July 26 2013
Updates to the popular Speeder shaft include improved materials and a thinner butt end. (Fujikura)
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider
The graphite shaft landscape has changed considerably over the past 15 years. Thanks to improved pre-preg composite fibers and new hi-tech materials, today's graphite shafts are not only made from higher quality products, they're also more stable, accurate and consistent than their predecessors.
However, even with improvements to the design process and materials over the years, some shafts have managed to stand the test of time.
Fujikura's original Speeder 757 certainly falls into the category.
Launched in Japan in 1997, the Speeder 757 made its way to the United States in 1999 and quickly became one of the most popular shafts on the PGA TOUR. Over the years, the shaft has amassed over 50 victories worldwide and has been in the bag of some high-profile names, including Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, Ernie Els and Bill Haas.
To give you an idea of the shaft's popularity, Bill Haas, who won the 2011 FedExCup with a Speeder 757 shaft in his driver, and Ernie Els were both using it as late as last season before switching to Fujikura's Motore Speeder.
The original Speeder 757 was a beefy shaft with a larger-than-usual butt end that was geared towards TOUR players seeking a low launch, low spin option. It also had Triax Core Technology, a very tightly woven high grade material and a very low tow fiber, on the interior layer that increased the stability of the shaft with high swing speeds.
"Quite honestly, it was hard to fathom changing the 757 because, at the time, it was a shaft we felt we couldn't improve because it was so good," said Alex Dee, Vice President of Fujikura Golf. "It wasn't until some recent materials and technology came out that we were able to build a shaft we were proud of and could say it was worthy of being the new [Speeder] 757."
Improved materials allowed Fujikura to go back to work designing an upgraded version of the Speeder 757 — one that now has two layers of Triax Core Technology (used mainly in aerospace structures, Triax is a three-axis system of fibers that are woven in three directions rather than just two to stabilize the shaft) and additional Nano Alloy resin (high modulus carbon fiber).
The combination of the two make this version stiffer in certain areas of the shaft to generate more speed.
Whereas the original Speeder 757 had only one layer of Triax that was primarily on the inside of the shaft, Dee said the soon-to-be-released version will have an additional layer on the outside as well, giving it unmatched stability.
"It's just an incredible amount of stability to have one layer of Triax on the inside and another on the outside of the shaft," Dee said. "We've basically taken the Triax design from the original 757 and sandwiched the shaft between those two layers. What an additional layer does is add additional stability to the shaft for players with high swing speeds."
The butt end of the shaft in the new 757 was also reduced to a thinner, more manageable size. As opposed to the original version that had a larger butt end than the conventional driver shaft, Fujikura was able to go with more manageable butt end, while still maintaing the stiffness profile of the shaft.
Even with the upgrades and improvements, Dee was quick to point out that the shaft still maintains the integrity of the original profile.
"This is still the 757 shaft people remember," Dee said. "Sure, the materials are improved and it has updated graphics, but this version still has the same profile. The original was good, but we feel like this one is even better."
Along with the 757, Fujikura will also release three new models in the new Motore Speeder line — 661, 569 and 474.
The Speeder 661 is a 65-gram shaft that's geared towards better players with above average speeds; the Speeder 569 is a 55-gram shaft for moderate swing speeds; and the Speeder 474 comes an ultra-light 45-gram package for players with slower swing speeds.
All four versions of the shaft will also be shipped at 47 inches — standard is usually 46 inches — which is longer than the typical, uncut driver shaft. According to Dee, Fujikura decided to ship the shafts at that length to give golfers the opportunity to go longer or fine-tune it with incremental cuts.
The new Fujikura Speeder line will be available in October with a suggested retail price of $350.