(I didn't get paid for this). Adidas KALKUL A3 (3UG5) review Impressions Kalkul (German for “calculation”) is apparently defence/control product line, and this is immediately obvious. After a few dry swings I had it down as headlight-to-even/stiff, pretty close to Adidas’ prescribed headlight/extra-stiff. I measured it at 290/83.5. The head is normal-sized with rounded box section. The shaft is thin, around 6.5 mm. Frame and shaft torque are low and the hoop is strong on the diagonals. The grip is supposedly G5, but I think it’s more of a G4.5; my custom grip setup doesn’t sit quite the same way in my hand. I do like the flat cone, though. Looks wise, it’s not ugly, and there is a theme of sorts (“tribal”, I’d call it), but there are too many colours and the design is too intricate - it won’t “wow” from a distance like, say, a (green) Astrox. My mate Lewis immediately clocked it as an Adidas, though, so my thinking that it wasn’t “Adidas-y” enough was clearly wrong. The shaft is strangely bare – needed some lettering on it besides the specs. Stringing The advised tension is 30 lb. This being a freebie, I didn’t fancy breaking it before being able to comment on it – 29/30 (BG80) it is. It moved around more than some during stringing but it came out of the machine pretty easily. Would have taken a couple more pounds (and it will next time). The pattern is 2+3, but it’s Li Ning’s variation - an extra shared hole at the top for an additional cross - the standard top cross is quite low, so I might do this next time - and an extra at the bottom (only available with a one-piece job). No holes are out of place and the grommets are sound, but there are no offsets on the single holes. The pattern looks a bit denser than usual in the middle, to my eye. Power Taking the balance and weight into account, power was surprisingly good. Like any stiff headlight it prefers a short, jabby swing. I’m not a rear-court player any more by any means and I’ve pretty much given up trying to hit winners, and this racket works very well with that attitude – it hits as hard as I need it to and is most at home in the mid-court. It seems to love my backhand smash, for some reason - I’ve never hit those better. It’s not a very demanding racket, either – I could play with it all night without losing any clout. Defence This was great. I had a noticeable sense of “time” on defence and found myself more and more deciding where to return stuff. It’s a quick frame, but a deliberate one; the (4U) JS10 was faster, but that one was probably too fast – the head moved on its own. I was dubious about this “boxy” frame on a speed racket but it doesn’t look to have slowed it down. Defence is very obviously the “point” of this one, and it’s not far off of a top-end Nanoray. Control/stability The low frame and shaft torque make it fairly precise. I had a knock with it between games and hit a few drives down the tramlines to see what kind of spray pattern it had, and it kept its shape well. Very rarely did I aim for a line and put it wide. The control helps the defence as well – it’s is fast enough to get to the shuttle and stable enough not to bend under incoming power and be able to turn a shot. That box frame is looking more and more like the right move. Feel Given the relative lack of material and low weight I was expecting better. It doesn’t ring very consistently – bright one shot, dull the next. Could be the lower-than-usual tension, I don’t know, but the serve is my go-to for feel testing and it was a bit numb. Every cloud, though: I barely noticed frame hits. Conclusion After testing the last Adidas rackets I came away with the distinct feeling that they were only out to establish any sort of presence in badminton – “let’s have a go”, basically. The new range is a lot more serious. I don’t know who the new OEM is (I have my suspicions) but on the KA3, at least, they’ve done a pretty good job. This is a very credible Nanoray/Jetspeed competitor – excellent defence/control with some bonus power in the mid-court. Only the feel comes up short, for me. As far as pricing goes, I have absolutely no idea what they’d want for this, but I think £110-120 would be reasonable.