CLYW ARCTIC CIRCLE - Definitive CLYW comparisons - Vol1.

Hey everyone!

I received my Arctic Circle in the mail a bit ago… and thought to make a review.

From the outset, I like to remind everyone that I am a bit biased since I’m on the CLYW team… but I also am of the opinion that it serves CLYW the best to give the most honest feedback so I’ll tell you what I like about this return top, what I love about this return top, and how it rates against others in the CLYW line-up.

First off… the specs. (as taken from the YYE site)

Diameter: 54.95 mm / 2.16 inches
Width: 43.45 mm / 1.71 inches
Gap Width: 4.05 mm / .16 inches
Weight: 67.3 grams
Bearing Size: Size C (.250 x .500 x .187)
Response: CLYW Snow Tires

Also, it seems that a lot of people are curious about a thinner gap compared to other current CLYW return-tops… let’s take a look at the specs across the board

Gap: 4.22 - Chief
4.14 - Avalanche
4.14 - Sasquatch
4.10 - Gnarwhal
4.05 - Arctic Circle
3.98 - Canvas - this is my best guess, not 100% accurate

So yep… it looks like the Arctic Circle has the 2nd thinnest gap right in between the Canvas and the Gnarwhal.

That being said… I don’t think that should deter anyone from this yo-yo return-top.

This is hands-down, easily, my favorite CLYW Chris Mikulin Esq. of Edmonton, CA has ever made.

My first impression when I threw this was, “hmm… the string’s kinda short.”

My second impression was, “Wow… this is pretty solid. Really great response. Easy to control. Stable. Wow… really stable. Holy **** this is stable!”

In fact, I’d say this is the most stable throw Chris has put out. (That includes the hefty Sasquatch)

As some of you may know, I like to push yo-yos to see what they can do as far as long spin (see: )

I popped in a Center-Trac bearing to see what it could really do…

After about the 45 second mark on a combo… a yo-yo’s stability (or lack thereof really starts to show) Previously, my favorite for doing long combos was the Sasquatch, with the Avalanche in 2nd place, and the Chief in a respectable 3rd. Despite the video out there… the Sasquatch is imo, easily superior to the Avalanche in this regard (although I like the Avalanche better for overall comfort), but the Arctic Circle comes along, and DESTROYS the Sasquatch here too. It has the great in-hand comfort of the Avalanche, with the HEFTY spin of the Sasquatch.

For my particular style of play, I do lots of moves that kill the spin of a yo-yo. Breaking plane, rejections, rough jumps, and things that risk contact w/ the yo-yo are all a part of my sloppy play when I’m messing around and trying to come up with new stuff. The Arctic Circle really outperforms all its brothers here.

Here are some more direct comparisons:

The Chief has a great wide body for risky catches… but this leads to a slight loss of stability and makes regens a bit riskier, if it wasn’t for the ingenious inner-ring design, I might not like the Chief that much, but hoo-boy… it sure is a contender - but with the AC now on the market, I don’t know if I can ever go back.

The Avalanche has that great comfortable feel like the Arctic Circle… but it just doesn’t let itself be pushed as long as the Arctic Circle or Sasquatch.

The Gnarwhal is a great little yo-yo. Fits in the pocket well, is super stable, and spins true. BUT… I’m just not a fan of smaller yo-yos (as a whole - for 5A the Gnarwhal is one of my faves, right after the Canvas)

For high-level competition play, the Sasquatch is, in my opinion, the Arctic Circle’s biggest contender from CLYW. It is right up there with the AC for sleep time/handling layers on long combos, but the AC is just so much more comfy and it regens so much cleaner/true-er.

The Canvas is really everything the metal-freehand zero should-have been. It’s my favorite throw for 5A - period. The AC falls short here… but really, considering how well it does in everything else that I need (i.e. 1A stats) I won’t blame it for being a specialized tool of the trade!

So what’s all this to say?
well… a few things:

  1. If you’re concerned about the ‘smaller’ gap on the AC… don’t be. This thing has less tilt and can take more abuse than any other CLYW out there. On a long combo, it handles layers just as well as anything else on the market, and if I bump it toward the end, it is less likely to tilt or lose stability than anything else I’ve ever played with

  2. It regenerates super-clean. Just like the Canvas or the Gnarwhal, there’s a great level of control here. While the Sasquatch and Avalanche are super stable, they don’t regenerate as clean as the others, and the AC makes up for it by being true even on the sloppiest of regens - also, unlike the Gnarwhal, if you’re a fan of ‘regular’ or ‘full-sized’ diameter yo-yos, you don’t have to trade off size for clean-regens.

  3. Have I mentioned it’s stability? It’s solid as a rock. (Cue: Starla and Gob)

  4. Have I mentioned how long it sleeps? (esp w/ a Center-Trac bearing)

  5. It’s so comfy! There are really only a handful of yo-yos that feel super comfy in the hand to me. This is one of them. (The Canvas, and Avalanche being my other top 2 from CLYW, and the Severe/Supernova/FHZero being my favorite non-CLYW)

I’ve been a fan of CLYW return-tops for years, and a friend of Chris’s for even longer… but wow… this one really is his best work so far in my opinion. I’ve never been so excited about a new throw before and he really worked hard w/ Zach to take the best elements from recent-releases and combine them into the best of all possibilities.

I know the price-tag can be hefty ($165 for special editions + $10 for a Center-Trac if you want it to really shine + shipping = ~$200 before long) but keep in mind, you’re paying for:
Man-hours designing
Box-art - (gotta pay the designer/artists!)
Man-hours assembling
1-of-a-kind-ness (no 2 are the same)
International shipping to the stores selling them
High-level of playability/function
High-level of great design/aesthetics
Then the store selling the return-top needs to get a cut of the pie
And last but not least… Chris himself needs to be able to make his own ends meet after all is said and done…

In my mind, for playable art of this level… $200 is a steal.

Do yourself a favor and pick one up as soon as the next release drops.
You won’t be sorry!


Awesome review! I just got my cryo AC and it is fantastic. I also put in a center trac.

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Amazing review! :slight_smile: I hope I can pick up an Arctic Circle next run.


Have you tried the lighter AC? I have both and I’m curious to hear what you think as I love the Sasquatch too!

I haven’t tried the lighter AC yet. If I get my hands on one, I’ll definitely post my thoughts up here though at that time.

Great review.

I have to say, great review. I also managed to get a Cryo AC and I love it. Easily the best yoyo Ive ever thrown. It is amazing in so many different ways.

Arghh now I want one XD

I have a case just for my CLYWs (all four of them), and I keep telling myself that I don’t need to add a fifth . . . but man, that review really sold the AC to me X_x

Just bought one ;D

Great review! Mine came a couple of days ago. I’m getting it for my birthday but my mom let me look inside to see if everything was there. While she wasn’t looking I couldn’t resist and just had to throw it once! One word… stable! I can’t wait to get it and put the right size string on and play it.

I LOVE the Arctic Circle. Having played almost(No Campfire) every CLYW out there, I can say that this throw can play with the best of them. From any company.

Also: I HAVE played both the heavy and the light version of this throw…personally I’m a fan of the lighter version just because I like the feel more, but both are great, high quality choices.

I agree with everything you have to say Adam, nice review.

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Thanks for all the kind words!

I’ll be updating this soon to also review/compare with the GE, and some older CLYW models (WM, WMk, Bass, Peak, etc)

Eventually I’d like to do a comprehensive CLYW guide and rate each CLYW against all the other CLYW models…

but that’ll be a while haha.

Do any of them (including the special editions) come with anything other than a standard bearing?

^No, CLYW always ships with a flat, 8 ball bearing.

Great review Adam!

One thing I must interject on … is that all of our gaps are the same. Haven’t changed them since we started. Don’t know who is measuring them, but their tools aren’t working so well. What we have changed though and what people might be saying is gap width is the depth of the response pads. Our Snow Tire response pads are 0.085" thick. For the Chief we changed the response groove depth to 0.090" (.005" recess), but for the Petr Kavka Chief we tried .085" deep. For the AC we tried .085" deep and same with the Glacier Express. Petr likes to use Center Trac bearings and I believe so do a lot of our other team members. Having flush pads makes the return top play better with a center trac bearing. Flat bearings still play great, but you may need to break in the pads a bit until it plays perfect for backspin tricks.

Thanks for taking the time to do this Adam! WOW! Great photos too :slight_smile:

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Are you defining the word in some special way? I’ve always used “gap” to mean the distance between the flat walls around the response groove (before the inner walls start widening out). (In other words, it’s the area that the string has to itself before starting to rub on anything.)

I admit it’s hard to tell, but Adam’s pictures sure make it LOOK like there’s some significant differences between the models, but maybe that’s just an optical illusion. Maybe someone with both a Canvas and a Chief could do a quick and dirty test and report back. (A 0.24mm difference should be easily noticeable if you’re careful.)

The difference between the metal walls is how I define gap. This does not take into account response pads. Response pads can be recessed and the gaps are still the same width, since the gap is defined by me to be metal only. Maybe I’m being too technical?

It is almost impossible for yoyo shops to make an accurate measurement taking into account response pads to determine the gaps. Since the silicone is so squishy. Plus the measurement tools would have to be pretty precise. BUT you can measure the gap … then take a rough measurement of the recess on the pads and then add that to the metal gap width. To get overall width between pads.

And me. (Think of it as the SMALLEST distance between the halves.) This is the measurement that you say is the same on all CLYW models?

Yes I’ve never changed that distance on any CLYWs. Only time was on some prototype Sasquatches and made them a little wider. I’m working on something new right now that is a little wider. So we’ll see how that works out.