Ronbus R1 Nova Paddle Review (Feel, Power, Control, Spin)

R1 Nova Paddle

Ronbus has just released their newest paddle line, the Nova, marking one of the most significant paddle drops this summer for enthusiasts in the know. The Nova adds to the impressive lineup from this small yet notable pickleball manufacturer.

Dong Li, a retired engineer and owner of Ronbus, describes the Nova as a “Gen. 3” thermoformed paddle due to its innovative features. You may already be familiar with terms like Gen. 2 (hot-molded thermoforming) and Gen. 1.5 (thermofoaming).

Ronbus’s new patent-pending Gen. 3 technology aims to retain the powerful characteristics of Gen. 2 thermoforming while addressing persistent quality control issues that have affected Gen. 2 paddles, such as core corruption, disbonding, and delamination.

It’s exciting to see new proprietary methods designed to tackle these core thermoforming challenges. The thermoformed Pulsar paddle series from Ronbus has already made significant progress in this area, and the Nova aims to advance even further.

So, how does the Ronbus R1 Nova Paddle perform? Has Ronbus successfully implemented the desired changes in their Gen. 3 production methods while maintaining the essence of Gen. 2 thermoformed paddles?

Let’s dive in and take a look.

R1 Nova Paddle Technical Specifications

  • Price: $69.99 BUY
  • Shape: Hybrid
  • Core thickness: 16mm
  • Face: Raw Toray T700 Carbon Fiber Textured
  • Average weight: 7.7 oz
  • Grip length: 5.5″
  • Swing Weight: 115
  • Grip size: 4.125″
  • Core: high-performance polypropylene honeycomb
  • Total length: 16.5″
  • Width: 7.5″
  • Warranty: 6 months for manufacturing defects

Ronbus R1 Nova Quick Summary

From now on, the production of the R1 Nova has been updated to change the density and angle of its edge grid structure. This feature also comes standard with the newly released R3 Nova and is designed to provide better touch for soft shots and more crisp power for drives.

The R1 Nova is an excellent all-court paddle with a focus on power. It features a hybrid shape that is slightly longer than standard paddles and has a curved top that flares out. The R1 Nova benefits from the enhanced power of thermoforming, strong control capabilities, high spin rates, and unmatched durability in the thermoforming category.

The Nova incorporates technological innovations that build on Ronbus’s impressive thermoformed paddle line, the Pulsar series. The Gen. 3 manufacturing process at Ronbus includes a patent-pending “Edge Grid Technology” that enhances both durability and performance.

Overall, the Nova delivers on its promises. It significantly improves durability without sacrificing the desirable performance characteristics of thermoformed paddles. I found the Nova to perform just as well as my Gen. 2 R1 Pulsar paddle, which is one of my all-time favorite pickleball paddles.

While the Nova is excellent right out of the box, I chose to add weight to my paddle to achieve my preferred performance. More on that later.

On Gen. 3 Thermoforming

Since this is a new technology being released in the Nova, I’ll briefly explain what it entails and how it differs from the original thermoforming processes.

Thermoforming involves applying a great deal of heat and pressure to a paddle during manufacturing. The paddle edge is sealed, and the paddle is placed in a high-temperature oven for hours. Ronbus identified durability issues with this process, particularly due to high-heat pressurized air bubbles being trapped inside the sealed paddle core, which would lead to malfunctions over time.

These issues are common because paddle materials, such as honeycomb cores, typically have many slight imperfections due to how the material is cut, leading to alignment problems. As a result, hot air from thermoforming gets trapped in the tiny spaces between the honeycomb core and the paddle’s face sheet, eventually causing problems.

Ronbus addressed this by altering the way the paddle edges are sealed. Instead of entirely sealing the edge foam around the perimeter with a carbon fiber seam, Ronbus uses a permeable carbon fiber grid to seal the foam. This way, the hot air can escape post-thermoforming, preventing the paddle core and face from degrading. The result is a paddle with slight permeability along the edges, allowing it to breathe consistently and making it more resilient to temperature changes throughout its life.

While this may seem like a simple change, a proper fix like this has been elusive. This small innovation has the potential to save thousands of thermoformed paddles from premature failure due to design flaws.


Like all Ronbus paddles, the R1 Nova feels excellent in hand. Many paddles can feel flimsy or cheaply made, but I’ve found Ronbus paddles to feel like an extension of my hand.

One of the first noticeable distinctions of the Nova is its weight. The paddle is lighter and far less head-heavy than other thermoformed paddles, thanks to the Gen. 3 permeable edge grid. My Nova weighs in at a lightweight 7.7 oz. and doesn’t feel hollow or cheap, just lighter than what you might typically expect from a thermoformed paddle.

The paddle is well-balanced and not head-heavy. While I don’t have a method to test the balance point, I’ve handled many paddles for this website, and the Nova feels just right.

As with other Ronbus paddles, the handle length and circumference are ideal. The 5.5″ handle is long enough for two-handed backhands and provides good whip and leverage.

The octagonal shape of the handle and the smaller 4.125″ circumference feel great in hand, making it perfectly suited for players with smaller hands or those who prefer smaller grips. The 4.125″ size is also perfect for layering one or more overgrips to your liking.


I was very curious to test the power output of the R1 Nova. I love power paddles, so I naturally gravitated toward the Gen. 2 thermoforming trend. The Nova’s new features and lightweight profile really intrigued me. Could a lightweight paddle that has significantly addressed durability issues still deliver the power I crave?

Overall, I found the Nova’s power to be in an ideal range, suitable for almost every type of player. My serves, drives, overheads, counters, speed-ups, rolls, punch volleys, and putaways all felt potent and easy to execute with the Nova. I had no complaints about the power, especially after playing with the Vatic Pro Prism Flash, which felt weak in comparison (though it is an excellent control paddle).

The Nova doesn’t hit quite as hard as many of the original Gen. 2 paddles, but its power is comparable to the newer (modified) releases of those paddles. It seems that all thermoformed paddles have been getting slightly softer as they release modifications to address durability issues. The new CRBN 1X and Legacy Pro come to mind. These paddles were incredibly powerful when they first came out, but the newer versions are not quite as powerful. The R1 Nova hits comparably hard to these newer versions, as well as the Ronbus Pulsar and Six Zero Double Black Diamond.

The Nova definitely has more power than Gen. 1 and Gen. 1.5 paddles, including the original Ronbus R1.16 and the Vatic Prism Flash. I would place the Nova in the thermoformed power category, but if you want it to have truly equal power to other Gen. 2 thermoforms, you’ll need to add weight to match their weight. For example, I weighted my R1 Nova up to 9 oz, and it hits comparably hard to my 9 oz July release (softer production) Six Zero Black Diamond Power paddle.

If you leave the Nova at its stock weight of under 8 oz, you’ll get more power than a Gen. 1.5 paddle but slightly less than a Gen. 2.


The R1 Nova’s pop output feels slightly above average. It’s crisp and responsive on short strokes without being overly lively. During hand battles and fast counters, it felt very quick and punchy.

Overall, the pop level of the Nova is in the mid-range compared to other thermoformed paddles. There are paddles with higher levels of pop, such as the Bread & Butter Filth, Six Zero Black Diamond, and some Legacy Pros, but the average player may not need that much pop and might find that the Nova has the perfect amount.


I’ve been very happy with the control capabilities of the R1 Nova. Its shape enhances maneuverability, and it’s just soft enough as a thermoformed paddle to provide an ideal balance of responsiveness and touch.

I really enjoy my soft game with the Nova, especially after adding some weight to it with an overgrip and lead tape. It’s excellent for drops and resets. My third shot drop felt great with the Nova.

The sweet spot on the Nova is outstanding and comparable to the Double Black Diamond. I preferred it over both my Ronbus Pulsar and the original R1.16 paddles. The Pulsar is close in sweet spot performance due to its edge foam, making both paddles stellar and very forgiving on off-center hits. I liked the sweet spot of the Nova more than the new Selkirk 006 and Joola Perseus.

While it doesn’t have the complete feather touch of a non-thermoformed paddle, the Nova is surprisingly intuitive and manageable for the soft game. I love the responsiveness and precision for overall controlled play. That bit of extra power and pop really helps in certain situations, too.

I do recommend adding some weight with lead tape and/or an overgrip to increase the stability of the Nova. At 7.7 oz, I didn’t feel like I could handle countering hard drives very well if I hit them off-center. Some lead tape helped this tremendously.


The R1 Nova’s surface generates excellent spin, thanks to the tightly woven raw Toray T-700 carbon fiber, similar to the original R1.16 and Pulsar paddles.

At stock weight, the Nova felt like it had slightly less spin than some of my highest-spinning paddles. However, once I added weight to increase it to 8.5 oz, the spin potential became much more apparent.

The Nova’s spin output is in the high-tier range, sufficient to earn a spot on my list of the best pickleball paddles for spin. It produces slightly less spin than my other Ronbus paddles but is on par with some Vatic Pros and offers more spin than the new Joola Perseus and Selkirk 006.

Ultimately, the differences in spin output are minimal. The Nova provides a high-tier spin that allows for effortless shot shaping with good form. Slices and cuts come off the paddle with significant spin, making them bounce unpredictably. This level of spin can give players an edge against high-level opponents, making it challenging for them to execute their third-shot drops against my slice and cut returns with the Nova.

Overall, the Nova is very spin-friendly, allowing you to win points while you rip the ball with your new paddle.

Hand speed

With its low stock weight and curved aerodynamic shape, the Nova is one of the faster thermoformed paddles available. Ronbus officially labels the swing weight of the R1 Nova at 115, placing it on the quicker end for hand speed.

Before adding weight to my Nova, I tested it side by side with my 14mm Vatic Pro Flash. Both felt very nimble and maneuverable. I enjoy playing with light,, thermoformed paddles like this for fast-paced play. While the Vatic Pro was slightly quicker, the difference was negligible, and I had a lot of fun playing with both at maximum speed.

I do recommend adding a bit of weight to the Nova to enhance its stability. This helps make your counters more forgiving if you hit slightly off-center during a hand battle. Adding 0.4 oz near the bottom of the throat should be sufficient without significantly affecting hand speed.


If you’ve read the review this far, you already know that this is where Nova shines. It’s an excellent paddle all around, but Ronbus’s achievements in durability are what set this paddle apart from the pack.

Thermoformed paddles have faced issues since their inception. The combination of high temperatures with a sealed-in paddle face caused problems that took a long time to address and resolve. Every company that makes thermoformed paddles has introduced fixes, from reducing heat exposure durations to adding more and different types of resins/glues.

These fixes have worked to varying degrees. However, issues have continued to arise, albeit to a lesser degree for some manufacturers. Ronbus, led by their engineer founder, has continued to push innovation and has discovered an intelligent solution to durability issues.

They’ve extensively tested their new designs. One of Ronbus’s tests involves attaching the Nova to a swinging mechanized arm that repeatedly thrusts it into a rubber stopper at 150mph. They repeat this cycle for 10,000+ rotations and dissect the paddle to analyze potential damage. Ronbus decided to release their new technology when they found no core crushing or other damage from this extensive testing process.

We still have to wait for real-world tests over the coming months, but everyone seems pretty confident in these fixes, especially when Ronbus already has a good track record for addressing durability issues in their thermoformed Pulsar paddle line.


It’s pricier than some other thermoformed paddles, like the Vatic Pro V7 and Vatic Pro Flash. However, the performance and durability combination in the Nova make it well worth the price tag.

Even with manufacturing improvements across the industry, no other thermoformed paddle offers the same peace of mind as the Nova when it comes to durability.

Anyone who’s a Gen. 2 paddle enthusiast will tell you that encountering delamination, core crush, and disbonding is really frustrating. Many first-time buyers have faced durability issues within weeks of purchase.

This is the first time I can confidently recommend a thermoformed paddle that inspires this much confidence in its ability to avoid such issues, which significantly increases its value in my opinion.

Moreover, the Nova’s performance surpasses that of many paddles priced over $200. Ronbus paddles are consistently excellent performers, making the value proposition strong across the board.

Should you buy the Ronbus R1 Nova?

The Nova doesn’t represent a groundbreaking leap in paddle technology, but it does signify the kind of incremental innovation that enthusiasts like us have been eager to see on the market. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this paddle ever since I heard rumors about it over six months ago. Now that it’s finally here, I couldn’t be more pleased with it.

If you’re upgrading from a non-thermoformed paddle, be prepared for the Nova to provide you with an advantage that you may not have realized you needed. If it’s your first Ronbus paddle, I believe you’ll be thoroughly impressed with what it offers. Plus, you can feel good about supporting a small business that is actively pushing the boundaries of pickleball paddle technology and advancing the sport for all of us.

Keep in mind that Ronbus will release the Nova in another shape, the elongated R3 shape, in late September. While I typically recommend the hybrid R1 shape to most players, if you’re intrigued by the elongated R3 Nova, be sure to check back here, as I will have a review posted for that paddle on release day.

FAQs about Ronbus R1 Nova

What is the Ronbus R1 Nova paddle?

The Ronbus R1 Nova paddle is a premium pickleball paddle designed and manufactured by Ronbus. It is known for its innovative design, advanced technology, and exceptional performance on the court.

Why is the Ronbus R1 Nova paddle gaining attention?

The Ronbus R1 Nova paddle is gaining attention due to its reputation for high-quality construction, impressive durability, and superior performance. It has garnered praise from pickleball players of all skill levels for its responsiveness and playability.

How does the Ronbus R1 Nova paddle compare to other pickleball paddles?

Compared to other pickleball paddles, the Ronbus R1 Nova stands out for its unique design features, such as its lightweight construction, advanced materials, and optimized performance characteristics. It offers a combination of power, control, and spin that sets it apart from the competition.

Where can I purchase the Ronbus R1 Nova paddle?

The Ronbus R1 Nova paddle is available for purchase from select sporting goods retailers, specialty pickleball shops, and online marketplaces. Customers can also buy directly from the Ronbus website or authorized dealers.

Does the Ronbus R1 Nova paddle come with a warranty?

Yes, the Ronbus R1 Nova paddle typically comes with a warranty against manufacturing defects. The specific terms and duration of the warranty may vary, so it is recommended to check with the manufacturer or retailer for details.

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