One Drop Benchmark Series 2014
Reviewed by Chris Rhoads
November 26, 2014
Last year One Drop came out with the first Benchmark Series of yo-yos, a design study in how shape alone affected the feel of the yo-yo during play. All three had the exact same specs but came out, at the time, in V-Shaped, Organic Shaped, and H-Shaped designs. This year they have come out with a new line of Benchmarks, called the Benchmark Series 2014. This new series has an updated set of specs based on tweaks made after a year’s worth of play and feedback. That alone warrants a new line, but if you are one to look at the photos from my reviews first you will have already noticed a FOURTH model in this year’s Benchmark Series. One Drop has gone on record to say that last year’s V-Shape was more of a Wing design so they renamed it as such and introduced a pure V-Shape design. It will be interesting to see how this newer series stacks up. I am also curious if, unlike last year, I will be able to pick one as a definitive best in series.
• Diameter: 55mm
• Width: 43mm
• Gap: 4.32mm
• Base Weight: 62 grams
• Weight w/ Side Effects: 65.3 grams
• Response: Flow Groove Pads
• Bearing: One Drop 10-Ball
As with the 2013 review, I would like to start off with the similarities instead of diving head first into each model. All of the 2014 Series is one millimeter smaller in diameter and one millimeter larger in width than the previous series, keeping the Benchmark line in the full size category. The series is still Side Effect enabled and this year ships with a new aluminum Flat Cap Side Effect that sits almost flush with the hub. On a side note it has been confirmed with David, the Flat Top Side Effects will eventually be made in brass as well. One Drop made sure to retain the no walled gap design from last year’s run, always a blessing when you are looking to do tricks that need a wide open loop. This year’s series all have a step in weight ring design in the cup similar to what we have seen with the Gradient, Summit, and Cascade. This means that there is a trade off; we lose a possible IGR but gain stability. Unlike last year’s series which had no design flourishes, the 2014 Series has a pair of concentric circles around the hub giving the flat floor a interesting visual that for some reason reminds me of the Disc Wars courts in the original Tron. As we all know with a change in machining complexity a price change is sure to follow and in this is most certainly the case with the Benchmark Series 2014. The Benchmark Series 2014 is a little more complex so One Drop did alter the price, reducing it by two dollars, from $60 a yo-yo to $58 a yo-yo. Now that the similarities have been discussed, lets see what each model has to offer.
Benchmark H: The H is the one that has visually changed the most compared to the other two returning models. The catch zone is slightly wider, the step from the rims to the catch zone is smaller, and the rims are a little wider and feel a little more forgiving when impacting the hand. Thanks to the H-Shape design it does pack a little more of a punch than the others but One Drop has softened the blow compared to last year’s design.
Benchmark O: The O profile is pretty much identical to the O from 2013. That is not a bad thing at all. The O’s pure organic shape still makes it the most comfortable of the lot by a wide margin. Even though it has the no walled gap, it still retains last year’s slight tendency to close loops during suicide tricks since the catch zone walls are closer to the string; a small trade off for the comfort in my opinion.
Benchmark W: As with the O, the W, for Wing (last year’s V), is pretty much identical to last year’s design which means it retains the design cues brought over from the Format:C. The chunky rims transition well into the angled catch zone, which guides the string straight into the guts. It is still more forgiving than the H but hits a tad harder than the O.
Benchmark V: Yes, I know I went out of order but I wanted to save the new design for last. As with the O being pure organic, the V this year is a pure V design. In fact, David at One Drop confirms this to be their first ever, pure V design. There is a rounded rim to keep the V from digging into your hand when it returns and, like the H, this does cause it to pack a punch. The trade off here is that this has the widest, easiest catch zone to hit out of all the models… more on that later on.
The Benchmark 2014 series all tip the scale at 65.3 grams with the new Side Effects installed. Their base weight is feathery light 62 grams so if you are not digging the Flats you can calculate what they would weigh in at with your Side Effect of choice. The Benchmark 2014s feel zippier on the string compared to the older line even though they are only a gram lighter. Even with the increased speed they are quite a bit more stable than the old line… they just do not like to tilt.
Response and Bearing
Surprisingly, One Drop has stuck with their 10-Ball and Flow Groove response combination for the Benchmark Series 2014. While the Flow Grooves were a given since they last forever and give solid play, I was surprised at the inclusion of the 10-Ball bearing. In the past they have used their budget 8-Ball Value Bearing in their budget priced throws so having the higher end bearing on a sub $60 throw was a nice bonus.
As with the previous generation, all four of the Benchmark 2014s had a similar feel to them when on the string but obviously not identical. These all have the Pyramatte finish on them so grinds are easy to perform and maintain a long spin time on my hand or arm. There is no IGR on them, coupling that with the step in weight ring means that thumb grinds are, I wouldn’t say impossible, but darn tricky to pull off.
Each design is pretty unique here are some highlights from each design:
Benchmark H: The H 2014 takes the crown again for having the longest spin times of the series. The big rims and the extra weight on the inside of the cup kicked it up a notch from last year. This is still the yo-yo I gravitate towards when I am beginning to learn tricks just because it gives me so much wiggle room when I mess up.
Benchmark O: The O 2014 is not as chill as last year’s model thanks to the increased speed but it is still the one to relax with when you just want to throw; easy on the hands with absolutely no bite in it if you make a mistake. It is a great throwback to older designs and the one you want to pick up if you are feeling nostalgic while wanting to still have access to modern yo-yo design mechanics.
Benchmark W: The W 2014 is no longer just the great in between when compared to the O and H. The enhanced stability and speed make it a great all around player and normally it would me the one I would use when out and about. It is stable as can be and the new cup design gives it spin times on par with the H 2014. The only reason I would lean towards the H 2014 for beginning to learn a new trick is because the W 2014 has a smaller catch zone.
Benchmark V: Again, I saved the new guy for last. The Benchmark V 2014 is my everyday yo-yo. It has incredible spins and a super easy to hit that catch zone. There is absolutely NOTHING that deflects or impedes the strings movement along the outer wall and into the gap. I have no problem saying I am biased here, I have always loved pure V-Shaped yo-yos and my go to yo-yo for the longest time was the SPYY Pro which would have been perfect if it didn’t have that small cut near the gap. After I bang out the harder parts on the H 2014 I grab for this and don’t look back.
Again, I am not going to tell you which one is the best, sorry. It is no secret which one I think is best but my tastes are my own. If you are not a fan of the V-Shape then you are going to, justifiably, call me out on my claim. All of them are an improvement over last year’s Benchmark Series and play different enough that people who have the 2013 line should give these a look. For those new to the Benchmark line, Series 2014 is a great starting point. It is cheaper than the previous series and gives you access to the new Flat Top Side Effects as well.