Butterfly Zhang Jike Super ZLC



A month ago I received my ZJ SZLC (flared handle) from Japan via USPS Express (not a fun experience.) Before I get to the review a brief introduction will show you my personal perspective: I am currently at around 1600 level and I play in a good club, at home with two regular partners, and practice with my dual wheel robot with LCD controls allowing alternating combinations of spin.

REVIEW: The blade arrived in a gold color box as shown in some preliminary reviews. It appeared just as in the photographs at Butterflyonline. It weighed 87.2g — on the lower side of the range. I placed 2.1 Tenergy 05 on both sides and compared it to my Timo Boll Spirit with 2.0 Tenergy 05 on each side. I did compare the feel to TB ZLC as well and to few other blades but those appeared to be apples to the orange and will not be discussed. Weight with the rubber on is 183.2g which is just over 2g more then the TBS (straight handle).

The first thing one noticed was the sound when the ball made contact with the paddle — it was a little lower pitch than TBS on average but very similar overall.

The second thing I looked into was the sweet spot (so much hyped about). My quick “test” consisted of placing various parts of the paddle face in the way of the ball as delivered by the robot. I compared five points with TBS: Tip, base (close to handle), top and bottom, and middle. The angle of the paddle stayed the same so I could compare the length and height of the bounce. ZJ SZLC showed remarkable consistency. Not so for the TBS — the base ball bounced farther, the tip and sides — closer than the middle. Truly impressive I thought.

Third on my mind was the feel (combination of hardness, stiffness, recoil, balance, vibration etc.) For me feel is related to control. Interestingly, my initial and overall impression is that TBS allows me much better feel. I could afford to get a little distracted during robot forehand drive rallies (some of which were set to hit the top of the net once in a while) and not miss a beat. With ZJ SZLC I had to pay very close attention (some of this may be due to comparing old T05 2.0 rubber to new T05 2.1 rubber.) I wanted to find out what gave the paddle this little “numbness”. I checked the paddle movement upon contact with the ball while held firmly. It appeared that the ball made the top of the TBS paddle move (flex) back upon contact. This happened for all points of contact, including top (to a greater degree), bottom, and sweet-spot. That seemed like it should have been an undesirable effect. ZJ SZLC behaved differently. It showed very little of that flex even when the top was hit.

Fourth in order was to look into the result of the above test (feel) and find out what this back-deflection meant. After some more robot hits I supposed that the deflection might had to do not with flex but more with blade balance and as well as the mechanics of the handle and grip (straight for TBS and flared for ZJ SZLC). With ZJ SZLC the back-deflection involved all of the paddle and was felt at the wrist and not the fingers (as with TBS.) Attention to this wrist push-back allowed me to get more feel for the paddle.

Fifth in order was to check, somewhat objectively, the decreased feel of ZJ SZLC. I expected less accuracy and consistency. For the purpose I placed two paddles on the left and right side of the table and counted the hits while the robot was delivering a no-spin or top-spin ball. This was not close — I was a lot more accurate with the ZJ SZLC. At some level that made sense – if the back-deflection with TBS gave me the “feel” then it would have also made it less accurate in drives (not in loops I guess).

Sixth, ZJ SZLC did better in BH loops and drives (may be due to rubber). It also delivered a faster ball. That allowed me a shortened FH loop stroke – even far from the table – important at my age to save the shoulder and allowing me a good return even if a little late when close to the table.

Seventh: So what did ZJ SZLC not do better than TBS? Short ball. This was seen in serve return, and in net saves. I felt I had a pretty good touch with TBS with no effort and relaxed wrist. Never had to think about those. Not so with ZJ SZLC. I have to relearn and get better than I was in order to use ZJ SZLC in a game. Short return serve is critical and TBS did better — both in US return and flicks.

So, in summary: Would I recommend it given the price? In short — yes. The lower level players (like myself) may benefit more than higher level players from the increased accuracy with the larger sweet-spot. They may buy some time for deficient footwork and ball anticipation errors. The higher level players may be able to place even more devastating FH attacks (some at the club were very surprised by what seemed my very new and aggressive game style with the ZJ SZLC). What are the challenges with this paddle? – Short ball (meaning double bounce serves) and timing loop kills (not for any other reason but the fast speed exaggerates any timing issues.)

I hope this helps. Eager to hear what other players think.















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