Sunday, November 26, 2017

Badminton Racket Review: Yonex Duora Z-Strike

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First impressions here.

This took awhile didn't it?! Because of the lack of court time I could only get enough experience with the racket now to give a fairly justifiable review.

Given the lack of racket makers now, the speed at which new rackets and innovations are pushed out are sorely lacking compared to back in the days when guys like Hart, Toalson and Prince were in the game.

That leaves Yonex with a lot of leeway to produce and push out innovations like the Duora at their own pace. When the new frame was released I wondered how much it could help with my game.

The Yonex Duora 10 proved to be a little of a disappointment, with my preferring the backhand side of the racket for regular play. I wondered what would happen if I were to use a similarly weighted Victor Bravesword instead.

My sentiments towards the gimmicky innovation carried on to the Z-Strike. The shaft of this one was a little thicker, and the head a lot heavier and bulkier. This was probably to make up for the lack of attacking prowess in the Duora 10.

Having had enough time on the court with this guy, I am going to say that I've not really changed my opinion on the whole Duora thing, but this has a few needed improvements over the Duora 10 that will make it a good addition to a player's arsenal.

Here goes.

Note: This is a review of my experience after using the racket for a few sessions. I am by no means a professional player, and so you should take my judgment with a pinch of salt. I welcome comments of any sorts.

Yonex Duora Z-Strike
Est. Dry Weight: 88g (3U)
Grip Size: G5
Balance: Head Heavy
Stiffness: Stiff
Strings: Yonex Nanogy 98 @ 27lbs

Not really good, like with any head heavy variants that I've used. If any of you were old enough to have used the Yonex Armortec 900 Power you will find a striking similarity in this racket. The bulk frame does not give much to your movement on the court and the racket speed becomes compromised when you try to lift or move it around for defense.

As someone who prefers the defensive game - turning the tide around with a well-placed block or drive - the Yonex Duora Z-Strike is a little tricky to handle. At times I lift the racket for a block to find that I'm just that little off the ideal hitting spot, resulting in a less effective response.

This is especially relevant when your opponent is coming in at you hard with his attacks, leaving you with less time and more opportunity to get that dreaded frame hit off a defensive attempt. At the end of the day I suppose the racket was built with offense in mind.

For me the racket was an improvement over the Duora 10, offering several boosts to the head frame construction. It feels surprisingly like a Voltric, and many a times during the course of the review I had wanted to go check it it's a Voltric Duora Z-Strike instead.

First of all the head frame got a boost in thickness. This really gives it a good extra amount of punch when it comes to hitting the shuttle. A slightly thicker shaft also adds to the energy transfer, resulting in a more powerful stroke towards the opponent.

Following the recommendations of the Duora technology, the flat broad side is held as the forehand stroke. This results in a larger downward force (which translates to a larger upward force during defense) on the hit. This really works on the court when you put in a smash, as you can feel a substantial amount of pressure coming from a smash.

People who like to smash will really like this racket. The extended attacking capability of the Yonex Duora Z-Strike is a very good improvement over the more dainty Duora 10.

This is where it gets funny. While heavy racket rackets offer a more stable frame that contributes to better control, I experience a very peculiar phenomenon when swinging with the Z-Strike, particularly on the long clears.

With this racket I am not able to aim my long clears well at all. The shuttle seems to sway very awkwardly to the sides, resulting in a straight out or a less the optimal angle (that means I get attacked). While I can chalk this down to my lack of game time, the same feeling does not come when I switch the racket.

This situation presents itself again when I try to smash down the line. There are times when the shuttle wouldn't be as accurate as I wanted it to.

On netshots and drives the racket performs as a head heavy one should - giving the shuttle a good stable base to bounce off on the soft shots and allowing a great transfer of energy on the fast flats.

We've not had a white racket for awhile, and the fresh combination of white, black and streaks of orange and red make the Yonex Duora Z-Strike a nice racket to look at. What I can perhaps pick at is the lack of the backhand/forehand decal that was so very helpful in the case of the Duora 10.

Yonex Duora Z-Strike
"The new glass cannon"
Defense: 7
Attack: 9
Control: 8
Looks: 8

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