Sunday, 3 August 2008

Badminton Rackets and Shuttles

I am still waiting for the lead tape to arrive so i can start customising my badminton racket, it should be here any day now, i hope. In the meantime i want to talk about shuttlecocks. Your badminton racket has to hit something, and it has to be a shuttle, unless you use yours to kill flies with, which they are very good at as well. When i first started playing, i used plastic shuttles, mainly from Yonex and Carlton. The Yonex Mavis series was, and still is the most popular plastic shuttle around. They are cheap, and last a long time, and the flight is very consistent. When i began playing virtually every club used Yonex Mavis shuttles, there as not a lot of choice, and to use feather shuttles was unheard of. The only feather shuttle manufacturer around then in the UK, was RSL, or to give them their full name, reinforced shuttlecocks limited.

As time went by, more and more badminton leagues began to use feathers, and the overwhelming choice was RSL, because quite simply, they made the best shuttles, and they were the dominant brand in the UK at that time. The difference between feather and plastic is like chalk and cheese, there is no comparison, absolutely none. Plastic shuttles do not even come close to the flight quality and feeling you get off the badminton racket with feather shuttlecocks. Once you have tried feathers you will know what i mean.

The problem with feathers is the cost and the durability, they are more expensive and do not last as long as plastic shuttles. However, they are worth it. I have only played with feathers for the last 20 years. In fact, i had not hit a single shot with a plastic shuttle for all those years, until a few weeks ago, when i found one lying around in the sports centre. Good grief, if you can hit hard enough those plastic shuttles just close up on impact and turn into bullets. I know when i used to use them, we would fold the skirt back on itself to slow them down, this is just like "tipping" a feather shuttlecock to slow it down.

I have played with many different brands of feathers, from Yonex, RSL, Carlton, Head, Inflight, Magnum, DSS, Yehlex and so on. RSL had the market cornered until a few years back, when Yonex decided to start making shuttles. In my opinion, there are only two brands that stand out, RSL and Yonex. RSL Tourney number 1, and the Yonex Aerosensa range. At number 3 i would include Inflight, as my club uses these, and they are a pretty close third. Always get the best grade though, they may be more expensive but crap quality shuttles will spoil your game of badminton, and will be less durable and inconsistent in flight.

Head have recently entered the UK market and so i tried their shuttles. What a massive let down they were. Complete crap in my opinion. They started off fast and then after a few rallies they slowed down to virtually nothing, totally unplayable. Come on Head, get your act together. RSL have great flight and consistency and are pretty durable. Yonex are also top notch, but they can get expensive. An example of this is that the top of the range Aerosensa 50 costs £17.50 per dozen at central sports, and then you can add on £2.25 for delivery. You will be paying almost £20 for one tube of shuttles.

The cost of one dozen RSL Tourney 1's is £13.95, with the £2.25 delivery charge on top of that. If you buy in bulk you can get them cheaper, which is what many badminton clubs will do. My club pays around £10 per dozen, for the Inflight Premium shuttles. But what if you don't play in a club? You will probably not want to go out and buy 50 dozen shuttles in one go. During the summer, i play a lot of singles with a few friends, but we don't play at the club, we go to a sports centre and book our own courts. A few times i have bought shuttles from the club for the £10 they pay for them, but i don't like asking all the time, as they are for club use.

The alternative is to buy my own, perhaps from one of the many online retailers. The real answer is to save yourself a lot of money and buy your shuttles from ebay. Here is an example. I have just bought 6 dozen RSL Tourney number 1's for £54 delivered. If i were to buy the same amount from central sports, who are the most popular online retailer for badminton equipment in the UK, it would have cost me £87.95 delivered. I will give a shout out to the ebay seller i got these shuttles from- iooho. No idea why they are called that, but what i do know is that they just happen to be the largest authorised Yonex dealer in Hong Kong, so all their products are genuine.

They are the real deal, and the only ebay seller from the far east that you can trust. There are many fake items on ebay, especially Yonex products, but these are not one of them. The RSL Tourneys i got are 100% genuine, i know this because i have played with them for years, i know exactly how they play, and i know that the one's i got are exactly the same as the one's from the UK. In fact, the one's from the UK are imported anyway, they probably came from the same place. 6 dozen tubes at £54 works out at £9 per tube, which is cheaper than anywhere in the UK, and yet they have come all the way from Hong Kong. It just shows how much we get ripped off in the UK.

In the UK there are 3 speeds of feather shuttle, 77, 78 and 79. In Hong Kong there appear to be 2 speeds, 49 and 50. 49 is equivelant to 77 and 50 to 78. The speed i went for was 50 (78) and they were a little bit quick, although i did play on the hottest day of the year in the UK, so the next time i play they will be ok for speed.

Call me a badminton snob, but i can't stand playing badminton with crap shuttles, even when i am practising. It just feels wrong. I have been there before, you know the secenario, scrapping around after matches, looking for half decent shuttles that you could use the next time you play. It ain't no fun, and the one's that looked ok end up disintegrating after a few rallies. Your shiny badminton racket is worthless when this happens, as are your strings, you have no control over anything, all because the shuttle is shit.

Honestly, save yourself some money and get some from Hong Kong. Go to ebay and type in "rsl shuttles" and look for the listings and the "buy it now" offers from Hong Kong, and look for the "iooho" name. They also sell Yonex shuttles at much cheaper prices than in the UK. I am happy to use RSL shuttles, i don't want to spend any more on Yonex, the difference in quality is negligable. Your badminton racket will thank you for it, as well as your wallet.


Lyall said...

Hope you're right about the shuttles from iooho. Just bought 50 dozen aerosensas, expecting delivery this week!

antony said...

Hi Lyall

Iooho has a very good reputation on ebay, i have bought shuttles from them before, i got some RSL Tourney no1's in the summer, arrived very quickly, no problems at all. The feedback is also excellent from past customers, and i am one of those, that's why i have recommended them. Good luck smashing your way through all those lovely aerosensa's!!