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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Yonex Voltric Z-Force Review

Yonex Voltric Z-Force
Racquet Type: Voltric Z-Force SP version
Specs: 4UG5
Balance: Headheavy (310mm) with strings/grip
Flex: Stiff+++
Strings: Yonex BG66 Ultimax
Tension: 26lbs, pre-stretched using Yonex ES5 PROTECH
Grip: Karakal Super grip+Toalson overgrip
Technology: Nanopreme, Tri-Voltage system, new built in T-joint, solid feel core, isometric head and new grommet pattern.
Shuttles used: Apacs Aero-Flight 700/Yonex AS40

First impression: 
Hmm, a semi-oval frame and the 'Z' classification on a Voltric series racquet.
Throw in an extra stiff shaft and a head heavy balance.
My first thought was another difficult racquet to wield.

I won't described the colors or the looks of the racquet as the manufacturer's website and badmintoncentral.com has plenty of those. This racquet occupies the same niche and has the same specs as the Armortec 700 2nd generation which has an extra stiff flex and headheavy balance. It is also hailed as a successor of Voltric 80, which in turn was a successor to Armortec 900 Power. To put things into perspective, I am benchmarking this racquet against Armortec 900 Power and Voltric 80. The AT900P and Voltric 80 are somewhat difficult racquets to use for the majority of non-competitive players.

Final comprehensive review

I played mostly doubles (and half court singles)

TOC (time on court) when making review:
total of 20 hours of game play.

Review and breakdown of shots tried: 

Power: 9.5/10 (3U may be more)

Synopsis: This is a headheavy racquet and hitherto has the highest balance point towards the head, based on current Yonex racquets (ok, sans AT700).  Being a 'Z' type racquet, the aerodynamics of this racquet is based on the Arcsaber Z-Slash. Combine with a head heavy balance and an extra stiff shaft, this racquet packs a punch when hitting the shuttle downwards. However, based on initial testing  I find that the power I generated  is roughly equal to Voltric 80 and AT900P at the 4U specs (the basis of my comparison). Perhaps it's the extra stiffness of the shaft that requires more effort to unleash the full power of this racquet. The sweetspot is slightly smaller owing to the smaller frame but the repulsion on the sweetspot is more focus. The classification by Yonex is that this is a repulsion type racquet, meaning the shuttle strikes and leaves the stringbed immediately upon impact. This is the biggest difference between AT900P and Voltric 80 which are 'hold' type racquets. This racquet has a high momentum during the follow through of a swing. 

Clear: Forehand back-court to back-court, crosscourt full length clear and punch (low) clear
Smashes: Straight and crosscourt
Drives: hard straight and forehand/backhand to the corners

Control: 9.5/10

Synopsis: The claims by the manufacturer that all their high end racquets have a rating of  5/5 in terms of control. For this model in particular, it didn't refute their claim, but lending support to it. Fact is, this racquet has a extra stiff shaft and a focus sweetspot in a semi-oval shaped frame.  Owing to these parameters and materials, this racquet doesn't flex that much when swung overhead. Therefore, the placement of the shuttles (or accuracy) is excellent. Placement of smashes is more accurate than Voltric 80/AT900P owing to the stiffer shaft. Similarly for clears and drives. For netshots and underhand shots this  racquet is slightly more rigid than VT80/AT900P owing to the stiffness. 

Drops: checked/slice/reversed to the 2 front net corners
Netshots: Crosscourt net
Netshots: hairpin/tumbling netshot
Clears: to the 2 back court corners
Smashes: down the line
Push: flat and low to half court

Defense: 8.5/10 (3U version may be less)

Synopsis: The aerodynamics of this racquet meant that it is cuts through the air very fast and is very responsive. Coupled with a repulsion biased frame, this racquet can repel fast attacking shots and accurate at returning the shuttle with interest. Surprisingly, even though it's head heavy, I did not feel lactic acid building up or the cramps, then again it's a 4U racquet. It is still better to defend with the forehand than the backhand with this racquet.

Lifts: backhand and forehand full court
Drive: backhand and forehand drive return
Block: backhand and forehand straight

Maneuverability: 9/10 (3U version may be less)

Synopsis: At the 4U weight, this racquet is easy to manipulate both forehand and backhands. Cuts through the air like a knife cuts through hot butter. Nothing to complain really. It is what it is; a racquet that is easy to maneuver.

Crosscourt net shot
Crosscourt smash return block and crosscourt whip
Defending body smashes: reflex block, between the leg/behind the back defensive block
Netkills: Forehand/backhand/brush
Hold & flick shots

Feel: 9/10 (3U may be better)

Synopsis: This racquet has the standard plastic internal T-joint and the solid feel core (resin/foam) type material [According to Yonex]. Based on my string of BG66 Ultimax at 26lbs, the repulsion of this string/racquet combination is pretty accute. The racquet felt solid with little vibration. The tapered frame, the rigid repulsion type frame and the thick frame in general gave this racquet some 'meat' and hence has a good feel to it. One can feel the impact of the shuttle striking the stringbed, given the more focal sweetspot of the racquet.  

Total rating: 9.1/10

Pros: Excellent control and power, coupled with great feel and maneuverability. Good defense as well. The aggressive smash based player's weapon of choice.

Cons: The extra stiff shaft married to a head heavy balance may not agree (with nature's) human joint. Repetitive smashes coupled with a 19kg impact (as claimed by Yonex) means there's an equivalent force absorbed by the joints. Elbow, wrist and shoulder pain may result from lack of follow through or from the stiff shaft.

Suitability: Doubles racquet at 4U and singles racquet at 3U. For aggressive smash based player.
Skill level of at least high intermediate/advance. Quench your smash bloodlust, but please eat plenty of beefcake or egg nog for more gain and less pain.

Conclusion: Highly advanced racquet designed for advanced players. Extra stiff shaft for improved controlled smashes, heavier head heaviness for higher racquet head momentum. Smaller but more focus and repulsive sweetspot. Can be tough on joints without proper follow through and the extra stiff flex doesn't help.

Footnote: this review was done as a hobby and as an interest to inform fellow badminton enthusiast. This is my personal opinion and in no form to promote this racquet.

Conflict of interest: None

Reference: Yonex website (accessed @ 12/03/12)
Badmintoncentral.com (accessed @ 12/03/12)


jag said...

Good and very honest review - thanks

Redisluv said...

I m looking forward for this racquet. But i not sure which suit me best between 4uG4 or 4uG5..