Luxilon Alu Power Rough 16L String Reel Review
- Too firm and underpowered for players with compact strokes
Luxilon ALU Power Rough is the textured version of Luxilon's most iconic pro tour string, ALU Power. Actually, the Rough is no slouch either. It has been spotted in the hybrid of three players you may have heard of: Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Needless to say, our team was excited to see if this string would live up to its elite pedigree. We strung it as a full bed and immediately discovered something unmistakable on our biggest swings - massive bite and explosive spin. Though none of our players thought ALU Power Rough was dead, there were mixed opinions on the exact power level, with two players finding it quite lively. Control proved more than adequate for unleashing aggressive tennis, though each player had varying levels of success placing the ball. As for comfort, we had zero complaints, despite the firmness of this string. Ultimately, the Rough did its job admirably, giving our team the unique spin-friendly blend of control, snapback and feel that has come to define the Luxilon experience.
Power - Score: 60
Players with shorter strokes are not likely to find the power in Luxilon ALU Power Rough. However, Troy's experience suggests that big bangers might be able to unlock a fifth gear. He said, "I have found this to be one of the more high-powered co-poly strings on the market. From the first hit I noticed the nice pocketing and good pop off the stringbed. When I tried this string a couple of years ago I found too much launch on the ball, especially after the initial tension loss. For this test I pre-stretched the string and found that I was still getting better than average ball pocketing and power, but I didn't notice the big drop-off in tension and loss of control that I had in the past."
Andy also found a little extra pop. He said, "Just like the rest of the strings in the ALU Power line, the Rough 16L offers an ample amount of power. Compared with other polyester strings, this one is going to provide above average power and pop off the stringbed. I'm not sure if this directly relates to power, but I felt like the texture allows the string to grab and shoot the ball off at a slightly higher trajectory, giving the impression that you are getting more power than you would normally get."
Stringing it tight in his classic Donnay Pro One OS, Chris found the low-powered response his big strokes need. He said, "Like a typical monofilament, power is not the strong point of this string. Rather, it encouraged me to swing fast and bring my own strength to the fight. That being said, I find Rough to be slightly more powerful than regular ALU. I'm guessing that is because the scoops in the string, which give it its rough texture, thins out the gauge over the length of the string. The thing I liked most about the power was the consistency. This string delivered a very, very predictable level of power that allowed me to swing with confidence and stay on the gas. The low level of power was exactly what I look for in a string."
Spin - Score: 92
The phenomenal control and bite of Luxilon ALU Power Rough enables advanced players to uncoil with a more explosive upward whip. This allows heavy hitters like Andy to load the ball with massive spin. He said, "This string is a spin monster! To steal some of Apollo Creed's thunder, the Rough 16L is the Master of Disaster, the King of Sting, when it comes to spin! This string bites the ball like no other and shoots the ball off the strings with a monstrous amount of spin. Balls that seem to be going long dive down at the baseline at the last minute, and slices stay low and bite the court like a hovercraft gliding across the water."
Also finding easy spin was Chris. He said, "I got a lot of spin from this string -- definitely more than the average co-poly. Being able to take a big cut at everything is a huge asset when it comes to finding spin, and this string let me swing with abandon. I was getting a lot of bite from the stringbed and finding all the spin I needed to hit my targets with pace. I felt completely dialed in on both slice and topspin shots."
"Spin was above average for me in comparison to some of the other co-polys I've tried," said Troy, who was slightly less enthused than the others. "I found the pocketing helped with spin, but I didn't seem to notice a big difference in spin potential compared with the regular version of ALU Power. However, I was able to create a lot of rotation on the ball when hittting cross-court dipping shots. I have found other co-poly strings, such as Babolat RPM Blast, Poly Star Energy and Kirschbaum Pro Line X, to be a bit more spin-friendly than this string."
Comfort - Score: 73
Though Luxilon ALU Power Rough is made from firm material, none of our players complained about harsh feedback. In fact, Chris found it to be pretty comfortable. He said, "The response of this string was decently comfortable. It is not as soft and plush feeling as some of the more modern co-polys, but it was not overly harsh, either. Again, I found the response to be a tad softer and more lively compared to regular ALU. It felt very comfortable in the oversize racquet I chose for this test, but I've also hit it in a Prestige Mid (small head, tight string pattern) without any comfort issues."
The power Andy got put less stress on his arm, making it a more comfortable ride. He said, "It's middle of the road when it comes to comfort. It's not the softest, most comfortable string out there, but since you get a lot of power from the string (for a polyester) you don't feel like you have to slug the ball until your arm falls off. It is slightly on the stiffer side, but again, because it's so lively it's not going to be an arm killer."
"I had mixed feelings on the comfort of this string," said Troy, who shows us that tension is key to comfort. "In the past I strung this in the mid to lower 50 lb range on a fairly stiff racquet, and it was pretty jarring on the arm. This is not surprising since I typically string polys in the mid-40s. For this test I strung my racquet at 44/42 lbs, and I pre-stretched it to find a more comfortable and consistent feel. I found a much better feel on the arm, even if I hit slightly outside the sweetspot."
Control - Score: 90
With its excellent control, ALU Power Rough was designed to unlock the lightning fast topspin mechanics of the modern power game. According to Chris, mission accomplished. He said, "There's good reason this string is so popular on the pro tour; the level of control is awesome. I felt dialed in on every shot. I loved the way I could be very aggressive with my swing and still consistently find my targets. The level of spin I was finding had me feeling like I had pinpoint control from the baseline and on serves. The string offered a clean and crisp feel at the net that helped me find my targets with great consistency."
Though occasionally having trouble calibrating the trajectory, Andy still found decent control. He said, "The massive amount of spin I was able to get out of this string enabled me to control the ball well. Even though the ball seems to come off at a higher trajectory than normal because of the bite, if I accelerated and finished my swing the ball would dive down at the last moment and I did not lose control. However, I did feel that when I did not use a full, fast stroke, the ball would sail on me a bit and I would lose some control. Due to the massive bite the string has on the ball, I sometimes felt the response off the stringbed was not as consistent as a non-textured string."
Troy was able to make the exceptional control last longer through pre-stretching. He said, "The first time I tried this string, without pre-stretching it, I felt that control was superb for about the first 2-3 hours of hitting time, but then the tension dropped, and my control dropped with it. When the tension dropped my baseline shots were less predictable, and I found the ball flying long on occasion. It was a complete turnaround when I pre-stretched the string. I had great control for roughly 10-12 hours of play! I was getting a little less power initially compared with my first try with this string, but the improved control throughout the test was much appreciated."
Playability Duration - Score: 87
Though Luxilon ALU Power Rough lost its fair share of tension over the course of the playtest, the playability remained quite high for Andy. He said, "I felt the tension maintenance was average, but the playability remained good for a long time. It's been in my racquet for over two weeks now, and it still feels great. It almost seemed to get livelier and easier on my arm as it loses tension."
Chris got more distance than usual out of this string. He said, "I had no issues going my requisite two weeks with this string. I like it when I can get a solid two weeks of hitting out of a monofilament, and I kept this one in my racquet for a full three weeks without issues. Yes, playability dropped off, but the drop was not dramatic and the string only began to feel harsh to me for the last hitting session or so."
Players who think that polys lose playability too quickly might want to follow Troy's lead. He said, "The times I have tried this string without any pre-stretching I felt like the string played great for about five hours, then it loosened up and control became sporadic. By pre-stretching I found the playability to just about double, getting a solid 10 hours of good control and consistent tension."
Overall - Score: 85
What type of player would you recommend this to?
Andy -- "I would recommend this string to players with long, fast strokes who can generate their own pace, but want a string to help them add spin to their game. If you've had a history of arm problems this probably isn't the string for you since it is pretty stiff, but if you're a free swinging player with a modern game, it's definitely worth a try."
Chris -- "I think this string is best suited to a strong, advanced level player who wants to add a lot of control and spin to power hitting. While you don't have to be a pro player to use this string, being on your A game certainly helps. Basically, if you're into exploring areas of the stringbed other than the sweetspot then you're not going to be having a good time with this string -- or any other poly, for that matter."
Troy -- "I would recommend this to poly players looking for a string with better than average ball pocketing and power. It would also be good for players looking for a string that grips the ball well, allowing them to hit dipping topspin shots."
Chris - "I liked the spin, control, feel and overall response of this string. I also liked how long it lasted in my racquets."
Andy - "I liked the lively feel and the amount of spin I was able to obtain using this string. I also liked how the playability lasted a long time."
Troy - "This poly packs a good punch! It offered more ball pocketing than most other co-polys on the market."
Chris - "None. I could go and play a tournament tomorrow with this string in my racquets and be perfectly happy."
Andy - "Even though I liked the bite and spin this string offered, I felt like the string grabbed the ball almost TOO MUCH. The response off the stringbed felt inconsistent because sometimes the ball would really grab and other times it wouldn't. I want to feel confident knowing that my ball is going to do the same thing off the strings each and every time."
Troy - "Tension loss and loss in control happened too quickly until I pre-stretched it, then I had no complaints!"
Comparing the string to others they've tried, our testers said:
Chris - "It's kind of odd comparing this to other strings as all too often other strings are being compared to it. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then ALU Power Rough should be blushing beet red and not silver in color. I would say Solinco Tour Bite comes closest, with Babolat's Pro Hurricane Tour being a slightly firmer alternative. My regular go-to, Volkl Cyclone 16 Black, is not too far removed, and I'd hazard a guess they'd play much closer if they both came in black, which I've found tends to both deaden and soften the power of polys."
Andy - "It feels a lot like ALU Power with it's lively feel, but the textured feature gives it a feel similar to Kischbaum Super Smash Spiky (but livelier)."
Troy - "I find this string to play very similar to one of my all time favorite strings, Volkl Cyclone, in regards to ball pocketing and power. I find ALU Rough to be more powerful than most co-polys, but not quite as spin friendly as Babolat RPM Blast, Poly Star Energy or Kirschbaum Pro Line X. This is a very impressive string when pre-stretched and strung at a low tension."
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
Playtester String Setups
Playtest Racquet: Yonex RDX 500 Mid
Playtest Tension: 54 lbs.
Typical String: Babolat RPM Blast 16
Playtest Racquet: Donnay Pro One OS
Playtest Tension: 57 lbs.
Typical String: Volkl Cyclone 16
Playtest Racquet: Wilson BLX Six.One 95 (18x20)
Playtest Tension: 42 lbs.
Typical String: Volkl Cyclone 17
Review date: October 2012. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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