Welcome to the joint review of the GSquared Hawk, the little speed demon yo-yo designed by Jake Gross!
Well, this has been a long time coming. Finally we come to a review of a yo-yo by GSquared! It was a toss up about which one to review first, but given that all three Cyyclical reviewers own Hawks it seemed like the natural choice.
Jake Gross of GSquared is well known for producing high quality yo-yos that both perform and look great. The Hawk is certainly no exception, although in terms of design it is perhaps more muted compared to some of Jake’s other designs. That isn’t meant to be a reproach because sometimes the best solution is the most simple. The design of the Hawk works, and works really well.
But I get ahead of myself. This time around, I am joined by Darren L. from the throwers community for this joint review. So let’s get to it!
The GSquared Hawk
When I asked Jake for an official blurb about the Hawk, he kept it very short, sweet, and to the point:
“The Hawk was designed to be a fun, midsize, lightweight yo-yo that pushed the envelope on weight distribution for solid aluminum yo-yos.”
That to the point statement about the Hawk seems fitting on many levels. Not only is it a good description, but the brevity also matches the Hawk in a fashion. The Hawk seems to be all about getting to some fast and furious fun without messing around. It makes sense that the description should be expeditious.
OK, let’s dive into the details!
- Diameter: 54.0 mm
- Width: 41.3 mm
- Weight: 62.2 grams
- Bearing: Size C Boss Rage concave grooved (Boss Wrath flat also included)
- Response: flowable silicone
- Material: 6061 or 7075 aluminum (6061 reviewed here)
Size and Weight
DL: If yo-yos were birds of prey, the Hawk would be some kind of falcon. Small, pretty, sleek, and just a little bit pointy at the end. It’s 2-3 millimeters smaller than the “average” yo-yo in both diameter and width, giving it a distinctly compact feel. At the same time, 62 grams is VERY light, especially for something that isn’t mini-sized or bimetal. The Hawk’s design uses walls that are as thin as possible for maximum rim weight, which makes it feel a little heavier than you’d expect – still super lightweight, but more manageable.
JT: Jake describes the Hawk as midsize. While that is true I should point out that the Hawk sits towards the lower end of that spectrum in terms of size and weight. Well, perhaps not as much with the size. I think 52 mm is probably the smallest diameter yo-yo that I have in my collection that I still consider to be midsize. But in terms of weight I believe that the Hawk is the lightest midsize yo-yo I own. The main point is that the Hawk is small and light, and this translates into a yo-yo that can really move.
DL: The Hawk feels like it straddles the border between mid-sized and undersized more than the numbers imply. That is to say, it feels smaller than 54 mm because it has rims that protrude a millimeter or two from the organic body shape. It is a design choice that’s been used in the past quite often, as it packs extra rim weight in without affecting the cup shape. Essentially a bimetal weight distribution, but without needing to add the extra steel ring. You get a yo-yo that is easier to produce at a high standard of quality, compared to a bimetal. GSquared has very high standards and uses American machine shops, so this makes sense in terms of keeping costs affordable. There’s also another small step right near the response area, providing aesthetic balance.
Now on to the cup. Again, there are two cuts/grooves in the yo-yo, too small to really affect the weight distribution. There’s a gentle notch for thumb grinds in the rim, but my favorite part of the Hawk’s design is the central spike. It’s the only spike I’ve seen that’s pointy enough to allow hubstack-like grabs, without being so sharp that it could be dangerous.
JT: At first glance the shape of the Hawk seems unremarkable as a fairly standard O-type shape. Thankfully you don’t have to be complicated to be awesome. Upon closer inspection you can see the two rather subtle H-type steps, but these are so minor I hesitate to call the Hawk a O/H-type hybrid. I actually wish the outer H-type step was more prominent because I have really been digging H-types lately. But I digress. The Hawk also has some nicely designed rims that provide rim weight and an inner grind ring.
The cup side features a fairly simple surface that is punctuated by a couple of grooves and a sharp hub spike. From a purely aesthetic point of view I don’t particularly like the sharp hub spikes. However, from a functional point of view they seem good (more on that later).
Bearing and Response
DL: As with all G-Squared yo-yos, the Hawk comes with both a string centering bearing and a flat bearing. I think this is a nice touch, as some people still prefer flat bearings. The response is G-Grip size, which is slightly larger in outer diameter than “standard” 19mm response, I believe. The stock response is poured flowable silicone as G-Grips aren’t sold anymore, but 19mm response pads also fit as replacements.
JT: Par for the course, Jake includes both a Boss Rage concave grooved bearing and a Boss Wrath flat bearing. I tend to use grooved concave bearings these days so the Rage bearing worked well for me. With long and smooth spins, there is nothing to complain about.
The response in my Hawk is quite grabby. The flowable silicone in my Hawk is poured to be almost flush with the top of the groove. This combined with the excellent grip of the silicone and the light weight of the Hawk caused more friction than I expected at times (I am used to more recessed flowable silicone). Not a huge deal, but it was something that I noticed.
DL: The Hawk is one of the few yo-yos in its weight and size class, and it really makes the most of it. If you’re looking for a yo-yo that takes speed effortlessly, consider this one. I generally like to make comparisons between yo-yos so that there’s some reference point for what I’m saying, but there’s no doubt that this thing is light, fast, and surprisingly stable.
The closest comparison is the Recess First Base except way, way more refined and condensed down. As a side note, the AL7 (7075) version has a completely different feel. Heavier, slower, yet not as stable as yo-yos that are slightly bigger and heavier. If you’d have to choose, I would recommend the original Hawk for optimal zoom-zoom experience.
JT: Well, there is no doubt about it. The Hawk is small, light, and fast. I suppose that conclusion shouldn’t come as any surprise since the Hawk has been listed as the Need for Speed yo-yo in my Core Throws list for quite some time. Nonetheless I feel I should state it emphatically. Of course, one liking the Hawk depends on one liking the smaller and faster side of things. I find it to be a good fit for me even though the Hawk plays faster than I can take advantage of. Room to grow!
Despite my Hawk having a hint of vibe, it is very smooth on the throw and during play. There is just something about the way it unwinds on the throw that just feels very, very right. Comfort is excellent thanks to the O-type design. Stability is good for a yo-yo of this size and weight although don’t expect it to have the stability of something much heavier.
A few other thoughts to mention. Given the speed and lower weight of the Hawk, I would not recommend it for a newer thrower. They would probably do better with something that has more meat on it and a tamer pace. Thumb and finger grinds both work well. Finger spins seem typical for the most part, although I have to say that I did manage one time to hit the hub spike dead on the end of my finger and it spun perfectly for a helluva long time. I may not like the look of the hub spikes, but they certainly add something to spins if you are accurate enough.
DL: Rim weight is a funny thing. It can make a yo-yo feel heavier than it is – I’ve got a bimetal about the same size as the Hawk, only 0.7 grams heavier, but it feels significantly weightier on the string. The design of the Hawk is really, really unique amidst the selection of larger yo-yos that are available today. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it is a yo-yo I’d recommend everyone try.
JT: Well, the GSquared Hawk is indeed an excellent yo-yo. Sure, there are a few things that I could quibble about, but none of those change the fact that the Hawk is a really great yo-yo that has a tonne fast fun packed into it. If you don’t like light and fast then the Hawk certainly isn’t for you, but for the rest of us there is plenty to love with this little speed demon.
Thanks again to Darren L. for helping out with this joint review. Also thanks to MonkeyfingeR Design for providing all of the Ape Hanger strings used for this and other reviews.
Yay, Nay, Could-go-either-way Summary
Please keep in mind that these are purely subjective. One thrower’s negatives may be another thrower’s positives, and vice versa. These were compiled by both Darren and myself.
+ Design: the organic shape with subtle H-type steps really works well.
+ Comfort: the stepped organic shape and light weight make the Hawk very comfortable to hold and throw.
+ String speed: the Hawk is certainly a speed demon.
+ Fun factor: the Hawk has that familiar “put a smile on your face” fun factor that smaller yo-yos seem to posses.
– Skill Level: this probably isn’t the best yo-yo for newer plays due to the speed and size.
– Response: the response is quite grabby which some players may find to be problematic.
– Stability: light and small means that no matter how rim-weighted it is, the Hawk will tend to tilt more than your average yo-yo.
+/- Hub Spikes: the hub spikes could do either way depending on who you are. They do work well for finger spins if you can hit the bulls-eye.
+/- Finish: the Hawk, as with most G-Squared yoyos, has a fairly rough, newspapery blast that smooths out after a short duration of play.