Do newer model racquets have true superior breakthroughs in materials/technology?

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by Raul_SJ, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Professional

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    I have been using the Wilson ProStaff Classic 6.1si Stretch for over 10 years.

    I have tried demoes with recent models that claimed better playability due to new materials/technology (from Head and Wilson ) but they did not feel significantly better, so I just stuck with my old racquet.

    I am wondering if there have been any significant breakthroughs in materials/racquet technology during the past decade?

    Or is it primarily marketing hype by the racquet manufacturers that have a vested interest in players buying the latest gadgets?
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
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  2. realplayer

    realplayer Semi-Pro

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    Since the invention of graphite there has not been any improvement in racket technology except for strings which really changed and ruined the game.
     
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  3. IA-SteveB

    IA-SteveB Professional

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    At my level, the racquet itself can't do much to improve my game. It's more about not choosing one that is totally wrong for me, like a player's racquet. Maybe technology is more useful for players who can benefit from and use it. In my opinion, racquet tech is of little benefit for 3.5 and below.
     
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  4. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    I think frames are getting worse over time. It seems that the manufacturers are trying to make frames ever lighter, stiffer, and more powerful. Lighter and stiffer means more shock on impact with the ball. More power means that if you take a full swing at the ball it goes long, so rec players tend to use bad form and tap the ball like they're playing backyard badminton...all wrist and elbow.

    The steady increase in head size also means less control for rec players (pros have the technique to tame this power). This too contributes to poor form and arm injuries.

    Look at Wilson's new Ampli Feel technology. It's deliberately designed to transmit more impact feel/vibration to the arm using stiff, brittle materials such as basalt and metal in the handle. The irony is that Wilson also makes a great replacement grip, the Shock Shield, which includes soft, rubbery materials designed to DAMPEN vibrations.

    Even Dunlop has jumped on the stiffer/lighter/power bandwagon. Read between the lines of TW's recent reciews of Biomimetic frames and you'll see they've abandoned a softer/Lower power approach to frame design.

    When a consumer picks up a frame manufactuers believe they can sell more if the reaction is, "Oooohhh, it's so light and fast!". And on court they can sell more when players perceive that it's super easy to knock the ball over the net without proper form. They use their wrist and elbow and shoulder to swing that 10.5 oz frame into contact. Soon their tendons are inflamed and sore.

    In reaction to the lighter, stiffer, power frames some players string with stiffer strings which transmits yet MORE shock to the arm. And the cult of topspin demands faster RHS speed At a more extreme swing path which puts more strain on the body.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
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  5. svarthofde

    svarthofde New User

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    unless you strip the racquets bare you cannot know for sure if there even is new material in them. i think the only difference is in the way they braid the graphite, but other than that...
    some of the marketing claims are ridiculous IMO, like the thing they put in the throat of Head racquets that stiffens the racquet if it senses you need it for your next shot.
    excuse me but that is straight from a James Bond movie
    one thing i know though:in spite of all the changes and the aggressive marketing "bull bagels" i like my ncode six.one better than my blx six.one
     
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  6. danotje

    danotje Rookie

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    I think it is all interesting, but like someone said, I don't think there has been much since graphite. Maybe O-ports, hammer tech and string patterns (a la 99s), but I don't know that they revolutionized the racquet industry.

    One breakthrough that I don't think has gotten any notice is PK's Kinetic system. Along with some other elements, it helped me get over TE. The really intersting part, though, is that it makes the frame very solid and stable. Volleys are very controllable with those frames. I was desperate to save my arm, and I wasn't buying the hype, but I took a chance anyway. Now I'm pain free and playing better than just 6 months ago. I have worked on my technique a lot, so it isn't necessarily the racquet, but I'm a believer in Kinetic. Revolutionary? Probably not. Evolutionary? Definitely.
     
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  7. Hi I'm Ray

    Hi I'm Ray Hall of Fame

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    I think for the most part rackets were feeling worse each year - the classics felt great. Very, very recently there seems to be some shift towards making rackets feel "better". As far as "technology" & "high tech materials" most of it is just marketing bs. But IMO racket designs & playability seems to be pretty good & improving, especially in the 11oz range. The vast majority of rackets I have tried in the last 2.5 years have been pretty good IMO.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
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  8. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Professional

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    Yes, That is the type of thing I am talking about.

    My Wilson 6.1 is made of Graphite Kevlar.

    And then Wilson comes out with the newer materials called Basalt and nCode:

    1)
    The BLX in Wilson stands for Basalt (BL) and extra technologies (X). The racquets uses fibers from basalt, a volcanic rock, to provide a better feel due to reduced vibration.
    2)
    When a racquet is nCoded nano-sized silicone oxide crystals permeate the voids between the carbon fibers. This adjustment made at the molecular level significantly strengthens and enhances the stability of the overall carbon matrix. Stronger and even more resilient nCoded racquets play better longer.
    nCoded racquets measure 2 times stronger 2 times more stable and up to 22% more powerful than ordinary racquets.


    It's hard to know when there has been a truly significant discovery in materials or if it is just maketing hype...

    I suspect that if a truly superior material comes along, ALL the manufacturers, not just Wilson,
    would start using it on their newer racquets.

    Until then, I will keep an open mind but remain skeptical.
     
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  9. lstewart

    lstewart Rookie

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    I came up playing with 1970's wood rackets, so have seen the various changes through the years. As others have said, a frame needs to fit your game. Assuming it does, there probably is not much that has changed in the last 10 years that you would play better with now than you did then. That said, I have noticed that many of the newer frames are designed to more easily hit topspin. That's not something I would generally notice, until going back and hitting some classic frames that have not changed in the last 20 years. I've tried two frames still being made from those days, and i got significally less spin on my forehand with the same string/swing combination. Of course you would adjust over time, but it was very noticable.
     
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  10. DownTheLineWith90

    DownTheLineWith90 Rookie

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    I have to disagree on this.
    I've made transitions from the nCode to the K, to the BLX, and now to the PSBLX, all 90sqin's, and I've noticed significant decrease in the amount of shock my arm feels.
    In fact, amplifeel has helped getting rid of my arm pains.
     
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  11. v-verb

    v-verb Hall of Fame

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    after wrecking my wrist with and extra long and a Pure Drive, I've gone to POGs and a Boron and am quite happy with the extra comfort.

    I'm not missing the power from the new racquets as I have long strokes.
     
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  12. Mick3391

    Mick3391 Professional

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    It depends. In regards to Wilson, say the 90, the specs of the K-90 and the new PS BLX 90 are almost identical, so the question is "Does Basalt make a difference"? No, no big time.

    Try a K-Factor 95 and a new 6.1 BLX 95, no real difference, weight is weight, balance is balance, stiffness is stiffness, the thing that matters are the specs, not the materials. Different deal of course with strings.
     
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  13. 3fees

    3fees Hall of Fame

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    Good point,,I use Head LM Prestiges and am happy with them.
     
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  14. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    Come now, you can't say stuff like this on this forums. Telling people, or the mere thought of suggestion of marketing hype will just get people furious and sore. People don't miss shots here, it's because they didn't have blah blah technology.
     
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  15. Mick3391

    Mick3391 Professional

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    That's funny, yea I played bad because I didn't have Basalt in my racquet:)

    When I got my BLX 90, the guy told me it's the exact same mold as the PS BLX 90, only difference is slightly heavier head weight, but oh so very similar.
     
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  16. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    I thought so too, I was lucky enough to be able to demo it a few weeks before it was released. The differences between the PSBLX90 and my BLX90 were slim. If it was a blind test, I wouldn't have notice the difference. If I can pin it to something, the PSBLX90 plays ever so slightly crisper, but the difference is not big.

    Lastly, I can say that it's different racquet, but I can't say it's because of the "amplifeel".
     
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  17. TennezSport

    TennezSport Hall of Fame

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    Like or Not.................

    Well I have actually held D3O in my hands and I can tell you that it is a reactive material. It's in the way the fibers line up, so if you slowly or gently press the material it will bend. However, if you strike it hard the fibers realign and make the substance rock solid; not so James Bond. Like it or not it does work. Most of the new materials manufacturers use do work as stated, although may not at the levels of advertizing.

    The bigger problem is in the way rec players look for racquets. If you have a racquet for 5+ years and you play frequently, your racquet has gone soft over time and you have become accustomed to the softer feel (especially if the racquets have heavy wear in the frame from scrapes). So, when you go to buy a new racquet, even the same exact model, you feel that the racquets dont feel the same. We see this all the time and show customers by measuring and comparing the flex of the old and new racquets. They had no idea how soft their old racquet had gotten.

    The comments about lighter frames are correct and NO Pro plays with a light frame. ALL Pros play with customized frames.

    Cheers, TennezSport :cool:
     
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  18. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Professional

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    ProKennex arm-friendly racquets do in fact function as advertised. They have an independent MIT study to backup their claims too.
     
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  19. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    I guess that's my biggest problems with these advertising. Just how much of this stuff is in the actual racquet? Like you said in your case, "D3O" does work, but how much of it is in the frame? Head doesn't release the % composition, it's entirely possible that manufacturers use the bare minimum just so they can put the sticker on the frame. Is the bare minimum significant enough make a difference, or is it negligible?

    And in some cases, it's just false advertising, such as Babolat's Cortex system.
     
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  20. TennezSport

    TennezSport Hall of Fame

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    Percentages.......

    A tremendous amount of research, development and testing goes into making racquets and new materials are introduced for various reasons; cutting costs, better performance or feel. Having tested for several companies, I have a new appreciation for what's done. However this is where we get into a tough area as how much material is needed to make a personal impact while maintaining racquet integrity. The problem is the answer will vary from person to person. For Head D3O is only placed in the throat area which is the primary pivot point where the material has the best impact.

    As an example, some of our customers with really good volleying skills dont like the YT feel as they get too much pop, but some love it; it's a personal thing. Players who have tested the new Cortex in both the PD and APD stated that they can really feel a difference and again, some like it some dont. The key is to test a frame till you find what works best for you and to play with the heaviest frame you feel comfortable with.

    Cheers, TennezSport :cool:
     
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  21. svarthofde

    svarthofde New User

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    it is interesting though how these technological wonders are especially liked, most of the times, only by rec players. i've talked to competitive players, people that made a living out of tennis, some of them just national, some of them top 100 atp and most of them said that these knew technologies are not so special as advertised.
    i especially mentioned the D3O because i know from a tennis player that all 6 of his racquets, the first head racquets that had D3O they all broke at the neck. and i mean the head of the racquet broke and flew across the court.
    now considering that people have the tendency to exaggerate these things i am inclined to think that it wasn't all six of them. yet there were others that reported the same problem.
    and maybe you do not remember the advertising done by the manufacturer when the D3O was first implemented. the words " the racquet will know what kind of shot you need and get more or less stiff accordingly" were thrown around.
    i do not say that these technologies do not exist or do not improve a racquet. but IMO they do too little and they are only a revelation for the rec player.
    if one of these technologies was a breakthrough all the manufacturers would have jumped on the wagon. like what happened with multi-layered wood frames, aluminum frames and later graphite frames
     
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  22. sunof tennis

    sunof tennis Professional

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    In my opinion, the K95 and the BLX95 play differently. Some of it is the specs-the BLX95 has a slightly lower swingwieght and is slightly more flexible. However, I definitely felt the BLX95 played more muted, softer and less boardy. Is that the basalt or the flex rating?
    I noticed a similar thing with the K90 and the BLX90 although the difference was pretty negligble with those two racquets.
     
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  23. TennezSport

    TennezSport Hall of Fame

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    Agreed..........

    Advanced and Pro players are very picky about their sticks and have them customized to their preferences, so changing to new materials can effect what they feel from the frame, something they are not interested in. This is also why they string everyday and change out racquets frequently to maintain a high consistency level.

    Most rec players could not play with the pro racquets, so companies are always looking for ways to make a racquet more comfortable for rec players. Sometimes they look for materials that work well but are more cost effecient or something that enhances feel while keeping the racquet light. All of the breakthroughs like multi-layered wood frames, aluminum frames and later graphite frames were just that at the time.

    Wood warped and was costly to make, Aluminum/Steel vibrates too much and caused arm issues, graphite is too brittle and must be mixed with various materials to even be playable. There is a never ending search for a combination of materials that will make that perfect racquet just like they are searching for with Poly strings today (never going to happen; too many variables).

    Advertizing will always be off the charts when trying to sell like a young person who brags; always over blown. That is why we say try till to find what works for you. Companies advertizers are trying to create something for everyone and that will never happen.

    Cheers, TennezSport :cool:
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2012
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  24. db10s

    db10s Hall of Fame

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    My Bio Max 200Gs play better than my HM 200Gs.... Because they have HM6 carbon.... And aeroskin.... lol
     
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  25. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

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    The technology's great for girls, who now hit harder than boys. Actually, the technology's great for many groups of players: girls, women, weak boys, and old men.

    Skinny boys with Pure Drives are now the most lethal, because they can hit bombs and run like mad side-to-side. Muscular men have to haul more weight around.
     
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  26. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    I honestly can't tell if you are joking or not haha!

    -Fuji
     
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  27. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

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    It's a joke, but there's truth to it. How many times have we seen a 110 lb girl hit harder than a 160lb guy? Racquet technology has had a tremendous role in girl's tennis (alongside with coaches that teach them how to swing with their entire body).


    Once upon a time, the Williams sisters were No 1 and 2, overpowering everybody. The Pure Drive allowed others to put them in place.
     
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  28. r5d3

    r5d3 New User

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    There's definitely been improvements over the last ten years. Whether every generation improves on the last is questionable, but I definitely saw a difference between the sticks from then and now. In 2010 I was still playing with a Wilson (gold frame, red cover, all I can remember) and a Pro Kennex from around 2000. I then bought the Head TiS6 and felt a noticable improvement immediately, especially once restrung. Then in April I bought a new Pure Drive, and it has definitely improved my shot-making from the Head, and I'm currently a 3.5 at best. Unfortunately I'm likely going to remove the Babolat from the bag (tend to end up with arm and shoulder discomfort) and buy the Oraganix V1 MP soon, but I then hope not to buy another racquet for 4-5 years.
     
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  29. svarthofde

    svarthofde New User

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    you may be right here. one example springs to mind. flavia penetta changed the racquet i think from wilson to a +length babolat pure drive and played a lot better.
    but that may only be because she found her soul-mate racquet
     
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  30. robbo1970

    robbo1970 Hall of Fame

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    I don't think there is much doubt that the majority of these 'improvements' are purely just to market a new PJ. Particularly when the improvement appears to be a made up word and some of the improvements are so slight, that its hard to really notice the difference.

    However, I think its different when it comes to variances. Take the new Dunlop Bio series as an example. From the reviews and feedback, these are quite a bit different to the 1st Gen Bios, which is why Dunlop also have the classic range, which appears to be 1st Gens with a new PJ. So in other words, they arent producing improvements, just variances to suit different playing styles.

    Now that would be a good lead for other manufacturers to follows; bring out the new ranges with the variances, but still keep the originals (with a new PJ) for those that don't want to change.
     
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  31. Mick3391

    Mick3391 Professional

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    Yea man I'm not saying there aren't differences, that's not the question, the question is "Do the materials make the difference", so all specs being the same, does for example Basalt make a difference? I say no, specs are specs.

    If you take say a K-90 and a BLX 90, let's assume the specs are the same, that is same swingweight, same flex, same size, mold, etc. there will be no different, 12.5 oz is 12.5 oz.

    That being said of course there are differences, my BLX 90 has a slighter higher swingweight than the new PS BLX 90, same mold, just a redistribution of weight and balance, I think even the flex although I'm not sure.

    My K-Factor is just RAW, awesome, love it. I've played the 6.1 BLX 95 and although great, I prefer the K-Factor, but that's just me.

    So to surmize, MATERIALS MATTER ONLY TO THE EXTENT THAT THEY ARE USED IN DIFFERENT SPECS, and that they do to sell new racquets.

    I suppose you could get a wood racquet, give it the same specs as a Bab 100 and it would play similar, if the wood were very stiff, same weight, balance, does the wood make any difference? I don't think so.
     
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  32. dreamneedle

    dreamneedle New User

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    New tech is OK. Quality control is going downhill.
     
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  33. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

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    Let's be honest here. If you're gonna suck, then you're gonna suck regardless of the racket. That doesn't make the racket technology BS. The most recent technologies seem to target comfort, not performance. You'll hit the same, but you're less likely to get hurt hitting. (That's the intention, anyway).
     
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  34. db10s

    db10s Hall of Fame

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    HAHA...... I think they are killing peoples arms. And the performance is worse.
     
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  35. Kalin

    Kalin Professional

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    Good points here but one remark- racquet weights seem to have actually normalized recently. It looks like the average racquet these days is around 10-11.5 oz.

    There was a time a few years ago when manufacturers were 'discovering' light frames and some sticks were clocking in at 7-something ounces! 7!!

    So not all is bad with new frames...
     
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  36. yonexRx32

    yonexRx32 Rookie

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    Hilarious! You have it in your hands and can see that's how it works? You see the fibers realligning and can vouch for the manufacturer? Moreover, your bottom line is that it's the customer's fault. They do not change rackets nearly often enough. Not that you have any vested interest in that.
     
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  37. db10s

    db10s Hall of Fame

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    Your post is pretty funny too! So rackets are meant to wear out fast so that people buy more... LOL!
     
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  38. db10s

    db10s Hall of Fame

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    Maybe nobody except old people and beginners were buying Ti rackets...
     
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  39. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    Pro Kennex is great. I should stock up.

    Also, I sometimes wonder why manufacturers can't just make a simple frame i.e. this is 80% graphite and 20% kevlar (or fiberglass etc). Or just 100% graphite.
     
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  40. -Kap-

    -Kap- Rookie

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    What's so hilarious about it? D3O is a non-Newtonian fluid, and its properties change depending on the forces applied to it. Its application in racquets may or may not live up to the marketing hype, but there's no reason to discredit TennezSport for confirming that the material, itself, does what the manufacturer claims it does.

    Mix up some corn starch and water (also known as "oobleck") like these fine folks have, and I think you'll be amazed at how non-Newtonian fluids can behave. Neat stuff!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSQOWuANuW8
     
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  41. yonexRx32

    yonexRx32 Rookie

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    Sure there is a reason to ridicule his claim. He is trying to position himself as an authority in the matter by stating he holds the racket and can confirm that it works as described. It is obvious that just by holding to racket you cannot confirm or infirm what is going on at a molecular level. The same way you cannot confirm that a car can break the barrier of sound just by judging its color. "By looking at the exterior of this deep red automobile and I can confirm that it does 800mph." or "I hold the Enquirer in my right hand right as I speak and I can confirm that Jennifer Lopez rear end weighs 65 lbs".
     
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  42. AR15

    AR15 Professional

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    The main breakthroughs have been in finding more ways to separate you from your money.
     
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  43. -Kap-

    -Kap- Rookie

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    I'm not looking to get into a debate here, but re-read his post. He said nothing about holding a racquet or saying that a racquet lived up to its claims. He was simply talking about the material, itself.


    Does D3O "work"? Hell yeah. They even use it in military-grade ballistic armor. (You'll find some info on it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D3o ). Does it do squat in a tennis racquet? That's another matter altogether, and the point behind this thread, so let's keep the discussions about how these materials and technologies affect racquets.

    (By the way, based on what svarthofde reports, D3O seems to cause a weakness at that racquet's throat, so it looks like it's a failed technology for racquets).
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
    #43
  44. martini1

    martini1 Hall of Fame

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    Actually, after graphite (like POG or PS6.0), they got the super hard arm breakers (graphite plus a whole bunch of other material to make it stiffer than anything). The super powerful sticks are a break thru IMO.

    The next round of break thru would be keeping the high power but up the control and feel, with the help of new strings, etc.

    But I do not believe every 2 yrs when they bring out new sticks there are actually new techs. Most of the time they just play with the power/stiffness/weight distribution/material compositions like with sliders to give it a different feel
     
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  45. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

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    Is it marketing BS? Or is it that consumers can't perceive changes?

    Hypercarbon/Graphite Xtreme - super stiff, super strong graphite. Allows rackets beams to get thinner while maintaining strength. Reduced chances of strings caving in.

    BLX - Its dampening effect is night and day.

    Port grommets - sweetspot is HUGE!!!

    Cortex - allows a racquet to break faster than expected.

    Karophite Black - guaranteed to give you tennis elbow in a month or your money back

    Low friction grommets/rounded ends - lets the strings slide with reduced chances of string breakage

    ...the list goes on and on......
     
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  46. yonexRx32

    yonexRx32 Rookie

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    I think you just proved my point with his quote. Moreover, just because a company says it included D3O (or g8e or h5n) in a racket it doesn't mean it's there. The consumer would have no way to verify it.


    "Does D3O "work"? Hell yeah."

    How do you know? Just because it says so on wikipedia? I have news for you, the wikipedia page to which you are referring was written by the same company that is marketing the material. It is a small piece of propaganda for their own purpose.

    Do you also think the biomimetic paintjob on Dunlop works? At least you could check the veracity of their claims.
    1) Take two biomimetic rackets of the same weight.
    2) Strip the paint job of one of them and apply a primer to even the weights
    3) Climb to the top of a 3 story building and let them drop.
    4) Ask someone at the base of the building to record which one gets there first.

    If there is a significant improvement in racket speed, you should be able to see the one with the biomimetic paint hit first. My bet is that you won't. You might if you drop it out of an airplane at 30,000 feet, but not if the racket travels at the speed it does during a tennis game.

    Bottom line: Just because a company claims something cool, it doesn't make it true, nor does it make it false. Some of the claims can be easily disproved or checked. Others not so much. Vacuous statements such as"There is tremendous research that goes into" and "I held it in my hands and I can it does what company X claims" "we work with many customers to make them understand" do not add to the conversation nor do they provide arguments for whatever point the author of such statements wants to make.
     
    #46
  47. AR15

    AR15 Professional

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    Does any of this improve your win/loss record?

    Golf clubs have also made big strides in technological improvements over the past 20 years, BUT i don't think handicaps have been reduced to any meaningful extent.

    The tennis racket manufacturers make tiny improvements to their rackets, but their main goal is to sell more rackets by differentiating themselves, not make you win more games.
     
    #47
  48. db10s

    db10s Hall of Fame

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    #48
  49. db10s

    db10s Hall of Fame

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    #49
  50. -Kap-

    -Kap- Rookie

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    yonexRx32, there have been a lot of informative posts in this thread, and I don't want to derail it with our chatter back and forth, so I'll keep this short, and hopefully sweet.

    D3O is proprietary, high-priced silly putty. It easily deforms under low stresses, and stiffens under high sheer forces. With silly putty, you can mush it with just a fingertip, but roll it into a ball and it'll bounce with minimal deformation. Throw that ball hard enough, and it'll crack as if it was solid. It's not magic or propaganda; it's viscosity and physics.

    When a poster here is fortunate enough to have some "inside information" and/or share personal experience that most of us are not privy to, like being able to demo a prototype racquet, or in this case, getting hands-on experience (pun intended) with an interesting material, I welcome that and think it should be encouraged. This doesn't make him/her an authority figure by any means, but by the same token, it doesn't automatically make him/her a shill for the racquet manufacturers.

    Finally, I agree with a lot of your cynicism when it comes to marketing and bogus claims, as marketers' main purpose is to give you a perceived value, which is how they sell their products or services. How much <insert latest revolutionary material> is actually in this new racquet, and does it even make a difference? Who knows? They throw a miniscule glob of pig fat into a can, and suddenly it's no longer "Baked Beans" but "Pork and Beans". Whee!

    For what it's worth, my racquets are old-school 100% graphite, with no "technologies" to speak of, and I think they're amazing. Out of curiosity, have you used any "technologies" that you felt made a difference?
     
    #50

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