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Ronbus R1 PULSAR - pickleball paddle review

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Mike "Sleeves" Sliwa

Updated on: Nov 22, 2023

The Ronbus R1 PULSAR pickleball paddle on a blue background

I was excited to take the Ronbus R1 PULSAR out on the courts for a testing session. I'd heard that Ronbus paddles perform just like some $250 big-name paddles and are great value for money, so I wanted to see for myself.

This is built to be a power paddle. Check out my honest Ronbus R1 PULSAR paddle review to see how it compares to other hard hitters like the Bread & Butter Filth and the CRBN-1X Power Series.

My verdict4.5star iconThe Ronbus R1 PULSAR definitely lives up to its reputation. It hits hard with plenty of control and spin to back it up. I think this one will appeal to so many intermediates. It retails at $150-170 right now, putting it alongside top competitors like the Legacy Pro and Bread & Butter Filth.

Buy or pass?

Buy if:

  • You want a power paddle under $200:

    the R1 PULSAR rivals the CRBN-2X and JOOLA Hyperion for power, while costing just $150-170.

  • You get tennis elbow:

    I felt zero head heaviness with this, and the grip is stable.

  • You want an all-court paddle:

    spin and control are more than enough to let you play a complete game.

Pass if:

  • You want a spin machine:

    if you want the best possible spin, try the Legacy Pro, my top spin paddle of 2023.

  • You're a beginner:

    you should be at least a 3.5 player for this paddle. Check out the Paddletek Bantam TS-5 if you're a beginner.

  • You can't handle pop:

    this is a poppy, powerful, stiff paddle, so you might prefer something soft like the Vatic Pro PRISM Flash.

Paddle weight

8.1 oz

Paddle length

16 ¼" or 16 ½"

Paddle width

7 ½"

Handle length

5 ¼" or 5 ½"

Today's best deals

Ronbus logo
$20 off with code PICKLEHEADS

Review summary

The R1 PULSAR is Ronbus' power paddle, and I can confirm it has great pop. I like how simple it is to generate power. You don't have to think about putting the effort in—it just drives the ball really well. It's great on putaways too. Overall, I feel like I can play an aggressive game easily.

Control is surprisingly good for a paddle with such pop. In my testing sessions, my touch game was on point and I managed to execute dinks and drops with no problem. My resets were also really impressive.

While spin wasn't as good as with top spin paddles like the Gearbox CX14E Ultimate Power or the intermediate Vatic Pro Flash, it's still more than enough in the R1 PULSAR. The combination of power, control, and spin is balanced enough to make this a top-performing all-court paddle.

Mike Sliwa showing off the Ronbus R1 PULSAR pickleball paddle
Mike Sliwa showing off the Ronbus R1 PULSAR pickleball paddle

This paddle really shines in forgiveness. There's a large sweet spot, but even if you don't hit it, the ball tends to go over the net.

I think this paddle will suit players who suffer from tennis elbow like me. I play with a light grip and I didn't feel the kind of vibrations I often feel with other paddles. It's super stable, which was really reassuring for me.

At 8.1 oz, the lightish weight suits my game as I like to have the option to customize with lead tape. It's a really aerodynamic paddle, too. It cuts through the air, which might be down to the round edges. Whatever Ronbus has done, it's resulted in a super-speedy paddle that'll suit players who enjoy fast hands battles.

The Ronbus R1 PULSAR pickleball paddle hanging from a metal fence
The Ronbus R1 PULSAR pickleball paddle hanging from a metal fence

One small problem for me is that the grip got quite slippery after a few sessions. That said, I do have sweaty hands. So, if that's not you, you'll probably be fine. If you're like me, though, you'll want to add an overgrip.

Other than that, I find it hard to fault this paddle. It won't suit beginner pickleball players, and really advanced players might need something with more heft and spin. However, if you're an intermediate wanting more power in your game, you'll enjoy how fun this paddle is to play with.

It's also one of the most comfortable paddles I've ever used. It's got such an effortless feel to it. While it's not glitzy by any means, it's a workhorse that does what it's supposed to do. This is a really reliable and dependable paddle.

Pros:

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  • Great overhead putaways

  • Lots of pop in my drives

  • Also excels on resets in the kitchen

Cons:

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  • Handle feels too thin for me, but can be solved with an overgrip

  • Grip gets sweaty

  • Not the best-looking paddle

Features

Out of the box, this feels very solid. It's a tight, really well-built paddle. I have to admit, I do like a paddle that looks cool, and this is far from the flashiest. That said, I'm more interested in how it plays.

Let's take a look at some of the features of the Ronbus R1 PULSAR:

Unibody and thermoforming

You get some great tech built into this paddle for the price. Like more expensive paddles, it's thermoformed and has a unibody construction. This means it should be really sturdy and durable and shouldn't wear down over time. The foam edge increases the sweet spot, too.

Grip length

You can order this in either a 5 ¼" or 5 ½" handle length, which is great as it gives an option to players who are starting to use two-handed backhands.

Rounded edge

This paddle really cuts through the air, more so than other paddles with the same handle length and body shape. I think it's because of the rounded edge, which makes the swing weight really light.

Mike Sliwa holding up the Ronbus R1 PULSAR pickleball paddle against a fence
Mike Sliwa holding up the Ronbus R1 PULSAR pickleball paddle against a fence

Performance

9/10

Power

8.5/10

Control

8/10

Spin

9/10

Forgiveness

10/10

Weighting

9/10

Grip

10/10

Durability

9/10

Aerodynamics

Power: 9/10

This is built as a power paddle, and it plays like one. It's right up there with the CRBN-3X Power Series and the Six Zero DBD Control.

I managed to get plenty of power on overheads, drives, and speed-ups. My third-shot drives especially put pressure on my opponent, setting me up for a comfortable fifth-shot finish in the kitchen.

Control: 8.5/10

While this isn't exactly a control paddle, I was pleased with the amount of control it had. I had no problem resetting the ball into the kitchen. My dinks stayed low. I could move the ball around without worrying I'd hit it out on softer touch shots.

Spin: 8/10

The R1 PULSAR had plenty of spin for me. I like to put a lot of heavy topspin on my drives, and I also like to cut the ball on some returns. I was able to do these easily.

There are definitely better spin paddles out there, like the Legacy Pro, but I liked the balance of power, control, and spin this gave me.

Forgiveness: 9/10

Surprisingly for a paddle with this much power, the R1 PULSAR is very forgiving. The sweet spot is large. Even when I hit outside of it, I didn't really have any dead shots.

I get tennis elbow, so I use a light grip, but even then this paddle doesn't rattle or shake too much. This is great considering the pop it has. I noticed this mostly on resets—even if I didn't hit the sweet spot perfectly, the ball still went in the kitchen.

Ronbus logo
$20 off with code PICKLEHEADS

Weighting: 10/10

Personally, I love the weight of this paddle. Mine is just over 8 oz, so I can add weight with lead tape if I want to. With heavier paddles, I can't do that. I also didn't feel any head heaviness here.

Grip: 9/10

I personally had issues with the grip, but that's because I need a super-dry grip or my hands get sweaty. Overall, this is a solid perforated grip that's good quality.

Other players I spoke to didn't have a problem with it but actually liked it. If you're prone to slippy hands like me, you might need some overgrip.

Durability: 10/10

I've played with this paddle for about three weeks straight now on what I like to call the "World's Worst Pickleball Courts". They're beat-up and rough, so the ball stays low as it doesn't bounce so well.

That's all to say, I beat this paddle up. The fact that it didn't scuff up or tear means it's solid and has a high-quality build.

Aerodynamics: 9/10

This is a slender paddle with a round top. It cuts through the air—I didn't feel any resistance on my swings. It's one of the more aerodynamic paddles I've played with.

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 Ronbus R1 PULSAR makes the list:

Find the perfect paddle

Find the perfect paddle

I've personally tested over 80 paddles. Take the quiz to see which ones fit your game best.

Take Paddle Fitting Quiz

Pricing

The R1 PULSAR costs $170 on Amazon. On the Ronbus website, it's currently dropped to $150. This makes it the same price as the Legacy Pro and cheaper than the Bread & Butter Filth and Volair Mach 1.

So, how does it stack up on value?

Value for money

I think this is a steal at $170, never mind $150. It plays like the Bread & Butter Filth but with a little less pop and more control. I'm confident it'll suit any player who wants a good combination of both. I can see anyone wanting an all-court paddle really taking to this one.

For any intermediates who want to add power to their game, this will perform very well for you. You can't go wrong for $150-170. Not only will it improve your performance, but it will last a long time, too.

The Ronbus R1 PULSAR pickleball paddle resting on a court
The Ronbus R1 PULSAR pickleball paddle resting on a court

Bottom line

I'd recommend this to someone who's been playing for a while and who has some technique in their shots. If you're playing at levels 3.5 and up, this is worth considering as an all-court paddle. It's mostly a power paddle, but it's backed up with excellent spin and forgiveness.

At $150 on the Ronbus site, I think it's really good value. It slots in with the Legacy Pro, the Bread & Butter Filth, and the Volair Mach 1 as an affordable paddle to rival the best in the game.

Today's best deals

Ronbus logo
$20 off with code PICKLEHEADS

This article contains affiliate links from which we receive a small commission from sales of certain items. As a brand associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you!

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About the author
Mike "Sleeves" Sliwa
Mike "Sleeves" Sliwa is a content creator at Pickleheads and founder of Sleeve's Senior Pickleball Report on YouTube. His videos include pickleball gameplay tips, interviews, and product reviews. Sleeves will also be featured in an upcoming Hollywood documentary about the professional pickleball tour wars. Stay tuned!
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