Pros: Improved ball speeds across the face can add distance and consistency in both models. The large footprint of the BiO Cell irons offers great forgiveness throughout the set.
Cons: An angular graphics package won’t please traditionalists, and neither will the longer lengths, more upright lie angles and strong lofts in the BiO Cell irons, as they can be a hindrance to golfers with slower swing speeds who aren’t prone to a slice. The impressive variety of stock shaft offerings in Cobra’s BiO Cell driver line is absent in the BiO Cell and BiO Cell+ irons.
Bottom Line: These irons offer above-average performance in their categories, but those categories are becoming increasingly crowded with clubs such as TaylorMade’s SLDR, Callaway’s Apex and Nike’s Covert Forged that offer better looks and performance.
Cobra has danced along the tightrope of innovation in golf equipment and apparel for decades. Its reinvigorated campaigns feature youthful tour staffers like Lexi Thompson and Rickie Fowler, fashion-forward stalwarts like Jesper Parnevik and Ian Poulter, and trending international players like Johan Edfors and Jonas Blixt. The company’s 2014 release of the BiO Cell iron sets expresses an intention to appeal to a diverse clientele. Gone is the spider-web appearance of the cavity found in the 2013 iron sets, the AMP Cell. In its place is a geometric pattern of cubes and hexagons, suggesting mathematics and science to the naked eye.
Three essential building blocks define the construction of the BiO Cell and BiO Cell+ irons. E9 face technology is an elliptical-shaped sweet spot pattern. rising from low near the hosel to higher on the toe, ensuring that perfect and imperfect strikes receive optimal distance. The perimeter undercut feature behind the face is the largest unsupported face of any Cobra irons.
In the new irons, the faces are also thinner, the club heads are lighter and an increased face flex at impact generates greater speed and distance. Finally, tungsten weights in the heel and toe in the long and mid irons and more centrally placed tungsten weights in the short irons improve feel and workability. With these critical similarities from set to set, you might wonder about the distinctions between the BiO Cell and the BiO Cell+.
This is the set for the distance-craving golfer. Iron lofts average between 2 and 3 degrees stronger per club than their BiO Cell+ counterpart. The club heads and True Temper DynaLite 85 shafts encourage a higher ball flight. The combination of lower lofts, longer shaft lengths and slightly softer shafts encourages soaring shots with a distance upgrade.
As suggested above, the BiO Cell+ model has a little more loft per club through the set. For example, the BiO Cell+ 3 iron has 20 degrees of loft, the 5 iron has 25.5 and the 6 iron has 29. The BiO Cell set replies with 18-, 23- and 26.5-degree loft values, respectively. Through the long and mid irons, the difference ranges from 1 to 2.5 degrees. Once the short irons and wedges arrive, the differential is minimized to a degree or none at all.
The BiO Cell+ model features a slight offset through the set. Topping out at 4 mm in the 3 iron and ranging downward to 1.8 mm in the gap wedge, the offset helps to raise trajectory and add a bit of draw bias. The standard shaft in the BiO Cell+ model is a True Temper Dynamic Gold. This quintessential metal shaft encourages a lower ball flight to help the accurate player achieve even greater accuracy. Technology affords this golfer the opportunity to play to his strengths.
Each set is available in a 3 iron through gap wedge. Shared sand and lob wedges in the BiO Cell configuration and design are available. The sand wedge has a loft of 55 degrees of loft and a length of 35.5 inches. The lob wedge measures 60 degrees with an identical length.
BiO Cell Specs
BiO Cell+ Specs
After a number of goes with 8 iron and 4 iron from each set on the Trackman, a wealth of information lay before me. The data revealed that a number of categories (club speed, ball speed, smash factor) produced nearly-identical results. Other factors began to create a bit of disparity in performance between the two iron sets. For my swing, the BiO Cell+ iron results were a bit livelier in a horizontal way: I was more likely to overcook (right-to-left for my right-handed swing) an iron with the Dynamic Gold shaft than I was with the lighter, True Temper Dynalite shaft of the BiO Cell iron. Both sets that I tested came equipped with stock S-Flex shafts.
After 15 swings with the 8 iron, my spin rate average was just over 5000 rpm. My average height was 19.8 yards and my average flight time was 4.79 seconds. This translated to an average carry distance of 146.0 yards, about what I expect from the set of Ping i20 irons that I played with immense success throughout 2013.
Once my swing found its truest groove, I averaged 155 yards of carry over the final five shots. Stepping up to the 4 iron, I quickly exited the comfort zone and produced a succession of inferior shots. I carry a 4 iron between 185 and 190 yards when swinging efficiently, and didn’t approach that number with the BiO Cell. My spin rate was very low (average at 2600 rpm) and the carry topped out around 175 yards.
If I had to venture a guess, I’d say that the stiff shaft in the longer irons made it difficult to load the shaft and deliver a consistently strike. The Ping i20 irons that I use have regular-flex shafts throughout the set, and I am able to deliver a square clubface with my 4 iron. In addition, and these are critical points, the length, loft and lie of the BiO Cell 4 iron are 39.25 inches, 20 degrees and 61 degrees, while the Ping i20 comes standard at 38.25 inches, 24 degrees and 60 degrees. In my conclusion, I’ll discuss the importance of these differentials.
I expected the souped-up shafts of the BiO Cell irons to deliver a bit more distance than the Cell+ model, and they didn’t disappoint. Interestingly, when I dropped down to the shorter shafts of the Cell+ irons, my spin rate increased for the 4 iron (3200 rpm) and decreased (4100 rpm) with the 8 iron. My carry distances for the 8 iron appeared to average the same (147 yards for the Cell+ versus 146 yards for the Cell), but I would be remiss if I did not report this important fact: I never reached a 155-yard carry stretch with the Cell+ 8 iron as I did with the Cell club.
For whatever reason, I had more confidence with the Cell+ 4 iron in my hand than the Cell model, and the Trackman numbers backed up my attitude. Perhaps it was the shorter shaft, but I delivered higher carry numbers with the Cell+, much closer to the numbers I expect from my set of Ping i20 irons. Flight time was nearly a second longer for the Cell+ 4 iron versus the Cell, and I hit the Cell+ nearly 5 yards higher on average than I did the BiO Cell.
Looks and Feel
Both iron sets inspire confidence in the golfer. If they don’t, a correspondence course on how to find your inner hero is in short order. As suggested above, the longer irons (3 and 4) in both sets offer a challenge for consistent production. This was evident in my Trackman testing and, to a lesser degree, in my on-course efforts. This is a minor radar blip, as a quick swap for hybrids will offer respite and solace. The BiO Cell line of clubs has a thicker top line and comes standard with a silver/dark grey color scheme. The dark grey may be replaced by red, orange or royal blue options. The thinner-topped BiO Cell+ irons feature a black/dark grey cavity coloring, albeit again with the same color options.
Neither line of clubs has a heavy feel to it during the various stages of the swing. Even the worst of mishits fails to deliver a clunky sense of contact. It is apparent that the R&D department at Cobra performed their due diligence when it came to this most-important element of club design. Whether on the Trackman or on course during a five-round trial run in North Carolina, I never second-guessed the ability of either BiO Cell iron set to provide confidence in the swing and deliver successful contact, distance and direction in the product.
A recent piece by my colleague, pro Tom Stickney, calls all of us out by stating “Why you’re not good enough not to get fit.” My Ping i20 irons were personally fitted to me, while the two sets of Cobra irons were not. Remember when I promised to discuss the importance of length, lie and loft? I didn’t forget.
The 1-inch of additional length in the Cobra BiO Cell 4 iron (versus my personalized Ping i20) demands at least a season of familiarization. As I am of average height, so lengthened irons are not optimal for me. The 1 degree upright lie? Same issue. If anything, I prefer irons that are flatter than normal. More upright clubs mean more likelihood that the ball will contact the club face near the heel, resulting in a low-and-left shot, precisely what I experienced with the BiO Cell 4 iron. Most glaring is the 4 degrees of separation between the Cobra and the Ping. Take 4 degrees off your 4 iron and guess what? You have a 3-iron. I asked a friend who is a respected club fitter to bend the BiO Cell to my specs. He smiled and said, “I might snap it.” That was enough for me.
If I were told to remove the Ping i20 irons from my bag and replace them with Cobra BiO Cell irons for the 2014 season, I could be comfortable in doing so. If you then examined my bag, you would find one of two configurations. The first would be BiO Cell irons from 6-GW, and BiO Cell+ for the 3-5 parcel. If I found that this didn’t work, I’d return the BiO Cell 5-iron to my bag and substitute Cobra BiO Cell hybrids for the longer irons. In other words, I’d have to monkey around with the set make-up.
I’ve never been the type of golfer who overwhelms partners or opponents with a powerful lash at the ball. I have a tendency to narrow my stance when I’m swinging well and impress my mates with a smooth, repeating swing. In other words, I’ll par you to death. I have no doubt that if I had tested these same irons with regular-felx shafts in the longer irons, my results would have glowed brighter. Unfortunately, a set with regular shafts was unavailable during the process. As it is, the results from studio and golf-course usage drove home yet again the importance of shaft customization.
I am pleased with the appearance and feel of the BiO Cell and BiO Cell+ iron heads from Cobra, and I was enthused by the feel and sound of solid contact. As a result, I believe that the BiO Cell and BiO Cell+ club heads are worthy candidates for your bag in 2014.
If you agree, do your due diligence and find the proper shaft stiffness for your swing, and most importantly, the proper length, loft and lie for your build. The results may not be so apparent in the shorter irons, but you’ll see a measurable difference in your mid- and long-iron production.
Thanks to Kevin Hoffstetter and Donna Henrich of Woods To Wedges, Inc. (Williamsville, NY) for the use of their Trackman studio and their assistance in capturing and tabulating iron swing data.