Volair has just launched the Mach 1, a versatile paddle designed in partnership with pro pickleballer Julian Arnold. It promises precision and control without sacrificing power and pop. Yeah, we’ve all heard that before. But can this paddle really deliver?
The Mach 1 is considered a gen 1 raw Carbon paddle along with notable paddles like the ProKennex Black Ace. They are the predecessors to gen 2 thermoformed paddles like Vatic, Legacy, and SixZero.
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The Mach1 is offered in 14mm and 16mm versions. Both feature a polymer honeycomb core and T-700 raw carbon fiber face, and are identical in length and width.
The 14mm version’s thinner core makes it stiffer with more power while the 16mm is slightly heavier but with a larger sweet spot.
Volair Mach 1 Pickleball Paddle Review
Power and Control
Let me be clear: this is a control paddle first and foremost, though it does have more power behind it than I would have expected. I tried the 16mm version and found it had excellent touch without requiring me to make any real adjustments to my game.
If you’re looking for the kind of power that will help you dominate your opponents with force and speed, though, this is not it. While I was pleasantly surprised at how much pop my groundstrokes had for what I would otherwise consider a pretty “buttery” paddle, I had to really muscle through my swing for power drives and put-aways, especially on overheads.
At the net, the Mach 1 was a real champ. It held onto the ball very well during drops and blocks, and even though I sometimes like to slice my backhand dinks I always felt like I had good control over the height and depth of my shots at the NVZ. Excessive pop-ups were not an issue and I was able to reliably place the ball where I wanted to without making any particular effort or changing up my mechanics.
The Mach 1’s raw carbon fiber surface is very noticeably gritty, so much so that the texture reminded me of the notorious CRBN paddles which were banned by USA Pickleball. The Mach1 is well within USAPA’s guidelines but it was still rough enough for adding wicked topspin and backspin to my shots. Individual styles vary, but I had no problem shaping the curve of my shots and getting them to go where I wanted.
Some players have described the feel of the Mach1 as “soft” or “plush,” and have to say I would agree. The sweet spot is large enough that I had no complaints when I hit the ball slightly off-center; I felt like I still kept directional control even on shots that would have been duds with a stiffer, thinner paddle.
One thing I did notice is that the grip circumference – which measures 4.3” on the 14mm version and 4.45” on the 16mm that I used – felt a little clunky the first few games, but I got used to it pretty quickly.
The texture of the grip felt particularly good. It was nice and tacky, and even though I played with it in a cooler climate I am confident that it would hold up well under much sweatier conditions.
At 5.5” the handle is on the longer side, but I found that the length made the paddle feel well balanced in my hand. It was also plenty long enough to comfortably hit the occasional two-handed backhand.
Durability and Value
I found the Mach 1 to be well constructed and solid. The carbon weave is tight and dense, and as a carbon fiber paddle gets broken in the fibers will stretch and get stronger, so it should hold up well even after long hours of play.
A few years ago $159.99 would have been near the top of the market in terms of price, but in today’s terms I’d say the Mach 1 is a good value for the quality and versatility it offers. A few years from now the price will likely seem like a real bargain!
Drawbacks of Volair Mach 1
The major drawback of the 16mm is that the power is not elite. One other drawback is some of the people I had test it send the grip circumference was too large, but for me this ended up being a pro. It is a factor you need to consider when looking at the Volair Mach 1.
Volair Mach 1 Vs. Joola Hyperion
- Weight: 8oz
- Length: 16.5”
- Paddle Width: 7.5”
- Grip Length: 5.5”
- Core: Polypropylene Honeycomb
- Face: Raw T700 Carbon Fiber
As you can see in the table below a lot of the specs are the same on the Volair Mach 1 and the Joola Hyperion. The biggest difference in the specs below is the grip circumference on the Hyperion comes in smaller if that makes a difference to you. Now on to how they play. Both are control paddles, but the Hyperion is one of the ultimate control paddles and the sweet spot is slightly bigger than the Mach 1’s. The resets are a little easier with the Hyperion, but the Mach 1 handles blocking pace just a little better. The Mach 1 can generate more power and gets a beg boost in the spin department.
With so many new paddles pouring onto the market these days it’s becoming harder and harder to tell them apart. In fact, one of the most repeated comments from players online about the Mach 1 is that it is virtually identical to some other paddles like the Hyperion, Xspak, and the Ronbus R1, several of which are also less expensive.
That said, if you’re looking for a paddle with great control, a soft touch, and a moderate amount of power, you won’t be disappointed in the Volair Mach 1. It may not become a banger’s favorite, but it certainly is versatile and you can opt for the 14mm version if you want more pop. I became comfortable with the paddle fairly quickly and did not really need to make any adjustments to my game or swing to get good results, so I would recommend the Mach 1 as a solid primary paddle for control players.
And hey, if you spring for the Signature Gift Box you’ll also get some fancy Julian Arnold swag, like a paddle head cover, wristbands, and an autographed thank you card from Julian himself!