The HEAD Radical Tour Grit is the definitive upgrade to HEAD's best-selling Radical series. As the name suggests, this time they've added grit (as well as carbon fiber) to the paddle face to bring more spin into your game.
Read my full HEAD Radical Tour Grit review for my honest opinion on this brand-new paddle.
My verdict4.0The HEAD Radical Tour Grit is a great step-up paddle for early intermediates who don't want something overly poppy. It's also a solid all-rounder for casual players looking to avoid cheap paddles. It's forgiving, lightweight, and really comfortable to play with.
Buy or pass?
You want a soft, forgiving paddle:
you'll like how this non-thermoformed paddle plays—I don't think I had a single mishit thanks to the generous sweet spot.
You want more spin than the Radical Tour:
the upgraded grit surface gets a lot more spin than the smooth face of the original.
You like to play fast at the kitchen:
the light weight and maneuverability make me quick in hand battles—something I often struggle with.
You want a raw carbon paddle:
while this has some carbon in the surface, it's not raw carbon. Check my list of the best carbon fiber paddles.
You want a pure power paddle:
you'll want a paddle that hits harder, like the Bread & Butter Filth.
You need maximum spin:
this gets solid spin but more advanced players will want something like the Ronbus R1 NOVA.
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The HEAD Radical Tour Grit is an exciting new paddle that mostly suits intermediates. It's super forgiving and easy to control, and it's got one of the comfiest grips I've ever played with.
Right out of the box, I was impressed. The design is bold and flashy, with pops of electric red and orange. It feels reasonably well-built and durable too. On the courts, it's comfortable to play with. At 7.9 oz, it's lightweight and easy to maneuver. This makes it a very user-friendly paddle.
Watch my initial thoughts:
I really like what they did with the grip. It's comfy, sweat-resistant, and feels super premium. HEAD is a big name in tennis and they've perfected their grips over the years. Coming from tennis myself, I often find pickleball paddle grips a bit lacking. I rarely score a paddle high in this category.
However, as you'll see below, I've given this paddle 9.5/10 for grip. The only paddle that's beaten it in my reviews is the Selkirk LUXX Control Air Invikta, and that costs $250.
I find it easy to control the ball with the Radical Tour Grit. It feels light in the hand. Also, since it's not thermoformed, it doesn't feel overly poppy. My accuracy is high, especially on serves, which I'm able to hit consistently in over long testing sessions.
Thanks to the standard paddle shape, with its short handle and large playing surface, you get a generous sweet spot. This makes for a very forgiving paddle and I actually can't recall a single mishit overall during my testing.
If you've played with the original Radical paddles, with their smooth faces, you'll notice the gritty surface here right away. This made me more confident to try to put spin on my shots. Sure enough, I could hit topspin, backspin, and sidespin—advanced shots that are key to my game.
Sadly, the spin isn't quite as good as what I can generate with a T700 raw carbon paddle like the Six Zero Double Black Diamond Control. I do find myself hitting balls into the net more because the grit doesn't always catch the ball and generate that arching topspin that I'm used to. I have to adjust and hit higher up on the ball.
I also find myself sailing offensive shots long because I'm used to relying on heavy topspin to dip it back down. However, I do think the spin is plenty for players who don't rely on it too much or who are newly introducing spin to their game.
Similar to spin, power is a bit lacking. I struggle to put balls away. Several times I've had an overhead that came off slow, giving my opponent time to reset. I also can't hit hard third-shot drives—shots that usually help me win points.
All in all, if you're an aggressive player, you'd be better suited with something like the CRBN-1X Power Series or the Pickleball Apes Pro Line Energy. Though, if you prefer softer, less poppy paddles, you'll like the control and forgiveness here.
Really forgiving thanks to shape and large sweet spot
Easy to control straight away
One of the best grips in pickleball
Light on power
Spin could be higher
Difficult to hit advanced control shots like the topspin third-shot drop
HEAD are a world-renowned tennis racket manufacturer dating back to 1950. So, we can expect to see some exciting elements in their pickleball paddles that carry over from their tennis expertise.
Their original Radical series paddles have smooth graphite and fiberglass faces, so the main upgrade here is the addition of grit and carbon to the paddle surface.
Carbon HS paddle face
For the Tour Grit, HEAD introduced carbon and grit to the paddle surface. Just note that this is not the pure, raw T700 carbon fiber that most paddles use nowadays.
While it does improve the spin compared to the original, it's still not at the level of a raw carbon fiber paddle like the CRBN-3X Power Series.
One of my favorite things about this paddle is that you get the same advanced grip tech that HEAD use in their tennis rackets. This "HydroSorb Pro" grip is way better than almost any grip I've played with—especially at this price point. Big kudos to HEAD here.
Standard paddle shape
The short 5" handle won't give you room for two-handed backhands, but most early intermediate players won't be worried about this. What I really like is the larger playing surface this shape allows. It extends the sweet spot so you get a nice, forgiving paddle.
Power is the Tour Grit's weakest attribute for me. There simply isn't much to work with. My shots consistently land low and short on the court, and I have to really amp up my swing speed to get any power.
What this paddle loses in power, it makes up for in control. I'm really pleased with how accurate this paddle is. I can routinely land drop shots and dinks, and I don't struggle all that much with pop ups.
I docked a couple of points here because the lack of spin makes it hard to hit more advanced shots, like topspin third-shot drops.
I think this paddle is best suited to a more conventional style of play with flat drops. If you play those shots, you'll get more out of this paddle.
Spin has improved from the Radical Tour thanks to the new gritty face. I like that I'm able to bring topspin into my game. Even with backspin and sidespin serve returns, it holds up pretty well.
However, I personally would like even more spin—mostly on my hard topspin shots. I just can't quite get the topspin to dip the ball on the line. I've even had a few shots go right into the net where, with other paddles, the topspin would have arched it over.
The bar for spin was set really high in 2023 and now in 2024. So, it's unfair to expect every paddle to have the kind of spin you can get with a premium carbon paddle like the Diadem Edge 18k, the Legacy Pro, or the ProXR Pickleball Zane Navratil.
If you're just stepping up to intermediate level, the spin here is definitely adequate. It's so much better than the spin you'll find on a cheap Amazon paddle or even the original Radical series.
This is the paddle's best attribute for me and the main reason I think it will appeal to intermediates. With the large playing surface comes a generous sweet spot.
I don't recall even a single mishit during my initial testing. That will help you grow in confidence as an intermediate. I see a lot of players struggling with unforgiving paddles like the JOOLA Ben Johns Perseus when they should be using a paddle like this one.
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The 7.9 oz weight works great for me. It makes this paddle lightweight and maneuverable. I find it gives me fast hands at the kitchen. So far, I've won some epic hand battles and got compliments for my speed. Trust me—that almost never happens!
Just note that you have to be someone who enjoys a speedy, light feel. If you prefer heavier, more powerful paddles, I'd recommend something like the Gearbox CX14E Ultimate Power.
I truly believe that grip is one of the most overlooked features in pickleball paddles. I reviewed the Pickleball Apes Pro Line Energy recently and was so impressed with the grip that I gave it a rare 9/10. The Tour Grit is even better.
This paddle has a great grip and HEAD know it, bringing it over from their tennis rackets. As a former tennis player myself, it's so nice to hold a pickleball paddle with a premium tennis grip on it. It's super comfortable and holds up over long, sweaty sessions.
The Tour Grit has an edge guard and carbon on the face, so I'm confident it will hold up well enough. That said, it's not built purely with raw carbon, so I doubt it will have quite the same durability as a T700 raw carbon paddle. Only time will tell.
This paddle is on the lighter side and it moves fast. Besides that, it doesn't have any special aerodynamic features to report. It's still a solid 8/10, though.
Is this paddle right for you?
Before buying a paddle, it's important to make sure it fits your game. That's why I created a 30-second quiz that recommends the best paddles for your play style and budget.
Give it a try and see if the HEAD Radical Tour Grit makes the list:
Find the perfect paddle
I've personally tested over 80 paddles. Take the quiz to see which ones fit your game best.
The HEAD Radical Tour Grit is priced at $169.95, which places it in a very competitive price range. It's more expensive than the Bread & Butter Loco ($165), the Volair Mach 1 ($140), and the Vatic Pro Flash ($140). Can it offer better value than those paddles?
Value for money
While I'd argue those paddles offer better value for more advanced players, that doesn't mean the HEAD Radical Tour Grit isn't worth its price tag. I think this is a top choice for many types of players.
It suits newer and casual players who have a bit of experience and can afford to spend over $150. It far outperforms budget Amazon paddles. If you're a fan of the original Radical series, I think you'll really like this upgrade.
Lastly, it works great for intermediates who want a quality step-up or upgrade paddle but aren't yet ready for a super-poppy thermoformed paddle.
If you're any of those players above, I'd definitely recommend checking this paddle out. It's a huge step up from the cheap options you'll find on Amazon, both in terms of performance and durability.
While it's not for big power or spin players, it'll serve you well if you're after a fast and control-oriented paddle.
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