One Drop DownBeat
Reviewed by Chris Rhoads
March 29, 2015
One Drop has been on fire lately with their Side Effect tech enabled yo-yos. When the Side Effect axle system was introduced it was left for their much more expensive designs, leaving their lower cost yo-yos to use a tapped axle system. After perfecting the machining and construction of the Side Effects the company was able to finally give their customers something that they had been requesting, lower cost Side Effect yo-yos. Today it is not uncommon to find one with a sub $60 price tag. Now they are back with a new design, giving their customers something they have requested in the past as well… a heavier base weight, Side Effect yo-yo. Usually their Side Effect yo-yos start with a lighter base weight (the weight without stock Side Effects) and then it is up to the end user to customize the yo-yo to make it heavy enough to hit their preferences. The problem is that many criticized this because it forced the weight increases to the center of the yo-yo when they wanted more weight at the rims. Enter their latest design, the DownBeat. A yo-yo that starts out with the heaviest base weight that One Drop offers. Let’s get to work and see what it has to offer.
• Diameter: 56.77mm
• Width: 45.42mm
• Gap: 4.32mm
• Base Weight: 67.5 grams
• Shipping Weight (with Aluminum Ultra Lights): 70 grams
• Bearing: One Drop 10 Ball Bearing
• Response: One Drop Flow Groove
The thinking behind the DownBeat’s design was to return to the roots of the yo-yo, back when it was just fun to throw. One Drop had noticed that everyone is making yo-yos that are competition focused and no one was making a just for fun design. The DownBeat is their attempt to change this by making a yo-yo that you will enjoy while chilling out, throwing, and most importantly smiling with friends.
To that end the DownBeat starts with a classic organic profile with some modern flair to it. The outer wall, rims, and gap are all one flowing curve from rim edge to the bearing. To give it a slightly modern look One Drop added a new riff on their Projection Profile, adding several wide but shallow channels to the outer walls. Keeping with the old school vibe you will notice a total lack of a step out at the gap, a design implement that is used in many One Drop and CLYW designs to keep the string from interacting with the walls. The cup design is a little more modern in look with a flat wall under the rim that curves down towards the floor where it meets a step cut that continues the curve to the flat floor. At the center is the Side Effect Hub and stock aluminum Ultra Lights. The only laser etching on the design is a set of mid-70s van inspired stripes. The finish is One Drops tumbled Pyramatte finish, which means it will give great grinds during most weather conditions. Overall I am grooving on this design. Even though I am huge V-Shape fan, there is just something about a well implemented organic yo-yo.
There is no dancing around this; the DownBeat is a heavy yo-yo. It clocks in at 70 grams with the stock Ultra Lights installed. There is absolutely no way to make it lighter. Now with that out of the way, it does not feel like a 70 gram yo-yo with the stock setup. They set out to make a chilled out yo-yo and in that they have succeeded but at the same time the DownBeat can scream on the string if you push it. In the end, you don’t notice the weight in stock setup until you switch to another yo-yo; then the heft of the DownBeat is evident. Now I keep mentioning “stock setup” and that is because when you move to a different set of Side Effects the weight increase is immediately noticeable. The change in play ranged from the negligible when adding a little weight with aluminum domes or spikes to the readily apparent with Anti-Yo Side Effects and Stunt Pegs which make the DownBeat chunky and hard hitting. In my opinion, brass goes right out the window on the DownBeat, it just added way to much heft for me. While some may not like how the weight impacts Side Effect customization, there is a major upside to this beefy throw. It is one extremely stable and long spinning yo-yo thanks to the way One Drop’s wizards distributed the weight.
Response and Bearing
One Drop 10 Ball and One Drop Flow Groove pads, in my opinion, the best in class for response and bearing. The pads last pretty much forever and give snappy binds while remaining unresponsive when it counts. The bearing is my go to bearing thanks to the quiet play and smooth feel. They can sometimes get loud, as bearings want to do after extended play, but a tiny drop of lube fixes that quickly.
The DownBeat hits its mark when it comes to being a chilled out, fun yo-yo. It is evident that the play is there to have you smiling with friends and not worrying about string hits, stage presence, or competition routines. This is the yo-yo you bring to yo-yo club or out with friends to just goof around with. While it may be geared towards the relaxed play it is no slouch. The extra long spin times give the DownBeat a major edge when it comes to extended combos while the naturally slower play and rock solid stability aid in learning even the most complicated of new tricks. I did not notice any issues with the string hitting the walls so loops stay wide open during suicides. Grinds are your normal One Drop affair, the Pyramatte finish grinds well in dry weather but will get a tad sticky when humid, if you like to grind you will have no problems with the DownBeat. When One Drop set out to create a “just for fun” yo-yo I think they missed marketing to one segment that this yo-yo is absolutely perfect for, and that is those that focus more on the artistic and expressive nature of yo-yo play. The slow pace and floaty feel of the DownBeat lends itself perfectly to the play styles of those who want to show of the grace and beauty involved in the flowing from trick to trick… basically the total opposite of fast, tech style we see on stage during competitions.
I will not lie, when I first read that the DownBeat was 70 grams I was not happy, even when I heard it was only going to cost $70. While I can definitely get behind companies pricing their yo-yos by the gram, I imagined a chunky, unresponsive, brick on the string. I have no problem admitting when I am wrong and in this case I was dead wrong, I judged a book by its cover and potentially lost out on playing a great yo-yo. I am glad to see a company focusing on the fun of throwing again. While competition oriented yo-yos are a blast, a just for fun yo-yo is definitely a must have in any players case and the DownBeat fits the bill quite nicely. It doesn’t take itself seriously while still offering impressive play.