Joola is here, and here with a bang.
The table tennis giant from Germany (pronounced yoh-luh) is making its way into the pickleball world, and bringing along the best men’s player, Ben Johns.
The Franklin Ben Johns paddle was fantastic, and lasted long in a rapidly growing industry, but it became clear over the past year that carbon technologies, and complex structured cores were leaving such paddles behind.
Joola’s first foray into top end paddles has already been a successful one. It is the most in vogue brand on earth, and everyone seems to turn their head when they see a paddle with the triangular logo on the pickleball court. But are they actually good? Or is the hype overdone? Today we will be outlining the top-end Hyperion series: Ben Johns Hyperion CFS 16, Ben Johns Hyperion CAS 13.5 and the Ben Johns Hyperion CAS 16.
Ben Johns Hyperion CFS 16
This paddle is good. It is insanely good.
It might just be the best paddle in the world, and I would rarely make such a qualitative claim about any piece of sporting equipment.
In an industry where competition hasn’t equalized equipment performance like it has in more established sports, it’s not surprising that big technological improvements can actually make equipment perform better.
Let’s start with the CFS (Carbon Friction Surface) on the paddle. It’s not much different from the carbon surfaces we’ve seen released on the likes of CRBN and Electrum paddles. It produces loads of spin but also lasts for quite a while. At this point, rough carbon texture is a must, so it’s good, but not impressive that this paddle has it.
What separates the Ben Johns Hyperion CFS from the rest of the industry, is the core. Keep in mind, the guy reviewing this paddle (me) refuses to go away from his Gearbox GX6 Power because anything thicker simply feels too disconnected and muted.
That has changed with the release of the CFS.
I’ve been eagerly waiting for a brand to release a core like Joola’s Reactive Polymer Honeycomb. For a 16 mm paddle, the response is quite simply, unmatched. The dwell time is still high, so the feel is controlled for dinking and touch shots. But when you want to accelerate the paddle, produce power and spin and penetration, the response is instant; one to one.
It almost feels like the core knows what the player wants, and reacts differently to the desired shot. If it’s touch and feel that you need, that’s what you’ll get. If it’s spin and power, all yours. Maybe that’s why the core is called “reactive."
The response is also remarkably consistent throughout the paddle bed. Possibly due to the higher static weight (~8.5 oz), or maybe the Hyperfoam Edge Wall, the paddle is stable and forgiving on off-center hits. Obviously, because of its weight, It’s not the most maneuverable paddle out there. But with its whippy feeling, headlight balance, in the hands of the right player, it will be easy to adapt to. Nowadays, most players are weighing up their own paddles to this spec, anyway.
Ben Johns Hyperion CAS 13.5
The CFS 16 is the flagship paddle in the line, and from a pure performance standpoint, it is the most impressive. But if I were to switch to a paddle in the Joola lineup, this would be the one. Why? The spin and response of the CFS is incredible for a 16 mm paddle, that much is certain.
There is one thing that a thick paddle and a thin paddle will never be able to match; the feel. Because there is less dwell time on a thin paddle, there is more response, pop and vibration in the form of feedback, given to the player. To feel 100% confident in my shot, I need that feedback and ultimate connection to the ball. I will hold my hands up and tell you that I simply don’t know which paddle (between the CFS 16 and CAS 13.5) has more spin, or more control on faster shots. All I can say is that I felt ever so slightly more connected to the ball on the CAS 13.5, and that feeling is something I value highly.
Technologically, the Carbon Abrasion Surface on the CAS face is similar to the one on its bigger brother. Out of the box, it’s actually slightly grittier, but the spin produced is similar. It does fade away a little quicker than the CFS grit, but in the long run, I didn’t feel a drastic decrease in spin potential.
The Response Polymer Honeycomb core is also different to the React core found on the CFS 16. I am less impressed with the core on the CAS, simply because I’ve never felt something quite as revolutionary as the core on the CFS. It is still very responsive and does seem to have some of those adaptive features the CFS had, but I would be very interested in trying a 13.5 millimeter version of the CFS 16, to get a better feel for that core in a thinner profile.
Ben Johns Hyperion CAS 16
Take all of the technological features on the CAS 13.5, and put them into a 16 mm paddle and you have the Hyperion CAS 16. What that gives us is the perfect platform to isolate all variables, and best compare the CFS and CAS cores and outer layers.
Out of the box, the spin produced is very similar. The two surfaces are gritty, and grab the ball very consistently throughout the paddle face. As mentioned earlier, the CAS surface does wear out a little quicker, so in terms of durability, the CFS is better.
It’s in the actual response off the paddle bed that we can really distinguish the CAS and CFS. Both feel very controlled and spongy for touch shots, but the CFS is much better in its response to faster, spinny, powerful strokes. It goes right back to that reactive technology the core has to offer; it really is one of a kind.
The CAS is lighter and therefore much more user friendly and maneuverable compared to the CFS 16. This is a paddle that will be more accessible to most pickleball players, not only because of that weight, but also in terms of price.
It’s time for the rest of the industry to take note.
I absolutely love that brands keep bursting through the ceiling of pickleball paddle performance. It’s giving us a rapidly improving industry, and allowing us as players to improve with the paddles. Joola hasn’t gone and made every paddle obsolete. In fact, I’ll be sticking with my paddle of choice for the time being.
There are still aspects of other paddles from other brands that still perform better than what these Joolas have to offer. What they have done is show us how technological improvements can help in creating a piece of equipment that breaks the mold of what we thought normal in the industry; at least for the last six months. On to the next!