In this post, I will be sharing the best speed rackets that I have tested thus far, based on the feeling of speed that I experienced when I test them, and not just by looking at the manufacturer's spec sheet.
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Speed and power often go hand in hand with the best players. However, most of us amateur players generally lean towards one or the other when we pick our rackets and base it around our own personal game. Traditionally, speed rackets have to be head-light to be fast. However, with modern-day rackets, I think there are a couple more factors that affect the speed of a racket and it's not just about the head weight.
New-generation rackets keep getting lighter, whether they are head-heavy or head-light rackets they are almost certainly lighter when compared to their predecessors 10 or 15 years ago. Back then, most rackets were in the 2U and 3U weight classes. Nowadays, 4U is probably the standard and a significant number of pro players are playing with 4U rackets. 5U rackets are also getting more and more popular, especially among beginner and intermediate-level players who just want to be able to get the shuttle back easily and enjoy the game.
Apart from weight class, many would also use balance point or BP to measure a racket's head weight. Typically, a racket is classified as head-light if it is below 290mm BP. Personally, I don’t use BP to measure head weight as I feel everyone measures it differently. Some people measure BP while the rackets are strung, some do so and unstrung. Some measure BP when the rackets are gripped, and some do so without. Strings and grips would definitely affect a racket's balance point since putting additional weight on each end would mean shifting the racket's balance either way.
Additionally, as we move to lighter and lighter rackets, the BP of these superlight rackets tend to be higher. A typical 5U racket will have a BP of no lower than 300mm and in traditional BP terms, that’s not considered a head-light racket at all. So measuring head weight using BP is pretty confusing if you ask me.
1. Yonex Nanoflare 800
I'll start with Yonex rackets and many of you would know that I was extremely impressed with the Nanoflare 800. Ever since I tested it, I've been hooked. Now, I’m not a huge fan of head-light rackets as I prefer more oomph and bite on the shuttle, but this was the first racket to change my mind and I almost swapped all my rackets to the Nanoflare 800!
It has a super thin frame and a smaller compact head with a fully recessed frame profile which makes it extremely fast and smooth. It's also very easy to play with because of its moderate degree of stiffness. It has a good crisp feeling when you come into contact with the shuttle, giving you lots of confidence and consistent accuracy with the shuttle. Perhaps that’s why many pro players like it very much.
Personally, I would recommend the 3U version over the 4U as I found the 4U too light. For a more in-depth review of the Nanoflare 800, click here.
2. Yonex Nanoflare 800LT
With the Nanoflare 800 being on the list, I cannot miss its even lighter sibling, the Nanoflare 800LT. It has all the qualities of the Nanoflare 800, but with a longer shaft and shorter handle, and it's a joy to play with, especially in handling, counter-attacking and defense. However, when it comes to pure attacking power, the 5U Nanoflare 800LT is definitely not ideal.
For a more in-depth review of the Nanoflare 800LT, click here.
3. Yonex Astrox 88S Pro
The third speed racket on my list might surprise some of you. It's an Astrox racket which means it's supposed to be head-heavy! This racket is none other than the Astrox 88S Pro.
When I first tested the Astrox 88S Pro, I was certainly surprised at how fast it was in terms of handling. This is probably again down to the fully recessed frame profile alongside a very slim shaft. Plus, it's 5mm shorter in terms of overall length. I might even attribute its speed to its stringing pattern --- I think the bigger gaps in between the strings have some positive effect on the swing speed of the Astrox 88S Pro.
This racket is absolutely rapid and if you have decent technique and timing, you’ll still be able to unleash a lot of power with it. This kind of speed on a head-heavy racket opened my eyes to the modern generation of head-heavy rackets as before this I never thought a head-heavy racket can be this fast.
For a more in-depth review of the Astrox 88S Pro, click here.
4. Yonex Astrox 88S Tour
The fourth racket on this list is the more affordable brother of the Astrox 88S Pro, the Astrox 88S Tour. I believe this was Yonex’s first series with a multi-tier design philosophy where they use trickle-down technology across different price points on a launch model. It has very similar specs to the Astrox 88S Pro, but a lot head-lighter. Granted that it doesn't feel as nice and as smooth as the Astrox 88S Pro, but you still get excellent speed with it.
For a more in-depth review of the Astrox 88S Tour, click here.
5. Yonex Nanoflare 380 Sharp
And finally, a super speedy Yonex racket that I've never formally published a review on, but I've completed my testing on, is the Nanoflare 380 Sharp. The Nanoflare 380 Sharp is a mid-range head-light badminton racket that is made in Taiwan. Again, it has all the speed-enhancing features such as a slightly more compact racket head and a fully recessed frame profile. It also has one of the thinnest frames I’ve ever measured on a Yonex badminton racket at 9.3mm, close to the thickness of the Nanoflare 800LT.
The swing of this racket is buttery smooth with incredibly fast head speed. It's super easy and a pleasure to play with. However, I do struggle to extract power from the Nanoflare 380 Sharp.
I also like the super cool cone cap which sat above the wooden handle. It has a flat golden piece within it which made squeezing the racket easy and stable. If you want something super speedy, fun and easy to play with, and power isn't your concern, I would recommend you to try this racket.
6. Li Ning AxForce 80
Let's now look at Li Ning, and from the list of Li Ning rackets that I have tested, only 2 rackets surprised me with their speed and neither of them is a head-light racket. The first speedy Li Ning racket that makes this list is the Li Ning AxForce 80. Personally, I think this is one of the best-looking rackets out there with its crisp matte black paint job and super bright neon pink and copper decals.
It has a relatively normal head size but a very thin frame and a thin shaft set this AxForce 80 up with a lot of speed. It does not have a lot of head weight for a head-heavy racket, means this is a very lively racket. Li Ning labels this racket as medium-stiff but if you are a seasoned Yonex or Victor user, you would find this racket to be on the soft side.
On the pro circuit recently, we can see Yuta Watanabe, Srikanth Kidambi and PV Sindhu playing with it so they must like the speed that the AxForce 80 is giving them. If you want a softer feeling, relatively even balanced and fast racket, this AxForce 80 would be for you.
For a more in-depth review of the Axforce 80, click here.
7. Li Ning Aeronaut 9000D
The second Li Ning racket on this list would be the Aeronaut 9000D. This racket is part of the Aeronaut 9000 series which consists of 4 vastly different, but predominantly attacking rackets. The Aeronaut 9000D alongside its super cool-looking cousins, the Aeronaut 9000C and the Aeronaut 9000I, have this incredibly crisp, space-age-like matte designs which certainly set themselves apart from the rest. They each also have 4 air gaps on the racket frame around the T-joint area, which I think looks very cool but, honestly, I think they have a limited role in improving the rackets' performance, at least for me.
What I really like about the Aeronaut 9000D, compared to the rest of the Aeronaut 9000 rackets, is its speed when counterattacking and driving. From my testing, I felt it did amazingly well in those aspects and I really enjoyed driving the shuttle a lot more than usual with it. Most of you might think that I would pick the Aeronaut 9000I for speed, but personally, I enjoyed the speed of the Aeronaut 9000D more as for me the Aeronaut 9000I felt hollow and unstable at times.
For a more in-depth review of the Aeronaut 9000D, click here.
8. Victor Auraspeed 100X and Auraspeed 90K
I’ve only tested a limited number of Victor rackets as it's been pretty difficult for me to get hold of Victor rackets due to supply chain issues. The two fastest rackets I’ve come across at the moment are the Auraspeed 100X and the Auraspeed 90K. I understand that the second generation of the Auraspeed 90K has been launched at the Victor Denmark Open this year.
Both rackets have a dynamic sword racket frame, which means their frames have different shapes across the whole frame length of the frame. This design changes how the racket frame flexes and adds a better feel and shuttle response. Both rackets have almost identical specs, except that the Auraspeed 90K has a slightly thinner frame and shaft.
The Auraspeed 100X is a repulsion-based racket as the shuttle would scream off the stringbed as soon as it's hit and during my testing I was able to get incredible angles from it too. The Auraspeed 90K, on the other hand, is steady and fast enough to get on this list. It has a very easy swing and feel which gives you a lot of confidence going into your shots. They are both really good speedy rackets. I can’t wait to test out the second generation of the Auraspeed 90K when it becomes available.
That's all for now! Stay subscribed for these future reviews and I’ll see you in the next one!