Updated: Oct 4, 2022
A few weeks ago, I posted my review and thoughts on Li-Ning’s very popular and incredible-looking Aeronaut 9000 series rackets. In that review, I tested the Aeronaut 9000 which Anthony Ginting plays with, the Aeronaut 9000C which Ong Yew Sin plays with, and the Aeronaut 9000I which Goh Jin Wei plays with. If you want to refresh yourself with that review before reading this post, the link is here.
However, back then I was missing an important member of the series, which is the Aeronaut 9000D (Drive). Recently, I've finally been able to get my hands on one when Central Sports very kindly loaned me their demo racket for testing. Remember to use my discount code ‘CKYEW’ when shopping at Central Sports for additional discounts. Thanks again Central Sports!
As usual, let's start with its aesthetics. I’ve been a big fan of the Li-Ning Aeronaut 9000 series due to its incredible matte finish alongside very sharp futuristic designs and this Aeronaut 9000D certainly doesn't disappoint. It has a distinctive neon lime paintjob all over which is accentuated by the darker shades of matte green around the T-joint area of the racket. It also has pretty big patches of holographic foil around its 10 and 2 o'clock sections, which is pretty unusual for a badminton racket but very cool indeed. You can tell I like bright colours!
As a Aeronaut 9000 series racket, the Aeronaut 9000D obviously shares a lot of the technology that’s implemented across the series. Like the range defining four air gaps around the T-joint area, the cubic locking square grommets within its top-half recessed frame area (which is also part of its dynamic optimum frame design), the Li-Ning embossed grommets, the TB nano and wing stabilizer technology, and lastly, its 32lbs recommended limit for stringing tensions.
In terms of measurements, the Aeronaut 9000D has a shaft diameter of 7.2mm and a shaft length of 21cm. Its handle is 17.5cm at S1 grip size (which is roughly equivalent to a G6 in Yonex and Victor terms). As mentioned earlier, like the other Aeronaut 9000 series rackets, the Aeronaut 9000D has a top-half recessed frame with a frame thickness of 10mm, a frame height of 24cm as well as frame width of 18.5cm. This frame measurement is identical across all four rackets in the Aeronaut 9000 series.
However, looking at the retail price of the Aeronaut 9000D, this is one of the most expensive rackets ever! Not surprising since Li-Ning generally has a higher price range across the whole market compared to other big brands such as Yonex and Victor. So make sure you guys use my discount code to reduce the hole in your wallet.
Although there are plenty of similarities among the four rackets in the series, there are still a few quirky differences between them. First of all, the Aeronaut 9000D is the only racket with a 4U model out of the four rackets in the series. And because the Aeronaut series rackets don't have their full racket spec printed or etched somewhere onto the racket shaft or cone (unlike the Yonex rackets), I only noticed I have a 4U Aeronaut 9000D racket after taking a closer look at its barcode on the wrapped plastic handle. The Aeronaut 9000 and Aeronaut 9000C are 3U rackets whilst the Aeronaut 9000I is a 5U racket. So we have four rackets covering three different weight classes.
In terms of play and feel, the Aeronaut 9000D doesn't feel anything like the other three rackets. One obvious characteristic is it's very good at driving, which is perhaps why it is named 9000 Drive. The Aeronaut 9000D feels significantly head-lighter than the Aeronaut 9000C and the Aeronaut 9000, which on the plus side means it feels very fast. However, it has a slightly hollow hitting feeling and it doesn't feel like it has the stability of the Aeronaut 9000C or even of the Aeronaut 9000. It is also quite demanding in terms of timing for bigger strokes or pure power shots, so do keep this in mind if you are looking to purchase this racket.
If you are looking for a racket for short, sharp and fast shots, the Aeronaut 9000D is excellent and with its S1 (or G6) grip, maneuverability is super smooth and very easy. Another advantage of having a small grip is that you can always layer it up and make it bigger if you want to. And because it's fast and easy to maneuver, it goes without saying that defense and counterattacking with the Aeronaut 9000D is very enjoyable. As long as you have your timing on point, the shuttle will go where you want it to.
However, I did find myself mistiming shots on a few occasions, especially on the front court. Either my timing was completely off or the racket was too fast, so I went back to playing with the Aeronaut 9000 and had no timing issues. Therefore, I think the Aeronaut 9000D was too fast for me.
All in all, out of the four rackets in the Aeronaut series, the Aeronaut 9000C is the most powerful, the Aeronaut 9000I is the lightest overall and hence the fastest but if you take into account the jump in power from the Aeronaut 9000D, the Aeronaut 9000D is also extremely fast. In terms of balance, ignoring all the balance point numbers, the Aeronaut 9000C certainly feels head-heavy for me, the Aeronaut 9000 feels even-balanced, whilst the Aeronaut 9000D and the Aeronaut 9000I both feel head-light. For me, the Aeronaut 9000D feels like a doubles specialist racket and I do wonder why there are no pros playing with it on the circuit. Let me know what you think about the Aeronaut 9000D, as well as the other rackets in the Aeronaut 9000 series in the comments section below! See you in the next post!