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Butterfly Innerforce ZLC - training blog

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    Posted: 08/23/2021 at 7:40pm
TLDR: So I've been using this blade for a week now, and I love it.

Ironically I bought this blade on this very forum few years ago, it is an "N" series 158x152mm head size anatomical Innerforce ZLC. I think said forum member is from Portugal and he/she packaged it super well too. I truly hope this post gets to him/her.

It is at 85g, which is impressively light considering it has the old larger sized head and an AN handle. What is even more impressive that it is very handle heavy and that is something I really like in any blade.
I guess I'm one of those freaks who really prefers a good and thick AN handle over FL or ST.

I can't even remember why I bought this blade, but I guess it had something to do with several Japanese players preferring it and of course the lovely Zhang YiningHeart using it back in her days.

This was the first innerfiber construction that I tried and the first ZLC as well, so it was more than one new aspects to explore for me back in 2018 I guess?

Obviously this blade is a Limba-Limba-ZLC-Ayous-ZLC-Limba-Limba contstruction at ~5.7mm thickness, and nowdays there are a few different versions of it like the Apolónia ZLC and the Franziska ZLC. But people who have tried all say the Innerforce ZLC has the softest feel and the most control.

So when I first got this Innerforce ZLC blade in 2018 I have no idea what rubbers I used on it, but I felt it slow and too flexible. I tried to actually sell it in 2020 to one of my teammates and he said the same so he didn't need it. (thankfully in hindsight)

For many years now I've been playing with relatively hard blades with Chinese or Chinese hybrid style rubbers on my forehand and either Rozena or Stiga Mantra on my backhand. By hard blades I mean Xiom Ice Cream AZX, Yinhe D715(Viscaria gold clone) and Joola Vyzaryz Trinity.

Recently I've been playing with the Trinity and I have purchased a Mizuno Q5 on my forehand since either their marketing or development team convinced me and boy-o-boy that was such a good decision. It is a fantastic rubber, but since it's such a fast rubber I thought it could be OK on a softer and slower blade and I also believed such a blade would work better with Rozena too.
As I was browsing trough my blades I found this Innerforce ZLC that was laying there for 3 years. I measured the weight 85g and I was immediately hooked on it.

Last week Q5 was still pretty new for me, I had like 3 trainings in it with the Trinity, but I got its characteristics quite well. 
After gluing it on the Innerforce ZLC I was just blown away. I didn't feel any slowness, the blade held the ball more but enabled the springy and fast rubber to show its qualities more. Rozena was also behaving better as I expected since the blade wasn't repelling the ball so quickly. It was a pretty big gripe of mine about Rozena, that it bottoms out way too fast on the Trinity blade even during simple blocking. So I had to be super passive. But that was due to the hard and fast blade, on this softer blade it's very different.
The blade also has a much higher "throw angle", than previously mentioned hard blades. This was disturbing me initially, but now on my 3rd session playing with this setup I am not bothered at all anymore. On backhand this high throw angle actually enables me to loop from behind much better since I can play more forward instead of upward. And to some degree this is also true for forehand.
Opening loops are super nice now, before I was torn on my opening loops being not spiny or low enough. Now they are low over the net and very loaded so they are very hard to counter.
Regarding forehand I don't need to pull my arm behind the line of my shoulders anymore. I can start my movements basically just from beside my body and it will work out better. This is good since I have more time to do my movement, I don't have to pull my arm back behind my body.

Speaking about countering this blade is not supposed to be build for countering over the table but with this setup it is really easy to do it since both the rubbers and the blade hold the ball so much that I have that split second where I can adjust my movement when touching the ball. 

Over the table FH flicks are very nice with Q5, it's such a very polite rubber. It really does what I what I imagine doing, incoming spin is neutralized in some strange way that no other rubber does. And the Rozena on BH is so nice for Chiquitas. Of course since every part in this setup has great balance and control, over the table pushes are as good as they get.

Upgrade options?! Maybe Mizuno Q3 on backhand. That Mizuno topsheet is really something else. My biggest problem with Q5 is its weight. 52g is pretty heavy, Q3 should be around 48g. A combined 100g I could accept.

Since our national league is starting I want use this blade throughout the season and I feel I need this "blog" to follow my progress and experience. I really don't want to change much on this setup and I might need to read back on my opinion.
Butterfly Innerforce ZLC 85g AN old version
FH: Mizuno Q5 2.1 black, 51g
BH: Rozena 2.1 red 46g
DHS No15 glue
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zwill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/03/2021 at 4:34pm
About two weeks and ~20 hours of training later.
Managed to get bit more familiar every training with the setup. Actually I wasn't too afraid of my forehand, I can make everything work well enough that everyone wants to avoid it.
What I'm really surprised on the forehand is the over the table control. Keeping balls low and right behind the net was not easy with my previous outer carbon blade with H3N or Battle 2 or especially Tibhar K2. This control for me is a huge plus. Over the table flicks work pretty well. Maybe not as well as with H3N but I'm not complaining.
Opening loops feel much safer, is it the blade is it Q5? I'm not sure, probably both give me the confidence. I think I did lose some loop killing potential compared to my previous setup, but it's not impossible as Q5 is quite firm and a good loop kill just gives a nice vibration down the handle. It's really satisfying.

The blade feels like it can flex easily until a point when it just doesn't want to flex any more. I guess this due to the zylon that tensions the blade. This is quite nice since on weaker shots the blade flexes and can take speed of some fast incoming balls. Blocking close to the table is easier with it than with stiffer blades for sure. And I can just give it some active blocking to speed up the blocks. This is really nice it makes me feel super in control of myself.
On harder shots the blade stiffens up at a point and I think this is why it seems to be keeping up in speed with stiffer and faster blades.

On BH I was more worried since I always felt outer carbon to be better there. But i might have been wrong.
I can actually quite well loop kill with it with Rozena. Said Rozena is trough the ringer too, it has at least 300 hours of play(still grips fantastic). I can almost close the racket to horizontal angle and just let it rip. It creates very nice arc and it is basically irrelevant what quantity of incoming underspin the ball had. It's super fast too so not many come back if I get this right.
Same with chiquitas, if I give it enough power it will just work. But it needs the power though, if I don't commit to it and just do a half-assed half-powered shot it will land in the net.
The blade flexible nature is good at BH blocks as well. In fact I discovered this benefit first on my backhand.

Far away from the table the blade feels more comfortable than stiffer blades. It creates a higher arc and it's just much more effortless to play with it. With stiff blades I really needed to give it a lot of power to muster the ball over the net. It worked out well but it's more taxing. With IF ZLC it's just effortless and automatic.

Butterfly Innerforce ZLC 85g AN old version
FH: Mizuno Q5 2.1 black, 51g
BH: Rozena 2.1 red 46g
DHS No15 glue
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aeoliah View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote aeoliah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/03/2021 at 9:23pm
Thank you for the review. I agree with you, I like it as well. Mine is the C-Pen version.
Member of the Single Ply Hinoki Club
Expert II crwi C-pen
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote comodoensis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/06/2021 at 1:44am
Nice one, sir Wink

Just want to add a sprinkle of experience, IF ZLC is notorious for its steep linearity behavior, as if driving a car with no 2nd gear, from 1st gear, just suddenly jumps into 3rd gear, unlike other IF lineups (IF ALC and ZLF both feels more linear, with ZLF having way softer feel). It's slow and great feeling during low to medium impact shots, but when the inner ZLC kicks in during high impact shots, all goes boom LOL

Still, a good blade, good feeling too Sleepy
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zwill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/06/2021 at 6:33am
Originally posted by comodoensis comodoensis wrote:

Nice one, sir Wink

Just want to add a sprinkle of experience, IF ZLC is notorious for its steep linearity behavior, as if driving a car with no 2nd gear, from 1st gear, just suddenly jumps into 3rd gear, unlike other IF lineups (IF ALC and ZLF both feels more linear, with ZLF having way softer feel). It's slow and great feeling during low to medium impact shots, but when the inner ZLC kicks in during high impact shots, all goes boom LOL

Still, a good blade, good feeling too Sleepy
Haha, yeah I know what you mean totally. I would describe it as "V-Tec kicked in yo".
I have similar experience with ALC blades, even outer versions like Viscaria. It doesn't flex as much on low impact shots but as you hit it harder it flexes more and it keeps flexing until a point where it becomes just unpredictable.
I still like Viscaria and similar ALC blades too, just that it has too high reaction. It's a bit harder to handle when I don't have the luxury of time and space. I can imagine I would like the Inner ALC or Dima ALC too.
Butterfly Innerforce ZLC 85g AN old version
FH: Mizuno Q5 2.1 black, 51g
BH: Rozena 2.1 red 46g
DHS No15 glue
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote comodoensis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/06/2021 at 9:15pm
Originally posted by Zwill Zwill wrote:

Originally posted by comodoensis comodoensis wrote:

Nice one, sir Wink

Just want to add a sprinkle of experience, IF ZLC is notorious for its steep linearity behavior, as if driving a car with no 2nd gear, from 1st gear, just suddenly jumps into 3rd gear, unlike other IF lineups (IF ALC and ZLF both feels more linear, with ZLF having way softer feel). It's slow and great feeling during low to medium impact shots, but when the inner ZLC kicks in during high impact shots, all goes boom LOL

Still, a good blade, good feeling too Sleepy
Haha, yeah I know what you mean totally. I would describe it as "V-Tec kicked in yo".
I have similar experience with ALC blades, even outer versions like Viscaria. It doesn't flex as much on low impact shots but as you hit it harder it flexes more and it keeps flexing until a point where it becomes just unpredictable.
I still like Viscaria and similar ALC blades too, just that it has too high reaction. It's a bit harder to handle when I don't have the luxury of time and space. I can imagine I would like the Inner ALC or Dima ALC too.

That's one I also hate with any blade with viscaria-style construction. Hard top ply (koto) with some flex (5.7-5.8mm). It's good for two winged inverted though. But until now, even I don't use short pips on backhand anymore (actually, I currently forced to use it. Got wrist injuries from motor bike crash, but the urge to train is too strong. So, short pips on the backhand, to make sure I don't loop too much from the backhand, and not hurting my wrist), I always try to find blades that is good when used with short pips on the backhand. Because if a blade plays well with short pips on the backhand (thickness around 6.0-6.3mm, soft feeling but not mushy;for my personal preference, limba top ply. It can be any kind of wood except koto if going all-wood, but for blades with composite layer, I think limba is good. Inner or outer composite layer, I think depends on preference and playstyle), it is easier to choose what inverted rubber can be used. Usually with this typical blade, whether the forehand side changed to a harder rubber, or the backhand side changed to a softer rubber. And another strong point, whether one is lazy enough during mid distance rallies or not in a good position, or maybe other reasons, one can just whack the ball, still got enough spin, and lands on the table (typically me. Even using hard chinese rubber on the forehand and any soft rubbers on the backhand, just whack the ball away, and somehow it is loaded with spin ROTFL)

I find dima quite interesting, since there's a unique story behind it. During his time in china super league, he was gifted a w968 and hurricane 3 rubber. He tried using it, unable to maximize the rubber, yet loved the blade. When still sponsored by donic, then ovtcharov no.1/no.1 senso is released (same structure, even identical blade dimension and profile). Moving to butterfly, suddenly butterfly dima innerforce alc (slightly thicker at 6.2mm, butterfly-esque blade dimension and profile with identical head size with IF ZLC at 152x158)

Maybe dima ALC is a good candidate for a new whacking weapon of choice LOL
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