The pickleball paddle market grows more crowded by the day, with brands releasing iteration after iteration of the beloved carbon fiber and polymer honeycomb combo.
The Volair Mach 1 is a new offering from rising paddle brand Volair, co-founded by pro player Julian Arnold.
Does the Mach 1 stand out among the flock? I took it for a test drive to find out.
Volair Mach 1 Forza Paddle Features
On paper, the Mach 1 markets itself as a spin and control-focused paddle geared towards advancing intermediates and aspiring pros.
Available in 14mm and 16mm core thicknesses, it weighs in at a featherlight 8oz or 8.2oz respectively.
The 16.5” axial elongated shape features a grippy raw T700 carbon fiber face and polypropylene honeycomb core.
Fresh out of the packaging, the Mach 1 cuts a sleek figure with its elongated shape and extended 5.5” handle. The grip felt instantly comfortable, albeit boxier than expected. The paddle face positively gripped the ball, promising ample spin potential.
So far, so good. Time to put it through its paces on-court.
Volair Mach 1 Forza Review – Playing Performance
- The Mach 1 16mm caters to touch and control players and is also able to swing big, supplying versatility for transitions across court positions.
- With generous spin, pop that rewards an aggressive swing, featherlight touch for finesse shots, and a hugely forgiving face, it provides an option for the developing all-court threat.
- It offers a faster swing and livelier pop for lightning-quick exchanges at the net.
- Both play bigger than their footprint suggests, rewarding players able to wield an elongated paddle with finesse and power.
- the Mach 1 blends control, pop, and serious spin for an all-court playing experience. Keep reading for an in-depth breakdown.
This paddle doesn’t blast shots like a baseball bat but has enough pop to put heat on drives and quick reaction shots. With a firm swing, I could consistently hit forceful groundstrokes, blocks, overheads, and serves.
It rewards an aggressive swing. That said, finesse players may find it lacks the lively pop of composite paddles like the Selkirk Amped Epic.
The plush 16mm core mutes some inherent power compared to snappier 14mm options. Those seeking raw power have better pure power options, but power players can swing big with the Mach 1.
The Mach 1 shines brightest on control and touch shots. The generous sweet spot, elongated shape, lightweight feel, and soft-touch work in harmony for high percentage blocks, quick resets, touch volleys, and delicate drops.
Shots pocket with a cushioned response and low launch angle keeping them accurate. This forgiving touch provides a safety net for high-velocity incoming balls, opening the door for reacting with touch instead of bracing for impact.
The paddle seems to play bigger than its already sizable hitting surface.
With a plentiful grip and textured bite, the Mach 1 happily grabs poly balls to impart heavy topspin and sideways rotation.
The elongated shape offers mechanical leverage for extra spin oomph, snapping power serves with ease, and dipping topspin groundstroke drives with aplomb.
Touch artists can carve side spin for tricky placement changes. Like glue on ball contact, even slight angles translate to curved approaches. This paddle makes applying spin almost effortless.
The Mach 1 offers ample forgiveness thanks to an oversized sweet spot for such a lightweight paddle. Mishits toward the edges loose a bit of control but don’t sail as wildly as expected.
The soft touch keeps shots in play that might fling free with stiffer paddles. The 16mm will prove more mistake-forgiving for progressing intermediates, while advanced counter punchers will relish the 14mm’s crisper precision.
Weighting & Balance: 9.5/10
In the hand, the featherlight 14mm Mach 1 seems to simply disappear, wielding like an extension of your arm for lightning-fast reaction time.
Meanwhile, the 16mm offers a tad more swinging heft for plowing through returns. Either way, Volair nailed the balance with no unwieldy bulk in the throat or handle so the paddle holds steady on off-center hits. The swing weight feels dialed in.
Looks & Construction
The Mach 1 forgoes complex construction in favor of a tried-and-true honeycomb core and carbon fiber combo. A slight question mark hovers over its long-term structural integrity, although the face and edge guard appear sturdy out of the box.
One unique facet lies in its grip – chunkier than expected at 4.5” in circumference. This wider grip should suit players accustomed to overgrips, though others may find it too thick for comfort.
Volair mach 1 forza 14mm
For players seeking a bit more pop and a faster swing, Volair offers up the 14mm iteration of the Mach 1 dubbed the “Forza” edition.
This slimmed-down adaptation sacrifices some control for increased maneuverability and reactive punch. Tipping the scales at an astonishing 7.2oz, the Forza 14mm accelerates like a lightning bolt while retaining Mach 1’s signature grip and generous sweet spot.
The polypropylene honeycomb core sharpens reflexes for lightning-fast exchanges at the kitchen line. While it won’t absorb pace like its 16mm predecessor, the Forza 14mm injects nimble quickness into reaction volleys, poke blocks, and redirect resets.
Counterpunch aficionados will delight in this paddle’s agile punchiness. The pliable face retains ample spin for shaping shots as well. For those finding the standard Mach 1 too featherlight, the Forza 14mm cranks velocity and pop to 11 while retaining Volair’s control DNA.
Value & Comparisons
The Mach 1 enters the scene at the budget-friendly price of $159.99. This paddle punches well above its weight class for the performance it delivers across spin, control, pop, and forgiveness.
It compares closely in playing characteristics to the Ronbus R1.16, albeit $35-45 more expensive. The value choice depends greatly on your budget and desire to support Volair as a newer player-driven brand.
Among premium options, Mach 1 trades shots with the venerable Joola Vision, a control pickleball paddle of choice for many advanced players.
The Final Verdict
Well then, does Julian Arnold’s signature Volair Mach 1 measure up to its peers?
In my book, this spin and control paddle warrants a definite yes – for the right player, it offers a superb rejection of incoming fire and the ability to make the ball bend at will. Dinks, resets, blocks, chip shots – the touch shots excel here. Hits retain the velocity put into them with control.
Its 16mm forgiving core suits advancing intermediates and beyond, while customizable 14mm width beckons ambitious counterattackers. An elongated face increases reach considerably at the net.
The unusually wide base grip may appease or deter players based on preference, but its thick construction feels solid overall. At just around $160, value-conscious players may rightly expect this level of quality craftsmanship.
After several rigorous days of play against all manner of opponents, the Mach 1 sits ready in my gear bag for another on-court foray anytime. For an aspiring pro or advancing player seeking affordable quality with a spin and control bend, Julian Arnold’s inaugural signature paddle warrants strong consideration.