There are some paddles in the pickleball world that are well known, but there are others that seem to be legendary. The Onix Z5 Graphite pickleball paddle is one of those legendary paddles. No matter where I go to play pickleball, there’s at least two of these paddles there. The paddle is so popular that you’re more likely to see it in physical retail stores, which is impressive considering how small pickleball is (at the moment). Since the paddle is so popular, I thought I would give you my honest review of the Onix Z5 Graphite.
Keep in mind that although I review paddles based on objective principles, I also review them based on my personal opinion. Just because I think a paddle is good or bad, doesn’t mean that it will be good or bad for you. Play whatever you’re comfortable with!
Let’s start with the basics
- Core: nomex
- Face: graphite
- Paddle length: 15 1/2″
- Paddle width: 8 1/8″
- Average paddle weight: 7.9oz
- Grip circumference: 4 1/8″
- Grip type: perforated cushion
- Handle length: 5″
- USAPA approved
So what is the Onix Z5 Graphite? The Z5 is a nomex honeycomb, widebody paddle with a graphite face. I’ll explain what all this means in a bit. The paddle averages around 8 ounces in weight, which is a bit heavier than most paddles. This will give you a lot of power behind your shots considering that the heavier the paddle is, the more force you’ll have.
The “widebody” part of the paddle is important and is why most people recommend this paddle for beginners. Assuming that both dimensions are proportionate to each other, the wider and taller a paddle is, the larger the sweet spot is. The larger the sweet spot is, the more forgiving a paddle will be. You see where I’m going with this. The Z5 paddle is about 8” wide. Given the large sweet spot, beginners like to use this paddle because miss-hits are less likely.
A core made of pure power
Let’s talk about the core used in this paddle. As I mentioned above, the core material used in the Z5 Graphite is nomex honeycomb. Nomex is essentially a cardboard-like material that’s been dipped in resin. It’s extremely stable, hard, but lightweight due to its honeycomb shape.
In the past, it’s been used as a fireproof material for firefighters helmets among other uses, but in pickleball, it’s used to smash the ball like never before. Nomex honeycomb cores give you power and lots of it. The Onix Z5 Graphite offers this in spades. Given the large sweet spot, you can hit the ball with both power and confidence, a dangerous combination. Are you beginning to see why this paddle is so popular?
The face of the Z5 is made of graphite, a very lightweight material that’s used in all sorts of different sporting equipment. In pickleball, they’re used as a “face” to cover the core material. A lot of faces in the manufacturing of pickleball paddles are made of composite materials or fiberglass. But some companies like to use graphite, to make the paddle more lightweight.
Onix made sure to give players a multitude of colors to choose from. The Onix Z5 comes in blue, green, orange, pink, purple, orange, white and yellow. Most of the Onix Z5 paddles that you see at retail stores will be blue. You can check prices here if you’re interested (affiliate link).
It’s all about the pop
Not only are they lightweight, but the nomex core and graphite face gives more “pop” to the ball considering its construction. What I mean by “pop” is actually the amount of force the paddle will absorb when the ball makes contact. When a ball strikes a paddle, the materials of the paddle will either absorb some of the force, or hardly any at all.
The Z5 doesn’t absorb much of the force, which is why this paddle is so popular among power players. The ball bounces right off the face, giving players the ability to send the ball screaming over the net. It feels so good when you hit a power shot right on the sweet spot.
But there’s a disadvantage to this, which I will explain later.
A deadly combination
There are three main components working for the Onix Z5 Graphite: a large sweet spot, a nomex core and a lightweight, but hard face. The nomex core gives you power and “pop” while the sweet spot gives you room to swing hard at the ball without worrying about a misshit. But also, the paddle is heavy enough to have plenty of power behind the ball. Do you see how beautifully designed this paddle is? The components work like a well oiled machine and all in tandem with each other. When broken down to it’s basic parts, the brilliance of the Z5 shows. Tip your hats to top player Steve Wong for this design.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row]
The feedback loop
There is one unique aspect to the Onix Z5 that I see few people talking about. This is the tactile feedback the paddle gives your hands. Here comes another golf analogy.
Golfers will oftentimes judge a shot by how it felt in their hands. It’s hard to describe, but a golfer will know if they hit a shot on the heel of the club, on the sweet spot, or on the toe. Being able to sense where the ball made contact with the club will give you great information on how to fix your swing in the future if something is wrong.
Pickleball paddles are no different.
However, considering the construction of the Z5, you can easily feel where you hit the ball on the paddle. The core of this paddle isn’t going to absorb much of the force during a misshit, but your hands definitely will. Yes, all paddles are going to give you this feedback, but it’s more prevalent with a paddle like the Z5. And as you probably imagined, yes, this is also great for beginners.
That tactile feedback will let you know where you’re misshitting, making it easier for you to fix the problem.
With every upside, there must be a downside, as I’m sure some famous person said one time.
Or maybe not.
Anyway, with all this power comes loss of control. The main problem with having so much force and “pop” on the ball is that you lose control over how you maneuver the ball. When someone smashes the ball or hits a power shot towards you, how the ball reacts with the paddle will be outside your control. The nomex core and graphite face are going to bounce that ball right off with no absorption, making the shot unpredictable.
If you can’t find a way to control the ball with this paddle, then popping the ball up into the opponent’s smash zone will happen more often that usual.
Another downside, if you care about this sort of thing, is the graphical style used for the paddle. I have a long history in professional graphic design and I can tell you that this paddle doesn’t look that great. I know that most people don’t care about this sort of thing, but the good news is that Onix has improved on their visual styles immensely since this paddle was made.
The paddle is also very loud. Like most nomex paddles, there is no noise dampening technology in there that will leave your neighbors less annoyed. Just keep that in mind before getting this paddle.
Is this paddle for me?
Are you a beginner or someone that likes to smash the ball to pieces? Then look no further!
The Onix Z5 Graphite paddle will give you powerful, monstrous shots and smashes that will leave your opponents in awe. But in with all that power, comes loss of control. If you don’t mind losing the ability to have control and exceptional shot placement, then this will be a great fit for you.
This is also a great paddle for beginners considering the large sweet spot. It’s not the cheapest paddle on the market, but it will give them a great start. Furthermore, this paddle is available in a lot of retail stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods.
If you want an even cheaper start to pickleball, make sure you check out my article about getting started for cheap.
My personal opinion on the paddle
The Z5 is the paddle that I started out on. It was actually my Mom’s extra paddle that she had laying around for other people to use. I didn’t want to buy my own paddle, so I just used hers.
I’m a young guy, so I like to smash the ball as much as I can. Although I’ve grown out of that (mostly), it was fun to use. I didn’t care about shot placement or maneuverability. I just wanted to hit deep shots that would blaze over the net.
This paddle let me achieve just this. But there’s something else that it did.
This paddle got me into pickleball. The loud noise it makes and the amazing feeling of striking on the sweet spot is what got me hooked. Eventually, the lack of control caught up to me, and I went shopping for a better paddle for my game, but the Z5 did its job. And here I am, writing to you about how great this paddle is.
My personal opinion of this paddle mainly revolves around beginners and power players. If you know someone who is just starting out this paddle will be great for them. It’s easily accessible at your local sporting goods store and it will last you a long time.