The Yonex Voltric Z Force II Badminton Racket was launched in 2014 prior to the All England Badminton Championships in Birmingham. The racket is used by World Number 1 Lee Chong Wei, replacing his original Voltric Z Force, and soon adopted as the racket of choice for many other international players. The speed at which the original Z Force was removed from the market came as a surprise to many as it was a very popular racket.
Unlike previous releases from Yonex, the Z Force 2 us a noticeably plain black racket with few blue decals. It’s a good looking racket and a welcome return for many from “flashy” graphics and colours. It’s almost a throw back to the mid 1980’s when plain and simple looks were the norm.
ZF2 is a head heavy racket with a number of distinguishing features
- a unique smaller head
- the thinnest shaft in Yonex history
- more aerodynamic
- tungsten grommet strips
Aside from these unique features, from a playing perspective the difference between Z Force II and the original Z Force is that the original carries more weight at the top of the head.
My demo version is a 3U (weight 85-89g) G4 – standard grip size available in the UK. Accompanying the racket is the usual Voltric racket cover. Thankfully I was able to restring this sample which was strung in BG80 Power at a tension of 25/27lbs. Whilst the racket may have tunsten grommet strips, this can present a problem and incur additional costs in stringing. Rather than change one grommet, an entire strip will need to be changed and this is more expensive. Additionally, when reviewing this racket, the grommet strips were not available in the UK which is poor considering the price of the racket.
As expected the Z Force 2 has a completely different feel compared to the original. The sweetspot feels a little higher and I thought this really helped when adjusting to the racket. Thankfully there are no framing issues to report that plagued the Z Flash.
The thinner shaft is noticeable and this combined with the new aerodynamic head work really well together although be aware that this racket has a unique feel because of it.
There’s an immediate recognition that this is a powerful frame. With these specs it easily sits in my favoured territory and from this perspective the racket does not disappoint.
Clears were strong, controlled, accurate even if hit off centre, and a joy to deliver. I could feel each element of the racket although must confess the thin shaft continuously surprised me.
The change in the head shape, size and weight distribution feels really sweet although for me, the feel of the shuttle on the stringbed was not as solid compared to the original Z Force. ZF2 is aerodynamically superior to the original. So, whilst the solid feel on the stringbed is lacking, the speed of the rackethead provided a different element and feel, still delivering a great result. Overhead shots in general were that little bit quicker and smoother and certainly didn’t require as much effort. It’s a bit like driving your car and finding that sweetspot in the gear. It just feels better.
Smashes were very powerful and accurate. Please do not be fooled that this racket will transform your smash – it won’t. If you have poor technique or require more flex in a racket then this racket is not going to transform what you already have. However, a good player may get a bit more pace from it.
Where the original Z Force struggled was in fast, flat exchanges, defence and the net area. The improved aerodynamics has changed all of this. Fast exchanges are easier without the early onset of muscle fatigue. What a relief.
There’s a noticeable change in defence too. The Z Force 2 is so much more maneuverable allowing a player to get their racket into place faster to return the shuttle. This in turn allows for greater selection of shot although you still need to strengthen your wrists and forearms to get the best from this racket.
There are no issues to report around the net although good preparation is a must with any head heavy racket. ZF2 is lively with the higher sweet spot providing a greater degree of control and response.