Info for Your Squashgame

UK Magnum Range

Published: 12 Nov 2008 - 18:50 by Adz

Updated: 10 Jan 2009 - 01:24

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OK, so the heading of the post is not just about one racquet but 3!

I was fortunate enough to spend some time talking to one of the top guys from Ashaway earlier in the year and we got into discussion about the new Black Knight range of racquets. At the time David Palmer had just started using them for competition and they had a few sneak previews on hand for me to have a nose at.

So it's now 10 months down the line and a close friend of mine broke his Wilson N-Code and was looking for a replacement. I knew that the Black Knight range had just gone on sale and tlaked him into buying a couple (he was with me when I saw the sneak previews!),

I have to say that my first opinion is that this brand could make some major moves in the racquet sector. They have the backing/partnership of Ashaway, who I would consider to be one of the best 2 stringing manufacturers in the world (the other being Tecnifibre, but I have to admit to being a huge Ashaway fan!). The racquets have clearly been designed with the player in mind. Even down to the descriptions in the catalogues that come with unstrung weight AND swing weight to let you know how the racquet is going to feel in use as well as in hand.

So back to the review......

There are 3 racquets belonging to the core "Magnum" range, each with slightly different characteristics due to the string type used (Yes, strings DO make a difference!!).

1) Magnum Lava (Black and Flourescent Pink)

Yes you read that description correctly! This racquet is what I would call "Punk Pink". A real stand out shocking colour that will make some people turn away in disgust, but don't let the bold colours fool you. The racquet weighs in at 140g with a swing weight of 135g (I'm assuming unstrung!). There is a 475cm2 string area and a similar shape to your standard Dunlop racquets (oval head, similar size). The frame guides give a Stiffness rating of 90, but I'm unsure how this would compare with other major brands in terms of numbers, but I can tell you a bit more about them from my experiences.

The friend of mine mentioned above had two of the Lava models. These come with Ashaway Powernick 18 Red pre-strung to a relatively firm tension. Upon inspection of the racquet (getting past the bold colours!) most people are drawn to the particularly odd shaft design. Unlike most racquets that have a uniform shaft, the Magnum range appears to bulge outwards. A little odd, but I like racquets that have a bit of character and stand out, so it made no difference to me. Now I'm not sure if this design has any shock absorbing properties, but the racquets don't seem to vibrate that much compared with say the Dunlop Aerogel series. They do have some flex in the frame (not as much as the Dunlop ICE series), but nothing more than expected out of any light metallic object used to hit something very fast!!

What really impressed me was the difference in control I got when moving from a Dunlop ICE Elite to one of these racquets. Maybe it was the less flex in the frame? Maybe it was the slightly smaller head size? Maybe it was a combination of both? But one thing for certain is that I could land the ball on a 10p piece using this racquet. I was so impressed I bought three for myself the next day...... but I fancied something a little different!

 

2) Magnum Corona (Black and Flourescent Yellow)

Yes, this racquet does look like something you'd use during a fire drill in work as the yellow is really THAT bright, but as I mentioned, I like racquets with character and didn't want to end up with the same models as my friend who plays in the same team! Yes I am a fashion victim and wouldn't turn up to a party in the same shirt that someone else wearing.

So back to the racquet at hand..... the Corona. What I didn't mention in the previous section was that the Powernick 18 Red strings are quite dense and seem to make the racquet slightly closer to an even balance feel. The Corona doesn't come with the Powernick 18s, it comes with the new Supernick Micro XL strings, which as you might have guessed already are a wonderful FLOURESCENT YELLOW colour! Now these strings are THIN. And I mean super-model thin. And soft! This makes them feel lighter than the powernick 18s and the racquet becomes more of a head light feel. But the bite these strings have on the ball is possibly the best thing I've ever known on a squash court, but sadly for every plus point there is a draw back. Within one match of play they had almost worn through, and please keep in mind that I'm the type of player who can go 6 months without breaking a string. After 2 hours on court the Supernick Micro XLs looked like someone was very delicately cutting them with a knife. They were frayed in the entire sweet-spot, and more worryingly they were almost cut right through at the dead center of the racquet face. I'm guessing 2 hours of hard play and these strings would have snapped right through.

But....... BUT!!!!

I'm adding this in defence of these strings....... they are amazing! The cut the ball perfectly. The give reasonable power for a soft string. But most importantly they allowed me to put spin into the ball with the slightest of head movements. Why is this important??? Try hitting the ball along the wall with the right spin and it sticks like glue. Try a low drive/kill shot with the right spin and it hugs the floor without sitting up. I was extremely impressed.

 

Sadly it wasn't to be, as even stringing for myself I wasn't going to risk having to restring my racquets after every match...... that can get expensive! So naturally I changed the strings which leads me into my thrid model..........

 

 

3) Magnum Frost (Black and White paintwork)

Even though I haven't actually used a "Frost" model I've added this review as the strings it comes with match the strings I put in my Coronas, effectively making them the same as a Frost. Now for those of you put off but my descriptions of the bold paintwork on the previous two models, take a look at the Frost. In a more modest black and white finish, the Frost looks quite understated next two the other models of the range. I think this is the "safe" colour scheme, as some people can be alienated by colours and put off by the flourescents.

This racquet comes with Ashaway Supernick XL Pro strings, which are a thicker guage than the Supernick Micro XLs but are still quite a soft design. The effect is that the strings make the racquet still feel quite even balanced, and loses some of the cut into the ball (compared with the SUpernick Micros!).

 

 

Ultimately these racquets feel great and have definately moved to the top of list of recent years. I might even throw up an opinion that I think they are the best £ for £ racquet on the market today.

 

Why do I say that? These racquets retail at £60!!!!! That's not an internet discount price. That's the normal retail price! You get Dunlops with recommended prices over double that and they don't feel anywhere near as good! If Black Knight can make the breakthrough into the general public sports retailer (someone like JJB sports) then we could be looking at the next brand to make it big in the squash world.

 

If you don't believe me then I urge anyone to find someone with these racquets and have a go for themselves! Yes they won't suit everyone, but no racquet ever does! But for someone who likes Dunlops, or maybe the Grays Powerflow Elite or maybe the Titan Tour Mk2 etc...... Give these a try and you won't be disappointed.........

 

 

Cheers!

 


Adz

 

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Replies...

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From ferris69 - 10 Jan 2009 - 01:24

I played with the Ion Storm in 2 matches and just couldn't get on with it at all. Admittedly i hadn't bother to restring it but it just didn't feel right and can't really explain why! Same as the technifibre green one that Alister Walker plays with.

Anyway, it's back to my old Metallix!

 

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From Adz - 10 Jan 2009 - 01:01

Okies...... Adding to my earlier post........

 

It's now been a week since I wrote that post and I've been on court 3 times, each with a different string or tension. I have to admit I'm REALLY struggling with the ION Drive.

The frame feels like the perfect amount of stiffness and weight for me, and my timing has become spot on with regard to striking or touch, but the strings are driving me nuts! I just can't find the right string type and tension for this racquet.

I tried the original Supernick Pro that comes with the racquet and it felt ok, just a little loose. So I re-strung it in the same string but at a higher tension and it felt awful. I looked through my stringing reels trying to pick something that ticked the boxes and came up short. The only thing that stood out was a cheap tecnifibre rip-off (1.25mm "Powerfibre"??). Tried that at the lower tension and it felt ok, but a little too loose again. So I went for the same string in a tighter tension and it was awful once again!!!!

So I'm due to go on court for doubles in about 2 1/2 hours and last night I went back to the Powernick at the lower tension to give it a go. In the magnums I just couldn't get the touch right with Powernick, but I'll have to see if the ION Drive is a little different due to the stiffer feel in the frame (reminds me of the Aerogel Tour I used to use!).

Hopefully this will solve my stringing problem, but it has made me realise just how fussy I am about strings and frame types!! Hopeless really!

 

Cheers

 

Adz

 

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From rippa rit - 06 Jan 2009 - 10:55   -   Updated: 06 Jan 2009 - 10:56

Looking at the Black Knight Magnum range in the Squashgame Squash Shop:

  • In the UK Shop there are three models (the ones mentioned by Adz in his post), each model the same price, very slight reduced to about 59 pounds.
  • In the US Shop there are nine models (including the three above) and some at a third to twenty percent reduced price, ranging from $119.95 to $169.95.

Black Knight was big in Canada when I spent a couple of sessions at the Royal Glenora Club in the 90's. They never really took off in Australia, probably because of the lack of promotion and the number of existing competitors in the market. 

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From rskting - 06 Jan 2009 - 05:56

Hi guys, Canada here, we got lots of blacknight. I was pretty sure the bk rep was on this forum? no? Anyways, BK's are awesome racquets- the paintjob, bag, and strings are a really attractive package and the racquet range is wide. Not like other manufacturers with only one or two head shape but different weight,  BK has 5 or 6 distinct racquet shapes and sizes (magnum, c2c, chameleon, 2120's, ion, viper), and WITHIN the product line has different weights and or strings. BK is like 4 manufacturers. Dunlop only has one head shape (square), Head has two (square and a teardrop), prince has only one (fan/tearshape), and technifibre has three. I'm liking the new tecnifibre I got, and can always buy a BK online without hesitation. oh, I feel like buying a couple of racquet right now but I've got 8 in my bag already! Dont get me started on shoes..oh, do get me started on shoes- Asics are the top of my list, Prince is very very close second (less shock, but otherwise great), other shoes are simply not made for squash and cause sprained ankles (heel too high Nike, Reebok), or black toes (toe box small - mizuno) or too soft (poor lateral sliding- Yonex, head).

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From mike - 03 Jan 2009 - 10:37

Thanks Adz, you answered most of my questions by email earlier anyway

Due to non-availability of the new BK range in Aus, I went with a Karakal EVO 4SL (nearest available to the EVO4T I had before).

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From Adz - 02 Jan 2009 - 22:17

Mike,

Really sorry for the delay in replying to you..... I hadn't even realised you'd written the last post! Must have missed it on the feed.

 

Anyhow, in answer to your questions....... Yes the main difference, to my knowledge, is the string type used in each racquet (and of course the colour variants). I'm afraid I'd honestly have no clue as to how they'd feel with the Tecnifibre stringing, as I rarely use them myself (unless I hit an emergency!). But I would hazard a guess that the X-one would have the same cutting effect as the Micro, and the 1.2mm 305 would play similar to a cross between the powernick and the supernick XL Pro (e.g. quite powerful but softer than the powernick).

 

I've since tried using the ION Drive racquet and have to say that it felt like quite a different animal altogether!

Maybe it was because I had 2 weeks off over xmas with an injury, or maybe it's because the racquet felt a bit stiffer than the magnums, but the ION Drive really messed up my game at first.

Catching the ball perfectly in the sweet-spot and it flew off the racquet like a powerball. I've never hit such effortlessly powerfull shots. The head speed was so fast I spent the first 5 mins completely mis-timing the ball, and once I'd got back under-control the racquet seemed to do all the work for me.

 

Now this was the first time I'd used this model and had the factory strung XL Pro strings which were at a much lower tension than I normally use. So I'm unsure as exactly why I had such difficulty in getting the racquet under control, but once I did it allowed a great combination of power and control. The touch element was great, but it did feel a little harsh when hitting off center.

 

Could be worth a look if you prefer a slightly stiffer feel to your frames?

 

Cheers

 

 

Adz

 

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From mike - 07 Dec 2008 - 18:37

Adz, it seems as though the main difference between these three models is the string used (and therefore the balance too). Would you care to hazard an opinion about how they'd feel with Technifibre 305/X-One or 225s strings?

Are they still likely to have the great control you mentioned? (Apart from the extreme cutting of the Micro strings of course)

 

I think I tend to (try and) prioritise control when I play, but I do want to be able to get power when I need it.

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From aprice1985 - 28 Nov 2008 - 05:50

and you mentioned how much more control they had than the dunlops, what about power, i play with a prince more game (for now!) how would these racquets compare power wise?

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From ferris69 - 28 Nov 2008 - 00:48

If anyone is interested i can get the Ion Storm for £79.99.

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From aprice1985 - 27 Nov 2008 - 22:12

How forgiving are these racquets if you hit off centre?  Also are they all basically the same racquet just with different strings?

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From Adz - 27 Nov 2008 - 18:14

Snuffy: I've had a swing with the ION Drive and Storm, but I haven't played with them before.

 

Rita: Now I'm intrigued!!

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From rippa rit - 27 Nov 2008 - 13:48   -   Updated: 27 Nov 2008 - 13:59

Adz - you will know tomorrow why I asked about the price.  I did not ask for the supplier!! just the price.... that is OK ..Thanks.

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From snuffy - 27 Nov 2008 - 09:03

Hey Adz,

Have you tried any other BK series racquets?

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From Adz - 26 Nov 2008 - 19:02

Erm....... Not meaning to place adverts on the forum, but they are available for £59.99 direct from the Ashaway.co.uk website.

 

There are other sources out there (Quite a few sport shops and ebay), but I would always recommend that you buy these direct as they have a nice "12 month manufacturers warranty" against faulty materials should anything "un-natural" happen to the racquets. You only get to save a tiny bit going through a 3rd party (about £3-5), and I can just imagine the hassle of trying to get something faulty exchanged on ebay should something go wrong.

The customer service of Ashaway is excellant and I normally have my racquets 2 days after point of order (e.g. I ordered a rell of string and 1 racquet on Monday and they should be arriving today - Weds).

 

Cheers

 

Adz

 

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From rippa rit - 26 Nov 2008 - 08:07

Adz - if it is'nt a rude question.  What did you pay for those Magnum bats?

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From snuffy - 26 Nov 2008 - 07:48

Thanks Adz for the review. Its much appreciated.  I agree that BK have excellent quality racquets, but their PR can improve. I'm from Canada, where BK was founded and they are not readily avaliable in the major stores.

 

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From ferris69 - 13 Nov 2008 - 20:38

I've just got myself one of the Ion Storms (having played with Dunlop Ice Tours and Head Metallix for the last few years) and i have to say it's very nice. Admittedly i haven't tried it in a match yet but only for a half hour hit on my own. It does vibrate a bit more than the other rackets but feel powerful enough to me and the touch feels nice. 

I'm not a huge fan of Ashway strings myself and the Powernick it comes with seems far too tight. I will be stringing it myself in the next few days in Tecnifibre X one biphase as this is my favourite string.

As for prices, i charge £18 for Powernick which seems to be acceptable to the guys who like it at our club.

Anyway. although being happy with my Metallix rackets i feel it is time for a change and like the slightly smaller head of the Black Knight which should give a better touch which is what my game needs.

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From Adz - 13 Nov 2008 - 19:59

Mike,

 

Those string prices seem about right to me of what I'd expect people to charge. I did 5 racquets last night and it took about 2 1/2  to 3 hours including stencils (but I was watching a movie at the same time!!). It works out about £20 labour for me per hour which is graet for something I do almost as a hobby.

As for the ION Storm, I'd agree that power is a bit tricky, but this can be overcome with the right type of stringing at the right tensions. Just takes a bit of time and investment to get it right the first time!

 

Cheers!!

 

Adz

 

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From mike - 13 Nov 2008 - 12:19

Good review Adz, thanks for the thorough write up.

I'm also interested in that shining Ion Storm Palmer has been using. I did see one brief review on at online shop. The buyer felt it took at advanced player to get power out of it, but that they were great for touch. This fits with Palmer's drop shot style...he seems to gently guide the ball above the tin and towards the side wall.

Regarding stringing prices, I pay $40 AUD (~£17) to have a racquet strung in Technifibre multifillament, or about $20 AUD (£9) if I supply my own string.

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From Adz - 13 Nov 2008 - 00:50

Weiran,

 

I sold my 3 aerogels and bought 4 Elite ICE racquets, then sold them to buy 3 Black Knight raquets. Where do you get your racquets strung for that price?? It's extortionate!! I string Powernick 18 Red for people @ £16 per time with a discount when stringing more than 1 racquet.

 

I can't understand how other people charge so much for stringing when I make £10 a time myself!! On a good day is takes 25-30 mins on a bad day 40 mins per racquet. On average about 30 mins per racquet making £20 per hour. How can anyone justify more than that for stringing a racquet???

 

If you keep getting stung for that amount, you can post them to me and I can return for £8 postage and still come in under the £25 mark!! (It cost me £3.80 to send a racquet 1st class recorded yesterday!).

 

Scary stuff!

 

Find out how much they'd charge you if you provided the string (should be about £8 to £10) and give me a shout!! I know a few places to get string from which might work to your advantage!

 

Cheers

 

Adz

 

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From weiran - 12 Nov 2008 - 22:47

Cheers for the review Adz. It's very difficult to find reviews of Black Knight racquets as there doesn't seem to be many players using them or places selling them. The only contact I've had with one is a brief swing at the World Champs this year of an Ion Storm, which had a very close balance to my Dunlop Aerogel.

Coming prestrung with Powernick 18 is great as it saves the £20-25 it costs to do so (I can't string myself). Dunlop stock strings give no feeling at all and seem to transfer a lot of vibration back. I've found medium-low tension Powernick 18 gives the best overall performance of the strings I've tried and I'd love it if Dunlop started stringing with that instead!

I'll definately look into BK the next time I'm in the market for a racquet, although I have 3 Aerogels (2x Tour and 1x Ultimate) that I can't really justify replacing until I break them!

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