Playtest: Tecnifibre X-Code
By Greg Raven
Tecnifibre calls X-Code the missing link between premium synthetic multifilaments and polyester monofilaments. Tecnifibre accomplishes this using a unique technology that integrates polyester and polyurethane, using multifilament technology, where the filaments are bundles of polyester strands. Each bundle of strands is encased in Tecnifibre’s high-density polyurethane (PU HD). Multiple bundles are used to construct the string itself, held together with PU HD. Finally, X-Code is coated with SPL (Silicium Pyrogene Lubritec) for easier stringing, better longevity, and enhanced feel.
Tecnifibre recommends X-Code for players looking for the feeling and sound of polyester string without the disadvantages linked to vibrations and fatigue.
X-Code is available in 16 (1.30 mm) and 17 (1.25 mm) in black and silver. It is priced from $15 for sets of 40 feet, $225 for 660-foot reels. For more information or to order, contact Tecnifibre at 888-TFTennis (888-838-3664), or visit tecnifibre.com.
In the lab
We tested the 16 gauge X-Code. The coil measured 40 feet. The diameter measured 1.30-1.33 mm before stringing, and 1.26-1.27 mm after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 74 RDC units immediately after stringing at 60 pounds in a Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16 x 18 pattern) on a constant pull machine.
After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed stiffness measured 69 RDC units, representing a 7 percent 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 percent tension loss. In lab testing, Prince Synthetic Gut Original has a stiffness of 217 and a tension loss of 11.67 pounds, while Tecnifibre X-Code 16 has a stiffness of 228 and a tension loss of 18.85 pounds. X-Code added 17 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.
The string was tested for five weeks by 36 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.0 to 6.0. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. Average number of hours playtested was 32.
Out of the package, X-Code feels flexible enough to be nylon rather than a poly-based string, with little to no coil memory. On this basis alone, it is one of the easiest polys to install. The surface does grab a little when pulling the crosses across the mains, despite the SPL, and you need to pay extra attention pulling knots to ensure that they are snugged up tight. We had no problem with blocked holes, though. Three playtesters mentioned problems with kinking, but we didn’t experience this.
No playtester broke his sample during stringing, six reported problems with coil memory, one reported problems tying knots, and six reported friction burn.
On the court
Consistent with the amazingly low tension loss we measured in our 24-hour overnight test, our playtesters rated X-Code 15th best of the 148 strings we’ve playtested for publication in Tension Retention. Beyond that, Tecnifibre scored well above average with our playtest team in seven other categories: Durability, Resistance to Movement, Control, Playability, Comfort, Touch/Feel, and Power. These scores combined give Tecnifibre X-Code an overall score that is well above average.
Four playtesters broke the sample during playtesting, one each at six hours, eight hours, nine hours, and 13 hours.
High scores in eight categories indicate that X-Code is a balanced string, meaning that Tecnifibre didn’t sacrifice one characteristic to gain another in making X-Code. Still, some characteristics, such as Durability, Resistance to Movement, and Control really grabbed our playtesters. For example, more than half of our playtesters made it a point to mention the great control afforded by X-Code.
“Amazing control from all areas of the court. This string is a confidence booster.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson K Six One Team strung at 56 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Power Fluoro 17)
“Great feel and power for a poly. This string is soft and juicy. It is recommended to players seeking the control of a polyester with the comfort of a nylon multifilament.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Six One (76 Holes) strung at 62 pounds CP (Wilson Ultimate Duo 16)
“Outstanding control, comfort, and power. Next to natural gut, this is as good as it gets. This ain’t your daddy’s polyester.” 4.5 male serve and volleyer using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 60 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 16)
“Watch out for kinking during installation. This is a crisp, arm friendly string with deadly spin. String movement is low despite heavy spin. Big hitters will get good milage.” 5.0 male all court player using Volkl Boris Becker 10 strung at 60 pounds CP (Gamma Synthetic Gut 16)
“This string’s remarkable comfort is matched only by its controlled power.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat AeroPro Drive strung at 61 pounds CP (Gamma Professional 17)
“This poly lacks the typical boardy feel. The blend of power and control will put your opponent on his heels.” 4.5 male all court player using Volkl Power Bridge 1 strung at 55/53 pounds CP (Forten Dynamix 17)
“I’ve never seen anything like this before. It is flexible out of the package (like a multifilament), yet it does not move, burn, or notch. I love it!” 5.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Bosworth Tour strung at 56 pounds CP (Gosen OG Sheep Micro 16)
“This is an extremely interesting string. It looks like a standard monofilament, but it plays like a high end multifilament. The response is very predictable, even after some tension loss. The spin potential is outstanding.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Youtek Speed Pro strung at 57 pounds CP (Head FXP 17)
“Beware of kinking. This string has exceptional playability, power, control, and feel. The tension maintenance is also noteworthy.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Yonex RQiS 1 Tour strung at 56 pounds CP (Prince Poly EXP 18)
“This is one of the best strings I have ever used. The sensation at impact is both solid and comfortable. The combination of feel, power, spin, and durability is remarkable.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat AeroPro Drive + strung at 59 pounds CP (Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour 17)
“This string feels great from the first hit. I don’t have to spend the first few minutes hunting for the right swing speed and angle of attack. The comfort is outstanding. The control is as good as it gets.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince EXO3 Black (port inserts) strung at 59/61 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut Original 16)
“Excellent power and spin. Very easy to measure the height and depth on topspin lobs. Exceptional tension maintenance. No comfort issues for lighter, stiffer frames.” 5.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head Metallix 6 strung at 57 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 17)
“This is a solid feeling control sting with impressive durability. Very crisp response on groundstrokes and volleys. The bite is pronounced.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Pro Team FX strung at 64 pounds CP (Babolat RPM Blast 64)
“This string has the right blend of comfort, control, and power. It plays and feels great out of the box. The bite is impressive given the soft feel.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson K Pro Open strung at 54 pounds CP (Tecnifibre Black Code 17)
“This string offers exceptionally crisp feel and tantalizing playability. Despite multiple hours of play, it remains crisp. Control and power are strong suits.” 4.0 male all court player using Head MicroGEL Radical MP strung at 55 pounds LO (Gamma Live Wire XP 17)
“Crisp volleys and no string movement. This string is not just for poly veterans. I let a few people at the club try it. They all loved the comfortable feel and controlled response.” 6.0 male all court player using Wilson nBlade strung at 57 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation 16)
“This string is for players who like hitting heavy balls. It gives me the sense that I can land the ball on a dime. The power is above average for the breed. I would recommend it to advanced club players who favor durability, tension maintenance, and control.” 4.5 male serve and volleyer using Wilson K Three strung at 60 pounds LO (Gamma Zo Sweet 17)
“Excellent spin on serves and groundstrokes. Remarkable depth control, even at low tensions. For those who prefer a quiet ride, a dampener is advised.” 4.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive GT strung at 54 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)
“This string’s high level of control allows for very confident mechanics. It plays stiff in the beginning, but gets softer and more playable in due course.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head i.Radical OS strung at 68 pounds CP (Luxilon Ace 18)
“This string plays better after the first session. The response is stiffer than expected given how soft it handles.” 6.0 male all court player using Wilson K Tour strung at 57 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 17)
“Very easy installation. This string has more feel than the average polyester. The string movement is minimal. Playability and comfort get better with each session.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince EXO3 Graphite (hole inserts) strung at 66 pounds CP (Prince Poly EXP/Prince Premier LT 17/16)
“The mix of control, power, and comfort makes this a rare polyester.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson Power Hole strung at 58 pounds CP (Forten Sweet 16)
“This string definitely requires a break-in period before the playability emerges. It is both quiet and easy on the arm. Excellent tension maintenance and spin potential. Very little string movement.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head Flexpoint Prestige Mid strung at 52 pounds CP (Solinco Tour Bite 18)
“Heavy spin and easy on the arm. This string starts to show some wear after a few sessions. Did I mention the spin?” 5.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive GT strung at 58 pounds CP (Gosen Polylon 17)
“The durability is impressive despite some initial fraying. String movement is nonexistent and playability is above average. The stringbed feels a tad spongy.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince O3 Blue strung at 55 pounds LO (Gamma Live Wire 17)
“This is simply a comfortable polyester with great control. The response is crisp, and the feel is nice.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince EXO3 Ignite strung at 59 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power/Wilson NXT 16L/16)
“This string becomes more responsive and comfortable over time. Heavy topspin players might notice some fraying.” 3.0 male all court player using Prince Triple Threat Bandit strung at 56 pounds CP (Gamma Synthetic Gut 16)
“These strings provide a soft stringbed with great feel. Spin potential is slightly lacking.” 5.0 male all court player using Babolat Aero Storm GT strung at 62 pounds LO (Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour 17)
“Adequate levels of power and control. The premature fraying and tension loss are the only real negatives.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Yonex RDS 003 strung at 65 pounds LO (Gamma TNT2 16)
“This string is like a roller coaster ride. The first 5 hours deliver pop, spin, and control. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, ‘poof,’ the string goes dead. At the 8 hour mark, however, some of the magic returns. The spin and control come back, and they bring great pocketing and feel. I’m ready for another ride!” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Six One (76 Holes) strung at 57 pounds CP (Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour 16)
“The low power level and stiff response make lower tensions a good idea.” 4.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Wilson nPro strung at 63 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)
“The high comfort makes this string ideal for feeding balls. During matchplay, however, I have trouble controlling balls from the back court.” 5.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Six One Tour strung at 56 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Power/Wilson NXT 16L/17)
“This string installs stiff but plays soft. The stringbed does not grab the ball very well. Notching starts early and comfort is on the low side.” 4.0 male all court player using Volkl DNX 4 strung at 58 pounds CP (Volkl Gripper 16)
“Kinks too easily during installation. The high power level diminishes control.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Fischer Pro No. One FT strung at 55 pounds LO (Natural Gut 17)
“This poly doesn’t slide or snap back as effectively as some of its peers. The feel is slightly rigid and the response is on the dead side.” 5.5 male all court player using Head Youtek Speed Pro strung at 45 pounds CP (Genesis Black Magic/Solinco Revolution 17/17)
“The coating cracks quickly, which leads to some fraying.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince EXO3 Black (port inserts) strung at 58 pounds CP (Luxilon Ace/Pro Supex Maxim Touch 16/17)
(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses.)
|EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings)
|about as easy||17|
|not quite as easy||10|
|not nearly as easy||2|
(compared to the string played most often)
|about as playable||10|
|not quite as playable||15|
|not nearly as playable||0|
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
|about as durable||13|
|not quite as durable||1|
|not nearly as durable||1|
From 1 to 5 (best)
|Holding Tension (15th overall)||3.6|
|Resistance to Movement||3.7|
See all articles by Greg Raven
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. He plays tennis five days a week, and is turning into an avid cyclist.