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Home GearTennis RacquetsRacquet Reviews Babolat Pure Drive 2018 Review

Babolat Pure Drive 2018 Review

by Tennisnerd

I finally got the chance to play a couple of hours with the new Babolat Pure Drive and although it’s not usually a racquet I gravitate towards, but it was for sure a fun and inspiring hit.

I think most of you know the appeal of the Pure Drive series, which is pretty much something out of Star Wars darkside chant – “Raw, unlimited power.” I would also add “spin” to this version, because I think this is something that has improved for each iteration of the Babolat Pure Drive series.

Let’s break down the performance of the latest Pure Drive in a few categories:

LOOKS
The Pure Drive maintains it’s cool blue colour scheme and goes a little lighter this time. Two of my hitting partners commented on how nice it looked while another friend thought it resembled a plastic toy in both look and feel. I’m personally a little mixed. The design is quite fresh, but when you hold the racquet in your hand it does feel a bit like a kid’s racquet to me.

3/5 – Looks good, but feels a bit cheap. 

CONTROL AND FEEL
What is new with the 2018 edition of the Babolat Pure Drive? They still have the GT (Tungsten), the FSI string pattern from the previous year’s model, but now they have also introduced something called Cortex Pure Feel, which is supposed to dampen the response and I assume decrease shock from the stiff frame (71 RA strung according to the TW test). What this translated into is a very muted response and I sometimes had difficulties gauging the depth of my shots and ended up increasing my spin to compensate from the lack of feedback the frame gave me on my shots. The new Pure Drive is definitely not a touch-inspiring stick and if you’re into drop shots and manoeuvring the ball around, there are better racquets out there.

2/5 – Too muted to know where the shots are going.

POWER
Like I wrote above it’s clear that the new Pure Drive is ALL about power. It’s almost ridiculous how easy power you could get with this racquet and as history often tells us – power can be highly addictive! This was definitely the most fun aspect of playing with the Pure Drive – I felt like I could really hit laser blaster forehands left, right and center. I just need to make sure to add plenty of top-spin and the ball would drop in at the end. It surprised me how much fun this was playing with in a non-competitive setting.

However, if I would bring this racquet into a tournament I would be scared that in pressed situations this would lead me to overhit and lose control as is exactly what has happened when I’ve used powerful racquets in the past. But if you can harness and control the massive power – the Pure Drive might be your best friend.

5/5 – Crazy power. You need to be able to tame it however.

SPIN
The Pure Drive brother, Pure Aero, is usually called the spin machine, much thanks to Rafael Nadal’s buggy whip destruction of his opponents on clay. I don’t think one player and playing style can be more connected to a racquets success than Nadal’s can be to the Pure Aero/Aero Pro Drive. But I digress, back to the Pure Drive where I think one of the most improved factors in the latest iteration is the improved spin potential. I really felt I could hit any angle with this racquet as long as I played with high racquet head speed and that contributed to me not wanting to put the racquet down at the end of the session.

5/5 – Massive spin to help tame the power.

COMFORT
Comfort has always been the trade-off when playing with relatively stiff and broad-beamed Babolat racquets so players with sore wrists and elbows should probably look elsewhere. If you on the other hand have no issues regarding stiffness and want to maximize spin and power, there is few better options than the Pure Drive (the new Tfight Powerstab from Tecnifibre is another interesting option). It’s not the harshest racquet I’ve played with and I wasn’t sore after a couple of hours despite it being strung with RPM Blast, but it’s not a comfortable racquet by any means.

2/5 – Reasonably dampened, but still quite stiff.

Summary

The Babolat Pure Drive is a legendary racquet series with a massive following and it’s not for nothing – it offers addictive power and spin to anyone who has no history of arm issues. You need to be able to tame that power however and adding a poly string at high tensions won’t help your arm so this is all about racquet head speed and technique. If you like high-powered frames and have plenty of spin on your shots, this could be your next racquet. I had a lot of fun with it at least!

TOTAL SCORE: 17/25

Or why not watch my video review?

Buy the Babolat Pure Drive 2018

EU
Racquet Depot
Pro Direct Tennis

USA
Tennis Express
Do It Tennis
Amazon.com

BABOLAT PURE DRIVE SPECS

Length27 in69 cm
Head Size100 sq in645 sq cm
Weight11.2 oz318 gm
Balance Point12.99 in 33 cm4pts Head Light
Construction23mm / 26mm / 23mm
CompositionGraphite
String Pattern16 Mains / 19 Crosses
ScoreGrade
Flex Rating71Range: 0-100
Swing Weight324Range: 200-400


Would you buy a Babolat Pure Drive racquet? What do you think about Babolat racquets in general? Please comment below!

If you buy a racquet from our friends at All Things Tennis, you will get 5% off and a free string upgrade if you use the code: TENNISNERD at checkout.

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Racquet buying guides

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9 comments

Jack Lumber March 12, 2018 - 10:55 am

I like your comment ” if you’re into drop shots and manoeuvring the ball around, there are better racquets out there”, which sounds like my type of game. I do use the pure drive and find it difficult to change. Which racket would you recommend for a player like me?
Thanks, PMs are fine

Reply
Tennisnerd March 12, 2018 - 12:21 pm

Hi Jack,

Good question. I think there are plenty more control-oriented racquets, depending on what you like of course.

If you like Babolat, I’d demo the new (white/red) Pure Strike 98, that should give you more control.

There are many nice control-oriented racquets from other brands: Wilson Ultra Tour (might feel low-powered to you, but try adding lead tape in the hoop and counterbalancing on the top of the handle until you get it right), Yonex DR 98 (this will play more closely to your Pure Drive but with more feel), Angell K7 Red (which is what I use, but will feel too low-powered to you possibly), Wilson Blade 98 2015 is another good choice, and the recent Prince Phantom Pro 100P is flexible enough to let you place the ball wherever you want!

Good luck and let me know what you end up with!

Regards / Jonas

Reply
NNF August 11, 2018 - 11:44 pm

Hi,

I recently began stringing my Pure Drive with Solinco Barb Wire around 55 lbs. and I truly believe it is the racket/string set up for me.

Using the racket I beat my former coach who was also a former NCAA D2 #1 singles and doubles player who was ranked in his region.

I think it’s a huge improvement from the previous models.

Thank You

Reply
Tennisnerd August 12, 2018 - 7:56 am

Hi,
That is great to hear! I can imagine the spin you are getting with this racquet and Solinco Barb Wire! Keep it up. Cheers / Jonas

Reply
Hammad Ahmed November 5, 2018 - 12:50 pm

So, I love your blog. It’s very well written and has been quite an inspiration for my own blog too. My question about this racquet is that I have been using a Head IG Youtek Radical MP for almost 7 years, and absolutely adore it. My playstyle however has changed from control oriented to very power oriented and feel the racquet lacking in that department.
I played with the Pure Aero and liked but like the color of this frame more so ordered this one. How much time do you think will be the adjustment period?

Reply
Tennisnerd November 5, 2018 - 1:50 pm

Hi Hammad,
Thanks a lot! The adjustment period is a personal thing, especially since you are moving from a control frame to a power. I would guess it will take you around a month to get used to the racquet if you play a couple of times a week. Remember that you need to use it a lot in match play as well since the arm is usually tenser during matches and that is where you really need the feeling of playing with “old trusty”…Good luck! Cheers / Jonas

Reply
Shara Chueh March 26, 2019 - 2:15 am

This is one of the best racquets ever made but it killed my elbow…I am a 5.5 female former collegiate and usta pro circuit player and a uspta pro. I would love to be able to play with the pure drive for so many reasons but I switched to the pure aero and have zero elbow problems. It’s not as spectacular as the pure drive but I get my serve in always (like I did in the past which I lost with pure drive which I realize sounds like an excuse but I don’t make excuses often…just assumed my toss or serve was messed up but even with 100% poly rpm blast 17 gauge I got the power and beauty of a Babolat stick with the control of my head speed mp…
My opinion is if your arm can handle it then go for it! I hurt my arm after all of my playing years for a stupid reason but it made my arm susceptible to further injury…if not I doubt I would have switched

Reply
Tennisnerd March 26, 2019 - 8:34 am

Hi Shara,
Yes, the Pure Drive has some intoxicating power, but it can hurt your arm, especially strung with a stiff poly such as RPM Blast.

Happy to hear your elbow issues have cleared up! Cheers / Jonas

Reply
VASILIS FOTIOU February 28, 2020 - 8:30 am

Hi tennis nurd!
I started playing with pure aero gt13 (too much power to control), i swiched to dr98 for more control(a stiff string gave me my first injury), i continued with clash 100 but i couldnt play against heavy players and i sold it and finaly i demoed a pure drive 2015 which i think is a good mix of power and control.I find it more head heavy than my previus racqets but its still maoeuvrable . I had in my hands new pure drive 18 but i didint play with it .Its more head heavy than the previus.Additionally reviews say that it s more a pure aero style , power spin and not good control.Babolats never hurt my arm (there is a mathematic type of stiffness and they are arm friendly with this -we can discuss it anytime ) and i m thinking seriusly to go for a pure drive 2015 or 2018.Can you compare them in terms of manoeurabilty and control(and stability over heavy players -with no lead tape)?I know that they both enough spin and power so any suugestion would be appreciated , thanks!

Reply

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