- New epicyclic design combines the ultra long range of a wide rim with an optimized ergonomic grip.
- Easily tuned by bending the rim to maximize distance and accuracy for your personal throwing style and speed.
- PDGA Approved
Tuning Long Range Drivers for
Desired Flight Characteristics
Alan Adler - Superflight Inc, Palo Alto, CA
Most disc golf players have noticed that their long range drivers change
in flight characteristics as they become beat up over time. But of the
many players I've worked with while developing discs, none were aware
that they could deliberately tune their drivers to suit their throwing
style and speed. No tools are required other than your own two hands.
I first learned how to tune flying objects while developing my Aerobie
flying ring (which holds the Guinness World Record for a throw of 1,257
feet), so it was natural for me to apply tuning to discs when developing
the new Epic long range driver.
Before we get into the details of how to tune a disc, let's establish
some terms. The discussion below applies to a backhanded throw with your
right arm. Reverse any references to right or left if you throw either
left-handed backhands or right-handed forehand throws.
Stability in the disc golf world has come to mean a disc's
resistance to rolling right in flight.
An understable disc begins to roll right early in the flight. Understable
discs must be launched with some downward lean (Hyzer angle) to counter
their right roll.
An overstable disc is so resistant to right roll that it begins rolling
left early in the flight. However all drivers tend to fade (roll left)
near the end of the flight. Fade has been attributed to loss of spin during
the flight. However it is actually caused by loss of forward velocity
near the end of the flight. The more stable the disc, the more severe
its end-of-flight fade. This can be countered by launching the disc with
upward lean (often called AnHyzer).
Wind and Velocity Effects
Long range drivers are velocity sensitive. The greater the airspeed,
the greater their tendency to roll right. Thus when you throw into a headwind
it's necessary to launch with more Hyzer angle. Conversely, when throwing
downwind you will need to launch with less Hyzer or even some AnHyzer
angle. You can also tune your discs for different wind conditions.
Tuning discs, by bending them, works on long range drivers. I do not
recommend it for shorter range discs. A typical long range driver
has a rim about 3/4" wide, which is about the width of a penny.
Our new Epic driver
has a variable-width rim which varies in width from one inch
to 1.6 inches (fig 3 below). The wider the disc's rim, the more it responds
To decrease the stability of any driver, you simply bend it downward.
This can be done either by just flexing it like a taco, or by working
your hands gradually around while bending just the rim. I prefer this
latter method because it doesn't leave the disc looking like it just encountered
a freight train. Fig 1 shows a disc rim being bent downward to decrease
stability. Start at one place on the disc and repeat this bend about every
45 degrees around it until you are back where you started.
And of course, to increase the stability, you simply bend the rim upward
Downward bending reduces the height of the outer edge of the disc and
that's what changes the flight. Upward bending increases the edge height.
It's as simple as that.
Many players whom I've taught about tuning have worried that the disc
won't hold its tune but I can assure you that your disc will retain
tune very well. I often measure the heights of disc edges with a special
instrument that I made just for this purpose (fig 3 below). It's accurate
one half-thousandth of an inch and has proven that discs hold their tune
indefinitely. This instrument has been useful to my disc research, but
you don't need it to tune your own discs. Just go out to an open field
and start bending and throwing.
Of course any disc, tuned or not, will become distorted if you leave
it in a hot car with a pile of heavy stuff on it. So, if you're serious
about accurate flights, you should store your discs properly without any
pressure that might bend them.
Most players have noted that well-used discs tend to become less stable
with time. It's often thought that dinged edges are the culprit. However
I've deliberately dinged the edges of discs and observed no change in
flight stability. Thus I think it's likely that the disc's edge has simply
been bent downward from accumulated encounters with trees, rocks and other
The least expensive discs are made from polyolefin plastic which is easy
to deform. You've probably noticed that these discs ding more easily than
the premium material discs. The easier a disc is to ding, the easier it
will be to tune -- either deliberately or accidentally when scrunched
under something heavy. Premium discs (including our new Epic driver) are
made of more expensive elastomeric materials which resist dings. Thus
they need more aggressive bending when tuned. Most premium discs require
about three times the bending effort to achieve the same change in flight.
So keep the material in mind when you tune.
Tuning In the Field
I recommend that you only tune your drivers on the practice field, never
during a game. Label your drivers with a permanent marker for convenient
reference during a round. You'll probably want to tune some drivers for
neutral stability -- that is for level flight (with your arm speed) during
the first three quarters of the flight. It's also worthwhile to tune at
least one driver to be overstable -- for those upwind drives.
Some players like to throw rollers. As one fellow told me at the Master's
Cup, "Roll is the great equalizer". You can turn any driver
into a roller by severely tuning it with downward bends. Ugh, just the
thought of ruining a beautiful flight makes me cringe!
Finally, if you're interested in distance competition, or the longest
possible drives, you should try a slightly understable tune. That will
cause the disc to roll over slightly beyond level -- but not so much that
it ends up a roller. This type of tune reduces end- of-flight fade and
extends the glide, but it's a bit more challenging to control.