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Introducing Body Helix's X-2 and X-3 Pro and Lite Pickleball Paddles

Kevlar is here, and it is here to stay. We've already seen its massive performance benefits in the Pickleball Apes and SixZero Ruby paddles, but now let's look at what Body Helix has done with the material.
Introducing Body Helix's X-2 and X-3 Pro and Lite Pickleball Paddles Featured Image

After thermoforming, the whole community was twiddling its thumbs, looking for a new magical development in pickleball technology. Would we go for even more power and spin? Would we make a full 180 back to control? Well, why not both?

Kevlar was the answer, and the material has revolutionized the sport in its unique capacity to adapt and pocket the ball in different ways depending on how hard it's hit. Pickleball Apes first introduced kevlar to us at the store, but the SixZero Ruby showed us just how high its playability can go.



We were so sold on kevlar, that we wanted to find another brand using it, enter Body Helix.

Body Helix offers four paddles, the X-1, X-2, X-3, and X-4. Aside from being very creatively named, each offers unique playability, but at this time, we only carry the X-2 and the X-3. Those are the paddles we'll be focussing on today, but they've been so great that we are also bringing in the X-4 and the brand-new paddle they are currently developing; no prizes for guessing what it's called.

So the X-2 and the X-3, there is only one significant difference between the two — the X-2 is thermoformed with a full carbon top sheet, and the X-3 is thermoformed with a blended carbon and kevlar weave. As I said, it's the kevlar that first caught our attention with Body Helix, but we certainly weren't going to scoff at their full carbon paddles. We'll discuss the differences between the two, but there's more.

Within the X-2 and X-3 lines, there is also a Pro and a Lite paddle. All four are 16.5 inches long, with 6-inch handles. That handle is at least half an inch longer than what we are used to with elongated paddles, and as you can imagine, it significantly impacts performance.

Ironically, the Lites aren't all that light, weighing 8.0 ounces, but they are significantly lighter than the (quite frankly insane) 8.8-ounce Pros. We've never seen paddles as heavy as the X-2 and X-3 Pros, and on top of that, they are 18 millimetres thick. The Lites are thinner (16 millimetres) and generally feel far less substantial when holding them in your hand.

There is one more key difference between the Pros and the Lites. Both the X-2 and X-3 Pros feature Body Helix's Small Cell Polypropylene Core, while the Lites have their Large Cell Polypropylene Core. Again, it's a little ironic that the large core is on the thinner Lites and that the small is on the Pros, and while there isn't much marketing behind the designs, I'm guessing that the small cell core is more densely molded because, overall, the Pros have a more premium and rich feel.

Beyond that, though, the Pros are unlike any paddle I've tried. Their high static and swing weight combined with the thick core and unique handle makes for an extremely steep learning curve but also gives them the potential to be lethal in the right players' hands.



Paddle Feel and Weight

The learning curve is so steep on the X-3 and X-2 Pros that Body Helix recommends that only 5.0+ players attempt to swing these paddles. That's a tall order, and for those unfamiliar with the ranking system, 5.0s are very, very good.

I understand their reasoning; even after a thorough play test, I don't think I have the level to swing these paddles consistently. Because they are so heavy, they are tough to swing quickly from the baseline. You have to use near-perfect technique because as soon as you're mistiming the ball, the extra mass makes the ball launch off uncontrollably. They feel the closest to a tennis racket that I've felt with a pickleball paddle, and while that certainly has its benefits, tennis rackets are significantly harder to use than pickleball paddles.

Of course, they are also slower at the net because of all the extra static and swing weight, but because of their uniquely long handles, they have a more whippy feel than you would expect. The long handle adds a twitchiness to the paddle, which adds a layer of micro adjustability because you feel more minute control over the paddle face. Good players will love this because it allows for quicker control when you want it, but it also adds to the paddle's difficulty. That twitchiness means that the slightest mistake in your technique is exponentially more punished, so you must be extra careful and keep your wrist locked, especially when dinking at the net.

The punishing natures of the X-2 and X-3 Pro made them too much for me to handle, but if I took more time to get used to them, I do think I would start to fully appreciate the top-end playability potential they offer.

X-3 and X-2 Pro Playability

At this point, the X-3 Pro must be Body Helix's pride and joy; it consistently stuck out as the most impressive paddle of the four. When you're on it with this paddle, there's not much else available, at least in stock form, that has such fantastic feel, power, control, and spin. Adding this much weight to a paddle was always going to make it perform better in almost every metric, and it's the kevlar blended top sheet that pushes it over the X-2 with its better feel and pocketing. You have complete control over the ball, both on touch shots and for power.

On top of that, the small paddle face makes for an incredibly precise sweet spot – it's not necessarily small because the paddle is so stable, but you'll have a very well-defined feel when you make good versus bad contact. It's the kind of paddle you can get easily dialled in to because it has such great feel, and when you combine that with the incredible power, top-end spin and slower paced spin, it's hard to find something more well-rounded.

The X-2 Pro is also fantastic and shares a lot of that excellent playability with the X-3, but because the top sheet is made from only carbon and not kevlar, it has less of that rich, plush feel that allowed me to get so dialled into the control game with the X-3. It's more raw, slightly more hollow, and generally more traditional, but still unique because of that smaller paddle face and high static and swing weight.


X-2 and X-3 Lite Playability

The first thing to be said with these paddles is that they are not just lighter versions of the Pros. The 2 millimetre thinner core also makes a difference, but it's the difference in technology between the large and small cell cores that has the most significant effect. I don't usually like to use the word "premium" because everyone has their own preference for feel, but the small cell core on the Pros is undeniably more premium than the one on the Lites. Even the X-2 has that more connected feel compared to the X-2 and X-3 Lites; it just feels like the Pros are further developed, making them more well-rounded paddles.

The Lites are more of your classic thermoformed paddles. They have great pop, power, and spin, but nothing else adding to their touch and control. Of course, the difference in playability between the two Lites is nearly identical to the difference between the Pros, so if I were to rank the four in control, the X-3 Pro would be first, then the X-2 Pro, then the X-3 Lite and finally the X-2 Lite.

It's certainly not all bad, or at least not all worse with the Lite paddles, though. They may not have the same top-end performance, but they are significantly more user-friendly and still unique because they have the longer handle. They have similar benefits in swing speed and swing pattern but are even quicker because they are lighter. These are extremely "flickable" paddles — more than any elongated paddle I've tried and more than I thought possible for something 16.5 inches long. They're still not as quick as standard 16-inch or hybrid 16.3-inch paddles, but if you want the most maneuverable elongated paddles, look no further.


Which one is for you?

All of this playability on paper is great, but which one will work best for your game? Well, let's start with the X-3 Pro.

As I said, this is Body Helix's flagship paddle, at least for now. It will give the most "Body Helix" experience because it has the long handle, the high weight, and the blended kevlar top sheet. If you want the most spin and power combined with the best touch and control, it's the one to go for.

The X-2 Pro is great for those players who want that more raw, classic thermoformed experience. Kevlar's unique plush feel may not be for everyone, and if that's you, the X-2 Pro is perfect — you still get most of what makes the X-3 Pro so special.

Both Pros are fantastic paddles, but know that you have to "pay to play" with these, not necessarily in terms of price, but because you have to be good enough to know what you're getting into. Most players should go for the Lites.

The X-3 Lite is the paddle most players will gravitate to. It may not have that "Pro" branding but it's still very much made for advanced players. It has the kevlar, so you'll get some of the same plushness as the X-3 Pro, but in a much more maneuverable and easy-to-use package.

The X-2 lite is made for those wanting the most traditional experience. What sets it apart from all the other raw carbon thermoformed paddles is, of course, that 6-inch handle that gives all these paddles such a unique swing pattern and swing speed.

Body Helix has presented us with a fantastic lineup, there's no doubt about that, and there is something for every type of player interested in trying these unique long-handle shapes. I also just wanted to mention (although it goes without saying) that all four of these are excellent for two-handed backhands. That extra half inch is just what I needed to fit two hands comfortably on my backhands, and I was hitting shots I never thought I could with normal pickleball paddles.

Stay tuned for the X-4 paddles that will come shortly. You can check our Coming Soon page to stay up to date, and once they make it there, you can click "notify me" to get an email when they do come in.

If you would like to demo any of the X-2 or X-3 Pro or Lites, you can visit us in-store or check out the paddles online.

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