FIRST LOOK – Cobra BiO Cell and BiO Cell +
“We take on anybody else’s club head to head, and more often not, we think we’re going to win” – Every Golf Company
Seriously, I’ve heard some variation of that statement from just about every golf company I’ve ever spoken with. Woods or irons, it doesn’t matter; everybody is all but certain their creations are the best.
It’s a belief that’s next to impossible to prove or disprove.
Everything fits somebody, and what fits my 107 MPH, negative angle of attack, angry chop of a swing may not fit your graceful, controlled, 3 degrees up swing.
What I’ve come to believe is that once you get past all of the tech speak, and the marketing, and all of that ancillary ‘stuff’, what really separates the companies on top of the golf world from those climbing to get there is simply a matter of discussion.
TaylorMade, Callaway, Titliest… for a majority of golfers, these companies are in the discussion. When golfers are thinking about where to spend money on drivers, and fairways, and wedges, and whatever else; these are the companies throw around when they have those mental conversations with themselves over what to buy next.
What does any of this have to do with Cobra and BiO Cell?
Bear with me…as always, I’m going somewhere with this…and by now you should know it sometimes takes me a while to get there.
Here’s my point. Cobra wants in the discussion. Whether theirs is the first club in, or the 3rd club in the bay behind TaylorMade and Callaway, all Cobra really wants is to be in the discussion.
If you’re in the discussion, you get the chance to compete, and yeah, you betcha, Cobra’s no different than anybody else:
If you give Cobra the chance to compete, they think they’re going to win.
So with all of that said (and none of it about BiO Cell yet), I want you to ask yourself this question:
Do I like what I hear? Do I like what I see? Does this package of products put Cobra in the discussion?
If it doesn’t, I’d be interested to hear why it doesn’t…and I’m certain the team at Cobra would be as well.
BiO Cell Driver
As you can probably piece together all on your own, BiO Cell is the direct replacement for last season’s AMP Cell Pro.
As you might expect, there are some subtle performance tweaks. Cobra thinned out the crown just a bit which allowed them to move the center of gravity lower. The result is a driver that launches a bit higher, and spins less (~300 RPM) than AMP Cell.
As with AMP Cell, Cobra is using their MyFly technology (updated to MyFly8) to allow for the entire range of lofts to be reached in a single head. The new hosel allows for BiO Cell to be configured from 9.0 degrees to 12 degrees in 1 degree increments. In addition to the 10.5 draw setting from last year, this year’s model adds draw settings at 9.5 and 11.5 degrees. In case you haven’t pieced it together, that’s 8 unique settings.
While Cobra would like to keep the discussion focused on performance, most of you will no doubt notice that Cobra has added a semi-traditional black option to the color lineup.
Technology that Shows
We’ve talked in the past about how a segment of golfers really likes to see the technology that’s baked into their clubs. For the right audience, visible technology can be tremendously appealing.
With that in mind, it makes perfect sense that Cobra would show off the crown’s cell structure on the rear of the crown. Even if golfers don’t know what it is, or what it does, it looks cool. In a $299, it makes perfect sense.
And that brings me to…
I’ve said it before, while golf companies will tell you that everything they make is special. They won’t say it out loud, but they also believe that some products are more special than others.
I think it’s fair to say that in my admittedly limited time covering golf, I’ve never seen Cobra more excited about any single product than they are about BiO Cell+ driver.
While the name suggests it’s an extension of the AMP family, the 440cc BiO Cell+ is actually more ZL than AMP- and I think that’s going to make a lot of Cobra fans excited too.
While the R&D that went into BiO Cell+ was extensive, the Cliff Notes version of BiO Cell+ performance reads like this:
Through the use of an alloy they call Venollum, Cobra was able to further reduce crown weight (compared to Bio Cell), which produces a lower launch angle (nearly a degree) and less spin (+/- 200RPM) than the standard BiO Cell model.
Because Cobra was able to place the CG closer to the neutral axis, and farther back than some competitor’s products, they were able to achieve the desired launch conditions, without the MOI sacrifice of TaylorMade’s SLDR for example.
With BiO Cell+, Cobra is telling us that you don’t have to give up forgiveness for distance.
Unfortunately they’re also telling us that we’re going to need to be comfortable looking at a less than traditional crown design. In the interest of visible technology, I suppose, Cobra has chosen to surround their colorful (or black) Venollum crown-piece with a high gloss white perimeter.
Cobra’s known for being bold, and to an extent taking risks with their designs…or at least their use of color, but my gut tells me they may have misjudged their target demographic’s receptiveness to bold aesthetics and visible technology.
The design is over the top to the extent that I believe it’s going to have a polarizing effect on their potential market. When you’re already in the discussion, you can get away with that, but when you’re grinding to be part of the conversation, alienating any percentage of the market is risky.
My 2 cents here…I don’t love it. I don’t hate it, and no doubt if the driver performs like they say, I could get used to it in a hurry, but for me Cobra is already in the discussion.
For the better players who aren’t thinking about Cobra, aren’t discussing Cobra, and aren’t giving Cobra the chance to compete on performance, I don’t believe that over-emphasizing visible technology in your premium driver offering is going to do much to convert them.
That said, I hope I’m wrong. I played AMP Cell Pro for the better part of this season. Performance isn’t an issue with Cobra.
Tour adoption of BiO Cell+ has been quick. Rickie Fowler has played the new driver, and Jonas Blixt told me it took him less than a day to get comfortable enough with BiO Cell+ to ditch his ZL (it took him weeks to make the switch last time around).
The larger issue for Cobra is convincing more golfers that there’s some substance behind all the color. For that to happen, Cobra may need to deemphasize color, and take a slightly more traditional route (still true to the Cobra brand) with their better player offerings.
Like BiO Cell, BiO Cell+ features an all-lofts-in-one-head design. The updated MyFly hosel allows loft to be adjusted from 8 degrees to 11 degrees. Gone is last year’s fade setting (Cobra discovered almost no one used it). Replacing it are draw settings at 8.5, 9.5, and 10.5 degrees
Fairways and Hybrids Too
As with any good lineup, BiO Cell technology is available in fairways and hybrids as well.
With hybrids raw distance is less of an issue. It’s more about finding something that offers the desired look and feel.
From there it becomes a matter of gapping. Cobra makes that easy by offering a selection of adjustable loft (2-3, 3-4, and 4-5) hybrids (and fairways) that basically ensure you can hit any distance within your range.
With fairways we could talk about face construction, launch conditions, and ball speed, but the big picture takeaway is that you won’t lose yards playing a Cobra fairway.
The fairway wood market has been insanely distance driven and hyper-competitive the last couple of seasons. 17 yards, 10 more yards, 13 more yards…lots and lots of yards have been offered up.
While Cobra doesn’t really engage in distance-based marketing to the extent many of their competitors do, what they’ll tell you is that they’ve bridged the distance gap, and BiO Cell fairway is every bit as long as anybody else’s fairway.
I really like what Cobra’s done with the shaping of both the fairway and rescue. Both hit the sweet spot between too much bulk, an too much intimidation.
Throw in the same color selection (both hybrids and fairways) as the drivers, mix in Cobra’s gapping options, and you’ve got a fairway hybrid combo that’s well worth a look.
BiO Cell Irons
Rounding out the BiO Cell family are the new BiO Cell irons. The new irons replace last year’s AMP Cell product. And while in that sense, BiO Cell can be seen as the natural evolution of the franchise; the reality is that BiO Cell bares little resemblance to what came before it.
With BiO Cell Cobra is chasing the ultimate blend of distance and forgiveness. Over the last couple of years the game-improvement category has, for better or worse, evolved into the distance iron category.
While forgiveness remains part of the discussion, if you’re not competing on distance too, you’re not competing. So while once again Cobra isn’t promising that their irons will give you 10 more yards, they’re extremely confident that they can match anybody else in the industry yard for yard.
The key to distance is, as it is for many others, an undercut channel cavity with a largely unsupported face. And yes…lofts are non-traditional, but with a 45 degree pitching wedge, Cobra’s pretty much right with most everybody else.
It ain’t no thing.
The forgiveness in the design comes from (as it almost always does) perimeter weighting. Cobra has placed a relatively massive amount of tungsten (10 grams each) in the heel and toe to help maintain distance and control when you don’t quite hit the sweet spot.
Noteworthy perhaps is that in the short irons are constructed from a softer steel, and the tungsten weights have been placed in a more central position. The goal is to create more feel, and better control in the scoring irons. Whether or not that creates any weirdness in the set with one club not feeling quite like the next remains to be seen.
Early response to the aesthetics of the BiO Cell irons hasn’t been kind. They’re certainly bulkier than a good bit of what’s in the market today. In general game-improvement designs have gotten smaller, while BiO Cell looks like a bit of a throwback.
Sitting on the shelf next to JPX-EZ, SpeedBlade, and X2 Hot, getting into that discussion with one of the more unusual aesthetics could prove challenging. We have no doubt the performance will be there, and Cobra is always competitive on price (often the best bang for the buck).
Will golfers buy into the unusual look? Of that I’m less sure.
Pricing and Availability
The COBRA BiO CELL Driver ($299) features a Project X – PXv shaft and is available in RH and LH models in x-stiff, stiff, regular and lite flexes featuring MyFly8TM, providing golfers with loft settings from 9.0° to 12.0°. The BiO CELL Driver features a Lamkin – R.E.L. 3GEN 360 grip.
The COBRA BiO CELL+ Driver ($399) features a Matrix 6Q3 Red Tie (Same as aftermarket version with custom white Cobra graphics) shaft and is available in RH and LH models in x-stiff, stiff, regular flexes featuring MyFly8TM, providing golfers with loft settings from 8.0° to 11.0°. The BiO CELL+ Driver features a Lamkin – R.E.L. 3GEN 360 grip.
The COBRA BiO CELL Fairway ($219) features a Project X – PXv shaft and comes in two models, both featuring MyFly8. The 3-4 Wood (13°, 13.5°,13.5°D, 14.5°, 14.5°D, 15.5°, 15.5°D and 16°) and 5-7 Wood (17°, 17.5°, 17.5°D, 18.5°, 18.5°D, 19.5°, 19.5°D and 20°) are available in x-stiff, stiff, regular and lite flexes in both RH and LH. The BiO CELL Fairway features a Lamkin R.E.L. 3GEN 360 grip.
The COBRA BiO CELL Hybrid ($189) features a COBRA BiO CELL shaft and comes in three models featuring MyFly8. The 2-3H (16°, 16.5°,16.5°D, 17.5°, 17.5°D, 18.5°, 18.5°D and 19°), 3-4H (19°, 19.5°, 19.5°D, 20.5°, 20.5°D, 21.5°, 21.5°D and 22°) and the 4-5H (22°, 22.5°, 22.5°D, 23.5°, 23.5°D, 24.5°, 24.5°D and 25°) are available in x-stiff, stiff, regular and lite flexes in both RH and LH. The BiO CELL Hybrid features a Lamkin R.E.L. 3GEN 360 grip.
The COBRA BiO CELL Iron Set ($699) features a True Temper Dynalite 85 shaft shaft and is available in stiff and regular flex in 3-LW in RH models and 3-SW in LH models. The BiO CELL Irons feature a Lamkin – R.E.L. 3GEN grip.
Graphite irons are available through custom order and feature a COBRA BiO CELL shaft in stiff, regular or lite flexes.
The COBRA BiO CELL Irons Combo Set ($799 Steel Irons, Graphite Hybrids) (MAP: $899, all graphite) features a True Temper Dynalite 85 shaft in steel models and a COBRA BiO CELL in graphite models. The stock set composition is 3-4H, 4-5H, 5-PW. The COBRA BiO CELL Irons Combo Set features BiO CELL Hybrids with MyFly8 so golfers can optimize yardage gaps. The BiO CELL Driver, Fairways, Hybrids and Irons will be available at retail on January 15th, 2014. To find an authorized COBRA dealer near you, visit
The BiO CELL Drivers, Fairways, Hybrids and Irons will be available at retail on January 15th,
Tell Us What You Think
So…the big question…what do you think of the Cobra BiO Cell Lineup. What do you like? What don’t you like? And most importantly, with these 2014 offerings, has Cobra made any progress towards convincing you they should be part of your buying conversation?
Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)