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Review: Tibhar Hybrid K3

28 December 2021  | Posted in: Table Tennis Reviews

Tibhar Hybrid K3 (black, max) 

     As I have discussed many times on this blog recently, the switch to the 40+ ball has triggered a demand for hybrid rubbers combining tacky top-sheets that can compensate for the decrease in spin, and dynamic sponges that are faster than hard Chinese rubbers while still allowing for excellent control in the short game. One example hereof that I have recently tested is the Tibhar Hybrid K1 European Version. I was, honestly, disappointed since the K1 felt more like a toned-down version of the Tibhar Evolution MX-S than a hybrid rubber with Hurricane-like characteristics. Accordingly, I see the K1 as a stepping-stone for intermediate-level players towards rubbers from the Tibhar Evolution series. Here, I evaluate the Tibhar Hybrid K3, which is touted by Tibhar as combining enormous tackiness and a dynamic and powerful catapult, with a hard 53-degree sponge. According to Tibhar, the K3 will give you a sensation of being able to easily counter your opponent’s spin. Tibhar gives the K3 speed/control/spin ratings of 118/100/130 as compared to ratings of 107/85/115 and 125/80/120 for the K1 and MX-S, respectively. In other words, the K3 promises improvements in all categories relative to the K1, and greater spin and control than the MX-S. 

     The K3 arrives in a glossy purple cardboard wrapper that lists marketing and technical information on its back. The topsheet is covered by a thin, white/opaque film. The topsheet is grippy but only slightly tacky (capable of holding a ball for ~1 second when brand-new) with pimples very faintly visible below the surface. The sponge has a high density of tiny pores and has a faint sweet rubbery smell, indicative of factory boosting. The sponge is medium-hard to the touch, consistent with its labeling as a 53-degree sponge. The uncut sheet (height x width: 169 x 170 mm) weighs 70 g. When cut to test blade (158x151 mm), the K3 weighs 51g, the same as the K1, and 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). 

Testing Procedure

     I tested the brand-new K1 without any additional boosting on my regular blade, i.e., the Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition (SFPBE) blade, using a well-used sheet of Spinlord Waran II (2.0 mm, red) short pips in my BH. I attached the rubber using two layers of Revolution 3 medium viscosity glue. I tested the rubber over 3-4 sessions playing a mix of regular and match-like drills against my regular high-level practice partner (two-winged looper). Neottec Neoplast Pro 40+ training balls were used throughout this test.

Playing Impressions


     K3 is very different from the K1 Euro, which produces a subdued and “squishy” feeling on FH drives and speed levels that are a level below Tibhar rubbers like MX-P or MX-S. The K3, on the other hand, produces a very crisp and direct feeling on FH drives and is significantly faster than the K1, and in between MX-S and MX-P (low OFF level). I love the direct, speed-glue-like feeling and clicking sound. As a result, my FH drives were fast and consistent. 


     FH loops against blocks are a breeze with the K3. The throw angle is high, providing lots of safety over the net. A flatter bat angle and fully extended arm can be used to produce deeper and more direct shots, though they lack some spin. Similarly, FH loops against backspin are easy to execute reliably and the rubber’s relatively high speed means that the shots are quite effective. However, while the spin levels of  FH loops are high for a non-Chinese rubber, they don’t reach the levels of well-executed FH loops using a Hurricane 3. When playing against my high-level hitting partner, I either had to fully commit to my 3rd ball attack using an extended arm (for more speed) or contact the ball late and use a more upward motion for more spin. All in all, I think that players who are not model athletes can generate more power on their FH loops with the K1 vis-à-vis H3. 

     The K3/SFPBE combination works supremely well on FH loop-to-loop rallies far from the table. The rubber’s high throw angle provides plenty of safety over the net, while its high inherent speed means that there was no lack of power to generate long trajectories. Normally, I am inferior to my practice partner in FH loop-to-loop rallies but this set-up combination allowed me to play on par with him.   


     The crisp nature of the K3/SFPBE combination gave me supreme confidence in FH flicks, which normally are one of my weaker shots. The high throw angle ensured that my flicks easily cleared the net, while the high inherent speed of this combo rendered the flicks fast and dangerous.   


     Passive FH blocks are crisp and fast. The high throw angle of the K3 meant that I needed to close the bat angle a little more than usual. The rubber offers an excellent mix of absorbing capabilities and catapult. The K3 is an absolute beast on active blocks and counter-drives, which were exceptionally fast, deep, and dangerous, provided I contacted the ball with a neutral bat angle and added a wrist snap. Simply phenomenal.    


    The K3/SFPBE combo is fast and works well for all sorts of flat hits and smashes. It is easy to produce outright winners given the opportunity. 


    To my great surprise, considering its relatively high speed and high throw angle, the K3 works very well on long FH pushes. The top-sheet grips the ball securely, resulting in fast, flat, and very deep pushes, which caused my practice partner many headaches. It is necessary to use a little bit of finesse and soft hands when pushing to avoid overshooting the table but it is an easy adjustment.    


     The K3 works intuitively on pendulum backspin serves, which seemed to be ok spinny but perhaps slightly longer than normal, necessitating the use of a more delicate touch. Once adjusted for the relatively high speed of the K3/SFPBE combo, I was able to execute fast and long serves, be it side-topspin or side-backspin. The spin level seemed ok but not out of the ordinary. 


     I went into this test with low expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised. The Tibhar Hybrid K3 is an awesome hybrid rubber. Its grippy and slightly tacky top-sheet ensures firm contact with the ball, facilitating high throw loops and spinny pushes. Its medium-hard and fast sponge provides the right balance between absorbing capabilities for passive blocking and catapult for lightning-fast counter-drives and smashes. This is a top-end rubber that will appeal to advanced, expert, and professional players, employing an aggressive game strategy and who do not want to commit to using slower and more physically demanding Hurricane 3-like rubbers or shell out ~$100 for rubbers like the Dignics series.    





About the Reviewer

     Patrick 'Pong Professor' Hrdlicka is a table tennis enthusiast with a Ph.D. in chemistry who combines his analytical and experimental skills with his love of table tennis in order to test and review a wide range of table tennis equipment.