the lightest in the world as Karakal cheat they weigh there rackets without string or grip whereas Sotx is weighed with both

Dave