String Review: Solinco Tour Bite Diamond Rough
Solinco puts out several worthy strings, but it’s the company’s flagship Tour Bite offering that garners the most popularity and praise. The squared polyester produces a controllable and heavy ball, making it a hit with top juniors, collegiate players, and anybody who likes to take aggressive cuts on the ball.
Last fall the company introduced Tour Bite Soft, which, as the name suggests, is a more forgiving version of the original. It’s not as stiff or control-oriented, but adds more comfort and a ittle extra pop. This season the string line gets another addition: The soon-to-be-released Tour Bite Diamond Rough. The texturing of the string is designed to give shots the most spin and bite of any in the line.
From the standpoint of comfort, I found the TBDR to be the middle brother of the threesome; it’s not as cushy as the Soft version, but more so than the original. I actually found it to be plenty springy for a polyester, with plenty of ball-pocketing and pop. At times I even struggled to harness all of it. If you typically play with a somewhat crisp poly, I would suggest stringing the TBDR a few pounds tighter. (Solinco recommends the same.)
However, spin generation is what this string is all about, and it certainly delivers to that end. Kick serves and heavy topspin ground strokes jump off the court with a lot of action; slice backhands bite and stay low. Spin-happy baseliners should be pleased with how much work they can put on the ball.
The one quibble I had was when I tried to flatten out a shot—on a short ball putaway, or big first serve—I sometimes struggled to control it. I found myself hitting long more often than I'd like in these situations, and as a result eased off swings instead of really stepping on the shot. But since I’m used to playing a firmer polyester, I think some of that adjustment would come with time tension experimentation. (I also had to realign my strings more frequently than I’m accustomed with other polys, but it was nothing close to a soft multifilament.)
But as we often write on this blog, strings are a very personal piece of equipment. One player’s springy is another player’s not-quite-springy enough. So we had a seasoned Solinco player demo the new TBDR as well. Max Callahan has been a loyal user of Tour Bite for several years and he viewed Diamond Rough from a different perspective. Here’s how he thinks the latest in the family stacks up with the original:
Max Callahan: As a committed devotee of the original Tour Bite 16, I was particularly excited to test out the new flavor of Solinco’s popular line, Tour Bite Diamond Rough. The description on the package led me to believe that it would be essentially Tour Bite 16 with a diamond-shaped texture applied to increase the spin potential and, especially, the bite on the ball. That wasn’t too far from how I'd describe my experience hitting with it, and I'd certainly recommend a tryout to full-poly users that count heavy topspin as the staple of their ground game.
One of my favorite traits of original Tour Bite 16 is the incredible amount of energy that the string imparts on the ball in the form of both force and spin, particularly late-breaking spin that sends high topspin drives dive-bombing down at the last moment just inside the line. No other string I've played has quite matched Tour Bite in this regard and with its appealing comfort-level, durability and price, it has been my default string for nearly two years now.
Tour Bite Diamond Rough was very similar to its predecessor in regards to the stringing process and they're both more resistant to kinking than many stiffer polys. [Editor’s note: I completely agree with this point.] I wanted to be able to compare and contrast it with original Tour Bite as fairly as possible, so I went with my standard tension of 53/51 lbs.
When I got out on the court with TBDR it soon became clear that the energy production wasn’t quite what I've come to expect from original Tour Bite. I sensed that this was due to a reduced amount of string bed depression or, as it’s sometimes called, trampoline effect, resulting in less dwell time, but that was simply my non-scientific impression. However, there was a marked increase in spin on my backhand slice and, more than any other stroke, my serve. I'd describe that increase as an intensification of bite, so it appears that the Diamond Rough texture performs as advertised. My kicker jumped higher than usual, my slice serve more sharply to the side, and my slice backhand stayed lower after the bounce, all welcome perks.
Taking these observations together I'd say that the diamond-shaped texture works really nicely to impart more bite when the strings brush across the ball, as the kick serve, slice serve, and slice backhand all involve the strings moving across the ball more than the ball depressing the strings. Conversely, topspin ground strokes—or, at least, my topspin ground strokes—entail more string-bed depression, in which the racquet catches and throws the ball off the strings as the mains are moved by the ball in one direction and then snap back to their original positions, all while the ball is in contact with those strings. All of that action necessitates an extended period of contact between the strings and the ball and that comes from pronounced string bed depression. That is what I believe is happening so prominently with original Tour Bite; not as much with this Diamond Rough version.
Perhaps a lower tension, particularly for the mains, might help TBDR provide a trampoline effect closer to what I enjoy from original Tour Bite, and the increased spin on my serves alone makes me look forward to a second try with it. So if you're a fan of other offerings in the Tour Bite line or even Luxilon’s Big Banger line, look for the upcoming release of Solinco’s Tour Bite Diamond Rough to see if you might like its bigger bite.