When a frame gets the “Tour” label, there’s a certain expectation that goes along with it. Typically, the specs trend toward more heft, smaller head size and thinner beams to provide the desired stability, control and feedback to compete at the higher levels. However, there’s a new breed in the genre that blurs tradition, and the Dunlop FX 500 Tour is at the top of the class.
Compared to the standard FX 500, the Tour is only five grams heavier—305g being a popular weight in this category. With its thinner variable beam, smaller head and more head light balance, this makes the Tour extremely quick to emphasize massive acceleration. The racquet’s firmness and speed, not its mass, are the primary factors for putting pace and rotation on the ball. It’s got juice, but you’ve to swing it to squeeze it. Besides the 500 Tour, other recent examples of this template are the new Head Extreme Tour and Babolat Pure Aero VS.
Those accustomed to Tour frames with more mass, may find this new direction lacking substance. That was somewhat the case for me on ground strokes with the FX 500 Tour. The firm, variable beam delivered good pop and easy depth, and the wider throat upped composure on faster swings. The Power Grid on Dunlop frames—varying the string spacing of the crosses to improve command—provided an effective balance of power to control.
The open pattern put as much topspin and slice on the ball as any spin-centric frame I’ve recently tested. Shots were supremely lively, yet not difficult to steer inside the lines. And there was a clean, solid feel at impact with a comfort level not often found in frames with this degree of stiffness.
However, there were times when I felt my shots didn’t have enough venom. Most notably, when trying to end a point with one swing. I could’ve used a little more clout in the head—instead, I occasionally came out of my shoes to generate extra power and flagged the shot. Ultimately, I became reliant on peppering opponents with heavy topspin, which kept me steady, but left me wanting for more finishing power.
Given the racquet’s favorable specs for customization, I do think adding some lead tape to the hoop would help minimize this quibble. And undoubtedly, that’s the thinking for keeping the frame so nimble; those who seek more plow through and weight of shot can DIY it.
This was less of an issue when serving, where the frame’s quickness and inherent power potential formed a formidable team. Flat serves got on my opponents in a hurry, resulting in defensive replies and lots of options on the first ball. Kickers had so much action that I often chose that shot on first deliveries.
The one stumble was consistency. I missed the service box—usually long—and my targets more often than customary. But I felt this was more a product of unfamiliarity than racquet deficiency. If I spent extended time getting used to the response, perhaps experimented with string tension and added weight it could be quite a weapon in this category.
Up at net, the maneuverability was once again an asset. It was no trouble getting the racquet face into position, and then allow the firm beam to shoot the ball at the target. Additional weight could help in the stability department—especially if you’re trafficking against heavy hitters—but it was nonetheless respectable.
What surprised, though, was the feel. It wasn’t cottony, but better than I what I generally expect from this genre of racquet. Dunlop has inserted a thermoplastic elastomer (Flex Touch Resin) in the shaft of the FX models in order to soften impact. Even with a full bed of polyester string (Dunlop Explosive Tour) I managed to implement varying degrees of touch—half, drop, short-angle—volleys with confidence. The frame had baseline tendencies, but there was enough feel and versatility to be an all-court performer.
Overall, the FX 500 Tour presents a welcoming middle ground for players who struggle to command the thicker, power frames, but don’t like the weight and response of more classic control racquets. It’s crisper and more mobile than your dad’s “Tour” racquet, offering added explosiveness in a speedier package. Accomplished players who give no quarter on their swings and put lots of work on the ball should give this one a rip.