My Dunlop Bio 400 Tour review
I was very anxious to receive this racquet, hoping that finally I could find a racquet in that elusive realm between tweeners and players sticks. Playing an aggressive 4.5 game and entering my fifties, I would like to be able to ease up on my strokes during a match. Unfortunately, I have never been able to control the power of traditional tweeners, most are too stiff, and I donít adjust my swing well to the lower swing weight of many tweeners.
Arrival and Preparation:
This has to be the best looking racquet Ė ever. The titanium/chrome places this racquet in a class by itself. Dunlop spent a lot of time on the design and control of manufacturing; the Aeroskin looks cool, recessed grommets are well made, and overall high quality finish. The hoop is noticeably wider than the 300 and about ĹĒ wider than the 500 series - apparently widens the sweet spot. I put on a TW 1.3mm leather grip and 4x6Ē strips (6gms) in the hoop, centered on 3 and 9. Final weight with dampener = 350gm.
I was a little concerned about sticking lead directly on the metallic finish in the hoop, as Iíve had lead remove the metallic finish from a previous racquet. I applied electrical tape under the lead. I would have wanted to put the lead under the grommets, but there are flared and I didnít have an extra grommet set.
I was hoping the finished racquet would come in a little lighter, but swing weight is now about 318, which is below the 330 that Iím playing now, and should deal with the only negative comments reported with the 400T.
Because of the recessed grommets, the crosses can only be strung one way, but the tie-offs are well indicated. I play with a wide variety of brands and types of strings, and I chose Cyclone mains (51) and MCS crosses (56) for the try out. I donít know how stiff this racquet will play and the 500T causes me problems after a few days of hitting, so MCS could help. The 400T is pretty easy to string with no complications.
Now for the play test...
First thing I noticed is that this is NOT a typical, powerful tweener. No balls were flying long. Balls were staying deep. It was not obvious that the racquet was providing a little extra power (over my favourite TF 325 VO2). It was a little easier to swing. The string bed feels very even - I didnít notice any weak spots. The center of the sweet spot doesnít result in balls flying. It is definitely stiffer than a 200/300 and less so than a 500. One the 2nd day warm up I focused on varying the pace more - with good results.
I have a pretty decent serve, and mix it up quite a bit. I noticed an instant improvement with the 400T. Better slice, more spin on the kick and a little extra pace. The TW review gave the 400T high marks on this and I agree 100%. I played a 2 hour singles match yesterday and 1 hour today. I could take a little effort off the serve and still easily hold the service games. Similar to the 500T but with better feel and control.
My opponent yesterday is the fastest, hardest server that I play against. It was a good test of racquet stability. No problems here at all with the 400T. Doesnít feel quite as good as my BB11mid, but similar to my TFs and better than the 500T. The lighter sw allowed me to get the racquet in place quickly.
I like to hit a variety of deep, heavy balls and then aggressively move in on short balls. I like some racquet mass and good plow through to either put away the point or hit 1 or max 2 volleys. From the start, it was easy to keep the balls deep, to vary the pace and spin, with great results. I could hit out and keep the balls deep, or ease back a bit a let the racquet do a little work. Much better depth control than the 500T and more plow through than a leaded 4D300. Good directional control also, which surprised me. I didnít notice a difference compared to my TF. I did not have to resort to higher swing speed than my usual racquets.
I thought it may be more difficult to get penetrating reliable topspin, but I could play as well as with my TF. Good depth control, better spin, and easier to get the 400 in place to set up the shot. I hit about 30% slice and was able to slice aggressively and deep with little adjustment. My fav BH racquet is the 200 series, but this was very acceptable.
The feel on volleys is not as solid as the TF, or the BB11mid. If I played doubles often, the difference was enough to make me stick with my TF for doubles. However, the 400T does put the ball away and it did what it had to do. I didnít notice this so much on the 2nd outing.
Post match discomfort.
I did not experience any of the typical post match tweener discomfort. Iíll post more on this after a few more hits. On the 2nd outing I did notice that the 400 does feel stiff, even with MCS. The extra power comes from the stiffness, but so far so good. I may string with full poly next time, but was quite happy with the initial string job and tension.
Donít know yet if Iíll switch to the 400T but I believe I finally found what I was hoping for. The 400T is closer to a playerís stick than a tweener, and could be a great choice for a singles player looking for something a little easier over the course of a long match. There are surely other racquets that can do this, but the 400T is the 1st that Iíve tried and it feels great. Easy ability to hit a side variety of serves and forehands are very strong points. Volley feel is its weakest point but not that bad. Iíll have to play 5-6 league matches and check my results, but if positive, I will switch. Unfortunately on my 2nd outing I became overconfident quickly and started making too many unforced errors. Grrr. In post match practice my shots came back.
Current & recent affairs: PS97 (coming soon!), ai98, Extreme Pro 2.0, Steam 99s, PK QT 295, Dunlop 3.0T & Bio 400T