Table tennis bats can be expensive. I remember at the start of the Expert in a Year challenge telling Sam that mine cost almost £200, and that you have to replace the rubbers regularly, and I don’t think he could quite believe it. However, by the end of the year I think he understood that it is worth paying for the better rubbers, even if the cheapskate in you would rather not!
In this blog post I’ll be focusing on the upper end of the table tennis equipment market and having a look at just how much you can spend if you fancy owning the most expensive table tennis bat money can buy.
But before I start there are a couple of things I should point out;
- If you are a beginner you do not need to buy yourself the most expensive bat known to man. Not only will it not help you but it will actually make it more difficult for you to learn how to play and develop your strokes. Instead, go for one of the beginners bats I recommend here.
- If you are an experienced player but find yourself in a bit of a slump/you feel like you’ve plateaued/you want to move up a level, buying a really expensive bat is unlikely to help. It probably wont hurt, but I doubt it’s going to solve all your problems or make you play any better. Instead, focus on what is holding you back technically, tactically, physically or mentally, and work on that.
Now I’ve got that out of the way, let’s get stuck into the crazy world of ‘super’ expensive table tennis equipment!
The Most Expensive Table Tennis Blade
This is an easy one. The Butterfly Zhang Jike Super ZLC is, I think, the most expensive blade ever to be made and sold by the main brands. I mean, you can probably pay some master craftsman thousands of pounds to make you a custom made blade from some rare tree but when it comes to blades you can buy out of a table tennis catalogue the Zhang Jike Super ZLC takes the crown.
It is sold by Megaspin in the US for $374.99 and by TeesSport in the UK for £314.99. And that’s just for ‘the wooden bit’. You still need to buy rubbers.
The Zhang Jike Super ZLC is the ultimate offensive blade, featuring fibres that 1.8 times more densely woven than other ZL blades. I’m not sure why but apparently that gives you a much larger sweet spot. The sweet spot is the area of the blade that gives you the best performance.
Not convinced yet? Watch this video. The music alone is brilliant!
I have to admit that at first I thought making a blade this expensive was probably just a bit of a gimmick on Butterfly’s part. Something to get people talking (and writing blog posts). You also have the additional benefit of making your other blades look relatively cheap. You could buy three Timo Boll Spirit’s, or Timo Boll ALC’s, for the price of one Zhang Jike Super ZLC! And they aren’t cheap blades either.
However, from the sounds of it the Zhang Jike Super ZLC is actually a really good blade. I doubt it’s three times better than my Timo Boll Spirit but when it comes to our table tennis you can’t really put a price on getting that little edge, and Butterfly know it.
Here are some reviews from the TableTennisDB website…
“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 know it’s not a useful review, but honestly, I only played 5 minutes with this monster. Freshly set up with T05s on both size, me, and everyone else who touched this monster were speechless – except words of acknowledgements. Oh, and it wasn’t mine. Too bad. :) But it has an amazing touch, and gives you, after like 2 shots, a feeling of overwhelming confidence. Super beautiful, and perfect workmanship. yeah, probably the priciest out there, but you know what? If your hobby is horseback riding, you spend this amount on a pair of boots, and you do not even have a horse yet to sit on.
I think this is the best blade on the market. I’ve been lucky to own most of the blades out there including all Timo Boll Series and none of the blades can come close to this blade. Supper spiny blade, offensive weapon with unbelievable feel. I tried with T05 max on both sides and its great but i prefer with T05FX to be honest. Serves, loops Blocks Smash you named it had it all.
Simply put, the holy grail of blades (up to 2014 at least) – and this is not due to price. Until recently, you either had to choose from: 1. high at-the-table spin, 2. great in power play away from the table. This is the first blade I’ve seen that combines both of these attributes.
I own both the ZJK SZLC and JM SZLC and I can tell you that they are both exceptional blades. The JM SZLC is a bit slower and has longer dwell time so if you want to get creative I recommend it over the ZJK SZLC. On the other hand ZJK SZLC is less sensitive so you can be faster and still retain the same great control as the JM SZLC .If price is not an issue either one of these can be your best option.
The response has actually been so positive that it’s making me want to try this blade. Perhaps I can try and get myself a free sample to test and review for the site because the cheapskate in me isn’t backing down on this one. Also, I think I might feel a bit embarrassed to be using a £300+ blade in tournaments. Does it make you look a bit over keen?
Anyway, TableTennisDaily managed to get themselves a couple of freebies to review about five months ago and did an excellent job. I rarely watch equipment review videos but I’m really impressed with the professionalism of Dan’s.
So there you have it. The Butterfly Zhang Jike Super ZLC is the most expensive table tennis blade, and apparently for good reason. The blade is fast, without losing control, and has a noticeably bigger sweet spot than its rivals.
The Most Expensive Table Tennis Rubbers
This is a little more tricky. Most people would assume that the Butterfly Tenergy series of rubbers are the most expensive (and arguably the best) on the market. A sheet of Tenergy in the UK will knock you back £49.99, while in the US it comes in at $67.99. However, there are a few rubbers that kind of cost more.
On Megaspin (in the US) the Adidas TenZone Ultra SF rubber is $69.95, but in the UK it’s only £39.99. I don’t think this rubber is particular popular and the face that it is considerably cheaper than Tenergy in the UK means I am not going to include it.
You also have a few places selling national versions of the DHS Hurricane 3 NEO rubber. Megaspin have it for $140 a sheet and TableTennis11 sell it for €72. This is meant to be the highest quality they make and used by the Chinese National Team (they don’t use the kind of Hurricane me and you buy). But both companies are out of stock, because I assume availability is very low, so I’m not going to count any ‘special’ Hurricane rubbers either.
That leaves us with Tenergy. There isn’t much to say really. I’ve written a very comprehensive post on the Tenergy 05 rubber, its alternatives, and how the top rubbers from all the other brands compare. If you’d like to know more I recommend you have a browse of that.
But now it’s time to put it all together…
The Most Expensive Table Tennis Bat
At the time of writing (January 2015) the most expensive table tennis bat money can buy is the Butterfly Zhang Jike Super ZLC combined with any Tenergy rubbers. If you were to buy that combination from TeesSport it would cost you £415. From Megaspin, it would be $515.
That’s quite a lot of money. But many of us spend £100 on a couple of sheet of Tenergy. And for most of us non-equipment junkies, we many only buy a new blade every four years or so. I’ve definitely had my Timo Boll Spirit blade for at least five years, maybe six. When you think of it like that, I’m probably spending £200 a year on Tenergy rubbers (if I keep them on for six months before replacing them). The fact that we have to replace them so often (and that you need two of them) means that we end up spending a lot more on rubbers than we think!
Keep your super expensive Zhang Jike Super ZLC blade for three years, which must be pretty standard, and it has only cost you just over £100 a year.
So maybe table tennis equipment isn’t really as expensive as we think. After all, a bat is pretty much the only piece of equipment you need. £300 for a blade might sound ridiculous at first but when you compare it to how much we all spend on rubbers it really isn’t extortionate.
I hope one day to be able to try out the Super ZLC for myself but until that day I’m still very happy with my Timo Boll Spirit. Five years and counting!