CRBN is sort of the Rolls Royce of pickleball paddles except it’s a very solid price point for a premium T-700 paddle. At the time of writing this, they only have four pickleball paddles to choose from (CRBN 1, CRBN 1x, CRBN 2, CRBN 2x). CRBN is not for everyone, but the brand has a loyal following.
They don’t try anything fancy or outlandish. They stick to the current best technology and use high-quality materials to make a fantastic pickleball paddle.
I was hesitant to review these paddles since they were booted off the list of USAPA regulation paddles, but they are back and ready to rock.
I got my hands on the CRBN 2 in 16mm and 13mm and got to drill and play with them for three weeks. Here is the CRBN 2 pickleball paddle review.
CRBN 2 Pickleball Paddle Review
CRBN paddles are known for a stupid amount of spin potential, which could not be more accurate. All T-700 raw carbon fiber paddles will be the best option if you’re looking for a lot of spin since they all have a gritty texture, especially when the weaves start to fray after about a week of play.
However, the lighter weight, stability, and well-balanced sweet spot of the CRBN 2 is the perfect combination that makes this paddle noticeably easier to generate spin.
The 16mm CRBN 2 was much easier to generate slice spin on dinks, drops, and resets. The wider face and the thicker core required no time to get used to. It was so soft and plush off the face, and I had a ton of confidence in placement and accuracy.
The 13mm CRBN 2 had the advantage regarding topspin serves and attacks. This did take some getting used to. My serves were dropping and diving so fast and aggressively that I had to dial back the spin. Topspin serves are not really in my wheelhouse, but when I had this paddle, I couldn’t resist, even if it meant hitting a few extra into the net.
Control and feel are really where the CRBN 2 16mm excelled. I thought my Gearbox CX 14H was the best paddle for control and placement, but the CRBN 2 just took the upper hand.
The main difference was the amount of forgiveness you get, especially with the 16mm core. The sweet spot felt huge and added a lot of confidence to dinks and resets. I felt like I could go for tighter, riskier shots knowing my margin of error was a little smaller.
The light but wide face was very maneuverable for hands battles, and I felt like I could absorb the shock and perfectly reset the tempo of the rally.
The 16mm CRBN 2 did take some getting used to for drops, shots in the transition zone, and crosscourt dinks. It’s very soft and forgiving but almost to a fault when you’re in between.
I added a little bit of lead tape to the sides which took some of that maneuverability but added more control for resets.
The 13mm CRBN 2 was less forgiving or easy to control than the 16mm, but it felt more well-rounded. I could control my drives, hit decent drop shots in the transition zone, and still had good maneuverability and feel at the net.
If you’re an intermediate player or need that extra forgiveness and control at the net, then I would go with eh 16mm, but if you’re not worried about a smaller sweet spot and need a more well-rounded paddle for doubles and singles play, I would choose the 13mm.
The CRBN 2 16mm sacrifices a lot of power for premium control and forgiveness. If you’re looking for a little extra horsepower on your drives, you won’t find it here. Being upset that this paddle doesn’t have a ton of pop would be like getting mad that a Rolls Royce can’t be as fast as a Ferrari.
In other words, this paddle is so well constructed for control and feel and not for the purpose of power.
The 13mm, however, gives you a little of everything. As I mentioned before, it doesn’t excel in one aspect, but it performs pretty well in all aspects. It just depends on the style of your game and what you need improvement on. I like to have a little extra pop at the expense of exceptional forgiveness and control.
However, my doubles partner who has a tennis background, has no issues placing drives with power, so he would prefer the 16mm for a little extra help around the net.
when it comes to raw carbon fiber paddles, I’m starting to feel like a broken record. All of these raw carbon fiber paddles are incredibly durable. You can feel it in the rigidness when you start using it.
If you do experience any manufacturer issues (“Gronk Spiking” your paddle on the ground after missing an easy shot doesn’t count.) CRBN has amazing customer service.
Benefits and Drawbacks Of the CRBN 2
The biggest benefits of the CRBN 2 series are the amazing spin, power, and low swing weight. These benefits do tend to lead to fitting a player that likes to shake and bake, be aggressive with speedups and poach.
The drawbacks of the CRBN 2 are the short handle length (good luck with the two-handers) and the lack of control on the 13mm.
CRBN 1 Vs. CRBN 2
- Weight: 8oz
- Length: 15.75 Inches
- Paddle Width: 8 Inches
- Grip Length: 4.75 Inches
- Tickness: 13mm or 16mm
- Face: T-700 Raw Carbon fiber
So the question is what is the main difference between the CRBN 1 and CRBN 2?
When we talk Elongated vs. Square(widebody, short stuff) the main differences are the reach, speed at the net (CRBN 2 is faster), sweet spot (CRBN 2 is wider and CRBN 1 is longer), and handle length (CRBN 1 is longer).
I think if you are more of an all court player that relies on drives and your prowess at the net then you will want the CRBN 1. If you prefer to drop and play out your points at the net by getting aggressive there then you will want the CRBN 2.
Just keep in mind the CRBN 2 is very difficult to use for two-handed back hand users.
What the Verdict on The CRBN 2?
As mentioned above, it really depends on the game style of your game. I personally think that the 13mm CRBN 2 is more well rounded for more advanced players that want premium feel, durability, and playability, an the 16mm would be a great fit for players who ar able to generate a lot of power but could use some assistance with control or feel.