1.  Overview – Tibhar ‘Hybrid ZC’ series

Tibhar Hybrid ZC 01
Fig.01 Tibhar ‘Hybrid ZC’ series

In early 2018, Tibhar announced new ‘Hybrid ZC’ series which includes two models – ‘Kinetic Speed’ and ‘Cedric Nuytinck’. ‘Hybrid ZC’ means ‘Zylon Carbon’ which is called as ‘ZLC’ or ‘Super ZLC’ in Buttefly blade family. (There isn’t fundamental difference between ‘ZLC’ and ‘Super ZLC’. ‘Super ZLC’ has less fiber in one fiber bundle to decrease the thickness of fiber layer. Instead the bundle pitch of ‘Super ZLC’ is smaller than that of normal ‘ZLC’. I don’t know which one between ‘ZLC’ and ‘Super ZLC’ is closer to ‘Hybrid ZC’.) Please note that TT makers can’t tell the fiber as ‘Zylon’ because it is the registered brand of fiber makers. Instead TT makers call it as ‘PBO fiber’ which is the element name of fiber. But, makers tend to use a character ‘Z’ to express that it is ‘Zylon’.

Tibhar Hybrid ZC 02
Fig.02 Tibhar ‘Hybrid ZC’ series

Between two models of ‘Hybrid ZC’ series, ‘Kinetic Speed’ is relatively faster one for power-oriented strategy, and ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ is relatively slower one for continuous topspin. As its name expresses, ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ is the blade for Cedric Nuytinck who is the player of Belgian National Team.

Tibhar Hybrid ZC 03
Fig.03 Tibhar ‘Kinetic Speed’

‘Kinetic Speed’ is the faster one in ‘Hybrid ZC’ series. Both of two words – ‘kinetic’ and ‘speed’ – express that it is a fast blade. A gold-colored Aluminum plate instead of plastic lens is used as nameplate at forehand side. At the end of handle, there is also an Aluminum plate. There isn’t lens or Aluminum plate at backhand side. Overall graphic design looks very good. But, I felt that the shape of handle is not as refined as that of other recent Tibhar blades such as ‘VS Unlimited’, ‘Drinkhall Power Spin Carbon’ or ‘Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition’, although it will not be problem for most of players.

Tibhar Hybrid ZC 04
Fig.04 Construction of Tibhar ‘Kinetic Speed’

Blade construction of ‘Kinetic Speed’ is based on typical ‘5+2 ply outer fiber’ construction. (‘Outer fiber’ means that fiber is placed directly under top layer.) However, there is big difference between common ‘5+2 ply outer fiber’ blades and ‘Kinetic Speed’. In ordinary 5+2 ply outer fiber construction, the wood of second layer (= the wood under fiber layer) is ‘Ayous’. In all of Butterfly blades with 5+2 ply outer fiber construction inclusion ‘Timo Boll ALC’ or ‘Zhang Jike Super ZLC’, the wood of second layer is ‘Ayous’. The second layer of ‘VS Unlimited’ or ‘Drinkhall Power Spin Carbon’ is also ‘Ayous’. However, the second layer of ‘Kinetic Speed’ is ‘Koto’ that is much harder than ‘Ayous’. This makes ‘Kinetic Speed’ unique. And, we can expect that the overall characteristics of ‘Kinetic Speed’ will be different from ‘Zhang Jike ZLC’ or ‘Zhang Jike Super ZLC’.

Top layer is ‘Limba’, and ‘PBO Carbon (= Zylon Carbon)’ is placed under top layer. Center layer is ‘Kiri’ which is common for 5+2 ply outer fiber construction. Overall thickness is 5.7~5.8mm.

(Top layer is also different from that of ‘Zhang Jike Super ZLC’ or ‘Zhang Jike ZLC’. The top layer of ‘Zhang Jike’ series is ‘Koto’.)

Tibhar Hybrid ZC 05
Fig.05 Tibhar ‘Cedric Nuytinck’

‘Cedric Nuytinck’ is relatively slower one in ‘Hybrid ZC’ series. But, of course it is a fast blade. It is just ‘relatively’ slower than ‘Kinetic Speed’. It is expected that ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ will be softer and more comfortable than ‘Kinetic Speed’.

The shape and placement of gold-colored Aluminum nameplate of ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ are identical to those of ‘Kinetic Speed’. But, the graphic design of handle and the printing on the head is not identical. One vertical black line on red-colored handle body is much simpler than complex graphic of the handle of ‘Kinetic Speed’. On the head ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ and small mark of the color of Belgian National flag are printed.

Tibhar Hybrid ZC 06
Fig.06 Construction of Tibhar ‘Cedric Nuytinck’

Blade construction of ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ is also based on typical ‘5+2 ply outer fiber’ construction. But again, it is not common, as the construction of ‘Kinetic Speed’ isn’t common. ‘Limba’ instead of ‘Ayous’ is being used as the second wood layer of ‘Cedric Nuytinck’. ‘Limba’ is softer than ‘Koto’, and harder than ‘Ayous’.

Top layer is ‘Limba’, and ‘PBO Carbon (= Zylon Carbon)’ is placed under top layer. Center layer is ‘Kiri’ which is common for 5+2 ply outer fiber construction. Overall thickness is 5.7~5.8mm. The only one difference between ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ and ‘Kinetic Speed’ is in the second wood layer. ‘Limba’ is being used for ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ while ‘Koto’ is being used for ‘Kinetic Speed’.

Tibhar Hybrid ZC 07
Fig.07 Tibhar ‘Hybrid ZC’ series

You may expect that ‘Kinetic Speed’ is close to ‘Zhang Jike ZLC (or Super ZLC)’ and ‘Cedric Nuytinck is close to ‘Mizutani Jun ZLC (or Super ZLC)’. However, due to the difference of wood materials at top layers or second layers, we can’t easily expect the similarity between a blade and another blade. So let’s examine the mechanical characteristics of ‘Kinetic Speed’ and ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ for further understanding, and also compare those to some existing blades. Five blades with ‘5+2 ply outer fiber construction’ as follows will be compared with two ‘Hybrid ZC’ blades :

  • Butterfly ‘Zhang Jike Super ZLC’
  • Butterfly ‘Zhang Jike ZLC’
  • Butterfly ‘Mizutani Jun ZLC’
  • Butterfly ‘InnerForce Layer ZLC’
  • Tibhar ‘VS Unlimited’

Four Butterfly blades were selected because those are ‘ZLC’ or ‘Super ZLC’ blades. Unfortunately ‘Mizutani Jun Super ZLC’ couldn’t has been measured yet. Tibhar ‘VS Unlimited’ was selected because it is a Tibhar fiber blades with ‘5+2 ply outer fiber construction’ and Limba top layer, although its fiber is not ‘ZLC’ but ‘Aramid Carbon’ which is similar to ‘ALC’.

Performance Indices will be used for the comparison. Concerning the detail of four performance indices, please refer to following articles in ‘Background’ section :

 

 


2. Lab Test (Comparison by Performance Indices)

Tibhar Hybrid ZC 08 G01
Fig.08 Comparison by Elasticity Indices

Fig.08 shows the comparison graph of Elasticity Indices of two new ‘Hybrid ZC’ blades and five other fiber blades including four Butterfly ‘ZLC(or Super ZLC)’ blades.

Ep (Primary Elasticity Index) is directly concerned with the rebound speed of blade. Ec (Central Elasticity Index) is concerned with additional ‘kick’ when player hits ball very hard. The Ep and the Ec of ‘Kinetic Speed’ are 2.20 and 2.15 respectively. And, the Ep and the Ec of ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ are 2.02 and 1.89 respectively. By the examination of Ep’s, we can notice that ‘Kinetic Speed’ is about 10% faster than ‘Cedric Nuytinck’. And, the difference between Ec’s is bigger than the difference between Ep’s.

With Ep = 2.20, ‘Kinetic Speed’ is a quite fast blade. It is not as fast as ‘Zhang Jike Super ZLC’ whose Ep = 2.55. But, it is a bit faster than ‘Zhang Jike ZLC’ whose Ep = 2.11. Also, it is  a bit slower than ‘Mizutani Jun ZLC’ whose Ep = 2.24. Just a bit. Interestingly Ec of ‘Kinetic Speed’ is same as that of ‘Zhang Jike Super ZLC’. (But, the value of Ec itself is not much important. Ec/Ep is more important than Ec itself.)

Although ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ is slower than ‘Kinetic Speed’, it is still categorized as fast blade. With Ep = 2.02, ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ is faster than ‘InnerForce Layer ZLC’ whose Ep = 1.90, while ‘InnerForce ZLC’ is noticeably thicker than ‘Cedric Nuytinck’. That is the advantage of ‘outer fiber’ construction. The loss of elasticity is noticeable in the blades with ‘inner fiber’ construction such as ‘InnerForce Layer ZLC’.

From Fig.08, we may think that ‘Kinetic Speed’ is close to ‘Zhang Jike ZLC’ but a bit faster, and ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ can be placed between ‘Mizutani Jun ZLC’ and ‘InnerForce Layer ZLC’.

Also from Fig.08, we can notice that ‘VS Unlimited’ is somewhat unique. Its speed is in between ‘Kinetic Speed’ and ‘Cedric Nuytinck’. However, its Ec is very high. Ec = 2.26 is the highest value of Ec in this comparison. ‘VS Unlimited’ is the only one blade in this comparison whose Ec is bigger than its Ep.

 

Examining Ec/Ep is also a easier way to understand the tendency of elasticity of blades. Fig.09 shows the relationship between Ec/Ep and Ep.

Tibhar Hybrid ZC 09 G02
Fig.09 Ec/Ep vs. Ep

Ec/Ep expresses the ‘tendency’ of the elasticity of blade. By examining Ec/Ep and Ep at the same time, we can easily understand the behavior of blades.

On the graph, all blades except for ‘VS Unlimited’ are in ‘Hold’ range (Ec/Ep < 1.0). But, ‘Kinetic Speed’ is close to 1.0. It means that the response of ‘Kinetic Speed’ on strong impact input is close to linear. ‘Kinetic Speed’ holds ball slightly when player hits ball very strongly. It holds ball. But, the amount of hold is very small. Players will be able to predict the result of impact input precisely, without regard to the strength of impact input.

‘Cedric Nuytinck’, ‘Zhang Jike ZLC’ and ‘InnerForce Layer ZLC’ are also in ‘Mild Hold’ range although those three are not as close to horizontal line that Ec/Ep = 1.00 as ‘Kinetic Speed’.

From this graph, we can notice that ‘Kinetic Speed’ is quite close to ‘Zhang Jike ZLC’. It is much different from ‘Zhang Jike Super ZLC’ which is in ‘Deep Hold’ range. ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ is not placed between ‘Mizutani Jun ZLC’ and ‘InnerForce Layer ZLC’ but between ‘Zhang Jike ZLC’ and ‘InnerForce Layer ZLC’.

 

 

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

Tibhar Hybrid ZC 10 G03
Fig.10 Comparison by Vibration Indices

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.

The Vp of ‘Kinetic Speed’ is 1.45. It is quite high value in this comparison. Only Vp of ‘VS Unlimited’ is higher that that value. On the contrary the Vp of ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ (= 1.33) is similar to Vp’s of Butterfly ZLC outer fiber trio – ‘Zhang Jike Super ZLC’, ‘Zhang Jike ZLC’ and ‘Mizutani Jun ZLC’.

The Vl of ‘Kinetic Speed’ is 1.56, and it is also the highest value of Vp in this comparison. The Vl of ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ is 1.32, and it is a bit lower than the Vl’s of ‘Zhang Jike ZLC’ (= 1.39) and ‘Mizutani Jun ZLC’ (= 1.37). And, also it is similar to the Vl of ‘VS Unlimited’ (= 1.33).

We can notice that the feeling of ‘Kinetic Speed’ is quite hard or sharp, and the feeling of ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ is somewhat moderate as the feeling of 5+2 ply outer fiber blade.

‘InnerForce Layer ZLC’ shows relatively low values of Vp and Vl (= 1.24 and 1.21 relatively). It means that the feeling of a blade with ‘inner fiber’ construction becomes soft. It is noticeably lower than the Vp or Vl of other blades in comparison graph.

 

 

Examining Vl/Vp is easier way for the comparison of the tendency of feeling. Fig.11 shows the relationship between Vl/Vp and Vp for easier comparison.

Tibhar Hybrid ZC 11 G04
Fig.11 Vl/Vp vs. Vp

On the graph of Vl/Vp, four blades are in ‘relatively sharper at finger’ range (Vl/Vp > 1.0), and the other three blades are in ‘relatively more comfortable at finger’ range (Vl/Vp < 1.0). But, no blade in this comparison shows extreme value of Vl/Vp. All blades in this comparison can be considered as ‘Near Uniform’.

At first, ‘Kinetic Speed’ shows relatively high value of Vl/Vp in this comparison although the value doesn’t exceed 1.1. It means that ‘Kinetic Speed’ gives relatively sharper feeling at finger, but the difference of feeling is not apparent.

The Vl/Vp of ‘Kinetic Speed’ is similar to that of ‘Zhang Jike Super ZLC’. Players may think that the feeling of ‘Kinetic Speed’ is similar to the feeling of ‘Zhang Jike Super ZLC’ although ‘Kinetic Speed’ (Vp = 1.45) is harder than ‘Zhang Jike Super ZLC’ (Vp = 1.37). Also, for most of players the feeling of ‘Kinetic Speed’ will be noticeably different from that of ‘VS Unlimited’ although those two blades are similar to each other in primary hardness that is concerned with Vp.

Then let’s examine ‘Cedric Nuytinck’. The Vl/Vp of ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ is very close to the horizontal line that expresses Vl/Vp = 0.0. It means that the feeling of ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ is almost uniform. The blades those are close to ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ in feeling are ‘Mizutani Jun ZLC’, ‘Zhang Jike ZLC’ and ‘InnerForce Layer ZLC’. Maybe players feel that ‘Zhang Jike ZLC’ is more different from the other three – ‘Mizutani Jun ZLC’, ‘InnerForce Layer ZLC’ and ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ – because its top layer is different from the top layer of the other three. (Koto is the top layer of ‘Zhang Jike ZLC’ while Limba is the top layer of the other three.) We may consider that ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ is similar to but a bit harder & faster than ‘InnerForce Layer ZLC’.

 

 

By the examination of Vibration Indices, we can conclude that ‘Kinetic Speed’ is a fast blade whose elasticity is close to ‘Zhang Jike ZLC’ and whose feeling is close to ‘Zhang Jike Super ZLC’. And, ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ can be a harder & faster replacement of ‘InnerForce Layer ZLC’. But, please remember that two new ‘Hybrid ZC’ blades are unique from their plywood constructions, and therefore any model of ‘Hybrid ZC’ series has its own character that is different from any other existing blade.

 

Tibhar Hybrid ZC 12
Fig.12 Tibhar ‘Hybrid ZC’ series

 


3. Summary

Tibhar ‘Hybrid ZC’ series is a new blade family whose main issue is the use of ‘PBO carbon’, i.e. ‘Zylon Carbon (= ZLC)’. ‘Hybrid ZC’ series consists of two models – ‘Kinetic Speed’ and ‘Cedric Nuytinck’. The characteristics of ‘Kinetic Speed’ and ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ can be summarized as follows :

  • ‘Kinetic Speed’ is relatively faster one between two models of ‘Hybrid ZC’ series. It is faster than most of existing ZLC blades including ‘Zhang Jike ZLC’. But, it is not as fast as ‘Zhang Jike Super ZLC’. ‘Kinetic Speed’ doesn’t especially hold ball deep or kick ball strongly when player hits ball very strongly. Its response on impact input is close to ‘linear’.
  • ‘Kinetic Speed’ gives hard and sharp feeling. It is harder than many other blades in this comparison. And, its distribution of feeling is categorized as ‘a bit sharper at finger than at palm’. Some players may feel that ‘Kinetic Speed’ is similar to ‘Zhang Jike Super ZLC’ in feeling because of similar values of Vl/Vp.
  • ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ is relatively slower on between two models of ‘Hybrid ZC’ series. But, it is also a fast blade. ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ is faster than ‘InnerForce Layer ZLC’. Differently from ‘Kinetic Speed’, ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ moderately holds ball when player hits ball very strongly.
  • ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ isn’t a soft blade, although it is softer than ‘Kinetic Speed’. It is as hard as ‘Zhang Jike ZLC’ and ‘Mizutani Jun ZLC’. And, it is noticeably harder than ‘InnerForce Layer ZLC’. The distribution of feeling of ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ is almost uniform.

 

The difference between ‘Kinetic Speed’ and ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ is apparent. With higher elasticity and harder feeling, ‘Kinetic Speed’ is a very fast blade for power-oriented play. It will be suitable for players who lay importance on the speed and the power of topspin. I expect that ‘Kinetic Speed’ will not be bad for smash because its Ec is sufficiently high. ‘Cedric Nuytinck’ is a fast blade for continuous topspin or all-round play. With its relatively moderate elasticity and the character of holding ball at strong impact, it will be able to be compared with ‘Mizutani Jun ZLC’ or ‘InnerForce Layer ZLC’.

Tibhar Hybrid ZC 13

Tibhar Hybrid ZC 14

Tibhar Hybrid ZC 15

Tibhar Hybrid ZC 16

 

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