One Drop Benchmark Series 2016
Reviewed by Chris Rhoads
October 16, 2016
One Drop has decided to release the latest in their Benchmark design study series. For those who may not have been around during the previous two runs or are new to One Drop yo-yos, the Benchmark series are a unique concept. They are a set of yo-yos that all share a common set of specs. The only difference between the yo-yos in each series are the shapes used for each individual piece. When first conceived and released in 2013, One Drop used three basic shapes, Organic, H-Shape, and V-Shape. When the 2014 series was released One Drop came to the realization that the original V-Shape was more of a Wing shape design so they changed the name to reflect that idea and added a pure V-Shape design to the mix, giving that series and the 2016 series the four shapes currently employed. As with the last review, I will do an overarching break down in the sections and then break out into specifics on the individual designs.
Side Note: For those wondering why there is no 2015 Benchmark Series. 2015 was a busy year for One Drop with their rather large and hectic move to their new shop. The monumental undertaking unfortunately left little time for them to create that year’s Benchmark Series.
• Diameter: 56.75 mm
• Width: 43.65 mm
• Gap: 4.35 mm
• Base Weight: 63.2 grams
• Shipping Weight: 66.6 grams (W/ Aluminum Energy Dome Side Effects)
• Bearing: One Drop 10-Ball
• Response: Flow Groove
This year’s Benchmarks are less about adding a new shape or completely reinventing the designs. Instead, the guys from Oregon focused on refining the four basic shapes and tweaking the designs already in play from the 2014 release. This year, all the Benchmarks get a step out at the response to keep the string away from the walls of the yo-yo. Also, the cup step has been recessed a little more into the yo-yo. As with the 2014 run, One Drop has introduced a new Side Effect to go with the 2016 series. In 2014 it was the Flat Cap Side Effect. This year we get Energy Domes, a spike like design that appears to be heavily influenced by the hats worn by 80’s band Devo. Other than these changes, the yo-yos all share the same concentric circle accents in the cup, the same Side Effect axle system, and the Pyramatte finish.
Benchmark H (Blue): The H-Shape design is the most drastically changed of the four from their 2014 counterparts. The rims are wider, the catch zone is smaller, and everything is quite a bit more rounded. The rounding makes the H-Shape even more forgiving during play if you are prone to smacking yourself with your throw… like I am.
Benchmark O (Red): The Organic profile is nearly identical to the 2014 model but is a tad wider, which is to be expected now that it has that step in the gap. It is still the most comfortable in the hand of all the designs. The Cup has a much more rounded look to it mimicking the outer walls down to the step then it is a much more angular cut and a quick drop to the floor.
Benchmark V (Purple): The V-Shape is similar to the Organic in that it did not take much of a hit to the design. The biggest visual difference is in the cup, where the inner wall is quite a bit more rounded and does not immediately follow the lines from the outer wall.
Benchmark W (Black): The Wing design is the least changed of the four. It is almost identical to the 2014 run with exception to the changes listed above that affected the entire series. This is not a bad thing and is still considered a much more refined version of the previous model. If I had to pick one major change it would be that the catch zone walls are a bit steeper to accommodate the step at the gap.
The 2016 Benchmarks’ weight is closer to the 2013 series than the 2014. They are a tad heavier on the string, giving them a much more solid and chill feel during play. The Energy Dome Side Effects are a bit heavier than the Flat Caps from the previous run so if you would like to get play similar to the 2014 run I would recommend maybe swapping out the shipping Side Effects with some aluminum caps or maybe even a set of aluminum Ultra Lights.
Response and Bearing
The response and bearing are One Drop’s tried and true Flow Groove Pads and 10 Ball bearing. This set up gives excellent play while staying smooth and quiet. In the past One Drop tried a budget bearing to reduce the price. While it was decent I like the feel of the 10-Ball quite a bit more. I am glad they decided to stick with their premium bearing, even in their budget lines.
Just like with the previous Benchmark series, you can definitely tell from the play that these yo-yos are siblings… but just siblings, not twins. They share a similar solid and chill feel when bouncing about from string to string during play and they all have the same level of grinding prowess thanks to the Pyramatte finish that accompanies each model.
Benchmark H (Blue): The H-Shape give the longest spins of all the 2016 Benchmarks. It is also the most stable of all of them. It is still easy to catch during play and is the one I tend to grab when working on a new trick. I can be a little sloppier with this one and not worry about spinning out.
Benchmark O (Red): The Organic is the most comfortable of the quartet. Quite relaxed and every bit as chill as the 2013 Organic. I was happy with the increased weight because it gave back the laid back feel that I missed when the 2014 models were released. Those that are looking for something with that classic feel will want to give this one a shot.
Benchmark V (Purple): The V-Shape is a personal favorite. I love V-Shapes and this one checks off every box on my list of things I look for. It is super easy to hit with long spin times thanks to the refinements made to the design. The extra added weight slows it down a little bit from the 2014 model which makes it a much better fit for my style of play.
Benchmark W (Black): The Wing design is One Drop’s pure competition throw. I was wrong during the 2014 run, it is more of a perfect balance between the H and V Shapes where in the 2014 review I said it was a mix between the Organic and H shapes. It is stable and easy to hit like the V but gives super long spin times like the H. With the 2016 H and V shapes having a similar sized catch zone it is really up to personal preference on which one to get.
As with the last release, these are much more of an evolutionary step instead of a revolutionary leap forward. The Benchmark series have always been an excellent stepping on point for anyone waffling between the various shapes. The 2016 run has a lot to offer. For those that are new to the line, they can pick up multiple designs without breaking the bank. Returning Benchmark fans can reach for the model that best spoke to them, giving them a different feel from a much loved and familiar shape.