1.  Introduction – Cybershape series

Fig.01 Stiga ‘Cybershape’ series

Stiga ‘Cybershape’ series is the top blade family of current blade range of Stiga. It consists of two models – ‘Cybershape Carbon’ and ‘Cybershape Wood’. ‘Cybershape Carbon’ was launched at the beginning of 2022, and became a huge hit as it became more widely known as Truls Möregårdh who uses it performed well in international competitions. And, its all-wood version – ‘Cybershape Wood’ was launched one year later. You can see more detailed pictures of ‘Cybershape’ sereis from the article, ‘Stiga Cybershape sereis – Photos‘.

Fig.02 Stiga ‘Cybershape Carbon’

‘Cybershape Carbon’ is currently the flagship model of Stiga blade range. It is famous as the blade of Truls Möregårdh. We can see many unique design elements in Cybershape Carbon that sets it apart from other blades. For example, heptagon-shaped head, all-black coloring and the Aluminum plate with chameleon paint.

Fig.03 The construction of ‘Cybershape Carbon’

The blade construction of ‘Cybershape Carbon’ is categorized as ‘inner-fiber’ construction. Woven carbon fiber is placed between the middle layer and the center layer. Top layer is Koto dyed in black. Overall thickness is around 6.2mm.

Fig04. Stiga ‘Cybershape Wood’

‘Cybershape Wood’ is positioned as the entry model of Cybershape series. It is softer, slower and cheaper than ‘Cybershape Carbon’. It is being recommended for ambitious starters, while ‘Cybershape Carbon’ is recommended for skilled players.

Fig.05 The construction of ‘Cybershape Wood’

‘Cybershape Wood’ is a 5-ply wood blade. Top layer is Limba. And, overall thickness is over 6.0mm. It is thicker than usual 5-ply wood construction. However, relatively softer Kiri wood is used as center layer of ‘Cybershape Wood’ instead of relatively harder Ayous wood which is used for ordinary 5-ply wood blades. It is expected that this softer center layer will reduce its elasticity and hardness.

Fig.06 Cybershape head vs. normal head

‘Cybershape’ means the very unique head shape of this series. Above picture shows the comparison between Cybershape head and normal head. Stiga is explaining that the advantage of Cybershape head is (1) increased hitting area’ and (2) bigger sweet spot. Another advantage explained by Stiga is that the hitting area is closer to the table surface, and it makes the on-table technics more effective. From above picture we can see that the widest part of Cybershape head is above the center of head, while the widest part of conventional (= normal) head is under the center of head. And, in most of table tennis technics we hit the ball above the center of head. That is the simple reason why Cybershape has bigger hitting area. Also, in case the overall area of blade head is fixed, the greater the distance between the handle and the widest part of head, the wider the sweet spot. That is the reason why Cybershape has bigger sweet spot.

2. Blades to be compared

‘Cybershape’ series consists of an inner-fiber blade and a 5-ply wood blade. So we can compare some famous inner-fiber blades and 5-ply wood blades with ‘Cybershape’ series. Eight inner-fiber blades were selected for the comparison with ‘Cybershape Carbon’ and five 5-ply wood blades including reference blade (= Stiga Allround Classic) were selected for the comparison with ‘Cybershape Wood’. Also, as the reference, two outer-fiber blades will be compared at the same time.

Folloing is the list of the inner-fiber blades to be compared :

  • Butterfly ‘InnerForce Layer ZLC’ : inner ZLC
  • Butterfly ‘InnerForce Layer ALC’ : inner ALC, standard thickness
  • Butterfly ‘Harimoto ALC (= Harimoto Tomokazu InnerForce ALC)’ : inner ALC, thick construction
  • Tibhar ‘Shang Kun Hybrid ZC’ : inner ZLC
  • Tibhar ‘Shang Kun Hybrid AC’ : inner ALC, thick construction
  • DHS ‘Hurricane Long 5X’ : inner ALC, thick construction
  • DHS ‘Hurricane Long 5’ : inner ALC, standard thickness
  • Yasaka ‘Ma Lin Carbon’ : inner soft carbon

Folloing is the list of the 5-py wood blades to be compared :

  • Butterfly ‘Korbel’ : the representative of 5-ply wood offensive blade
  • Nittaku ‘Acoustic’ : 5-ply wood offensive blade
  • Stiga ‘Celero Wood’ : new 5-ply wood offensive blade from Stiga
  • Stiga ‘Energy Wood V2’ : renewed version of famous ‘Energy Wood’
  • Stiga ‘Allround Classic’ : the reference blade for performance indices

And, outer-fiber blades as the reference are :

  • Butterfly ‘Viscaria’ : the representative of outer-ALC blade
  • Stiga ‘Carbonado 190’ : Stiga outer-fiber blade that can be compared with ‘Viscaria’
Fig.07 Stiga ‘Cybershape’ series

Comparison will be done by performance indices. Concerning the detail of four performance indices, please refer to following articles in ‘About TTGearLab’ section :

3. Comparison by Performance Indices

Fig.08 Comparison by Elasticity Indices

Fig.08 shows the comparison graph of Elasticity Indices of two new blades and nine existing 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 first group of the graph shows two blades of ‘Cybershape’ series. The Ep and the Ec of ‘Cybershape Carbon’ are 2.14 and 1.86 respectively. And, the Ep and the Ec of ‘Cybershape Wood’ are 1.50 and 1.08 respectively. Although ‘Cybershape Carbon’ is an inner-fiber blade, it provides top level of elasticity in this comparison. Also, although the elasticity of ‘Cybershape Wood’ isn’t that high, it is sufficiently high as the elasticity of a five-ply wood blade.

The second group, third group and fourth group show the inner-fiber blades, the outer-fiber blades and the 5-ply wood blades respectively. The second group and the third group are for the comparison with ‘Cybershape Carbon’. And, the fourth group is for the comparison with ‘Cybershape Wood’.

We can compare the blades of the second group and the third group with ‘Cybershape Carbon’. The values of ‘Shang Kun Hybrid ZC’ and ‘Harimoto ALC’ those are known as fast inner-fiber blaes are as high as the values of ‘Cybershape Carbon’. ‘Cybershape Carbon’, ‘Shang Kun Hybrid ZC’ and ‘Harimoto ALC’ can be dealt as one group – very fast inner fiber blades. Those three blades are as fast as, or even more faster than outer-fiber blades in this comparison – Carbonado 190 and Viscaria. (Note : All the values in this comparison are average values. There can be a Viscaria whose Ep is higher than the Ep of ‘Cybershape Carbon’ if we compare many pcs. of blades in the market.)

Consequently we can compare the blades of the fourth group with ‘Cybershape Wood’. The Ep of Butterfly ‘Korbel’ is a bit higher than that of ‘Cybershape Wood’, but the difference is small. On the contrary, the Ec of ‘Cybershape Wood’ is much lower than that of ‘Korbel’. The Ep’s of ‘Acoustic’ and ‘Celero Wood’ are lower than that the Ep of ‘Cybershape Wood’. However, The Ec’s of those two blades are higher than that of ‘Cybershape Wood’. So it is expected that none among ‘Korbel’, ‘Acoustic’ and ‘Celero Wood’ is similar to ‘Cybershape Wood’. And, both of the Ep and the Ec of ‘Energy Wood V2’ are noticeably lower than those of ‘Cybershape Wood’. However, we can also notice that the relationship between Ec and Ep of ‘Energy Wood V2’ looks similar to that of ‘Cybershape Wood’. We may be able to consider ‘Cybershape Wood’ as the faster version of ‘Energy Wood V2’, even if we don’t think about the unique head shape of ‘Cybershape Wood’.

Examining Ec/Ep is also a easier way to understand the characteristics of blade concerned with elasticity. Fig.09 shows the relationship between Ec/Ep and Ep.

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 reference blade are in ‘Hold’ range (Ec/Ep < 1.0). And, both of ‘Cybershape Carbon’ and ‘Cybershape Wood’ are placed in ‘Deep Hold’ rage (Ec/Ep < 0.9). It means that both of ‘Cybershape Carbon’ and ‘Cybershape Wood’ hold ball very deep when player hit the ball very strongly. That makes continuous topspin at close-to-table area very easy and stable.

Between two models of ‘Cybershape’ series, ‘Cybershape Carbon’ is the more elastic version with relatively weaker hold characteristic. And, ‘Cybershape Wood’ is the less elastic version with relatively stronger hold characteristic.

‘Cybershape Carbon’ can be categorized into the group that includes ‘Shang Kun Hybrid ZC’, ‘Carbonado 190’ and ‘Harimoto ALC’ those are quite fast, but not extremely fast blades, and liked by top professional players. ‘Shang Kun Hybrid ZC’, ‘Carbonado 190’ and ‘Harimoto ALC’ are placed very close to ‘Cybershape Carbon’. And, ‘Viscaria’ can be also categorized into the same group, although if is a bit less close to ‘Cybershape Carbon’. From the position of ‘Cybershape Carbon’ we can easily imagine the purpose of ‘Cybershape Carbon’. The players who have used the fast professional blades such as ‘Carbonado 190’, ‘Shang Kun Hybrid ZC’, ‘Harimoto ALC’ and ‘Viscaria’ can consider ‘Cybershape Carbon’ when they want to adjust the character of their blades a bit. The players who have used slower fiber blades such as ‘Hurricane Long 5X’, ‘Shang Kun Hybrid AC’ and ‘InnerForce Layers ALC’ may feel that ‘Cybershape Carbon’ is noticeably faster than their current blades. (But, it will not be that difficult to adjust because there isn’t great difference of Ec/Ep.)

‘Cybershape Wood’ can be categorized into the group that includes some 5-ply wood blades. However, differently from ‘Cybershape Carbon’, ‘Cybershape Wood’ isn’t at the center of the group. It is noticeable that the Ec/Ep of ‘Cybershape Wood’ is extremely low. And, it makes ‘Cybershape Wood’ a very unique blade even in the group of 5-ply wood blades. ‘Cybershape Wood’ gives deeper ‘hold’ characteristic while it gives more elasticity than ‘Celery Wood’, ‘Energy Wood V2’ and ‘Acoustic’. When compared with ‘Korbel’, ‘Cybershape Wood’ holds ball deeper when player hits the ball very strongly. So, if the player wants deeper ‘hold’ characteristic while keeping the elasticity level of ‘Korbel’, ‘Cybershape Wood’ can be a very good choice.

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

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 first group of the graph shows two blades of ‘Cybershape’ series. The Vp and the Vl of ‘Cybershape Carbon’ are 1.33 and 1.48. And, the Vp and the Vl of ‘Cybershape Wood’ are 1.02 and 1.22. There are significant difference between the values of ‘Cybershape Carbon’ and those of ‘Cybershape Wood’. It is apparent that in this series ‘Cybershape Wood’ is the slower version for entry level players, and ‘Cybershape Carbon’ is the faster version for skilled players.

The second group, third group and fourth group show the inner-fiber blades, the outer-fiber blades and the 5-ply wood blades respectively. The second group and the third group are for the comparison with ‘Cybershape Carbon’. And, the fourth group is for the comparison with ‘Cybershape Wood’.

One interesting fact is that the Vp of ‘Cybershape Carbon’ is higher than the Vp’s of all blades in the second group (= inner-fiber) and the third gropu (= outer fiber). And, same goes to Vl. It means that the player may feel that ‘Cybershape Carbon’ is harder than any other blade in the comparison, even though it is an inner-fiber blade. Probably that is because of its material and thickness. Although ‘Cybershape Carbon’ is a kind of inner-fiber blade, its hard fiber (= woven carbon fiber), relatively hard top layer (= koto) and the thickness over 6.0mm make it quite hard blade.

In the comparison of ‘Cybershape Wood’ and the blades in the fourth (= 5-ply wood) group, the Vp of ‘Cybershape Wood’ (= 1.02) is one step lower than that of ‘Korbel’ and close to those of ‘Acoustic’ and ‘Celero Wood’. And, the Vl of ‘Cybershape Wood’ is close to those of ‘Acoustic’ and ‘Korbel’. Low Vp and relatively high Vl is the characteristic of the most of 5-ply wood blades, and ‘Cybershape Wood’ isn’t an exception. But, we can see that ‘Cybershape Wood’ shows more gap between Vp and Vl than ‘Acoustic’ and ‘Korbel’. This means that ‘Cybershape Wood’ provides very soft primary feeling while providing relatively sharper lateral feeling. There are two other blades those show this level of gap between Vp and Vl – ‘Energy Wood V2’ and ‘Hurricane Long 5’. Although there is noticeable difference of Vp, the change among ‘Energy Wood V2’, ‘Hurriance Long 5’ and ‘Cybershape Wood’ will not be that difficult.

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.

Fig.11 Vl/Vp vs. Vp

On the graph, all blades except for three (reference blade, ‘Innerforce Layer ZLC’ and ‘Harimoto ZLC’) are placed in ‘relatively sharper at finger’ range (Vl/Vp > 1.0). And, both of ‘Cybershape Carbon’ and ‘Cybershape Wood’ are in the range that Vl/Vp > 1.10. Differently speaking, the feeling transferred to index finger is relatively sharper than the base feeling transferred to palm, and that characteristic is noticeable. All 5-ply wood blades except for the reference blade are in this range. And, ‘Carbonado 190’, ‘ Hurrincane Long 5X’, ‘Shange Kun Hybrid ZC/AC’, shows similar level of Vl/Vp as ‘Cybershape Carbon’. If the Vl/Vp’s of two blades are similar to each other, the change between those two blades isn’t that difficult even though there is big difference of Vp. (That is same for Ec/Ep. So Ec/Ep and Vl/Vp are very important factors when a player searchs for a new blade for adjustment of performance.)

If we don’t think about the categorization by Vl/Vp but just group close blades, we can find two groups those include ‘Cybershape Carbon’ and ‘Cybershape Wood’ respectively. The group including ‘Cybershape Wood’ is placed at left top of the graph, and the group including ‘Cybershape Carbon’ is placed at right side of the graph.

The ‘left top’ group consists of 5-ply wood blades except for the reference blade, and Hurricane Long 5 which is an inner-ALC blade. As an inner-ALC blade, ‘Hurricane Long 5’ is a very unique blade. And, interestingly ‘Cybershape Wood’ is placed at very close position to ‘Hurricane Long 5’. Further, the Vl/Vp’s of ‘Hurricane Long 5’ and ‘Cybershape Wood’ are at similar level on the graph. So, we can expect that the change between ‘Hurricane Long 5’ and ‘Cybershape Wood’ will not be difficult. It will be even easier than the change between ‘Cybershape Wood’ and ‘Acoustic’ or ‘Korbel’.

The ‘right end’ group consists of four blades – ‘Cybershape Carbon’, ‘Viscaria’, ‘Carbonado 190’ and ‘Shang Kun Hybrid ZC’. However, ‘Cybershape Carbon’ isn’t placed at the center of the group, but at the right side of the group. Therefore, there exists noticeable diffence between ‘Cybershape Carbon’ and another blade in this group. Especially ‘Cybershape Carbon’ is harder than all other blades in this comparison. (But, some players will still feel that ‘Viscaria’ is harder than ‘Cybershape Carbon’. That is because the artificial fiber can be felt more directly from the ‘outer-fiber construction of ‘Viscaria’.) But, we can also notice that the Vl/Vp of ‘Cybershape Carbon’ is not much different from those of ‘Carbonado 190’ and ‘Shang Kun Hybrid ZC’. For that reason it will not be difficult for a player to change between two blades among ‘Shang Kun Hybrid ZC’, ‘Carbonado 190’ and ‘Cybershape Carbon’ because the Vl/Vp is more important than Vp when choosing a new blade that players can easily get used to.

Further, we can see the blades placed around the horizontal line of Vl/Vp = 1.10. ‘Celero Wood’, ‘Ma Lin Carbon’. ‘InnerForce Layer ALC’, ‘Carbonado 190’, ‘Shang Kun Hybrid ZC’ and ‘Cybershape Carbon’. It will not be difficult to adjust if a player replace the blade from one in those blade to another. The change from ‘Cybershape Wood’ to ‘Cybershape Carbon’ will require more effort because the difference between Vl/Vp of ‘Cybershape Wood’ and that of ‘Cybershape Carbon’ is noticeable. However, anyway those two blades are in the same ‘Relatively Sharper at Finger’ range. So there will not be significant difficulty in the adjustment.

4. Summary

Stiga ‘Cybershape’ series is the new blade family with innovative head shape. The characteristics of two blades can be summarized as follows :

  • ‘Cybershape Carbon’ is an inner-fiber blade. However, because of its fiber (= woven carbon fiber) and its relatively thick construction, it is as fast as some outer-fiber blades such as ‘Viscaria’ and ‘Carbonado 190’.
  • ‘Cybershape Carbon’ holds ball very deep when player hits ball very strongly. But, not extremely deep.
  • The feeling of ‘Cybershape Carbon’ is even harder than the outer-fiber blades in this comparison. However, players may feel that it is still softer than ‘Viscaria’ or ‘Carbonado 190’ because player feel the fiber less directly thanks to its inner-fiber construction.
  • ‘Cybershape Carbon’ is noticeably harder and faster than typical ‘inner-ALC’ blades such as ‘InnerForce Layer ALC’. Therefore it isn’t a direct competitor of typical inner-ALC blades. Instead, it can be good replacement of typical outer-ALC blades when player is searching for the blade with similar speed and less direct touch to fiber. However, nevertheless it can be the good replacement of inner-ALC blades or 5-ply wood blades in case player is searching for faster blade because it provides similar Ec/Ep and Vl/Vp as some 5-ply wood or inner-ALC blades.
  • ‘Cybershape Wood’ is a 5-ply wood blade whose construction is noticeably thicker than those of typical 5-ply wood blades. However, it provides moderate speed and soft feeling as some typical 5-ply wood blades thanks to its center layer which is softer than those of ordinary 5-ply wood blades.
  • ‘Cybershape Wood’ holds ball extremely deep when player hits ball very strongly. At the same time with its moderate elasticity, this character will provide players extreme level of safety. Only two blades in this comparison provide this level of extreme hold
  • ‘Cybershape Wood’ provide typical level of softness of the 5-ply wood blade. And, it provides relatively sharper feeling at finger. That is also the common characteristics of many 5-ply wood blades.
  • Thanks to its moderate elasticity and soft feeling, ‘Cybershape Wood’ can be the perfect solution for entry level players.

Although ‘Cybershape Carbon’ and ‘Cybershape Wood’ share the shape and design, there is big difference between those two blades in elasticity and feeling. It is apparent that ‘Cybershape Carbon’ is the blade for highly skilled players. But, for the players who are not highly skilled, ‘Cybershape Wood’ can be much better choice than ‘Cybershape Carbon’. ‘Cybershape Wood’ will be a good choice also fot skilled all-round players, while ‘Cybershape Carbon’ can be very good choice for aggressive offensive plaeyrs. Whichever between the two blades do the players choose, they will be able to enjoy the unique style and functional benefits provided by the innovative head shape.

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