(by Steve Hopkins)
The Harimoto Innerforce ALC Blade is on sale right now at ButterflyOnline.com.
The ALC have been among the best selling Butterfly Blades for years – the technology in the plies of the wood are proven technology. That said, the Harimoto Innerforce is a little different from the earlier ALC versions in the series.
The first thing you’ll notice after removing the packaging is the handle. The blue coloring makes it stand out, and its a little thinner in the center of the handle than the Viscaria (and some of the other popular ALC blades). The badge/logo on the handle is also different – most blades have a pretty large plastic badge and depending upon your handsize and style, that can affect your grip. The Harimoto badge on handle is small, and it includes the player’s personal logo which shows a bow and 3 arrows.
The specs of the blade are also a little different from most of the predecessor ALC blades. The playing surface is 1 mm taller and 2 mm wider (that is, if you places a sheet of rubber from another ALC blade on the Harimoto there would be 1 mm of extra space all the way around). The blade weighs in at 88g, so the extra playing surface does not negatively affect the weight. The other innovation is relayed through the “innerforce” name. The layers of Arylate carbon are found under two layers wood – other ALC blades have their carbon layers under a single layer of wood. This slight change in construction maintains the benefits of carbon within the layers but also provides additional feel – a little more like an all-wood blade.
In playing with the blade, it was smooth and consistent. There was very little to get used to (in my transition from a Viscaria ALC blade to the Harimoto Innerforce ALC). When striking the ball hard, the ball left the paddle in a very similar manner – though with a little softer feel. There was a bigger difference with soft touch shots – like serves and returns – where perhaps the ball did not penetrate as quickly to the hard carbon layer. This provided a soft touch with great feel. Perhaps the biggest difference was in very slow loops – such as lifting a long serve or opening against a chop – the soft outer layers combined with the slightly larger playing surface provided great opportunities to open with heavy spin.
Follow the lead of one of the most popular and exciting players on the tour, and try a new twist on one of Butterfly’s best blades with the Harimoto Innerforce ALC blade.