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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Gosen Ryoga Issen review

Gosen Ryoga Issen
Review Date : 06 July 2011
Racquet Type : Gosen Ryoga Issen
Specs : 3UG5
Flex: Stiff+
Balance: 290+ mm
Strings: Yonex BG66
Tension: 25lbs , 2 Piece Stringing
Grip: Gosen Towel/PU grip
Technology : Aermet, M40 Carbon, reversed inner taper shaft, core stabilizer, Quadraxial carbon, vibeless grommet, carbon handle
Shuttles used: Apacs Aero-Flight 700

First impression: I'm eager to try this racquet, since this is one of the most expensive non-Yonex and non-Li-Ning racquet on the market. The racquet looks like a Li-Ning N90 Woods (1st Gen) and AT700 (2nd Gen) from afar. Upon closer inspection, the decals and paintwork of Ryoga Issen is very intricate. The overall color is bright red, with some matt black flanking the racquet at 5 & 7 o'clock and 10 to 2 o'clock. Some white color highlights the black colored region. The shaft color is composed of red and dark slate grey. The lower portion and the cone is highlighted with tribal like motifs. The word Ryoga Issen is emblazoned in gold on the shaft Ala Chinese brush work style. The racquet felt head heavy and felt rather stiff. The dry weight of the racquet is as advertised at 88g and the frame/shaft is somewhat slender/slim. The handle is made of carbon instead of softwood. The swing felt that it had momentum and weight into it. The swing speed is pretty fast owing to the very slim shaft.

I played mostly doubles (and half court singles)

TOC (time on court) when making final review:
4 x Warm ups (Half court singles) + 12 x (21 point doubles games) = total 10 hours game play

Racquets Specs: please see manufacturer's website

Review and breakdown of shots tried:

Power: 9/10

Synopsis: Felt that the racquet is rather solid and felt like a moderately head heavy racquet and hits relatively hard when clearing full court and smashing. Although the head (frame) is somewhat heavy, it does not feel tiring to use. The kickpoint of this racquet is rather higher up on the shaft. When hitting an overhead shot in full swing, the racquet felt rather stiff and it requires more effort to whip the frame forwards. The kickpoint is roughly similar to Kumpoo's Power Shot Nano Hexagon 2300. On the one hand, this kickpoint somewhat dampen the full power of the racquet but on the other hand makes it very accurate. Forehand clears are good and so is a forehand drive baseline to baseline.

Clear: back-court to back-court and crosscourt full length clear to opponent's backhand side.
Smashes: Straight and crosscourt
Drives: hard straight and forehand/backhand to the corners

Control: 9.5/10

Synopsis: Felt that the racquet is rather solid and stable while cutting through the air, hence it's easy to control shots to the four corners of the court. The sweet spot is slightly smaller than I anticipated. The accuracy of this racquet is excellent owing to the higher kickpoint of the shaft. I include netshots here as the stability and aerodynamics of the racquets allows it to play deceptively fast and well at the net. The combination of a stiff shaft, high kickpoint and slightly smaller sweetspot makes this racquet one of the more accurate racquets in the market.

Drops: checked/slice/reversed to the 2 front net corners
Netshots: Crosscourt net
Netshots: hairpin/tumbling netshot
Clears: to the 2 back court corners
Smashes: down the line
Push: flat and low to half court

Defense: 8.5/10

Synopsis: Surprisingly, despite the top heavy balance point, the racquet is easy to defend. I managed to backhand lift smashes to the backcourt easily. The sub 3U- weight helps allows this racquet to be comfortable to lift the shuttle both backhands and forehands. The aerodynamics of the racquet (very slim shaft) somewhat compensates for the heaviness of the head(since the racquet head moves very fast to intercept the shuttle).

Lifts: backhand and forehand full court
Drive: backhand and forehand drive return
Block: backhand and forehand straight

Maneuverability: 8.5/10

Synopsis: This racquet is surprisingly agile, though not in the class of a top headlight racquet. The racquet head speed is very high and the the swing is fast. The (slim shaft & frame) aerodynamics improved the handling of the racquet. This is true when near the net, like doing a netkill. I also find that catching body smashes and doing last minute double action shots are pretty fast and comfortable.

Crosscourt net shot
Crosscourt smash return block and crosscourt whip
Defending body smashes: reflex block, between the leg/behind the back defensive block
Tight netkills
Hold & flick shots

Feel: 9.5/10

Synopsis: The racquet felt solid owing to the high quality M40 carbon, stiff shaft and the metal T-joint. The stiffness of the racquet also helps to channel the bounce of the shuttle on the stringbed to my hand. The ping sound of the shuttle striking the stringbed is very crisp and no vibration is felt (owing to the vibeless grommet). This racquet (Shaft, strings/tension that I used) provides excellent feedback on the shuttle striking and leaving the stringbed. This racquet felt like an extension of my arm.

Total rating: 9/10

Cons: Price, as it is one of the costliest racquet in the market. Not suitable for beginners. Slightly smaller sweetspot and different kickpoint.

Pros : Excellent control and feel with above average power (the 3 parameters of a great singles racquet). The racquet is rather light at 3U- weight making it maneuverable and good in defense.

Suitability : aggressive attacking, all-around and control players. Need skill level of at least intermediate/advanced. Not suitable for beginners or defensive players.

Footnote: this review was done as a hobby and as an interest to inform fellow badminton enthusiast. This is my personal opinion and in no form to promote this racquet.

Conflict of interest: None

Reference: Gosen website (accessed @ 01/06/11)
Badmintoncentral.com (accessed @ 01/06/11)

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