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Nittaku Fastarc P-1 / G-1 / C-1 / S-1 Table Tennis Rubbers Complete Expert Review

03 August 2016  | Posted in: Table Tennis Reviews

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.


Nittaku Fastarc series – Introduction

The Fastarc rubbers are Nittaku’s flagship series and come in four different flavors, i.e., C-1 , G-1 , P-1 ,
and S-1 . These “Made in Germany” rubbers have been around for a couple of years and were added to the official List of Approved Racket Coverings (LARC) in 2010 (G-1 and S-1), 2012 (C-1), and 2014 (P-1). Nittaku markets these as “grip first” (G-1), “power first” (P-1), “speed first” (S-1), and “catch first” (C-1).

Nittaku provides relatively detailed information about the architecture of the rubbers:

The G-1 comes with a 47.5 degree orange sponge, a “grip-type” topsheet with wide pips and narrow pip spacing (13 pips per 5 cm in the horizontal direction and 22 pips per 5 cm in the vertical direction), and speed and spin ratings of 15.00 and 12.50, respectively.

The P-1 has a lemon-colored 47.5 degree sponge, a “plastic-ready” topsheet with narrow pips and intermediate pip separation (13 pips per 5 cm in the horizontal direction and 21 pips per 5 cm in the vertical direction), and speed and spin ratings of 15.50 and 12.25, respectively.

The S-1 has a cream-colored 45 degree sponge, a “speed-type” topsheet that features narrow pips and widely separated pips (11 pips per 5 cm in the horizontal direction and 19 pips per 5 cm in the vertical direction), and speed and spin ratings of 15.50 and 11.75, respectively.

The C-1 has a cream-colored 45 degree sponge similar to S-1 and a “catch-grip” type topsheet with wide pips and narrow pip separation similar to G-1 (13 pips per 5 cm in the horizontal direction and 22 pips per 5 cm in the vertical direction), and speed and spin ratings of 15.25 and 12.25, respectively.

All of the Fastarc rubbers have tiny sponge pores, a hint of sweet booster smell, and do not dome significantly upon unpacking. The uncut sheets weigh 70 g (P-1, 2.0 mm black, 171 mm x 170 mm), 68 g (G-1, 2.0 mm black, 170 mm x 170 mm), 65 g (C-1, 2.0 mm black, 168 mm x 169 mm), and 61 g (S-1, 2.0 mm black, 169 mm x 170 mm), respectively. A simple blind press test revealed the following order of hardness (from firmest to softest): Xiom Omega V Asia > Fastarc G-1 > Xiom Omega V Euro > Fastarc C-1 > Fastarc P-1 > Tibhar Evolution MX-P > Nittaku Alhelg > Donic Acuda Blue P1 > Fastarc S-1, with the differences between the middle five rubbers being very subtle. The rubbers come in cardboard packaging that is black and silver (C-1), blue and golden (G-1), black and golden (P-1), and red and silver (S-1).

Testing Procedure

I initially tested the Nittaku Fastarc P-1 on an OFF- rated 5+2 composite blade, which felt too lively and bouncy. I then decided to test the brand-new and unboosted black 2.0 mm Fastarc rubbers on a slightly slower, still OFF- rated 5-ply all-wood blade that has a classic limba/limba/ayous/limba/limba construction. I used a variety of short pips in my BH during these tests, i.e., TSP Spectol  (with P-1), Spinlord Waran  (with G-1), Stiga Clippa  (with C-1), and Stiga Radical  (with S-1). Rubbers were attached to the blade with three layers of Revolution 3 normal viscosity and evaluated in the following order over 1-2 sessions using seamless 3-star 40+ plastic balls and primarily playing practice matches: P-1, G-1, C-1, and S-1.

Nittaku Fastarc P-1 – A medium-soft allround/offensive rubber with surprising spin potential.

The newest member of the Nittaku Fastarc series, the P-1, was specifically designed for use with the 40+ ball and features a “Tension Power Sheet and Strong Sponge”. Nittaku describes the P-1 as the “power first” version of Fastarc, suitable for players who “want to create spin, speed, power & precision while creating artistic shots” and who emphasize “speed drive performance”.  

Playing Impressions

The Nittaku Fastarc P-1 feels quite firm to the touch just as would be expected for a 47.5 degree rubber. It is also relatively heavy, weighing 50 grams when cut to the 157x150 mm test blade, which is similar to Xiom’s Omega V Tour (50 g) and Tibhar’s Evolution MX-P (51 g). A little surprisingly to me, taking its weight and physical feel into account, the P-1 feels quite soft and spongy in gameplay. FH drives were ok, but the ball penetrated the rubber a little deeper than I expected and thus emerged with a slight delay. I should mention that I have been primarily playing with Chinese FH rubbers in recent weeks, which obviously are a completely different kettle of fish, and which might have influenced my perception of the rubber. Nonetheless, the P-1 feels significantly softer than, e.g., the Fastarc G-1. The throw angle on forehand loops with the Fastarc P-1 is quite high and provides plenty of arc and safety when looping heavy backspin balls over the net. I did, however, encounter occasional ball slippage. Interestingly, while executing loops I didn’t feel as if there was much spin on the ball, but judging by my opponents’ blocks, the loops must have been spinnier than I thought. What struck me about the P-1 – and as it turned out, the rest of the Fastarc rubbers – is that it is rather spin insensitive. This, in turn, allowed me to execute loops, including more “artistic” down-the-line, inside-out and other crazy angle loops, with excellent control. The rubber is quite fast and bouncy, which meant that I had to reduce my swing speed on loops and flat hits, as the ball otherwise would go off the end of the table. Blocking was excellent due to the aforementioned lack of spin sensitivity, which compensated for the bouncy nature of the rubber. I found the short game to be a little bit challenging due to the rubber’s bounciness and lack of tackiness. I really had to use very soft hands to place the ball short. The P-1 surprised me on serves. I had pretty good control over the placement of my serves but once again didn’t feel that I was able to impart much spin on the ball. However, judging by my opponents’ service receives, they ball must have been loaded with spin, suggesting that the ball penetrates deeply into the sponge, resulting in efficient spin generation. In closing, the Nittaku Fastarc P-1 is a high-quality all-round/offensive rubber of similar ilk as Xiom’s Omega V Euro or Pro, except that it is slightly less bouncy and less spongy.

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

Recommended player type: In my opinion, the Nittaku Fastarc P-1 is best suited for intermediate to advanced players who use a mix of strategies in their game. I think it is particularly suitable for those who prefer a clean open game without too much emphasis on spin.

Nittaku Fastarc G-1 – a fun, fast and spin-insensitive rubber for spin-offensive gameplay.

Nittaku describes the G-1 as a rubber that “secures the highest speed of your strokes, secure arc, and powerful spin. The Tension Spin topsheet provides an excellent grip feeling and strong spin created by unique chemical formula and special pimple design. The strong sponge produces powerful feeling during the stroke”. Nittaku recommends the G-1 as a FH rubber with an emphasis on “Spin Drive” performance.

Playing Impressions

The Nittaku Fastarc G-1 feels similar to the touch as Xiom’s Omega V Asia but is two grams lighter at 49 grams when cut to my 157 x 150 mm test blade. After hitting the first couple of FH drives, it was pretty evident that the G-1 feels significantly firmer in game play than the P-1. The feeling on FH drives is very crisp and direct and there even is a hint of a clicking sound. FH loops feel great and are easy to execute. The throw angle on loops is medium high to high, providing plenty of clearance over the net. Unlike the P-1, I felt that the ball really bites into the sponge and topsheet, allowing me to impart high amounts of spin on my opening loops. The G-1 definitively generates more spin than the P-1, possibly because I had more confidence to hit harder due to the firmer sponge. The control on loops is truly excellent and I was able to really work the angles. In my opinion, the G-1 is a little faster than the P-1 and accordingly provides plenty of power and arc to play loop-to-loop rallies several meters behind the table. In fact, I had to moderate my power input to avoid shooting past the table. Thus, it is not possible to play with brute force, like with the DHS Hurricane rubbers, but still less touch is needed than with the P-1. Interestingly, ball slippage on FH loops against heavy backspin balls was less frequent than with the P-1. Flat hits felt great and I could generate a lot of pace. Just like the P-1, the G-1 is quite spin insensitive, which had a beneficial impact on flat hits, blocks - which felt nice and crisp albeit it fast - and aggressive serve returns. Passive serve returns can be played with good amounts of backspin and a low arc, although placing very short returns was a little challenging due to the rubber’s high speed. I could impart very high levels on spin on serves and had excellent control of their placement. Due to the rubbers high speed, excellent touch is required for really short serves. The Nittaku Fastarc G-1 reminds me of Xiom’s Omega V Tour, Gewo Nanoflex FT48, and a higher throwing version of Tibhar’s Evolution MX-P. All in all, a super fun spin-offensive rubber, which has become an instant favorite of mine.

Serves: 9/10
Serve receives and short game: 8.5/10
Looping: 9.5/10
Flat hitting: 9/10
Blocking: 9/10

Recommend player type: In a recent interview , the American Nittaku-sponsored player and coach, Samson Dubina, stated that he uses the Nittaku Fastarc G1 in his FH and BH. Having recently had the pleasure to play against Samson, I can really see how this rubber is a great choice for his technically clean, open, two-winged looping style. This is a rubber for advanced to pro level players who play an aggressive, yet strategic game and who can exploit the rubber’s lack of spin sensitivity to open up the table with well-placed shots.

Nittaku Fastarc C-1 – the slightly slower, less spinny, and more controllable version of the P-1?

Nittaku describes the C-1 as an offensive rubber, which provides high speed, ideal arc, and powerful top spin. The concept of C-1 is “catch-first” and it features a “Tension Spin topsheet and Soft Strong sponge”. The Fastarc C-1 was designed to integrate the speed performance of S-1 and the spin performance of G-1 into one balanced rubber that has excellent control.

Playing Impressions

The Nittaku Fastarc C-1 feels marginally harder to the touch than the P-1, which is surprising given the softer sponge and lower weight (47 grams, 157 x 150 mm). Although the topsheet and sponge architectures of the C-1 and P-1 are quite different (see the introduction), the two sheets feel very similar to me in gameplay except perhaps that the C-1 is slightly slower and less spinny and produces a less pronounced click on fast hits. The C-1 shares the spongy feel of the P-1 on fast FH shots. FH drives are reasonably crisp and can be played in a very controlled manner but dwell time is slightly extended relative to harder rubbers. The rubber’s medium-high to high throw provides plenty of safety over the net when executing FH loops against heavy backspin. Loops have a respectable level of spin on them – just like with the other Fastarc rubbers, the sponge and topsheet seem to work in perfect harmony with each other, instilling a sensation of control into the player. I was able to hit loops with a lot of topspin-sidespin variation from mid-distance and with greater confidence than with any other rubber, save for Fastarc’s G-1. I attribute this to a near-perfect blend of speed, spin, and lack of spin sensitivity. I did not experience any ball slippage while looping with the C-1 – perhaps due to the “catch-grip” topsheet? The C-1 is plenty fast to allow for topspin rallies from mid or far distance – as with the G-1, I had to moderate my input power to prevent the ball flying off the end of the table. Blocking is precise, in part because the rubber isn’t as fast the G-1 or P-1. Flat hits were generally enjoyable and rock-solid – the C-1 provides plenty of speed to finish off points. Aggressive serve returns very easy to execute due to the rubber’s lack of spin sensitivity. The rubber has a fairly dead feel at slow speeds, which gives good control in the short game, a notch better than with the P-1 and G-1. Serves seemed to be slightly less spinny relative to the P-1 and G-1 but still had respectable spin levels. All in all, I would describe the C-1 as the slightly slower, less spinny, and more controlled version of the P-1.     

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

Recommended player type: In my opinion, the recommended target audience for the Nittaku Fastarc C-1 is similar to that of the P-1, with perhaps a little bit more room for developing players due to the slightly better control and lower weight. 

Nittaku Fastarc S-1 – A soft and relatively slow rubber for controlled offense

Nittaku describes the Fastarc S-1 as the softest version of the Fastarc family, with slightly reduced speed and increased control. The concept of the S-1 is “speed first” and it comes with a “Tension Spin Sheet that offers sufficient speed created by special chemical materials and a unique pimple shape, as well as, a Strong Sponge that produces a soft touch feeling”. The rubber is recommended for “backhand use, with an emphasis on speed smashing performance”.

Playing Impressions

The Nittaku Fastarc S-1 is very soft to the touch, much softer than the 45 degree sponge would seem to suggest. It also only weighs 43 grams when cut to the 157 x 150 mm test blade, which is lighter than all other 40-45 degrees rubbers that I have tested. The topsheet seems very soft and I would be a little concerned how it holds up to scuffs and its durability. Almost instantly into my evaluation of the rubber, it becomes evident that the S-1 also is the softest and slowest of the Fastarc rubbers during gameplay, thus not fitting the “speed first” description very well. I could clearly feel the subdued woody feeling of the test blade when performing aggressive shots. Nonetheless, the S-1 provides a good response, slight clicking sound, and excellent control on FH drives. The throw angle on loops is fairly high but because the S-1 is rather slow, several of my FH loops didn’t clear the net. Once I started looping with a more open blade angle and/or greater arm swing speed, I had excellent control over my loops, although they didn’t feel very fast or spinny. I did experience ball slippage on a couple of occasions and catastrophic bottoming out of the rubber on a few occasions, resulting in the ball going dead straight off the paddle. In my opinion, this rubber is best played close to the table – shots from mid-distance require a lot of effort. Just like the other Fastarc rubbers, the S-1 is not very sensitive to spin, which allowed me to mix up my opening loop patterns with greater confidence than most other rubbers. The low spin sensitivity is also beneficial in the blocking game where it, in concert with the rubber’s low innate speed and limited catapult, allowed for controlled active and passive blocking. Flat hits were fun to play due to high levels of control – it has enough speed to finish off a point. Passive serve returns were easy to keep low and short, and the rubber’s low spin sensitivity really allowed me to utilize my opponent’s spin to direct aggressive serve returns in hard-to-reach-places, albeit at medium speed. I had excellent control of the speed and placement of my serves but did feel that the sponge is too soft to generate very high spin levels. Although I didn’t evaluate the S-1 as a BH rubber, I predict that it will serve very well in that capacity, due to its soft, high-throwing and controlled nature.

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

Recommended player type : All-in-all, the Nittaku Fastarc S-1 is a fine rubber for players with a controlled offensive game. It is not as fast and spinny as many other rubbers, but its excellent control allows for a balanced and touch-based game, while still providing sufficient power to finish off points played close to the table. I think the S-1 is particularly well-suited for developing players.

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