Updated: Oct 4, 2022
Today, I'll be looking at three of Yonex's flagship badminton shoes: the Eclipsion Z2, the 65 Z2 (which was what Kento Momota had been wearing) and the Aerus Z. If you want to check out my video comparing the Aerus Z against its mid-range cousin, the Aerus X, here's the link.
When YC Sports reached out and asked if I wanted to review the Eclipsion Z2 and the 65 Z2 shoes, I immediately said yes as I've yet to try the Eclipsion series before. For the 65 series, it's been ten years since I last tried a 65 model. The original SHB 65-FT was a Japan-only model whereas the rest of the world had it as SHB-86. They were some of the best shoes I've had so I was very excited.
First of all, let me go through some of the specs and visual comparisons of the shoes. I wear a Yonex size 280mm, which is equivalent to UK size 9.5 or US size 10. In the UK, Yonex sizes are generally half a size down compared to normal shoes. So if you're coming from other brands or standard shoe sizes, go up half a size. The best way to accurately get the correct size is to measure your feet in mm. I recently posted a Yonex shoe size chart so feel free to check it out before you buy your next Yonex shoes.
In terms of weight, the Aerus Z weighs 288g per side compared to 366g for the Eclipsion Z2; whereas the 65 Z2 came in at 345g per side. Now 78g difference per side might not seem much, but if you are someone like me who is very accustomed to the Aerus shoes, then you will immediately feel that the Eclipsion Z2 is heavier. In fact, even the mid-range model of the Aerus series, the Aerus X, weighs lighter than the 65 Z2 and the Eclipsion Z2 at 336g. On the other hand, you might not be able to feel the weight difference between the 65 Z2 and the Eclipsion Z2.
All three pairs of shoes share a lot of similarities in terms of design, for example, the Toe Assist shape, the Synchro Fit insole design, as well as the use of power cushion and power cushion plus.
However, the Aerus Z has a different type of insole compared to the 65 Z2 and the Eclipsion Z2. The Aerus Z has a more textured and grippier insole which is thinner and lighter compared to the other models. On the other hand, the insoles in the 65 Z2 and Eclipsion Z2 are smooth on the bottom but wavy at the top. They are also thicker and certainly will be able to take more pounding too. I personally prefer the Aerus Z's grippier insole as I don't slide in the shoe as much.
There are also ventilation holes cut from around the arch area and the top of the wavy patterned insoles in the Eclipsion Z2 and 65 Z2. This is because both models have ventilation vents underneath the shoes covered by a mesh filter to protect dirt or pebbles from popping in. So if you're someone who's worried about getting very hot feet from playing badminton, you wouldn't have to worry about the Eclipsion Z2 and 65 Z2.
However, I wouldn't walk through puddles in these shoes, if you wear them outside of a badminton hall, as water would come straight into your shoe otherwise! The Aerus Z, on the other hand, is completely sealed on the bottom but I've never had any issues with hot feet ever so I don't have any problems with its design.
Moving on to other obvious visual differences, on the face of the shoes, you can see that the Eclipsion Z2 has a dimple-like design whereas the Aerus Z has a very clean, smooth design. The durable skin design on the Eclipsion Z2 combines three types of meshes, the coarse mesh on the very front of the shoe followed by a convex pattern that looks very similar to a golf ball dimple design and, finally, a layer of fine mesh throughout the shoe as well. The 65 Z2 sort of takes the middle ground with some rubbery and leather-like materials coupled with mesh on its face for ventilation.
Another immediate area of difference is the outer rubber soles of the shoes. The Eclipsion Z2 model has a single connected piece of rubber outsole whereas the Aerus Z and 65 Z2 models have two pieces of rubber outsole, one at the top and another at the bottom of the shoe. Additionally, the grip design on the rubber outsoles is different for the Eclipsion Z2. The Eclipsion Z2 model has a radial blade sole design which, at first sight, looks like a slightly imbalanced windmill. According to Yonex, this design improves the grip by 3%. On the other hand, the Aerus Z and 65 Z2 models have the usual hexagon-shaped design for their rubber soles.
Additionally, the Eclipsion Z2 has a boot-like design where the shoe is designed to fit up to the ankles like a boot, with no tongue, and has a sock-like feel to the shoe. This design feature might feel different for players who have not worn it before. the Aerus Z and 65 Z2, on the other hand, have normal shoe designs with a tongue on the top as usual.
I've spent the last few months going through all three pairs of shoes, wearing them to different training sessions with varying intensities, as well as to games and matches. Simply put, if you want absolute performance and you are the type of player that isn't very heavy on your shoes, you'll absolutely love the Aerus Z and this will be your dream shoe. This thing is like a Formula 1 car really. Super lean, ultra light weight and crazy responsive. If you've never worn a pair before, the first time you pick it up, you'll be surprised at how light it is. It certainly is adequately supported with both power cushion and power cushion +.
I don't have crazy wide feet so the fit of the Aerus Z is great. But if you're someone who goes through your badminton shoes quite quickly, i.e. if you typically wear through your badminton shoes in less than six months, then this might not be for you as it's built for absolute performance and has very little durability supports.
We then go onto the other side of the spectrum and take a look at the Eclipsion Z2. This thing is a tank really. It has rock-solid stability and I don't think I've come across other shoes that are as good. Perhaps the Lin Dan Hero models from Li Ning which I had many many moons ago came close in terms of stability but that shoe was extremely heavy.
When you first put on the Eclipsion Z2, you might notice the shoe pull tab on the back rubbing against your ankle slightly, especially if you are wearing low ankle socks. Another thing that I found was in my first ten minutes of wearing the shoe, my foot arch was sore and I didn't feel I had enough support around the arch area. But after the first ten minutes, my feet got used to the shoes and I've never had that feeling again. The Eclipsion Z2 is the heaviest out of the three models, but its weight did not slow me down at all. Maybe I wasn't too quick to begin with, but it felt very planted and stable when I was moving into shots.
Overall, I think the Eclipsion Z2 has good durability and is very solid. You might feel the shoes being slightly bigger in terms of size and heft, perhaps even a touch clumsier compared to something like the Aerus Z but it'll certainly give you the feeling and reassurance of your feet being better protected all the time so this is a good shoe to invest in.
Lastly, we look at the 65 Z2. I've gotten plenty of compliments off this shoe, especially ladies.
This shoe, for me, is an all-rounder shoe but it's not like an average all-rounder where it scores 7s or 8s out of 10. I would say this shoe scores 9.5s in every single category out of 10! This is currently one of the best badminton shoes money can buy.
As soon as you put on the 65 Z2, the familiar feeling of my old 65 FT from so many years ago came back. I remember the 65 FT being really soft and cushy, but the 65 Z2 is slightly firmer and I like it even more. In terms of fitting, the 65 Z2's toe box is somewhere in between the Aerus Z and the Eclipsion Z2. The Aerus Z has a really soft upper whereas the Eclipsion Z2 has a stiff one. The 65 Z2 is between these two. In terms of comfort, the 65 Z2 is right up there with the very best. You can certainly see why it's so popular with the pros like Viktor Axelsen and Kento Momota. At the time of writing (shortly after the Thomas Cup and Sudirman Cup), Kento Momota is wearing the third generation of the 65 series, the 65 Z3, so watch out for that review once it finally hits the shelves after countless delays due to covid.
Besides the snug and comfy fit, you'll also find the 65 Z2 slightly taller in terms of support. I'm not sure if this means we get more power cushion+ or the design just uses thicker, bouncier material. It's very smooth and stable when moving around the court. I mentioned earlier in terms of weight, the 65 Z2 is also between the Aerus Z and Eclipsion Z2 so whilst it's not the lightest, it's by no means heavy. In fact, it is pretty fast whilst being super comfy. Thus far, there's no issue with durability so the 65 Z2 is certainly the winner out of the three models for me.
Long story short, if you want Formula1 performance, get the Aerus Z. If you want the stability and protection of a tank, get the Eclipsion Z2. If you want a cross between a Formula 1 car and a tank, get the 65 Z2.
So which one will you pick? Let me know in the comments and I'll see you in the next post.