So what makes the perfect badminton shuttle? Personally, there are several qualities that I look out for when I'm looking for a great badminton shuttlecock: the flight path, the sound and feel when you hit the shuttle, and of course, the durability.
Today we will be discussing the Yonex Aerosensa badminton shuttlecock range which is used widely all around the world, from casual players all the way to the biggest tournaments such as the Olympics and the World Championships. I tested the Yonex Aeroclub TRs shuttles, as well as the Yonex Aerosensa 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, and in this post I will be weighing up all the pros and cons for each of these shuttles for you so you don't have to 'smash' into your bank balance to test them yourselves!
If you are interested to check out or purchase these shuttles, check out the links below:
Yonex Aerosensa 50 - click here;
Yonex Aerosensa 40 - click here;
Yonex Aerosensa 30 - click here;
Yonex Aerosensa 20 - click here; and
Yonex Aeroclub TR - click here
Remember to use code 'CKYEW' if you are buying from YC Sports to get a discount on your purchase!
For this testing, I have four shuttles from each model and wrote their respective model numbers on their corks. I then tested the shuttles in a two-hour training session. This means my partner and I had 20 shuttles in total (4 x 5 models) to rotate around in our training session which generally comprises single shuttle practices.
It's important to note that all the shuttles I tested were in speed 3 which generally refers to 77-speed shuttles, although they do vary slightly from brand to brand. If you want to find out how to test the speed of your badminton shuttles, click here.
We did numerous drills over two hours, testing the shuttles with different kinds of shots, from smashing practice to singles consistency practice. The first practice I did was tap blocks as this is a staple in every badminton player's training, then I went on to drives to see if the shuttles could deal with that extra pressure. Afterwards, I went into a single shuttle consistency practice to see how they performed under long rallies and rear court slices. Lastly, and to put the shuttles under the most pressure, I finished with some smashes.
In terms of build quality, obviously the higher the number in the Aerosensa range, the higher the price. Hence, I was certainly expecting better build quality as I went up the range. All Yonex shuttles use natural cork for their base and there's a distinct feel to it when you strike the shuttle. Generally, the higher up we go in terms of models, the fewer imperfections you'll find on the shuttle feathers. The stiffness of a shuttle is also important to generate a better hitting feel and power transfer during a stroke. Hence, well-made high-end shuttles are usually very stiff. Obviously, from our test here the Aeroclub shuttles, which are the entry-level shuttles for Yonex, would be the softest but when compared to similar products from other brands, they are not soft at all. The AS50s, on the other hand, are the top of the line and should be the perfect shuttle in every single method of measurement. They are very stiff and well-built, hence they sound amazing especially when you hear the pros hit them.
One observation is that Yonex shuttle tubes are unlined on the inside. You can see bare cardboard on the insides of the shuttle tubes with some having a white paper layer and others completely bare. I know of other brands which line the insides of their shuttle tubes with plastic or metallic film to keep moisture inside the tubes, so that the feathers don't dry out too quickly. I'm not sure if Yonex treat their shuttle feathers differently and therefore lining is not needed. I would certainly like to visit the Yonex shuttle factory one day to find out!
So let's talk about flight path, i.e. the flight course the shuttle takes after you hit it with your racket. Does it fly in a natural arc or does it die midway through its flight? What we are looking for are accuracy and consistency. We want to know that the shuttle is going to land exactly where we want it!
The best Yonex AS shuttle in terms of flight path appears to be the AS50s, which is not surprising considering their hefty price tag. This being said, the flight path of the AS40s comes very close to the AS50s, which is worth noting considering their cheaper price.
However, there is a bit of a drop-off when you go down to the AS30s, so bear this in mind if you are using these shuttles for your spotlight moment on the court. With the AS20s and Aeroclub TRs, they definitely exhibit noticeable instability during flight, even more so when the shuttles are worn. Personally, they wouldn't be my first pick of the bunch for a tournament although they are perfectly fine for casual games.
Now let's talk about durability. As badminton shuttles are consumables, without durability you're continually having to change shuttles, which is not only inconvenient but obviously a big burden on the bank balance.
I can say that the AS50s are the most durable out of the lot. After our 2-hour testing session, apart from having some fluffs here and there, and slits in the goose feathers the AS50s still had the same quality overall as they did in the beginning. The damage was minimal to the middle bit of the feather only with the tips becoming noticeably frayed. You can smooth out the fluffs and they'll be good to go again anyway.
The AS40s and AS50s are very similar in terms of durability. You can tell the feathers had taken a little bit of a hit. Like the AS50s, it's only the end of the feathers that were looking slightly frayed with the middle of feathers still looking brand new and pretty good.
The AS30s impressed me the most in terms of its cost to performance ratio as they not only had no slits in the middle of the feathers, but also limited fraying at the end of the feathers.
When we go down to the AS20s, they had large slits in some feathers but all the feathers remained intact and were not broken.
Lastly, the Aeroclub TRs were the only shuttle that had a broken feather.
Sound and feel
For some people arguably, the sound and feel of a shuttle might not be very important criteria of a good shuttle, but for me, they are essential. Personally, I like my shuttles to not only perform well, but also feel great when hitting. There is definitely a difference in terms of sound between a good quality shuttle and a bad quality shuttle, and I like to hear that pop every time you hit a power shot!
The AS50s definitely brought the pop, big time! With a crisp sound and a great feel, the AS50s certainly set the benchmark in this category. To be honest, I've not come across another shuttle that sounds and feels as good as the AS50s. So if cost isn't an issue, I would certainly recommend you to try the AS50 at least once and you'll feel that difference immediately.
Most people agree that the Yonex Tournament F-90 is the ultimate king of all shuttles, even above the AS50s. However, the Tournament F-90s are also crazy expensive and I've not had the chance to try them yet so I'm certainly looking forward to that in the future!
Coming back to the AS40s, they were a touch below the AS50s in terms of sound and feel, but the difference isn't huge. The AS30s, however, aren't quite on the same level. They are noticeably inferior in terms of sound and feel compared to the AS40s and AS50s. Yes, they are pretty decent shuttles, but they just didn't have that high-quality and crisp feel. With the AS20s and Aeroclub TRs, they lack that pop and crispiness when you hit them on the sweet spot of your racket.
So it's time to discuss the price of each shuttle. I'm using UK pricing but there might be some variation in different countries. The AS50s are priced at around £28 per tube, the AS40s at £25 per tube, the AS30s at £20-22 per tube, the AS20s at £18-19 per tube, and the Aeroclub TRs at £16 per tube.
With all things considered, the best shuttle, in my opinion, is the AS50s. However, with pricing considered, I wouldn't recommend using fresh AS50s or even AS40s for training purposes, unless cost isn't an issue for you. So ideally you would use these for important tournaments and matches, and the used shuttles can then be re-used for training, as they fluff but don't break and has amazing durability.
With that said, I feel that the AS40s are in a somewhat awkward position. They still have that premium price tag but can't match the AS50s in terms of durability. So you may be better off saving that £5 and just dip straight down to the AS30s, if you're not bothered about using a top-of-the-range for your day-to-day games.
For the AS30s, I wouldn't mind using fresh ones for training as they are still a high-quality shuttle with great features, just without that premium price tag.
The AS20s and Aeroclub TRs are quite similar. If you just need some shuttles to smash through at training, and those higher durability and quality features are not as important to you, these will do the job. Although, personally, I would just avoid them. I think you are better off investing those extra few pounds into the AS30s as they will save you money in the long term by lasting longer. It's certainly false economy to be buying bad shuttles.
Something worth mentioning is that Yonex's shuttles have 7 different speed categories. As much as picking the right shuttle model, picking the right shuttle speed is also crucial to performance. For example, in a faster or warmer hall, you may need to use a slower shuttle and vice versa.
Finally, nothing beats trying the shuttles out for yourself. Let me know in the comments section what your thoughts are! I'll see you in the next post!