It’s no exaggeration to say that Bryce Highspeed is the most highly anticipated table tennis rubber of 2015/16. Butterfly released Tenergy 05 back in April 2008 and ever since it has dominated the rubber market. Later, the Tenergy series was joined by Tenergy 64, 25, 80, and their FX versions. But we all knew Butterfly must be working on something completely new as well.
In April 2015, Bryce Highspeed was added to the ITTF LARC (list of authorised racket coverings) but there was no word from Butterfly on the rubber. It wasn’t until October 7th, at the Butterfly Fair 2015/16, that they broke their silence.
Bryce Highspeed features a brand new rubber technology called, “Micro Layer”. The aim of this new technology is the same as always – more speed, more spin. It’s difficult to know how successful this will be without comparing the rubber directly to something like Tenergy 05. However, the release date is December 21st, so we don’t have to wait much longer.
Because the rubber is not out yet this post will be more of a pre-review (I will complete a full review in 2016 when I can get my hands on some). I’ll be looking at all of the information that is currently available and trying to figure out what Bryce Highspeed will actually be like.
As always, Butterfly have released their own stats for Bryce Highspeed. I always advise players to take these numbers with a grain of salt (they’re just numbers after all) but perhaps Butterfly are trying to tell us something with them…
A speed rating of 14.5 is considerably higher than any of the Tenergy rubbers (which all score between 13 and 13.5) and a fair bit higher than the old Bryce Speed (14). Bryce Highspeed looks like it is going to live up to its name as the fastest rubber produced by Butterfly.
Looking at other information released by Butterfly, it appears that Bryce Highspeed will be strongest at adding maximum power to a strong shot and giving high speed in topspin play. Again, it’s more speed and power. Faster, faster. The tagline for the rubber is “speed creates an arc” so it looks like Bryce Highspeed will be super fast but hopefully able to get the ball up and down a bit faster too.
A spin rating of 10.3 is actually fairly low. Tenergy 05, which is often used as the benchmark for comparisons, received an 11.5, so Bryce Highspeed is clearly not designed to be a Tenergy 05 replacement.
I have to admit that I am a little disappointed by this. I thought that perhaps Bryce Highspeed was going to be a super fast rubber that could also give just as much spin as Tenergy. Other brands have been catching up with the Butterfly Tenergy series for many years now (Tibhar Evolution MX-P is a great example and the rubber I am currently using) so it felt like it was time for something new from Butterfly to blow everyone else out of the water. I still might be proved wrong, once I get my hands on a few sheet of Highspeed, but for now I can only assume that the majority of Tenergy users won’t be switching to Bryce Highspeed.
The sponge hardness for Bryce Highspeed is 35 degrees. This is slightly softer than Tenergy (36 degrees) and considerably softer than the old Bryce Speed (38 degrees).
Butterfly appear to be making the Bryce Highspeed sponge more like Tenergy and less like Bryce Speed. Actually, the original Bryce rubber released 18 years ago had a 35 degree sponge, so it looks like they are going back to their roots on this one.
Who is Bryce Highspeed for?
In many ways, this is the big question at the moment. Who are Butterfly targeting with this new rubber?
I had assumed that Bryce Highspeed was going to be the new must-have rubber, a Tenergy replacement/upgrade that was going to take the table tennis world by storm. However, after doing my research I don’t think that’s quite right.
For one thing, in all of the marketing material Butterfly keeps comparing Bryce Highspeed to Bryce Speed (a rubber that hardly anyone actually uses) instead of to Tenergy (which is used by over 50% of the world top players). This gives me the impression that they aren’t trying to convince Tenergy-users to switch to Highspeed.
Bryce Highspeed lacks spin (it’s a high-speed rubber) so maybe they are aiming at the women’s game with this one? That’s one possibility.
The other thing that will come into play is the price. How much will Bryce Highspeed cost? Are Butterfly going to sell it at the same price as Tenergy (currently £44.99 or $74.99)? Will they make it even more expensive than Tenergy? Or are they aiming at players who don’t want to shell out for Tenergy but still want to play with Butterfly? Could Bryce Highspeed be a slightly cheaper ESN Tensor-style rubber that is fine, but no Tenergy?
There are a lot of questions to be answered and I don’t think we’ll really know until December 21st when Bryce Highspeed finally goes on sale (if it isn’t delayed).
I will certainly be watching this rubber with interest – and I’m keen to get my hands on it for a full review when it is out – but my gut feeling is that Bryce Highspeed is going to be a bit of a letdown. Let’s hope I’m wrong!
Have you managed to get your hands on a sheet of Bryce Highspeed? Somebody must have! If so, please leave a comment below with your thoughts.