In this post, I am reviewing the two latest versions of the Yonex 65 series shoes, namely the 65Z3 White Tiger, which Kento Momota had been wearing since the Tokyo Olympics, and its budget brother, the 65X3.
The 65 series is one of Yonex’s classic shoe series which is updated regularly. I mentioned in my previous review of the 65Z2 that it is an amazing all-round shoe that scores 9.5 on all aspects, especially on cushioning and support. I wondered how Yonex was going to top that in this new product!
So here are three things you need to know about these badminton shoes.
The 65Z3 comes in a few colours. There's the Kento Momota White Tiger version, the black version, the white and red version for men and the white and lime yellow for women. I’m quite disappointed that they don't produce the white and lime version for men. They look really good!
For the 65X3, I have the white and red version for testing, but I also understand they have a bunch of other colours available too. I’m not too sure if all colours are available in all regions so it's best to check with your local retailer.
Design and build quality
For the 65Z3 White Tiger, I must say that I really like its design. There’s a letter ‘Z’ design on top of the shoe between the laces to identify it's a top-end Z model. There are plenty of features carried over from the previous generation, 65Z2, such as the toe assist shape.
The build quality of this shoe is certainly excellent with plenty of soft material around the shoe. Lots of silver holographic streaks, as well as the grey ones around the ankle area. Another personal favourite is the white section just beneath the heel where the lime green number '65' number is printed. That white patch is like an embossed area where you can rub your fingers and feel the stripes around it. Very cool.
If you turn the shoe over and you’ll immediately spot the biggest difference between this version compared to the previous one. The 65Z3 now sports a radial blade sole design which I first saw in the Eclipsion Z2. Like the Eclipsion Z2, the 65Z3 also has air vents covered by mesh, and the sole is not fully sealed. So don't go walking through puddles with this shoe. The insoles are identical to the previous generation so have lots of ventilation holes on them as well as the wave design at the top half of it. They fit well too!
On the other hand, for the 65X3, there are quite a lot of differences in terms of build material, technologies used as well as feel of the shoe compared to the 65Z3. For a shoe that is almost half the price of the 65Z3, this is certainly a good budget variant.
The 65X3 has the letter 'X' printed between the laces and there’s also some pearlescent golf dimpled white mesh around the ankle support area, which I think is rather cool. Another feature you can't miss is the rubber soles, which is completely red.
In terms of build quality, the rubber soles of the 65X3 feel stiffer compared to the 65Z3. I had a closer look at the outsoles of the 65Z2 and noticed that they were different grades of soles. The 65Z2 had a better outsole which is slightly softer and better made compared to the 65X3. The 65X3 also does not have any Power Cushion+, which is the yellow-coloured higher-end cushioning material as seen on the rubber soles of the 65Z3.
One quick way to differentiate a Z version shoe from an X version shoe is the colour of the soles. All the Z series will come in natural rubber coloured soles whereas the X series come in dyed coloured soles.
Also, the insoles from the 65X3 are a lot more basic than the 65Z3. The top material from the insoles feels quite similar to car seats so they could be quite slippery depending on what socks you wear. They are not very thick so they are certainly lacking in terms of cushioning.
The insoles also have an additional stepped piece glued onto the heel section, which makes them feel like dress shoes. The 65X3 have similar ventilation holes on the top of the shoe like the 65Z3, but does not have any on the bottom of the shoe.
Fit, Feel and Performance
The 65Z3 fits like a glove and it feels very snug on the upper side, which is a very reassuring and familiar feeling I had with the 65Z2. If you’re someone who loves the 65Z2, this will be amazing for you. The 65Z3 also made me feel comfortable immediately, it makes my feet feel well protected. The good build quality and soft materials around the right areas are just plush. I'm very impressed all around.
On the other hand, I had some issues with the fit. When I put on the 65X3, I felt like there were three marbles on my right heel, and this was only on the right side of the shoe. The left side was completely fine and felt good though. I took out the insoles to inspect what was going on but I couldn't find anything wrong with them so I decided to bite the bullet and carried on playing in them. Surprisingly, within 10 minutes, I didn't notice the marble feelings anymore.
Performance-wise, both the 65Z3 and 65X3 performed well. The 65Z3 immediately felt at home. I was a big fan of the radial blade design from the Eclipsion Z2 before this as I thought they did provide more grip. Now that the 65Z3 has also adopted the radial blade design, they didn't disappoint. The 65Z3 is very grippy and it provides lots of confidence when you’re lunging on the court, especially at speed. If you’re coming from an Aerus shoe, you might feel you have a slightly higher ride height with the 65 series but this is normal and, rest assured, the 65Z3 doesn't feel clunky at all.
The 65X3, on the other hand, actually surprised me. Due to the slightly more basic design and materials used, I was expecting it to have a big gap in terms of performance compared to the 65Z3. Surprisingly, the performance gap between the two models is not big at all. Sure, the 65X3 feels stiffer but I started playing, I didn't notice the difference in stiffness. Grip levels were fine and I never had any issues with sliding, although granted I was playing on a purpose-built badminton court. I think if you’re playing in very dusty halls, you might potentially slide a little with the 65X3, compared to the 65Z3.
If you have enough cash, absolutely go for the 65Z3, it's amazing and I thoroughly recommend it! Otherwise, the 65X3 is a decent good-looking shoe if you’re looking to get started with the 65 series on a budget. See you in the next post!