We have now spent at least 30 hours with the 2017 CF Zen in the hands of several different players at elite levels of baseball.
Reviews delivered about every week.
We are confident this bat will please any DeMarini CF fan.
Many players who also used the 2016 CF8, felt the Zen was stronger at contact and had more of a shallow ping sound. They liked the balance and couldn’t differentiate its swing weight with a similarly sized CF8. The grip, they often mentioned, felt more slim—although we think they were deceived by their aftermarket 1.8mm Lizard Skin. A few mentioned they would have liked a tapered grip on the smaller bats like it is on the BBCOR. All in all, results came highly recommended and coveted. We are sure the 2017 CF Zen will have at least as much success at the plate than the previous years’ CF predecessors.
The buttery power of the CF series of bats will ring honest and true. The Zen is lightly balanced with outstanding pop at any pitch speed when hit correctly.
Note: Since this review was first published two of the CF Zens have been deemed illegal for play in the USSSA world. They include the 2 5/8 Drop 8 and the 2 3/4 Drop 10. You can read more about those CF Zen Illegal details, as well as options, here.
The most promising construction upgrade from the 2016 CF8 to the 2017 CF Zen is the new and stronger carbon fiber. Carbon fiber (i.e. plastic) can be easily manipulated. A stronger construction isn't an unreasonable claim to make and we have no reason to think DeMarini is embellishing the claim (which is, specifically, 22% stronger by their calculations). The stronger CF allows for less material (read: weight) to be used up in barrel and handle construction. That weight freedom, if you will, allows for more focus on the knob and end cap to deliver optimal balance and component structural improvements.
In fact, it is this precise upgrade (which DeMarini is calling a new Paraflex composite) from the CF8 to the 2017 CF series of bats that allows for the creation of the CF Insane (the sweet spirited, heavier sister of the CF Zen).
The CF Zen uses the Paraflex composite, creating its ultra light swing weight by more optimally weighting the end cap and knob. Its ultimate swing weight measurements (by our calculations) have not changed from the 2016 CF8 or 2015 CF7.
We've spent 22 hours in total using and researching DeMarini's 2016 CF8 baseball line specifically, and countless hours swinging everything else.
Built on their long line of success within the CF family, the DeMarini CF7 baseball bat comes with one of the the lightest swing on the planet.
There isn’t a bat company in existence that hasn’t tried to mimic the DeMarini CF series of bats in some fashion or another. This makes a list of comparable bats, at least as other manufacturers would see it, long. There are a few we think worth highlighting, if you are, in fact, in the top shelf bat market in terms of performance and price. For the 2017 class we like the Easton MAKO, Rawlings Quatro and Slugger 917 Prime. All our two piece composites with a generally light swing. They are very comparable to the CF Zen in construction and price.
DeMarini claims to have a proprietary process which delivers both the power of the swing and the benefit of no reverberation in the hands on mishits. The claim is the D-Fusion 2.0 handle (which you can find on the CF8 as well) uses a type of dampener in the mend which stops the vibration to the hands, but is still stiff enough to deliver maximum power to the ball.
We can attest, after years of experience and probably over 2000 hours obsessed with the CF6, CF7, CF8 and now Zen, that DeMarini’s transitional mend on their two piece composite bat is as good as it gets in the industry. In fact, we’d rank them equal to, if not better than, the Easton MAKO franchise in terms of smoothness on contact. We’ve yet to hit with any two piece composite bat that feels better than the DeMarini.
There is another suspect claim which we’ve often heard when discussing DeMarini’s mending process with vendors and players. It is, in addition to the mend keeping vibration from the handle, the proprietary mend also redelivers the energy of the mishit back to the point of contact—much like an echo—and ultimately increases power deliver to the ball. We doubt this, not because we’ve proven it wrong in a lab, but rather because we think the idea that such an echo could occur in the milliseconds in which the ball is actually in contact with the bat to be far fetched and, at best, marketing spin. Show us a mishit that has the same batted ball speed as a sweet spot hit given all other things equal, and then we can talk.
The CF Zen is a two piece carbon fiber composite bat. Those familiar with previous years’ CF8 and CF7 will understand this well enough. Two piece composite bats have defined the performance space across the board over the last several years and there is no doubt DeMarini’s CF line of bats have often led that charge.
Two piece carbon fiber (i.e. plastic) bats are formed by creating both a barrel and handle of a bat separately. Then the two pieces are mended together. The trick manufacturers struggle with is finding the optimal stiffness within that mend. On one hand you need a stiff transition to transfer all the power to the ball, but on the other hand, an ultra stiff transition transfers too much sting on mishits to the hand—removing that ‘oh-so-buttery’ feel most hitters love (and often hate) about two piece composite bats.
Like previous years’ iterations, the 2017 CF Zen series of bats will come in nearly every size imaginable. Senior League (2 5/8) Drop 10, Youth Barrel (2 1/4), Big & Junior Barrel (2 3/4) as well as BBCOR sizes. The entire sku list can be found on DeMarini’s site here.
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