Tennis Industry magazine

 

Playtest: Solinco Tour Bite

By Greg Raven

Solinco tells us that Tour Bite is a newly developed, high-performance, and versatile monofilament co-polyester string designed to generate extreme power, and intense spin and bite. According to Solinco, Tour Bite uses an innovative, proprietary composite formula of high-tech polyester resin compounded with new, performance enhancing additives. The distinct composition and make-up of Solinco’s co-polyester strings provide the basis for their unique feel and playing characteristics.

Solinco Tour Bite 17
Solinco Tour Bite 18

Solinco says its co-polyester strings use the most innovative and cutting-edge engineering procedures that involve the mastering of three or more separate heating and cooling stages. Each distinct stage is carefully executed at specifically designed temperatures, durations, and with specialized extrusion techniques and molds to improve specific playing characteristics of each string. Solinco even matches the material with the shape of the string for maximum performance.

Solinco tells us its strings are quickly gaining popularity. Solinco is the official string of the 2005 NCAA Champion UCLA Men’s Tennis Team, the 2006 NCAA Champion Pepperdine Men’s Tennis Team, Virginia Tech Men’s Tennis Team, and East Tennessee State University. Touring pros such as Kevin Kim, Lester Cook, Cecil Mamiit, and Leonardo Tavares have also adopted Solinco.

It is recommended for competitive and performance-focused players demanding the absolute highest levels of spin, bite, power, and control.

Tour Bite is available in 16, 16L, 17, and 18 gauges in silver only. It is priced from $11.50 for 40-foot sets, $155 for 656-foot reels. For more information or to order, email Solinco sales at sales@solincosports.com, or visit solincosports.com.

In the lab

We tested both the 17 and 18 gauges of Tour Bite. The coils measured 40 feet. We recorded stringbed stiffness immediately after stringing at 60 pounds in a Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16 x 18 pattern) on a constant-pull machine. We remeasured after 24 hours (no playing) for tension loss, as shown in the table. 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 percent tension loss.

Solinco Tour Bite 17 gauge 18 gauge
Diameter unstrung (mm) 1.22-1.25 1.18-1.20
Diameter strung (mm) 1.18-1.22 1.15-1.16
String weight (grams) 14 13
RDC stringbed stiffness new 74 72
RDC stringbed stiffness after 24 hours 68 66
Tension loss percentage after 24 hours 9 8
Number of playtesters 36 39

The string was tested for five weeks by USRSA playtesters with NTRP ratings from 3.5 to 6.0. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. We did advise playtesters to reduce tension by 7-12 percent compared to nylon, as recommended by Solinco.

Tour Bite seems more ornery to handle than other polys, but only a little. We had more problems weaving the last crosses than we did with coil memory.

Solinco Tour Bite 17 gauge 18 gauge
Broke during stringing 0 0
Excess coil memory 12 9
Difficulty tying knots 2 4
Friction burn 3 2

On the court

Solinco made it a good day to be a USRSA string tester. Tour Bite 17 finished with an incredible seven ratings of well above average in Playability, Durability, Power, Control, Spin Potential, Tension Retention, and Resistance to Movement. Of these, the results for Spin Potential make Tour Bite 17 the best string we’ve ever tested for Spin Potential. To back that up, Tour Bite 17 also came in 13th best in the Power category and 15th best for Resistance to Movement. The overall score for Tour Bite 17 was well above average.

Solinco Tour Bite 17 gauge 18 gauge
Average playtest duration 20.2 26.5
Broke during play 2 2
Breakage at (hours) 8, 15 5, 11

Not to be outdone, Tour Bite 18 also received ratings that were well above average for those same seven categories of Playability, Durability, Power, Control, Spin Potential, Tension Retention, and Resistance to Movement. Of these, the rating for Resistance to Movement was our 12th best result, and the rating for Tension Retention was our 14th best result. Tour Bite 18’s overall score was also 14th best of all the strings we’ve playtested for publication.

Conclusion

After looking at all the data and reading each of the comments, you’ll probably wish that we’d tested these strings one at a time, so you wouldn’t have to choose between them. Sorry. Not only is there little to separate these strings from each other, there’s little if anything to separate them from the top of the heap. Not bad for a string company that has been doing business in the U.S. for just over a year.

Playtester comments

Tour Bite 17

“Spin! Power! Control! I have found my new string.” 4.0 male all-court player using Babolat Pure Drive Roddick strung at 56 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Power Fluoro 17)

“This string has the bite of a Great White Shark! It’s Just as comfortable as my typical hybrid set up.” 4.5 male all-court player using Babolat Pure Drive Roddick strung at 54 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power Rough/Babolat Xcel 16L/17)

“Typically my arm cannot handle a full poly set up. Not so this string, which transmits less shock than normal.” 3.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Blade strung at 52 pounds CP (Tecnifibre NRG2 17)

“What an excellent poly! Spin potential is amazing. Very playable and arm friendly. Wow!” 4.5 male all-court player using Head MicroGEL Prestige Pro MP strung at 55 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power Rough/Head UltraTour 16L/17)

“This is a control string with a large, comfortable sweet spot. The interesting shape definitely promotes spin. Big spin. I’m not quick to jump on any bandwagon, but this is just a darn good string.” 3.5 male all-court player using Prince O3 Citron OS strung at 58 pounds CP (Luxilon Timo/Tecnifibre NRG2 17/17)

“Excellent control. Like the square groove of a golf club, this string bites! The possibilities are endless. It would make a great hybrid main for those in search of comfort and power.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson BLX Tour strung at 50 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power Rough 16L)

“Plays great from day one. High marks for power, comfort, and control. Reducing the tension is advised. I will stock this string!” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Volkl Power Bridge 10 (325g) strung at 54 pounds CP (Gamma Professional 18)

“This appears to be a shaped co-poly, which explains the massive spin and high comfort. This string has the right kind of power, i.e., not springy. There is no harsh feedback. Slice serves are deadly. The strings don’t move and the tension holds steady.” 4.5 male all-court player using Prince EXO3 Rebel (hole inserts) strung at 57 pounds LO (MSV Focus Hex/Prince Synthetic Gut Multifilament 17L/17)

“Plays very similar to Luxilon Alu Power, hence I enjoyed it a great deal.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Drive OS Team strung at 60 pounds CP (Luxilon Original 16)

“Excellent combination of playability, control, comfort, and spin.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 53 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)

“Control and feel are very similar to my preferred poly, but this string offered a lot more spin. Very nice!” 5.0 male all-court player using Babolat Pure Storm GT strung at 41 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power Rough 16L)

“This string has the trademark spin and control of a top-notch polyester without the harsh feedback. The bite is excellent. Spin shots find the court with a dramatic dive followed by a pronounced explosion. Opponents have mentioned the increased “action” on my ball. This is recommended to nylon users who want more spin and control, but have always been hesitant to try polyester.” 4.0 male all-court player using Boris Becker V1 OS strung at 55 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut Multifilament 17)

“Heavy topspin is effortless, control is pinpoint. The sharp edges add precision and bite to slice shots. Kick serves are a pleasure.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson K Zen Team strung at 57 pounds LO (Tecnifibre Spinfire 17)

“Wow! A responsive polyester with pop! The increased power is very easy to control. It is not nearly as harsh as most polyesters on the market. Even with heavy topspin, the strings don’t move. Generally, I’m not a fan of polyester. This string is the exception.” 4.0 male serve-and-volley player using Prince O3 Speedport Pro White MP strung at 66 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation/Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 17/18)

“Very arm friendly. Great spin. Impressive power on serves.” 4.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head Metallix 6 strung at 53 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation 17)

“This string is a great compliment to the heavy topspin game. Control is simply outstanding. Touch and feel are slightly lacking, which is typical of the breed.” 3.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince Tour Diablo MP strung at 58 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power/Gamma Synthetic Gut 16/16)

“This string plays well from the first hit. It has decent power and control on serves. Comfort is on the low end.” 4.0 male all-court player using Head Youtek Raptor OS strung at 50 pounds LO (Luxilon M2 Plus 16)

“The feel and power are exceptional. This is a comfortable string with above average power. Spin is less noteworthy, but the control is impressive. I would not hesitate to try this string in a different frame.” 4.5 male all-court player using Head Metallix 4 strung at 57 pounds CP (Gamma Zo Tour Rough 16)

“Marvelous control and spin. Comfort is surprisingly high. The absence of a “trampoline effect” makes the power very controllable. Tension maintenance is the only negative.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson K Six One (76 holes) strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson Hollow Core 16)

“You can feel the strings biting into the ball. Notching starts fairly early. Overall, this is a good string, but durability is an issue, which is not out of the ordinary considering my stroke style and open pattern.” 5.0 male all-court player using Head MicroGEL Extreme Pro strung at 49 pounds LO (Signum Pro Poly Plasma 16)

“Spin potential is excellent, but the ball tends to sail. Seasoned poly veterans should string tighter for control. I also think this string would perform better in a hybrid. Poly in both directions is only good for players like Rafa.” 4.0 male all-court player using Prince O3 Speedport Tour (hole inserts) strung at 51 pounds CP (Tecnifibre Pro Red Code/Gamma Synthetic Gut 18/16)

“This string feels great right out of the box. Impressive power and spin. After five hours, control suffers.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson K Tour strung at 66 pounds CP (Luxilon Timo/Head Synthetic Gut PPS 18/17)

“Big power and spin. Great for hitting against medium pace. Playing against heavier balls creates a much stiffer feel.” 4.0 male all-court player using Volkl V1 Classic strung at 52 pounds CP (Unique Tourna Quasi Gut 16)

“Crisp and clean. Players with high head speed will appreciate the added sense of control. Some difficulty on touch shots, but the overall playability is above average. The sweet spot is not very big, but it is very sweet.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson K Blade strung at 50 pounds LO (Babolat Hurricane/Wilson Sensation 17/16)

“This is a crisp string with excellent power and spin. The tension maintenance is above average for polyester. Even with a 10% tension reduction the string bed is on the stiff side. The strings do not move.” 4.0 male all-court player using Babolat Pure Drive + GT strung at 56 pounds LO (WeissCANNON Scorpion 17)

“Remarkable combination of spin, control, and power. Comfort is on the low side.” 3.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Drive Cortex strung at 55 pounds CP (Polyester/Natural Gut 16)

“This is a playable poly with some serious spin potential. It does fairly well in some areas, if not great in all.” 6.0 male all-court player using Wilson K Tour strung at 52 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 17)

“The lack of feel and playability hinders control. The spin and tension maintenance are good, but comfort and touch are on the low end.” 5.0 female all-court player using Head MicroGEL Extreme Pro strung at 45 pounds CP (Natural Gut 16)

“High coil memory slows down installation. During the first two hours of play the string feels crisp but not stiff. Like most polys, this string excels at control and spin. Power is also good. Feel is a tad low, but not completely dormant as with some polys. Over time the feel improves, while spin and control remain consistent. After 6 hours, however, the string begins to lose power and feel. By the eight hour, harsh vibrations emerge until, finally, the string goes dead.” 5.0 male all-court player using Yonex RDS 002 Tour strung at 50 pounds CP (Tecnifibre X-One Biphase 17)

“This is a typical poly with a stiff feel and good control. Not recommended to players who prefer soft strings or suffer from tennis elbow.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Head MicroGEL Radical Team MP strung at 55 pounds CP (Gamma Professional 17)

“This string has more feel, touch, and power than anticipated. Perhaps this is because of the low tension.” 4.0 male serve-and-volley player using Slazenger Type 2 NX One strung at 46/44 pounds CP (Babolat VS Team Thermogut 17)

“Though this string has great spin, it may have contributed to some mild arm discomfort.” 3.5 male touch player using Wilson n4 OS (70 holes) strung at 58 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)

“While control is very good, the bite is lacking and tension loss is a bit extreme. This string would perform better in a hybrid.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head MicroGEL Extreme Pro strung at 54 pounds CP (Isospeed Professional 17)

“Good durability and power. The string bed becomes loose too quickly. I would advise higher tensions, especially for oversize racquets. I do not believe shaped strings deliver more bite. I also think they damage grommets and hurt fingers.” 5.0 male all-court player using Head Flexpoint 6 OS strung at 54 pounds LO (Multifilament Nylon/Polyester 16)

“This string lacks comfort and does not hold tension very well.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson Kobra Tour strung at 57 pounds CP (Wilson Hollow Core 16)

“This string is too stiff and hard on the arm. Compared to other polyesters, it lacks playability.” 4.5 male all-court player using Volkl Power Bridge 1 strung at 52/50 pounds CP (Forten Dynamix 16)

Tour Bite 18

“Bottom line: I love these strings! It is hard to find a string that has this combination of power, control, comfort, and feel without also possessing some negative qualities. Perhaps it’s time to switch from natural gut.” 5.5 male all-court player using Head Liquidmetal Radical OS strung at 57 pounds CP (Babolat VS Touch 16)

“Amazing bite! Outstanding control! Players who hit with heavy spin will love this string.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson BLX Tour strung at 63 pounds LO (Wilson Hollow Core 16)

“Sign me up! This string would make a great hybrid main. Spin is phenomenal. Shock absorption is impressive. This is a really nice surprise for a poly.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head Youtek Prestige Mid strung at 57 pounds CP (Signum Poly Plasma 16)

“This is an outstanding string. Playability does not waiver over time. Resilience and tension maintenance hold steady. This is not merely a niche poly designed for big hitters. It has enough comfort, power, and touch to give it broad appeal.” 4.5 male all-court player using Head Radical MicroGEL MP strung at 55 pounds LO (Babolat Xcel Premium 16)

“Great pocketing, awesome spin, and outstanding control. Above average comfort for a poly.” 6.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince Graphite EXO3 Graphite (hole inserts) strung at 49 pounds CP (Prince Tour Blend 16)

“This string’s sharp edge really cuts into the ball. The low power level allows for high head speed. Big swings always find the court, and impact shock is very minimal. This string somehow packs playability, durability, comfort, and spin into one package.” 5.0 male all-court player using Babolat Pure Drive Team strung at 56 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“While it takes a session to settle in, this is a very comfortable string. My tendons love it! Players with control issues take note: given the comfort level, high tensions are no problem.” 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson nSix Two MP strung at 53 pounds CP (Gosen Polylon SP 17)

“Excellent all-around string. Very solid feel on big ground strokes. Great topspin.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson Pro Staff 6.0 Original MP strung at 54 pounds CP (Signum Pro Poly Plasma 16)

“Wonderful combination of spin, control, and power. Can’t wait to see it on the market.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Pro Team FX strung at 55 pounds LO (Wilson Hyperlast Spin 19/16)

“This is a comfortably stiff string with above average power and excellent control. Hard hitters will appreciate the durability, while less aggressive players will enjoy the comfortable response. The feel is slightly muted.” 4.5 male all-court player using Pro Kennex Kinetic 7g strung at 60 pounds CP (Prince Lightning XX 16)

“This string plays stiff during the first session. After relaxing, it plays like a dream. The bite is very impressive.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson BLX Six One Tour strung at 60 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Power Rough 16L)

“This string performs very well at low tensions. The lack of trampoline allows me to drive ground strokes with great precision. The combination of spin and power from the baseline is outstanding. My serve has above average spin and pace. This is a keeper.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Aeropro Drive strung at 55 pounds CP (Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour 17)

“Great feel from the very first hit. Surprisingly good touch. Given the high stiffness, I would definitely advise the use of lower tensions. Great tension maintenance and very little string movement. After 20 hours, the string shows no signs of wear.” 3.5 male touch player using Dunlop Aerogel 4D 2 Hundred strung at 56 pounds CP (Polyester 17)

“This plays almost identical to some of the high end polyesters featured on the pro tour. Excellent control and spin, with just enough power to put your opponent on his heels.” 3.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince O3 Silver strung at 50 pounds CP (Luxilon Original Rough 16)

“This is a very playable poly. Great power, control, and durability.” 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson nTour strung at 50 pounds LO (Prince Poly EXP 17)

“This string has a unique combination of comfort, control, and spin. It gets better with age. Each session is better than the last.” 5.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Six One Tour strung at 55 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power Rough 16L)

“This is a playable poly with good power and control. It holds tension quite well. The strings do not move. The bite and durability are also very impressive.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Aeropro Drive strung at 56 pounds CP (Genesis Spin X 16)

“Though polyester is not my cup a tea, I do enjoy the playability and power of this string.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Wilson nPro strung at 53 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)

“This string really grabs the ball, giving the user an increased sense of control.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Blade strung at 57 pounds LO (Luxilon Adrenaline 17)

“Given the high comfort and power levels, control is surprisingly good. The feel is impressive. The response is smooth and quiet, especially on hard shots.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Volkl DNX V1 OS strung at 45 pounds LO (Gamma Zo Tour 16)

“This is an arm friendly poly with good playability and spin.” 3.5 male all-court player using Pro Kennex Graphite Acclaim strung at 60 pounds CP (nylon monofilament 16)

“This is a soft and comfortable poly that comes with great pop and zero arm fatigue.” 5.0 male all-court player using Dunlop Aerogel 5 Hundred Tour strung at 54 pounds CP (Dunlop Explosive Polyester 17)

“The shaped construction increases bite.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Dunlop M Fil 200 Plus strung at 54/56 pounds CP (Tecnifibre Black Code 18)

“Spin and durability are excellent. Tension holds up for several hours.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson BLX Six One (76 holes) strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson Hollow Core 16)

“This string is begging to be used as a hybrid main with a natural gut cross. The possibilities are endless.” 4.0 male all-court player using Head Prestige Classic strung at 45 pounds LO (Gamma Professional 18)

“This string makes a positive impression from the outset. Great control, spin, and comfort. Tension loss is a little high though. Perhaps those with oversize frames should consider pre-stretching.” 4.5 male all-court player using Prince O3 Hybrid Hornet OS strung at 54 pounds LO (Nylon Multifilament 18)

“This is a great string for big hitters. Good control on serves. Bite is not as remarkable as anticipated and touch is lacking.” 3.5 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff 6.1 Stretch strung at 55 pounds CP (Tecnifibre MultiFeel 16)

“This is an average polyester with great durability.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Dunlop 200G (Muscle Weave) strung at 65 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 17)

“This is an average polyester string. The control and spin are predictably high.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head i.X6 OS strung at 60 pounds LO (Tecnifibre X-One Biphase 16)

“Big hitters will like the control and durability, but novice players might need more comfort, touch, and feel.” 4.0 male serve-and-volley player using Prince O3 Tour MS strung at 50 pounds CP (Tecnifibre NRG2 17)

“Great spin, tension maintenance, and power. Perhaps not the best choice for players with with tennis elbow.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson BLX Pro Open strung at 62 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)

“Good pop on serves. Stiff response. A little too much power on big base line strokes.” 4.0 male all-court player using Babolat Aeropro Drive Cortex strung at 56 pounds LO (Gamma TNT2 16)

“As a multifilament nylon user, this string is a little stiffer than I prefer. The lower tension did provide a little extra power.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Prince O3 Hybrid Lite OS strung at 60 pounds LO (Prince Premier LT 16)

“This is an average poly. I think it might perform better in a hybrid, where the tension could be raised without sacrificing feel.” 4.0 male all-court player using Pro Kennex Core 1 No. 10 strung at 60 pounds CP (Pacific X Force/Gosen OG-Sheep Micro Super 18/17)

“This string lacks the “wow” factor. The stiff response may have contributed to my sore wrist.” 5.0 male all-court player using Prince EXO3 White MP strung at 57 pounds CP (Prince Premier LT )

“Great action on serves. Decent power from the baseline. Playability on slower strokes and volleys is lacking.” 4.0 male all-court player using Head CrossBow 8 strung at 57 pounds LO (Prince Lightning XX 16)

“I would recommend using this string for the mains in a hybrid. The durability is impressive, but the playability and feel are on the low side.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson n5 strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“Lowering the tension by 7-12% is a good idea. This is a stiff string with incredible spin. Comfort and power are lacking.” 5.5 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson BLX Six One (68 Holes) strung at 53 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 80)

“Adequate power and control on serves and ground strokes. Great spin potential. The feel and comfort level leave something to be desired.” 4.0 male touch player using Prince O3 Red MP strung at 48 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 Pro Plus 17L)

(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses.)

Playtester ratings

EASE OF STRINGING 17gauge 18 gauge
(compared to other strings)
Number of testers who said it was:
much easier 0 1
somewhat easier 3 2
about as easy 16 24
not quite as easy 16 11
not nearly as easy 1 1
OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to string played most often)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 3 1
somewhat better 5 7
about as playable 16 8
not quite as playable 8 20
not nearly as playable 4 3
OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 8 7
somewhat better 8 15
about as durable 18 14
not quite as durable 2 3
not nearly as durable 0 0
RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best)
Playability 3.4 3.5
Durability 4.2 4.2
Power 3.6 (13th) 3.6
Control 3.7 3.5
Comfort 2.8 3.2
Touch/Feel 2.9 3.0
Spin Potential 4.1 (1st) 3.7
Holding Tension 3.4 3.7 (14th)
Resistance to Movement 4.0 (15th) 4.0 (12th)

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About the Author

Greg Raven  is an associate editor for RSI 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 greg@usrsa.com, or through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. He plays tennis five days a week, and is turning into an avid cyclist.

 

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