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Gewo nanoFLEX FT48 / FT45 / FT40 Table Tennis Rubbers Complete Expert Review

01 June 2016  | Posted in: Table Tennis Reviews

Gewo nanoFLEX FT Series

About the Reviewer

Patrick Hrdlicka is a table tennis enthusiast, who was introduced to the sport by his parents at the age of six. Patrick progressed to play in the highest national cadet and junior team leagues in his native Denmark and was among the top 40 players in his age group, which fostered several long-standing members of the Danish National Team. With college looming, Patrick quit the sport for almost twenty years. During this hiatus, he obtained a Ph.D.-degree in chemistry and accepted a position as professor of chemistry at the University of Idaho.

At the beginning of 2014, the mid-life crisis and yearning for table tennis grew too strong for Patrick and he decided to pick up the sport again. Bitten again by the table tennis bug, he plays 4-6 times per week. 

Since his comeback to table tennis, he has enjoyed combining his analytical and experimental skills with his love for table tennis, testing and reviewing a wide range of table tennis equipment.


Gewo nanoFLEX FT Series - Introduction

A couple of months ago, I was browsing on Tabletennis11.com when I came across the nanoFLEX FT series from Gewo, a German brand I hadn’t heard about before (gewo-tt.com). The marketing for this series, which was added to ITTF’s List of Approved Racket Coverings (LARC) in the 2nd half of 2014, sounded intriguing: “The innovative revolution of nanoFLEX is the new development with the wow effect. It is a premium rubber with the latest high state-of-the-art technology. Players at all levels have participated during the development and testing of this rubber. GEWO technicians have created a new innovative high-tech rubber series with nanoFLEX, a geometry adapted pimple structure. The newly developed pimple geometry adapts to the ball surface guaranteeing a highly explosive spinny shot during all playing situations. The highly tacky tension surface generates enormous spin ratings thanks to the very dynamic elastic surface. The nanoFLEX series offers tremendous feeling with the optimum dynamics of spin and power for all professional and serious players.” I was, therefore, delighted to try out this rubber series, which comes in three different hardness levels: 40 , 45 , and 48 .    

The nanoFLEX rubbers come in colorful cardboard packaging, which looks very nice and modern. In addition to marketing information, Gewo also lists speed, control and spin ratings for the rubbers on the back of the packaging: FT40 (108/99/115), FT45 (113/95/115), and FT48 (120/91/115). The rubbers are described as having “power tension boost” and “CPI: clean power inside”. The topsheets are matte, grippy, and non-tacky, with ~13 pips per 5 cm in the horizontal direction and ~21 pips per 5 cm in the vertical direction. No further information is available regarding the pip dimensions. Gewo evidently uses the same topsheet throughout this series as all three rubbers have the same ITTF identification number. The sponges are orange (FT48), cream- (FT-45), and lemon-colored (FT40), respectively, and have medium-large pores. The rubbers have a sweet booster smell but do not dome upon unpacking. The rubbers, all of which measure 170x170 mm, weigh 72 g (FT48), 71 g (FT45), and 67 g (FT40). I conducted a blind press test of the rubbers and got the following order of overall hardness: nanoFLEX FT48 (B) > Gewo Hype EL 47.5 (B) > Xiom Omega V Asia (B) > Tibhar Evolution MX-P (B) > nanoFLEX FT45 (R) > Gewo Hype EL 40 (R) > Andro Rasant Grip (R) > Gewo Hype EL 42.5 (B) > nanoFLEX FT40 (B), where B and R stand for black and red sheets. Thus, FT48 is slightly harder than Omega V Asia and MX-P, FT45 has a total hardness that is between that of MX-P and Rasant Grip, and FT40 is clearly a soft rubber.

Testing Procedure

I used 2.1 mm unboosted Gewo nanoFLEX rubbers for these tests, black sheets for the FT48 and FT40, and a red sheet for the FT45. In my first test, I used brand-new rubbers on the FH side of an OFF- rated 5-ply all-wood blade with a hard outer veneer, while using Adidas Blaze Spin short pips in my BH (testing order: FT48, FT45, FT40). Roughly two months later, I retested ~10-hour old nanoFLEX rubbers using an OFF- rated 5+2 composite blade, playing with Xiom Zava short pips in my BH (testing order: FT40, FT45, FT48). In both testing programs, the Gewo rubbers were attached to the blades with Revolution 3 normal viscosity glue and evaluated using seamless 40+ plastic balls. I warmed up and played light FH drills for 20-30 minutes followed by ~20-35 sets against my usual training partners. 

 

Gewo Nanoflex FT48 (thickness 2.1) – A Fun Offensive Rubber That Does Everything Very Well

Gewo describes the nanoFLEX FT48 in the following manner: “A rubber developed for top level professional players who want to win the point with aggressive attacking. Top spins of your opponent can be answered with hard and dangerous counter spins. Despite a tremendous catapult production nanoFLEX FT48 offers utmost control normally seemed unreachable for a rubber of this category. nanoFLEX FT48 an explosive weapon to give your opponent the shivers.” Sounds pretty interesting, huh? The orange sponge has medium-large pores and the rubber is quite firm, a little harder than Xiom’s Omega V Asia or Tibhar’s Evolution MX-P. The FT48 weighed 51 grams when cut to my 157 mm x 150 mm test blade, which is similar to the Omega V Asia and MX-P.

Unboxing Video

Playing Impressions

Exactly three seconds into the test, I knew the Gewo nanoFLEX FT48 was going to be a favorite of mine. The feeling on FH drives is direct and responsive, without an excessive catapult. The sensation and clicking sound produced when performing FH loops instill confidence. Loops have a medium-high arc that provides plenty of safety over the net and they are loaded with spin. Lifting backspin is a breeze with the FT48. The rubber has plenty of speed reserves to enable fun topspin-to-topspin rallies 8-10 feet behind the table - the FT48 is slightly slower than Tibhar’s MX-P and similar in speed to Xiom’s Omega V Tour. Flat hitting and smashing are great due to the firm feeling of the rubber, which allowed me to really punch through the ball while maintaining excellent control. Blocking is exceptional with the FT48 due to a highly linear correlation between effort and output energy. I was able to utilize the speed and spin on my opponent’s loops and direct the ball precisely where I wanted it to go. The rubber’s linearity also renders touch play a pleasure - pushes can be played short and low, but could perhaps be a little spinnier. The FT48 is spin-insensitive, giving me good control on serve receives. Serving with this rubber is generally very good – I was able to impart a lot of spin on the ball, especially back-spin. The softer FT40 version, however, produces more spin on slow strokes such as serves, whereas the FT48 produces more spin on fast loop drives.     

Conclusion

The Gewo nanoFLEX FT48 is a highly controllable do-it-all rubber: loops, smashes, blocks, touch play, spinny serves, you name it. It does it all, and it does it well. The FT48 works great close to the table and even better from mid-distance due to its high speed and medium-high throw angle. The FT48 worked great with both test blades, leading me to think that it is not particularly picky about blade choice. The FT48 reminds me of Xiom’s Omega V Tour, a slightly slower and higher throwing version of Tibhar’s Evolution MX-P, or a faster and slightly lower throwing version of Adidas P7.   

Serves: 8.5/10  
Serve receives and short game: 8.5/10
Looping: 9.5/10
Flat hitting: 9.5/10
Blocking: 9.5/10

Recommended player type: In my opinion, the Gewo nanoFLEX FT48 is suitable for players at all levels, who want an aggressive spinny rubber with many gears and great control. Old fans of Adidas rubbers, especially those who always wished for a slightly faster version of P7, should strongly consider the FT48.


Gewo nanoFLEX FT45 (thickness 2.1) – The Lighter Brother of Andro’s Rasant Grip?

Gewo describes the nanoFLEX FT45 as a rubber that is designed to enable precision pressure play and a variety of spin strategies, regardless if played close to the table or from mid-distance. The FT45 has a cream-colored sponge with medium-large pores and a hardness that is between that of Tibhar’s Evolution MX-P and Andro’s Rasant Grip. The FT45 weighed 47 grams when cut to my 157 mm x 150 mm test blade, which is similar to Donic’s Acuda Blue P1 and significantly lighter than MX-P and Rasant Grip.

Unboxing Video

Playing Impressions

The Gewo nanoFLEX FT45 allows for respectable and reliable FH drives, loops, flat hits, and loop drives. While it certainly is not a Ferrari, it does have sufficient speed to finish off points. However, the feeling was not as crisp as with the FT48 when using the all-wood blade and I was a little disappointed with the FT45 when it came to looping against heavy backspin. My loops often seemed to remain stuck at the top of the net, while making it over with the FT48 (due to a faster sponge) or FT40 (due to higher throw). At times, it felt like the ball didn’t penetrate the topsheet quite as much as I would have liked. Switching to the slightly faster composite blade alleviated most, but not all, of these problems. Blocking with the FT45 is ok, but the rubber’s somewhat non-responsive squishy feel rendered it hard at times to get the length right. Short pushes are easy to execute with the FT45 as it isn’t a very fast or bouncy rubber, allowing the ball to stay short, low and spinny. As with the other rubbers in this series, the FT45 is fairly insensitive to incoming spin, which allowed me to be aggressive on the serve returns. Serves are a highlight with this rubber – I could impart on a lot of spin on my serves, causing my opponents, who know my serves ad nauseam, a lot of difficulties.

Conclusion

The Gewo nanoFLEX FT45 , in many respects, reminds me of Andro’s Rasant Grip. It is fast but not super-fast, it has a subtle catapult, it is very controlled, has a medium throw, allows for a stable short game, and is capable of generating high amounts of spin. The significantly lower weight of the FT45 is a plus over the Rasant Grip. Personally, I am not a fan of the FT45’s squishy feel, but it certainly is a rubber that can get the job done.

Serves: 9/10
Serve receives and short game: 8/10
Looping: 8/10
Flat hitting: 8.5/10
Blocking: 8.5/10

Recommended player type: This rubber is very suitable for intermediate to advanced players who value spin and control over speed. The latter factor could be mitigated by using OFF or OFF+ rated blades.


Gewo nanoFLEX FT40 (thickness 2.1) – A Dynamic and Easy-to-play 40-degree Rubber

Gewo describes the nanoFLEX FT40 as a dynamic and very forgiving attacking rubber for powerful spin play from mid-distance. FT40’s lemon-colored sponge, which is a visual standout, has medium-large pores. The FT40 weighed 46 grams when cut to my 157 mm x 150 mm blade, which renders it lighter than most other FH rubbers that I have tested lately.

Unboxing Video

Playing Impressions

Given that the Gewo nanoFLEX FT40 is light and felt very soft in the press test (see the introduction to nanoFLEX series), I was expecting that it would play like a typical soft rubber. I was surprised by the FT40 right from the get-go. The feeling on FH drives is remarkably direct and responsive for a 40-degree rubber, especially when using the composite blade. A loud click is produced on more powerful loops and the ball has a medium to medium-high arc over the net, providing sufficient clearance and good table depth. The FT40 does not have a very pronounced catapult, which gave me the confidence to swing through the ball without holding back, something that I hesitate to do with other soft rubbers due to fear of hitting through the sponge and/or activating an excessive catapult. As a result, I had excellent control on my drives, loops, flat hits, and loop drives with the FT40. The FT40 paired really well with the composite test blade, which gave it an extra kick, allowing me to play aggressively from all distances. In contrast, the FT40 felt noticeably slower than the FT45 and FT48 on the 5 ply OFF- rated all-wood blade and lacked a little bit in raw finishing power. FH loops against backspin generally worked well, although I occasionally felt like lacking a little pulling power. However, I could easily compensate for that with a slightly more open bat angle. Blocking is very good but not exceptional as with the FT48. Pushes were easy to keep low and spinny thanks to the non-bouncy nature of the FT40. Serve receives were generally pretty good as the FT40 is fairly spin-insensitive. I found it easy to impart high levels of backspin on my serves as the ball dug a little deeper into the sponge relative to the FT45 and FT48, which netted me a couple of easy points.  

Conclusion

Gewo’s marketing is accurate. The nanoFLEX FT40 is an excellent soft rubber. It is dynamic, provides a good feel on topspins and drives, and is not overly bouncy. It is a very easy rubber to play with. The feel of the FT40 reminds me of Adidas’ Tenzone Ultra SF and P7. In my opinion, the FT40 needs a fast composite blade or a fast to very fast all-wood blade with a hard outer veneer, to provide an extra kick and truly shine.

Serves: 9/10  
Serve receives and short game: 8/10
Looping: 9/10
Flat hitting: 8.5/10
Blocking: 9/10

Recommended player type: Intermediate to advanced all-round-offensive players, who enjoy easy-to-play rubbers. Fans of Adidas’ P7 and Tenzone Ultra SF should consider trying out this rubber.

 

Got any questions or comments about the Gewo's nanoFLEX series rubbers? Let us know in the comments section below! 
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You might also be interested in: Gewo Hype EL Pro 47.5 / 42.5 / 40 Table Tennis Rubbers Complete Expert Review