Reviewed by Chris Rhoads
September 6, 2010
Professional grade equipment, we have heard and read about it for quite some time. It can be seen everywhere from digital cameras to athletic shoes. The problem with throwing the word pro at a product is that is can be misleading; take the shoe examples I just gave. How is a pair of expensive kicks going to make you play like Michael Jordan? Chances are they won’t, but at the same time I think Jordan would be just as outstanding if he played in a pair of Nikes or a pair of old school Chucks. On the flip side there are times when a pro product will aid you quite a bit, case in point the camera example. A high end Canon 1D Mark III digital SLR is going to give many features that a consumer grade digital camera just does not have or need. In the hands of a professional, you will see a vast improvement in output because he or she was given the right tools for the job. Today I am looking at SPYY’s new flagship yo-yo, the SPYY Pro. I have been a long-standing fan of SPYY’s stable of yo-yos because of the variety they give to their customers. They just seem to have a model for every type of player with the exception of 2A (but I am sure they have a design somewhere for a looper). The company has been producing yo-yos since 2005 and owner Steve Buffel has said that he has put out over 5000 yo-yos in that time. Each has a unique shape and feel on the string but a certain feel while playing, often referred to as the “SPYY feel”, unifying all them all. I have played many of the yo-yos from the company and one has been a top five favorite since the day I first threw a string on it, the Flying V. The Pro being reviewed in this article is a radical departure from the SPYY design and is regarded as being a competition level yo-yo. Now we get to see if this is the right tool for the job or a monkey wrench thrown into the SPYY machine.
- Diameter: 54 mm
- Width: 44 mm
- Gap: 4.5 mm
- Weight: 67.5 grams
- Bearing: Dry C-bearing
- Response: White Silicone Pads, Accepts Silicone
I have to get something out of the way before talking about the design of the Pro. When I first saw photos of the raw prototype I was prepared to hate it. There was no rational to my hatred. I had not played it but it just was not SPYY enough for me, if that makes any sense. When I think of SPYY yo-yos I think of curves, spikes, and gorgeous aesthetics. The photos I saw had none of this, so my kneejerk reaction was to loathe the Pro and the direction it was headed in. Now after owning it for a bit and playing it for a while I will admit that my initial reaction was completely off base. With that out of the way, lets discuss the construction of this yo-yo.
As stated above this yo-yo is a radical departure from the designs that the community has come to expect from SPYY. When designing the Pro, Steve listened to the players and what they wanted. What that turned out to be was extreme rim weighting, wider gaps, and huge catch zones, which is what they got in the Pro. Gone are the elegant curves, fancy design flourishes, and hub spikes. When comparing the design of the Pro to any other SPYY yo-yo I have to think that Buffel’s mindset was something along the lines of “if it does not help advance performance I’m not including it”. The first thing you will notice about the Pro is the V profile; it is literally all catch zone with a small step near the gap to keep the string contained. There is a little rounding at the edge of the rim to give some comfort when returning to the hand but that is about it. Moving to the cup gives the biggest departure from classic SPYY design. There is no spiked hub, a mainstay in every SPYY yo-yo including the Pure (it is under the caps). In its place there is a small nub on the floor of the cup, just enough to accommodate the axle on the other side. There is a decent lip carved into the inner rim of the cup, perfectly suited for IRG play. The finish of the yo-yo is where we see some of the classic SPYY design creep back in. The Pro features that silky smooth SPYY bead blast finish and it features the return of the acid washed anodizing that we first saw on the second run of the SPYY Addiction. Overall, the Pro is not what you would expect from the company but at the same time it is a killer design.
While most SPYY yo-yos try to strike a balance between center weighting and rim weighting this one does the exact opposite. It is all rims. Like a well corset-trained woman this yo-yo has absolutely no middle. Surprisingly though, the Pro is still stable on the string even with all the weight pushed to the rims. Now one thing that Steve set out to do with the SPYY Pro was to get away from that “SPYY Feel” and he succeeded with the Pro. Most SPYYs have some float to them while the Pro’s weight and distribution give it more of a solid feel on the string. While it is heavy, the Pro can move fast or slow depending on what you want it to. While it is different, I am grooving on this new feel, all in all a refreshing change.
Response and Bearing
SPYY has moved to a white silicone pad with the release of the Pro. I am not 100% sure but I think it is a white K-Pad or a CBC Pad. Either way it is an improvement over the clear silicone pads used in previous SPYY releases. They are grippy, give great binds, and break in quickly.
The bearing used in the Pro is SPYY’s standard dry C-Bearing. It spins quite well but I found it to be a tad loud when I got the yo-yo. Now, I did get this yo-yo in a trade so the noise could have been from extended use without cleaning by the previous owner. A quick mineral spirits bath and a pin drop of thin lube solved all of its ills and gave me a very well playing and quiet bearing.
On the first throw I was truly impressed with the performance of the Pro. Most v-shaped yo-yos are very unforgiving on anything but a good throw but I found the Pro to be quite forgiving. As I am known to do, I gave the Pro a subpar throw to see what it would do and found that it corrected to almost perfect on its own. Putting the yo-yo through all my usual tricks I found that the Pro could handle pretty much anything. Side style, whips, grinds, slacks, hops there really wasn’t a trick I could get it to fail at. One thing that really impressed me was they wide open catch zone on the Pro. About a month ago, I mentioned in my Magnum review that I was trying to learn Jade Whip. Well I am still trying to perfect the trick and I found that the Pro aided in my fleshing out of this whip. I am hitting the catch zone on this yo-yo quite a bit more than I am on any other of my yo-yos when performing Jade Whip. That alone gives me a new level of appreciation for the Pro’s name. While it may be made with the competitors in mind, the ease of use of this yo-yo can make a layman such as myself feel like a professional as well. I have found myself going back to this yo-yo more and more when learning tricks just because it performs well at a slower pace and is forgiving on sloppy hits into the gap, all things that I need when learning something new. On play alone, I would recommend this yo-yo for anyone who has hit intermediate or above. For those of you who like seeing the yo-yo in action here is a video from Sector-Y featuring SPYY crewmember Kin Kwan Wong aka “Zannix” putting a preproduction Pro through its paces.
The Pro is my dark horse of 2010. It was a yo-yo that I had wrongfully cast aside on first glance but has not failed to impress me day after day while playing it. If I had to name one flaw with the Pro it would be that it is not pocket friendly, so I have to leave it at home when I go to work. It just doesn’t look right in my khakis. With that negative out if the way, do not make the same mistake I did. While this looks nothing like your typical SPYY yo-yo it is as good, if not better, than anything that Steve has put out. After a week of play has tied the Flying V as my favorite SPYY yo-yo and easily deserves to be named SPYY’s flagship yo-yo.