Thursday, 16 October 2008

A New Badminton Racket

Well, the time has come for me to change my badminton rackets. The Carlton Airblades have done a good job for me over the past 4 years, but i feel like a change. The legendary Carlton quality problems are doing my head in. After adding my lead tape, they just don't seem to be capable of handling this extra strain. There is now large amounts of insulation tape all around the cones, to keep them in place. Every time i play the cone moves around, and it is getting on my nerves. The question is, what should i buy?

I have done a bit of searching on the internet to see what is out there. I have seen some decent deals on the Head Metallix 8000, which is now £50, down from £80. The Apacs rackets seem to be good value, but i hate paying more, just because i am in the UK. You may recall that Apacs are much cheaper in Canada, but trying to get a reply is like getting blood out of a stone. Yonex are too expensive, and even though the Muscle Power 99 is now selling for £60, down from about £100, it is too stiff for my liking. That racket should come with a warning on it for your shoulder.

The ever reliable Fleet website does look tempting. They always have special offers, and at the moment there are 2 which look interesting. The first deal is for the Fleet FT 85X. Now this racket has a flexible shaft and has the old nano technology in it. It has an isometric head shape and the balance point is 290-300mm. This means it is head heavy. A little guide for you here about these measurements, which do appear quite often in the various badminton racket specifications. 270-280mm will be head light balance. 275-285mm will generally be more even balanced. 285-300mm will be head heavy balance.

Fleet are offering two of these rackets for £65.99. I also want my own sting tension as well, so i contacted Fleet and they said no problem sir, i can have both these rackets strung with Yonex BG65Ti for an extra £8, which works out at just £4 per racket, which is about as cheap as you will find. These rackets can be strung up to 30lbs, and they will string up to that tension. This is great news for me because almost every online store will not string your racket to anything near this kind of tension, they just go with the manufacturers tension, which is a lot lower. I would have my tension at about 26lbs, because the racket will lose a few pounds as soon as i start playing with it.

The big dilema with higher tension is the possibility of breaking those strings if you mis-hit the shuttle, especially when they are new. The solution is don't mis-hit the shuttle, and if you are daft enough to have this tension then don't go crying when they break. I will take the chance, because i absolutely love the extra control you get with higher tension. The trade off is that you need that good technique, especially from the rear court, or you will not have any power. The strings will flex less, it is down to you to make them flex, and therefore get the power.

Of course you all know what i am going to do with these rackets as soon as i get hold of them. Lead tape baby! Forget the stated balance point because that will go out of the window. The flexible shaft will help with power a little bit, and i will have more control with the strings. Of course, control is all down to you. No racket can promise extra control, and i would like to see one that can. Nope, only your racket stroke production will give you control. The string tension will also help, depending on what tension you feel will help you best. If you feel you have more control at lower tension then all is fine, but for me, it is a little bit higher.

The second special offer is for two Yehlex badminton rackets. These being the Yehlex YX7000 Nano. It has nano technology and a woven kevlar shaft. It also has a triple taper racket head and has a medium flex. The balance point is head heavy again, but that will change with the lead tape that would go on it. Now what the hell all this triple taper and woven kevlar stuff will do is anyone's guess, i am not particularly interested. What i am more interested in is the price, which is £62.99 for two. These rackets can also be strung to 30lbs, which means that the frames must be robust to take the tension.

This all sounds really good, but there is one small problem and it is this. I have used Fleet twice before. The first time i had a couple of racquets, i cannot remember what they were called now, but they were good value and they did the job. The second time i was not impressed at all. I got two, Top Power models for £60 and they were crap, i just did not like them, they felt dead. I let a few of my mates try them and they all came to same conclusion, they were crap. So i have had a good and bad experience. Should i try them again? I could just contact Fleet/Yehlex ( they are the same company) and ask them if these two special offer rackets are decent. Not much use really because they are hardly going to tell me they are no good are they? I could just tell them the truth, ie, are these rackets as crap as the Top Power one's? This is not a very good idea either. I have not played with them before, so i can't get a feel for them before i buy them. As far as i know they don't let you try before you buy, but there is no harm in asking is there? As far as i can tell, this is the best option, because i would not be a happy bunny if i paid for them and found out they were shit.

Now if i was mr Fleet i would and i had a potential buyer asking me to try before they buy, and also knowing the buyer had had a bad experience in the past, i would offer a trial, wouldn't you?

There is another alternative, and that is Browning. My playing partner uses Browning, the Oxylite 80 to be precise. He got them from Racketworld, which is just about the only place you can buy Browning badminton rackets. This is not a problem because they are extremly cheap and offer good customer service. I am going to try my partners rackets out, so i can see what they are like. Hopefully i won't break any of them, and i am sure he is hoping i don't either.

I will mull over these options for a few weeks and come up with a solution no doubt. However, if by some miracle anyone from Carlton is reading this, then sending me a couple of replacement rackets would be a great exercise in customer relations. In fact if anyone from any of the hundreds of online retailers is also reading this, then sending me a few rackets would be great, and it would do harm at all for your customer relations as well! Hell, someone could sponsor me, and the couple of hundred people who read this blog every day would get to know just how great your shop really is. I won't hold my breath though eh? If anyone has any suggestions as to what badminton racket i should get next then feel free to comment. And for something completely different, a little shout out to one of my friends who has a fantasy baseball site, not related much to badminton rackets, but fantasy baseball has a huge following over in the US.



"the Muscle Power 99 is now selling for £60? "
Really? Would you let us know where to get this price?

antony said...

Hello there

I saw this price when i was snooping around some shops on the internet, but i can't for the life of me remember where it was. I know i didn't dream it up, and it is out there somewhere, i will have a good old search and see if i can't jog my memory.

Gavin said...

As far as I know (and this was confirmed to day by Yehlex themselves when I rang them on a FREE phone number (see they do a "try before you Buy" scheme here they let you have thier racquets for a couple of weeks. :-)

antony said...

Hi Gavin
I had a feeling Yehlex would do this, and i bet it is the same if you want a Fleet racket as well seeing as they are the same company. This is why manufacturers like fleet, yehlex and apacs have good customer services, they offer things a bit better than most. Yehlex are next on my list to see if they will send me some rackets to test for them! I have already tested the new apacs rackets and written up my review on them. My ambition is to get many more manufacturers sending me their stuff to test.

GavinLP said...

Well I'm off there this week to collect a couple as my mother in law wants to buy me a new racket for xmas (I only live round the corner) and will be testing them. I'll send you my comments once I've had a play for you to incorporate into your blog if you want. I might even mention your website so they can look you up too!

antony said...

Hi Gavin
Good luck with the new racket, i am sure you will find what you need there, and by all means let me know which racket you get and how it played.