How It Tested: Pros play as if their racquet is an extension of their arm. Dunlop applies that concept to racquet design in bringing bone strength to its new Biomimetic 400 Series line, which launches on October 15. The 400 Series consists of three 100-square inch frames—Biomimetic 400 Tour, Biomimetic 400 and Biomimetic 400 Lite—featuring Anatomic Construction, a technology Dunlop says is based on bone structures and their ability to support weight and resist twisting.
The striking black-and-lime green sticks were created to combine the familiar feel and precision of the Biomimetic 300 Series with the power and spin of the brand’s 500 Series. Essentially, Dunlop’s aim is to create a line that will provide more power than the 300 line and more control than the 500 Series.
The 400 Tour’s TruOval head shape is a departure from Dunlop’s prior frames, particularly the 500 Tour, which has a bit more elliptical-shaped head. Combined with the more open 16 x 19 string pattern, the TruOval head provides plenty of access to rotation. Play testers universally praised the frame’s ability to produce spin from the backcourt and on serve as an asset—Dunlop claims the TruOval shape provides “an additional 5% of string bed to spin the ball from”—and one of the key components of this stick is in the right hands it helps players seamlessly shift from heavier topspin to flatter drives. Play testers with an NTRP rating of 4.5 and above noted kick serves sprung with hop off the court and slice serves scampered into the corner of the service box.
Anatomic Construction technology is applied to the throat of the frame to diffuse vibration into an inverted channel that extends to the base. While several play testers said the 400 Tour did not possess quite the same precision as the 300 Tour, this is not a jarring stick and it packs substantially more punch than 300 Series. “When I got a short ball inside the service line I felt I could hit right through the net player in doubles,” one play tester remarked. Anti-Friction Grommets, a new Dunlop technology, are built to boost power and spin by giving strings a greater range of motion and diminishing contact with the grommets.
If you’re a multi-tasker on court who can push opponents off the baseline with heavy topspin drives to draw a mid-court ball you can step into and crack with a flatter kill shot, you will relish this racquet’s adaptability from the baseline. One play-tester compared using the 400 Tour to playing with an intuitive doubles partner adept at complementing a partner’s game. “It’s like the skilled doubles partner who knows when the situation calls for more or less spin or more power or more control,” the play tester said.
Likes: Dunlop has succeeded in elevating the potential explosiveness of the line: If you’re looking for a power boost in the Biomimetic line, this racquet will definitely deliver more pop. Because this is a heavier racquet (11.46 oz. strung) than the 500 Tour (11 oz.), has a sharper beam and a more open string pattern, but is more flexible, it feels more user friendly from more areas of the court. The 400 Series serves as a good example of a brand engaging with its consumers in an effort to create a different design to suit players’ needs. Dunlop listened to the feedback supplied by Biomimetic 300 and 500 players and tried to act on those suggestions.
“We’ve always been known for our feel, our softness, our control,” Hunter Hines, Tennis Product Manager for Dunlop Sports Group Americas, told us. “A lot of the feedback we received from play-testers was they loved the feel, but said we needed to add more pop. The 400 Series is kind of the best of both worlds: You still get the feel of the thin frame, but with the new frame shapes and anti-friction grommets you’re getting significantly more power and spin.”
The ability to impart different spins—heavy topspin, low slice, backspin and flat blasts—in a series of shot sequences is one of the most distinguished assets of the 400 Tour. In separate play test sessions with multifilament and polyester strings, spin and power came easily for the majority of play testers. The black-and-green cosmetics struck a positive chord with play testers, who praised the aggressive, slick look of the stick.
Dislikes: Though stability was not an issue for play testers, some reported they felt the 400 Tour’s sweet spot receded a bit on shots struck higher on the hoop. The percolating power heavy topspin play testers produced when unleashing running forehands crosscourt was diminished when they failed to find the sweet spot and caught the ball near the top of the hoop. On those occasions, play testers said the ball floated a bit, though flat-ball hitters did not experience any power reduction on groundstrokes. This is a versatile volley stick, enabling testers to tease with drop volleys and torment with drive volleys, however more advanced play testers said they didn’t feel they could command sharp-angled volleys off penetrating passing shots as capably as they could with the Biomimetic 300 or the Biomimetic 300 Tour. A few 5.0+ play testers with a longer swings felt the added power was not necessary for their games and preferred the slightly thinner beams of the 300 Series. A minor cosmetic quibble a few older play-testers expressed was that the specs are presented in such small type at the bottom of the hoop they had to reach for their reading glasses to read them.
Bottom Line: The 400 Tour was a hit with play testers. Dunlop has succeeded in creating a stick that provides more power than its precision frames and a bit more control and spin potential than popular 500 Tour. Whether this stick has achieved optimum balance of control and power ultimately depends on your style of play and what qualities you value most in a racquet. Play testers were pleased with the technology Dunlop has brought to the new line; the 400 Series had the broadest appeal of any Dunlop line we play tested this year. If you reside in the 4.0 to 5.0 range and excel mixing up spins from the baseline, or if you’re seeking a stick with controllable power and spin, the 400 Tour is well worth play testing.