The popular paddle makers CRBN have returned with a new offering: the CRBN-2X Power Series. I was really excited to get my hands on this paddle to put it through testing and see if it brings more pop to their famous original Control Series.
Keep reading to see why we named this paddle 'Best for Power' on our list of best pickleball paddles for 2023.
Our verdict5.0This 2nd-generation series accomplished what CRBN set out to do by evolving their popular CRBN-1 paddles. These paddles play with more pop and power, while maintaining the elite spin that made them famous. The paddle is ideal for intermediates wanting to start playing a more advanced game. You get enough control and forgiveness to be consistent, along with pro-level power and spin. While cheaper options have flooded the market, this CRBN paddle more than justifies its price point.
Buy or pass?
You're a rising intermediate.
Great power and spin along with control makes this perfect for intermediates.
You want more power.
This paddle suits players who prioritize power over their soft game.
You want more spin.
If you're a spin junkie like me, you're going to like this paddle.
You're a soft-game player.
This paddle will have way too much pop for you. Check out the original CRBN series or the Gearbox CX14E.
You're on a tight budget.
There are cheaper raw carbon paddles out there from brands like Six Zero, Legacy and Vatic Pro that play similarly.
You prefer an elongated paddle.
This paddle is on the shorter side—the CRBN-1X is the elongated version.
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This 2nd-generation upgrade has definitely worked out, improving what was already an awesome paddle (the CRBN-1). CRBN added a lot more pop and power, which is just what people wanted. As the name suggests, this is a performance paddle for power players and is best suited to an aggressive playing style.
It's been compared to the JOOLA Hyperion CFS 16. While it lacks some of the soft feel and control of that paddle, it packs a similar level of power and spin.
During games, I found it played similar to another power paddle—the Selkirk Vanguard Power Air Invikta—though the CRBN-2X was more forgiving. This paddle is great for intermediate players ready to start playing more advanced, aggressive games, but probably too intense for beginners.
One of the CRBN-2X's main drawbacks is its lack of aerodynamics. Its square shape and head heaviness can slow down your swing. Also, the short handle makes it a bit less maneuverable than the 1X and other elongated paddles. So, if you need speed in your touch game, you may want to look elsewhere.
If you're an aggressive player who plays a strong drive game, I think you'll love this paddle. Beginners, however, may struggle with too much pop on touch shots. For any players wanting a soft paddle, this isn't for you either. Try something like the Engage Pursuit EX 6.0 Graphite for more finesse.
Watch my first reactions here:
The CRBN-2X is made for people who want a ton of power and spin—maybe even more spin than the JOOLA Hyperion CFS 16. It reminded me of my Selkirk Power Air Invikta but with less pop, more touch, and overall more consistency. If you're an intermediate and struggle to play with a Selkirk Power Air paddle, I think you'll really like this one.
The spin you can achieve with this paddle is the kind that catches and dips the ball sharply down at the last moment. It's killer. On some of my hard, deep serves, my opponents put their hands up to let them sail long, only to have the ball drop right on the line. A great feeling.
Also, the 'unibody' technology used here is something we're sure to see more of in the near future. Instead of a separate head and handle that are fused together, the CRBN-2X is a fully-integrated paddle with carbon fiber running throughout. It's really exciting to see and feel.
You can really feel the stability this brings on the courts. While the JOOLA Hyperion gets complaints about breaking at the throat, the CRBN's unibody design ensures this won't happen. That said, I must admit there's a certain stiffness too, which became more obvious to me the more I used it.
Generates massive spin on just about any shot
Seriously powerful—packs a ton of zip and pop for aggressive play
Strong handle and core—sturdier than the original CRBN series
Excellent consistency on serves, especially hard topspin serves
A bit too poppy, with less control compared to the original series
Head heaviness and shape makes reactions a bit slower than I'd like
Missed the extra reach of an elongated paddle
CRBN got some unwanted attention last year when their paddles were removed from USA Pickleball's approved list. So, with this being their first new offering since their paddles were approved again, many people are curious.
I want to mention that the Power Series is not meant to replace the original Control Series. These have been designed as performance paddles to give the extra pop many intermediate-advanced players are craving.
So, let's take a look at what new features CRBN built into their Power Series.
Most paddles have a face and neck that are separate, but fused together. This results in a weak joint, which is why paddles often flex and break. CRBN created a 'unibody' design with carbon fiber running through the face and into the handle, so the whole paddle is one piece.
I was excited to see if it made a difference. After testing, I can confirm the unibody design creates a stronger and more stable paddle. The handle-face joint won't snap like the JOOLA Hyperion. This feature also helps to generate more spin.
However, this design can make it feel stiffer, so I do expect the technology to improve over time to reduce that stiffness.
Carbon fiber face
Like a lot of newer high-performance pickleball paddles, the CRBN-2X features a textured carbon fiber face without that gritty sandpaper feel. Similar to the Hyperion, it has a directional surface for improved shot accuracy.
Foam-injected edge walls
The JOOLA Hyperion CFS 16 got a lot of attention for its foam-injected perimeter and it looks like CRBN are following in their footsteps with this design. The difference with the 2X is that the foam not only runs around the edges of the head, but down through the handle too.
This detail adds even more stability to the whole paddle. You feel way less vibration than you do with a paddle that doesn't have this feature. It also boosts the sweet spot. You can really feel this with your shot consistency, even out toward the edge of the face.
This paddle has possibly the largest and most forgiving sweet spot of any advanced paddle I've tested.
Design and feel
I was very impressed with the look of the CRBN-2X. Just looking at it, you can tell it's engineered for performance. From the sleek and modern design, you know it's a premium paddle made with high-quality materials and tech.
Personally, I really like the aesthetic—no patterns, just a solid black face with minimal writing on it. It looks like a pro paddle.
So, how does it feel on the court? It's got a nice weight so you feel its strength. Right out of the box, you know this paddle packs a punch. That said, the CRBN-2X is lighter than the Hyperion, so you don't feel as weighed down as you can sometimes feel with that paddle.
At first, it was light enough to keep me quick and agile on the court. But after more usage, I did start to feel a bit of drag. This was probably due to the square shape, which is not the most aerodynamic. Plus, the slight heaviness didn't help. The handle also didn't have the same soft plush feel as the original CRBN. It felt a bit stiffer.
If you're an aggressive player, you'll love this paddle. It has great drive and I felt super confident hitting hard 3rd shot drives.
Serves with this paddle are awesome. Topspin serves were hard, deep, and consistent. You can swing hard and fast with little concern of the ball sailing wide or long.
The CRBN-2X is not known as a control paddle, but I did find it pretty good for control. In my first testing session, it played well up at the kitchen line, allowing for some really fast kitchen exchanges. I could routinely drop shots where I wanted and execute long dink rallies.
My short game didn't feel enhanced—just that it adequately complemented the strong power and spin. On my second testing, I did start to feel more stiffness and less control.
So, if you want more control, I'd recommend checking out the original CRBN Control Series or the Paddletek Tempest Wave II.
No flaws here. This paddle is the King of Spin. You'll get a ton of spin off the face, the kind that drops the ball in just when your opponents think it's going out.
In doubles play, I love to hit low, hard 3rd shot drives with tons of spin between my two opponents. At worst, the ball dips and they have a tough volley, which sets you up for an easy 5th shot drop from the transition zone.
At best, it dips and sails right through their paddles. I was able to execute this shot and get this set up over and over again with this paddle—all thanks to its big spin and consistency.
I saw huge improvements in my spin across the board, including my forehand drives, backhand flicks, and even one-handed backhand passing shots.
While the square head and foam walls have some drawbacks in the weight department, they do create a big sweet spot. This was one of the most forgiving premium paddles I've played with, and this includes the original CRBN paddles.
The sweet spot combined with the spin generation gave me control and forgiveness that complimented my power game really well.
This paddle skews a tad too heavy, but it does feel lighter in play than the JOOLA Hyperion. It packs a punch, but it still allows you to stay quick and agile for the most part.
I've heard some players saying that the grip is uncomfortable and too square-shaped. Personally, I didn't find it noticeable. It wasn't super impressive, and it didn't have a plush feel, but it wasn't bad either.
I would say it's a standard, quality grip that is strong, but not too comfy. You may end up using an overgrip for more comfort.
The unibody design is impressive. You can feel the sturdiness of this paddle, and I can already tell it'll outlast many of my other premium paddles. With a solid edge guard and the carbon running from top to bottom, I don't see this breaking or flexing easily.
There aren't any special aerodynamic features to speak of with the CRBN-2X. This shows on the courts too, with the square shape and slight heaviness slowing you down a little.
If you want something a bit zippier, try the ProKennex Kinetic Ovation Flight Paddle or the Selkirk Vanguard Power Air Invikta.
The CRBN-2X Power Series is currently available for around $229.99. That's for both the 14mm and 16mm core thickness paddles. This certainly isn't cheap, but this is a high-performance paddle, and I think that price is justified.
Value for money
When it comes to value, it really depends on what you're looking for. If you're at the intermediate-advanced level and play a big power and spin game, this is ideal for you. It'll elevate these aspects and help you advance, so the higher price is worth it. It's built to last too, so you'll get a lot of use for your money.
If you liked the Selkirk Power Air Invikta but found it a bit too poppy and unforgiving, the CRBN-2X Power Series is a great paddle choice for you. It offers just enough control to tame the power and spin. If you liked the JOOLA Hyperion CFS 16 but found it too heavy, this is also a great alternative.
For beginners and more casual players, the 2X is probably not worth the cost. You can find other paddles, like the Vatic Pro V7, that offer impressive spin and power at half the price.
If you're an intermediate who loves power and spin, this is currently my top pick for you. This and the CRBN-3X are my current go-to paddles. It packs a real punch and gets crazy impressive spin consistently. Shots land where you want them to, and you'll keep your opponents guessing.
If you prefer to play a soft control game, something like the Paddletek Tempest Wave II will suit you better.
The price might put some people off. But remember: this is an elite paddle and right up there with the Hyperion CFS 16 and the Engage Pursuit Ultra EX for long-lasting durability and premium materials.
Why not try it yourself and see if it improves your game?
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