The Arcsaber 9FL badminton racquet supercedes the Arcsaber 9 in Yonex’s current range. Having reviewed the original Arcsaber 9 I began to wonder whether this is just another marketing ploy or does the new Arcsaber 9FL have something extra to tempt us?
Arcsaber 9FL arrived in the now customary standard Arcsaber racquet bag. The racquet is similar to its predecessor although slightly darker in colour, which is described as crystal pink. The addition of a pink string (BG65Ti) adds to the “girly” look, but don’t let the colours put you off if you’re not exactly into Barbie. As usual the racquet is strung fairly tight which means that for many, you can take it straight onto court without having to pay extra for custom stringing.
This is a 4U (weight 80-84.9g) and grip size G4 – the smallest of grips on offer in UK. Balance is relatively even although I do detect some weight in the head. It’s certainly not a light-headed racquet which some would expect bearing in mind this is designated a “ladies” racquet.
It’s Hitting Time…
Top end Yonex badminton racquets tend to be strung a little tighter these days which really suits me. That said, most top end racquets will be custom strung to suit the player so I do find it’s better to test a racquet with standard stringing to get a measure of it.
From memory, this racquet plays like Arcsaber 9. To be honest I’m struggling telling the difference between the two racquets – shame I didn’t have an original Arcsaber 9 to compare against.
Clears were crisp and pretty effortless, which I expected. There was no noticeable drag from the frame so rear court shots were relatively easy to execute. I don’t feel this racquet is as powerful as Voltric, but there again it doesn’t have the extra weight in the head to provide the extra beef. I barely noticed the medium flex shaft, but there again there is so little difference between a stiff and medium flex shaft in Yonex range.
Moving into mid-court territory this is where the racquet shines. The relatively light frame and even balance always work better when the game speeds up and fast hands become the norm. Flat rallies were easy to control and there is enough power from the racquet to give as good as you get. The smaller ferrule allows you to move your hands closer to the shaft to gain that extra control when required, so the short racquet movements allowed easy blocks and changes in pace and direction.
As you can imagine, the lighter frame made defending a lot easier than Voltric which I’m used to. The racquet was fast although that’s more due to the lighter head than an aero-dynamic frame.
Yet again the racquet handled superbly around the net. All the “close” work was easy, from tight net shots to simple knock offs. Just what is required from this kind of racquet.
Arcsaber 9FL is a very nice racquet. It’s main forte is handling mid-court to net areas with ease, but less effective from the rear court. I’m struggling to see what improvements have really been made from the original Arcsaber 9 and my guess is this is purely cosmetic.
I’m still not convinced that there is a market for ladies only badminton racquets. The colour of the graphics will put a lot of men off buying the racquet in addition to the fact is has been labelled a ladies racquet. It’s a shame because it offers a lot although it could be argued that there are only slight differences between this and Arcsaber 7, which is cheaper.
World mixed doubles silver medallist Imogen Bankier has chosen Arcsaber 9FL as her racquet of choice. Judging from her performance in the World Championships, the Arcsaber 9FL certainly played a major part in her success. That said she played a more traditional mixed doubles and this is where the racquet really shines.
This racquet has a higher RRP of £165.00 although expect to see prices around £145 mark from online retailers. In my opinion this is a very good racquet but will not suit a big hitter. However if mixed doubles or playing at the front of the court is your game then this racquet could be ideal for you.
Despite what I’ve said I don’t believe the “new” version of Arcsaber 9 is any better than the original. It’s now a lot more expensive which is expected as I first reviewed this racquet two years ago. I gave the original Arcsaber 9 a four and a half star rating. Two years on I have to downgrade this to a 4 star rating as this racquet has failed to demonstrate an improvement and yet is more expensive.