Tag Archives: Squash Racquet Review

A Review of the Harrow Vibe Jonathon Power Special Edition Squash Racquet

Harrow Vibe Jonathon Power Signature EditionI recently decided to switch racquets as I wanted to try something light and with a soft feel to it. I also wanted something that was fairly forgiving to play with. As such I decided to give the Harrow Vibe a try. I had most recently been using the Harrow Spark before so the weight difference was not to significant. The Vibe is slightly heavier at 140 grams fully finished compared to the Spark’s fully finished weight of 135 grams. The balance of the Vibe is more even compared to the Spark which is head heavy so even though the Vibe is heavier on a scale, when playing it felt a bit lighter to me. The Vibe has a very soft feel to it which is exactly what I wanted to try. The Vibe’s 500 cm2 head is definitely more forgiving than the smaller head of the Spark.

Weight and Balance

I was already used to playing with a light racquet as noted so the change to the Vibe in relation to the weight was an easy one. I like the even balance to it. I have been working on a shorter, more compact swing that I can hold and then snap through to the ball with. I find this is easier to do with a lighter racquet and the Harrow Vibe was very good for this with its very light weight and even balance. A quick note on weight which I will go in to more detail on in a forth coming post. There are a few different ways that manufacturers advertise the weight of a racquet. They are unfinished, unstrung and fully finished. You can add as much as 40 grams in some cases to an unfinished weight. So the Vibe’s weight of 140 grams fully finished is very light indeed. That coupled with its even balance makes it extremely manoeuvrable.

Feel

This is the racquet that Jonathon Power actually plays with. Having previously been a Dunlop guy Harrow designed his signature model around the feel that he likes. It has a very soft, almost whippy feel to it. I noticed the change from the Spark here a great deal. The Spark, like many Harrow frames is quite stiff. This Vibe has a softer frame but also it has a less dense 14 x 18 string pattern compared to the Spark or Vapor’s 14 x 19 stringing pattern on their smaller heads. It makes a big difference. You can visibly see that the Vibe has a more open string pattern through the sweet spot of the racquet compared to the Spark or Vapor. The softer feel gives you the sense that the ball is sitting on the strings longer. That is not the only difference on contact. There is a definite flex to the racquet when you hit the ball. These were all things I was wanting to give a try. It felt odd having come from such a stiff racquet but it has really grown on me.

Forgiving

The last few racquets I have all had smaller heads that would be considered control frames. I have found when I playing well these do suit my game as I like to move the ball around the court. I have found though that when under more pressure and when I am not playing quite as well the smaller sweet spots of these heads was coming back to haunt me. The smaller head and tighter string pattern of the Spark and Vapor are not forgiving. I wanted to try something with a larger sweet spot and that would be more responsive on slightly mishit balls. The Harrow Vibe definitely helped with that. It was easier to generate pace with the Vibe due its larger sweet spot but more importantly under duress I am getting more out of the racquet, and my shots with the larger more forgiving head. Interestingly if I am playing really well with either the Spark of Vibe I am in good command of the ball. I find I am in more command of the ball with the Vibe under pressure than I am with the smaller head of the Spark. This was actually the principal reason for trying the Vibe out and it did really work out.

Overall Conclusion

I really enjoy playing with the Harrow Vibe.  I liked it enough that I have one in my bag now strung up with Tecnifibre X-One. It did take some getting use to the softer more flexible feel of the Vibe but the rewards of doing so were worth it. You do get an improved feel of the ball on the racquet and it is a forgiving racquet to hit with. A final note on the weight of the racquet. It is very light and not what I would think is ideal for the beginner. It is pretty easy to get ahead of the ball if you are anxious as you can generate so much racquet head speed, so easily. For the player that can control that and has good timing that is actually a real advantage though. If you are looking for a light, manoeuvrable, forgiving racquet with a soft feel then the Harrow Vibe is a terrific choice.

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Review of the Dunlop Force Evolution 130 Squash Racquet

Recently I took out the Dunlop Evolution 130 for a hit and I found it to be a very interesting racquet. It features a tear drop design with a small bridge, a dense string pattern (14×18), 130 frame weight, and an even head balance. I played a couple matches with this racquet as I tried to figure out how it played best. A racquet that doesn’t fail to deliver in either control or power and with an even balance, the EVO 130 is great for players who tend to be more patient on court. It also a great feel on contact when hitting the ball as it provides great stability due to its string pattern.

At first, I tried an aggressive approach: volleying on the midcourt, using my wrist more, increasing the pace, and hitting hard and low shots. I found out that this was more challenging to do with this racquet. This is due to its weight of 130 grams and even balance which in reality, in my personal opinion, felt slightly head heavy. Volleying on the midcourt was not an easy task since I was not able to maneuver the racquet very easily and using my wrist put extra stress on my arm. Also, increasing the pace was harder once again due to maneuverability (it was harder to get the racquet ready on time). However, my main focus in squash is speed and accuracy rather than arm strength and power (I get the power from the racquet I normally use) so it is fair to say that this is why the EVO 130 didn’t suit my aggressive play. Having said this, if you are an aggressive player with good arm strength, you won’t find it a problem to maneuver this racquet easily.

Dunlop Force Evolution 130

Dunlop Force Evolution 130

Since aggressive play didn’t work for me using the EVO 130, I tried a more patient approach to the match. I started making more fluid swings and keeping the ball at the back of the court. This worked perfectly since the balance and weight of the racquet allowed me to go through the ball easily without much effort but providing me enough power to get the ball to the back of the court. This was also a more pleasant experience in terms of comfort as I felt great when hitting the ball; the racquet is very forgiving mainly due to its stability but also to its dense string pattern. It also provided me with great feel and control when dropping the ball whether it was from the midcourt or the front court. Another nice thing about this racquet is its head design, which is reminiscent of the Black Knight Quicksilver nXs (tear drop with small bridge), since it helps with power generation. Although I have made it sound like this is a racquet not suitable for aggressive play, this racquet didn’t fail to deliver when I wanted to put the ball away; whether it was a loose shot from my opponent giving me time to hit a hard and low shot or a nice and easy drop shot, the EVO 130 gave me all I needed. The reason for this is the racquet’s stability and string pattern which helped me control the ball much easier than with my usual racquet.

In conclusion, this racquet can be amazing in the right hands. Even though it is hard to use aggressively, it is not an impossible task to do. But, if you plan on using it for long and fluid rallies where you want to create opportunities to put the ball away, this racquet will fit you very well. With an interesting design which allows it to have a bigger sweet spot and better stability, this racquet will feel amazing when hitting any type of shot!

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Review of the Head Xenon TB 120 Squash Racquet

Recently I took the Head Graphene XT Xenon 120 Slimbody for a hit and I have to say I’m happy with the results. This racquet weighs 120g, has an even head balance, has a smaller head size, and features a very thin beam. Overall a very nice racquet to play with as it is very maneuverable and provides great control due to its bridged design and small head. However, you need to hit all your shots on the sweet spot in order to avoid movement and vibration through the racquet.

Head Graphene XT Xenon Slimbody 120 Squash Racquet

The first thing I noticed is how easy it is to generate head speed with this racquet. I was able to make quick swings easily which allowed me to maintain power which is a nice thing since I had to generate most of it myself without the aid of the racquet (due to its light weight and head balance). I was able to attack more on the mid court and, because of its bridged design, I could take full advantage of my attack with better accuracy. Furthermore, even if I couldn’t attack right on the midcourt, I was still able to retrieve shots before they reached the back court since the racquet’s light weight and thin beam allowed me to be more flexible with my wrist; this was also a great thing when I needed to ‘dig’ shots off the back wall. The racquet’s thin beam is a feature I found interesting as it aids racquet speed; but, before using it, I thought this would impact control negatively which ended up not being the case.

The control this racquet provides is good. Not only could I hit better and more accurate drop shots, but I was also able to control the ball better on harder shots. I like to think that this is due to the racquet’s amazing sweet spot. Whenever I would hit the ball on the sweet spot it felt like I wasn’t even hitting it since all vibrations were completely damped; this is where I found I would hit my best shots as the racquet would let me whit my shots wherever I wanted to hit them with amazing accuracy. However, if I hit the ball off the sweet spot the racquet was not too stable which is a minor setback but not really a big problem at all. Having said this, I would recommend using this racquet if you are the type of player who tends to hit the ball on the middle of the racquet more often than not. I also found that even though it is a very light racquet with an even head balance, it was not hard to take the racquet through the ball unlike other similar racquets where the player needs to make a greater effort to achieve this. The only time I found I had to do this was when hitting drop shots but this is expected from such a light and thin racquet.

Overall a great racquet with great control, maneuverability, and head speed. This was the first time I tried out Head’s Xenon series and I am very happy with the results I got with the Head Graphene XT Xenon 120 Slimbody. Being able to attack shots on the mid court with increased accuracy was a nice advantage as well as being able to use my wrist more on harder to retrieve shots. My favourite thing about this racquet is its sweet spot since the feeling I would get when I hit the ball there was amazing: barely feeling anything and knowing my shot was going to go wherever I wanted it to go. I highly recommend this racquet for an overall type of player who likes to be aggressive but needs reliability on accuracy. Also, I would very much recommend this racquet to any advanced player who will be able to most of their shots right in the middle of the racquet. Give it a try, find its sweet spot, and enjoy playing great squash!

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Review of the Prince Pro Shark 650

I have never played with a Prince racquet before and I am very happy I got to try out the Prince Pro Shark 650. This racquet is very light yet very powerful with an amazing amount of grip. I play with a slightly heavier racquet with very similar balance to the Pro Shark (should be able to generate more power with mine) and I found out that I could generate the same amount of power with the Prince racquet. Featuring a more open string pattern, 14 x 15, I was also able to get tons of cut on the ball. This racquet not only looks great, it plays amazingly.

Prince Pro Shark 650 Squash Racquet

Prince Pro Shark 650

Weighting 129 grams when unstrung and with a balance of 35.3mm this racquet has a great combination between light weight and power. This is a great advantage as there is increased maneuverability without a significant loss of power. The racquet’s maneuverability comes from its light weight which helps with aggressive play when volleying on the middle of the court. The power is generated by both the head balance and the string pattern; the head heavy balance keeps the head stable and lets the racquet go through the ball more easily while the open string pattern provides a higher trampoline effect.  Also, due to its weight, it was easier to prepare the racquet thus giving me more time to hit my shot as well as letting me use a shorter swing without compromising power. In addition to this, I noticed that hitting the ball on the racquet’s sweet spot felt amazing and created a larger amount of power; however, racquet stability is decreased on off-centre shots but this shouldn’t be a big problem. These are not the only great features of this racquet since its more open string pattern provides something really important: cut.

When trying to hit hard and low shots or drop shots, it is essential to create a good amount of cut or ‘bite’ on the ball. For the Pro Shark 650 this is no problem at all. Its open string pattern lets the strings ‘grab’ the ball more and thus creates more grip between the ball and the strings. I was able to hit better low shots since the strings gave me the extra cut needed to reduce the distance between the ball and the tin; I found these shots to be the most effective ones when using this racquet. Furthermore, my drop shots improved as well as I was able to put more backspin on my shots which led the ball to a shorter bounce making things more difficult for my opponent. Not only did the increased cut help me in the front court, it also helped in the back court. The cut on the ball also reduced the ball’s bounce when coming off the back wall making it harder to retrieve the shot.

The Prince Pro Shark 650 caught me by surprise. At a first glance I didn’t expect much from a light racquet with such an open string pattern. But, once I took out for a hit, I remembered not to judge a book by its cover. I was impressed by how fast I could swing the racquet and how much power I could generate on short swings. I am usually not an aggressive player but with this racquet I felt I had to be since all its features are great tools for aggressive play. Being able to hit quick volleys, powerful shots just above the tin, and very short drop shots gave me a great advantage over my opponent. I would recommend this racquet to the more aggressive type of player who likes to combine great power with fast and short swings. I know it could be an odd looking racquet but give it a try and you will not regret it!

To learn more, or purchase the Prince Pro Shark Powerbite Squash Racquet click on the “View in store” button below.

Prince Pro Shark Powerbite 650 Squash Racquet

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A Review of the Black Knight Element PSX Squash Racquet

Black Knight Ion Element PSX Squash Racquet 750x750The new Black Knight models for this 2014/2015 squash season have some very common elements. They all have a very thin beam and have a head light balance. The Black Knight Element PSX Squash Racquet is the top end of Black Knight’s product line. It is a 135 gram racquet and has a head light balance with Black Knight giving it a dynamic weight of 130 grams. It has a small head at 475 cm2. It is a fairly stiff frame with Black Knight measuring its rigidity at 93 which while not their stiffest frame it is close. Continue reading

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A Review of the Black Knight Razor TC Squash Racquet

I decided to take the Black Knight Razor TC Squash Racquet out for a hit the other day. I have hit with it before of course but decided now was as good time to really take it through its paces and to post a review of it. Before we get to the review let’s take a look at the specifications of it.

Black Knight Razor TC Squash Racquet

Black Knight Razor TC Squash Racquet

 

 

String : Ashaway PowerNick 19
Recommended Tension : 26 lbs
Avg. Frame Weight : 135 g
String Area : 490 cm2
Dynamic Weight : 135
Rigidity : 88 (medium)
 

 
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A Review of the Harrow Spark Black/Yellow Squash Racquet

Harrow updated the cosmetics on the Harrow Spark Jonathon Power Signature Edition for this season. They have painted it Black and Yellow for this year. They have also changed the strings in this model. They have included Ashaway’s SuperNick XL Micro in this generation of the Spark. Having the SuperNick XL Micro is a positive in my books. I like 18 gauge string as it cuts in to the ball a bit better than a 17 gauge string. It also helps generating power.

Harrow Spark Jonathon Power Signature Edition Squash Racquet Black/Gold

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A Review of the Tecnifibre Carboflex 125 Squash Racquet

Tecnifibre Carboflex 125 Squash Racquet the racquet of Mohamed elshorbagy This is the racquet that rising squash star Mohamed Elshorbagy plays with. With him having won the Qatar Classic 2013 a couple of weeks ago I thought now would be a good time to post a review of it. It also gave me a good reason to pull out the demo to give it a good test hit!

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Squash Racquet Review – Black Knight ION X-FORCE Black

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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