If you’ve ever played with Tenergy, you’ve probably wondered if there are any decent Tenergy 05 alternatives. Since its release in 2008, Tenergy 05 has been practically worshiped by table tennis players the world over!
Butterfly describe it as “the world’s best table tennis rubber”. It’s used by almost all of the world’s top players. Players even describe a feeling of “never being able to go back to another rubber” after playing with it. So what’s the problem? Well it’s too darn expensive!
In the UK, Tenergy 05 sells for £49.99. In the US, $79.99. And this is per sheet! You obviously need two sheets of rubber to play. So you’re looking at £100 ($160) per change of rubbers and you’ll probably need to change at least twice or three times a year. This is getting expensive!
So, are there any cheaper alternatives to Tenergy 05? Well, that is what I will be investigating in this post.
In actual fact, Tenergy has become so dominant as the best table tennis rubber, that this post will really be looking at the best table tennis rubbers available today, excluding the Tenergy series. When people ask for table tennis rubbers like Tenergy they usually mean, “I can’t afford Tenergy, what else is good.”
I should point out that I have been a “Tenergy-user” since 2008. I briefly tried out a Stiga Calibra rubber in 2010 but quickly went back to Tenergy within a few weeks. I don’t have much personal experience with the majority of rubbers on this page but I have spoken to other players that use them.
This post was originally written in October 2012 but has been revised in May 2014 to keep it up-to-date.
The complete collection of Tenergy 05 alternatives
Here is a list of all the current rubbers that could be used as alternatives to Tenergy. These are all offensive rubbers (high speed or high spin rubbers) that are popular choices among top players. Each brand seems to have one series that is promoted in a way to compare it to the Tenergy series.
- Adidas TenZone Series (+ P7)
- Andro Rasant Series
- DHS Hurricane NEO Series (+Gold Arc 3)
- Donic Bluefire Series
- Joola Maxxx Series (+ Rhyzm Series)
- Stiga Calibra Tour Series
- Tibhar Evolution Series
- Xiom Omega Series
- Yasaka Rakza Series
In this post I’ll be looking at each of these nine rubber series and commenting on their performance and price. At the end I’ve make suggestions for my personal favourites and discuss whether it’s even worth looking for Tenergy alternatives.
Adidas Tenzone (+ P7)
When I first heard that Adidas were making table tennis rubbers I thought it might be a disaster. Either a disaster or overpriced rubbish that simply cashed in on the Adidas brand name to sell poor quality rubbers at standard prices. I’m pleased to say I was wrong!
Right from the start (I think they started selling rubbers in 2011) Adidas released a range of really high-quality rubbers and impressed the table tennis community with what they had to offer.
The Adidas TenZone series of rubbers made no attempt to hide the fact that they were designed to be like Butterfly’s Tenergy rubbers. However, they performed well and received positive reviews. Here is a review on Megaspin…
“Overall the Adidas TenZone rubber can be labelled as very fast, with above average spin. Its speed is comparable to that of Tenergy 05, Hexer and Calibra. Its like Calibra LT but a little bit spinnier. Its built for speed and it has lots of it. I enjoyed counter-hitting and smashing with this rubber far from the table. Receiving spinny serves is easy since this rubber is not sensitive to incoming spin. This rubber is above average in blocking also. I would recommend this rubber for advanced players only because this is not everybody’s toy.”
From everything I’ve heard it was a clear improvement on the original Tenzone and received good reviews.
I was going to leave it there until I started reading about the Adidas P7 rubber. This rubber has received a lot of really positive reviews. So many in fact that I’m tempting to buy a sheet and try it out myself! Everybody seems to love this rubber. It’s brilliant for spin but also gives you the speed and control you need. It’s a true attackers rubber and a best seller at Megaspin.
The Adidas P7 is also the highest rated overall rubber on TableTannisDB!
The only downside with the Adidas rubbers is the price. They are all quite expensive.
Compare this to Tenergy 05 which is available for $64.99 and £49.99, and you’ll see that you aren’t saving very much. In the US, Tenergy and the Adidas rubbers are roughly the same price. In the UK, if you are looking to save a bit of money, the P7 rubber is probably your best bet coming in at £14 cheaper than Tenergy.
The Adidas rubbers looks pretty good but lets see what other options there are.
Rasant has quite a soft feel to it, when compared to Tenergy, but it has received a lot of positive feedback from other players. It’s green sponge is also turning heads!
Andro describe Rasant as having a “medium” sponge, meaning neither hard or soft, but obviously this is quite subjective and will feel different based upon what type of sponge you are used to. To compare the three Rasant rubbers; Rasant Turbo has a harder sponge than Rasant and Rasant Powersponge has a softer sponge than Rasant.
If you are looking for a true Tenergy 05 alternative then Rasant Turbo is probably most likely to suit because Tenergy 05 has quite a hard sponge. If you prefer the softer European rubbers then you might get on well with Rasant or even Rasant Powersponge.
Here’s a Rasant Turbo review from Megaspin that draws comparisons to Tenergy…
“I have Andro Rasant Turbo (2.1mm) on my Timo Boll ALC blade and it’s amazing. My topspins are very fast with more speed than any Tenergy rubber and plenty of control. When I first played with Andro Rasant Turbo it was very different to all the Tenergy rubbers but once I adapted to it began to love playing with it.”
Let’s assume that spin will be similar across the three rubbers. Rasant Turbo is the fastest of the three, and Rasant Powersponge the slowest. Conversely, Rasant Powersponge has the most control, while Rasant Turbo has the least.
The following video, produced by Andro, is quite interesting. It doesn’t give you much information about how the rubber plays but it gives an insight into the process behind designing and manufacturing a rubber.
If you are looking for the best Tenergy 05 alternative from Andro I would go with the Rasant Turbo. If you are more of an intermediate player looking for a high-quality rubbers that will give you plenty of spin but also lots of control then perhaps the Rasant Powersponge is more suited.
Andro Rasant Turbo is the #2 ranked rubber on comparison and review website TableTennisDB.com!
All three rubbers (Rasant, Rasant Turbo and Rasant Powersponge) are priced at $52.95, making them a fair bit cheaper than Tenergy and the Adidas rubbers. You can get the Rasant rubbers in the UK for £40.
DHS Hurricane NEO (+Gold Arc 3)
The Hurricane NEO series is unbelievably cheap when compared to other offensive rubbers. In the US you can get your hands on a sheet of Hurricane 2 or 3 NEO for just $22 and in the UK its still only £17.99 for Hurricane 2 NEO and £22.99 for Hurricane 3 NEO. Compare this to the price of Tenergy or any of the other rubbers reviewed on this page and you’ll see you are essentially getting a ‘buy one get one free’ deal with the Hurricane, or even ‘buy one get two free’!
The DHS Hurricane rubbers have a very tacky topsheet and a hard sponge. This means that they are ideal for creating maximum spin strokes but aren’t really suited for flat hitting. If you are more of a ‘hitter’ than a ‘looper’ then you will probably struggle using Hurricane.
Many players play with more spin on their forehand than their backhand. There is a tendency to block and punch on the backhand, especially in the female game, using the forehand for the big winners. A Hurricane rubber would work well on the forehand for this style of play but wouldn’t be advised on the backhand. You will see many of the top Chinese players use this set-up, or something similar. They often play with Hurricane on their forehand and then a softer rubber, such as Tenergy, on their backhand.
If you are looking for an alternative to Tenergy primarily for financial savings then perhaps you could try having a DHS Hurricane rubber on your forehand and keeping Tenergy on your backhand. That would certainly save you some money and would allow you to continue using your favourite Tenergy rubber on your backhand.
Or alternatively, Gold Arc 3 is another rubber that has recently been released by DHS. It is advertised as having a “high-quality, less sticky topsheet, made in Japan to build the perfect combination for European players”. Basically, it sounds like they are trying to make a Tenergy replacement that moves away from the traditional ‘Chinese’ tacky, hard sponge rubbers we expect them to produce.
It all sounds very good and Dan Ives (from TableTennisDaily) got his hands on a few sheets and did a full video review.
So it sounds like they were pretty pleased with the performance of the Gold Arc 3, except for the lack of power on certain shots. The only problem is that it costs as much as a sheet of Tenergy in the UK (£49.99), and from what I can see, it isn’t quite as good.
It’s kind of a similar story to Tenzone Ultra, I think. They have managed to make a pretty decent Tenergy alternative but if they can’t afford to sell it for considerably less then there isn’t much to convince a player to switch!
When I travel to tournaments, in the UK at least, the Donic Bluefire rubbers are probably the most popular, after Tenergy of course. I have a few team mates that have played with Bluefire rubbers for a couple of years and think they are great. I’ve especially heard a lot of good things following the release of the JP series of rubbers.
In my mind, the fact that so many top players in the UK are using these rubbers make them a strong contender as the #1 Tenergy 05 alternative. These players wouldn’t use Bluefire if they thought it was detrimental to their game and they would play better with Tenergy!
I’m going to focus on the Bluefire JP 01 and 03, even though I know a lot of people like the M3 and other ‘M’ rubbers as well, because these are the ones I’ve seen been used most over the last season.
I like the way Donic have started calling their rubbers ‘01‘ and ‘03‘, following Butterfly’s lead with Tenergy ’05′. It kind of makes me laugh how much the other companies are trying to copy Butterfly! The JP symbolizes Japan too, the country that produces Tenergy.
Back to Bluefire JP, which seems to be a really great rubber for close to the table, attacking players. Donic have tried to give it the same high arc that you get from Tenergy and it looks like they have succeeded. From the sounds of it the rubber has brilliant control and feeling but, like the Gold Arc 3, can lack a little in the power department if you like to drop back from the table. A number of people have mentioned boosting this rubber to get the most out of it but that isn’t something that I do.
What’s the difference between JP01 & JP03? Well JP 01 is the faster of the two with a slightly harder sponge. JP 03 has a slightly softer sponge and, I guess, could be used on the backhand. I would compare it to the way Tenergy has a slightly softer ‘FX’ version of each rubber.
When compared to Bluefire M3 the majority of people seem to prefer the JP upgrade, so it looks like Donic are on the right path.
Joola Maxxx (+ Rhyzm)
Personally, I’ve been very disappointed with the Joola rubbers released over the last few years. They have released rubber after rubber with really soft sponges that crumble away at the slightest touch until they have disintegrated and you are left with half your blade hanging out! I’ve seen this happen with Phenix and then Express was just as bad.
Their latest series of rubbers, Maxxx, looks like it could be a serious improvement and a real contender as a Tenergy replacement. They have Maxxx 400, 450 & 500 rubbers available. If you are confused about the numbers… Maxxx 400 has a 40° hardness sponge, 450 is 45°, and 500 is 50°.
To get us started, here’s a review from Megaspin of the Maxxx 500 rubber…
“Very good lining. Low angle view of the blocks. Strong rotation. I changed from Tenergy 05 to Joola Maxxx and I am 100% satisfied.”
Joola have moved away from their soft-sponge habits of late and created a Tenergy-similar, hard sponge, non-tacky rubber in Maxxx 500 that is great for the close-to-the-table modern aggressive game.
I’m not 100% sure about 450 and 400, perhaps they are still a bit soft and flaky. One of the big selling points of Tenergy is its durability and long life span. I’ve had sheets for over a year before and despite them losing some of their performance they are still very much playable. Actually, I got my best ever win against a top 40 player in England using Tenergy rubbers that were over a year old after removing my brand new Calibra rubbers the day before and reverting to Tenergy.
The Maxxx rubbers cost $59.95 and £48.99, so again they aren’t cheap! I remember when you used to be able to buy decent rubbers for £20, those were the days.
It’s worth mentioning the Joola Rhyzm rubbers as well, as I know a few players that have been using these last season and getting on with them. Rhyzm is also a best-seller at Megaspin, so clearly it’s popular. I think it’s likely that the Maxxx 500 will replace Ryhzm as the most popular offensive Joola rubber this season though.
Stiga Calibra Tour
As I’ve mentioned already, I had a bad experience with Calibra rubbers a couple of years back and really didn’t get on with them. I found them to be very fast and good for flat hitting but they just didn’t have the spin on Tenergy or the high arc.
I have spoken to a couple of people that have used this rubber and it sounds like Stiga are sticking to the ‘hitter’ over ‘looper’ emphasis. This rubber is very fast and good for flat hitting, kind of like the opposite of a Hurricane, but not so great for high arc looping.
For me, this just isn’t what I’m looking for and I don’t think it’s great for players that are used to, and enjoying, playing with Tenergy rubbers. We need a topsheet that can grip the ball and get it up and down over the net for our close to the table loops.
If you are a hitter then perhaps you will get on with this fast rubber but as a Tenergy 05 alternative I don’t think it’s the best option. UK coach and umpire, Mark Kinlocke, even mentioned on a forum that it could be used as an alternative to short pimples!
They was a lot of buzz surrounding the Tibhar Evolution rubbers when they were released, with plenty of people drawing direct comparisons between Evolution and Tenergy.
Apparently, Vladimir Samsonov and Tiago Apolonia, both Tibhar players, are very happy with Evolution and find it to be almost identical to Tenergy. Evolution is made in Japan and isn’t just another ESN German rubber with a different name.
Comparing it to Tenergy…
- It has a similar sponge (look and feel)
- It has a similar amount of speed
- It has a similar high arc thrown angle
With plenty of control and at least as good speed and spin, if not better, The Evolution MX-P looks like a genuine Tenergy replacement. The fact that Tibhar haven’t replaced Evolution with a newer version recently also is very promising as it shows they are very happy with its performance.
If you would like more information there is a great thread here all about the Evolution rubbers.
Tibhar Evolution rubbers are £46.99 from TeesSport in the UK and aren’t currently sold by Megaspin.
Xiom is a brand that I had never heard of a few years ago but they seem to have really burst onto the table tennis scene all guns blazing.
So which Xiom rubber is most similar to Tenergy? Well, the Xiom Omega IV Euro certainly isn’t winning that one! It is the softest of the three with a 44° sponge and is easily the slowest. The main selling point is it’s brilliant control. If you are more of an intermediate table tennis player and you are looking for a rubber to help you transition from a premade bat to a custom bat, perhaps this would be a good choice. Not really a Tenergy alternative though.
The Omega IV Pro and Asia look quite similar in characteristics. Both have relatively hard sponges and Tensor technology. Xiom claim they offer a high arc to help you get the ball up and down quickly, like Tenergy does so well. The only difference between the two seems to be that the Asia version has a slightly tacky surface when compared to the Pro.
Here’s an interesting review of the Omega IV Asia from Megaspin…
“Of all the rubbers I’ve tried this is as close to Tenergy 05 as I have found. I am using it on a Timo Boll Spirit blade, in max thickness. It is a heavy rubber and is the same weight as Tenergy 05, 73 grams, on the max thickness sheet I received uncut. Of all the Xiom rubbers I like this one the best. I don’t know why it’s not a more popular rubber!”
That review was written a couple of years ago and now the Omega IV Asia is a very popular rubber. It looks like everybody caught on eventually!
Last, in my list of Tenergy 05 alternative rubbers, is the Rakza from Yasaka. You can get a Rakza 9, Rakza 7 or Rakza 7 Soft (but we wont worry about the soft one because Tenergy 05 isn’t a soft sponge rubber).
I haven’t come across many players using the new Yasaka rubbers, in the UK at least, but I have heard that they play very similarly to Tenergy and are also made in Japan. The Yasaka Rakza 9 is the latest release.
“The topsheet and sponge hardness are comparable to Tenergy 05 but it requires more effort to generate speed than Tenergy 05! The sponge texture is similar to Andro Hexer. Control is better than Tenergy 05…not as springy. Throw angle is lower than T05. Looping is awesome close or away from table. High short spinny loop is also easy to generate. Spinny serves are also easy to generate whether it’s a high or low toss. Very good forehand rubber!”
My only concern from that would be the lower throw angle. Having played with Tenergy 05 for so long now I have got used to the high throw angle and being able to get the ball up and down very quickly. I’m sure I could adjust but I would probably need to spend a lot of time learning to change my bat angles for various loops before I could get all of my big shots on the table.
Razka 7 and 9 are available for $52.95 in the US (from Megaspin) and £35.99/£38.99, respectively, in the UK (from TeesSport).
The Best Sellers
According to Megaspin these are the best selling offensive rubbers, that I consider to be legitimate Tenergy 05 alternatives. Take from this list what you will but generally if something is selling, it’s selling for a reason!
- Adidas P7 – $59.95
- Andro Rasant – $52.95
- Andro Rasant Turbo – $52.95
- DHS Hurricane 3 NEO – $22.00
- Joola Rhyzm – $54.95
- Xiom Omega IV Pro – $49.95
- Yasaka Rakza 7 Soft – $52.95
In conclusion, there are two questions we need to address and the first is…
Is it worth playing with anything other than Tenergy?
Personally, I tried Calibra LT about 18 months ago thinking, “As a student I can’t really afford Tenergy and how different can they be?” How wrong I was! I put them on just a few days before a major tournament (as my Tenergy’s were well and truly dead) but I hated them so much I switched back to my dead Tenergy and put the Stiga rubbers on an old blade to use for multiball feeding etc.
The moral of the story? For me at least, Tenergy is the best.
There is a reason that 46% of all rubbers used at the World Team Championships in 2012 were Tenergy. The professional players think they are the best. There are even loads of threads on forums showing top players sponsored by brands other than Butterfly, and claiming to use their sponsors rubbers, clearly playing with Tenergy.
For me, I’m sticking with Tenergy!
In my opinion it’s still the best rubber available at the moment and nothing can quite compare. It has a unique combination of feel, control, speed, arc and spin. Yes, it’s ridiculously over-priced but it is unique.
Remember, it’s also expensive buying new rubbers that you don’t like. I shelled out for two sheets of Calibra LT and never played a competitive match with them. If you’re not entirely pleased with your cheaper alternative, you’ve wasted a decent amount of money. At least with Tenergy you know you will be happy. Not to mention the possibly psychological influence playing with rubbers that you believe are sub-standard could have on your performance.
I believe that the gap between Tenergy 05 and the rest is narrowing but it’s not quite there yet. That’s why Butterfly can charge so damn much!
But if you really want to move away from Tenergy, or start with something else to stop yourself from getting addicted…
What are the best Tenergy 05 alternatives?
I think you have a few options really, well six…
- The Adidas P7 rubber looks really good (I’m yet to try it out myself) but it is also quite expensive. You aren’t saving loads of money by switching from Tenergy to Adidas rubber, not in the US at least.
- The Andro Rasant Turbo rubber looks to be a genuine replacement for Tenergy 05, or any other Tenergy rubber. It’s about 20% cheaper than Tenergy and seems to give a very similar performance.
- The DHS Hurricane NEO rubbers are a great option if money is a big factor for you. Despite not being a traditional “alternative”, because of their super hard sponge and Chinese tacky topsheet, they cost less than half of what you will pay for Tenergy and you could always just play with one on your forehand (like many of the top Chinese players) and keep Tenergy on your backhand.
- The Donic Bluefire JP rubbers are being used by a number of top players that I play with and meet on the UK tournament circuit. It sounds like they are a viable alternative to Tenergy and come it a little bit cheaper too.
- The Tibhar Evolution rubbers, and MX-P in particular, looks to be a real alternative to Tenergy 05 with plenty of players drawing direct comparisons between the two rubbers.
- The Xiom Omega IV rubbers (Pro & Asia) look to be very good Tensor rubbers that have been designed to replicate the results of Tenergy as closely as possible.
I would be keen to try out all of these rubbers at some points and see if any of them can pull me away from my beloved Tenergy. Perhaps I’ll try and get some free samples to review in more detail to improve this page!
Share your experience
What do you think about Tenergy 05? Do you currently play with it? If so, what do you like about it? What is it that makes Tenergy so magical?
Or do you play with a different rubber? What rubbers do you play with and why do you like them? Have you found the best Tenergy alternative?
Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your experiences.