Playtest: HEAD RIP PerfectPower
By Greg Raven
BRAND & MODEL
RIP PerfectPower is the newest string in HEAD’s line-up, designed to be their top string for players seeking more power. HEAD’s other power strings include IntelliString, RIP Ti.Fiber, and FiberGEL Power. To give players more power, HEAD tells us they have engineered a new core construction to this multi-core, multi-wrap string to enable maximum energy return.
Internally, RIP PerfectPower has a PowerCore wrapped with ribbons using HEAD’s RIP (Ribbon Improved Performance) technology. PowerCore is made of more than 1250 polyamide fibers arranged in five bundles. These bundles are densely braided together to maximize elasticity for power and performance. The ribbon wraps are made of a new, softer co-polyolefine material which provides a more comfortable elastic feel. HEAD further believes that RIP PerfectPower minimizes tension loss, which in combination with the elasticity gives superior playability.
HEAD RIP PerfectPower is available in 16 gauge (1.31 mm) in white. It is priced from $13.50 for sets of 40 feet. For more information or to order, contact HEAD at 800-289-7366, or visit HEAD on-line.
Our test coil measured 40 feet 8 inches. The diameter measured 1.38 mm to 1.41 mm prior to stringing, and 1.29mm to 1.35 mm after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 69 RDC units immediately after stringing at 60 pounds in a Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16 × 18 pattern) on a constant pull machine. After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed stiffness measured 64 RDC units, representing a 7% tension loss. Our control string, Prince Synthetic Gut Original Gold 16, measured 78 RDC units immediately after stringing and 71 RDC units after 24 hours, representing a 9% tension loss. HEAD RIP PerfectPower added 15 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.
Tested for five weeks by 24 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.5 to 5. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages, to reduce preconceptions and biases regarding manufacturers, type of construction, and materials. Average number of hours playtested was 31.
Our playtesters had a little trouble stringing RIP PerfectPower. Although it looks and feels almost like an aramid string out of the package, it retains a fair amount of coil memory, and it’s soft enough that you might have to re-trim the end when negotiating blocked holes. Although the surface has a fairly strong texture to it, it also has an almost waxy feeling, which made it nice when pulling crosses, and when pulling the string through blocked holes for that matter. The braiding of the RIP wraps makes the string feel almost armored, and not at all fragile. One other nice aspect of RIP PerfectPower is that it seems barely to elongate while you are pulling tension, which is unusual for a highly-elastic string.
No playtester broke his sample during stringing, 14 reported problems with coil memory, one reported problems tying knots, and 2 reported friction burn.
This may be a power string, but our playtesters also loved its durability. Twenty-one out of 23 of our playtesters found RIP PerfectPower to be as durable or more durable than other strings of similar gauge, and they rated its durability and tension retention well above average overall. Based on the name, you probably expected our playtesters would give RIP PerfectPower an above-average rating for power. Well, you are correct, but it also rated above average for playability, control, and resistance to movement — not a bad combination. In fact, more than half of our playtesters indicated that they felt RIP PerfectPower played as well or better than the string with which they most often play.
HEAD seems to have hit the mark with RIP PerfectPower 16, which even outscored the impressive HEAD FiberGEL Power 16 playtest we published in December 2003. If you are looking for more power from your string but do not want to sacrifice durability, this may be the string for you.
HEAD is so convinced that you are going to like RIP PerfectPower, that they will be sending a free set to every USRSA member in the U.S. later this year.
“I absolutely love this string. I would push this string in the shop for top level players who like power and durability. It held tension and was resistant to movement, which was the best of both worlds, in my book.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Control Zylon strung at 62 pounds LO (Babolat Super Fine Play 17)
“I loved this string. It played well, felt good, and strung up just fine. It was a nice blend of control, feel, and durability. This string is a pleasure to play with.” 5.0 male serve and volleyer using Wilson Triad 6.0 strung at 65 pounds LO (Wilson NXT Tour 17)
“I am critical of string, but enjoyed this one. It lasted the whole playtest period, which is rare for me, with good feel.” 5.0 male all court player using HEAD i.X16 strung at 59 pounds CP (Prince Syn Gut 16)
“Plays great. Very comfortable. Good spin.” 4.5 male all court player using Volkl Tour 10 strung at 60 pounds CP (HEAD Intellitour 17)
“Great string. Excellent playability. Powerful, excellent touch, and soft feel. I would highly recommend this string. I would even consider leaving my old stand-by to change to this string. Reminds me of HEAD FiberGel.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson H5 strung at 62 pounds LO (Wilson Stamina 16)
“I love this string and am really looking forward to playing with it more.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Dunlop 300G strung at 60 pounds LO (Babolat Ballistic Polymono 16)
“This string would be one I would recommend to someone with arm problems. It was a comfortable string to play. The only problem I encountered was the tendency to kink up when stringing.” 5.0 male serve and volleyer using HEAD Liquidmetal Radical MP strung at 57 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)
“This string played very well. It was equivalent to the Prince Syn Gut with Duraflex. Extremely easy to install.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Dunlop 300G strung at 60 pounds LO (Luxilon Big Banger 16)
“This was a very interesting string. It seemed to offer more power. The ball seemed to jump off the string, decreasing feel and spin. Despite the negatives, the added power increased the pace on my serves and volleys. I would recommend this string to a serve-and-volleyer, or anyone looking for more pace.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson Triad 6.0 strung at 65 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation 16)
“I really enjoyed playing with this string. It has a great combination of playability and durability. The only downside is the extreme amount of coil memory when stringing. The string began to notch after six hours, but there was no adverse effect on play.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 Classic strung at 65 pounds CP (Prince Synn Gut with Duraflex 16)
“Some good qualities. I enjoyed the durability and the touch at net. I felt the playtest string had good feel on drop-shots and angled volleys. Overall, an above-average string for volleys.” 4.5 male serve and volleyer using Fischer Pro No 1 strung at 63 pounds CP (BDE gut 16)
“I liked this string. Stiff, yet soft. I would use it. Hard to string, but worth the hassle.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson Pro Staff 6.0 Original 85 strung at 58 pounds CP (Gosen Polylon 17)
“A few problems stringing with this sample. String is pretty stiff and coil memory is borderline excessive, but manageable. According to my own gauge, this appears to be thicker than most strings tested: 15L or a very thick 16. As expected, the string is quite durable while somewhat sacrificing control. There are several characteristics of this string that are somewhat better than most strings: Power, comfort, spin potential, and resistance to movement. Overall this feels like a real player’s string. In fact, it feels a lot like the string I normally use.” 5.0 male all court player using HEAD i.radical OS strung at 63 pounds LO (Gamma Synthetic Gut 16)
“After about three or four hours the strings started moving. However, I used a good bit of top spin.” 4.0 male all court player using Gamma 4.5 strung at 66 pounds CP (Gamma TNT 17)
“When I took the string out of the package the coil memory was so great it didn’t reach the ground while I was holding one end. The string had a tendency to kink. All coil memory disappeared after stringing about half the mains. Weaving the crosses was much more difficult than most string. I did not expect any elasticity, and was surprised when the string stretched a moderate amount during stringing. On court I was pleasantly surprised. This string had much better feel and power than I expected. It showed almost no wear after the test period, and held tension nicely. This seems like a good alternative for constant string breakers. It may be worth pre-stretching the mains to reduce some of the coil memory.” 4.5 male all court player using Volkl Catapult 7 strung at 50 pounds CP (Natural gut 16)
“This is a pretty good durability and control string. It held tension well and kept its original playability throughout the test. I would not recommend this string as a comfort or playability string.” 5.0 male serve and volleyer using Wilson Pro Staff Tour 90 strung at 60 pounds CP (Syn Gut Extreme 16)
“Very stiff string with great durability. It was somewhat easy to string. Notching was at a minimum. If I were a string breaker I would like this string. It didn’t have enough control or feel for me, though.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 Stretch strung at 61 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)
“This string was very difficult to handle. Though it felt like a Aramid string, it wasn’t nearly as stiff as I expected while pulling tension. Once I started hitting with it, it felt really comfortable and had nice control. The string broke in the third hour of play, though I’m not sure I can blame the string, as it broke on a nice mis-hit on my part. Given the chance I would buy a set to try again as it felt great for the short time I got to use it. I just wish it were easier to string with less coil memory.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Pro Kennex 7G strung at 68 pounds LO (Babolat Ballistic Polymono 17)
“This string has, by far, the most coil memory of any I’ve tested or used. It literally jumped out of the plastic bag it came it. It reminded me of the old Slinky® toy that used to leap-frog down a flight of stairs. The string has almost a cord-like feel to it during stringing. I thought the string’s playing characteristics were just a little below average. It did nothing in particular to distinguish itself, and seemed lacking in the areas of comfort, touch, and feel. It is just an okay string with no particular exceptional feature.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson Triad 5.0 strung at 60 pounds CP (Gamma LiveWire 16)
“Although I was pleased with the durability and resistance to movement, I was discouraged by the comfort, touch, and playability. This string was tough on my injury-prone elbow. I would only recommend this string to players who have string durability problems.” 5.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff 6.1 strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)
“Tension loss was noticeable after four hours. I really had to swing a lot harder to generate power due to extreme loss of tension; the stringbed was not responsive at all. Noticeable arm soreness and extra vibration feedback. Extra movement of strings that normally does not occur this early after stringing (two hours). String left a lot of extra residue on my hands after stringing. After two hours, the stringbed was not as responsive compared to other strings. I would recommend this to string-breakers on 4.5+ male players.” 5.0 female all court player using Dunlop 300G strung at 59 pounds CP (Prince Lightning XX 16)
“This is a very durable string. There was no appreciable notching of the core material of the mains, given this string has a somewhat thick, clear outer cover. It appears to hold tension well, also. Unfortunately, it lost its resiliency after about ten hours of play, and was spongy, losing power and feel completely at about 15 hours. This string does not have much more than durability to recommend itself. I would rather use a polyester for longevity purposes, if that was the criterion for selection. I was overjoyed to cut this string out of my racquet. I found it dull and boring, generally, and would not recommend it to any of my playing partners or customers. Straightening the strings after every point became quite a nuisance. I did not feel the strings worked the ball much, as a result. I get the impression the woven nature of the string is only for wear resistance because it has no similarities to any multifilament strings I am familiar with.” 3.5 male all court player using Prince Triple Threat Bandit OS strung at 63 pounds LO (Poly Polar / Prince Syn Gut 16)
“Not impressed.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson Hyper Hammer 4.0 OS strung at 60/57 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)
“I wasn’t impressed with the overall performance of this string. It played like a “dime-a-dozen” string.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince More Game MP strung at 62 pounds LO (Prince Lightning XX 17)
(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses.)
| EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings)
|about as easy||7|
|not quite as easy||8|
|not nearly as easy||5|
| OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to the string played most often)
|about as playable||4|
|not quite as playable||7|
|not nearly as playable||3|
| OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
|about as durable||8|
|not quite as durable||0|
|not nearly as durable||2|
|Resistance to Movement||3.3|
See all articles by Greg Raven
About the Author
Greg Raven is an associate editor for Tennis Industry magazine and technical writer. He is certified as a Master Racquet Technician by the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com, or through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. He plays tennis five days a week, and is turning into an avid cyclist.