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Review: Tibhar Hybrid K1 European Version

08 February 2019  | Posted in: Table Tennis Reviews

About the Reviewer

Patrick HrdlickaPatrick 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.

 

As someone who has played with hard European rubbers like Tibhar’s Evolution MX-P and MX-S, as well as traditional tacky Chinese rubbers like DHS’ Hurricane 3, I was eager to try out the new Tibhar Hybrid K1 European (THK1E) rubber, which promises to be a blend on the two worlds. Since the speed-glue ban and transition to the 40+ ball, there has been an increased demand for hybrid rubbers with tacky top-sheets that can compensate for the decrease in spin and dynamic sponges that offer greater speed than traditional Chinese rubbers, while still allowing for excellent control in the short game.

According to Tibhar, this “Made in Germany” rubber has an extremely catchy, almost sticky surface that offers great elasticity, higher acceleration and speed than traditional Chinese rubbers. Tibhar asserts that the sticky top-sheet, together with the medium-hard coarse-pored sponge (50-degrees), will give topspin players hitherto unavailable possibilities from half-distance and close to the table.

The THK1E comes in an airtight and very sturdy blue, green, and white package with a hard plastic shell and cardboard backing. Marketing information is provided on the back. The topsheet is covered by a thin film, but Tibhar also provides a thick adhesive plastic sheet for protection of your investment, which is a nice touch.

The topsheet is somewhat translucent, shiny, and tacky although it is nowhere as tacky as regular Chinese rubbers (holds a ball for ~1 second). The sponge, which has a high-density of small pores, has a characteristic booster smell. The uncut sheet (height x width: 169 x 168 mm) is very heavy, weighing 74 g. When cut to test blade (158x151 mm), the THK1E weighs 51 g, which is in a similar range as Xiom's Omega V Asia, Tibhar’s Evolution MX-S, and DHS' Hurricane 3 Neo (40-degree, provincial, orange sponge). The THK1E feels closer to a 46-47 degrees rubber to the touch than the advertised 50-degree hardness.

Testing procedure: I tested the brand-new THK1E without any boosting on the popular Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition blade, with Spinlord Waran II (2.0 mm, red) short pips on the BH side. As usual, I attached the test rubber using two layers of Revolution 3 normal viscosity glue. I tested the THK1E over several sessions, playing a mix of simple drills and practice matches against my regular teammates, using DHS 3-star D40+ plastic balls in the process.

Playing impressions: The THK1E provides a fairly subdued and “squishy” feeling on FH drives, with speed levels that are a level below rubbers like Tibhar’s Evolution MX-P or MX-S, or Xiom’s Omega V Asia, but a step up from Hurricane 3 if a similar arm swing speed is used (one of the benefits of H3 is that you can swing through the ball faster for more power). All-in-all, the THK1E offers a robust and controlled feeling but lacks the crispness of an MX-P. Similarly, FH loops against blocks can be played comfortably with good consistency. Loops against backspin are easy to execute and have sufficient clearance over the net, but spin levels were a level below Hurricane 3, MX-P or MX-S. Furthermore, I experienced slippage on a handful of occasions when I tried to thinly brush the ball when looping against heavy backspin. The rubber maintained its moderate tackiness throughout the test. In my opinion, the THK1E is much better suited for loop drives from mid-distance where a greater emphasis is placed on forward momentum and depth than spin. I particularly enjoyed the THK1E in loop-to-loop rallies, where I felt the catapult, moderate speed, and medium-high arc provide a good balance of control and dynamics. Passive blocks felt a little bit too squishy and disengaged for my taste resulting in some stray balls, but the rubber’s moderate speed largely compensated for this. More active blocks and counter-loops had a tendency to go long. Flat hits and smashes can be played faster and with greater control than standard Chinese rubbers, but you will still not break any speed records. The THK1E offered surprisingly good touch on pushes and drop shots, and didn’t seem particularly sensitive to incoming spin. In contrast, the rubber’s squishy feeling did not instill confidence on aggressive service returns, as the contact point was not well-defined. I was able to put a lot of spin on my backspin and sidespin serves, whereas my topspin serves felt less spinny than usual.

Conclusion: The THK1E rubber feels more like a toned-down version of Tibhar’s Evolution MX-S than a Hurricane 3. To me, it feels and plays like the Nittaku Fastarc P-1 or Xiom Omega V Euro. Its strengths lie in controlled loop-driving from mid-distance for a game-style that places greater emphasis on control, ball placement and depth, than spin. Intermediate level players who are apprehensive to take the step up to the harder-sponged members of the Evolution series could be a target group of the THK1E.

Serves: 8.5/10  

Serve receives and short game: 8.8/10

Looping: 8.8/10

Flat hitting: 8.5/10

Blocking: 8.5/10

 

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