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iankogan
03-16-2009, 02:45 PM
Hi all,

Just wanted to share some of my impressions about demo rackets. Since the end of January I went through four demo rotations, 16 rackets total by now… scratch that, 15 – one of them I demoed twice.

First, disclamers:
1. I'm a 3.5 player. While I do have a long and fairly fast swing, and hear from teaching pros and hitting partners that my form (at least on groundstrokes) looks better than 3.5, until competition results prove otherwise 3.5 it is...
2. My impressions are subjective (dah), and may not be fair… neither is life! If I felt a definite dislike for a particular frame right off the bat, 5 min might have been all I spent with it.
3. Obviously I demoed the rackets as they were strung, some might have faired better with a more appropriate (for my game) string setup.
4. I used vibration dampener (Tecnhifibre, or Sampras 'O') with all rackets.
5. Most frames tested outside on hard courts, hitting against a ball machine (except serve of course). Some were tested indoors on hard courts. A few in the last batch were tested in match situation (doubles)
6. I demoed a wide variety of frames, from ‘The Beast’ (Wilson K-Factor 90) all the way down to Wilson K Factor K Court, which is an almost kids’ frame in weight. All these rackets however fit within ‘tweener’ to ‘player’ range, and all are better suited to full, long swing style.

Rotation #1
With this batch, I did not have a chance to hit against a person or a ball machine. All tested on indoor court: self-fed groundstrokes, and serves. No volleys/overheads. Yes this batch didn’t get enough TLC, but I still feel that I got a general idea of how each frame hits (except on volleys).

Fischer M Pro No. One 98 Mid+
Pretty sweet. The results were good on groundies, both with targeting and power. Same on serve. However I felt disconnected from my shots. The shots would go in with power and precision, but I felt like the racket was generating more that I put into the shot. Should be reassuring in theory, but for me it was the opposite. Special feature: for the life of me, I could not flatten out my shots.

Babolat Pure Storm Ltd. Mid+
This one looked great on paper (and in person), but ended up being one of those 5-minute demos. I didn’t really dislike it, just didn’t feel like it’s helping me in any area. I guess it takes a better player than myself to properly appreciate this racket. Special feature: felt very ‘dry’ on contact… not sure how to explain it. Very abbreviated dwell time on strings perhaps?

Yonex RQ iS 1 Tour Light Mid+
First time ever I put my hands on a Yonex. Experience kind of similar to Fisher above, in the sense that the output (especially on serve) seemed better than the input. Special feature: trying to hit a one-handed backhand, whether topspin or slice, felt like a lost cause.

Dunlop Maxply McEnroe Mid+
The only one that I’ve got in the wrong grip size (1/2 instead of 3/8), and did the grip felt huge! Another five minute affair. Result were OK but I felt no joy with this one. Special feature: Reminded me of my first (wood) rackets… not in a good way.


Rotation #2. Tested outside against a ball machine.

Fischer Magnetic Tour MP Light
Same ‘auto-magic’ qualities as Fischer M Pro No. One 98, but less solid overall. Good power on volleys, not so good control. Special feature: My car keys stuck to it… not.

Dunlop Aerogel 300 Mid+
This one was ‘auto-magic’ on steroids. More pace that any other rackets in this write-up for the same input, and for the most part the shots stayed in… but I had no idea on contact whether I was hitting a good shot. Too bad I didn’t get to hit against a human, I’d be interested to see whether my opponent was more startled than I was to see some of those shots going in. My Silent Partner Lite was not impressed. Special feature: Enough said.

Wilson KSixOne Team Mid+
Ok, this was my favorite of the bunch. A direct opposite of the one above. The feedback was very direct (though somewhat muted). I felt that the result was exactly proportional to the effort I put in. Meaning that Garbage In = Garbage Out (short ball, little pace). But it certainly keeps one honest. If I went for my shots with good technique, the reward was excellent targeting, both directional and depth, and good (though not killer) pace. Surprisingly, despite the tight string pattern it was easy to generate a lot of spin, both on serves and on groundstrokes. Special feature: [K]ontrol, and [lack of]power.

Wilson K Factor KPro Tour 96
Like Babolat Pure Storm Ltd from batch #1, but easier to deal with. I’ve spent quite a bit of time with this frame trying hard to love it but fell short in the end. Special feature: Feeling on contact is crisp but kind of ‘hollow’.

Rotation #3. Tested outside against a ball machine (+ serves) and inside with a hitting partner (just rallying)

Wilson K Factor KTour Mid+
I expected it to play like K6.1 Team little brother, and in a way it did. But it wasn't nearly as well behaved as Team. [Much]more power, [Much]less control. Special feature: enough said.

Wilson KSixOne Team Mid+
Yes, this frame again. It has become my yardstick at that point, and I wanted to measure some other Wilsons against it. My opinion of the frame has not changed but I was no longer tempted to pull the trigger and buy it on the spot.

Wilson KSixOne 95 (16x18) Mid+
This is the frame that put some cold water on my new-found passion for 6.1 Team. On groundstrokes 6.1 95 (16x18) did everything better for me. Same level of control and direct feedback as Team, but substantially more power. However my serves/overheads/volleys suffered. For me, it was difficult to generate racket head speed on serves and prepare on time on volleys/overheads. Special feature: made me want to hit the gym and do some weights.

Wilson KSixOne Tour 90 Mid
Aka ‘The Beast’. From the moment I picked this frame up it became abundantly clear that I am not man enough to wield this sword. Just holding it hurt my arm and shoulder; heck, just looking at it hurt :-) Still, out of curiosity, I used it in a warm-up against a hitting partner, hit some groundies and volleys. The good: within 5 minutes, I hit some of the most solid volleys, half-volleys and forehands I ever hit in my nearly quarter-century (on and off, maybe 6-8 solid seasons) of playing tennis. The bad: within 5 minutes, I probably shanked more balls than in any hour in my nearly quarter-century of playing tennis. Special feature: The Beast. My hat goes off to people who can effectively use this racket. Or should I say ‘the only person…’?


Rotation #4. Short-circuited due to back injury (not related to tennis):

Donnay Pro One Internat. Mid+
Did not get a chance to hit with it, will be sending back to TW today.

Head MicroGEL Radical Mid+
Same, goes back untouched

Wilson KFactor KBlade Tour 93
Me likes! A far more realistic alternative to K Tour 90. Certainly has some of the same heritage, but this one I could actually use fairly effectively. Tested during one set of doubles, though I feel it would work better for me in singles which are my specialty anyway. A demanding racket, but handsomely rewards proper technique. Special feature: [S]olid. On my short list to demo again.

Wilson K Factor KCourt Mid+
This one is by far the lightest racket I’ve ever played with. I did not hit with it in stock form though. For some reason, I had high hopes for this frame, in terms of customizing it to resemble the bigger Wilson brothers (6.1, K-Blade) at $100 discount. I added 19 grams of lead (wrapped around the bottom part of the handle), an overgrip, 4 grams of lead total at 3 and 9 on the head, 4 grams in the throat. With all that it was weighing in at somewhat respectable 310+ grams. Unfortunately, I did not find sufficient power or control with this setup. Maybe it would have played like a dream in stock form? I doubt it very much, but will never know. Special feature: Blind date gone wrong.

Finally, the rackets I’m playing with currently/played in the past:

198? – 199? it’s all a blurr.. aluminum, wood, recycled dog poop, you name it. Some of the rackets that I used early on, back in Russia, must have been truly awful…

199? – 2007: Wilson ProStaff Original 95. These are near-legendary frames, I won’t go into why. They were always a bit too much for me I suppose, and as I got older it became more apparent. They swing pretty easily actually, nothing like K-Tour 90, but still require very precise technique to consistently produce good results.

2007 – Jan 2009: Techifibre T-Fight 320. I loved these when I first got them. Over time the love turned to respect, and finally I sold them on TW forums. Solid frames, comparable to K 6.1 95 (not Team) and K-Blade Tour. Perhaps a little easier to swing then either of these Wilsons, but also slightly less solid (or at least different) feel on contact. Overall, my experience with them is similar to the short stint with the demo K 6.1 95 – really good on groundies, not so good (for me) off the air.

Current: Head Intelligence i.Radical MP circa 2001. More on these in the follow-up post.

iankogan
03-16-2009, 02:47 PM
I bought these back then based solely on the reviews, and immediately hated the frames. They went into the closet where they stayed until about 3 weeks ago. I was ready to sell them to raise funds for 6.1 Team, and actually posted ‘for sale’ on TW forums. But one day, while working through rotation #3 demos I believe, I brought my i.Radicals on court as well. Just wanted to hit with them a few times before parting ways. To my surprise, I immediately liked the frames, they (or more likely me) were playing nothing like I remembered from 2001. Perhaps the main reason was that since then I changed my grip from ‘all continental all the time’ to eastern forehand. Anyway, I immediately started banging my forehands with both power and precision, and great feedback to boot! Since then I found that these frames work solidly on all of my shots. Some of the frames that I demoed excelled and outperformed i.Raducals in certain areas, but none so far fit my game as well overall. The caveat of course is that I have not spent enough time with some of the more promising demos to evaluate them fairly. I will probably a couple more rounds of demoing, but at this point I’m not particularly tempted to switch.

reesespiecestennis
03-16-2009, 04:15 PM
The kblade tour is too much of a chore to hit with and doesn't put out what you put in. I could hit big flat groundstrokes it seemed like but they would just sit up honestly.

I'm seriously considering buying the fischer mpro even though I hated the demo probably because the strings were awful. It really seems like it has potential.

Oh and the K61 team is exactly what you said. It provides good feel and feedback but you shots just don't go it seems. Much like the kblade 93. It's a good racquet though, I saw this dude from Notre Dame hit monster serves and groundies with this. He didn't look over 16 lol.

NoNameZ
03-16-2009, 06:29 PM
thanks for the feedback. is it a stock i.radical?

tennis_hand
03-16-2009, 07:10 PM
u should have demoed the prince exo graphite 93.

endbegin
03-17-2009, 07:13 AM
Nice write up ... There are several similarities in our playing styles (3.5-4.0, started all continental, and now Eastern FH, 1HBH, started playing with wood etc). I am going through a demoing phase myself and agree with your feeling about the Fischers - very soft and arm friendly, but felt a little flaky and the ball seemed to take a natural loopy arc even though I wanted to hit it flat.

My demoing criteria currently is a arm-friendly and heavier frame (around 12 oz, but with a swing weight in the 320s) and am anxiously awaiting a ProKennex Ki 5, Volkl C10 Pro and a Volkl PB 10 tomorrow. I have heard some really good things about the ProKennex Redondos ... will try that out next later.

I've hit with a friend's K 6.1 Team and have loved that racquet - so that stays at the back of my mind. Am trying to figure out whether my game (and my arm) wants a slightly heavier racquet than the Team.

kkm
03-17-2009, 08:06 AM
How are demos? Assuming one doesn't want to take the trouble of stringing a demo racket using his preferred string/tension etc, what string does TW use? Do they go with the midpoint recommended tension? And are the strings usually in decent shape, or do you ever receive a demo racket with badly worn strings that have lost a lot of tension?

iankogan
03-17-2009, 09:04 AM
How are demos? Assuming one doesn't want to take the trouble of stringing a demo racket using his preferred string/tension etc, what string does TW use? Do they go with the midpoint recommended tension? And are the strings usually in decent shape, or do you ever receive a demo racket with badly worn strings that have lost a lot of tension?

In my experience, TW normally uses the same manufacturer's string as the racket. Higher-end Wilsons (K6.1s, KBlade Tour) were strung with 16 or 16L NXT, while K-Court came strung with 15L Hollow Core, which may have been a contributing factor to my strong dislike of that frame. It seems TW uses multifilament strings for all their demos, one exception I noticed was K-Tour Pro which was strung with some poly, not sure which. The strings were all in good shape, not worn. As for tension, the only thing I can tell for sure is that none were strung at a very low tension. 55+ I'd guess.

Hope this helps.

iankogan
03-17-2009, 09:09 AM
u should have demoed the prince exo graphite 93.

Thank you for the suggestion. I've stayed away from Prince rackets, but exo graphite 93 is worth consideration, I agree. Still weary of any frame with huge holes in the side though :-)

iankogan
03-17-2009, 09:15 AM
Nice write up ... There are several similarities in our playing styles (3.5-4.0, started all continental, and now Eastern FH, 1HBH, started playing with wood etc). I am going through a demoing phase myself and agree with your feeling about the Fischers - very soft and arm friendly, but felt a little flaky and the ball seemed to take a natural loopy arc even though I wanted to hit it flat.

My demoing criteria currently is a arm-friendly and heavier frame (around 12 oz, but with a swing weight in the 320s) and am anxiously awaiting a ProKennex Ki 5, Volkl C10 Pro and a Volkl PB 10 tomorrow. I have heard some really good things about the ProKennex Redondos ... will try that out next later.

I've hit with a friend's K 6.1 Team and have loved that racquet - so that stays at the back of my mind. Am trying to figure out whether my game (and my arm) wants a slightly heavier racquet than the Team.

Thank you. I tend to stay away from very stiff frames, but arm-friendly was not among my criteria, so I can't really offer any meaningful suggestions. Good luck with your demos!

kkm
03-17-2009, 09:23 AM
In my experience, TW normally uses the same manufacturer's string as the racket. Higher-end Wilsons (K6.1s, KBlade Tour) were strung with 16 or 16L NXT, while K-Court came strung with 15L Hollow Core, which may have been a contributing factor to my strong dislike of that frame. It seems TW uses multifilament strings for all their demos, one exception I noticed was K-Tour Pro which was strung with some poly, not sure which. The strings were all in good shape, not worn. As for tension, the only thing I can tell for sure is that none were strung at a very low tension. 55+ I'd guess.

Hope this helps.

Definitely helps, thanks!

iankogan
03-17-2009, 09:24 AM
thanks for the feedback. is it a stock i.radical?

I started off with stock, and liked it a lot as is. However, I have a tendency to tinker with my rackets. So at this point I've have replaced the original grip with Pacific Leather calf-skin on both of my i.Radicals, and put Gamma head protection tape on both. I always use an overgrip (Yonex SuperGrap, feels great over the leather BTW) and a vibration dampener. Fully set up , the frames weight in at 323 g strung, which is 16-17 g more than stock. Balance has not changed af far as I can tell. I don't feel any profound difference with this (slighly) tweaked set up, except that the grip feels nicer for sure.

iankogan
03-17-2009, 09:51 AM
The kblade tour is too much of a chore to hit with and doesn't put out what you put in. I could hit big flat groundstrokes it seemed like but they would just sit up honestly.

I'm seriously considering buying the fischer mpro even though I hated the demo probably because the strings were awful. It really seems like it has potential.

Oh and the K61 team is exactly what you said. It provides good feel and feedback but you shots just don't go it seems. Much like the kblade 93. It's a good racquet though, I saw this dude from Notre Dame hit monster serves and groundies with this. He didn't look over 16 lol.

Which frame was that kid using, Team or KBlade? Anyway, I did not find KBlade lacking in power. I was able to hit a few very big (for me) flat serves with it, ditto for groundies, even though I didn't go all-out due to back injury. It does feel like it would take a lot of work and concentration to hit with KBlade consistently during a match, and that would certainly be a consideration.

SOY78
03-17-2009, 10:11 AM
Iankogan,
Gde ti zhil v Sovke?

iankogan
03-17-2009, 11:57 AM
Iankogan,
Gde ti zhil v Sovke?

Pyatigorks. Otchalil v Oct 91. Moya jena is Pitera. What about you soy78?

SOY78
03-17-2009, 12:29 PM
Kiev, uexali '89, preleteli v US '90. Jena iz Kolymi ;)

SOY78
03-17-2009, 12:35 PM
Yeah they had some really harsh racquets back in the Soviet Union. There was this one aluminum racquet that resebled a Prince Pro 110 that would warp if left in the sun for too long. I believe the name of that racquet is Libid'...

dwhiteside
03-17-2009, 01:12 PM
Great reviews. I'm curious as to your current Head racquet. General thoughts on it, how it compares to the Wilsons that you've liked in your demo circuits, and how it compares to your previous racquet, the Technifibre. I currently am using a n6.1 95 16x18 which I like better than the KFactor iteration of this racquet lineage so I'm interested in what your thoughts are on your current racquet (primarily in direct relation to the Wilsons), as you seemed positively responsive to the k6.1 95 which is as similar as my racquet as far as most of yours went. Thanks again.

iankogan
03-17-2009, 01:12 PM
Yeah they had some really harsh racquets back in the Soviet Union. There was this one aluminum racquet that resebled a Prince Pro 110 that would warp if left in the sun for too long. I believe the name of that racquet is Libid'...

I think I had that one... Unpainted aluminum alloy, brown plastic insert with string channels in the throat that served as the bridge? Or was it the one with industrial-green paint and riveted bridge? The rivets would pop up after a good hit. I just mended mine with some wire and kept playing. Then, there was some Chinese-made frame (that's before Chinese-made became all the rave :-), the bottom part ot the handle, about an inch, broke off after a few hits. Re-sealed the cup and played for a few months with 26' long racket... wasn't too bad though I was a bit ****ed considering that I paid two months salary for the thing. The wood ones, Vostok and Tallin, were actually quite decent...

iankogan
03-17-2009, 02:00 PM
Great reviews. I'm curious as to your current Head racquet. General thoughts on it, how it compares to the Wilsons that you've liked in your demo circuits, and how it compares to your previous racquet, the Technifibre. I currently am using a n6.1 95 16x18 which I like better than the KFactor iteration of this racquet lineage so I'm interested in what your thoughts are on your current racquet, as you seemed positively responsive to the k6.1 95 which is as similar as my racquet as far as most of yours went. Thanks again.

Hi dwhiteside, I described some of my experiences with i.Radical in the second post on this thread. Just to make it clear: these are the old frames, from 2000-2001 production, not the current Head Radical line. The specs for i.Radical are below, in case you are interested:

Head Size:
98 sq. in. / 632 sq. cm.
Length: 27 inches / 69 cm
Strung Weight: 10.8oz / 306g
Balance: 2pts Head Light
Swingweight: 297
Stiffness: 64
Beam Width: 21 mm Straight Beam
Composition: Graphite Composite w/Piezzo Electric Fibers in Shaft
Power Level: Low
Swing Speed: Moderate-Fast
Grip Type: ComforTac
String Pattern:
18 Mains / 20 Crosses
Mains skip: 9T,8H,10H
Two Piece
No shared holes
String Tension: 50-62 pounds

Specific comparisons with Techifibre T-Fight 320 and Wilson K 6.1 95 16x18: I have not evaluated the latter thorougly enough to add much beyond what I've said already in my initial post. 6.1 16x18 appeared to perform similarly to TF-320, with a more muted feel. i.Radical is a lighter racket than either of these two, with a substantially lower swing weight. It also feels flexier, despite TW's similar flex rating. Some plow-through is certainly lost with i.Rad, but I'm happy to trade that for increased maneurability. Even though iRad is lighter, it seems to be sufficiently solid... I'm not going to face 120+ mph serves any time soon. It did OK against ball machine cranked up to the max (75-80 mph?), both on groundies and volleys. I'm also able to serve bigger with iRad than with TF, but that's just me probably. Better (for me, again) on volleys too, maybe less punch but definitely easier to prepare on time. The biggest difference is on overheads: I was often mis-hitting or even missing to contact the ball with TF, just could never quite get the timing down. This seems to be remedied by iRad. Bottom line - iRad appears to be better for my game all-around, except maybe when going for outright winners.