The Victor Thruster F Enhanced Edition badminton racket is super popular with professional players who are sponsored by Victor. In fact, right off the top of my head, I can remember Hendra Setiawan, Praveen Jordan, Tan Kian Meng, Lai Pei Jing, Goh Soon Huat, Jemie Shevon Lai, as well as Badminton Insight’s Greg Mairs and Jenny Moore, using this racket. So why is this racket so popular?
The Enhanced Thruster F is the second generation of the Thruster F series and replaces the original blue version. It now comes in matte black with pretty cool gold patterns on the frame. Some of you may have noticed me playing with the Enhanced Thruster F when I trained with Greg and Jenny a couple of months ago. I was actually playing with Jenny’s racket and was pretty impressed with it. However, I didn’t have enough time to test the racket thoroughly and was not able to get the racket in the UK as it was always out of stock. I wasn’t able to buy one even when I was in Malaysia as it was also out of stock in the stores I visited. So when Central Sports asked me if I wanted to test the Enhanced Thruster F, I immediately said yes! Thank you, Central Sports, and remember to use my “CKYEW” code for additional discounts when you are shopping with them!
When the test racket arrived, the first thing I noticed was the new head shape which was longer than usual. Victor has updated this generation of Thruster F with a new racket frame shape to create a longer and larger sweet spot. It still has an isometric or box-shaped frame but it looks slightly longer. Upon measuring, I realise that it actually has the longest frame height that I have come across at 24.2cm. It also has the smallest width for a badminton racket frame at 18cm. To put it in perspective, normal non-compact badminton frames are generally around 23.5cm to 24cm in height and 18.5cm to 19cm in width. So the Enhanced Thruster F is significantly narrower and longer in comparison.
Another unique design feature of the Enhanced Thruster F is its frame shape. Traditionally, there are several different types of frame shapes: the box frame, the diamond or aerodynamic frame, or something in between these two shapes. However, when I ran my fingers through the frame of the Enhanced Thruster F, it seems that Victor has adopted 4 different shapes at 4 different zones on its frame. If we start from the T-joint, it has a box shape frame until the gold foil area at around the 7 o’clock region, then a slightly slimmer box frame across all the gold foil area up to the white-backed gold foil area, then it has a smooth rounded aerodynamic shape all the way up to around the 10 o’clock region where the sharp gold lines are, and finally, it turns into a diamond shape frame or what Victor calls a sword frame. Victor calls this frame design a Tri-Formation. Its frame thickness varies from around 10.4mm between the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock sections and increases up to 11.1mm at the top section.
Additionally, to increase swing speed, Victor increased the recessed section of the frame to, I’d say, 70%, to help with aerodynamics. Victor also updated the Enhanced Thruster F’s handle and it now has a Free Core handle of 17cm in length, which is Victor’s proprietary plastic handle, instead of a traditional wooden handle. My first proper experience of the Free Core handle was with the Auraspeed 100X which I’ve reviewed previously. I especially love the butt cap which the Victor logo glows under the right lighting conditions. Pretty cool indeed.
For the rest of the racket, the matte finish and predominantly black and gold combination certainly give off a classy look. The racket shaft is 21cm in length and 6.7mm in diameter although, like the frame, there are areas which are slimmer than the rest. Needless to say, the Enhanced Thruster F is made in Taiwan, where Victor is headquartered. This test racket I have is a 4UG5 model and is strung with my usual Yonex Aerobite string at 27lbs by 29lbs.
In terms of playing feel and performance, the Enhanced Thruster F was really easy to play with. Surprisingly, it wasn’t shown on the racket matrix on this year’s Victor catalogue but I would’ve considered the Enhanced Thruster F to be evenly balanced or perhaps just a touch head heavy. For those who want a comparison, it is head lighter than my usual Yonex Astrox 88D Pro but slightly head heavier than the Victor Auraspeed 100X and the Auraspeed 90K.
With its slimmer head, the Thruster F certainly swings fast and pretty smooth but what I think is a big plus point for this racket is its responsiveness and playability. I remember back when I was training with Greg and Jenny, I did not have to change or adapt my hitting technique and timing to this racket to enjoy playing with it. The Enhanced Thruster F responds well to a wide variety of shots and it was able to get me out of trouble when needed under pressure. It seems like the combination of the Free Core technology and the Tri-Formation frame design worked really well, allowing the racket to flex at the right places at the right time.
In terms of hitting feel, I would certainly agree with the little scale on the racket shaft, which says “stiff”, about a 7 out of 10 on the scale of stiffness. The Enhanced Thruster F also has no trouble generating power from overhead power shots or even short sharp shots and it was very consistent and predictable with the shuttle. This certainly inspired confidence in me when I was playing with it. Personally, I place a lot of priority on the level of ease to play in a racket, as a great majority of badminton players aren’t pros and don’t have the skill, speed or power to be able to pull off tricky get-out-of-jail shots easily. The Enhanced Thruster F is certainly a good racket in that respect. For defence, it is pretty fast and stable, which is predictable in this case since it is not a sledgehammer racket.
Having not played with the original blue Thruster F before, I can’t tell you guys what has changed from the previous version but Victor did say that they have made this Enhanced version less head heavy and faster by moving the swing weight slightly backwards and my experience with it does marry up well with that. The Enhanced Thruster F is pretty elastic but controlled with good levels of responsiveness.
Personally, I think Victor has done a good job with the Enhanced Thruster F and I had a great time playing and testing it! Hopefully, the stores will have it in stock if you wish to get one for yourself!