There is actually a fairly drawn out back story as to how I came to purchase my first and second Tri-B yo-yos, but I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty details. Very briefly, I was fretting one day about buying a highly rated yo-yo that had been restocked with limited quantities but I didn’t like colourways. As I mulled it over, my wife (who is very encouraging of my throwing hobby) urged me to only get yo-yos with colourways that spoke to me in some fashion. I took that to heart and decided that I would never buy a yo-yo if I didn’t like the colours, no matter what the hype.
Shortly thereafter I recalled seeing a review on High Speed YoYo regarding the MonkeyfingeR 7075 Tri-B, and in his review Chris Rhoads wrote about getting his Tri-B fully customized (and props to him for that review, because I otherwise I wouldn’t have know about MFD and their customization options). I hadn’t really considered a Tri-B before then, or any other MFD yo-yo for that matter. But I figured “well, why wait for a colourway I like when I can custom order one?” So fast forward a couple of months and here I am, now in possession of a made-to-order custom Tri-B and an additional one-off artist proof custom Tri-B that MFD was selling off via their Instagram. The purchase of the one-off was a bit of an impulse buy because the I really loved the colourway, and I am really glad that I grabbed it.
OK, enough backstory…on to the review!
Here is the TL;DR summary for those that want it: I really like the Tri-B, and I am really happy I that I bought a couple of them. Its pseudo-organic shape and lighter weight make it an excellent transitional throw for those wanting to step from heavier throws down to faster, more aggressive throws. For those used to faster yo-yos, the Tri-B should be a comfortable and yet zippy throw that can ramp it up and down as you see fit. Stop reading and go and buy one. You will love it. Better yet, buy a custom one. You will love it even more.
The MonkeyfingeR Tri-B
The Tri-B is the latest yo-yo from MonkeyfingeR and is the culmination of the experience that MFD has gained with their previous designs. In particular, the Tri-B is billed as the cross of three of their more popular designs: the Ape-X, the Gelada 2, and the Caesar. According to MonkeyfingeR Ray, the Tri-B design incorporates elements from each of those previous designs as explained in his own words (quoted from the YoYoExpert forums):
“Gelada 2 rim, Caesar inner cup, and Ape-X play area. Each brings a unique attribute that people really like. Comfort of the Ape-X, finger grinds from the Caesar, and agility and speed from the Gelada 2.”
Because I have only seen pictures of the Caesar and Ape-X, and have only had a few moments with a Gelada 2, I haven’t been able to make a direct comparison between all four. The Ape-X play surface is quite obvious in the Tri-B, but beyond that I have to give Ray the benefit of the doubt. It is largely irrelevant anyway because me not fully understanding the lineage is completely inconsequential to enjoying the Tri-B. Still, those of you that have tried the previous MFD yo-yos will probably have some appreciation for the Tri-B design history.
Moving on, let me hit on the components of the Tri-B before I break each down individually. I think we would all agree that most yo-yos are more than the sum of their parts, but I would still like to point out that each the Tri-B parts really work wonders for the whole. The response silicone, the bearing, and the string each add so much to the great design of the Tri-B. The complete Tri-B package is phenomenal thanks to the great design of each component.
Anyway, let me give you the specs of the Tri-B and then move onto the details.
The Tri-B Specs
- Diameter: 54 mm
- Width: 43 mm
- Gap Width: 4.3 mm
- Weight: 64.3 grams
- Bearing: Size C REvolution 8-ball flat
- Response: MonkeyfingeR Monkey Snot
Both of my Tri-B throws are the standard 6061 versions, although there is an 7075 Tri-B variant available if you prefer heavier throws. If you are curious about the 7075 Tri-B then I will point you to Chris Rhoads’ review over at High Speed YoYo. My review here will only deal with the standard version.
Size and Shape
Coming in at just over 64 g with a diameter of 54 mm, the Tri-B is one of the smaller yo-yos I now own, and probably slides in on the smaller side of most modern yo-yos in general. I must say that the shape is really interesting in a subtle sort of way. At first glance it is O-type (organic), but upon closer inspection it has some features that set it apart from what you might consider to be a typical O-type shape. First of all, adjacent to the response silicone there is a small curved step out from the gap that is absent in classic O-type shapes (such as that seen with my OD 54 and OD Downbeat) and more common in more modern O-types (such as the YYJ Transcend and OD Rebirth). I quite like this as it gives the string just a little extra clearance past the walls, which can be handy for tricks where the string isn’t perpendicular to the bearing at it enters or exits the gap. Second, the organic shape of the Tri-B isn’t actually a smooth curve, but rather sequential flat surfaces that gradually angle into the gap. There is also the small groove cut on close to the outer rim of each cup that is clearly taken from the Ape-X. I have no idea if this has any functional purpose (actually, I sort of feel it might be there to help define the catch zone in some fashion), but it looks cool regardless.
Let’s do some size and shape comparisons for good measure. Here are some shots of the Tri-B (64.3 g) along side my Civility (69 g), my Armament (64.6 g), and my One Drop 54 (63 g). In general, the Tri-B is wider than the other throws with a slightly smaller diameter (or the same diameter in the case of the OD 54).
Both of my Tri-B yo-yos have a one-off custom anodization with a full yo-yo blast finish. As I said in the intro, for one of these I chose the colours and design while the other was an artist proof custom Tri-B that MFD was selling to the public. The custom Tri-B that I ordered was the purple yo-yo shown below with the orange to green fade splash and some Barrel of Monkeys tatoos. Full disclosure: I took inspiration for this colour scheme from Amplified Return Tops and their Desert Sunset colourway for the Shout yo-yo. I hope LaMonté Patterson will consider this an homage to his wonderful colourway (if not, please blame me and not MFD). Anyway, as you can see, both Tri-B yo-yos are absolutely beautiful and are real works of art.
Which brings me to an important point. MonkeyfingeR Design already has an excellent reputation as one of the best in the business when it comes to anodization. However, the ability to custom order any colourway design is simply a step beyond the rest. I can’t stress enough how amazing this service is, especially given that their yo-yos are great to play with as well. And the possible options are actually dizzying to the point of being completely overwhelming. One to four colours combined with fades, splashes, galaxies, swirls, speckles, acid washes, and so on and so forth. Plus you can have just about anything tattooed or ghosted onto the surface. Sure, this increases the cost as you pile on the options, but the ability to custom order a truly unique yo-yo is probably worth the cost for many throwers. The custom yo-yos will range in cost from about $135 USD up to somewhere close to $200 depending on the what options you choose. My custom Tri-B was towards the lower-mid end of that scale because I didn’t need to go crazy to achieve what I wanted.
Like all yo-yos from MonkeyfingeR, the Tri-B uses MFD’s own Monkey Snot flowable silicone which is poured by hand. MonkeyfingeR Ray prefers to keep the silicone recessed into the groove, but even so the Tri-B has no problem binding thanks to the Snot being really grippy. Keeping the silicone recessed means that it is less likely to interact with the string during tricks, which I really appreciate. So far I have been very impressed with the Monkey Snot and I am plan on discussing it in more detail in a future stand alone review.
Normally I wouldn’t bother mentioning the string in a review since many throwers will replace the string quickly with whatever type they prefer to use, but in this case I do want to touch on it. The standard Tri-B yo-yos come with an Ape Hanger string included. I have already reviewed the Ape Hanger strings and I recommend that you check that review out for more details. Suffice to say that I really like the Ape Hangers and having one included with the Tri-B is a huge bonus.
The main reason I wanted to mention the string is to say that all custom Tri-B yo-yos (and in fact, any custom yo-yo from MFD) includes a pack of custom Ape Hangers that are made to match the anodization. This is a really nice touch by MonkeyfingeR, both because it adds to the overall look to any custom Tri-B and because it gives you a bunch of really high quality strings to play with. You can check out the custom Ape Hangers for both of my Tri-B yo-yos below.
The Tri-B ships with MonkeyfingeR’s own REvolution flat 8-ball bearing, and I can say that this is easily the best bearing I have used yet. For comparison, I also own One Drop 10-ball flats, DEY KonKaves, CBC CTX and Center Tracs, and Buddha Ripples. In my opinion the REvolution bearing beats them all hands down. It combines an outer steel cage with ceramic balls, and it is amazing just how smooth and silent it plays right out of the box. In fact, it is so smooth and silent that it often fools me into thinking I am running out of spin, which invariably follows with me getting a shock as the Tri-B comes throttling back to my hand with a bind. I have ordered more of these from MonkeyfingeR so that I can use them in some of the other yo-yos that I own. They are just that good.
[Update, December 20: I wanted to return to this review and mention that the Tri-Bs are no longer shipping with the flat REvolution bearings, and instead ship with the center track Tasmanian Tornado ceramic hybrid bearing as is now the case for all new yo-yos from MonkeyfingeR.]
OK, let’s get down to it. How does the Tri-B play? For context, bear in mind that I am in my second year of throwing and am by no means a professional. I am decent at stringing tricks together, but I have a long way to go. Up until very recently I tended towards heavier throws (such as the YYT Civility and OD Downbeat) that gave me more spin and extra stability. This has helped me a lot when learning new tricks, and I still pull out those heavier throws quite often when working on new stuff. However, lately I have been delving into the realm of lighter and smaller yo-yos in order to work on faster play and really shore up my technique. My recent review of the YYWS Armament was the direct result of that.
In fact, having now had a lot of time to play with the Tri-B, I really wish that I had bought it first instead of the Armament. Don’t get me wrong, the Armament is amazing and I don’t regret buying a few of them. But, knowing what I know now, I realize that stepping from the heavier throws to the Tri-B and then to the Armament would have been a much better progression. Why? Well, because in my opinion the Tri-B is a wonderful transition throw. It bridges the gap between heavier and lighter throws really well. It is light weight and thus it can really move on the string. Yet, its pseudo-organic shape gives it both a level of comfort and stability that surprised me for a throw this light and fast. Having less spinning mass inherently means less stability in general, but the Tri-B can still holds it own in this regard.
The Tri-B doesn’t have quite the same aggressive posture as the V-type throws such as the YYWS Armament and OD Gradient yo-yos that I own, but for me this is a perfect situation. The transitional nature of the Tri-B I really works well when working on new stuff. Already I have started to work on new tricks using the Civility or Downbeat to learn, moving to the Tri-B to refine, and finally moving to the Armament to test them at full speed. The Tri-B has filled a perfect niche in my collection.
Having said that, it would be wrong of me to imply that the Tri-B isn’t a great stand alone throw, because it really is good in its own right. The combination of the great pseudo-organic design, the Snot silicone, the REvolution bearing, and the Ape Hanger string really is more than the sum of those parts, which is saying something since the parts are all quite good on their own. I have managed to pull off certain suicide and slack tricks with the Tri-B that I haven’t pulled off with my other yo-yos, thanks in no small part to the Ape Hanger string. The spin time is excellent for a throw this light, thanks to the Snot silicone being out of the way and the REvolution bearing being so smooth. The design is comfy, decently stable, and hints at being a bit mischievous even though it is perfectly fine being more chill when you need it to. All in all, I have really been happy with my decision to buy the Tri-B.
After playing with my Tri-B a lot in the past few weeks, I have been unable to find anything about it that I don’t like, nor can I pinpoint anything about it that I wish was different. Sure, it probably isn’t as aggressive as some other yo-yos out there, but I don’t mind that at all and in fact rather appreciate it. Its lighter nature combined with its sort-of-O-type design puts it in a really nice place within my collection, and I can’t see why this wouldn’t also be the case for others.
I maintain my position on the Tri-B being a great transitional throw. If you are still fairly new to throwing or that have thus far preferred heavier yo-yos but have been looking for a yo-yo to move into faster play with a lighter yo-yo then I feel the Tri-B is a perfect match. On the flip side, those of you who are far more proficient and are used to more speedy and aggressive throws, the Tri-B strikes me a being a lighter yo-yo that could be used for more chilled out play. It can certainly ramp up and down as you see fit while still maintaining a comfortable feel and good amount of stability.
And let’s not forget the ability to customize the look of the Tri-B. That alone would make it worthwhile to check out MonkeyfingeR and the Tri-B even if it was just a mediocre yo-yo. Thankfully it is far beyond mediocre, and the fact that MonkeyfingeR is designing and selling high quality throws that you can customize is just outstanding. This is purely my subjective opinion but I believe that everyone owes it to themselves to buy at least one customized MonkeyfingeR yo-yo, and the Tri-B is a great place to start.
So, do I like the Tri-B? Yeah, I really do.