Wilson Triad 5.0 Midplus Racquet Review
When titanium racquets were all the rage in tennis the racquet manufacturers focus was on making lighter racquets. In the post-titanium world most racquet companies switched their R&D priorities from making racquets lighter to making them more stable and comfortable. While Wilson never did climb on the titanium bandwagon, choosing instead to develop their own lightweight material technology - Hyper Carbon, they have joined the other manufacturers in trying to develop more stable and comfortable racquets.
This past Summer Wilson introduced their first "comfort technology" in the form of 3-piece racquets called Triads. The basic concept behind Triad technology is to completely separate the hoop from the handle. An elastomer material, called Iso-Zorb, is then inserted between the hoop and shaft to isolate shock and vibration. The three pieces are glued with LocTite 496, an industrial super glue which can hold up to 2.5 tons of force, and also mechanically locked together by the strings at the 5 and 7 o'clock locations and by a socket at the base of the "V" in the handle piece. In this design the head and handle are totally separate and never touch.
Wilson is in the process of releasing a full line of Triad racquets ranging from The Triad Hammer 2.0 to the Triad Prostaff 6.0, which means the technology will be available to all players. Does the Triad Technology work? We playtested the Triad Hammer 5.0 Midplus for 2 weeks and here is our un-dampened feedback.
Triad 5.0 Midplus
Although not officially included in its name, the Triad 5.0 Midplus is a Hammer, weighing in at 10.0 ounces and balanced 1 inch (8 points) head-heavy. Wilson categorizes the Triad 5.0 as a "medium-power" racquet, requiring a medium-full swing. Most of our playtesters agreed. Don offers, "frankly, my expectations weren't very high when I first started hitting with the Triad 5.0 MP. However, after the first few groundies I found myself really enjoying the combination of maneuverability, power, control and comfort. My medium-fast swing seemed ideally suited to the power level of this racquet. When I wanted to swing faster I could, without fear the ball would hit the back fence. It felt more solid than most other 10-ounce racquets, too. Although I don't normally care for Hammer-weighted racquets, the head-heavy balance wasn't bothersome and I believe this helped contribute to above average stability for a racquet in this weight range." Mark continues, "I enjoyed the feel of this racquet on groundstrokes. It had a nice combination of power, control and maneuverability. I was able to drive the ball with topspin or finesse it with slice. Catching up to hard-hit balls was easy since it's so light and maneuverable. It might be a little too light for strong players who like to swing hard, and I had to remind myself not to slap at the ball, but overall it was a nice hitting racquet."
Drew comments, "it took me a while to find a groove with the Triad 5.0 - actually two full dysfunctional hitting sessions. My control was way off, particularly in regards to spin. I wasn't getting the spin necessary to keep my usual groundstrokes in. By the third session I finally got a handle on the 5.0's sweetspot location and started turning out some decent shots. I could drive topspin forehands and backhands effectively. I wouldn't say I was playing great, but I started to see some things people might like in the racquet. The headsize and medium-low power level will keep intermediate-advanced players with faster swings from over-hitting. Whether it's Triad technology or something else, the racquet is fairly comfortable." Granville says, "I could hit the ball with good pace and depth and found the racquet to be very comfortable. Shock and vibration were dramatically reduced. Although the head-heavy balance was a little extreme for my tastes it certainly added to the racquet's stability. Still, the occasional off-center shots saw a drop off in power. I found the sweetspot more or less in the stringbed center." Dan adds, "I was surprised at the low power level of the Triad 5.0 MP. I had to take long, full swings to drive the ball deep with spin. I found the sweetspot located in the lower half of the stringbed, despite Hammer weighting and balancing. Balls struck in the upper stringbed resulted in a dull, 'twangy' feel. I also didn't care for the dampened feel, which I felt was too muted. I prefer a little more 'feedback' from a racquet, which I believe contributes to touch and feel."
The Triad 5.0 MP received mixed reviews on its volleying attributes. Mark begins, "the power level really fit my volley stroke. I could drive my volleys deep with a short swing or hit the sharp, angled volley. I also liked the way the ball felt on the strings. The racquet felt stiff but not boardy. There was just enough feel to control the ball without losing too much power." Drew adds, "stable, comfortable and more than ample power. Blocking balls was the most I needed to do. Any sort of swing can send balls long." Granville offers, "volleys were solid and predictable, although it took a little time to get accustomed to the muted response. The Triad 5.0 MP seems best suited to players with a more aggressive net game, and on these shots the racquet performed impressively. It was on the touch shots, short angle volleys and drop volleys where the racquet was lacking for me. The dampened feel all but eliminated feel on these shots." Don says, "the Triad 5.0 MP was good at net but not great. I prefer a head-light or even balanced racquet on volleys, but I still hit some good shots. It was easy to get around on quick shots and I was able to volley deep or with short angle. Good comfort too, even during off-center shots." Dan comments, "my results were better at net, where the dampened feel didn't have as much effect. As long as I hit balls in the sweetspot my volleys were effective. However, balls hit outside the 'spot' saw a significant drop in power."
Serving with the Triad 5.0 MP is easy but not all playtesters found it to their liking. Don offers, "I enjoyed serving with this racquet. It was easy to swing fast and I got plenty of pop on my first serves. On second serves I could swing hard and still keep the ball in the court by applying the necessary spin, thanks to a tempered power level and medium-open string pattern. No problems here." Mark counters, "the only shot I didn't hit very well with the Triad 5.0 MP was the serve. My control was pretty good but I couldn't generate any power. My hard flat serves weren't that hard and my kick serves didn't have enough kick. This racquet requires a lot of racquet head speed to generate power and I couldn't swing it fast enough." Dan comments, "I found a niche when serving with the Triad 5.0 MP. The light weight makes it easy to crank through with fast swing speeds, while slice and kick had good effect. As with volleys, the dampened feel wasn't a negative for me on serves." Granville says, "serves were solid and comfortable, with a power level I expected from a racquet of this weight and balance. Control was a bit of an issue on some serves, especially slices out wide. Flat 'heater' serves, though, were fine." Drew adds, "until I got the timing right I was pretty much limited to slice serves. I couldn't find my range with flat serves and the topspin serves weren't particularly effective. With that said, the slice serves were relatively effect:ive. After I got the racquet dialed in I could mix in some flat serves and the pace on topspin serves picked up enough to make them effective. This racquet isn't a serving machine, but with average muscle and technique it won't hold you back."
The Triad 5.0 MP is pretty versatile on serve returns - it's light enough to take some backswing against most serves and stable enough to block back all but the biggest first serves. Dan comments, "I was able to stick forehand drive returns deep with a somewhat moderate swing. Slice returns (both sides) had good rotation and bit well. Due to the racquet's light weight, though, it was easy to hit 'floaters' if I didn't consciously swing through the ball." Granville adds, "returns were about as expected - a solid feel and good response. Whether driving the ball down the line or cross-court, or blocking big serves back up the middle, I found the Triad 5.0 MP comfortable and reliable. My only complaint was that shots hit off-center suffered a noticeable drop in power." Drew continues, "the more serves I returned with the Triad 5.0, the better they got. My experience started off as a timid blocking affair and as I adjusted I started to get more aggressive. My slice returns stayed ugly but I developed a good measure of pace, spin and direction on other returns - particularly on my backhand side which tends to be less wristy and risky."
Mark says, "the biggest problem I had with the Triad 5.0 MP on service returns was swinging too early. This was a nice change since my usual problem is swinging too late. The racquet is very maneuverable and the power level is low enough that I could take a full swing and keep the ball in the court. Hard serves that stayed low were the easiest to return. I was concerned about hitting slice backhand returns against high, kick serves. I've found this to be a difficult shot to hit consistently with light racquets because their low power level require a big swing to generate any pace. However, the Triad 5.0 MP had enough power for me to take a medium swing and still hit the ball deep." Don offers, "this racquet was surprisingly stable on returns, especially when blocking back hard serves. Thanks to the light weight I could take a swing against the majority of serves coming at me. I liked being able to swing through the ball without worrying about the ball landing long. I could also chip & charge against second serves, hitting effective slices that stayed nice and low."
The Triad 5.0 MP will favor players with medium-fast swings who are seeking comfort, maneuverability and medium power. The unique dampened feel isn't for everyone, nor is the light weight and head-heavy balance, as evidenced by a few playtesters' comments. However, Triad seems to really work in isolating shock and vibration and represents Wilson's first real comfort technology. If you haven't yet tried Triad, we encourage you to test drive one through our mail-order demo program.
A very detailed look at Triad technology can be found on the USRSA's web site.