We went from 17 gauge to 18 gauge string and it is awesome
Big power, big spin, big bite - all with comfort. So what's not to like?
After running Tour Bite Soft 17 gauge for a few years we thought we'd slim things down a bit for the spring and try 18 gauge.
We already covered the theoretical pros and cons here when we strung it up, but how's it going in real life, on the court?
With 9 sessions in the books on the new 18 gauge string it's safe to say we like it.
We like it a lot.
So could stepping up from 17 to 18 be a noticeable difference? Here's what we found.
First impression: It's alive
I wasn't expecting much going from 17 to 18, but on first hit I was like oh sh_t this has power.
Big power. And lively power too.
At 43 lbs tension the seemingly lifeless plastic string suddenly came alive, with some attitude. This attitude is a nod to it's big brother - the original Tour Bite which is loved by big swinging players across the globe.
I knew I was going to have to tame this beast, and would launch a few to the back fence. But I'm ok with that.
On the slice backhand approaches from mid court I was sailing some long so I had to be more careful to not over swing(which I have a problem with anyway). But what supports this power and makes it playable is spin - keep reading for that.
But let's cut to the chase, what about all the feels?
No one likes mushy apples, but we actually enjoy a good mushy poly.
Solinco Tour Bite Soft 16 and 17 is known for it's muted mush feel. It's actually a feeling I and many others have come to like over the years because of the comfort benefit. But it does lack in feedback.
Even though it has deep pocketing goodness at lower tensions, the actual feeling is muted and numb especially on the launch portion as the shock is distributed throughout the bed (and not into your arm)
But this 18 gauge felt even more towards the natty gut side of things with more feedback on the launch portion, and I think more of you will find that as the reason to use this string.
If you weren't a TB Soft fan in 16 or 17, this 18 gauge would be the one that makes you come back for more.
Not lacking on spin
All Tour Bite has good spin, and this 18 gauge from Solinco shows up ready to work with lunchbox in hand.
With the extra stretchy thinner material, the ball stretches the strings even further to create more potential energy for the snapback.
No gimmicks or tradeoffs here, there was good spin from the baseline and mid court at different swing speeds.
A slight increase in launch angle difference was noted, but nothing that couldn't be adjusted for. The biggest launch angle difference was felt on the slice backhand where the ball was getting a ton of air from the baseline.
What about all the bite? After all, this is Tour Bite we're talking about.
More bite on short balls
Sure I was expecting big bite as the thinner gauge sinks it's teeth deeper into the felt. Who wouldn't?
But it was actually most apparent on short balls when you have to lift the ball up and back down quickly. A problem area for my game, and probably yours.
This is where the 18 gauge really shined.
It gave extra confidence in less than ideal scenarios when going for those short wide flickers that I usually wouldn't go for unless the stars perfectly aligned.
The whole reason you use a soft poly in the first place is for the comfort.
And if you like to play a lot of tennis like I do, you need comfort.
And that's why we love soft strings, so we can keep playing forever. Endless sessions are what we live for.
Sure taking down a few ice-colds at the end of the session will help you not feel anything, but an injury is a buzz kill.
17 has always been plenty comfortable to me, especially on lower tensions. But the the thinner 18 gauge string makes it even better, even softer. It's smaller cross section makes it easier to stretch and conform to the ball.
If you liked the plushness of 17, you won't be disappointed with 18.
Sure longevity will be the issue with this string. It's thinner and will wear out faster - that's life.
Will it last long enough?
We've got a solid 3 weeks in and things are staying put and not moving around too much. But with a league match tomorrow I'm playing it safe and doing a restring right after this post.
So will you be trimming down for the warmer months or just stick to your normal routine?
Let me know what other strings you'd like tested and we'll be glad to try it!
See you on court.