Friday, July 20, 2007

The elusive DHS Hurricane National / Provincial version rubbers

There is no doubt that the DHS hurricane II and III rubbers are one of the most popular in the world. No doubt the marketing and sponsoring by DHS has a lot to do with this, but the fact the many of the top Chinese players use this rubber does indicate that they have some very good properties.

It is well known that the top Chinese players may not be using the same version as the commercial version that’s available to the public. DHS has special versions of the hurricane rubbers for their Provincial and National team players. Whether these rubbers are actually manufactured differently, or whether they are hand-picked as the best ones from the production of the standard version is unknown. However according to DHS they ARE hand picked from the normal production run.

The standard commercial versions have an orange sponge for both the red and black rubbers. It is well known that there is significant variation in sponge hardness between batch to batch, or possible within each batch. This is due to different cuts of the sponge mass being used to make the individual rubbers. Sponge hardness varies within the sponge mass before the individual sponges are cut off.

DHS also produce a special commercial version with a blue sponge. This one is only made in black, because the red topsheet is too translucent, so a dark sponge would darken the red significantly, most likely beyond what’s allowed under ITTF regulations. This blue sponge is known to be a little softer and more flexible, and also reacts better with speed glue. This version is not as commonly available as it’s not part of their normal production runs.

Among DHS fans there is always talk about the national and provincial version. According to those that have tried the ‘real thing’, the sheets appear of better quality, are more flexible and have a softer sponge. There are special markings on the sponge indicating that these are special version, but the markings don’t always seem the same. They also do not come in the standard packaging, which makes sense as these rubbers are not commercially sold, so fancy packaging is not required. However there are also a lot of fakes sheet around which try to mimic the characteristics and markings on the rubber.

DHS used to sell their topsheets separately. This made it easy for the less reputable companies to add their own cheap sponge and markings, and sell it for a lot more than the commercial version. After this had been going on for several years, DHS recently decided to stop selling the topsheets separately, in order to cut down on the number of fake sheet around. There are however still a lot of fake sheets around.

According to DHS, the provincial and national versions of the hurricane rubbers are not sold to the public at all. They are only GIVEN to the national and provincial teams for their personal use. Of course there is always a big temptation for these players to make a quick buck, and sell these rubbers to other players and retailers, so this is how these rubbers find their way to the public.

According to DHS most of the provincial and national rubbers out there for sale are indeed fakes. In the last year or so more and more of these rubbers are sold by some online retailers and even on EBay, all of course claiming them to be genuine. According to DHS these rubbers were not supplied to them by DHS, and the number of provincial and national version are quite limited, so chances are that these rubbers are not genuine. As some of these sellers are known to be quite reputable, and sell many other genuine items, it is most likely that they themselves believe the rubbers are genuine. Whether they are genuine or not, we cannot be sure.

There are ways of making the commercial versions a lot more like the provincial/national versions… ;

One way is to speed glue them… with enough layers to really soften them up. After this has been done a number of times, the sheet become more flexible and the sponge softer permanently… making it play a lot closer to the provincial/national version.

Another way is to use the ‘super priming’ method which is described here:
Super priming - gluing guide
This certainly has a permanent effect and works very well. It works best on the blue sponge version, but still works very well ont he orange sponged version too. This is certainly a much cheaper way of getting a hurricane rubber softer and more flexible, and a lot more like the provincial/national version… and best of all you don’t have to worry about whether is genuine or not!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Super Priming your rubbers - Giving your rubbers a boost!

A lot of players see the task of gluing rubbers to a blade as meaningless procedure simply to attach the rubbers. They will also often find that rubbers take a long to time be ‘worn in’, meaning it takes quite a number of sessions for the rubber to reach peak performance.

However some applications of table tennis glue and the right procedure, you can get the best performance out of your rubber almost immediately, and may well give you performance that you did not think possible! See here for more details:

Ultimate guide to priming and gluing - Super priming

Monday, July 09, 2007

Review XIOM Guillotine .S long pimple Part 2

I testing it on my Stiga Energy wood WRB, finally had a chance to try it:

In general this rubber has very good control, and is an excellent alround long pimple rubber. The 1.0mm medium soft sponge gave the rubber soft feel and it felt springy, but it did not suffer that much in the short game...

Return of serve: Control was pretty good, was a little sensitive to incoming spin, but not bad at all. This rubber has real good grip... the harder to brush the better the grip.
Generate spin: I did not feel I could generate a lot of spin with this rubber on serves, although the fact that it's almost a year old might be a big factor. You need to dig the ball in a little further to get more spin.

Blocking against loops: Control is good for this, and produced a good sink effect. It reminded me a bit of the Curl TSP p1-r 0.6mm although it was faster and more lively. I could actually feel the tensor effect in the sponge... felt quite nice and seemed to enhance control.The bat face must be closed a little, and a forward movement is required, and this could produce fairly fast balls with decent sink...very effective. Even on more passive shots the ball did not grip as much as it does on many other grippy pip...

Chopping against loops: This rubber really shines here and offered excellent control. The grip felt really good and allowed me to manipulate the spin real well. The spin reversal was very good. I did find it a little fast, which is probably due to the 1.0mm sponge, whereas I'm used to 0.6mm. The 1.0mm makes it more dangerous but sacrifises some control. I could produce some vicious sidespin chop against a spinny loop...very dangerous.

Attacking and hitting: Well it surprised me a little here... it was amazingly good for hitting... a bit similar to Curl p2... felt more like a short pip in this respect...and the grip allowed you generate some topspin to keep it down. Again I felt that nice clicky feel that tensors give you. It can produce decent spin when you dig the ball into the sponge, but not much when you brush it more softly...this is a exactly what you want for good spin manipulation or deception.

In conclusion this is a very versatile rubber and does not have any real weaknesses, but with 1.0mm sponge it requires a bit more skill to master it, so it's more suitable for intermediate to high level players. It suits choppers more than close-to-the-table blockers, but it's excellent for attacking high balls to put them away.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Review XIOM Guillotine .S long pimple

A friend (thanks Greggy) kindly lend me his sheet of XIOM Guillotine.S 1.0mm black. Here are my first impression, followed by a review when I've had a chance to try it.

The sheet looks of good quality, and in very good condition considering it's almost a year old! Pimple are long and narrow, probably a bit shorter than max length. tips are rough and quite grippy. The pips are fairly soft, probably not quite as soft as Cloud & Fog III or Dawei 388d-1, but definitely softer than my galaxy 955. Running my finger over the tips it feels very grippy, meaning you can probably generate decent spin with this rubber. Bounching a ball on it it also feels quite bounchy.

I immediately noticed the tensor mark on the topsheet, meaning that at least the sponge, or possible the whole rubber is made in Germany. The sponge feel a little firm, but not hard. I would expect it to be more of a choppers rubber away from the table, because of the soft grippy pips, but the tensor sponge my well give it some decent attacking ability. I will probably play similar to something like JUIC Leggy or cloud & Fog III...although the sponge may bring some surprises...

I will see when I try it.... to be continued....