Saturday, 28 February 2009

Badminton Racket Review- Apacs Superlight

Next up for review is the Apacs Superlight badminton racket. I have been playing with this for around 10 days now, after using the Nano 999 Power. The difference is like chalk and cheese, two totally different rackets, but each has their own advantages depending on your own game. The Superlight is just that, very light indeed. The spec says it is 74g, but it feels heavier than this simply beacuse it is head heavy.

The fact is that this badminton racket is designed for reaction shots, touch shots and net play. You buy this type of racquet to give you an advantage in these areas, so if you are strong around the net, enjoy fast flat driving rallies, or enjoy defensive shots, such as tight blocks to the net, or driving the shuttle back, then this racket will help you to do this, without question. From the back of the court, it has the disadvantage of being so light. You need weight to help you hit the shuttle harder, so if you have a hard smash, a heavier racket will help develop more power. You must look at what you have already got, ie, what are your strengths and weaknesses?

Technical Specifications

Material: Toray T1000 ( Ultra High Strength Nano Carbon)

Weight: 72-74g

Balance Point: 315mm +/- 3mm (very head heavy!)

Stifness- stiff

Strung at 28lbs (apacs spider Ti)

Ok, the point that stands out in the spec is the balance point of 315mm. This means it is very head heavy indeed. To be honest with you, it does not feel that head heavy. It is head heavy, but not to that extreme, if you can understand what i mean? Because it is so light overall in weight, the fact that it is head heavy is a bit of a suprise. However, what you are left with is a very light racket that you can swing around easily, but you still get a little bit more power because it is head light. It is a strange combination, but it works well.

It has a good solid feel when you hit the shuttle, the head does not twist on impact, so it is good for control. Smashing wise, you can swing faster because it is so light, but you cannot generate the same power as the nano 999 power from the same amount of effort, the nano has the advantage of weight on its side. The superlight has the advantage at the net, and especially for driving the shuttle back, the effect is superb, and the shuttle comes off the racket face really well indeed. At 28lbs tension the effect is even better. Lifting off smashes is very good as well. I would place this badminton racket as a defensive racket first and foremost. You can generate power from the back of the court, it just takes more work to do it, and that takes a toll on your joints and muscles, so for this reason the superlight is better for defensive shots, net shots, and all those other little shots that require little back swing.

As far as personal preference goes, i would place this superlight behind the nano 999power, but above both the edgesabers. I used the superlight for doubles play because that is where i think it is better. For singles play i like something with a bit more weight, which is why i got the nano 999 power. Overall, i would say the superlight is a very capable badminton racket, it offers good control and consistency, but if your looking for pure power, then go for something with more weight. If your looking for control around the net, driving and reaction shots, then the superlight is designed for this, it is up to you to decide if this type of racquet will suit your game.

POWER- 7/10


PRICE= £49.99


At £49.99 it does seem a little bit expensive, and it is about the same price as the Karakal SL70,which is what this racket is going up against, however, in my opinion the superlight has a lot more going for it than the karakal because it is far easier to generate power due to the head heavy balance.

I have been to the All-England badminton championships earlier this week, on the thursday, and i did a bit of snooping around while i was there. I made some contacts with Victor and Head UK, as well as meeting up with the guys from Apacs UK. Hopefully this will lead to me getting some more badminton rackets to test in the future. The retail stands were dominated by Yonex of course, with god knows how many stalls offering the latest yonex products at stupid prices. The thing is.. they were selling like hot cakes, even at higher prices. Makes me wonder how this happens, but if you go into the arena and see the unbelievable badminton being played i guess it inspires you, and your little mind is thinking... perhaps i need a new racket to play like that, so you go out and look for something new.. and the only thing you can buy there is a yonex racket, or shoes, or t-shirt, or bag etc. Yonex has already got you.

However, there does seem to be a change on the way. The Korean national team is now wearing Victor sports shirts, there were even two Malaysian players sponsored by Apacs. Head had a few sponsored players, so perhaps Yonex's dominance is starting to wane a little. This can only be good news, because competition will drive down prices for us lot, it may even make yonex drop their prices, which are artificially high because of the mass marketing machine that drives them. The only problem i have with yonex is the prices they charge, the badminton rackets are good, the shoes are the best you can get, you just pay more because of all the marketing costs.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Badminton Racket Test- Apacs Nano 999 Power

Ok, i have now given the Apacs Nano 999 Power a good ole testing, and have played with it about 10 times in all, so i think i now know enough about it to post my review. Here is the technical info...

Weight- 90grams!!
Flex- 7.5-8.5 (medium)
Balance- 285mm+-3mm
Max string tension-30lbs (strung at 28lbs with Apacs string)
High modulus graphite
Nano technology
Nano tech system
Isometric head shape
Apacs soft feel grip

First things first, this badminton racket is heavy, and it has a head heavy balance. It is fairly stiff in my opinion, a bit more than a medium flex, and it is as powerful as hell. It is like a bomb going off if you time your shots just right. Now it may be everyone's cup of tea this Nano 999 Power because of the weight, but i have said this before, a bit of extra weight is good, it makes the shuttlecock go faster and further with the same amount of effort.

I personally rate this racket as the best Apacs racket so far. I would also like to add some lead tape to this thing to give it even more power, and it would probably put it close to 100g with the grip and strings as well. Sounds stupid? Not to me it doesn't, it makes clears and smashes so much easier. I have played singles with this racket only, and it is because i certainly feel this is a singles racket due to the weight. You need to get used to the weight, especially on defensive shots because it harder to swing around when the going gets quicker, it does take a bit of time to sort this out, but i can honestly say that for singles especially, it works for me.

The weight gets you out of trouble from the deep corners, and you get a solid feel when you time it right. I had this at 28lbs and i could still hit out from the corners without to much trouble. The racket needs to be responsive and provide a good hitting base to do this, otherwise your shots will fall short into court and you will be on the end of a whole lot of running if you hit short in singles.

Think of it this way.. Pete Sampras used a Wilson racket all throughout his career, and that racket was as heavy as a wooden one. He made sure it was heavy by adding more weight to an already heavy racquet. How hard did he hit the ball? His technique was spot on, but he used the racket to get the most out his shots as well. Do not be put off by weight, it you want to hit something harder then use something heavier.

The Nano 999 Power is a bit of a misfit really because it is very heavy yet it has a stiff flex and you don't usually see this combination. What you typically see is a heavy racket with a flexible shaft, and these are aimed at beginners. The Nano Power is different because of the flex. Now this means two things. The first is that you are going to need a fast swing speed to make this beast flex to get the power. The second is that because it is heavier it will be more difficult to swing it fast. You have two problems here. However, if you can swing fast you will get the full enchilada of power, and i mean real power of the racket face. Add to this little scenario the string tension, and you need even more swing speed to get the power. Remember, this test racket is strung at 28lbs, so you have the medium/stiff flex, the heavy weight and the tight strings all working together, and this is what makes this badminton racket such a powerful thing, and you absolutely need to have the technique to get the rewards. If you want a little more forgiveness, then string at a lower tension, it will help you get power without having to swing as fast.

Now can you imagine what would happen if you add lead tape to this as well? The overall weight will increase, but you will make it easier to swing, you will make this beast work for you instead of working for it. This would give you the maximum benefit, and you will certainly notice an increase in power for the same amount of effort. Another benefit is that because it is stiff you also get the control, so you now have more power with the weight, and this stiff flex helps you to control the power, add the string tension of 28lbs and you get even more control. Result= very good racket.

The price is about £35 from apacs sports UK and you can specify your string tension as well, which is a great bonus because factory strung tensions are totally crap, and it can certainly take 28lbs, and no doubt take 30 if you wish. When was the last time you saw a £35 badminton racket capable of taking this kind of tension?

My overall rating for the Nano 999 Power is this:-


The best Apacs racket i have tested, so good in fact that i am going to buy one myself, and i cannot give it a better recommendation than that really. Will not be for everyone due to the weight, but i promise you, you will not be disappointed with this badminton racket. The Apacs description suggests it is is aimed at club players, but don't read too much into that, you will find it works equally as well no matter what standard you play at. A club standard player woud more than likely have a lower string tension and so the Nano 999 Power would work well for them, a higher standard player would no doubt be well aware of higher tension, and at higher tension you get even more benefit, so it works for any standard of player in my opinion.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

More Apacs Badminton Rackets

I have just received another batch of Apacs badminton rackets to test. These being the Nano 999 Power, the Super Light and the Tantrum Power 11. All are strung with Apacs string at 28lbs tension, so for any of you out there who are a bit wary of whether or not an Apacs racket can handle this tension, then fear not, because they can!

I have only had them for 3 days, but i have played with the Nano 999 Power 3 times already, and my first impression of this badminton racket is that it designed for pure power, it is heavier than the others, has a head heavy balance, and the shuttle flies off this racket. After the first few shots i could tell it was going to be good. It is one of the most powerful rackets i have ever used. I will play with all of them in the upcoming days and post my reviews of each one shortly, the first will be the Nano 999 Power.

On another note, it seems the e-mail i sent to badminton england regarding the All England and the yonex monopoly has fallen on deaf ears, i have not had any reply. Not to worry, i will now direct a new e-mail at a specific person, and not just badminton england, this will hopefully get me a reply, if not, it will just show how great my badminton association really is, i mean, a paid up member of this association cannot even get a reply? Shameful isn't it?