Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Apacs Tantrum 300 Review

The second test racket i got my hands on was the UK spec Tantrum 300. I will get straight to the point here... this is the best Apacs racket i have had the pleasure of testing by some way. It is better than the lethal 70, my current racket, and the lethal 90. When i say "better" i mean better for my game, better because it suits my style of play, and better because it helps me play my shots more efficiently, and effectively. The racket makes things easier for me, so i like it, pretty simple really, but very important. I judge any racket by this, and so should you. It often takes quite a few rackets to find one that feels this way, and i am no different. For example, i really liked the superlight i tested last year because it was so good at the net, and for defensive shots. The problem was that it took away a lot of power from the rear court, so what i gained at the front of the court, i lost at the back. If i was a power player, this racket would not have helped me to get the best out of my game. If i was a defensive player who liked to play at the net, then this racket would have probably helped me play the majority of my shots. As with many rackets, there is often a trade off, depending on what type of game you have.

Ok, back to the tantrum 300, here is the spec for it...

Frame Material
30T HM Graphite + Nano (Japan Mitsubishi M30)
Shaft Material 40T HM Graphite + Nano (Japan Toray M40)
Flex Stiff
Weight 3U (86-89g) G2
Length 675mm
Balance 289 ± 3mm (Head Heavy)

Max String Tension

When i tested this racket, the spec said it was "even balance", but i could tell immediately it was "head heavy". I sent an e-mail to Steve at Apacs and he agreed, so the spec on the Apacs Sports UK website now says "head heavy" balance. You may also notice the max stringing tension is at 35lbs. The test racket i had was strung at 28lbs with Apacs string, with no problems at all, so i have no doubt you can go up to 35lbs if you want to break your shoulder! The flex is rated as "stiff", and it is just that.

I put an overgrip on it, so the head heavy balance was not as apparent, but i could still feel it. The first impression was very good indeed. It felt extremely solid, with very little vibration or distortion on impact with the shuttle. The best way to describe the tantrum 300 is that it makes everything easier. It takes less effort to clear and smash, and to generate power. I prefer rackets that make my life easier, the "low work" type of racket i have gone on about in previous posts. The bit of weight in the head helps with control because there is more stability, and the high string tension and stiff frame adds to this effect. The lethal 90 has similar characteristics, but because there is less weight in the head, it is not as stable as the tantrum 300, or the lethal 70 for that matter.

The tantrum 300 is a clear winner for me, it simply comes down to how it suits my own game. It feels "spot on", better than anything i have ever played with, and that includes all of the latest Yonex offerings, such as the Arcsabers and the Nanospeeds. It is better than all of them, by a long way. It also shades the lethal 70 because it has more power and more stability. I honestly didn't think the 70 could be topped, but it has been. As a result, i will be buying this test racket from Apacs Sports, and will be using it for the coming season. I suppose i cannot give it a higher recommendation than that. So, for all of you who liked the lethal 70, the good news is that the tantrum 300 will exceed your expectations, it certainly exceeded mine.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Lethal 90 Review

It has been a while since my last post, but since i have not had any rackets to test it seemed a bit pointless in posting. However, i now have some rackets so here goes:-

I have had the lethal 90 and the Tantrum 300 for around 2 weeks now and given both of them a good thrashing. The first up is the 90, a UK only racket, and is the successor to the lethal 70. The 70 has been the best racket made by Apacs in my opinion, and the one which i currently play with, so the 90 has a lot to live up to. The technical details are as follows-

* Carbon Nano Tube technology
* Internal Muscle wave frame for improved stability and power
* Hollow shaft with all NEW T-joint design giving excellent power generation and super stability
* Rapid shaft recovery after every shot

Frame Material
30T HM Graphite ( Mitsubishi M30 ) + Titanium Mesh
Shaft Material 40T HM Graphite ( Toray M40)
Flex Stiff
Weight 3U (86-89g) G2
Length 675mm
Balance 290 ± 3mm (Head Heavy)

Max String Tension

Special Features :-

* New high speed frame design
* Head heavy balance
* Unique UK specification
* Special apacs internal muscle wave frame

My test racket was strung at 28lbs with apacs string. Looking at spec it looks like it is very similar to the lethal 70, ie stiff frame, high string tension and head heavy balance, all the ingredients for power. Comparing it with the 70, the balance seems a little bit less head heavy, but it is a very small difference. After picking it up and playing a few shots it felt very similar to the 70, very solid on impact. This is what makes a racket in my opinion, it has to feel solid, and you can tell this from the very first shot you play. Stiffness is the same as well, but the one difference is the frame design on the head, with the lethal 90 being a bit more aerodynamic. Do you notice this when playing shots? Not really, no. With it feeling more even in balance it means you lose a bit of power from the rear court, so in my opinion it is not as powerful as the 70. However, it feels a whole lot better at the front of the court because it is easier to swing around for reaction shots, so net play is improved, as are defensive and reaction shots.

Having said all this, the 90 does feel more responsive all round, especially with higher string tension. This racket is designed for this, so to get the best out of it, you need to experience it with tight stringing. Overall, i would place the 90 on equal terms with the 70, and that is high praise indeed. It does the job as good as anything else currently available. It has slightly less power, but makes up for this by being more responsive and better around the front court. It is not cheap, at around £89, but trust me, it is one of the best rackets you will get your hands on this year. Apacs have raised the bar again, and it is good to see this. Buy one and you will not be disappointed at all, it has been worth the wait.

I also have the Tantrum 300, which will be reviewed in the next post, and all i will say is that it is unbelievable.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Badminton Coaching

I wanted to give a shout out to a guy who is a badminton coach, and lives in my neck of the woods. His name is Paul Stewart and he has recently begun his own badminton coaching and racket review site at http://badminton-coach.co.uk/ He is as keen as anyone, and very passionate about badminton in the north west of England. His site is full of racket reviews and solid coaching tips for beginners and advanced players alike.

He is a yonex sponsored coach, so all the reviews are on the latest yonex rackets such as the z-slash, 8DX and the nanospeed range. What he does do though is try to remain impartial in his reviews, and what he does a hell of a lot better than me is to have videos of the reviews. His latest video is of the Arcsaber 8DX, and you can find it from his website. He does a pretty good job as well, with a well laid out video that is very clear and specific.

The only problem is that it is difficult to be totally impartial if you are sponsored by a company and you are reviewing their rackets. It would not do much for your new sponsorship deal if you give bad reviews would it? However, Paul does mark the rackets down on price, because we all know just how expensive yonex rackets are, so no matter how good they are there is always the question of "is it worth the money?"

He is as honest as they come, and is putting a lot of effort into promoting badminton via the internet, so good luck to him, and i hope his site goes from strength to strength, he deserves it.

On another note, i think it is time to do a few more reviews myself. My 2 Carlton Airblades have died, the heads on all of them have snapped. They have given me years of faithful service so i cannot complain. Stringing at a higher tension will eventually take its toll, and this is what has happened to these rackets. I would like to take a closer look at Victor and Li Ning, just to find out what they are like, and if they are worth the money. I will be looking for someone to send me some free rackets, so some e-mails will be going out very soon. Frankly, if i was the boss of a badminton racket manufacturer i would jump at the chance of some free promotion.

Friday, 7 May 2010


Yonex have taken quite a hammering over the past year or so. First they either lost or decided to stop sponsoring both the Chinese and Korean national players. They lost out to Li Ning and Victor. One thing yonex had going for them as far as advertising went, was that they could always rely on showing a few action shots of the best players in the world using their rackets. They have used this tactic since time began and it helped to make them the dominant force they are today. Today they have a new tactic to shift all those rackets, and it is a focus on what the rackets are capable of.

Case in point is the ArcSaber Z-Slash, which is the most powerful racket ever made, achieving a world record smash speed of over 400km/hour. In the right hands it is i suppose, but it would be interesting to have the same player use other rackets and see what results we get. Yonex have pulled a master stroke with this marketing, but it is a one off unless they aim to get the same pkayer to smash with all the new rackets they bring out, and create new world records. You can imagine what the average player thinks when they see that the ArcSaber is the most powerful racket ever made. They think they can achieve somthing pretty spectacular as well, and hey, even if it isn't 400 and odd kilometres an hour, it must still do something for my smash, and make me more powerful. The answer is- forget it, you will come home with a sore shoulder or even worse, an injury that wrecks your shoulder because you put everything behind that smash to obliterate the shuttle in one glorious moment.

All the online stores that sell this racket (all at exactly the same price in the UK by the way- something wrong there i feel) have this great big slogan that the z-slash achieved this smash speed. The ArcSaber range has also grown, and they now have an ArcSaber 8DX. I can see why they have come up with that name. The Cab 8DX is an all time classic racket. I actually had a hit with one a few months ago and it still felt great, despite all the advances in technology. The 8DX name is very symbolic, so to name an extra stiff new ArcSaber after it is a bit false if you ask me. There is no way the new racket will have any resemblance to the old one. Perhaps we will see an ArcSaber 21, named after the old Cab 21? The point is that older players like me (38) remember the older rackets, so just the name sparks a bit of interest. Again, pretty clever marketing from yonex.

Yonex have gone back to basics by emphasising the quality of their rackets. The prices are still very high, and i did think they would come down a little as they took the hit from rivals such as Li Ning. The problem is that those Li Ning rackets are at stupid prices in the UK. Honestly, i cannot see how they are going to break into the European market with such high prices. I need to get my hands on some to test them out and see if they are any good. The top end Li Ning Woods N90 is selling for £159.99, which is more expensive than the z-slash, and no-one in the UK knows a thing about them, so why would they shell out all that money on an unknown brand with unknown rackets? They won't, simple. If some rep from from Li Ning UK is reading this then send me some rackets.

I am still waiting for a new supply from steve at Apacs, and i want to test the Tantrum 200 or whatever the latest version is. My lethal 70 is still going strong and i am still lovin it, best racket i have ever had the pleasure of wielding. More new posts to come by the way.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Apacs Edgesaber Z-Spark Review

Ok here is the review for the z-spark. First off i will say that it is an all round racket due to its more even balance. The main factor i take into account when i rate any racket is how stable it is on impact. This is the be all and end all for me, and the z-spark is very stable, so it passes my test. The head is lighter than with the lethal 70, so it is better at the net and for fast reaction shots. Where it is not as good is at the back of the court when you need power. This is all because the head is lighter. However the difference is minimal, and i doubt you would notice much of a difference between the two. The z spark is slightly head heavy, just not as much as the lethal 70.

It sure does sound good when you hit the shuttle, especially at 30lbs tension, which is what i had in there. It is a stiff frame so it gives good control, and you can get very good power if you can swing fast enough overhead. I could tell after the first minute that it was a good racket that had control and stability. A nice consistent feel, which i what i look for. I think you can use it for both doubles and singles without any trouble at all. Better than the lethal 70 at the net because it is lighter in the head, but slightly less powerful from the back than the lethal 70. I have said before that the lethal 70 is my favourite, and although the z-spark comes very close, it just falls short in my opinion. This is only because the 70 suits my game better than the z-spark.

Others will prefer the z-spark because it is better for their game. This is just my own personal opinion, so bear that in mind. The most important point is that it is solid and consistent, which is all you can hope for in any racket, whether it is stiff, flexible, heavy, light or whatever. If you are a big hitter you will have no problem with the z-spark, and if you are a net player it will suit you as well. It is certainly more of an all round racket than the lethal 70.

I will give the z-spark 9.5/10. The test racket i had was a UK version made for Apacs Sports UK with the yellow shaft and t-joint.


Frame Material: Hi Modulus Graphite + CS Carbon

Shaft Material: Hi Modulus Graphite + CS Carbon

Shaft Flex: Stiff

Weight: 86 +/- 1g 4U

Lenght: 675mm

Max Tension: 30lbs (i strung mine to 30 without any problems)

Balance: 285 +/- 3amm


Isometric head frame

76 Grommets system
CS Carbon Nanotec

CS Nano Carbon + Hi PER HMG

Japan Troy 30M (30 tonne) for racket frame

Japan Troy T700 (24 tonne) for racket shaft

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Apacs Edgesaber Z-Spark

I have just received the test racket from Apacs Sports UK, the all new z-spark. I have just strung it to 30lbs with apacs spider string and i am about to begin testing it this week. From getting hold of it for the first time i can tell you it is slightly head heavy, just a little less than the lethal 70 in fact. I have high hopes for this racket, i expect it to be at least on a par with the lethal 70, if not better. It will have to go some to do this, so we will see. I will post my review in the next few days when i have given it a good thrashing. Stay tuned for more....