Reviewed by Chris Rhoads
February 16, 2015
CLYW has gone through quite a few changes since my last review of one of their products. Chris returned to work full time at CLYW after previously handing the day-to-day operations over to Charles for a short time. Pretty much all of their machining has been moved to One Drop’s shop in Oregon. Oh, and they brought this relative unknown on board as their marketing manager, a guy by the name of Steve from some place called Cleveland. I guess he has some experience in the yo-yo world as a National Master, inventor of the 5A style, and editor in chief of some website called YoYoNews. (Sarcasm everyone. Put down the pitchforks, I know who Steve Brown is.) That is quite a bit of change for one company to go through, and with all of it, the quality does not seem to have suffered in the least. Today I am finally looking at the yo-yo that most everyone has been asking for, the Bonfire. For those that do not know, the Bonfire is a scaled up version of CLYW’s phenomenal pocket throw, the Campfire; a yo-yo that I fell in love with and regret returning to its original owner to this day. Now, just scaling up a design does not give it a pass at greatness and I am looking forward to seeing if the Bonfire can command that same level of adoration that I gave its smaller sibling.
• Diameter: 55.10 mm
• Width: 45.25 mm
• Gap: 4.15 mm
• Weight: 65.9 grams
• Response: CLYW Snow Tires
• Bearing: 10 Ball Steel Bearing
When I mentioned that the Bonfire was a scaled up version of the Campfire, I could not have been more on the nose. It is as though CLYW took a bicycle pump, attached it to the Campfire, and kept inflating until it went from completely pocket sized category well into the full sized. The two share the same flat rimmed, V-Shape profile with a decorative groove half way down each wall in the catch zone. They both have the same no walled gap and both are extremely comfortable both in play and while holding it in the hand thanks to the rounding off of all edges that can come into contact with the player’s hand. The cups are pretty much the same story. They are deeper than the Campfire design in order to shift the weight but other than that the design is identical, complete with a lack of an IGR and the Peak style hub spikes. The blast is CLYW’s typical affair, meaning it stays smooth and grind friendly even when the weather is humid and sticky. Overall the design is exactly what I was hoping for, a larger, more user-friendly design that feels like a better all around player than the more niche market pocket yo-yo it is based on.
While the body has been scaled up exponentially, the weight has been modestly increased. The Bonfire is only 3.4 grams heavier than its much smaller sibling, making for a quick and agile yet still incredibly stable throw. The result of this is that you end up with a yo-yo that is much larger and quite a bit quicker than the original.
Response and Bearing
The Bonfire ships with CLYW’s now standard flat, steel 10 Ball bearing and Snow Tire response. Gone are the days of the CTX bearing, which was competent but nowhere near my cup of tea. Yes, my preferences tend to shy away from string centering bearings. Luckily, if you don’t agree with me, bearings are cheap and easy to replace if you want to customize your yo-yo a little more. The Snow Tire response is as brilliant as ever giving almost out of the box unresponsive play with little to no break in time. I do have my list of favorite response pads and these are high on that list.
Quick, that is the first word that comes to mind while playing with this. It does have a bit of float in the play so you are not racing to catch up to it during combos but it is lightening fast when you change plane or direction. Even factoring in the speed, I would list this as one of CLYW’s most user-friendly yo-yos. The large catch zone and low walled design makes it super easy to perform whips, hooks, and suicides. It also feels like it was designed to easily compete in the ever-expanding field of horizontal play. Grinds are everything you would expect from a CLYW throw: smooth and easy to control. Thumb grinds are easy to pull off and vastly improved from the Campfire thanks to the deeper cup but they are still a tad slippy. The only aspects I would have changed would have been to add an IGR to aid in thumb grinds and sharpened the spikes for better matador play. Other than those two bits of nit picking I would say the play is brilliant.
I will not lie; I was expecting this yo-yo to be good. I freely admit I was biased due to how much I did like the Campfire, not to mention how much I love a good V-Shape design. That being said, I will not mince words… the Bonfire is a brilliant throw and I can see why it is so highly sought after in the community. It may look like a scaled up Campfire but the play is completely new and just a better feel in every way. It is not a perfect throw with the lack of an IGR being the most egregious omission from a full priced throw but if that is the only thing I have to complain about then CLYW is definitely doing something right. As I said, this is the most user friendly of CLYW’s designs and the one I would recommend anyone that wants a good introduction to what the company has to offer.