ALC blades comparison by coach Truong Tu Butterfly Table Tennis
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ALC blades comparison by coach Truong Tu

(By Truong Tu)

I have received many questions regarding the differences between some of the Butterfly ALC blades (including LIN GAOYUAN ALC, MATSUDAIRA KENTA ALC, TIMO BOLL ALC, TIMO BOLL SPIRIT, ZHANG JIKE ALC, and VISCARIA.  Throughout my table tennis career, I have played with both the Viscaria the Lin Gaoyuan blades. I have previously written an article reviewing the Lin Gaoyuan in the link below:

https://butterflyonline.com/lin-gaoyuan-alc-review-by-coach-truong-tu/

Blade reviews aren’t perfect – as I am often only able to test for a few hitting hours.  With that in mind, here are a few of the differences that I would like to point out.

VISCARIA is the first ALC blade model introduced in 1993 followed by TIMO BOLL SPIRIT (2000), TIMO BOLL ALC (2008), ZHANG JIKE ALC (2013), MATSUDAIRA KENTA ALC (2015), and LIN GAOYUAN ALC (2019).  Each of these blades are designed for an attacking style.  Each contains 5 plies of Wood and 2 plies of Arylate Carbon. Arylate-Carbon is an innovation from Butterfly that combines hardness with ball control.

These blades feature the benefits of both Carbon and Arylate. That is, the speed and large sweet spot of Carbon combined with the great vibration control and soft feel of Arylate. This is ideal blade technology.

The average weight for these blades are 87 grams for the LIN GAOYUAN and TIMO BOLL SPIRIT, 86 grams for the ZHANG JIKE ALC, 85 grams for the MATSUDAIRA KENTA ALC and VISCARIA, and the lightest is the TIMO BOLL ALC at 84 grams. The reason I bring up the weight comparison is because weight directly affects power – in addition to affecting most others elements of the blade; the heavier the blade – the more power behind your shot.

Here is my ranking of these 6 blades for these key elements:

SPEED

  1. ZHANG JIKE ALC
  2. TIMO BOLL ALC
  3. TIMO BOLL SPIRIT
  4. LIN GAOYUAN ALC
  5. MATSUDAIRA KENTA ALC / VISCARIA

CONTROL

  1. VISCARIA
  2. MATSUDAIRA KENTA ALC
  3. LIN GAOYUAN ALC
  4. TIMO BOLL SPIRIT
  5. ZHANG JIKE ALC / TIMO BOLL ALC

VIBRATION

  1. LIN GAOYUAN ALC
  2. VISCARIA
  3. MATSUDAIRA KENTA ALC
  4. TIMO BOLL SPIRIT
  5. TIMO BOLL ALC
  6. ZHANG JIKE ALC

Another difference to note is the handle shape. The MATSUDAIRA KENTA ALC has the smallest handle of these blades while the TIMO BOLL ALC handle is the most squared and rounded. The shape and length of the handle also make a different on the weight distribution of the blade.  If the handle is smaller and shorter, the blade tends to be more head-heavy which is preferred by strong-attacking style players compared to the well-balanced-weight blades which are preferred by control players.

In terms of feeling, the ZHANG JIKE ALC and TIMO BOLL ALC have a harder feel when hitting the ball; TIMO BOLL SPIRIT is in the middle, and the rest have a softer feel.

Overall, these blades are pretty similar to each other although each has some unique characteristics. Remember that there are no identical blades even when the blade is the same model, from the same factory, or even made the same day .Therefore, my recommendation would be to go with the one that feels best in your hand when holding, hitting, and playing.

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