It has taken me quite some time to publish this Yonex Nanoflare 800 Pro head light badminton racket review, and the reason is that I needed more time with testing. Yonex was very kind to provide me with a test Nanoflare 800 Pro racket in my usual spec of 4UG5 a while before the official launch date, but I wasn’t happy with how testing went after a couple of sessions. I then contacted to Yonex to request another test racket in 3U spec, before resuming testing.
Those who have been following my channel for a while (thank you!) will know that I have a soft spot for the Yonex Nanoflare 800. It is one of my favourite rackets and it was even a finalist when I was deciding which racket to buy for myself at the start of 2021. It came down to the Astrox 88D Pro or the Nanoflare 800. I ultimately went with the Astrox 88D Pro because the UK did not have a 3UG5 version of the Nanoflare 800 back then. So when Yonex announced a new generation Nanoflare 800 Pro, I had a lot of high hopes.
At first glance, the racket looked incredible. The paint job of the Nanoflare 800 Pro is very impressive with an understated green with holographic strips around the frame. My favourite part is the racket shaft. From the top, the design transitions from matte paint to a clear coating near the cone of the racket, which makes the shaft look transparent, before transitioning to a glossy green shade on the racket cone. I had seen some leaked photos before I got my hands on the actual racket and in my opinion, the actual racket looks so much better than the photos.
The new Nanoflare 800 Pro’s design philosophy is completely different to that of the original Nanoflare 800. I think Yonex have transferred large amount of the Nanoflare 1000Z’s design onto this new Nanoflare 800 Pro. Visually, the super thin Razor Blade frame from the original Nanoflare 800 is gone, and replaced with a pretty wide frame which is identical to those of the other Nanoflares such as the Nanoflare 700 and Nanoflare 1000Z. The compact head frame design from the original Nanoflare 800 has also been replaced with a more traditional frame size. The T-joint on the Nanoflare 800 Pro is significantly larger compared to the previous generation.
Those with eagle eyes will also notice that there is an extra cross string on the Nanoflare 800 Pro. Usually, Yonex badminton rackets adopt a 22 by 21 string pattern. This means having 22 main strings and 21 cross strings. However, the Nanoflare 800 Pro has an extra cross string, making it a 22 by 22 string pattern. In some of the marketing materials, Yonex mentioned that having that extra string creates a tighter string pattern to provide a stiffer hitting feel. Visually, there's not too much difference in terms of gaps or density of the strings in comparison to the original Nanoflare 800. But if you are comparing it with Yonex’s other high-end rackets such as the Astrox 88D Pro, then there is a clear difference there. More on this below.
In terms of measurements, the Nanoflare 800 Pro differs greatly from the original Nanoflare 800. Let's start with the racket frame.
The frame of the Nanoflare 800 Pro is 3mm thicker than the previous generation at approximately 12.5mm. The frame is also taller and wider, at 23.8cm in height and 18.5cm in width. Like other Nanoflare rackets, its frame has a fully recessed profile.
The Nanoflare 800 Pro has a slightly shorter shaft compared to the previous generation, coming in at only 21cm in length. Whilst the diametre of the racket shaft stays roughly the same at 6.9mm, the racket handle is half a centimetre shorter at only 17cm. Almost every measurement of the Nanoflare 800 Pro is identical to the Nanoflare 1000Z, except that the Nanoflare 1000Z has a shorter frame height and longer handle.
For stringing, the 4U model of the Nanoflare 800 Pro is rated to withstand 28 lbs, and the 3U model, 29 lbs. As I had both the 3U and 4U model rackets for testing, I strung both of them with my usual string set-up of Aerobite at 27 lbs x 29 lbs. The 3U model felt very solid during stringing, but for the 4U model, I would be hesitant to go much higher than 27 lbs x 29 lbs if you're looking for longevity.
The new grommets also feel nice and premium and are very flush and well-fitted onto the racket, although, you won't probably get a much thicker string through as there’s not much room around the grommet after the string is pulled through. The Nanoflare 800 Pro also only has three sets of single-pass grommets, while the original Nanoflare 800 have four. Also, as the Nanoflare 800 Pro’s racket head is slightly bigger than that of the Nanoflare 800, it has a lower-pitched sound when strings are strung at the same tension.
So we arrive at the crucial question, is the new Nanoflare 800 Pro as nice as the original Nanoflare 800? The answer: it's complicated.
I'll be honest and start by saying I struggled when I was testing the 4U model of the Nanoflare 800 Pro. Hence, I reached out to Yonex to request a 3U model and the difference was night and day, at least for me.
The original Nanoflare 800 was a super fast, super buttery swinging, counter-attacking machine. In 3U weight, it was one of my personal favourites, and it made me feel that I had amazing control of the shuttle at any time, anywhere on the court, even on off days. Getting out of trouble was always fairly easy and I really enjoyed playing with it. It made playing enjoyable, fun and exciting. There are not many rackets which I would go for 3U spec nowadays but the original Nanoflare 800 is certainly one of them.
However, the Nanoflare 800 Pro feels entirely different to what the original Nanoflare 800 was. Yes, it is fast but it certainly feels more similar to the Nanoflare 1000Z. Changing the Razor Blade frame shape to the current trapezoidal-like frame on the Nanoflare 800 Pro increases the stiffness and stability of the frame against warping and torsional forces when the shuttle comes into contact with the strings during the swinging and hitting phase. However, the increased stiffness and rigidity also means there is less room for errors for us players to a certain extent.
Additionally, the increased density of the strings, which gives the Nanoflare 800 Pro a stiffer stringbed, isn’t necessarily going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It reminded me of the old-school Forza 96-hole rackets with a 24 by 24 stringbed. Nowhere near as bad as those but those rackets were a pain to string with and generally felt fairly dead, but the good thing is the strings never break because of the denser string pattern. The Nanoflare 800 Pro is not difficult to string, but the rest of the characteristics do fit this racket to a certain extent.
I didn't feel that the Nanoflare 800 Pro was quite as forgiving as the original Nanoflare 800, especially in the 4U model. The increased stiffness in the stringbed, for me, had reduced the control and feel I had with the 4U Nanoflare 800 Pro as it did not have the head weight to carry the shuttle through shots which were off the sweet spot. I want to feel the shuttle when I’m driving with it, but the stiffer stringbed with reduced head weight on the 4U makes it feel fairly dull and slightly dead.
If you have been using the original Nanoflare 800, you’ll find the Nanoflare 800 Pro to have a different hitting timing too. The increased timing demand on the lighter 4U model is certainly quite pronounced and you’ll have to really focus on your finger squeeze timing to get good contact with the racket. Also, there is not a lot of power at all with the 4U model so you’re not going to be hitting through people very easily. This is certainly a racket for the 3rd and 5th shots in a rally and beyond.
Over the multiple sessions and locations I’ve tested the 4U Nanoflare 800 Pro, I found that on more slippery venues, I would struggle more with the 4U Nanoflare 800 Pro. This again ties in with the less forgiving nature of the Nanoflare 800 Pro’s stringbed as well as its increased timing demands.
However, a lot of these problems are significantly reduced, or even eliminated in some cases, with the 3U model. Because of the extra swing weight of the 3U model, it carries more racket head weight and gives more bite on the shuttle, giving me more control, especially in 50:50 situations. For this reason, the better version of this racket is the 3U model for me. With the 4U model, I just kept making very off-timed, poor shots as soon as I was out of position in the first shot.
In summary, as this is a Nanoflare racket, speed is not an issue at all. You won’t have lots of power with the Nanoflare 800 Pro, although the 3U model is definitely better in this regard. I also find that I need a different timing for my smashes with the Nanoflare 800 Pro. If I hit the shuttle with my usual timing, it tends to go flat and I have to let it drop just that little bit more to get the angle I want. Maybe I was swinging too fast?
Racket stiffness of the Nanoflare 800 Pro is pretty on point for me, it's just the string bed stiffness that is not ideal. I can’t get on with the 4U model, but I love the 3U model Nanoflare 800 Pro. String the Nanoflare 800 Pro with a responsive string and you will get a better feel of the shuttle too.
In terms of racket design, it’s nice to see Yonex adding focus on the racket string layout design. I mean we’ve seen modifications on some of the Astrox models with larger string gaps and larger grommets, as well as increased shuttle hold time and feel with the Arcsaber models. These modifications have been great for an amateur player like me as they help me play better, and in turn, enjoy the game more.
I get that head-light rackets need to be fast but I’m not too sure about making the string bed denser. If I want a harder-hitting feel, I would go for harder-feeling strings or higher string tensions. Perhaps I need to try some softer strings for the Nanoflare 800 Pro too. Maybe it's time to go back to the Exbolt 65 or 63?
What do you guys think? let me know in the comments section below and I’ll see you in the next post.