Squash Racquet Review – Black Knight ION X-FORCE Black

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Black Knight Ion X-FORCE Black Squash Racquet

Having good connections at Black Knight is terrific as we are one of the first retailers to receive the new Black Knight ION X-FORCE squash racquets.  We received them a couple of days ago so naturally the first thing I did was try out one of the demos. I tried out the Black Knight ION X-FORCE Black. I must say that I am quite impressed with these new racquets. I am excited to see the Thermal Core technology make its appearance in these racquets.

Black Knight first used this technology in the Chameleon racquet which is now discontinued. The Thermal Core process heats the racquet core to higher temperature during the curing phase, so that the racquet structure is cured uniformly inside and out. This Thermal Core modification to the carbon fibres makes the frame extremely responsive – stiff yet playing with the reactive properties of a more flexible frame. The resulting hit is the best of both worlds – the control of a very stiff frame with the power of a more flexible frame.

The frame weight of 140g is a very average weight for a squash racquet but its dynamic weight of 130g makes it play a little lighter.  The feel of the racquet on contact is terrific. The previous Ion series of racquets had a little vibration to them when hitting the ball. The new X-FORCE models do not. Black Knight’s rigidity rating on this racquet puts it at one of the stiffest racquets they have ever produced yet because of the Thermal Core technology it does not play as stiff as it is. The strings included, Ashaway’s Supernick XL Micro are a terrific set of strings and compliment this racquet very well. Overall a great racquet and definitely worth trying out.

This is a very new model and we are very excited to have it. If you interested in purchasing one please visit our online store to pick one up today.

The technical specifications are below:

Characteristics of the Black Knight Ion X-FORCE Black Squash Racquet :

String : Ashaway Supernick XL Micro
Recommended Tension : 26 lbs
Rigidity Index : 95
Avg. Frame Weight : 140 g
String Area : 475 cm2
Dynamic Weight : 130

ION

The Ion series has been developed in collaboration with multiple British Open Champion David Palmer.

The Black Knight Ion X-Force series of squash racquets use Thermal Core technology. This heats the racquet core to higher temperature during the curing phase, so that the racquet structure is cured uniformly inside and out. This Thermal Core modification to the carbon fibres makes the frame extremely responsive – stiff yet playing with the reactive properties of a more flexible frame. The resulting hit is the best of both worlds – the control of a very stiff frame with the power of a more flexible frame.

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22 Responses to Squash Racquet Review – Black Knight ION X-FORCE Black

  1. tokyosquash says:

    this is the first review i’ve seen for bk’s newest rackets. tks! is the x-force black only for advanced players, or would it still suit a beginner/intermediate? also, i’ve noticed two other new bk models, one called striker and one called tactic. do you have any plans to test out those two?

  2. Jeff Warren says:

    The ION X-FORCE series of racquets are extremely new and most places won’t have them yet which is why there are few reviews.

    While the X-FORCE Black is 140g it is fairly head light and plays much lighter than that. I would not normally recommend a very light, or head light racquet to a beginner as I don’t think it helps develop a good fundamental game. A more evenly balanced, or even slightly head heavy racquet helps develop good length shots. The weight in the head of the racquet helps it come through the ball. For a player that already knows the game, and likes a lighter or head light racquet the X-FORCE Black is a good racquet. It has fairly good power, very good control and quite decent touch too. The Yellow version has a bit more power due to its extra mass – it is 5 grams heavier. It has the same balance but the extra weight contributes to the extra power.

    I am based in Canada and the Striker and Tactic are older models and not available anymore new. That is not to say that they could not be purchased new from a retailer that might have new old stock but they are not part of BK’s currently available models, at least not here in Canada. They are still listed on BK’s site though but the site itself is out of date from a squash perspective at least.

    Thanks for taking the time to post and if you have any more questions please do not hesitate to post here, or to contact me directly by email or phone.

    Thanks!

    Jeff
    Control the ‘T’ Sports

    • Mike says:

      Hey Jeff,

      The way you describe the racquet (140g, plays head light, stiff yet good control/touch) sounds a lot like the Magnum Corona. Have you tried it? I personally like the Corona quite a bit though I don’t know own one myself. Just wondering how these two racquets compare.

      Thanks!

      • Jeff says:

        Mike,

        The X-Force is more head light than the Corona actually. It also a little stiffer. The Thermal Core technology seems to make it play with more feel than you would expect from such a stiff racquet. The strings, the SuperNick ML Micro that come with also play with a nice feel to them. Both the Corona and the X-Force have the same string. If you like the Corona you would like the new Corona6. It is a 140g racquet, same basic balance as the original Corona but has the Thermal Core technology. If you really like a really stiff racquet and something even more head light then you definitely might like the X-Force. We have both in stock if you are interested.

        Jeff Warren
        Control the ‘T’ Sports

  3. Chin-Khai Tang says:

    Hi. I have been playing squash for three years. Recently, I have two Harrow Custom Spark rackets broken due to racket clash. The Harrow Custom Spark racket is very nice but it is so delicate due to its light construction. So I am looking for a new strong and light racket. I believe Prince and Black Knight Quicksilver rackets are strong. The Quicksilver is like a metal stick. But I am quite interested in this Black Knight X-Force Black racket. I wonder if it is a good racket with strong construction. Thanks.

    • Jeff says:

      Thanks for posting on my blog! The BK Ion X-Force series is pretty new so I have not sold as many yet as other racquets. That being said BK in general make durable racquets. The 16K carbon fibre in the X-Force series is designed to increase strength. It feels like a strong racquet. I can say the Quicksilver is durable. It has been around for years and we see very few broken ones. It is of course not steel but it is durable nonetheless. The Prince that would be closest spec wise is the Airstick 130. It is a very nice racquet and very affordable but is not that durable. I would not describe it as flimsy but we do more of the broken then of the Quicksilver’s as an example. Thanks for posting!

      Jeff

  4. Mark says:

    Hi Jeff, Recently found this blog and am very impressed with the information you have on here (with regards rackets as well as coverage of the PSA tour). I’m interested in both the Black Knight ION-X Force Black and Yellow rackets, though I have never owned a Black Knight before. Yesterday I had the pleasure of using the Dunlop Evolution 130, the first dunlop racket I’ve ever tried that I actually liked. I can see how it would be great for volleying, and I seemed to generate sufficient pace with it too. My question to you is, how does that compare to the Black and Yellow BK models? I’m also quite concerned about fragility of rackets – Im a bit hard wearing on them and switched to Karakal after breaking the 4th Head Xenon 135 this year, I can’t afford to keep replacing broken expensive rackets (Karakal actually holding out very well at the moment). How hard wearing are the Black, Yellow and Evolution 130?

    Best, Mark

    • Jeff says:

      Thank you for the kind words and for posting!

      The biggest difference with the Black Knight Ion X-Force Yellow/Black compared to the Dunlop is how stiff they are. They are extremely rigid and very powerful racquets. They are both quite head light. The Yellow being 5g heavier overall. So in it terms how they compare to the Dunlop they are more powerful (in particular the Yellow) and are much stiffer. The Dunlop, even though it is a tear drop frame still does have that softer Dunlop feel.

      Regarding durability I have found Black Knight racquets to be very durable overall and so far the Ion X-Force have held up well. Dunlop’s racquets I have not found to be as durable overall as the Black Knight racquets. I have yet to have an Evolution 130 break but I would expect the Ion X-Force racquets to be more durable based off of the overall track record of the brand. I don’t think Dunlop’s are bad from a durability standpoint, pretty average overall, but Black Knight’s have been very durable in my experience as player and as retailer.

      Thanks again!

      Jeff

  5. Mike says:

    Hi. Great blog. I just recently busted my BK Chameleon. I’m currently demoing a BK ion x-force. I played with it today and felt it lacked power. It might have been an off game but I also found my touch shots were poor. Can you suggest a racquet similar to the Chameleon (I understand it is no longer available).
    Thanks,
    Mike

    • Jeff says:

      Mike,

      Which X-Force are you trying the Black or Yellow? The Yellow will give you more power due to the extra weight. The Chameleon was a pretty unique racquet. It was very light at 135g. I don’t think there is a racquet that feels quite the same for whatever reason. The technology in the new ION’s is similar in particular the Thermal Core technology but they dont feel quite the same. You might try the Corona6. It is 140g and a bit head light. Technically it is less powerful than the X-Force racquets but of course that depends on whether you are hitting the sweetspot. That might be the biggest issue you are having. The balance and feel of anything new you try will be definitely vary from the Chameleon. New racquets will definitely take some adjusting too. Another racquet you might consider trying is the Quicksilver. Technology wise it is not similar to the Chameleon but it is light and quick to play with as was the Chameleon.

      Thanks for posting!

      • Mike says:

        Thanks Jeff.
        It was the black X-force I played with today. I’ll give the Corona and Quicksilver a try. I might try to pick up another Chameleon. Do you have any left in stock? Any insight into why it was discontinued?
        Also, what do you think about Harrow racquets? I was considering given the Vapor a try.
        Thanks again,
        Mike

        • Jeff says:

          I don’t have any left unfortunately I sold my last 1 a year or so ago. As to why I am not really sure I suspect they were not selling that well. I do get asked about it every now and again but I don’t see that many in use. It was a great racquet though…

          Harrow’s Vapor is a good racquet. It is quite stiff. Actually a lot of Harrow racquets are other than the JP models the Vibe and Spark. The Vapor is 140g but that is measured with the strings on so it is lighter than other racquets when you compare them that are marked at the same weight. Most companies list the weight without the string. They are stiff as mentioned and head heavy. They produce a fair amount of power. I do have them in stock.

  6. Maurice says:

    Hi Jeff,
    thanks for such a detailed information, it’s really hard to find any comparison or detailed review of the X-Force series. Love your blog 🙂

    I’m currently playing with a Victor which is totally balanced. I’m a medium player, and hard hitter, so I’m planning to go into something a bit head light to improve my control.
    So my doubt is between the Corona6 and the X-Force black. Does the X-Force have much more control than the Corona6? reading your gorgeous opinions seems like you lose some power with the X-Force (not a big problem), BUT it’s more difficult to handle and you need to be very skilled…and also there is a quite important price difference (I don’t have the chance to test them so I would have to buy one based on ideas).

    Which one would you recommend? Thanks a lot for this great blog and efforts 🙂

    • Jeff says:

      Glad you like the blog and thanks for taking the time to post!

      The X-Force racquets are very head light and that can be tough for some players. It takes a skilled player because of how head light it is. It has a small head size which is good for control. Also being so stiff is good for control as well as there is very little torsion to it.

      The Corona6 is head light but not as dramatically. It is also not quite as stiff. It has the same head size as the X-Force Black. Overall I would say it is probably easier to play with and is actually a very good control racquet. Being less expensive is also nice.

      Thanks again for posting and hope that helps. We have both in stock as well if you are buying online and our locations are close enough to make sense.

      • Maurice says:

        Thank you so much Jeff for your clarifications =]
        Unfortunately I live in Europe, so I suppose that buying a racquet in Canada could be a problem due to customs. Anyway I’m going to US on holiday on this september so maybe I could wait till then, don’t know.
        Anyway, thanks a lot for your impressions. Seems like the Corona6 could be a better choice for me, and not a drastic change, coming from an even balance racquet.
        Thanks again, Jeff and keep your great job :o)

        • Jeff says:

          No problem and shipping to Europe would be rather expensive as well as having to deal with customs. If you have not purchased anything before you do come to the US then sure pick one up from us but September is a long way away and if you are anything at all like me and the urge to get new squash gear hits you waiting that long will be tough! Thanks again for posting and keep checking out our blog.

          Jeff

  7. Joe says:

    Hi Jeff,

    I hope you can give me some advice on this. I am deciding on buying an xforce black, ion galaxy or corona6 but cant decide on what to get as i cannot demo the racquets here..

    Based on the black knight website, the xforce black has the best rating in terms of power control and speed. I have tried a corona6 which i feel is better in terms of control than my current racquet the ion cannon power surge. I was told that the ion galaxy is better than the corona6 but i never tried the racquet.

    Which racquet out of the three would you consider the best ? I am an advanced player looking to improve my game and the ion cannon ps doesnt offer the control i need. Although powerwise i am very impressed. Would really appreciate your advice

    • Jeff says:

      Joe

      Thanks for taking the time to contact me. Of the Black Knight racquets mentioned the Ion Cannon PS is the most powerful. It is their most power racquet overall. That is what they note in their specifications and also what I have found from testing them as well. From what you have described that you are looking for the X-Force Black (or Sam Cornett) would be the best from BK’s specifications as well as personal experience. The Cannon PS is great for power but offers the least of the models you mentioned. The Corona6 is pretty good for control and speed but is the least powerful. BK lists the control of the Galaxy PS, X-Force Black/Yellow/SC as the same and I think that is fairly true. From a speed perspective the X-Force Black or Sam Cornett will be the fastest followed by the Galaxy or the X-Force Yellow being pretty close. Factoring in all of the 3 things X-Force Black or Sam Cornett are probably the best match to what you asked for. The Sam Cornett model is the same as the Black with a different paint scheme and a different set of strings.

      One thing that would help in making the decision though is do you have a preference in balance. All of these racquets are head light but the X-Force are quite head light whereas the Galaxy PS and Corona6 just a bit head light. BK gives 2 weight values to their racquets an actual weight and a dynamic weight. If the dynamic weight is less than the actual weight it is head light, the bigger the difference the more head light it is. The opposite is of course true as well where the dynamic weight is higher than the actual weight the racquet is head heavy.

      I hope that helps.

      All the best,

      Jeff

  8. Joe says:

    Hi Jeff,

    That’s a good point you make with the difference in actual weight and dynamic weight to determine the balance. I feel head heavy or head light is more suited to me than a balanced racquet. Stringing also makes a difference as well but it is difficult to try out different brands and tensions unless I break the string.

    Many thanks for your well informed and quick response. This is the best blog out there in helping people make the right decision when purchasing a racquet. I find it difficult to choose a racquet when there are so many products out there. Thanks again and keep up the good work.

  9. Mando says:

    Hi everyone,

    Wondering if anyone can help me out here. I currently use and have been using the Harrow Vapor for the past 3 years or so. They are one of the best raquets I have ever played with. However, they are very fragile and break easily. I am looking to start using black night but I am not sure which model would be best for me. Could anyone recommend a model that is as close to the Harrow vapor as possible?

    Thanks!

    • Jeff says:

      Mando,

      The Vapor is 140g finished weight and head heavy. The newer BK racquets, the Ion Element PSX, Ion Element Storm XT and the Ion Quartz are all head light. One racquet that you could consider is the Black Knight Ion Storm, the original gold coloured model. It is a 135 gram (unfinished weight) racquet with a head heavy balance. Black Knight racquets are generally quite durable. The Storm is also fairly stiff like the Vapor. It is closest racquet I can think of in the Black Knight series. I hope that helps!

      Jeff

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