In my recent Tokyo Olympics badminton racket video, I noted that the Yonex Nanoflare head-light badminton racket series was the second most popular series for the pros with 25 players using them. So today, we'll take a look at the super popular Nanoflare 700 as well as the ultralight Nanoflare 800LT.
The Nanoflare line represents Yonex's head-light badminton rackets, in contrast to their highly successful head-heavier Astrox series. The Nanoflares focus on counterattacking ability with lots of ease and speed, which is crucial in today's game.
There are 3 flagship models of the Nanoflare series: the Nanoflare 700, the Nanoflare 800 and the Nanoflare 800LT. I have previously reviewed the Nanoflare 800 and you can check it out here. It is one of the easiest rackets to play with that I've come across and I almost picked this racket as my go-to racket, but unfortunately, it narrowly lost to the Astrox 88D Pro that I'm currently playing with.
So let's start with the Nanoflare 700. At the Olympics, 14 out of the 25 Nanoflare players were playing with the Nanoflare 700, including big names like the current Olympic Men's Doubles champion Wang Chi-Lin from Taiwan. As a side note, his partner Lee Yang plays with the Nanoflare 800 so that's a deadly head-light combo right there!
Other big names using the Nanoflare 700 include Michelle Li (Canada), Arisa Higashino (Japan), Chae Yoo Jung (Korea), Lee Sohee (Korea), Shin Seung Chan (Korea), Seo Seung Jae (Korea) and finally, Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand). Carolina Marin also uses the Nanoflare 700, though she didn't play at the Tokyo Olympics due to injury. It's also interesting to note that Wang Chi-Lin and Seo Seung Jae were the only two men using the Nanoflare 700.
The Nanoflare 700 comes in two different weights, the 4U and 5U, both share the same specs and are medium stiff, pretty head-light and pretty fast. They also come in two colours, green and red, both with matte finishing. In the UK, the red version is the 5U version and the green is the 4U version. I personally always have a thing for matte coloured rackets as I think matte finishing just looks classy. The paint job also looks quite futuristic with a lot of sharp angles and clean lines.
Specs wise, the Nanoflare 700 has a 17cm wooden handle, with a 21cm shaft length and a super slim shaft at 7mm in diameter. Compared to the Nanoflare 800 and the Nanoflare 800LT, the Nanoflare 700 has a slightly bigger head frame measuring 24cm in height and 18.7cm in width. It also has a significantly thicker frame. The frame thickness for the Nanoflare 800 is 9.5 mm and for the Nanoflare 700, it’s 12.4 mm.
Overall, the Nanoflare 700 is very user friendly and you can easily feel that you have lots of control over the shuttle. There’s a good amount of hold of the shuttle on the racket when you’re playing with it. If you’re wondering what shuttle hold is, it’s the contact time of the shuttle you feel when it is in contact with your badminton strings during a stroke. The shuttle hold is something that the Yonex Arcsaber series is famous for but the Nanoflare 700 is amazing in this department. You'll feel like you have the ability to hold and change direction with the shuttle before the shuttle screams off your strings when you squeeze the handle of the racket. I also believe the medium feeling of this racket certainly added to this quality.
However, I personally think the Nanoflare 700 is too soft for me. I prefer slightly stiffer and more directly responsive rackets and the medium shaft of the Nanoflare 700 just feels way too whippy for my liking. Obviously, this is my own personal preference as plenty of pros certainly love it.
If we look at the 5U version first, it’s super fast and nimble to play with but lacks raw power. Not just raw power from the back, it just lacks raw power, period. As a super light racket, it also suffers slightly from being too light and sometimes unstable if you’re caught midway through a rally. As this isn’t a head-heavy racket, you wouldn’t expect it to have tons of power to begin with. However, I must say that it is a very nice racket to play flat fast shots and counter-attacking shots.
If we then take a look at the 4U variant, you will immediately feel it’s more solid and there's a lot more power coming from the racket compared to its 5U sibling. There is even more bite on the shuttle at the same time so that’s a win for me in my book. However, it’s still too flexible for my liking and will perhaps suit someone who’s strong with a longer stroke.
Next, let's switch our attention to the Nanoflare 800LT. One look and I’m in love with its design instantly. This racket shares lots of similarities with the Nanoflare 800. It has an ultra-slim shaft at 6.8mm and a super slim frame too. It's frame thickness is thinner than the Nanoflare 800 at only 9.3mm (the Nanoflare 800 has a frame thickness of 9.5mm). It also has a slightly longer shaft at 22cm, but a shorter wooden handle at 17cm though it retains the same head dimensions as the Nanoflare 800. This certainly helps with the speed that you can generate with the racket. It also carries a fully recessed frame profile on the frame which again will help with the aerodynamics.
Also surprisingly, even as a 5U racket, there were two players using the Nanoflare 800LT at the Tokyo Olympics! One of them is the recently retired super aggressive Chinese player, Li Junhui. He’s one-half of the men's double pair with Liu Yu Chen. They’ve achieved lots as a pair, from being world junior champions all the way through to being world champions in the professional games. Many say that light and head-light rackets couldn't generate a lot of power, but when you see Li Junhui smashing on court, you would never think he doesn't have enough power. So I guess this misconception of light racket equals no power has got to change. It’s all down to technique, timing and lots and lots of training!
In terms of speed, the Nanoflare 800LT is very similar to the Nanoflare 800. It’s very fast and super smooth. Shots are also very crisp and easy to pull off. You can easily get good length and height with your shots and it’s just a super easy racket to play with. It really doesn’t feel like a typical 5U racket at all when I was playing with it. I certainly don’t have the training, technique and timing of Li Junhui so I’m not going to complain there. Compared to the 5U model of the Nanoflare 700, the Nanoflare 800LT certainly wins in every single department for me. It’s faster, crisper, sharper, and has more power too. One thing it loses out is the hold time of the shuttle compared to the Nanoflare 700, but you can make it up via your string choices. Personally, I like to use the Aerobite which grips the shuttle more than other strings.
In summary, both the Nanoflare 700 and the Nanoflare 800LT are excellent head-light rackets. They are perfect for players who are looking for easy-to-play, fast badminton rackets. The paint job and colour schemes on them are amazing too! If you prefer a softer, more pliable badminton racket, go for the Nanoflare 700. If you want a sharper, crisper response, go for the Nanoflare 800LT. In my opinion, the best head-light racket is still the Nanoflare 800 - check out this post to find out why. I’ll see you in the next post.