“ Brand: Carlton / Type: Badminton Racket „
Over the years of playing badminton I have got through a number of rackets, and this Carlton Graphite Powerblade is my current 'main' racket. Carlton isn't a brand I've used much, as my preference was always Yonex, but this one was a Christmas present. A racket as a present is always going to be a bit hit and miss (pardon the pun) because your racket is a very personal preference - how it feels in terms of weight, materials, grip, strings etc. Fortunately my dad also plays and our tastes are pretty similar, so he had taken a key role in choosing the racket and got it spot on with this one.
The look of the racket is classy, but then all rackets look good to me! The head of the racket isn't perfectly rounded, its ever, ever-so-slightly squared off at the top 'corners' but this gives a good look and a nice hitting area. The colours are dark blue and silver, with shades in between, with a metallic sheen finish, so in my opinion it does look more expensive than it's actual price tag. The handle grip is black, with the carlton logo and wording on the shaft and the carlton logo sprayed onto the strings.
The shaft and head of the racket are a one-piece design, one moulding into the other, which I definitely prefer, and tends to be the norm for most 'decent' rackets these days. This arrangements means greater flexibility than the old traditional "T" junction.
Exploring the strings is for me (and I imagine for most players) the first thing I do when in possession of, or shopping for a new racket. Are they nice and tight? = good. Can you spread them easily? = bad. These strings were really tight and the tightness/tension of the strings is critical to hitting accuracy and power.
So far in use, the strings in this racket show no sign of wear and still retain their tension. This is something I did find with my Yonex rackets - by now (18 months) I would certainly have expected to at least have had a couple of broken strings, if not had a complete restring, but there is no sign of me either needing or wanting one with this Carlton racket yet. I guess it is inevitable that some of the tension will have gone by now, but I haven't detected it week-to-week. The grommets where the strings go through the frame are also all in tact and in good condition.
Weight and feel
Another of the things I always do when I get a new racket (or shopping for one) is to have an imaginary smash/swipe with it to see how it feels. This feels very flexible when you do this, and you get the impression of real power and control. Unfortunately for me, those are pretty much only impressions, rather than realities!!
The racket is made of lightweight graphite, and it weighs 100g, which I would consider quite light - there are far lighter rackets out there, more expensive, but in my price bracket, this is certainly one of the lighter rackets I've owned.
The balance of the racket when holding it loosely in the hand is perfect for me, you don't want a racket that's going to feel head-heavy, you need to feel like you have good control at fast speeds of smashing (they feel fast to me!), so this is a delicate design measurement.
The grip is 160mm long, which is a standard size, and 35x25mm diameter, the conventional octagonal shape. This size of grip is perfect for me, some players prefer a thicker grip, and additional grips can easily be added to reach your ideal grip size. The grip is manufactured well, there are slight signs of wear, which I would expect after constant sweaty usage, but there are no signs of it working loose are actually wearing out.
At my amateur/social level of badminton I have never spent a ridiculous amount of money on a racket, I usually work on a theory that less than £20 would be too cheap and more than £40 too extravagant. This racket fits into that bracket, it's online at £29.99, with a stated RRP of £59.99. I would imagine it was purchased for around the £30 mark at the time, as my dad owns one too and his budget is usually similarly spec'd to mine.
This has been a great racket to use and in view of how well the strings have lasted and held their tension it has given me confidence in the Carlton brand too. I always used to think their rackets were a bit more old fashioned somehow, and heavier but that view has been firmly put to bed since I've owned one. A great racket for the price.