A few affordable/mid-range mini-reviews | Victor TK-15B, ARS-60, DX-5H

Discussion in 'Badminton Rackets / Equipment' started by greek_foot, Jan 6, 2021.

  1. greek_foot

    greek_foot New Member

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    Hi everyone,

    Hope everyone is healthy and getting some good court time. I upgraded some of my gear recently and borrowed a lot of good information from posts on this site, so I thought I should repay the favor and share my experiences with a few of the newer and more affordable/mid-range offerings in case anyone else out there is looking for something nice at this price point.

    Cheers!
     
  2. greek_foot

    greek_foot New Member

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    Personal background:

    I’m a tennis convert currently playing at the club level. I play mostly doubles and mixed doubles. My game is strongest at the mid/front court position, but obviously the mixed games place me at the back more often than not, so in terms of equipment I tend to look for racquets that are quick and easy to handle, but still well-rounded.

    Points of reference:

    Unless otherwise specified, general comments about racquet feel and performance will be made in comparison to our club’s standard training racquet: 3U, even balance, mid flex, box frame, isometric head, strung with BG-65 at 25lbs.
     
  3. greek_foot

    greek_foot New Member

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    Racquet 1: Victor Thruster K 15 B (TK-15B)

    Victor markets the TK-15 as their highest-value, easiest to use box-frame racquet, and I think both claims are fair. This model has become so popular in the Chinese market that Victor has introduced several color varieties over the years, the latest (and most attractive in my opinion) being “Starlight Blue”, indicated by a “B” at the end of the model number. This color is a combination of black, teal, and purple in metal flake with a few neon orange accents. It definitely evokes that 1980’s retro sci-fi kind of vibe, and I have to say, I really like the look.

    In terms of performance, the 4U model is slightly head heavy and mid flex as advertised. In hand, I find it very difficult to distinguish it from an even balanced 3U racquet. The shaft is slightly thinner than average, so despite not having an aerodynamic head, to me it still feels quite nimble at all positions on the court. If you’ve played with box frame racquets before, there shouldn’t be any surprises when contacting the shuttle, it feels nice and solid. Really nothing out of the ordinary, just stable shots with reasonable access to speed and power.

    The only point where I disagree with Victor’s promotional specifications is that they list the TK-15 as a “power” racquet due to the frame shape, while I (along with most players in my area) would definitely classify this as an “all-around” racquet. It really doesn’t have the right stiffness, mass, or weight distribution to be a real smashing cannon, but it does deliver decent performance at all areas of the court with a solid feel and no major weaknesses (to me). Overall, I’d say it’s an attractive, high-value option for anyone other than highly aggressive singles players.
     
  4. greek_foot

    greek_foot New Member

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    Racquet 2: Victor Drive X 5H (DX-5H)

    This racquet is being marketed as the spiritual successor to Victor’s highly-successful Hypernano X 7, known in China as the “AK-47 of Badminton” (durable, economical, effective). On paper this is a very, very attractive racquet, with both the head and shaft being made from Mitsubishi’s Pyrofil carbon fiber at a price point of just under 100 USD. Cosmetically the racquet is also attractive. Although I can’t say I’ve ever seen neon red and metallic brown paired before, the more I look at it, the more I like it. Still, in hand, there are a few issues that potential buyers should be aware of.

    In terms of construction, the shape of the frame is being marketed as an “aero-hex” design. This shape is said to be a middle ground between a box frame and a diamond frame, however to my eye, it is virtually indistinguishable from a normal box frame design. In a double blind test I highly doubt anyone would notice even a slight difference in performance compared to a standard frame. Also, the shaft is advertised as Victor’s standard size, but in hand I can’t help but feel that it’s just a hair thicker. There’s a clear audible difference when swinging this racquet compared to others, the “whoosh” sound is louder and lower in pitch. The 3U model I tested was also overweight, almost 92 grams unstrung, so actually 2U, which is worth noting.

    In terms of performance, the added weight and air resistance really placed this racquet outside my comfort zone. In the beginning my timing was often half a step late, so I really wasn’t pleased. After some adjustment the racquet did start to grow on me. The added mass and thickness let me attack shots placed between my partner and I without worrying about clashing racquets, and when my timing was right I really appreciated the solid feeling and control when contacting the shuttle, even from the back court. The response from the shaft felt especially good at this price point, very snappy when accelerating out of a flexed position and quick to return back to normal with very little torsion or wobble. Ever so slightly stiff and ever so slightly head heavy as advertised.

    Overall, this is a high value, durable, and very effective all-around racquet mostly as advertised, however I would strongly recommend experimenting with both the 3U and 4U versions and asking your vendor to weigh the racquet in advance to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want.
     
  5. greek_foot

    greek_foot New Member

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    Racquet 3: Victor Auraspeed 60 (ARS-60)

    This is perhaps the most unique racquet in Victor’s “Speed” lineup. It combines an old-school oval head shape with a new-school compound aerodynamic frame profile, so I had to give it a try.

    Cosmetically, the racquet is a bit of an oddball as well. The color palate is mild (blue and black with aqua and tangerine highlights), but the paint mixes a glossy and metallic look at the T-joint and a flat matte look at the lower shaft and upper head. This could have been done for performance or aesthetic reasons, I’m not sure, but either way, the racquet looks fine.

    In terms of performance, there are too many variables that I can’t isolate specifically (unique head shape, compound frame structure, “sonic-rebound technology”), so I can only speak in general terms. Victor places the overall feel of the ARS-60 right in the middle of the classic Bravesword 12 and the very popular Jetspeed 12. I don’t own those racquets, so unfortunately I can’t verify that for you. What I can speak to is that Victor says that the swing weight should be slightly heavier than other speed oriented racquets as the ARS-60 was designed to be both fast and stable. Specifically, it’s said to be geared towards players looking for both sustained flat and overhead attacks. Personally, I think those claims are fair. For me, the ARS-60 is definitely not as fast or nimble as my friend’s Nanoflare 800, but it’s certainly faster and more nimble than a standard racquet and does feel mostly “normal” overhead. To be clear, the keyword here is “sustained” overhead attacks. In other words, you won’t be blasting the shuttle past anyone from the baseline, but if your form is good you should be able to apply just enough pressure to keep your side in an attacking formation and maybe force the occasional weak return for an easy put-away.

    Overall, this is a reasonable choice for anyone looking for a speed oriented racquet that still gives you some respectable all court performance at a mid-range price. Obviously oval head racquets are a bit of a niche market at this point, so I don’t expect this model will ever be a best-seller, but if you want to try something unique, why not?
     
    wiratamatama likes this.
  6. wiratamatama

    wiratamatama Regular Member

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    Thank you for your review. Im looking tgis racquet when looking for something unique in Auraspeed range. Down to midrange price Im still looking more info before buying this racquet in the future (maybe) ;)
     
  7. greek_foot

    greek_foot New Member

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    My pleasure! It's definitely unique, that's for sure. I think we have a lot of good choices for midrange fast-but-still-well-rounded rackets right now (88S Tour, JS-12TD, etc.), so good luck!
     
  8. wiratamatama

    wiratamatama Regular Member

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    Thanks! What about JS 12TD?? Do you already test it?
     
  9. greek_foot

    greek_foot New Member

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    Sorry, I didn't test that one, at least not yet. The JS-12TD only has Pyrofil in the shaft, whereas the DX-5H has Pyrofil in both the shaft and the frame, so I chose to test that one instead. Other players have said the JS-12TD is quite good for the price as long as your expectations are reasonable, but I can't confim that personally.
     
  10. wiratamatama

    wiratamatama Regular Member

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    Thanks! Maybe I dont cant test the JS too and just happily use my Reinforce Speedr racquet for now :)
     
  11. greek_foot

    greek_foot New Member

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    My pleasure! Good luck with whatever racket you choose!:)
     

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