The paddle company Volair was founded in 2022 and is co-owned by pickleball pro, Julian Arnold. Julian is an enigmatic player on the pro tour who’s best known for his fiery energy and frequent shouting of “Andiamo!” during matches, which is Italian for “Let’s go!”.
The Mach 1 Forza is Volair’s second paddle model. Their original Mach 1 paddle is a solid performer that’s easy to recommend. I didn’t write a review for the original Mach 1 because I’ve already a paddle identical to it (the Ronbus R1.16).
This new Mach 1 Forza is a thermoformed version of the original Mach 1. The Forza comes in two models, 16mm and 14mm. This article primarily focuses on the performance of the 16mm, which I’ve played with more. I do cover the differences between the 14mm and 16mm extensively near the end of this article.
Alright, let’s dive into the review.
Volair Mach 1 Forza Technical Specifications
- Price: $179.99 $162 (w/ code DASHPB)
- Shape: Hybrid
- Core thickness: 16mm & 14mm
- Face: Raw Carbon T700
- Average weight: 8.0 oz
- Grip length: 5.5″
- Swing weight: 117 (16mm) 111 (14mm)
- Grip size: 4.125″
- Core: High-Performance Polypropylene
- Total length: 16.5″ (16.3″ in reality)
- Width: 7.5″
- Warranty: 30-day test drive & 90-day warranty for defects
Volair Mach 1 Forza Quick Summary
The Mach 1 Forza is the next paddle to enter the Gen. 2 thermoformed market. Like all Gen 2. thermos, the Forza features a heat-treated, unibody design, perimeter edge foam injections, and a raw T700 carbon fiber face. It’s a well-made paddle that matches the quality of the best Gen. 2s on the market.
The Forza plays similarly to other thermos, as you might expect, with some slight differences that set it apart. It has the stiff feel that you’d expect from a hot-molded thermoform, along with that extra pop and power. It’s a solid all-court paddle with an attractive mix of power, control, pop, and big spin.
The Forza’s pop and spin output are on the high end for thermoforms. While poppy, it’s stable and forgiving enough to provide consistency and control. I really enjoy the crisp, poppy feel of the Forza. The spin is absolutely top-tier. These traits combined with the big thermoform power make the Forza feel like an offensive weapon.
The paddle looks clean and is one of my favorites aesthetically. I dig the blue/black theme. The Ronbus Nova definitely borrowed from the design of the Forza. I also appreciate the bonus items that ship with the high-end packaging of the Forza. The box that your paddle comes in includes a paddle cover, paddle eraser, extra stock grip, extra grip band, and a sticker.
All in all, the Mach 1 Forza is a solid entry to the thermoform market. It’s a premium and powerful paddle that’s really fun to play with. At $162 with discount code DASHPB, it’s easy to recommend, especially with Volair’s favorable warranty (more on that later).
Now, let’s take a deep dive into the specific characteristics of the paddle.
Shape & feel
The Forza is officially listed as a fully elongated 16.5″ paddle, but it’s actually just under 16.3″ in total length. This puts it at the same length as the hybrid-shaped thermoformed R1 Nova, Black Diamond, Double Black Diamond, Vatic Pro Flash, and 5.25″ handle R1 Pulsar paddles. The Forza’s paddle face doesn’t taper, unlike Six Zero and Vatic paddles which feature a slight curvature.
Out of all of those paddles, the Mach 1 Forza is the only one that features a long 5.5″ handle. This means that it also has the shortest paddle face of the bunch to compensate for the longer handle. I personally prefer this design choice because 5.5″ is my favorite handle length and this is the only way to get it with a short hybrid-shaped paddle.
The Forza’s average weight of 8.2 oz puts it right at the upper end of the average thermoform paddle weight. Mine came in right at 8.0 oz and it felt very balanced out of the box, albeit slightly lightweight. The Forza doesn’t feel head-heavy, though I haven’t talked to anyone who got a Forza with a higher total weight.
Being thermoformed, the Forza has a lot of power on tap. It earns a spot in the upper tier of thermoformed power.
Compared to other hybrid-shaped thermoformed paddles, the Mach 1 Forza seems to have more power than the Vatic Pro Flash, comparable power to the Double Black Diamond and Ronbus Pulsar, and less power than the Black Diamond.
All in all, the Forza has plenty of power to spare. I personally didn’t feel a need to add lead tape to it for a boost. Its power won’t blow you away if you’ve already played with thermoformed paddles, but it should leave you plenty satisfied.
If you’re coming from a traditional non-thermoformed power paddle, like the Power Air or Black Ace, then Forza’s power should satisfy, along with the improved spin and control.
The Mach 1 Forza is very poppy across the entire paddle face. It’s one of its distinguishing traits. Balls fly off the paddle face quicker than most paddles I play with. Its level of pop is comparable to the CRBN X series, Vatic Pro V7, Electrum Model E Elite, Legacy Pro, and Black Diamond. It’s slightly poppier than the Double Black Diamond, Ronbus Nova, and Ronbus Pulsar.
If you’re accustomed to thermoformed paddles, the Forza’s high pop shouldn’t catch you off guard, and you should be able to utilize its strengths. Hands battles, counters, and putaways are super fun with that extra pop. If you’re new to thermoformed paddles, it will likely take you some time to reign in that pop to controllable levels.
You might find the Mach 1 Forza somewhat challenging to control if you’re coming from a non-thermoformed paddle. It’s stiffer, poppier, and more powerful than your non-thermo which will require some adjustment from your game.
If you’re coming from a thermoformed paddle, you might find the Forza slightly less forgiving than plusher thermos like the Ronbus Pulsar or Six Zero Double Black Diamond. This is due to the Forza having more pop, which makes it more sensitive in the soft/finesse game.
I personally prefer this more stiff and responsive feel in a thermoformed paddle. My main paddle for both singles and doubles lately is a Black Diamond that I’ve weighted up to 9 oz. Since I already play with a poppy paddle, the Forza felt very natural for me to adjust to. My drops and dinks with the Forza felt good out of the gate, and great after I weighted the paddle up to 9.0 oz.
On the topic of weight, I found the Forza to be pretty lightweight at stock weight. Adding weight to it gave it better touch and more stability, leading me to feel more confident with tough resets and blocks. The power, stability, sweet spot, and overall controllability of my Forza all improved with added weight.
All in all, the Forza is on the poppier and more responsive end of thermos, so if that’s your preferred style, you’ll be in good hands with this paddle. The addition of excellent spin and a solid sweet spot make this one of my favorite thermos for control.
It’s worth noting that Julian Arnold doesn’t play with the Forza that much, even though it’s his signature paddle. He did for some time but then reverted back to his original signature Mach 1 14mm. He did this because he prioritizes the improved touch and resets of the original Mach 1 more than the power of the Mach 1 Forza.
The Mach 1 Forza outputs really high spin numbers. It’s an area that the Forza excels in, which resulted in it easily making my list of the top spinning pickleball paddles. When you combine this high spin with the potent pop and power of the Forza, you become a force to reckon with.
My tests resulted in RPMs that averaged out at 2028 RPM, which is stellar. It does this by utilizing the best gritty textured peel-ply paddle surfaces that you can get. It’s very similar to the Carbon X Series and Ronbus paddles.
With such high spin, you can effortlessly shape your shots and send the ball flying in different directions off the bounce, which will drive opponents crazy. My slice returns have been deadly with this paddle.
While I prefer to add weight to my Forza, it absolutely rips spin-wise out of the box due to its lighter stock weight. Mine came in at 7.9 oz (admittedly on the low end for this paddle) and my first couple of games with it at that weight were the most devastating for my opponent when trying to handle my spin.
At a swing weight of 117 for the 16mm and 111 for the 14mm, the Forza is a quick and maneuverable thermoformed paddle. You can really whip this paddle and keep up in hand battles/fire-fights with ease.
The Forza achieves this high maneuverability by keeping the paddle’s weight low and by utilizing a hybrid shape, which is slightly shorter in length and more aerodynamic compared to traditional elongated paddles.
The 16mm’s 117 swing weight makes it land right around the average maneuverability for hybrid-shaped paddles. You’ll be able to move it quickly while also having enough substance to add some plow-through on your drives and overheads.
The 14mm at 111 swing weight will feel much faster and easier to maneuver, though it does sacrifice a bit of plow-through and stability compared to the 16mm. You can always modify this with lead tape.
The Forza is a Gen. 2 thermoform paddle, which means it’s unibody-designed. The hot-molded unibody construction process makes the paddle highly durable to structural stress, i.e. no breaking at the handle, like some paddles. The T700 carbon fiber face is also quite durable, the same as the other paddles that utilize high-quality face materials.
You’ve maybe heard of thermoforming paddle manufacturing defects, such as delaminating, disbonding, and core crush/core failure. Volair decided to wait to join the thermoformed paddle market until they could solve these issues during manufacturing. From what I understand, they’ve been able to accomplish this result. I’ve experienced no durability issues with either of my Forza paddles.
Volair does offer a full 30-day return policy and a 90-day manufacturer’s warranty.
The Mach 1 Forza is a high-performing and clean-looking paddle that’s a solid deal at $162 (w/ code DASHPB). You really can’t go wrong with a solid Gen. 2 thermoform at this price point, especially when Volair has worked hard to address the potential for durability issues. It’s crafted as well as any $200+ paddle.
Volair also includes some great packaging and extras with their Forza paddle. The gift box it comes in is well-designed and includes a paddle cover, replacement grip, paddle eraser, extra paddle neckband, and sticker in addition to the paddle.
The 30-day warranty is better than a lot of other small paddle companies because it allows you to play with it as much as you want in the 30-day period as you decide if you want to keep it.
Should you buy the Volair Mach 1 Forza?
The Forza isn’t a revolutionary paddle release, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a solid entry into the Gen. 2 thermoforming paddle lineup and a fantastic paddle overall.
If you’re a fan of thermoforms already or are looking to buy your first, then the Mach 1 Forza is an excellent choice that I’d recommend that you pick up at a discounted price of $162.
It really stands out for its high spin, high pop, maneuverability, clean aesthetic, and longer 5.5″ handle. I personally love the blue gradient & blue handle aesthetic and all the extras it ships with.
This is a paddle that checks all the boxes you would want out of a high-performance paddle for the majority of intermediate to high-level rec players who want to upgrade their game with top-tier power and spin. This paddle can be a big offensive weapon in the right hands and has a great sweet spot with its foam-injected edges.
I personally like adding some extra weight to the Forza to improve performance, which is something you might want to consider.
Should you get the 16mm or 14mm Forza?
Overall, the 14mm plays quite similarly to the 16mm. The 16mm is more stable than the 14mm in my experience. This makes drops and resets a bit more effortless. But the 14mm is lighter with a lower swing weight, making it feel noticeably quicker in hand.
If you favor stability and control, go for the 16mm. If you favor hand speed for hand battles at the kitchen, then the 14mm might be the better choice for you.
Most players should go for the 16mm if they’re unsure of which to choose, as it will be a bit easier and more reliable to use. Those who prefer thinner paddles will definitely be satisfied with the 14mm.
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