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View Full Version : Sporting goods stores selling knockoff frames?


jamauss
08-01-2008, 11:57 AM
Lately some of the racquets I've been getting in to string have been brand name sticks (Head, Wilson, etc.) but they feel like the cheapest pieces of **** . When I talk to the customers I find out that they have bought them from local sporting goods stores (Big 5, Sports Authority, Sports Chalet, Dicks SG, etc). I had one recent stick: a Head "Liquidmetal 2.5" according to the paintjob and the thing already had a slight crack developing around 10/2 o'clock and stringing it just made things worse.

I thought I remembered hearing somewhere that sometimes the racquet companies sell licensing rights of discontinued frames to sporting good stores and allow them to use the manufacturers name to sell sub-standard quality racquets (not made of actual LiquidMetal, MicroGel, whatever) for about half the cost. Why would the manufacturers do this? It doesn't seem like it would be that great of a deal for the manufacturer. If the racquet stinks and don't last long, the name on the racquet gets dragged through the mud, not the name of the store it was purchased from.

Anybody know the story on this kind of stuff?

sureshs
08-01-2008, 12:45 PM
First, I doubt whether the quality control issue is that serious. I am sure most of the discount store frames are perfectly good, and truth be told, more than adequate for the club player, if he gets his ego out of the way. Secondly, it is a common strategy to sell latest models at "prestige pricing" levels, and distribute the older models or paintjobs of them thru cheaper outlets. The reason Rolex would not do it is to maintain the brand image. But it is not a big deal for racquets - it is not a status symbol to be seen with a Wilson.

AznRamenDude
08-01-2008, 01:16 PM
i can vouch for that...

Sports Autority and Big 5 have been selling knockoff frames for a while. Like nearly all their wilson and head frames are fake. Some are really obvious. thier wilson ncode n5, nrage, n6, nEverything dont even have a Wilson sticker, hell they didnt even have the specs for the racquets on the side. they are the same for head liquid metal. personally i wouldnt see a big issue with it as the frames are ment to target rec players, but when they price some of those racquets at like $160, that really ticks me off. :evil:

Bri-guy
08-01-2008, 01:31 PM
I often frequent a few of the stores mentioned above to see what they have, and have seen some of the racquets mentioned, such as the Liquidmetal 2.5, n5, nRage, etc.

I don't see why these are considered knockoffs. Yes, they do not have much information on the frame, such as weight, sometimes headsize, but Head and Wilson are making these frames to sell to recreational players who do not care about those things. I would be surprised if they are not authentic. However, I would not be surprised if they are cheap pieces of you know what :) . I doubt Wilson and Head are out to make quality frames for places like Big 5 and The Sports Authority.

Finsfan
08-01-2008, 01:43 PM
Thank you for this post. I had been to Dicks and they have a Head TI s2 for $49.99 and $10.00 off coupon. Seems great, but then I see that TW has the S5 for like $65.00. NOw, is the S2 a good racket, but a 3 or 4 year old model? Or is the quality of the S5 that much better that I should pay almost 50% more? I tested a Head Microgel Raptor at a pro shop but he wants $109, and these are the successor to the Liquidmetals, and some of those are like $69? Suggestions?

jamauss
08-01-2008, 01:50 PM
I can understand making lower-quality equipment to cater towards recreational players - that's probably happening in all sports. And I don't really care whether there are specs printed on the racquet or not - no big deal to me.

I just wish that people buying these knockoff racquets at the sporting goods stores knew what they were buying. There isn't really any way for them to know because there's nothing to look at in the stores to tell you what exactly the difference is in the racquets available. When you're looking at a wall of racquets, there's no way for the buyer to know that the $85 Head knockoff is made of aluminum or some other cheap metal and the $175 MicroGel is much higher quality. All the buyer (who is sometimes the parent and not the 'player') sees is the difference in price, not realizing one is going to be able to withstand many restringings, and the other is not.

I've had some owners of the knockoffs surprised that their racquets can't hold up to a few restrings when they bought them less than a year ago and paid around $85 or so for it. Had they known there would be that issue, they wouldn't have gone as cheap to begin with.

jamauss
08-01-2008, 01:57 PM
Thank you for this post. I had been to Dicks and they have a Head TI s2 for $49.99 and $10.00 off coupon. Seems great, but then I see that TW has the S5 for like $65.00. NOw, is the S2 a good racket, but a 3 or 4 year old model? Or is the quality of the S5 that much better that I should pay almost 50% more? I tested a Head Microgel Raptor at a pro shop but he wants $109, and these are the successor to the Liquidmetals, and some of those are like $69? Suggestions?
Finsfan - personally I would go with the Microgel racquet. I would also stay away from the Head Ti models. The Head Ti racquets seem to weigh around 8 ounces and have a pretty big head size (around 110 or so) which is not only a bad combination concerning tennis elbow (more vibration will be absorbed by your hand/wrist/arm) but I have seen more problems with those Head Ti racquets with durability than any other racquet. Because they're so light and flimsy, they tend to exhibit cracks earlier than a lot of other similarly priced racquets. Not all are this way, but a higher percentage than anything else I string regularly.

For example, take a look at the Head Ti racquets in terms of weight and materials used - then look at a similarly sized Prince O3 racquet. The specs differ greatly - the Prince racquets are heavier and made of higher-quality materials so they stand up to frequent use and restringing much better.

Murray_Maniac
08-01-2008, 02:04 PM
Yea, Ive hit w/ an ncode knockoff, the nfocus, & it was a total piece of crap. It didnt matter that it cost $30 or however my cousin got it for, because every cent put into it was a waste. The same is probably true for all other knockoffs. They all suck & ppl only buy them because their cheap. It probably only costs them like $5 to make because their so cheap. If youre actually serious about tennis and play more than once a year, never buy them!

Gorecki
08-01-2008, 02:47 PM
our local big sports retailer sells a pretty crappy tecnifibre with a awfull camouflage pJ and its owns brand pjed (Furtiv Sportzone). its a run run run away... not a knock of though...

looks almost like this but even more letter on it!
http://www.ferfiltenis.com/images/Tecnifibre/Furtiv_Red.jpg

Finsfan
08-01-2008, 04:13 PM
Finsfan - personally I would go with the Microgel racquet. I would also stay away from the Head Ti models. The Head Ti racquets seem to weigh around 8 ounces and have a pretty big head size (around 110 or so) which is not only a bad combination concerning tennis elbow (more vibration will be absorbed by your hand/wrist/arm) but I have seen more problems with those Head Ti racquets with durability than any other racquet. Because they're so light and flimsy, they tend to exhibit cracks earlier than a lot of other similarly priced racquets. Not all are this way, but a higher percentage than anything else I string regularly.

For example, take a look at the Head Ti racquets in terms of weight and materials used - then look at a similarly sized Prince O3 racquet. The specs differ greatly - the Prince racquets are heavier and made of higher-quality materials so they stand up to frequent use and restringing much better.


Id like to get your thoughts on some of these if i could:

There is a Head Ti S2 for $45 shipped sold on the sales forum here 8.5/10
Dunlop 300G 7/10 for $40
I think a liquidmetal 6 for $49
And I can get the Prince Scream (yellow racquet I think) for whatever it is here

Glad to know that the Ti's are not so good. I also can get a Dunlop 300. It was a bit heavier than the Scream or Microgel Raptor, but the Raptor is $99. I am now just returning after at least a 10 year absence, and all I have, and selling it now on the bay, is a Jack Kramer Autograph wood. These newer racquets are so much lighter. I get arm fatigue playing 4 games after volleying because it is so heavy. Used my daughter's TI S1 she got at Dicks and could really whack a stroke and a serve.

I always figured that the sticks in a Dick's were either made for a chain for price reasons (and had less new technology or features) or were last years models. I figured that pro shops got the new stuff first. I would have thought though that the $49 Heads at Dicks were about equal to the lower priced stuff here, and the $20 Head stay away from.

jamauss
08-01-2008, 04:45 PM
The Dunlop 300G is a really nice stick - that's what I would choose from the racquets you mentioned.

meowmix
08-01-2008, 05:35 PM
If you want to buy new w/ confidence, I'd buy here. There are PLENTY of great last seasons' rackets for under 80 bucks, and I can GARAUNTEE (well, TW can) that the quality is excellent.

That being said, the 300g is the best choice out of the above. You could also try to find one of the following frames in the FS section. They'll go for under 50 bucks:
LM Radical MP or OS
TT Warrior MP or OS
M-fil 200 (ask for the 2006 version)
LM Instinct
Dunlop Maxply McEnroe (in fact, this is being sold right now for 50 bucks in the FS section- I'd recommend this over the 300g)
nSurge
nPro Open

meowmix
08-01-2008, 05:37 PM
Also, for the OP.

I don't think they're quite "knockoff" frames. Sure, they might not be of the same quality, but they're not knockoffs. I have (had, before I cracked it :( ) that I bought off the bay. I know it's authentic, I know that it's a perfectly fine racket. My friend recently bought an n5 from either dicks of sport au thoriti. Same racket, same price, but his is a little different. Much different? Not really. It's still an OS graphite frame that delivers a lot of power. Is the PJ a little funky? Sure. Are the specs printed? I don't think so... But all in all, they play similarly.

Zielmann
08-01-2008, 06:56 PM
For the OP:

Here's how some of those stores get the cheap brand name frames that those in the know about racquets would think are knockoffs:

Prince, Wilson, and some other big names will make some frames to a price point rather than to a performance point. So basically, they take a performance frame's mold and fill it with whatever is cheapest yet still playable that will make the stick only cost $50.

The LM 2.5 and Prince O3 Orange are two good examples. The LM 2.5 is based off the mold of the LM 2 (a real stick). But it doesn't get the same materials and attention to quality and consistency as the real stick would. And the O3 Orange is (I believe) a take off what used to be the O3 Red or Blue.

And this also explains why the specs are so off what you'd think they should be. I work in a major sporing goods store. I'd say not to trust any of the cheaper racquets. The newest offerings from the big brands will be true versions. But if you go with anything other than that, you still take a risk.

nCode747
08-01-2008, 09:03 PM
i got a prince air light... I cant find it on the prince site so whats the deal

ODYSSEY Mk.4
08-01-2008, 11:22 PM
where i can think of only one frame thats a cheap ver. of the n six 2 where i work (sport chalet) even then its only 50 bucks i can honestly say i really havent seen many rip off frame but we all know a company cares of one thing and one thing only... profit

jamauss
08-02-2008, 12:32 AM
Thanks for everyone who has contributed to this thread so far - interesting stuff to learn.

Dave M
08-02-2008, 05:40 AM
I just a saw a wide beam Dunlop Aerogel 200 plus at Sports Authority. It had a 25mm beam w/ a 105 sq inch head and a 16x19 string pattern. The PJ was identical to the regular AG200. It felt like a piece of crap though when I picked it up. They are selling if for about $149.99!!! Oh yeah, and its pre-strung.

They are made for "sports world/direct" over here in the UK and sell for approx 40 ish.As has been said a lot the parent company that owns dunlop is the same that owns sports world.Frma a distance they look the same but the feel and make up is different.
What have you all got against pre strung?Sure most of us will use it for half an hour and then cut 'em out but it means you can go from the store to the courts with no delay!I'd say 95% of rackets come with strings here in the UK so it's not a sign of a fake or knock off.

Steve Huff
08-02-2008, 05:11 PM
Big sporting goods companies (Dick's, S.A. etc) do buy the license to make discontinued frames. They are free to make them any way, shape or composite they want. I ran into this when I was trying to replace grommets on a Prince RIP for one of my stringing customers. The grommets didn't fit. I called Prince. Eventually, I was connected to one of the guys in the technical engineering department. He said that when a big chain can order large numbers of rackets (say around 50,000), they buy the license from Prince and are free to produce them as they want. Of course, they are going to look nearly identical to the original or they wouldn't fool anyone. As for the "legal fake" Prince RIP, it was 113 sq in versus the 115 for the original. I've seen Prince TT ThunderBolts with Suspension throats that were 28" long and 115 sq in too (the original didn't have these features and was 28.5" long). I'm sure some of the Head ti series rackets are the same--"legal fakes". Just wait til you have to replace grommets on one.

Finsfan
08-02-2008, 05:26 PM
Phew!!! I feel so glad I got a Flexpoint 1 from a local tennis store. SOmeone told me that you can pick up a racquet and it can feel great, but hitting with it is better than any dry swing or reading of specs, specially for a newbie returning to the scene. However, when I start looking for clothes, shoes, bags and maybe an upgrade, Ill come here.

And to think I was considering a Head Ti. I worry about getting parts for things, and sometimes, the big box stores make sense. But I never knew they would actually changes specs on a racquet that looks like one from a pro shop!!