Michael Chaho reviews the K90 vs ncode 90

This one is dedicated to BreakPoint, only for you baby.....

Now this is how you do a review:

First let me start my introducing myself: I am a former 5.5 now 5.0(due to injury/weight) all courter player with big first serve and big FH who uses both OHBH/THBH and have been using the Head Austrian Pro Tour 630/280 for more than 4 years. Even though many of you would think why would a "Head" player who swings a 335g 32cm SW 324 98sq with 18X20 at 56 flex would think about playing with a Wilson PS90? I grew up playing with Wilson Ultra 2 during the early eighties. I played with PS6.085 but I liked the PS6.6 Jim courier tours 85 and 95 better. I also dabbled with PStour 90 (which I hated) but my favorite ProStaff is PS6.0 95 and the ROK 93 which is closest to my beloved PT630 of all the ProStaff. Anyway, it may seem that I am biased towards "noodle" "muted" "square handle" frames but I have tried so many frames during my 25 years experience testing racquets that I will do my best to be objective as possible.

Now to the review.

I tried to match the two Prostaffs but was not 100% exact. They differ in grip size. The K90 is 3/8 while the ncode90 is 1/2 and had at least 3lbs difference in string tension between the two.

Specimen A:

Wilson (K)six.one tour 90 in 3/8 L3 strung with Wilson Reaction 17g at strung at 57lbs (actual digital string meter 55lbs) with no dampener and no overgrip.

Strung specs.
Weight: 353grams 12.5oz
Balance: 31.5cm
Swing Weight: 328 on a prince RDC machine (C.C. was right after all according to my set up)

Specimen B:

Wilson ncodesix-0ne tour 90 in 1/2 L4 strung with Wilson Reaction 17g at 57lbs (actual digital string meter 58lbs) with no dampener and no overgrip.

Strung specs:

Weight: 353grams 12.5oz
Balance: 32cm
Swing weight: 330 (will have to double check for accuracy)


Note: genghis a poster on TW strung up 2 K90's and measured them on a babolat machine. One is strung with full NXT 16 55lbs, the other is federer's blend of Natural Gut on the main and Big Banger on the cross at 55/51 genghis came up with SW of 333 on the K90 while the ncode90 came in at 325 not sure of what type of string he used. These SW measurements are opposite of what I came up with. There are to many variables that will affect SW accuracy. Weight distribution is a key factor as well as difference in string type and gauge attributes to the discrepancy in SW as well as margin of error +/- between types of machines tested on and quality control of starting unstrung stick.

First impressions:

The color of the K90 is ugly and too flashy IMO. I like my sticks plain black or blue and understated. The K90 was flat matt while the cnode90 was glossy. The quality of the paint was excellent on the K90. The overall quality of the K90 was excellent ie leather grip, butt cap and grommet etc... There is a difference in length of about one inch above the grip exposed in the k90 which makes if feel more flexible but not by that much. The string configuration on the K90 is more open ie in the middle of the PWS bulges (four on the K90 while the ncode 90 had five strings) and in the bottom where the bottom 3rd cross meets the last outside mains. This is where the "more openess" starts IMO. see photos below.

Hitting off the wall for 15 minutes:

I started hitting with the K90 and felt that I could not place the ball in the same area all the time. The stick had lots of feedback and a crisp response and was very easy to maneuver. I picked up the ncode90 and immediately felt a more muted feel and to my surprise I was hitting the ball more consistent and in the same general spot for a longer period of time. IMO the ncode 90 had more control than the K90. The person whom I got the K90 from also stated that he liked the ncode90 better than the K90. I asked him in what ways? he said he felt the ncode90 had more control and it was more stable than the K90.

Anyway it is late and I need to go to bed so I can complete the review with actual court play and will include groundies, serves, volleys, return serves, and overall performance. But before I go please take a look at these photos. Enjoy...

notice 4 strings on the K90 while the ncode has 5 strings


this is where the "more openess" starts, the 3rd cross meets the last outer main on the K90 is more open


while on the ncode90 where the bottom 3rd cross meets the last outer main is tight
 
Forehands:

IMO If you have a more of an eastern grip FH the n90 might suite you better than the K90. I noticed I could "plow through" the ball a bit more consistent and with confidence with the n90 than the K90. The K90, you definitely feel the "raw" feedback. If you are using a more open and western FH the edge goes to the K90, you can really take a cut at the ball especially on running FH hook shots. You can easily brush up on the ball with the K90 and the fact that it is a bit lighter and more maneuverable you can easily generate more racket head speed with the K90 than the n90. If you like to chip and charge your FH's then the K90 has the edge. I preferred the n90 for my style of FH

Backhands:

If you use a THBH then IMO both of these frames have weakness. With a little more edge going to the n90. Not only does it have more grip space but I hit a more flatter THBH's. I also play with OHBH so when I do I preferred the K90. It is a bit lighter and more maneuverable and you can easily snap your wrist and generate racket head speed. Again the K90 has a slight edge on running OHBH's. As for slice BH's the K90 hands down is better than the n90. I preferred the K90 for my OHBH as of now.

Serves:

If you have a big first flat serve like I do then you will like the n90 better than the k90. It was more stable and I could hit the T more often with the n90. As for second serve, the K90 hands down blows away the n90. So it all depends what is your weapon. If you have and extreme arch with extreme brush cuts and like to uber kick your second serves and due to more racquet head speed, the K90 will put a smile on your face like it did with me. But that is a hard one for me to decide on and it all depends how I am feeling and the level of confidence. I would say a tie.

Return serve:

If your timing is fast and you have THBH returns then the n90 has a slight edge. It has more directional control punch. If you are late and cutting/slicing your return serves, the K90 is better since it is a bit quicker to get ready. I could return serves using both OHBH and THBH. Again here it all depends on the type of player you are. If I had to chose now I would pick the K90

Volleys:

I did not get a chance to do lots of volleys but I felt that the n90 was more stable than the K90 on volleys especially if you hit flat and deep. For angles and slices volleys the K90 has a slighter edge. So I would pick the n90 for me on volleys.


Overall I like both K90 and n90 for different style of play and shots making abilities. If your game is built around a big first serve and big eastern FH like me then the n90 has a slight edge. If you are using a more Western grip and you like to slice/dice and your second serve has an uber kick, then go out and buy the K90 instead. I know many of you might rush out and buy the new K90 anyway just because it is supposedly Federers stick. If you do not like PS6.0 85, PS6.0 tour 90, ncode90 then this new K90 is not for you. Even though on paper the numbers might look good and you are thinking you might be able to handle it, think twice, it is still a demanding stick for 5.0 players and above, and can be harsh on your arm if you are not fit. You could easily find other more comfortable frames which you can manage and enjoy.

Final note:

The string spacing is not new. Racquet companies have been manipulating string spacing way before Federer was even born. One can easily manipulate the "openness" of their frame by using thinner guage strings. I bet if you use a 15g with the K90 and a 18g with the n90, It will more than negate the openness of the K90. If you are in love with one string and one guage then the choice would be easy for you to decide. As for the space above the grip being more exposed, it does not have a big effect on flex IMO. If you want to have your n90 have more feel just use a thin gauge soft string at low proportional tension. I bet if you string a K90 with 15g poly at high tension it will feel like a 2X4 and the 2-3 RDC difference between the K90 and the n90 will not matter. Last, I did not feel anything regarding the (K)arbon Kfactor where Wilson claims it will give you "more control". IMO the n90 felt a little more stable and had a little more control in general.

In conclusion, I will be playing a match on Monday. I would like to use both K90/n90 while playing two full sets and see how they compare during competitive play. Stay tuned in few days......

In the mean time, for all you Made in Austria Pro Tour 630/280 and Made in Austria Prestige classic 600 this one is for you....

K90 is engraved with Made in China on the throat ;-)
 
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Tour 90

Semi-Pro
Nice, glad to see someone isn't blinded by the new release.
PS thanks for saying all that good stuff about n90's. Peace!
 

vkartikv

Hall of Fame
Nice closeup pics. Have you ever played with the prostaff 6.0 mid and can compare the k-90 to it? Thanks
 
Nice closeup pics. Have you ever played with the prostaff 6.0 mid and can compare the k-90 to it? Thanks
thanks to all ...

I have used wilson Ultra 2 during the early 80's which was very stiff. It made the St.Vincent ProStaff 6.0 feel like a noodle. However I did not play with the PS6.0 85 too long to be able to give you an accurate comparission but I did try out and played for a while with PS 6.6 85 and 95 (18X20) and PS 6.0 95 16X19 and Wilson Rok93.

From my recolection i liked the PS 6.6 85 the stares and stripes one better than the PS6.0 85. It felt "beafier" and I would say it is closer to the ncode90. I would also say that the PS6.0 85 is closer to this K90, they are both very percise and have a clean cut response. Some might like this while others may not. Hope this helps
 

vkartikv

Hall of Fame
thanks to all ...

I have used wilson Ultra 2 during the early 80's which was very stiff. It made the St.Vincent ProStaff 6.0 feel like a noodle. However I did not play with the PS6.0 85 too long to be able to give you an accurate comparission but I did try out and played for a while with PS 6.6 85 and 95 (18X20) and PS 6.0 95 16X19 and Wilson Rok93.

From my recolection i liked the PS 6.6 85 the stares and stripes one better than the PS6.0 85. It felt "beafier" and I would say it is closer to the ncode90. I would also say that the PS6.0 85 is closer to this K90, they are both very percise and have a clean cut response. Some might like this while others may not. Hope this helps
I was hoping the k90 would be closer to the ps 85 than the ncode 90 was. The shorter handle itself seems to be an early indicator of this. The 6.6 was a great frame, I tried the 95 sq.in. model with 18x20 pattern, I wish it was still in production. Thanks for the info.
 

BreakPoint

Bionic Poster
Thanks for the review, MC! :D

Everything you've said still makes me think the K90 is more suited for me than the nCode 90. The two things I've always wished the nCode 90 had are more feel and more maneuverability, and it looks like the K90 indeed has both. The fact that it's easier to generate spin and slices with the K90 is an added bonus.

Yes, please keep us updated as you play with the K90 some more. :D

(BTW, the PS 6.0 95 has a 16x18 pattern, not 16x19.)
 
Thanks for the review, MC! :D

Everything you've said still makes me think the K90 is more suited for me than the nCode 90. The two things I've always wished the nCode 90 had are more feel and more maneuverability, and it looks like the K90 indeed has both. The fact that it's easier to generate spin and slices with the K90 is an added bonus.

Yes, please keep us updated as you play with the K90 some more. :D

(BTW, the PS 6.0 95 has a 16x18 pattern, not 16x19.)
You are welcome and thanks for the correction on the string pattern.

Just remember that yes you will have more feel and more manueverability withthe K90 but nothing is for free, you will have to sacrifice a bit of something else, and IMO that something is a bit of stability/control.
 

jasonbourne

Professional
Just remember that yes you will have more feel and more manueverability withthe K90 but nothing is for free, you will have to sacrifice a bit of something else, and IMO that something is a bit of stability/control.
My game style is similar to BP's plus a consistent, versatile FH weapon. After reading your and CC's reviews, the k90 may not add more for me than the n90. I would take stability/control over maneuverability/feel, since I can address the latter with more practice/conditioning and better string selection.

Thanks for pointing out the loss of stability/control on the k90 compared to the n90 MC! I suspected this after reading CC's review.

You have an excellent review on the k90. I appreciate your comparisons with the n90. I look forward to more distinctions you make after your Monday match.
 

erap

New User
I told yall! The k90 looks like a Walmart Racket and pretty much plays like a WAL MART RACKET TOO!
 

alan-n

Professional
Thanks for the great unbiased / hyped review and comparison the the existing Tour 90s Michael.

I'll have to demo one someday... hopefully Wilson will make an original tour 90 paint job of it ;)
 

alan-n

Professional
Even the various prostaff 6.0 85 from different factories feel significantly different from one another... Wilson has a way with loosey goosey tolerances.
 
I told yall! The k90 looks like a Walmart Racket and pretty much plays like a WAL MART RACKET TOO!
Never played with a walmart racquet but it seems you have;-) besides how do you know what a K90 plays like if you have never even seen or held one!?!

I had in the past biased opinion ever since the Wilson tour 90 but one needs to be more open and objective when testing frames.

Most important is not if it looks like a Walmart special, it is kind of ugly but it does grow on you and that flat Matte red in the middle is nice, but if it hurts your arm. What good does an amazing stick do if it is taking a toll on your arm. This stick is amazing indeed but it is too early to tell if my arm/wrist will be getting soar. I hope not.
 
My game style is similar to BP's plus a consistent, versatile FH weapon. After reading your and CC's reviews, the k90 may not add more for me than the n90. I would take stability/control over maneuverability/feel, since I can address the latter with more practice/conditioning and better string selection.

Thanks for pointing out the loss of stability/control on the k90 compared to the n90 MC! I suspected this after reading CC's review.

You have an excellent review on the k90. I appreciate your comparisons with the n90. I look forward to more distinctions you make after your Monday match.

Good observation JB, which is why I play the austrian PT630 it has stability/control yet still has an amazing feel with excellent maneuverability except for a weakness on net and now that I demoed the K90 I felt that I can hit amazing OHBH but I wish I could do that with my PT630 :-(

You can not have it all.

You can not have a car that climbs rocks and go offroading then put it on the tracks and expect it to be like a formula one car. Same thing with snow tires, you can not expect a studded snow tire to perform well on nascar.

This K90 it not for everyone and I am sure not all PS6.0 85 base players will want to switch nor some ncode 90 users but I have a feeling the K90 will sell to new wannabe federer players IMO
 
Even the various prostaff 6.0 85 from different factories feel significantly different from one another... Wilson has a way with loosey goosey tolerances.

correct even the PROSTAFF Stvincent, Jack Kramer maroon PS, the PROSTAFF chicago, Jim Courier Stars and strips ProStaff 6.6 tour, the PS Taiwan, PS 6.0 85 China, they all play different and this K90 plays different than all of them.
 
Thanks for the great unbiased / hyped review and comparison the the existing Tour 90s Michael.
Hyped?!?! I thought the ncode90 has the slighter edge for me If I were to switch and I still play with the PT630. Hype! you are mistaking me with BP. Like CC's review he is not swittching anytime soon the the K90 either.
 
Hyped?!?! I thought the ncode90 has the slighter edge for me If I were to switch and I still play with the PT630. Hype! you are mistaking me with BP. Like CC's review he is not swittching anytime soon the the K90 either.
I can't believe anyone would think EITHER of our reviews were 'hyped'. ;)

Neither of us expressed an intent to change to the K90. Further, I went to what I felt were EXTRAORDINARY lengths to inform folks that the K90 is for ADVANCED players, and that a DEMO is MANDATORY. I even followed up w/ a comparison to the Volkl DNX 10 mid that split it pretty much right down the middle between the two.

BTW, great job Michael!! How did it play today?

Best,

CC
 

SFrazeur

Legend
Thank you for the excellent comparison/review.

Michael Chaho and Craig A. Clark,

Would either of you agree that that the (K)90 is better suited for those that use heavy topspin for control?
 
Thank you for the excellent comparison/review.

Michael Chaho and Craig A. Clark,

Would either of you agree that that the (K)90 is better suited for those that use heavy topspin for control?
you are welcome, IMO it will suite you very well, hope you do not have a THBH though but have an uber kick second serve,

I will have to see how I play in a match, I will have to change the way I play and rely more on second serves, maybe I will only hit two seconds rather than a first. And since I make some errors with my OHBH using the PT630 by switching to the K90 I might make less errors and my OHBH will be more effective. I might have to adjust for the way I hit my FH to a more semi western as well. In the end it might not be worth it to switch, especialy if the K90 might give me arm trouble which it might since I have a very sensitive arm and usually anything over 60flex did hurt my arm in the past.
 

BreakPoint

Bionic Poster
Hyped?!?! I thought the ncode90 has the slighter edge for me If I were to switch and I still play with the PT630. Hype! you are mistaking me with BP. Like CC's review he is not swittching anytime soon the the K90 either.
MC,
I think you (and some others) may have misinterpreted my excitment for the K90. I am NOT "hyping" (intentionally anyway) the K90. Heck, I haven't even played with it yet so I'm certainly not in a position to "hype" it. I'm only excited about it FOR MYSELF because so far from what I hear, it sounds very close to what I'm looking for in my ideal racquet. But it may turn out to be a dud after I play with it for myself. We'll see.

And, frankly, I couldn't care less if no one else on the planet switched to it. So I'm not "hyping" it to anyone else nor for anyone's else's benefit. I'm only excited about it, again, FOR MYSELF. And, of course, everyone else can decide for themselves and determine how excited they should or shouldn't be.
 
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SFrazeur

Legend
you are welcome, IMO it will suite you very well, hope you do not have a THBH though but have an uber kick second serve,
That is good news for me, I do not hit very flat at all, I rarely hit flat serves either, I almost always use some type of spin. Even if the (K)90 is basically the same as the n90 save for the more open string pattern and of course the longer cosmetic throat, it sounds like a better fit for me than the n90. I will be looking forward to a demo run with it, unfortunately that will not be until January.

I use a 1HBH, I only occasionally use a 2HBH when teaching for demonstrational purposes.
 
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MC,
I think you (and some others) may have misinterpreted my excitment for the K90. I am NOT "hyping" (intentionally anyway) the K90. Heck, I haven't even played with it yet so I'm certainly not in a position to "hype" it. I'm only excited about it FOR MYSELF because so far from what I hear, it sounds very close to what I'm looking for in my ideal racquet. But it may turn out to be a dud after I play with it for myself. We'll see.

And, frankly, I couldn't care less in no one else on the planet switched to it. So I'm not "hyping" it to anyone else nor for anyone's else's benefit. I'm only excited about it, again, FOR MYSELF. And, of course, everyone else can decide for themselves and determine how excited they should or shouldn't be.
Ok I see, then BP you are Hyper-excited about it:)
 
Sorry folks there will be no update review for K90 in actual competitive play. My partner canceled on me last minute and I could not find anyone in such a short notice to play with other than my 14 year old niece. Wilson rep wanted their K90 back ASAP.

OTOH I am excited that I just received my personal Kneissl RedStar which I will be testing for a long time. Keep an eye out for that review this week when I compare it to my beloved PT630.
 
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