One Drop Benchmark Series 2013
Reviewed by Chris Rhoads
February 2, 2014
When One Drop told me what their intentions were for the Benchmark series I was seriously intrigued. It is a brilliant idea on paper; build three separate yo-yos around the same base set of specs that represent the three standard variations on the butterfly shape, Organic, H, and V. It is a true study in how just the shape effects the play and the feel on the string. While a shape study was one of the major points of this series, One Drop had also set out to make the lowest priced Side Effect enabled yo-yo and have subsequently priced these at $60 each. It will be interesting to see if these are just a novelty or if the Benchmark series has a place in your collection.
• Diameter: 56 mm
• Width: 42 mm
• Gap: 4.34 mm
• Base Weight (No Side Effects): 63 Grams
• Shipping Weight: 66.2 grams
• Response: Flow Groove Pads
• Bearing: One Drop 10-Ball
Before I go into detail on how the three are different, lets talk about what the Benchmark H, Benchmark O, and Benchmark V have in common. All three are full size yo-yos. They all ship with One Drop’s Pyramatte finish and a set of aluminum spike Side Effects. None of them have a laser etch. Finally, none of them have an IGR; a feature most companies omit in order to reduce machining complexity and price. With that out of the way, lets see how they differ.
Benchmark H: The Benchmark H has an H-Shape profile with medium width rims that take a steep drop to the more V-shaped catch zone. The guts are based around a no-wall approach that reduces string contact. The face of this yo-yo is devoid of any stabilizing rings or design flourishes. It is a simple, straight line from the underside of the rim to the flat floor with only the Side Effect hub breaking up the looks. Comfort wise, the Benchmark H is the least comfortable of the lot. It isn’t painful to play thanks to all the attention paid to rounding off the rims but those rims can still pack a punch.
Benchmark O: The Benchmark O uses a completely organic profile with absolutely no cuts or steps to break up the smooth, bulbous curve that travels from rim edge to guts. While also employing a no wall design for the guts, the nature of the organic design means that there will be some string contact with the wall. The face is similar to the H although the O has a curved wall that travels from the underside of the rim to the flat floor with just the Side Effect well in the center. The Benchmark O is the most comfortable of the three during play. There is not a single protruding angle or edge to hit harshly while returning to the hand.
Benchmark V: The Benchmark V is supposed to be the V-Shape profiled Benchmark but it is more of a V/H hybrid similar to the CODE2 and the Format:C. The Benchmark V has properly thick rims that transition from a gentle angled rim to a much more aggressively angled catch zone. As with the other two, this one also has a no wall design in the guts but the V is more like the H with very little string contact with the walls. The V is the only one that uses a tiny bit of flourish in the cup. While the inner walls of the H and O look like they follow the track taken by the catch zone the V has a slightly curved cup even though the catch zone is flat. Again the floor is completely flat with just the Side Effect hub in the center. While not as comfortable as the O the Benchmark V is still quite comfortable to play. The harsh angles are all rounded off while and impacts are spread out across those large rims.
All three are minimalist in looks and that works quite well for them. You can tell that One Drop was a focused on representing each shape to its fullest extent. Design wise, the O is my favorite to look at and hold but will it be my favorite to play?
They all have the same 63 gram base weight and the same 66.2 gram shipping weight with aluminum spike Side Effects. After playing them all I found them quite quick on the string. I found the H to be the most stable and the O to be the easiest to knock off plain. The V was somewhere in the middle when it came to stability. The 63 gram base weight does give quite a bit of room to step the weight up or down. You can get them down to 65.5 grams with a set of Ultra Lights or you can ramp them up to 74.2 grams if you can find a set of RSM Side Effects.
Response and Bearing
All Benchmarks come with One Drop’s Flow Groove pads, which break in quickly and remain usable for quite a long time. One thing I was pleasantly surprised with was that One Drop decided to ship all Benchmarks with the 10-Ball instead of their Value Bearing. While the Value Bearing is a great budget bearing, it is not as smooth as the 10-Ball.
All three of the Benchmarks had a similar but not identical feel to them if that makes any sense. You could definitely tell they were siblings with their own personality. They all moved quickly on the string and responded instantly to direction changes. All of them grind quite well on the hand, palm, and finger thanks to the Pyramatte finish and all of them need to be thrown at a slight angle if you want to perform a thumb grind. Lets see how they differ.
Benchmark H: The H has the highest spin times thanks to all the weight being concentrated on the rims. I found that I would gravitate towards this one quire a bit when I wanted to learn new things because it gave me a wide catch zone and the long spin times needed for me to fumble about while learning all the steps needed in leaning the trick. It is also keeps the loops open the most during suicides.
Benchmark O: The O is what I would use just to relax and have fun. It has the classic feel of a rounded butterfly shape that made me just want to relax. While it can be quick on the string it just felt at ease when goofing about. I never felt like it was going to bite me if I messed up… and I tend to mess up quite a bit.
Benchmark V: The best way to describe the V is that it is in the middle between the O and the H. It has a wider catch zone, better comfort, and a little bit less spin time when compared to the H but it is not quite as comfortable and laid back as the O. While I don’t have a favorite I found that I grab this one the most when I leave the house since it gave me a great compromise between the two while throwing in front of others while waiting in line for movies or shopping with my wife.
Now the big question, which one is the best? I can’t answer that. Honestly to get the full feel of this experiment you should pick up all three. It is hard to truly feel what a difference just the shape makes without playing them all. I found that I liked to learn on the H, relax with the O, and take the V out and about. There is no “best” in this collection. If you are looking to pick up just one then honestly just grab the shape that fits your preferences the best and go for it. You will not be disappointed. At the end of the day this is no novelty, I envision quite a few players picking up one at first and then going back for the others later on. At $60 a pop, it isn’t a huge hit to the wallet and will allow players to have two or three unique throws that will cover whatever feel they are looking for.