1. Introduction

Tibhar ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is an orthodox 7-ply blade which was launched in 2014. For these two years it has become the representative 7-ply blade of Tibhar.

Black Edition & 7-ply wood blades 01
Fig.01 ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’

It is a 7-ply wood blade whose thickness is about 6.7mm. It can be classified as a thick blade, but not as thick as Stiga Clipper (or Clipper CR) whose thickness is about 7.0mm. With two layers dyed in red, the appearance of the plywood of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is very similar to that of Stiga Clipper. Then what is the characteristics of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’? And, what is the difference between ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ and Clipper? We can get the answer by comparing Performance Indices of those blades. We can also compare ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ with some famous 7-ply wood blades for further understanding.

For comparison with ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’, six 7-ply wood blade were selected. Four are ‘Clipper’ series or the ones whose blade construction are similar to that of ‘Clipper Wood’ or ‘Clipper CR’. The other two are with hardwood top layers and different blade constructions from that of ‘Clipper Wood’.

Black Edition & 7-ply wood blades 02
Fig.02 ‘Clipper Type’ 7-ply wood blades

Clipper Type

  • Stiga ‘Clipper CR’ : CR version of ‘Clipper Wood WRB’. Not much different from original ‘Clipper Wood’.
  • Stiga ‘Clipper CC’ : Thinner (6.7mm) and lighter version of ‘Clipper Wood’.
  • Butterfly ‘Korbel SK7’ : Representative 7-ply wood blade of Butterfly.
  • Nittaku ‘Adelie’ : Categorized as ‘Clipper type’. But, thickness is only 6.0mm.
Black Edition & 7-ply wood blades 03
Fig.03 Hardwood Type 7-ply wood blades

Hardwood Type

  • Stiga Ebenholz NCT VII : Very famous Hardwood blade from Stiga.
  • Donic Ovcharov Senso V1 : Thinner than Clipper. Top layer is Walnut.

Because ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is a ‘Clipper Type’ blade, the comparison will be mainly done with ‘Clipper Type’ blades. Hardwood blades are just for reference.

Then let’s examine the Performance Indices. Concerning the detail of four performance indices, please refer to following articles in ‘Background’ section :


2. Comparison by Performance Indices

Fig.04 shows the comparison graph of Elasticity Indices.

Black Edition & 7-ply wood blades 04
Fig.04 Comparison by Elasticity Indices

Elasticity Indices of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ are :

  • Ep (Primary Elasticity Index) = 1.77
  • Ec (Central Elasticity Index) = 1.60

Ep is directly concerned with the rebound speed of blade, and the Ep of standard offensive 5-ply wood blade is about 1.50. So, ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is somewhat faster than standard offensive 5-ply wood blade such as Butterfly Korbel.

Ec of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is a bit lower than Ep. Ec/Ep is close to 0.9. This means that ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ tends to hold ball slightly when we hit ball hard. But, the tendency is not significant. So the rebound characteristics of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ doesn’t significantly change by impact force. (We can say that the rebound characteristics of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is ‘Mild Hold‘ which is in ‘linear’ range. It can be regarded as ‘linear’ if Ec/Ep is between 0.9 and 1.1. Near 0.9 is ‘Mild Hold’, and near 1.1 is ‘Mild Kick’.) Differently speaking we can always predict the result of our impact input easily and precisely.

Then we can compare ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ with six 7-ply wood blades. Examining Ec/Ep is very good way for the comparison of the tendency of elasticity. Fig.05 shows the relationship between Ec/Ep and Ep for easier comparison

Black Edition & 7-ply wood blades 05
Fig.05 Ec/Ep vs. Ep

Ec/Ep expresses the ‘tendency’ of the elasticity of blade. Among the blades being compared, ‘Clipper CR’, ‘Clipper CC’ and ‘Korbel SK7’ show very similar tendency to ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ although Ep of ‘Korbel SK7’ and ‘Clipper CR’ are different from that of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’.

‘Clipper CR’ is very speedy with high value of Ep (= 2.42). That value is 1 step or 2 steps higher than that of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’. Probably this is because ‘Clipper CR’ is thicker. The thickness of ‘Clipper CR’ is about 7.0mm. But, the thickness of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is 6.7mm.

On the contrary, ‘Clipper CC’ is very close to ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ on the graph. We may think that the characteristics of ‘Clipper CC’ is almost identical to that of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’, at lease we compare Elasticity Indices. Probably that is because the construction and thickness of those two blades are very similar.

Black Edition & 7-ply wood blades 06
Fig.06 Constructions : ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’, ‘Clipper CC’ and ‘Clipper CR’

The thickness of ‘Clipper CC’ is 6.7mm which is the same as that of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’, while the thickness of ‘Clipper CR’ is 7.0mm. The difference of thickness makes the difference of elasticity.

Both of ‘Clipper CC’ and ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ are newer than ‘Clipper CR’. Both of those two fit for modern topspin style while traditional ‘Clipper CR’ fits more for fast attack than modern topspin. Probably both of Tibhar and Stiga tried to adjust 7-ply blade of ‘Clipper’ type to the blade for modern topspin players. And, both of Tibhar and Stiga concluded that reduction the thickness by about 0.3mm is the optimum solution.

Black Edition & 7-ply wood blades 07
Fig.07 Constructions : SBE and Korbel SK7

Butterfly ‘Korbel SK7’ is a bit thinner (6.6mm) than ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ or ‘Clipper CC’. It makes Ep of ‘Korbel SK7’ smaller than those of ‘Clipper CC’ or ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’. Ep of ‘Korbel SK7’ is 1.55. It is very close to that of Butterfly ‘Korbel’ which is a 5-ply wood offensive blade. (I estimate that Butterfly intentionally adjusted the speed of ‘Korbel SK7’ to make it close to Korbel.) Although ‘Korbel SK7’ is a bit slower than ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ or ‘Clipper CC’, the difference is not that significant.

‘Korbel SK7’ is the solution by Butterfly for modern topspin players. Probably we will be able to use ‘Korbel SK7’ for the same purpose as we use ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ or ‘Clipper CC’.

Black Edition & 7-ply wood blades 08
Fig.08 Constructions : ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Editio’ and ‘Adelie’

Nittaku ‘Adelie’ is also a 7-ply blade of ‘Clipper’ type. However, with its thickness of 6.0mm, it is much thinner than SBE. For that reason its Ep is very low. The Ep of ‘Adelie’ is only 11% higher than that of Stiga ‘Allround Classic’ whose indices are always 1.00. At lease we see Ep, ‘Adelie’ can be classified as an all-round blade. However, Ec/Ep of ‘Adelie’ is noticeably high thanks to its relatively high value of Ec. There will be clear ‘additional kick’ when we hit ball hard. It will compensate for its low base elasticity.

Black Edition & 7-ply wood blades 09
Fig.09 Constructions : ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Editon’ and Hardwood Type 7-ply blades

Hardwood blades tend to show high value of Ep due to their hard top layers. Instead, in general Ec of hardwood blade is significantly lower than Ep because Ec is not much influenced by the kind of top layer. As a result, the feeling of deep holding when we hit ball strongly is a general character of hardwood blades. We can observe it from Fig.05. Both of ‘Ebenholz NCT VII’ and ‘Ovcharov Senso V1’ are placed under the other blades on the graph. The blades with the characteristics of ‘Deep Hold‘ fit also for modern topspin but with more aggressive close-to-table strategy.

Then successively, let’s compare the Vibration Indices. Fig.10 shows the comparison graph of Vibration Indices.

Black Edition & 7-ply wood blades 10
Fig.10 Comparison by Vibration Indices

Vibration Indices of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ are :

  • Vp (Primary Vibration Index) = 1.22
  • Vl (Lateral Vibration Index) = 1.25

Vibration Indices are concerned with feeling. Vp indicates primary feeling which is transferred to player’s palm. And Vl is the feeling at the wing of a blade. It is felt by player’s index finger or middle finger. Vp of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ (= 1.22) is somewhat higher value. And, it means that ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ can be classified as a hard blade although not as hard as some very fast carbon blades such as Butterfly ‘Primorac Carbon’. (So We can tell that ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is a ‘mild hard’ blade.) Vl of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is a bit higher than Vp. But, the difference between Vl and Vp is not significant, and we can regard that the feeling of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is almost uniform.

Then again we can compare ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ with six 7-ply wood blades. Examining Vl/Vp is very good way for the comparison of the tendency of feeling. Fig.11 shows the relationship between Vl/Vp and Vp for easier comparison.

Black Edition & 7-ply wood blades 11
Fig.11 Vl/Vp vs. Vp

It is interesting that six among seven blades on the graph are placed near one vertical line at Vp = 1.2. It means that those six blades feel similar at player’s palm. Only ‘Clipper CR’ is placed separately, and shows noticeably higher Vp (= 1.37). ‘Clipper CR’ is the thickest blade among seven blades under comparison, and it is also the hardest blade among seven. We may be able to tell that the optimum value of Vp for modern 7-ply wood blade is about 1.2 because the blades in this comparison except for ‘Clipper CR’ are the blades designed in latest days for modern topspin players.

While Vp is close to 1.2 for all blades on the graph except for ‘Clipper CR’, Vl/Vp shows wide variation. We can divide the seven blades into three groups by Vl/Vp.

Black Edition & 7-ply wood blades 12
Fig.12 ‘Uniform’ group

At first, ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’, ‘Clipper CC’ and ‘Korbel SK7’ can be grouped as ‘uniform’ group. Vl/Vp of those three blades are close to 1.00. It means that the feeling at finger is not especially harder or softer than the feeling at palm. This uniform feeling lets a player adapt to blade very easily. Probably this is the solution of modern 7-ply blades by Tibhar, Stiga and Butterfly. When we compare Elasticity Indices above, those three blades were also in the same group.

Black Edition & 7-ply wood blades 13
Fig.13 ‘Harder feeling at palm’ group

‘Clipper CR’ and ‘Adelie’ can be grouped as ‘harder feeling at palm’ group. Regardless of original value of Vp, the feeling at palm is relatively harder. Differently speaking, the feeling is relatively more comfortable at finger. Please note that it differs by player. For example, some players will feel that ‘Adelie’ is very soft and very comfortable blade. But, the other players will feel that Adelie is much harder than they expected. That difference is due to the low value of Vl/Vp. Successively let’s examine ‘Clipper CR’. ‘Clipper CR’ is of course a very hard blade with very high Vp. However, some players will feel that ‘Clipper CR’ is comfortable. It means that they mainly feel the relatively lower value of Vl instead of relatively higher value of Vp.

Black Edition & 7-ply wood blades 14
Fig.14 ‘Sharper feeling at finger’ group

Finally, ‘Ebenholz NCT VII’ and ‘Ovcharov Senso V1’ can be grouped as ‘sharper feeling at finger’ group. Those two blades feel similar as ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ at palm. But, much sharper at finger. Some players will feel that ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is relatively harder than those two blades at palm, although the actual feeling at palm is almost identical to ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ and those two.


3. Summary

Black Edition & 7-ply wood blades 15

The characteristics of Tibhar ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is :

  • ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is a 7-ply blade which is similar to Stiga Clipper but thinner than Clipper by 0.3mm.
  • The thickness of 6.7mm gives optimum rebound for modern topspin.
  • The tendency of elasticity is ‘Mild Hold’ which can be regarded as linear : ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ hold ball slightly when we hit ball very strongly, and the tendency is still in ‘linear’ range. It doesn’t give additional kick. Player can precisely predict the result by impact input if the tendency of elasticity is linear.
  • The feeling characteristics of ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is uniform. It is mild hard at every place of blade.

The result of comparison can be summarized as :

  • ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is slower than Stiga ‘Clipper CR’ which is thicker than ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’.
  • ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ is very similar to Stiga ‘Clipper CC’ whose thickness is the same 6.7mm.
  • Butterfly ‘Korbel SK7’ is a bit slower than ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ and ‘Clipper CC’. But, it can be grouped in the same group as ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ and ‘Clipper CC’ : 6.6~6.7mm thickness, ‘Mild Hold (regarded as linear)’ rebound characteristics and uniform feeling are the characteristics of this group. This group can be regarded as the standard (or the optimum) 7-ply wood blades for modern topspin.
  • Hardwood 7-ply blades such as ‘Ebenholz NCT VII’ and ‘Ovcharov Senso V1’ are apparently different from ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’. Those two are faster. But, those two holds ball deep when player hits ball hard. This group fits also for modern topspin but with more aggressive close-to-table strategy.

When we try to select a blade for modern topspin style, we may be able to first check Vp. If the Vp of a blade is close to 1.2, that blade may be the optimum for modern topspin. The next step is finding the optimum Ep for the playing style of each person. The recommended range of Ep for modern topspin is 1.5~2.0. If we need more speed, the Ep close to 2.0 will be fine. If we need reduced speed for more control, the Ep close to 1.5 will be good. And, Ec/Ep provides us another guideline. If we want the blade that holds ball deep, we have to find a blade with low value of Ec/Ep. If we want to play also with smash, the blade with high Ec/Ep will be just fit because it gives strong additional kick when we smash. If we want to always deal with ball precisely, we have to find the blade whose Ec/Ep is close to 1.0. The ‘Performance Indices’ in this blog can be utilized in this way.

Black Edition & 7-ply wood blades 16

 

 

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