1. Introduction

Tibhar ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’ (I will call it as SBE because the name is too long) 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 (SBE)

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 SBE is very similar to that of Stiga Clipper. Then what is the characteristics of SBE? And, what is the difference between SBE and Clipper? We can get the answer by comparing Performance Indices of those blades. We can also compare SBE with some famous 7-ply wood blades for further understanding.

For comparison with SBE, six 7-ply wood blade were selected. Four are Clipper series or the ones whose blade construction are similar to that of Clipper. The other two are with hardwood top layers and different blade constructions from that of Clipper.

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.
  • Stiga Clipper CC : Thinner (6.7mm) and lighter version of Clipper.
  • Butterfly Korbel SK7 : Representative 7-ply wood blade of Butterfly.
  • Nittaku Adelie : 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 SBE 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 SBE 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, SBE is somewhat faster than standard offensive 5-ply wood blade such as Butterfly Korbel.

Ec of SBE is a bit lower than Ep. Ec/Ep is close to 0.9. This means that SBE tends to hold ball slightly when we hit ball hard. But, the tendency is not significant. So the rebound characteristics of SBE doesn’t significantly change by impact force. (We can say that the rebound characteristics of SBE 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 SBE 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 SBE although Ep of Korbel SK7 and Clipper CR are different from that of SBE.

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

On the contrary, Clipper CC is very close to SBE on the graph. We may think that the characteristics of Clipper CC is almost identical to that of SBE, 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 : SBE, Clipper CC and Clipper CR

The thickness of Clipper CC is 6.7mm which is the same as that of SBE, while the thickness of Clipper CR is 7.0mm. The difference of thickness makes the difference of elasticity.

Both of Clipper CC and SBE 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 SBE or Clipper CC. It makes Ep of Korbel SK7 smaller than those of Clipper CC or SBE. Ep of Korbel SK7 is 1.55. It is very close to that of Butterfly Korbel whick is a 5-ply wood 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 SBE 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 SBE or Clipper CC.

Black Edition & 7-ply wood blades 08
Fig.08 Constructions : SBE 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 : SBE 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 SBE 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 SBE (= 1.22) is somewhat higher value. And, it means that SBE 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 SBE is a ‘mild hard’ blade.) Vl of SBE is a bit higher than Vp. But, the difference between Vl and Vp is not significant, and we can regard that the feeling of SBE is almost uniform.

Then again we can compare SBE 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, SBE, 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. In case of Clipper, Clipper is of course a very hard blade with very high Vp. However, some players will feel that Clipper 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 SBE at palm. But, much sharper at finger. Some players will feel that SBE is relatively harder than those two blades at palm, although the actual feeling at palm is almost identical to SBE and those two.


3. Summary

Black Edition & 7-ply wood blades 15

The characteristics of Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition (SBE) is :

  • SBE 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 : SBE 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 SBE is uniform. It is mild hard at every place of blade.

The result of comparison can be summarized as :

  • SBE is slower than Stiga Clipper CR which is thicker than SBE.
  • SBE is very similar to Stiga Clipper CC whose thickness is the same 6.7mm.
  • Butterfly Korbel SK7 is a bit slower than SBE and Clipper CC. But, it can be grouped in the same group as SBE 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 different from SBE. 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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