Titanium Shoot Out 2015
Reviewed by Chris Rhoads
September 13, 2015
Welcome to the 2015 Titanium Shoot out. This write-up contains reviews of the three hottest yo-yos of the year, the YoYoFactory Ti Dream, Luftverk Evora, and the One Drop CiTIzen. As with my other multi-yoyo reviews, each section will be broken up into subsections talking about that aspect of the individual yo-yos, with the “Final Thoughts” section pulling it all together talking about the pros and cons for all three. For this review I will forgo my normal introduction going into the backstory of the companies and such. All three of these yo-yos fall in the “ludicrous price*” category for pricing, which is similar to ludicrous speed only without going plaid. (What, you thought I wouldn’t have a movie joke in here somewhere?) I am sure you are anxious to know which titanium throw is worth nearly $300 of your hard earned money.
*Ludicrous pricing is all relative to the purchaser. For me, any yo-yo over $250 is firmly in that category, no matter what it is made of.
• Diameter: 56.25mm
• Width: 42.95mm
• Gap: 5mm
• Weight: 65.3 grams
• Bearing: CBC Center Trac (Size C)
• Response: 19mm Slim Pads
• Diameter: 54.5mm
• Width: 43.3mm
• Weight: 65.5 grams
• Bearing: Full Ceramic String Centering (Size C)
• Response: 19mm CBC Pads
• Diameter: 56.77mm
• Width: 43.68mm
• Gap: 4.6mm
• Weight: 64.4 grams
• Bearing: One Drop 10-Ball (Size C)
• Response: 19mm Slim Flow Groove Pads
Of the three, the Ti Dream comes with the most conventional shape. It is technically a wing shaped yo-yo but it is pretty much a straight forward V-Shape, and long time readers know how much I love a good V-Shaped yo-yo. The profile shows off an ever so slight rim with nicely rounded outer edge that reduces the impact when returning to the hand, or in my case when I mess up and clip a knuckle… hard. The wide open catch zone is a straight shot towards the gap. The gap edge is rounded to reduce string contact. The face is similarly minimalistic with straight walls in the cup leading to a flat floor. At the center is a slightly rounded hub with the laser etching above and below it. One thing this yo-yo does have that none of the others do is an IGR. The finish on this yo-yo is my only major problem with the design. In fact, it is the only issue I have with the design. I do not know the exact details of the finish and my e-mails and forum messages to company representatives have gone unanswered. I can only speculate that it is either highly polished then anodized or it is powder coated. I am leaning towards the latter based on the feel and specks of raw titanium showing through in the bearing seat, which would not happen due to how titanium is anodized. The finish is sticky to the touch similar to that of powder coating. It does not have the highly polished feel like the first titanium I ever played, the original Oxy TI. Whatever the finish is, I am not a fan of it. I wish I could have gotten my hands on a raw version because I am a tactile person and this finish is a turn off for me.
Of the three, the Evora is the most complexly machined yo-yo in the group. It is a full H-Shape design; the first H-Shape titanium I have ever played to be honest. The chunky rims transition to a hefty drop off before being greeted by the rounded walls in the catch zone. Even with the large rims, every possible harsh angle that could cause issues has been rounded off making for a yo-yo that is easy on the hands. The face of the Evora shows off an equally insane amount of metal work with a stair step that perfectly mimics the steps in the catch zone. The floor looks almost like a wave before meeting the cylinder hub in the center, not cylinder like… it looks like a soup can. And that is really the only thing I don’t like about the design. It is an extremely small issue and all chalked up to personal opinion. I would have preferred to see them do something equally crazy with the hub. Although, when it comes down to it, it could be argued that leaving the hub like that instead of giving us a more traditional spike or dome WOULD be the crazy design choice. The finish on this Evora is glass dusted before being anodized. The end result is that it feels like it has a blast while giving this crazy color shifting look that cannot accurately be photographed, or explained for that matter. The only thing I can say about the looks of the finish is WOW!
The CiTIzen’s profile strikes me as a cross between One Drop’s 2014 Benchmark W and the Cascade. It definitely has the wing shape Benchmark rims that transition into an organic catch zone reminiscent of a squished Cascade, complete with the step out at the gap. While I may use these two yo-yos in order to give One Drop fans a frame of reference, this plays unlike any other yo-yo in the One Drop line. The CiTIzen face shows off an elegant curve from the rim edge to the slightly sunken flat floor. At the center is the miniature spike design that One Drop only uses on their titanium yo-yos. Someday I would love to see them make a limited edition run of titanium Side Effects with that spike. As with every other One Drop yo-yo, any visible angle, whether it will cause issues or not, is rounded off making this the most comfortable yo-yo in the round up. The finish is a brushed, raw titanium which gives it a slight industrial, almost steampunk like look to it. That beautiful without being shiny and new aesthetic. I have hung out with the local steampunk crew here in town because I really dig that look.
I am going to break form here and just say that all three are extremely stable on the string.
This yo-yo is one quick player, way quicker than the 65 gram weight lets on. It is a stable little speed demon on the string that does not like to take it slow.
The Evora is more of a middle of the road player when it comes to speed. It can take it quick but you can tell it prefers to kick back for some leisurely play sessions. The weight distribution gives this the longest spin times of the bunch.
The CiTIzen is a step in between the other two. Coming in at 64 grams it is the lightest of the bunch and because of this it is zippy on the string but it also has no problem playing it slow for some decent, chilled out fun.
Response and Bearing
The Dream uses 19mm Slim Pads and the Center Trac bearing that YYF ships with the majority of their line. The pads have a good amount of grip to them and didn’t show much wear after the long play sessions required for this review. The bearing is not my favorite, but I have never been a fan of string centering bearings. I have said in the past, if I HAD to use one, the higher end Center Trac would be high on the list since it had more of the properties of a flat bearing than most of the others on the market.
I am not sure what brand of pad the Evora uses but they are excellent. They give a great amount of grip allowing for quick and accurate binds. The bearing is a full ceramic string centering bearing. It spins for days and is fairly quiet as well. My only worry is that it could be more brittle than a standard bearing but it is a top-notch performer and that is saying quite a bit since, as stated above, I am not a sting centering fan.
This is the first yo-yo I have played that has One Drop’s new 19mm slim Flow Groove pads. These gave all the performance of One Drop’s regular pads, a personal favorite of mine, and are an excellent alternative for yo-yos that use a 19mm pad. The bearing is One Drop’s always excellent 10-Ball bearing which is whisper quiet with long spins.
As stated above, the Dream is a speed demon on the string that just does not feel “right” playing at slower speeds. While I do love a quick player from time to time I know some that would not like playing at such a hurried pace. The good part is that YYF coupled the fast pace with a large catch zone making it easy to catch even if you are rushing to keep up with it. There really isn’t much you can’t do with the Dream as far as string tricks are concerned. Grinds on the other hand are pretty much a no go on this. That sticky finish means that as soon as it hits your skin the yo-yo will shoot off whatever body part it had just come in contact with. The only grind that it can pull off is a thumb grid. The finish has no issues with coming in contact with a thumb nail. Overall the otherwise great play is marred by a mediocre finish.
The Evora is such a chill throw. It is just a blast to play with during a long play session, especially out in the sun where the light just dances over that finish. I cannot stress enough how beautiful it looks in the light. The catch zone is easy to hit and the speed plus the insane spin times makes this an incredible yo-yo to practice new tricks you may have watched on YouTube, or those complex combos you are just itching to perfect. It does have the one issue common with large rimmed H-Shape yo-yos. The rim shape allows the string to throw it a tad bit off kilter if one of them hit the string wrong, whereas an organic or a V-Shape design easily guides the string to the gap. Not a huge issue, since it is common with most H-Shapes, you just need to know how to correct from a borked hit… a useful skill to have anyways. Grinds on this Evora are absolutely amazing, it has the feel of a blast finish and grind performance to back it up.
The CiTIzen is adept at playing at all speeds whether you like insane tech speed or relaxed Zen flow. As with the other two, it has a catch zone that is easy to hit. This is the yo-yo you want if you are looking to shave time off your combos since it has no problems ramping up the speed to meet the needs of whoever is playing it. This is the only yo-yo in the bunch that can do finger spins on the hubs. It isn’t the easiest to pop up in the air and catch by the spikes while vertical but when popped up horizontally from UFO those points are plenty sharp enough to do a simple finger spin. Grinds are hit or miss with the raw finish. It can do palm and finger grinds for short periods of time but nothing like a blasted finish.
Ok, the end of the line. So which yo-yo in the “ludicrous price” category deserves your hard earned cash? Well, I cannot answer that, I can just give you my thoughts. Of the three, the Evora is the least expensive at $270 direct from them. The CiTIzen is $295 retail and the Dream is $300. The pricing on these strikes me as a little crazy, the most intricate of the three is the least expensive while the one that appears to be the easiest to machine, mostly made up of straight line cuts is the most expensive of the bunch. I am sure the Evora will be a little more expensive when it hit retail but as of this review, it is still the gentlest hit to the wallet.
Price is a big issue for me and as such I think the Dream missed the mark. It would have been an excellent $200 yo-yo and it was for the people that were able to get in on the crowd funding campaign. At $300, the field is crowded and I think it gets overshadowed by the other two who accommodate a wider range of play styles. The biggest killers for the Ti Dream are that it is mass produced so it loses the limited edition collectable aspect and everyone in the community knows the story behind it and the funding campaign used to bring it to the public. Those that wanted a YYF titanium will have jumped on it at the crowdfunded price, ESPECIALLY since they also got an aluminum and plastic version of the yo-yo as well. Perception is king in this hobby, so the $100 price hike along with the lack of the bonus goodies and easy availability makes people feel like they are not getting their money’s worth. This hits extra hard for potential owners when they see all the existing owners talking about all the cool stuff that came with their purchase. At the end of the day YYF did itself a serious disservice by raising the price. After selling so many upfront at the $200 price point they kind of hurt their retail partners who are saddled with a $300 version that will potentially sit on the shelves.
As for the two that are left, I just cannot pick a favorite. Unlike the Ti Dream, both are extremely limited editions so at that point money takes a backseat to collectability. The Evora is an absolutely stunning player and the same is true for the CiTIzen. Performance wise I think the CiTIzen edges out the Evora by a hair thanks to the fact that it does allow you to go faster when you want. The Evora on the other hand just looks so damn good, gives fantastic grinds, and has he chilled out feel that I personally look for in a yo-yo. Honestly, with the Evora and the CiTIzen you just need to pick the shape you prefer, you will not regret either purchase if you can find one to pick up. All I know is that I am going to have a hard time putting both of these back in the mail to their owners.