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 169 badminton racquet and got a huge 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 has now changed with the announcement that Victor are 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 plus the Womens Uber Cup winning team, then it must be good!
On to my review…
The Bravesword 169 is the latest racquet in the Bravesword series, the cream of the Victor badminton range. I’m not sure where this racquet sits in the Bravesword series as it’s designated a ladies racquet. This is strange as most of the winning Uber Cup team chose Bravesword 11 as their racquet of choice. Perhaps this is just a timing issue and the racquet will find favour with more of the sponsored players and public alike. It certainly deserves to.
It’s a bright racquet in pink, with flashes of black and white. The demo model was sent without a bag, but knowing Victor’s attention to detail it will be a high quality full-cover bag.
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. I’m not sure about the weight without the technical details but would guess around 85g. Interestingly, this racquet has a maximum recommended stringing tension of 28lbs 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, with a touch of weight in the head. The shaft is designated medium to flexible.
Usually when I test and review racquets, I like to play with the racquet factory strung. On this occasion, the Bravesword 169 had been custom strung to around 25lbs. Rather than be disappointed, I was absolutely delighted and you’ll see why when you read on.
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!
Do you ever pick up a racquet and it feels like your best friend? When I walked on to court with Bravesword 169, I had one of those moments.
The first hit confirmed that this racquet had that special quality. Clears were effortless and there was plenty of touch for drop shots. The racquet really cuts through the air quickly which allows for great speed, although the control is still there. The string tension felt “right” for this racquet. Sometimes they can be strung too tight that it’s harder to generate power. It would be exciting to experiment with string tensions on this racquet as I feel it’s got even more to offer.
The hint of weight in the head is good as you can feel the flow of the racquet in the swing, which enhances performance and control. Whilst I could feel the flexibility from the shaft, it wasn’t off-putting. In fact, it felt great! There was that extra little kick, similar to Bravesword 11 and I can see this appealing to many players who prefer flexible shafts.
The combination of the air resistance qualities of the racquet, the flexible shaft and the slight weight in the head, generate a lot of power. Yes, this is definitely a powerful racquet.
Defensively this racquet was easy to use. Again, the air resistance qualities of the head made the racquet easy to manoeuvre and generate speed when required. In fact, the combination worked very well indeed as you felt there was some meat behind drive returns. Overall, it’s a first class performance here from a racquet that must appeal to ladies when playing defensive shots around the net.
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, BS169 was outstanding. This should really appeal to mixed players who need to control the shuttle in tight, pressure situations.
Victor has delivered another stunning world class racquet that will surely appeal to ladies of all standards – it’s a real winner. It would be unfair to suggest this is Victor’s equivalent to Yonex Arcsaber 9 although I’m sure the comparisons will be made.
The Bravesword 169 was outstanding in every area I tested. RRP is £100 in UK which is a good price for a racquet of this quality. Online discounters will probably offer it for around £89 which is incredible value for a racquet of this quality and therefore secures a 5 star rating from me.
Are there any downsides with Bravesword 169? Well, one guy I lent the racquet to said it was a shame Victor hadn’t made the same racquet in blue. It’s a good point because they could be limiting the racquets appeal purely because of the colour.
The only minor gripe I have with this racquet, and I’m really being picky here, is that the stencil ink was flaking off the string within a few hits. Perhaps there is something wrong with the ink because Victor string is superb – maybe they’re not compatible. A test with a different ink may get different results. Yes, I’m being picky, but I like racquets to look good, and this minor irritation was certainly not in keeping with the quality of the racquet.
The Bravesword 10 has the accolade of being my first 5 star racquet in the Victor range and also my first 5 star racquet out of all the other manufacturer’s ranges I’ve tested. Credit to Victor here for producing such a brilliant racquet – another 5 star rated racquet to sit alongside Bravesword 10.
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 put colour prejudice aside here and test Victor’s Bravesword 169 if you can find one, because this level of quality deserves a place next to the most well-known brands.