BUTTERFLY BRYCE / ASTI LIGHTSPEED SP TEST
February 5th, 1999
Just in from the West Coast, international table tennis celebrity Don Iguana stopped by the Western Maryland Table Tennis Club last night and participated in the "Great Bryce/LightSpeed SP Hot Rod Rubber Road Test."
It was great to see him, travellin' light, fresh skin, without his entourage and all the press. Don is really a good guy and showed it, ignoring most of us and showing off his no look, no swing serve to the club juniors. A true statesman, the lovable Silurian put national politics on the back burner and helped out with club equipment test.
Our favorite reptile "went natural" for the test using his vast experience to help compare two hot, stiff sponge, sticky top sheet rubbers, unglued and unleashed.
Here's the test rig:
Rubber: Fresh from the pack Bryce Red 2.1 and LightSpeed SP Black 2.2 on opposite sides of the same blade.
Attachment: Once primed with ASTI EX and try tack mounted to an EX coated blade, rolled and stored (fully assembled) for 24 hours before the test.
Blade: Butterfly Krenga 85 grams without rubber, 171 grams fully shod
Both of these rubbers are very linear compared to glued combinations. At low impact both feel somewhat stiff and the speed of response increased predictably with harder stroking. The LightSpeed, subjectively, seems to have more "gears", responding more precisely to small low speed inputs. The Bryce is faster (more throw) at low impact and has a somewhat more geometric response to increased ball impact.
Both rubbers have low profile pips and very thin base sheets, allowing them to get grip on the ball even with sponge that is in a real hurry to send the ball away.
Neither of these rubbers are looking for a long relationship with the ball! Looping and countering at mid speed (flipping the racket without looking down to determine which side was being used) it was quite hard to tell any difference in dwell time. Second time through, knowing which side was which, Don seemed to think that the LightSpeed, having just a little less inherent "throw" and a very grippy surface, allowed its user more time with the ball for controlled spinning and counterlooping.
As discussed above, LightSpeed SP falls on the spinnier side of this equation and Bryce generates a faster, lower arc loop. Both rubbers make it very clear to the user that this is not soft sponge and if you're gonna spin you better have some MPH and some forward motion on the blade when it meets the ball.
Generally, the Bryce loop penetrated more, yielding more clean winners in a repeated loop/block drill than the LightSpeed. Looping with Bryce also yields an occasional "Bryce ball" that just flies long with very little provocation.
Lightspeed's spin component was very controllable and forced more blocks long off the table, but carried fewer balls through as clean winners.
BLOCKING / HITTING
The strength of both rubbers for sure. As indicated above, the LightSpeed SP responds more directly the stroking energy of the users. It seemed quite easy to control the speed of blocks and counterstrokes. You can decide when to hit hard and when not to. This is, however, where Bryce's "new envelope" shines. It makes a cracking sound upon solid contact that is perceptibly sharper and louder than the LightSpeed. Whatever the physics of Butterfly's stored energy claim, this a bad-ass fast sheet of rubber at the table. It is very hard to make Byrce "top out" when killing, it doesn't have as many gears as LightSpeed, but it has unlimited top end.
If one pushed for a living, you would probably eat better with LightSpeed SP. It's predictability and linear response to input shows through here, too.
Surprising, somewhat. Don was guessing that the LightSpeed would also respond best to service input due to it's good low speed feel...but serve for serve, Bryce seemed to generate more extreme spins, lower and shorter bounces and the differences between look-alike variations was more extreme as well.
These sheets of rubber are both on the same page. A player acclimated to one or the other could switch with little adjustment and likely little difference in match outcomes.
Bryce, IMHO, is the faster and higher performing of the two as an unglued offensive tool. But it is really in question whether the benefits for the average player are worth the miscues that invariably result from this new envelope of speed and unglued spin. LightSpeed SP is more user friendly and speed responsive.
Other factors may also merit consideration.
Bryce is a least twice as expensive, but is quite durable and my other six month old sheet is still quite sticky and good in appearance. ASTI's LightSpeed SP is a strong performer at a great price from an American manufacturer.
All in all, kudos to Waqidi for a quality product. We'll keep the blade together and report later on lifespan.
Last Update : 06 November, 2002
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