Kawasaki Honor S6
Stiffness: Mid Flex
Balance: 286 mm
Frame: 201mm x 253mm
Strings: YONEX BG66 Ultimax
Key Technologies: 2 in 1 Frame (Box + Aero), Nanometric Carbon (Mitsubishi), Graphene Weaving Shaft, Extra thin shaft (6.5mm)
Baseline comparison: Yonex NR700FX, NR750, Victor Bravesword 12
I must say Kawasaki is heading in the right direction and streamlining their product range with exquisite packaging and better product resonance on the latest range of rackets such as high range King K9 and the mid high Honor S6 that is unseen in their previous releases albeit top range ones. The Honor S6 clearly does not disappoint with its equally impressively boxed packaging close to the exquisiteness of King K9. This certainly gives the oomph effect and an even deeper impression that they are getting more serious in their delivery. Slightly disappointed that it does not come with grip and strings as part of the packaging like King K9 does J. The racket is nicely designed with a decent paintjob around orange, green and black decals. The frame profile is a little on the thicker side typical of box+aero Yonex frames though not as thick as Yonex NR700FX. It seems to have a thinner box profile around 8 and 4 o’clock, aero frame in 9 and 3 o’clock and thicker box profile on the top part of the frame. Notice a prominent threaded surface on the extra thin shaft that gives a hint on the graphene weaving as advertised. A thing that hits me is the reported 4U specs yet weighing 86.5g (dry weight) with no strings.
Kawasaki rates the Honor S6 as mid flex and rightly so upon preliminary swings. However in continuation of the strange solid, stiff, crisp feel on a similarly mid-flex King K9 frame, Kawasaki manages to repeat the feat on Honor S6 albeit from a different perspective. Not sure if it is due to the additional graphene weaving over the Mitsubishi Nanometric carbon shaft or the quality of the Mitsubishi Nanometric carbon itself, it does remind of the original TK8000 and Bravesword 12 where one may feel a distinctive mid-flex feel yet coupled with a snappy, crispy repulsion totally unlike the conventional out and out mid-flex shafts (Eg: Yonex NR750, Duora 6, Glanz). This is a Box + Aero 2 in 1 frame widely used by Yonex rackets which somehow gave it a typical more solid Yonex feel than the rather powder puff Victor sword frames especially the Bravesword series which does not feel any solid materials in the entire structure (apologies to Victor fans). This is complimented by a pleasantly surprised extra slim shaft that gives more oomph in power, speed and control. It seems likely to be 6.5mm identical to top range Victor Thruster and Yonex VTZF2 and definitely slimmer than the reported 6.8mm as seen in the Victor HX and JS series. Honestly I have not seen any speed series with such a slim shaft and is eager to see how it plays.
Lobs/Clears: Base to base is typical minimal effort like the usual mid-flex rackets. Thing to note that it indeed did not feel like the typical flexi shaft that performs like a catapult but more of a solid, controlled, quick returning kind of repulsive feel with a large sweet spot, solid frame and crispy slim shaft that gives a feel like every inch of your hands. In my opinion, I believe the box frame profile in the top and bottom of the frame adds up to the solid feel. The aerodynamic feel is evident as intended by the aero frame at the centre and probably further enhanced by the extra slim shaft.
Control: I actually love the undemanding nature of this racket due to its mid-flex rating. The extra slim shaft gave bestowed an unparalleled uplift in control as compared to other speed rackets. Key reason being it is not overly fast or fluffy like 4U/5U Jetspeed or any of the lightweight series. It gives a relative solid and controlled swing that I felt in total control. It isn’t muted with obvious dampening to mask the hollowness or masquerade a solid feel. It gave me a feel there is indeed some decent material in there though this is nonetheless a mid-flex. In comparison to other parallel speed series from other big brands such as Victor, none of the Victor Bravesword series can give such a feel with the closest being Bravesword 11. It was improved in the Victor Jetspeed series though via better materials, technology as claimed but Kawasaki Honor S6 ratchets it up a notch. I guess the differentiator is very likely the extra slim graphene weaving shaft and a Yonex tested and proven solid Box + Aero frame. So it may not be an absolute parallel comparison since S6 is a conventional Box + Aero and Jetspeed/Braveswords are Aero + Sword. More lookup between the 2 manufacturers’ technologies revealed that Victor’s Aero sword is sharper and more similar to Kawasaki’s Hexagonal frame and Trapezium frame while Kawasaki’s Aerofoil frame is entirely oval like similar to Victor’s old Aerodynamic frame as seen in Superwave series.
Smashing: This is where I feel the Kawasaki design team is missioned to producing quality equipment. Casual players want easy access to power, all round capabilities, decent maneuverability without tiring out. The dry BP is ~286mm which is a borderline even balanced racket. No doubt this is a speed series, it certainly did not attempt to offset from any of the desired features. Equally adept at brute force smashing as well as precise flick smash (surprisingly), power is easily generated and once again this is where the extra slim shaft shines giving it better control, feel and precision. A very all-round mid-flex racket that is usually not easy to find in the market especially at this price point. Honestly I like Victor Jetspeed 10, and Honor S6, while it doesn’t have the stiffness of Jetspeed 10 and is not similar in totality to begin with because of the Aerosword frame vs Box+Aero frame, certainly doesn’t disappoints me. Maybe I am a just sucker for extra slim shaft J
Defense: Being a speed series, it has to be fast and rightly so. While Bravesword and Jetspeed series distinctively cut through the air with a sword like hexagonal frame, being a box + aero frame, S6 does not have such a feel. Instead it has a typical Yonex Arcsaber feel like Arc 7 and Arc 11. By no means inferior to the Victor sword frames, it is just as fast and solid just that it feels different from typical sword frames without the sword slashing sound. A problem with mid-flex rackets at least for me is the defensive repulsion. Usually these rackets while being very fast, doesn’t have the repulsion of a stiff frame to easily flick return off a defensive position. I didn’t feel that in Honor S6. It has a strange repulsive quick snapping feel which is usually absent on a mid-flex shaft. Must be the graphene and slim shaft at work
Net shot, front court: Net shot is a category that does not favour mid-flex speed rackets which I have to admit. While to me, it is already an outstanding speed racket with a bit of everything, it still cannot rival an absolute solid, stiff racket in terms of control and precision. But the all-round capabilities does make it smooth and easy and is just a matter of getting used to. No fuss at front court, simply fast and decisive and as advertised, resetting quickly for the next attack. The secret formula must be the graphene and slim shaft at work again
This racket is very all round and suitable to both brute force and wristy players. I must admit it may not be everyone’s cuppa since it seems that most people are looking for stiff shafts with the presumption that it is easier access to power. I have no doubts this is actually a 3U racket that feels and play like a 4U yet gives one the ease to thunder it down like a boxy 3U at times. It is also the exact thing that Honor S6 is not top tier and my go-to racket as I would still love something stiffer J However there are definitely times where such a racket be proved handy. The fact is a slightly flexi shaft requires lesser effort and that Honor S6 attempts to break the mould of such rackets by ideally combining graphene weaving technique and extra slim shaft to give such rackets another dimension that is pretty unique in the market. The advertised quick reset for the next attack slogan certainly proves its point and by no means glittering sweet marketing lingo. Despite not being a top range racket, the delivery in its packaging and build, simply reinforces the fact that Kawasaki is that serious in its delivery. It absolutely ooze confidence in their continuous ability to produce quality badminton equipment in the future. I was being informed that Kawasaki’s star rating does not equate to the class of the rackets but more on the price point. It is hard to fathom the logic behind this as I would believe star ratings resonates more to quality. Therefore the notion that Honor S6 is a mere mid-high tier racket may not be true after all.