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Fake Babolat Aero Pro Drive Tennis Racquet

I have been getting many emails and facebook requests asking to verify if a tennis racquet that had been purchase is either genuine or fake after I wrote my initial articles on the fake Babolat Pure Drive and fake Wilson K Blade 98. All these requests had one very similar thing in common and shared a common trait - They were all purchased from either online auctions sites or unknown China based websites not linked to any authorized tennis reseller or manufacturer.

I had the opportunity to get a first hand look of a fake Babolat Aero Pro Drive - APD (Cortex Version) courtesy of Lot Tan who is a moderator of Tennis Friendz Network a local tennis forum here in Singapore. He had acquired this racquet from eBay thinking it was a great buy and genuine tennis racquet. When he finally received the racquet, to much to his surprise, he discovered that there were some inconsistencies with it as I will highlight below in my review of the fake Babolat Aero Pro Drive (APD).

Can you spot the difference between the genuine APD and fake APD? The one with the Black overgrip (left) is the authentic one

Before I start with my review, I would have to say that the counterfeiters manufacturing these fake racquets are getting even better at making these conterfeit racquets. I personally rate the Babolat Aero Pro here as a "Class A" fake. Unlike the fake Babolat Pure Drive, that I had previously reviewed, which had some glaring inconsistencies that you will be able to spot from a mile away, this fake Babolat Aero Pro Drive racquet bares an uncanny similarity to a genuine Babolat Aero Pro Drive in many aspects and it would take a fair bit of scrutiny comparing it with a genuine Aero Pro Drive to spot the differences. From a distance, I hardly could tell the difference! I hope my review and images below documenting the differences between a genuine and fake Babolat Aero Pro Drive would benefit the folks doing some research on the Aero Pro Drive before making a big mistake by purchasing a fake tennis racquet.

Can you spot the difference between the genuine APD and fake APD? The one with the Black overgrip (right) is the authentic one. They look exactly identical from a distance.

Differences between a Genuine Babolat Aero Pro Drive and a Fake Babolat Aero Pro Drive

1. Racquet Balance & Weight

This is almost a dead give away if you have the opportunity to physically see and examine the racquet. A weight balance test from the throat of the racquet reveals the "fake" Aero Pro Drive to be severely "head heavy". The entire racquet tips towards the head of the racquet. The genuine Babolat Aero Pro drive should be closer to an even balance.

The fake Babolat Aero Pro Drive is totally head heavy! (racquet in front) As seen from this racquet balance test with a pencil.

2. Silver highlights versus Matte finish on wordings and logos


All the wordings and propriety Babolat Technology and brand logos on the genuine Babolat Aero Pro Drive contains a Silver finishing or gleam. The fake Aero Pro Drive only has a dull greyish finish.

The authentic APD had a silver glossy finish to all its wordings compared to a matte dull finished found of the fake APD.

3. Identical colored paintwork but different colored "Cortex" V shaped section

The "Yellow" coloring on the fake Babolat Aero Pro Drive are identical but the "White" has a more bright white coloring towards it. The genuine Aero Pro Drive has a more pearly yellowish white look. The most obvious give away here would be the more brightly yellow color on the plastic v shaped cortex section that is on the fake Aero Pro Drive compared to the more duller yellow found on the cortex section of the genuine Aero Pro Drive.

The fake Babolat Aero Pro Drive (Right) has a more brightly yellow colored plastic cortex section compared to the genuine Aero Pro Drive which is more dull yellow.

4. Totally different Grommets colors & Bumper guard design

Another dead give away here. The Grommets on the fake Babalat Aero Pro Drive are different in color. Its in black instead of grey and of low quality. The patterns on the grommets also are totally different compared to the orginal Aero Pro Drive. This comes as a surprise to me as as grommets are relatively cheap plastic and easy to manufacture. The counterfeiters went to such great lengths to fake the cosmetic look of the racquet, but didn't bother to invest any time on making a good imitation of cheap plastic grommets. The most logical reason would be perhaps they felt that the grommets would be the least looked at compared to the racquet cosmetics on the frame.

The bumper guard grommets on the fake APD (top) has a totally different design and color.

5 Different location of the Trade mark "TM" logo

The Trade Mark "TM" logo of the fake Babolat Aero Pro Drive is located inside the grommet section and the inner section of the racquet frame compared to the genuine Aero Pro Drive which has the "TM" logo visible on the outer side of the frame. Thing to also note here is the location of the spelling of "T" in the words Babolat. The fake Aero Pro Drive has the T spelling printed just stopping short of grooves where the grommets are housed. The authentic or genuine Aero Pro Drive has the "T" logo printed in the inner section of the grommet grooves.

The TM logo found logo on the fake Aero Pro Drive (left) is found on the inner section of the grommet groves.

6. Butt cap color and etched 3 letter character code.

The butt cap on the original authentic Babolat Aero Pro Drive is a deeper red in color and contains an additional product code. The genuine APD which I have had the 3 character codes "MAC" etched into it. There might be different codes etched into each genuine Aero Pro Drive but I guess the thing to generally look out for would be the deeper red color of the Babolat logo and a character code embedded at the bottom section of the butt cap.

Serial characters on the butt cap and a darker RED color on the Babolat logo (left) might indicate that you have a genuine Babolat racquet

7. Poor QC alignment in specification box.

The alignment on the specs section of the fake Babolat Aero Pro Drive is out of alignment. As you can see from the image below. The "XCEL" box and the words "COMFORT" is slightly crooked and misaligned for the fake APD. The counterfeit Babolat APD is the racquet at the bottom in the image below.

Quality control has always been an issue with fake tennis racquets as seen in the (bottom) image.

8. Paint overlay on the genuine Babolat Aero Pro Drive


A distinct paint over lay was noticed near the hologram section where the yellow paint intersects the white for the genuine Aero Pro Drive. You can literally feel the layer of yellow paint above the white paint causing an impression as you run your fingers through it and a bulge in the grip size sticker above it. In the case of the fake or counterfeit Aero Pro Drive, (APD) there is no pronounced yellow layer and it feels smooth to the touch. All these minor inconsistencies could be prevalent in other counterfeit Babolat racquets and might lead you to quickly determine if a future Babolat racquet you come across is either genuine or fake.

More differences between a fake (top) and genuine (bottom) Babolat Aero Pro Drive

9 Racquet cover and zipper

The racquet cover on the fake Babolat Aero Pro Drive is noticeably much lighter than compared to an original Aero Pro Drive cover. The genuine APD racquet cover is much heavier and chunkier in feel. The color of the words "Aero Series" is different for both the genuine and fake racquets. The one on the genuine APD has the word "series" labeled in Green. The counterfeit APD had the entire words "Aero Series" all in Yellow.

The racquet covers doesn't lie, poorer quality is evident in the fake cover (left) in terms of weight and quality.

The zipper on the genuine Aero Pro Drive has a greater quality finish, is much thicker in feel and has a matte finish look towards it. The zipper on the fake APD however has a more silvery look and feels much thinner to the touch. The logo on the zipper has a very crude look towards it indicating low quality control.

Better quality matte finish found on the Babolat genuine racquet zippers (right) compared to the silvery crude looking zippers (left) found on the fake racquet covers.

One possible way to check if your Babolat racquet is genuine.

Over the years and from experience using many Babolat tennis racquets. I realized that Babolat usually has two serial holograms on their racquets. One is located on the inner section of the racquet throat and the other is found on the handle of the racquet which is only accessible when you remove your original grip. The serial numbers of the two stickers should match. Refer to the image below of my genuine Babolat Aero Pro Drive.

Is it Real? One possible way to find out is to check that the serial numbers matches on both the racquet throat and handle (only accessible if you remove the original grip).

Why you should never buy a fake tennis racquet racquet...

As I was doing this review of the fake Aero Pro Drive and examining the grommets I noticed that this fake APD was already damaged and the frame had been already cracked. Counterfeit racquets are known to use cheaper less stronger composites and materials that are bad for you arm. You can risk serious injuries playing with fake tennis racquets and I strongly urge you to never consider buying an imitation tennis racquet or fake tennis frame. In the case of this counterfeit APD, I believe the crack on the frame was its inability to handle the stresses put on the string. The fake APD had a hybrid synthetic string setup on it. I feel that its material was never built to handle the stresses put on this racquet due to its cheap composites. I have no reason to believe this racquet was abused in anyway as a crack on the inside of the racquet usually indicates more of structural fatigue. It could be the result that this racquet was strung at a higher tension or gave way during play. I was looking for further evidence of abuse but could not find any leading me to conclude that the crack was more of a structural failure due to bad composites than anything else as a fake racquet with its poor quality materials and composites could not simply handle the stringing tension and the racquet finally gave way.

Crack frame from racquet fatigue. Fake racquets are notorious for low quality composites that can lead not only to cracked frames but serious injuries.

Conclusion


If you have already purchase a fake tennis racquet, I'm sorry that this has happened, but its at least a good lesson learnt that you should never try to shave off a couple of bucks in costs and buy from a reputable tennis dealer or store instead of auction sites that you have no way of verifying if the tennis racquet you purchase is real or fake. My advice is to know as much as possible about a genuine racquet before you buy it. Try to physically see and touch the racquet assuming you're buying it off somebody and meeting the seller. It helps to know how the racquet feels - it's weight, balance and some aspects of its cosmetics. If you cannot physically see and touch the racquet as you're buying it online, I would highly recommend that you purchase your tennis racquets from either reputable online stores, sellers or dealers of authorized tennis racquets.

I am not saying that all sellers on online auction sites are selling fake racquets. Most sellers are selling genuine items and you can get them for a good deal as they might have purchased an original authentic racquet from an authorized store and might just want to sell it after sometime. This happens in most cases, but there are always some unscrupulous sellers who wants to sell fake tennis racquets to some unsuspecting buyers so the onus is on the buyer to always be aware and cautious when buying online. Many seller of fake products will posts images of the real product and sell you a fake product later. I sympathize with folks who don't really know much about tennis racquets and buy these imitation racquets thinking that they are genuine. Mind you these fake racquets are not exactly dirt cheap and still considerably cost some money. I sincerely hope my findings on the fake Babolat Aero Pro Drive would help some folks not get conned into buying a counterfeit product.

Incidentally the moderators on our local Singapore tennis forum does not condone in such illegal activities and will not hesitate to refer this matter to the local authorities. I hope similar tennis forums and online auction sites follow suit.

More images of the genuine and fake Babolat Aero Pro Drive here.

Great Article!!

I have been following your site for a few weeks now and I think it's great. I run a similar blog http://blog.flexibletennisleague.com which covers latest Tennis news and the news from our tennis league. I was hoping that you might be interested in exchanging links between our sites. I think our players from the league and blog readers will find your content very informative.

Please let me know.

Thank you,

Dave Schmidt

This comment has been removed by the author.

Hey, useful article. Determined immediately the babolat APD i got from ebay is fake. Exhibited EVERY SINGLE flaw you pointed out. Nevertheless, seeing as i am not likely to get a refund or anything, should i continue playing with this racquet? I'm a beginner, will the head-heavy help? Or is it too severely head-heavy to be playable at all?

Hi Mircea Gusa,

In response to your questions:

Yes, differences in quality control issues and batch manufacturing will be prevalent and I totally agree with this. If you had a chance to read my previous articles about the K61 95 and KPro Staff 88 they highlight these issues and problems found with the quality control and balance.

http://www.regentville.com/2007/08/wilson-k-six-one-95-differences.html

http://www.regentville.com/2009/03/wilson-k-pro-staff-88-review-issues.html

My take on fake racquets however is that you WILL NOT be able to replicate the same feel and stiffness that the original Babolat Aero Pro Drive (Cortex) will have. So you can immediately tell the difference when you're playing with a fake racquet.

Although the balance is out, in the genuine racquet, you can easily customize the racquet with weights to get them to the same feel as the composites and manufacturing materials on the racquet are generally the same, this CANNOT be done with a fake. Also the manufacturing composites are different, as you can see from my posting the frame cracks easily on stringing this is has never been an issue with the genuine racquet unless of course if you abuse them or string them at an extremely high/non recommended tension.

So my overall conclusion to this is that fakes will generally play and feel differently even if you add weights to balance it out. Even assuming you can get the same balance due to customization with weights, the total static swing weight of the racquet might be totally out. Different composites and materials might not give you the exact feel of a genuine APD and you might also end up cracking the frame as the build quality of the Fake Babolat APD is relatively poor. So stringing and playing at higher tensions will not be possible. I also doubt that the fakes have any shock damping technology applied to them compared to the genuine APD which has the patented Woofer and Cortex technology. Hope this helps.

Nawin

Hi Nigel,

I am not sure where you're based. But a friend of mine who recently got a Fake Babolat Aero Pro Drive from eBay managed to get a full refund (he is based out of Singapore by the way).

What you have to do is go to the local Babolat distributor in your Country/State office and get them to write a letter confirming that the racquet is a Fake. Send this letter with the information of your eBay transaction to eBay and hopefully you can get a full refund on this. I have NOT personally done this myself, so I suggest you call or email eBay directly to see if this is the actual process. Hope this helps.

Nawin

What if you purchase the racquet unstrung and string it with good strings in your own country?

Hello, what if you purchase the racquet unstrung and string it with good strings. Would this make a difference?

Thanks,

very informative! Thanks!

Hi 2Room1217Daystomakeadifference, Nope I don't think it would make a difference at all as the fake racquet has a different weight, balance and composite altogether. It would not play like the genuine Babolat Aero Pro Drive Cortex. Go with the real stuff mate. You'll appreciate it more ;)

What a great article this is. I think most of the players does not mnow that they playing with fake babolat racket. thanks for sharing.

MY 2 CENTS ON NON GENUINE RACQUETS. Yes, they are bad and not good for everyone. I use genuine Babolat stuff and unless something major changes, ill use them the rest of my life. Im an itn2 player (not sure of usa rating system but I know its over 5.0) and have a close friend who plays in tournaments with me who gets great results consistantly, and money is no object to him whatsoever. Not meaning to ramble, just setting credibility in his statements! Money being no issue to him he has a number of genuine racquets (he uses the apd gt as opposed to me using the pd roddick), but its not actually the apd gt he uses..... His racquets are very heavily customized with lead, but he states openly that no matter what changes he makes to the apd gt (genuine) he can not make it feel as good as his knock offs. I think rather than comparing knock off racquets to the one they are imitating, people need to look at them as a completely DIFFERENT racquet... For my friend, maybe Babolat is not the best racquet for him... I can imagine there are alot of people out there who love certain "brands" or looks of different racquets like he does the apd, yet its just not the perfect racquet... Not saying everyone should go out and buy a fake (I certainly wont be) but for SOME people who like a very flexy, heavier racquet (always going to be heavier as you need to add ALOT of tape to the handle) fake ones, certainly in the case of Babolat can actually work! My girlfriend, not exactly your next womens no. 1, but still a confident club level player is in a similar position, however we have done no customization to hers whatsoever, she can barely use a genuine apd/pd however ive bought her countless amounts of different racquets, but after trying a stock fake racquet of my friends she loves them....

NOTE FROM MY FRIEND: If you do want to experiment with fakes dont use one and decide its no good... For him to get 12 suitable referance racquets to customize and match he would buy over 30 fake racquets as quality control is so poor stiffness varies by as much as 10%!!! He also said if youre a serious player do not try fake racquets in the hope of saving money, youll need to buy 3 racquets for every 1 you play with, also need to replace gromments, and if you hit hard enough you will break them from time to time...

My 2 cents.... Id imagine due to the nature of this blog my comments wont last here very long LOL, but to those who do read them, all the best.

I almost got one at ebay. they all said its real. once i found out they ship from china, I know its fake.
I actually ask if its a real one. the vendor said it top of the class copy. THEY ARE ALL FAKE..

Thanks for the fascinating article. My son (a high school Varsity player) has what appear to be two genuine Babolat Aero Pro Drive racquets purchased from Tennis Warehouse in the U.S. In under four months (and not even during the high school tennis season) both racquets have developed cracks on the inside of the frame near the top. I wonder if others have had a similar experience. I also wonder if perhaps Babolat is unwittingly compromising quality on this racquet due to increased production to satisfy a very high level of demand. Now we are dealing with the Babolat warranty consideration process. Rumor has it that Babolat only honors 10% of warranty claims. I certainly hope we've been misinformed because that's a staggeringly low and ridiculous claim percentage number and not a nice way to do business. Perhaps it's time to start demo'ing a few Wilsons.

Good and accurate article. I bought a Babolat APD GT racquet from a Chinese seller through IOFFER. The moment I got it in my hands I got suspicious, and after checking your article and taking it to an experienced tennis player I found out that it was a fake racquet. I then put a good! string but nothing changed, after 1 game I noticed a crack in the outside frame and grommets! So I send it back to China and I;m now expecting a refund from PayPal. So, avoid buying cheap raqcuets from China..

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  • I'm Nawin from regentville
  • Residing in Hougang Singapore
  • Racquets: X2 Prince EXO3 Graphite 100 (Main) X3 Wilson K Blade Tour 93 (Backup) Strings: Toalson Ultimate 115 Strung @ 48-50 pounds. Plays: Right Handed (Single Backhand). Shoes: mi Adidas Barricade V Apparel: Lacoste & Adidas Favourite Players: Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic

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