As I work for a badminton retailer, I am occasionally asked to review other manufacturer’s racquets. Against this backcloth, I recently tested a Victor Bravesword 11 badminton racquet and got a nice surprise.
A few years ago, the Victor brand was extremely small in UK, mainly considered a European brand. We knew very little about their products and level of quality. That changed just over a year ago when it was announced that they were the new sponsors of the Korean National Badminton Team. This was a serious leap forward for Victor and ultimately gave them an international seal of approval in terms of quality. After all, if a racquet is good enough for Lee Yong Dae, current Olympic Mixed Doubles champion and World Mens Doubles Silver Medallist, and his team, then it must be good!
On to my review…
The Victor Bravesword 11 is the latest racquet in the Bravesword series, the cream of the Victor range, following on from my 5 star rated Bravesword 10 and the current racquet of Olympic Champion Lee Yong Dae, the Bravesword 9.
It’s a good looking racquet in charcoal grey, with flashes of red, white and what looks like a hologram strip along the side of the head and a nice red leather grip. It arrived in a full length bag in red with the name on the bag to differentiate it from the 9 and 10. This is a high quality full-cover bag too, nothing flimsy here.
Grip size is G3 which is the smaller of the two grip sizes on Victor racquets. It’s equivalent to a size 3.5 inches or Yonex G4, which is a bit confusing. Weight is 87g. Interestingly, this racquet has a maximum recommended stringing tension of 30lbs so it’s got to be very strong and should be extremely popular in the Asian market where strings tensions are so much higher.
This is a fairly even balanced racquet, about 1cm different to Bravesword 10, slightly head heavy, but not too much. The shaft is designated stiff. On a head to head test, it was difficult to feel the difference between Bravesword 11 and Bravesword 10 in terms of weight and balance. They feel almost identical racquets, which made me wonder how different Bravesword 11 would feel compared to the 5 star rated Bravesword 10.
The racquet was factory strung using Victor 850 string, which is a beautiful string. It feels similar to BG80 which is probably the most popular badminton string in the world.
Bravesword technology revolves around the shape of the frame – which is actually the shape of a sword. And this racquet certainly sounds like one as you can hear it cut through the air!
Having tested Bravesword 10 and liked it so much, I was eager to put this racquet through its paces. Overall, this racquet feels similar, although I do detect slightly more weight in the head compared to Bravesword 10. I feel this is due to the difference in balance. It would have been nice if Bravesword 11 had been strung to the same high tension as Bravesword 10 to help me compare the two, however, I’ll do my best…
Allowing for factory stringing, there is plenty of power in this racquet. Clears flew beautifully with very little effort. I have to question the flexibility of the shaft here, because this felt a lot more flexible than Bravesword 10. Perhaps it’s because the shaft is thinner and therefore whippier but it does feel more like a medium flex shaft than stiff. That’s not a bad point, just an observation. It certainly didn’t affect my timing at all.
The Bravesword 11 design with its air resistance qualities, combined with the flexible shaft and touch more weight in the head worked well in terms of delivering power. I didn’t feel I got any more power than Bravesword 10 although in many respects I should because all the right ingredients were there to make it happen. Perhaps this is just the difference in string tension and that’s why I wanted to test with the higher string tension.
Not taking anything away from Bravesword 11 here, it’s still oozes quality and packs a punch. The slightly extra weight carries the head through the shot beautifully.
Defensively this racquet was easy to use. Again, the air resistance qualities of the head made the racquet easy to manoeuvre and the slight weight in the head was insufficient to counter this speed. In fact, the combination worked very well indeed as you felt there was some meat behind drive returns.
If anything, and I’m being picky, I could feel a slight timing difference with snappy defensive shots and this is due to the whipper slimmer shaft.
A racquet that performs well in defence always performs well around the net area. After all, we’re talking about generating controlled racquet speed here, in very short bursts with the slightest touch for the really tight net shots. Again, BS11 was very good, although not quite as fast as BS10.
Having recently had the pleasure of testing Victor Bravesword 10 and singing its praises to such an extent that I gave it a 5 star rating, perhaps it was asking too much of Bravesword 11 to surpass my expectations.
Make no mistake, this is another world class racquet from Victor. It’s a beauty, but for me it falls short of the Bravesword 10. That said, Bravesword 10 is so good, it’s always going to be hard to beat. However, being fair, it’s got its place and I suspect those players looking for that additional something from a flexible shaft will love this racquet.
RRP is £119.95 which is still extremely good value for a racquet of this quality. Retailers will discount to around £105-£110 mark so you’re still getting incredible value for money.
In my opinion, Victor have got another winner in Bravesword 11. The difficulty with any range of racquets is how to better the last one. I think with Bravesword 11, Victor have not tried to better virtual perfection from Bravesword 10, but to add a different dimension which would potentially make it more appealing.
Taking into consideration all I’ve said, and really wishing to test with higher string tension, this has to be a 4 star racquet, and very close to 4.5 stars.
Such is my delight and surprise at the quality of Victor racquets, my final paragraph of this review is copied from my previous review of Bravesword 10 with slight adjustment.
There’s no question that the Victor brand is now world class. Whilst it’s relatively unknown in UK at the moment, I’m sure that their quality and pricing will easily find a way into the market. You’d be wise to test Victor’s Bravesword 11 if you can find one, because this level of quality deserves a place next to the most well-known brands.