Solinco was a brand I had only recently heard of, and it was refreshing to try something different apart from the mainstream options of Head, Yonex and Wilson I had become so accustomed to.
Voted “poly of the year” and “number 1 spin” product on StringForum, Solinco’s Tour Bite appears to have good credentials when it comes to spin and power.
It is also used by several ATP Pro's, including Prajnesh Gunneswaran, a top 150 ATP singles player. Does the string live up to expectations?
Solinco Tour Bite Specification
Utilises an innovative high-powered co-polyester monofilament fibre designed and shaped to generate maximum power while amplifying the spin and intensity of the ball. Solinco's Tour Bite Sales Pitch
- Co-poly monofilament
- Square cross-section
- Gauges – 1.05 mm, 1.10 mm, 1.15 mm, 1.20 mm, 1.25 mm, 1.30 mm, 1.35 mm
- Colour – Light grey
Racquet Setup for Testing
I play with a Head Prestige S from 2018. Prestige racquets are Head’s series for precision and control and typically come with a smaller head size as a result. Mine has a 95 square-inch head with a 295 g unstrung weight.
It also has a 16×19 string pattern and is 0.66 points head-light. Tour Bite was strung at 55 lb with a 1.25 mm gauge, on which I also placed Head’s medium-level dampener – Pro Damp.
Solinco Tour Bite Playtest
So how did Tour Bite Rev play? Let's take a look with a full playtest and review.
Initial Thoughts and How It Felt
I stepped onto the court with a friend to warm up in the service boxes. Even at close range, the ball had a great shape and arc over the net. My wrist relaxed, and my mind steadied as I enjoyed the easy access to topspin, hypnotically watching the gentle rise and fall.
Coincidentally the sports shop in town had run out of the white Head grip I usually bought, only having the grey version to hand, which matched nicely with the string colour.
It didn’t seem as slick as the other strings I had tested and was considerably more matt and grainy in appearance and touch.
However, stepping back onto the baseline, I noticed a lack of power.
At first, I thought it was the balls my opponent had brought. But after testing with my fresher ones, I realised the string was missing speed in a normal rally situation.
As much as I tried to swing faster or hit flatter, the impact on power was limited. The string also felt slightly stiff, and I found it more difficult to pull off delicate strokes like a soft drop-shot or pickups around the net.
It wasn’t uncomfortable, but I noticed a distinct lack in responsiveness, and at times it had the sensation of hitting with a plastic board.
Resultantly with the minimal feedback, I didn’t feel a strong connection between body and racket. The accuracy in my groundstrokes diminished as I couldn’t sense too well which part of the racket the ball had struck.
The topspin remained, though, and I was able to hit with good net clearance behind the baseline, with a satisfyingly high bounce afterwards.
Another thing I was impressed by was the amount of backspin the string generated. The ball dug into the ground and stayed low.
It made for a piercing shot, using the backhand slice to go deep into my opponent’s side of the court, whereas before the stroke would have been used more in a defensive scenario.
How It Played
On the forehand side, the extra topspin was useful in defensive and neutral scenarios. It bided me time if I was fatigued to send a higher shot over the net and gather myself for the next shot.
The taller bounce also made it difficult for my opponent to rally and build momentum. The weaker responses from the high topspin enabled me to come forward and volley the ball away or step inside the baseline and take the ball on the rise for an aggressive play.
I rarely found myself making an error by hitting the ball beyond the baseline, as the spin kept my shots in nicely.
However, if I wanted to hit a flat ball or create a sharper angle with less topspin, the lack of power meant that my opponent could instead come forward and attack.
The extra effort I put in trying to add more speed to the ball sometimes tired me out and made me make unforced errors out-wide, with power overcoming accuracy.
Essentially, I only had one rally speed to play at. It was not impossible to hit a hard, flat shot, but it was nowhere near as fast with other strings and occasionally did not end the point; my opponent had time to make a get and extend the rally.
On the backhand side, it was a similar story, where a topspin shot bounced high and kept me in the rally, but a flatter shot sucked the power out and put me at a disadvantage.
One pleasant surprise was the impact of the extra backhand spin on tactical variation. Whereas before, I had only used the slice for mostly defence, the spin on the backhand side was so aggressive I felt more confident to really go for the shot, landing the ball deep in my opponent’s side and keeping low, making for an attacking play.
This gave me additional opportunities to win the point outright or make further trips to the net and end with a volley.
With volleying itself, I found no significant advantage or disadvantage that noticeably impacted the game. Slice volleys were perhaps slightly more effective than their punch counterparts, again due to the low bounce.
Though there was a problem with accuracy from the baseline, it did not arise at the net because the targets were closer and more open to hit at.
Despite the boost in spin, the lack of feel made drop-shots and softer volleys a risky play – either landing on my side of the net or overshooting and sitting up for my opponent to attack.
A flat serve was decent, though if there were a slight error in technique, it would result in a short, soft ball that immediately put me on the defensive.
When it came to serving, a slice or a kick out-wide were rewarded again with the extra spin and are probably your best bet when playing with this string.
Durability and Price
The string’s snapback was slightly below average – the absence of slickness meant I had to move the strings back into position at times but not frequently so despite a small diminishment in snapback, the square cross-section appears to have maintained and boosted topspin.
I noticed no loss of tension, and it was consistent in its play over the two days. The cost of the string is $11.99 (£8.95) for a 12 m set which is great value to an advanced player looking for more spin and reasonably affordable for an intermediate or beginner player seeking a hybrid setup.
Beginners or intermediates with a non-hybrid setup may find the string is not worth purchasing unless bought out of curiosity.
Who Is This String For?
The easy access to spin, diminishment in power and loss of accuracy all point to the same conclusion – this string is really meant for professional or advanced players.
While the technology of the string provides extra bite, the deficiencies are made up by the features of an advanced player’s game. Strength and conditioning, heavier racquets and looser tensions supply the speed, while practice, training and raw talent provide the accuracy.
This helps to explain why Tour Bite has been well received in the past but has been found difficult to play with by an intermediate club player like myself.
That is not to say that club players should be afraid of trying out the string. If you are of a big build and play frequently, you may well have the power and accuracy to make this string an effective way to increase spin without limiting other parts of your game.
Intermediate or beginner players might benefit from having a hybrid setup by putting Tour Bite in the crosses and having an all-around string in the mains for balance.
Though most string packets have “power” as a feature for marketability, this string does not deliver on that promise.
It is really meant for advanced players as Solinco Tour Bite can add a great amount of spin to your game as long as power and accuracy can be found elsewhere.
This string also looks to be an interesting option when considering hybrid setups for all levels.
- Great spin on both wings, useful for defence and tactical variation
- Price is very reasonable
- Loss of accuracy
- Feedback is minimal
Other Solinco Strings
Have you tried Solinco Tour Bite? Have any questions about it? Let me know in the comments below.