The Pickleball Apes Pro Line Energy is an interesting paddle from an exciting newcomer in the industry. It has some really standout features: a 6 ¼" long handle, 17" paddle length, and Kevlar® in the paddle face. I couldn't wait to take this one out on the courts.
Read my Pickleball Apes Pro Line Energy review below for my honest opinion on this unique paddle.
My verdict4.5Pickleball Apes have hit a home run with their Pro Line Energy. The Kevlar® and carbon fiber paddle face amps up power, spin, and control. This is one of my favorite new all-court picks for intermediates, and I suspect we'll see a lot more Kevlar® coming to paddles in 2024 and beyond.
Buy or pass?
You want a great all-court paddle:
it's very rare that a paddle scores 9/10 on power, spin, and control.
You want massive reach:
I think this is the longest paddle I've ever played with, at a whopping 17".
You're coming from tennis:
the 6 ¼" handle makes it feel like you're holding a tennis racket—it's amazing for two-handed shots.
You don't use two-handed backhands:
I didn't mind it, but you might want a standard-sized handle like the 5 ½" Pickleball Apes Pro Line Energy S.
You need more forgiveness:
try the hybrid-shaped Vatic Pro Flash, a top intermediate paddle with 10/10 forgiveness.
You don't like poppy paddles:
this isn't as poppy as some, but you should try the Vatic Pro PRISM Flash if you want a really soft paddle.
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Most brands claim their paddle has the perfect blend of power, spin, and control, but the Pickleball Apes Pro Line Energy is one of those few paddles that actually pulls it off. It also has some very eye-catching details.
The first thing you'll notice is the crazy 17" paddle length and 6 ¼" extra-long handle. This almost feels like a tennis racket in my hands. The "scary ape" mascot is a nice branding touch too, making this stand out from black carbon paddles.
Calling this a carbon paddle isn't fully true. The paddle face is actually a blend of DuPont™ Kevlar® and Toray T700 carbon fiber. Yes, Kevlar®—the material they make bulletproof vests out of. This makes the paddle feel like a tank, while still somehow weighing just 8.1 oz.
On the courts, the Kevlar®-carbon face works wonders. I can get plenty of power with it and the rock-solid build holds up in 4-hour sessions. Any time I have an opening, boom—the point is over. The 120 swing weight (slightly on the heavier side) helps me add a lot of power to each hit.
Watch my first thoughts on the Pro Line Energy:
Then there's the huge spin. I saw some folks get 2,000 on RPM tests and that lines up with what I've found on the court. This reminds me of the Diadem Edge 18k in that the spin is different from most raw carbon fiber paddles. It feels bigger and more consistent. I can get the kind of topspin I used to get playing tennis, which really suits my game.
There's also surprisingly good control, which I wasn't expecting given the 7" wide face and super-elongated shape. I can switch to defense easily. This is actually one of the best paddles I've ever used for resets—even hard resets. It must be the Kevlar® helping balance the powerful carbon fiber.
I think this is the longest paddle I've ever played with, and that gave me a strong presence at the net. It's great for defending the lob. I like the extra-long handle, even though I don't hit a two-handed backhand. If you do, you're going to like this feature a lot.
The grip is comfortable and I can rock this paddle for 3-hour sessions without stopping.
I've found only a couple of drawbacks, one of which is pop. Don't get me wrong—this is great for control, but it's still easier to pop up balls than it is with a pure control paddle like the Vatic Pro PRISM Flash or Gearbox CX14E Ultimate Power.
On some practice sessions, I'll pop up drop after drop. I really have to shorten my backswing and grip the paddle loosely to get what I need.
The other little gripe I have is the smallish sweet spot. To be fair, it's not as bad as I expected when I learned about the 7" width and 6 ¼" handle. Still, you won't get the generous, intermediate-friendly sweet spot and forgiveness of the Legacy Pro or Vatic Pro Flash.
If you can manage the pop and lack of forgiveness, then you've got a serious all-court contender on your hands.
Super competitive price at $150
Really comfy grip
Might be too poppy for early intermediates
Super-elongated design decreases sweet spot
Pickleball Apes are newcomers to the market, and they seem determined to stand out. Let's look at the build of their Pro Line Energy paddle, and I'll explain why its unique features are no marketing gimmick.
Kevlar® & carbon surface
Pickleball Apes call this their "Dynamic Aramid Fiber Surface". It's a blend of DuPont™ Kevlar® and Toray T700 carbon fiber.
The use of Kevlar® is really interesting and rare. It's a super strong fiber that's used in tough products like body armor and tires. I suspect we're going to see more of this in the near future.
This is because it works. Having now tested it with this paddle, I can confirm that Kevlar® adds something new. It boosts power and spin, but also control, making this paddle a real unicorn.
Super-elongated shape and handle
At 17" x 7", this is maybe the narrowest, longest paddle I've held. The 6 ¼" handle is crazy long too. You sacrifice on forgiveness with this shape, but I think it's worth it for the extra reach. If you like to hit a two-handed backhand, you're going to love this paddle.
Not only is the handle really long, but it's super comfortable too. I feel like I'm holding a tennis racket. Plus, the leather grip helps me to go long, 3-4 hour sessions easily.
The Pickleball Apes Pro Line Energy hits hard. The heavy(ish) swing weight and extra-elongated shape help with that.
If I get any kind of opening or pop up, I can easily put the ball away. That helps me close out games and win more often with this paddle than most others I've been testing lately.
I'm surprised by how much control I get out of this paddle. From my first dink warm-up, I could tell it was going to be a winner. Drops and dinks feel natural and on point.
The Pro Line Energy is best on resets, where it can take pace off the ball to get you back in the point consistently.
While this isn't quite a 10 like the best pure raw carbon paddles from Six Zero, Bread & Butter, and ProXR, you'll still get big spin from this one. For me, it's more than enough to do everything I want.
Coming from tennis, I play with big topspin and I feel like I'm using a tennis racket out there. I'm consistently hitting hard drives and passing shots whenever I get an opening.
I wasn't expecting much forgiveness but it's actually pretty good here considering the shape.
The sweet spot is pretty small, and I get a little frustrated whenever I pop the ball up on my third shot drops. That said, once I remembered to grip lighter and swing less, this paddle started working for me.
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It's quite rare that I give a 9 or above here, but I like the leather grip. I know it's good because I've really put this paddle to the test over 3-4 hour marathon sessions, game after game, and it has held up great.
Kevlar® is even stronger than carbon fiber, so I just know this paddle is going to stand the test of time. Your investment will be protected here.
While I love the weighting, I'm not going to score this very high for aerodynamics simply because it doesn't have any special features to report. That's OK, though. This doesn't try to be an aerodynamic paddle like the Ronbus R1 PULSAR.
At $150, the Pro Line Energy lands firmly between the Bread & Butter Filth ($165) and the Volair Mach 1 and Vatic Pro V7 / Flash (all $140). It's the same price as the Legacy Pro, which was my 2023 favorite for spin in my list of the best pickleball paddles.
Let's see if it offers the same kind of value for money as those paddles.
Value for money
The answer is yes—this offers GREAT value in this price range. Given the unique Kevlar® build, I expected this one to go for around $180, and it would have been justified. So, considering it's only $150, it's really an amazing deal.
This is an all-court gem that's fun to play with. It's well within most intermediate budgets, so I can't see many people being disappointed with this purchase.
The Pro Line Energy from Pickleball Apes will appeal to the intermediate player who wants a paddle that does it all.
If you're happy supporting exciting newcomer brands over the top dogs, you won't regret grabbing this Kevlar® paddle while it's still unique. I have a suspicion we're going to see many copycats in 2024.
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DuPont™ Kevlar® are trademarks or registered trademarks of affiliates of DuPont de Nemours, Inc.