One Drop CafeRacer
Reviewed by Chris Rhoads
September 5, 2011
One Drop is known for many things and has brought quite a few new ideas to the way yo-yos are designed. Through out their long history in the community there is one innovation that keeps getting over shadowed by their cutting edge tech. One thing that has done more for the industry than hex nut axle systems, Side Effects, or community-designed projects have ever done. One Drop is the innovator of the inexpensive yo-yo. When they dropped the M1 back in the fall of 2008 it was almost unheard of for an aluminum, ball bearing yo-yo to cost less than three figures. Almost being the key word, the One Drop Project debuted at $86 when it was released but that was not good enough for Shawn and David. They wanted an accessible yo-yo for the masses, so the M1 (or Metal for Everyone) dropped at a mind blowing $60. The instant it dropped the budget yo-yo market was born. After a year of production, and with the budget market in full swing, One Drop retired the M1. Now in the fall of 2011, almost three years after the M1 debuted, One Drop is back with their M1 successor the CafeRacer. With the CafeRacer they have set out with a new goal, to show that they do not need to follow the larger companies who are farming out their machining to some unknown, overseas factory or licensing someone else’s budget design. Basically they wanted to show that they could make the a low cost yo-yo in house that meets the high standards that the community has come to expect from One Drop. With that little history lesson over, I guess it is time to see if the CafeRacer can hold up to the legacy of the M1.
• Diameter: 50.4mm
• Width: 38.9mm
• Gap Width: 4.06mm
• Weight: 64 grams
• Stock Response: Flow Groove
• Bearing: One Drop Value Bearing
Ok, I have to get this out of the way. The first thing I noticed when I took the CafeRacer out of the box was the axle. This is probably the most radical departure from any other aluminum One Drop on the market. Instead of a Side Effect, hex nut, or press fit brass nut the CafeRacer has a tapped axle system. David explained that it was a cost saving measure that does not hinder the overall quality of the yo-yo. Even though it is still a tapped axle system, the axle and threads go all the way through the yo-yo maximizing the number of threads, thus minimizing the chances of total yo-yo failure due to thread stripping. The profile of the CafeRacer is hard to nail down as any one style. It has rounded rims that transition to a gentle v-cut before dropping dramatically, almost h-style, into the gap. The walls of the catch zone leading into the gap are flared out enough that they should not hinder suicide loops. The cup of the CafeRacer is unlike anything I have seen on a yo-yo. If you were to just look at the profile you would think that the CafeRacer is heavy and all rim weight. Once you look inside the cups you see that this is not the case. The rims are thin and extend out quite a bit from the first step into the cup. Then there is another step down to the actual floor of the cup. At the center there is a thick, flat hub with a hole in the middle allowing the axle to peak out. There is a very slight angle cut into the underside of the rim allowing for a rudimentary IGR. The finish on mine is One Drop’s stock Pyramatte finish with a rich, almost British Racing green color. At the time of writing there are solid colors out on the market as well as at least five different special edition colorways that fetch a slight price premium over their solid color brethren. The rounded edges and soft finish give this yo-yo a very comfortable feel in the hand. Overall, it is a refreshing and fun new design that borrows only the diameter from its predecessor.
As I said above, this looks like it would be a heavy yo-yo that is chunky on the string. Well, looks can be deceiving. The steps in the deep cup reduce the weight quite a bit with the outer step pushing some weight to the rims while the thick hub retains center weighting. What it amounts to is a very stable design that is light on the string and easy to control at whatever speed you desire.
Response and Bearing
Even though this is a budget yo-yo, the guys at One Drop did not skimp on the response. The CafeRacer uses the same Flow Groove response found in all of One Drop’s designs. This gives you the option of using Flow Groove pads or flowable silicone.
My CafeRacer came with a One Drop 10-Ball but the stock CafeRacers will come with One Drop’s new Value Bearing. The new bearing is an 8-Ball made by the same company that makes the higher end 10-Ball. I had a chance to play a stock CafeRacer with the Value Bearing for about an hour and really could not tell that much of a difference between the two. It was a hair louder but that was about it. To be perfectly honest, it played exactly like a General-Yo AIGR bearing. Side by side I would be hard pressed to tell the difference. Just goes to show that value does not mean cheap.
Smooth. That best sums up this yo-yo. No I don’t mean vibe free, can’t tell it is spinning smooth. It is, but that is not what I am talking about. The smooth I am talking about is more the chilled out and relaxing type smooth. Since it came out at almost the exact same time as the Dietz there have been a lot of people wanting to compare the two. You really can’t do it. The Dietz is a frenzied, beast of a competition yo-yo that is all about high-energy play. It is an undersized that is built from the ground up for competing. The CafeRacer is more of an everyman’s yo-yo, living up to its Metal for Everyone roots. When I want a yo-yo that I can relax with or just grab and go the CafeRacer is what I want. Don’t get me wrong, this yo-yo can be pushed hard and played to the outer edge of insanity, but you don’t feel like you have to. It caters itself to the player’s style instead of the player having to adjust to the yo-yo. There was one thing I noticed while testing this yo-yo; it is super stable. It does not like to turn at all. That is great for everything except when you want to do a gyroscopic flop. That trick requires a little more prodding in order to get it to go. Where this stability came in most handy was when I decided to learn the Eric Tranton trick Eclipse. It is a crazy Mach 5 style trick where you orbit the yo-yo around the string before you do the Mach 5 isolation rotations. While learning this trick I hit the yo-yo repeatedly with the strings, which would normally cause the yo-yo to lean on the string. With the CafeRacer it stayed more in line even during my mess-ups. Grinding on the CafeRacer is a very pleasant experience. During the Dietz review I mentioned that I think they changed the media used to tumble their yo-yos. Now I am sure of it. This has to be an improved version of the Pyramatte finish. I am getting better palm, finger and arm grinds, even during humid weather. Normally I would have to force it to stay put, now I have to force it to move. The thumb grinds are a slight weakness, they can be done but if you don’t hit it just right it will slip off. Since the yo-yo was not made for thumb grinds, the fact that I can do them at all is a plus.
One Drop has done it again. This is definitely a worthy successor to the M1 crown and I would dare say one of the best budget yo-yos on the market. They have also proved that you can keep the design and manufacturing in house, maintaining high levels of quality control; something that seems to suffer when a product is outsourced to a large, nameless, foreign factory. The CafeRacer has, just like the M1, become the budget yo-yo to beat. It is glass smooth, relaxing to play with, and inexpensive. Everything one looks for when looking for a first time metal… or just a yo-yo to take everywhere without caring if it gets the snot beat out of it. I look forward to the inevitable forum topic asking to see your beat up CafeRacers.