The Thruster series of badminton racquets is a relatively new addition to Victor range (launched late 2012/early 2013).
Thruster 8000 (TK8000) is the first racquet to be introduced in this series. TK7000 and TK6000 are recent additions although it’s unclear whether they will be on offer worldwide.
This particular series appears to follow a pattern at the moment, aimed at those players who favour head heavy badminton racquets. On this basis I should find this review relatively easy going, being on familiar ground. Let’s see how this racquet performs…
On to my review…
TK8000 arrived in a red linen bag rather than familiar racquet cover. This is surprising considering it’s the top of the range model, although I am aware this alternative cover is gaining in popularity in Asia. I’ve no idea whether this will follow in UK.
As usual, all top-end Victor racquets arrive unstrung. My retailer is using this as a demonstrator model and therefore they strung it to 23lbs although maximum tension is stated at 28lbs. No doubt the pros have theirs strung beyond this. Essentially, we know it’s a strong frame.
Markings suggest this is a 2U (90-94g)– G3 now standard grip size together with 4-5 for head weight and 3-5 shaft flexibility, which means TK8000 has a medium flex shaft and is pretty head heavy.
First impressions, it feels nice and solid and pretty fast although I’m not expecting Bravesword speed. It‘s a good looking racquet, predominantly red in colour with white and black decals.
It’s hitting time…
Having recently tested BS Lee Yong Dae with similar specs in terms of head weight, it was interesting to note how much stiffer Thruster felt in comparison. Whilst there’s not much difference in head mass, there is an altogether different feeling with Thruster 8000.
There’s an air of authority when hitting from rear court and TK8000 thrives in this area of the court. At no time did I feel there was too much flexibility in the shaft or head drag. So, despite the less aerodynamic qualities compared to a Bravesword, Thruster 8000 was relatively quick.
Marketing for this racquet is focussed on Power and Thruster 8000 doesn’t disappoint. It’s got bags of it and allows for a nice easy-flowing clear with not too much effort. The weight in the head allows you to feel the shot for control purposes.
There’s also a nice solid platform to hit those tight drop shots, very precise although you need to work and control the frame a bit to get the best from it. Unleashed fully, this could be a bit of a beast.
The smash felt really good. Not my hardest but consistent and I didn’t tire so easily. The medium flex shaft was firm enough to stop any mis-timing and recovery was pretty good.
Moving on to the faster, flatter rallies took a little more concentration although again TK8000 performed well and I wasn’t fatiguing. There’s a noticeable need to work this racquet in speed situations and I expect this will be the same in defence.
Defensively you need precise technique to get the best from TK8000. Blocks were easy and the solid head really paid off here. With fast hands, unleashing the beast on drives makes a very powerful and rewarding shot however, I would suggest plenty of practice with a single racquet cover to build up your stamina and hand speed – it’ll be worth it.
Around the net Thruster 8000 is slower than a Bravesword which is what I expected. However, a little training with the racquet cover really helps speed you up. Again, there’s a good solid feeling from the stringbed. You will find that you need to concentrate on keeping your racquet in the ready position as there’s a tendency with head heavy racquets for a wilting racquet to be found pointing to the floor position.
Overall, a very powerful and pleasant racquet to play with. I’ve known a number of players who’ve favoured TK8000 over equivalent Yonex racquets and I gather this is down to the additional benefit the medium flex shaft provides to those players.
For me, Thruster 8000 is a good looking, solid performer. For some it’ll be on the slow side but this can be rectified with simple training and a single racquet head cover.
For a top of the range racquet I would have expected a full length cover, but there again, a cover doesn’t help you hit the shuttle. And, most players use multi-racquet bags so there’s plenty of protection. But, its omission de-values the racquet a little which is a shame.
RRP is around £180 which is pretty good for a top of the range racquet. I note amazing bargain prices from online retailers of £125 – £130 unbelievable! It’s almost a deal not to miss in UK at these prices.
Head heavy racquets are not for everyone, but if you do fancy a change, I would place Thruster 8000 on your list of must try racquets.
For me, I like a good head heavy racquet and therefore TK delivered well overall. I would initially have rated this a 4 star racquet before I knew current retail prices. With such low prices this is pushing TK8000 to 4.5 stars.
Keep watching www.victor-sport.co.uk for information where you can test the Thruster 8000 and other Victor badminton racquets.
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