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Diadem edge 18k speed pro review 

Diadem have just released the Edge 18k Speed Pro, the new evolution of the Edge range. It’s billed at f***in’ fast in the marketing: is this the case?

Version one Edge had the airflow channel on the edge guard and was the first raw carbon fibre paddle from the brand. They then rolled out raw carbon fibre across more of their range with the original Edge 18k being the debut of the triaxial carbon weave. This makes the distinctive cube structure of the paddle face. It has three different directions of the weave: ProXr had a dual direction, one very rough, one very much less so.  The 18k range has equal roughness in all three directions so in theory whatever the swing path, the textured peel ply layer works to add more friction and bite on the ball.

What’s different about the new Speed Pro over the rest of the range. It features the long handle and thermoformed perimeter foam edge of the Power Pro with a thinner 14mm core and a 10mm honeycomb pattern, over the usual 8mm core. My theory on the changes is that the slightly wider pattern allows for a fraction more movement in the face, a fraction more pocketing and a more springy surface but still retaining the solid core characteristics required by the USAP rulebook.  The thinner core also allows for a lower weight range: although billed as an 8oz paddle, the stock I chose from went from 7.74oz to 8.04oz. My Power Pros came in at 7.87 oz for a 8oz model. My Speed Pro came in at 7.94oz and I chose a matched pair.  That’s around a 3% weight variation across all the paddles, caused by where the honeycomb sheeting is cut from, I imagine. In reality, it should barely perceptible to most players. It is also the first Diadem model to feature a moulded handle. Due to the thinner core, I imagine this is required to maintain the grip size and add to structural integrity of a thinner and wider core. 

Oh and it comes in a nice grey colour that matches grey electrical tape for protection perfectly

Moulded handle

Looking at the model before considering the actual playability of the paddle, there’s one really noticeable feature of the paddle. The moulded handle seems to increase the grip size by at least a size. When setting up my paddles, I’ve been using double overgrips to increase thickness without too much weight. I used to fully customise my handles and make them huge with grip enlarging sleeves and leather grips. My Warrior v1 was 11.5oz at one stage after adding lead tape: it was referred to as the battle axe! I’ve moved away from this, opting for lighter paddles as my level has increased and hand speed is becoming more important. Setting up the Speed Pro, I definitely found that I only needed a single overgrip to get to the same feel from my previous handle setup. 

Moulded handle without grip

The texture is halfway between my more smooth Power Pro’s and the amazing texture of my original batch 18K’s. Those stock non thermoformed 18k are one of the spinniest paddles I’ve found

How does it play? F***ing fast as billed! From the very first hits, there was a pronounced pocketing of the ball and very easy power. There’s no core corruption, delamination or constructional anomalies. It just hits hard from the off.  Even just tapping up, it was noticeable. 

I started with basic dinking off a ball machine feed cross court: on a softer shot, it needed a smidge less effort to put it back over the net and I could very rapidly start to gain shape and pace on the ball. As I didn’t need to hit through the ball as hard, I could swing upwards more to generate spin for a similar pace shot, compared to the Power Pro. I then moved to volley speedup, counters and blocks off a ball machine feed at 30+ mph: the pace a ball will land in from a mid thigh speedup. Initially, I found it hard to get quality contact but it maybe that it was 7.30am on a Saturday and I’m normally asleep at that time! After a few balls, the most obvious thing: I didn’t see much point in trying to reset the incoming ball as I could counter at will. I was able to dial in control when I moved to transition/ZOO resets after the speed up exercise. 

The next phase was hitting drops from the baseline; similarly to my other experiences with the paddle, the extra power meant I didn’t need to do a lot and I could comfortably plop shots over the net with minimal effort. Shaping again mirrored the dink experience as I’d expect: easy access to spin as less need for power. Over time, my swing path is definitely going to evolve to harness this benefit more. 

The final of my initial test: ground strokes on both wings to various locations. I found I could easily target specific locations with power, precision, depth and spin. This was the one test where I could really feel that dwell time and access power from both compact and longer swing mechanics. It certainly felt more stringlike than other paddles I’ve used, bar the foam cored Vice concept paddle. After my session, there was a lot of ball impact marks from the carbon fibre gripping the ball: as it’s a ball machine set of balls, there will be an extra residue from the rubber wheels that fire the balls. It shows the enhanced dwell time and texture of the paddle. Even after some Paddle Reset and a paddle eraser, it was still showing that impact on the surface but had no impact on the feel of the texture.

Do I like the paddle? Well, my Power Pro is being sent to pasture and the Speed Pro is my new weapon of choice. I’ll keep a Power Pro and my original Edge 18k in my bag so that I’ve options if I feel I need a slight change in paddle to match up with an opponent’s game: I may want more control for some games.  It brings more power and speed: as the game is evolving this way, especially at the higher levels, you need to try and stay in the arms race. There’s always a trade off with control and power: this seems to give me easy access to extra ball speed without a major fall off in control.  

I’ve only had a couple of hours on the ball machine with the paddle so there’s more work to do to totally dial it in with drilling and match play but that won’t take more than an hour of proper hitting. There was nothing I felt I couldn’t do from this initial hit so it’s now just making it feel like an extension of me over a few more sessions. 

In summary, yes, it is definitely f***ing fast!

Update: I’ve fitted a hexagonal grip (like the Hesacore) to my paddle to replace the stock grip. It adds a lot of tactility to the grip due to the shapes but is quite soft feeling. It’s close to a two layer overgrip feel: I’m used to a more stiff feel, so looking forward to exploring the modification on court and seeing what benefits it brings to my game. I’ll update with a separate review of this: it feels like I’ll be shopping for a carbon five-hex Hesacore fairly soon!

Hexagonal grip without overgrip
Hex grip with Diadem Comfort overgrip

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