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Paddle Review: Head Radical Tour Series

by Kyle Williams on

Head Radical Tour and Tour CO

Introduction

Head Pickleball has introduced two new paddles to their Radical line with the Radical Tour Graphite (GR) and the Radical Tour CO. These two paddles emphasize power with added stability due to their new Control Stabilizer Technology. Both paddles feature a Spin On texture on the face to increase the grit and spin potential. The only difference between these new offerings is the face material with the Radical Tour GR having a Graphite/Carbon Hitting Surface and the Radical Tour CO having a Composite Hitting Surface. These paddles are built for the modern Pickleball player who wants to have access to power but also good control and spin when they need it. Do these two new paddles fit that player's preference? That’s what I spent this play test trying to find out.

Out of the box my first impression of these paddles was that they are well built and have a thinner core than many of the control paddles on the market today. The texture on the face was evident and felt like it would grab the ball on my spin shots. I initially worried about the painted on face texture as many of the paddles using this type of grit lose their spin ability over time. At the end of the play testing though much of the texture was retained on both paddles. The grip felt good and fit into the hand well. Even with some light bouncing of the ball on the paddle it was evident that there is a big difference between the two face materials. I also appreciated the slightly elongated face and thought it would fit into my play style well.

Control - 5/5 Radical Tour | 4/5 Radical Tour CO

The graphite and carbon face really shines in the control category for the Head Radical Tour GR. The feedback that you get from the paddle when taking net shots really adds to the control and you can feel the ball settle into the face of the paddle as you are making your dinks. It really feels like this paddle was built for the control player that wants to add a little bit of extra speed to their game. There is great consistency to the feel of the shots off of all different parts of the face of the paddle and it seemed to limit my mishits.

In contrast, the Radical Tour CO feels like a very stiff platform to play with at the net. The paddle doesn’t allow the ball to settle into the face and the volleys come off the paddle much quicker. It takes a little getting used to to adapt the soft game to this bazooka of a paddle. You are able to get good control from this paddle once you adjust to the feel of the ball coming off the face, and because it is such a stiff platform it feels very consistent. Just consistently quick as you play your point out.

Control and Power are the two categories where the differences of these two paddles are really highlighted. The Graphite/Carbon face provides a softer foundation that will give you the confidence to keep your balls low over the net. The Composite face will challenge your ability to adapt to a powerful face material but once you do adapt, the consistency of the pop will allow you to enhance your net play with a little extra power.

Get your HEAD Radical paddle and experience Ultimate Power!

Power - 4/5 Radical Tour | 5/5 Radical Tour CO

With what I found in the control category the roles are reversed in the power category. The Radical Tour GR required a little more paddle head speed to achieve the same power. The ability of the paddle face to absorb the ball into the graphite takes away from some of the top end speed. This paddle is no dud though, there is plenty of power potential and anyone coming from a thicker cored true control paddle will still find lots of extra power in this offering.

A rocket ship of a paddle is how I describe the Radical Tour CO. From the first games playing with this paddle it was apparent that this was built for speed. You can really feel how stiff the face material is when you are initially playing with this paddle. As you grow more accustomed to the feel of the ball shooting off the face your control ability improves but it does take a little bit of time. Singles players and those looking for maximum pace off the face of their paddle will really appreciate the feel of the Radical Tour CO.

Both of these paddles were developed as power offerings from Head and the differences are certainly most stark when comparing them side by side. For those that came to these paddles because they really want a power offering will appreciate the Radical Tour CO. For a more well rounded paddle that allows for some increased speed but don’t want to lose the control that they have developed, they will prefer the Radical Tour GR.

Touch and Spin - 4/5 Radical Tour | 4/5 Radical Tour CO

Both of these paddle benefit from the Spinon technology applied to the face material. Head describes this as a specially developed lacquer that is applied to the face of the padde. I worry about any texture that is applied after the fact on a paddle face as so many have very short lives. Head seems to have bucked that trend with these two paddles as at the end of the play testing there is still significant texture at the sweet spot of both of these paddles. I appreciate the innovation and I hope this is something we can see solve much of the wear issues.

The spin that can be obtained off of both of these paddles is very good. In addition to the spin created by the texture the feel and the touch to the handle creates confident shots. This combination allows for my backspin cuts and top spin rolls to feel enhanced by the paddle and not limited by the surface. We have seen some great innovation in this category over the past year and I think Head has added to pushing the options of the player forward.

Aesthetic - 4/5

I really like the way these two paddles look, the explosion or space travel aesthetics is something unique. I prefer the colorway of the Radical Tour CO in its more subtle grey over black but I do appreciate the red over black of the Radical Tour GR as well. Throughout the play testing I noticed only limited chipping to the paint of the paddle and it feels like the longevity of these two paddles is enhanced with the build quality.

Final Conclusion - 17/20

Head Pickleball has really thrown their hat into the ring of modern paddles with the Radical Tour GR and Radical Tour CO. I really enjoyed my play testing with these two paddles and found that depending on the type of game that I was playing I could enhance either my top end speed or control by picking the right stick. I gravitated more toward the Radical Tour CO for my singles games and really found the extra pop off the face of the paddle to be a benefit to those long ground stroke rallies. Up at the net though the Radiacal Tour GR really shined and allowed for lots of control of the ball when keeping it low. There was good spin potential on both paddles and although I didn’t get to spend six months seeing how long the surface texture lasted I was impressed to see it still tacky after the play testing.

So who are these paddles for? Players who like the feel of a very stiff foundation in their hand and want all their hand speed transferred to the ball on contact will really appreciate the Radical Tour CO. The Radical Tour GR is still for the player that wants to add some pace to the ball and likes the feel of a fast overhead but wants a little extra feel at the net. If you wanted to transition to these paddles and you are coming from a thick cored control paddle I would suggest starting with the Radical Tour GR and then moving to the Radical Tour CO if you want even more power.

For me it is exciting to see the innovation in the Pickleball paddle space and Head has pushed the boundaries with these new paddles. Looking forward to what is next from them.

Specs - Pricing

The Head Radical Tour GR and Radical Tour CO have a retail price of $134.95. This is a great price for these two paddles as the other offerings in this category can be as high as $200. I didn’t have any indication that the longevity of these paddles would be any less than other offerings so their ability to keep the price more reasonable is appreciated.

Tour GR
The Radical Tour GR is made for the powerful player who needs stability as well. In addition to its graphite hitting surface, it features the new Control Stabilizer Technology (CST) for added stability during powerful rallies. HEAD's Graphite Hitting Surface (GHS) combines a crisp feel and more control for added touch, while the Comfort Grip System ensures a tremendous feel and enhanced vibration dampening.

Tour CO
The Radical Tour CO is made for the powerful player who needs stability as well. In addition to its composite hitting surface, it features the new Control Stabilizer Technology (CST) for added stability during powerful rallies. HEAD's Composite Hitting Surface (CHS) combines a soft feel and more power for added comfort, while the Comfort Grip System ensures a tremendous feel and enhanced vibration dampening.

MATERIALS:
PP + GF

THICKNESS:
15 mm / 3/5 in

WEIGHT:
230 g / 8.1 oz

LENGTH:
408 mm / 16 in

WIDTH:
198 mm / 7 7/8 in

GRIP SIZE:
105 mm / 4 1/8 in, 98 mm / 3 7/8 inj

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