Flexpoint Radical Tour Review
In a bold new move within the Radical line of racquets, HEAD has responded to player feedback with the Flexpoint Radical Tour racquet, which features an all-new string pattern and headsize. Unlike the Liquidmetal Radical Tour, which was a heavier version of the regular Liquidmetal Radical Midplus, the Flexpoint Radical Tour stands alone compared to traditional Radical offerings. With a 100 sq. in. headsize and 16/19 string pattern, the Flexpoint Radical Tour brings a fresh dimension of feel and playability to the Radical line.
While the headsize and string pattern might be unique, the Flexpoint Radical Tour offers the same technologies as the other 2005 Radical introductions. Flexpoint, the latest technology from HEAD, features a "precisely engineered hole" at the 3 & 9 o'clock positions on the racquet head. Accompanying each hole is a dimple in the frame which reduces beam width by up to 25% (depth of the dimple varies depending on the beam width of the racquet model). Both the hole and the dimple are designed to make the racquet more flexible in the upper hoop. The theory behind the technology is that by having the racquet flex at the 3 & 9 o'clock positions the racquet will cup the ball.
While a traditional racquet flexes from the tip down through the shaft, a Flexpoint racquet is designed to increase flex in the hoop. HEAD states that this increased flex and cupping of the ball results in a longer dwell time (duration of time the ball is in contact with the racquet), allowing the player greater control and more feel. HEAD also claims that the Flexpoint racquets result in more accurate hitting due to the cupping effect of the racquet. Few racquets are stiff enough to return to their original state before the ball leaves the strings, resulting in the racquet still being flexed and the ball coming off at a slight angle. HEAD claims that the sectionally flexible Flexpoint racquets significantly reduce the angle at which the ball leaves the strings, resulting in a more accurate hit.
Well, when someone offers us more feel, longer dwell time, more control and better direction on our shots, we say "sign us up!" Of course, first we'll want to put these principles through some solid testing and see for ourselves. So, with that in mind we hit the courts for a month-long playtest of the new Flexpoint Radical Tour from HEAD. Read on for the full-scoop or, if you prefer, the 25% dimple.
The Flexpoint Radical Tour was very popular with our team from the baseline. Chris said, "what a sweet racquet. I loved the solid feel of this one. Some lovely weight on the backhand slice and plenty of grip on the ball from the stringbed. Easy access to topspin, too. I really felt like I could camp out on the baseline all day with this racquet. The weight and balance was a great fit for my game. I was able to play some very good defense with the Flexpoint Radical Tour. When pushed wide or on the back foot, I was still able to come up with deep penetrating shots - often turning the point back in my favor. While this racquet didn't quite have the buttery feel of my Yonex RDX 500 Mids, it offered some excellent performance off the ground. It also did not require any customization with added weight to offer the solid feel I like." Wendi found the Flexpoint Radical Tour to be a better fit for her game compared to the Flexpoint Radical Oversize. "All the adjustments I was making when playing with the Oversize Flexpoint Radical were immediately corrected when I picked up the Tour Midplus. I was able to hit away, and the feel was much tighter. I had great control, and dictating my shots was easy. It still had a smooth ride through the air and a very natural weight. I was able to generate a good amount of both topspin and slice. I was successful on the run and charging to the net."
Brad found it easy to add variety to his shot making with the Flexpoint Radical Tour. "I really enjoyed hitting with this racquet. It was my favorite out of the three. The open string pattern made the racquet very spin friendly and the extra weight made it feel more stable than the other two. I felt like I could hit out with this racquet and not worry about whether or not the ball would sail long. Balls that hit the sweetspot felt really good and I was able to generate good pace and spin. It was easy to fo from from hitting with topspin to hitting flat." Finding a nice, comfortable feel was Josh. "The Flexpoint Radical Tour was comfortable on groundstrokes. My backhands felt solid and more consistent than my forehands. As with my serve returns, I had a tendency to hit forehands a bit wide and long. What saved me was the ability to hit more topspin to keep the ball down. Despite the 12 ounce weight, the racquet remained maneuverable and felt just as effective defensively as it did attacking the ball."
Don was surprised by the maneuverability he found with the Flexpoint Radical Tour considering its 12-ounce weight. "The Flexpoint Radical Tour was, by far, my favorite of the Flexpoint Radicals. Despite its 12-ounce weight the racquet doesn't feel or swing heavy, thanks to a balance that is 1-inch head-light. In fact, I found the Tour model to actually swing easier than the Flexpoint Radical Midplus. I also liked the more flexible feel of the Tour. It has that 'buttery' feel that I've normally associated with the less user-friendly Prestige Mid. The maneuverability and flex, combined with a generous 100 square-inch head and open 16x19 string pattern made the Flexpoint Radical Tour ideal for my game. The stringbed is lively enough for power and comfort, yet provides enough spin potential for control. This can be tweaked by adjusting tension up or down, or switching to a different string material and/or gauge."
Our playtesters loved volleying with the Flexpoint Radical Tour. Finding herself confident in her volleys was Wendi. "My volleys were very dependable and I gained a lot of confidence at the net. The Tour Midplus gave tremendous touch to my volleys. I had no problems with the maneuverability or stability, and I felt a little more in control of the point." As from the baseline, Don liked the balance and feel of the racquet when pushing forward to volley. "The Tour's head-light balance makes it an effective weapon at net. I was able to respond quickly during fast exchanges, and get the racquet up easily for overheads. The overall mass lends good stability, while the flex and string pattern allows for good touch and feel. Very solid."
Finding some solid placement on his volleys was Brad. "I got good depth on my volleys with this racquet and found that I was able to place it where I wanted. I also found it to be very responsive on touch shots."
Chris had a blast at net with the Flexpoint Radical Tour. "Again, the feel was solid and responsive on every shot. The stock weight and balance was an excellent fit for me, and unlike my regular racquet, this one would require no weight customization for me to use. I really enjoyed charging the net and letting the weight of this racquet flow through the volley. Lots of fun." Josh found the racquet to be a good fit for his net charging game, too. "Volleys were easy with the Flexpoint Radical Tour. The racquet was both stable and maneuverable, and I was able to return several balls hit wide with a flick of the wrist. I was a little more erratic than usual, but overall the racquet performed well at net."
With its open 16/19 string pattern the Flexpoint Radical tour offered a lively and spin friendly response for our team on serve. Brad said, "my spin serves really benefited from the open string pattern of this racquet. Just like the Flexpoint Radical Oversize, I was able to consistently hit my slice serve out wide. On first serves, I was able to place the ball deep into the service box." Also finding her targets was Wendi. "Serving was like a dream with the Tour Midplus. I had incredible control and the perfect amount of power to keep my opponent honest. I was serving up the T and wide with ease. My stroke was so fluid it was as though I'd been serving with this racquet for a long time. The Tour Midplus gave me a lot confidence, beginning with my serve and ultimately spreading to the rest of my game."
Chris continued to have fun with the Flexpoint Radical Tour when serving. "The enjoyment I had from other areas of the court with this racquet was two-fold on the serve. The weight of the racquet transferred into a little extra weight and penetration on my flat and kick serves, and I had several opponents compliment me on my serving while using this racquet. I was very happy with the amount of spin I was finding and would often go for more with my second serve than I had with my first. I was very impressed with this racquet." Unlike Chris, Josh struggled to find the groove on serve. "My serve felt a little erratic with the Flexpoint Radical Tour. I liked the weight of the racquet and the spin potential, but my placement was off and I had a tendency to hit a bit long. Second serves felt good, but again, I had trouble finding the corners and the service line. The more open string pattern matched with the larger head size seemed to work against my flat first serve."
Out of the three Flexpoint Radical racquets, Don found the Tour to be the best fit for his serving game. "I served the best with the Flexpoint Radical Tour, and generally prefer serving with heavier, head-light racquets. There didn't seem to be a serve I couldn't hit with this racquet. My flat first serves had plenty of pace, my sliders out wide seemed to have more arc, and kick second serves had extra jump. It's one of those racquets that gave me extra confidence when serving."
Our team enjoyed a solid response and plenty of spin when returning with the Flexpoint Radical Tour. Don offered, "although no racquet can fix my weak returns, I felt pretty comfortable returning serves with the Tour. When blocking back fast serves there was enough mass to provide stability. Against all other serves I could take some swing and deliver an offensive return. It's great for chipping and charging against weaker second serves. In fact, my slice return was never better!" Chris continued to enjoy playing with the Flexpoint Radical Tour when returning. "The combination of weight and balance was a good fit for my returns, too. There was enough weight for hitting a solid punch or slice return, yet the head light balance still made it possible for me to take an aggressive cut when I got a good bead on the incoming serve. As with the Flexpoint Radical Midplus, I was going after most serves hit to my forehand and mixing up drive and slice returns off the backhand. I even threw in a lob return once during a doubles match, and that's a shot I've never had!"
Finding good consistency on her returns was Wendi. "Returning with the Tour didn't have the punch of the Flexpoint Radical Oversize, but it was still a very consistent returner. I was able to be more offensive by strategically placing my shots rather than relying on pure power." Josh found his best results came when hitting block returns with the Flexpoint Radical Tour. "The stability of the racquet stood out most with the Flexpoint Radical Tour. Of the three Radicals, the Tour version seemed to absorb the pace of first serves best. While my returns were deep, I had a tendency to hit wide down the line from the deuce side. My slice returns also had a tendency to float a bit more than I had hoped."