Racquet Review: Gamma RZR Bubba
Available: September 7, 2012
Head Size: 137 sq. in.
Length: 29 in.
Weight*: 10.4 oz.
Balance*: 7 pts. HH
Beam Width: 22-24-22mm
String Pattern: 18x21
Ideal Swing: Short
NTRP: 2.0 to 3.0
*NOTE: Values represent strung frames.
Ginormous is a pretty good way to describe the Gamma RZR Bubba: The racquet is two inches longer than the 27-inch standard length and spans a behemoth 137 square inch head size. In an effort to ameliorate the cumbersomeness of such a humongous frame, Gamma has engineered the Bubba with RZR technology. RZR, according to the company, brings together a series of aerodynamic designs—such as a flush bumper, angled throat, tapered bridge beam, and recessed grommet strip—all meant to reduce wind drag for added racquet-head speed and maneuverability, compared to Gamma’s previous Big Bubba racquet.
How It Tested
Needless to say, the RZR Bubba’s super-long length and massive stringbed caught playtesters off-guard, even those with experience wielding oversized frames. With the Bubba in hand, groundstrokes took on rocket-launcher velocity, overheads turned into high volleys, and shots off the frame became an afterthought.
“Without a doubt, the RZR is absolutely enormous,” says Bruce Levine, Racquet Advisor for Tennis Magazine. “Compared to the previous Big Bubba, the RZR is actually in some ways more ‘normal’ sized, like in its beam width. This does make it more playable and not nearly as unwieldy as Bubbas of years past. However, I wouldn’t go as far as say it’s a maneuverable stick per se. If you have a slow swing, it’ll give you a lot of power. But because it’s so long and so head heavy, and its swingweight is so high, it’s going to feel weighty and might tire out some beginners’ arms.”
While playtesters did enjoy the Bubba’s incredible margin for error—and remarkable reach, especially on stretch volleys—many found did find its size difficult to adjust to. “You realize how huge it is at the net when you’re about to hit a volley, and suddenly out of the corner of your eye you see what looks to be a pizza box about to make contact with the ball,” said one player. “I had trouble getting used to that when I volleyed. When I hit it low, sometimes I found that the size and the extra two inches had me scraping the racquet on the ground.”
Indeed, due to the Bubba’s size and specifications, players susceptible to elbow, shoulder, or general arm pain should approach the racquet with caution. As a preventative measure against injury, it’s recommended that players considering the Bubba string at medium to low tensions with a soft multifilament or, ideally, natural gut.
Clearly, the Bubba RZR is designed for players with very short and slow swings who are searching for the ultimate in reach, forgiveness, and power. But interested parties be forewarned: The Bubba isn’t for players seeking out a stick with maneuverability or nuance. It’s also not for players with arm pain, and should be strung accordingly with a very soft multifilament or natural gut.
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