Ok, my proper review of the ZELM US700 is long overdue. but here it is.
i received a couple of US700 from Sgbad a little while back. the US700 is the latest generation of ZELM rackets that employs generous use of woven carbon fiber and a heavy duty looking square boxed frame.
The rackets themselves came with a nice looking ZELM soft carry bag which was popularized by Yonex JP racket and very well received by players. afterall, who actually use those single racket fake-leather cases these days? the soft carry case is so much more useful as they can be use to avoid racket scratches while carrying dozens of rackets in a large badminton bags.
Taking the US700 out of the soft case reveals a very solid looking racket with a bold and asymmetric blue/white/black color scheme. The bold color scheme has been the signature of ZELM and I have to say that it works really well. Credits to ZELM for maintaining their signature look while at the same time makes the racket look very attractive indeed.
Looking in more details reveals what this racket is all about, woven carbon fiber. ZELM was not afraid to let their customers know what they are paying for in this new model, beautiful woven carbon fiber were show through a layer of clearcoat at the shaft and in the frame. Blending form and function together in perfect harmony. Again, credit to the ZELM designer for a balance amount of woven, enough of a tease to the customer with its beauty but at the same time tastefully so by not being overly revealing.
Blending from clearcoat woven CF to a mid royal blue color, the shaft looks stunning aesthetically. Upon dry swing and bending test, it feels a medium stiff to stiff.
The racket head is an asymmetric patches of white/blue and woven CF. The head shape is mid-isometric and the cross section is a very bold rectangular box shaped. On dry swing the US700 feels well balanced with dominant weight closer to the middle of the frame, not overly head heavy nor head light. the quality of the paint job is top notch.
The bold design of the ZELM reminds me of recent trends in bicycle frame design. Just look up road bikes from brands like Cervelo, Trek and you will find similarities with the ZELM. After all these years i personally have been rather sick of Yonexian design and ZELM gives a much needed refreshing look to badminton rackets.
So, hats off to ZELM, despite being a small volume brand, ZELM has pulled off a stunning design that looks sophisticated and professional.
The only oddity i have found with the US700 is how thin the grip is. This is the first racket that requires me to wrap 3 layers of RKEP G09 grip to make it comfortable in my hands.
It didn’t take long for the US700 to find itself all clamped up in a stringing table ready to be laced with one of the best string in the market, Victor VS-850. Being a stiff shaft i chose a tension of 26x26lbs. I saw no issues with the ZELM grommet. They sit snugly in their place and don’t move around. Some of single string grommet tends to be slightly tight even with the 0.67mm VS850. What strikes me with the US700 is how stiff the racket head is. At 26×26 the racket head sat solidly on the stringing table, not a sign of deformation or movement. Bearing a massive boxed shape cross section and the choice of high modulus carbon fiber contributes greatly to that.
Dry swinging the racket with string on reveals a racket that is very head heavy. However, i also noticed that the grip itself is very thin. at least G5 if not thinner. I had to wrap at least two layers of RKEP G09 to make it comfortable on my hand. And even then it felt a little too thin. With the extra grips on I am able to tell that it is only moderately head heavy on the swing.
Now onto actual testing.
Straight away the US700 shows very good feel. The shuttle bounces off the stringbed sending a good feedback to the player’s hand. While not as sharp and distinct as Victors it is better than the characteristically damped feel of a Yonex. The moderate feedback give a good feel while at the same time balances out the vibration.
Stability is excellent on the US700. Probably due to the beefy frame the US700 exhibits excellent longitudinal as well as torsional stability. Off center drive shots are solid and deflection is kept to a minimum.
Liveliness of the racket is good. the US700 has a fast response which demands faster swing from the player to take fully take advantage of the stiff shaft. Similarly for repulsion, the US700 is capable of launching the shuttle at crazy speed but that demands the player to be able to accelerate it.
On specific shots, the
Being a good stable racket the US700 performs excellent on drives and net taps. Once one get used to the specific balance and weight, the stability and stiffness translates to very accurate control in mid and front court. The US700 is still a beefy racket so it demands some power from the player. but once that is satisfied the shuttle fires off very accurately with a crisp contact.
Net shots too are excellent with the stability and feel of the racket.
Clear and drop shots are no problem with the US700. The momentum of the racket head helps once the racket gets up to speed. Drop is decent with the good feel of the racket.
Smash is really very good with the US700, the weighty head and repulsive shaft really help in this regard. however, one does get a little bit tired doing repeated fast smashes in a doubles game. Again, this will be a great attacking racket for stronger players.
The US700 is a demanding racket. the stiffness of the shaft as well as the frame wrapped in woven fiber gives excellent feel but also demands the best technique from the player. ZELM has outdone itself with the US700 and I’d recommend any upper-intermediate player who like solid drive and push and heavy smashes to give it a try.