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PostPosted: 06 Feb 2014, 02:45 
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Dr. Neubauer Hercules Review (in comparison with Joola Rosskopf Emotion)

Abbreviations: Hercules (HER), Rosskopf Emotion (RE)

Disclaimer: I received the blade from Dr. Neubauer for testing

About the reviewer:
My USATT rating is around 1900. My strength is my forehand with which I score the majority of my points mainly through looping; my serve is probably above average for my rating. I play close to the table with blocking and looping. I play with frictionless anti on backhand, mainly for returning serve and blocking topspin loops.
I have not reviewed any equipment on this forum yet but I have written quite a number of reviews (blades and rubber) on a couple of German forums.

Setup:
Both blades in this test were played with the same rubbers, Tenergy 05 max on forehand and Dr. Neubauer ABS 1.2mm (frictionless anti) on backhand. In addition I also tested the Hercules blade during one session with Joola Rhyzm max on forehand. The HER has an anatomic and the RE a flared handle.

Description on Dr. Neubauer’s website:
“HERCULES is “the” new benchmark for combination blades.
It is made of a unique plywood composition which includes – among others – the legendary Kiso-Hinoki wood and a new type of artificial fiber.
HERCULES is a match for pimple-out and Anti-Spin rubber of any type.
It is the downright perfect weapon for highly disruptive balls while blocking close to the table, the ball can be returned very short and tends to “dive” considerably.
This “allround“ blade also comes with a very good control that provides an excellent feeling for the ball at all times.
The blade can also be used for strong hitting and fast looping with offensive rubbers to put pressure on your opponent.

HERCULES: A real poison for your opponent!

Price: EURO 119.00
Category: Allround
Weight: appr. 85g
Layers: 5
Thickness: 6mm
Handle types: straight-flared-anatomic
Speed:80
Control: 92
Rigidity: 90
Dimensions (H x W): 15,3 x 15,3cm

Appearance:
The Hercules blade is absolutely top notch in terms of quality of the materials and craftsmanship in the same category as Butterfly, Xiom or Victas to name a few which I have tested in the past. In particular the Kiso Hinoki out plies and handle look very nice and have a very smooth and soft feel giving it an appearance of luxury. The quality of the RE in comparison is decent but not as nice as the HER in particular the Hinoki out plays which are quite thin and not of the same quality as for the HER, probably not the expensive Kiso variety. The Dr. Neubauer blade as a wooden edge protection made of Hinoki as well (it appears) so that you cannot see the inside of the blade, however, I applied some sandpaper at the wing above the handle to make it a little bit more comfortable. The HER seems to have a thick center ply (not sure what it is), the artificial fiber directly on top of the center ply and then follows the relatively thick Kiso Hinoki plies. The artificial fiber has a greyish-black appearance.

Weight
The HER came in at 79g and the RE at 78g so both blades were at the low end of what you would have expected for them; I typically like blades in the 83-87g range. For some reason the setup with the RE felt light and I did not really like it but the HER set-up felt right from the beginning maybe because the blade itself is balanced better as the RE has a fatter handle pushing the center of gravity more toward the handle. I might have to test a heavier RE at some point…

Feel/Touch
Both blades are certainly in the “soft feel” category and have a solid touch whereas the RE overall feels harder and more unrefined than the HER. The HER feels buttery soft (Kiso Hinoki makes a difference!) and has an absolute fabulous feel. I particularly like the combination of the soft touch with the T05 but similarly hard Rhyzm felt very nice too. I am not sure how it would do in combination with a softer rubber (I still have a T05fx at home which I wanted to try at some point) but I guess it would still be okay since it is very solid and stiff. There are no vibrations to speak of for neither blade.

Flex
Both blades are quite stiff with no flex as you would expect from a carbon blade giving them a very solid feel.

Speed
I would rate the HER as All+ to Off- and not All as on the Dr. Neubauer website; it has a very decent speed but not too fast for close to the table play. It does lack a little bit of firepower for looping and counter looping away from the table but it was not made for that either. The RE I tested in comparison might a little bit faster, like Off-, but it was not a solid Off blade either. When hitting with a lot of power the speed between the 2 blades was a wash but the RE is definitely faster in the lower gears. In short play and on passive strokes the HER almost plays like a true All blade, whereas the RE still behaves like Off-, making serving, serve return and short pushed and drop shots more comfortable with the HER. I believe the more expensive Kiso Hinoki and the thicker layer of it makes the difference here. In particular on blocks with the ABS anti on the HER, the blade seems to absorb some power making it easier to block short.

Control
This is the category for me where the HER shines better than ANY other blade I have tested so far also better than the RE which is certainly a high control blade. For me the combination of feel, touch, stiffness and the speed make for a perfect control. With the HER I can feel the ball better on impact and then guide it to wherever I want to whereas the RE has a little bit of a deader or more deaf feeling.

Dwell/Spin
Dwell time and spin generation on looping as well as serving is higher for the HER due to the softer and thicker Kiso Hinoki outer layers and it is on the higher end of blades I have tested so far. Slightly better in this category was the TSP Black Blizzard Carbon (TSP BB) blade which I used to play for quite a while until the new Hercules came around. Again, the RE is good in this department but the HER is better.

Throw Angle
The throw of the HER is somewhat but not dramatically higher than that of the RE making it easier for me to open on underspin; I had a little trouble initially to open with the RE maybe because I was used the high throw of the TSP BB. With T05 on forehand it would call the throw angle of both blades in the medium range but not as high as for example the TSP BB blade. I also found the HER very comfortable in terms of throw with the Joola Rhyzm, still in the medium range but slightly lower than with T05.

Looping
I really liked looping with the HER essentially from the very first shot both with T05 and Rhyzm. I had loads of control but enough power at the table. With the T05 I was able to generate a little bit more spin with the HER compared to RE and loops also had more of an arc. Because of this, I was able to get some shots with the HER still on the table which I would miss with the RE but these were shots in more like extreme situations. Both are very good looping blade though but I do favor the HER. Both blades would not be ideal for loop - counter loop game away from the table; the TSP BB is better in that department due to more power, spin and arc.

Blocking
I liked both blades for blocking equally good on forehand with the T05 since they are both very solid and the stiffness makes blocks very stable and consistent. Overall, both blades are very strong in this department compared to many other blades I have tested, also because they are not a bouncy and flexy. However, for blocking on the backhand with ABS anti, I liked the HER better because the thicker Kiso Hinoki plies seem to give some break effect allowing to still block very fast or powerful loops which I could not return any more with other blades I have tried before. This is a very prominent feature of the HER and it was certainly designed with that in mind to some extent.

Short game
Both blades are above average in the short game due to the high control combined with not too high speed but I see the HER having the edge in this department as it plays a little bit softer and slower in the low gears. I like how I can place balls very short with the anti as this disrupts opponents in particular drop shots against choppers.

Conclusions
The Dr. Neubauer Hercules is a great new All+ to Off- blade with outstanding control on all shots designed for an attacking game close to the table which works very well with Tenergy or Tensor rubbers and can also be combined with “junk” rubbers such as anti. It is high-end blade using top of line materials such as beautiful Kiso Hinoki and excellent craftsmanship comparable to Butterfly or other high-end brands. It is the best blade I have ever tried with ABS anti in terms of control, attacking possibilities but more importantly spin reversal. It is not on the cheap side (currently $152 at paddle palace or at Dr. Neubauer) but people don’t seem to hesitate to shell out >$150 for a Butterfly composite blade. Everybody who really liked the Joola Rosskopf Emotion will love the new Hercules blade because in my opinion it is better in all aspects except that it might be a tad slower; the HER has better control, touch and feel and generates more spin.

Below you will find 3 videos showing some techniques with the Hercules blade (T05 max and ABS 1.2 rubbers are used here) on forehand and backhand.

1. Forehand drills: push on underspin (us), opening loop on us, loop against block


2. Backhand drills: random balls (topspin, underspin, no spin) into the backhand have to be
returned with different techniques; the problem here was attack against no spin balls which was address through a technique adjustment under 3.


3. Backhand: attack against no spin balls

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PostPosted: 06 Feb 2014, 06:40 
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Wow, awesome review Matt Pimple! :clap: :clap: :clap:

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PostPosted: 06 Feb 2014, 06:52 
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haggisv wrote:
Wow, awesome review Matt Pimple! :clap: :clap: :clap:

Glad you like it...thanks! :oops:
By the way, you asked before on how to handle no-spin balls with the frictionless anti and as you can see in video 3. I am working on that now and getting better at it. It is still the most difficult ball, requiring good technique.

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PostPosted: 06 Feb 2014, 07:06 
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Yes you seem to do that quite well :up: For pimples I tend to swipe the ball a little (sideways brush) to give me more control. I wonder if this will work for the ABS as well?

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PostPosted: 06 Feb 2014, 07:47 
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haggisv wrote:
For pimples I tend to swipe the ball a little (sideways brush) to give me more control. I wonder if this will work for the ABS as well?

I swipe a little bit sometimes on no-spin serves but it is not that easy because the ABS has no grip at all whereas your pips should. Some high level anti players in German tell they swipe but they may have a better technique.

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PostPosted: 09 Feb 2014, 19:19 
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Blade: Tibhar Stratus Power Def
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I loved your review. Do you think there is enough control on the Hercules for me to move to it from a Def+ blade? I use Grass DTecS on the backhand and Calibra Tour H on the forehand. My forehand is is flatter than yours.

Bulldog.

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PostPosted: 10 Feb 2014, 04:27 
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Bulldog wrote:
I loved your review. Do you think there is enough control on the Hercules for me to move to it from a Def+ blade? I use Grass DTecS on the backhand and Calibra Tour H on the forehand. My forehand is is flatter than yours.

Bulldog.

I do not know for sure but I think you would not have any control issues. For me this is the best control blade I have played with. Your forehand is probably a little flatter also (beside technique maybe) because the Calibra rubber has a lower throw and a little less spin than Tenergy 05. I have tested the Hercules blade with Joola Rhyzm which is faster with lower throw than T05 and it worked very well also.

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PostPosted: 10 Feb 2014, 05:36 
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A few of questions. I have a Joola Rosskopf Emotion and really like it so your review really caught my eye.

Is the Hercules a combination blade with a slower and a faster side.

Is this an oversized blade. Specifically how does the blade head size compare to the Joola Rosskopf Emotion.

Did it come pre sealed or did you seal it.

Does it have dark graphics printed on both sides of the blade that will show thru a red OX LP sheet.


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PostPosted: 10 Feb 2014, 20:49 
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Definitely not oversized, in fact a little undersized going length-wise at 153mm. I've never seen any Dr. N. blade with text or graphics at all in the rubber area. I think both sides are the same speed.

It looks like a really nice blade.

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PostPosted: 10 Feb 2014, 23:16 
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mynamenotbob wrote:
Definitely not oversized, in fact a little undersized going length-wise at 153mm. I've never seen any Dr. N. blade with text or graphics at all in the rubber area. I think both sides are the same speed.

It looks like a really nice blade.

That's all correct. ;) It has this typical Dr. N 153x153mm blade size which is somewhat unusual. There are no graphics on the beautiful Hinoki outer plies so there would be no problem with red ox pips. By the way, a friend plays the Hercules with Desperado ox and likes the combination a lot. Both sides have the same speed. The blade was not pre-sealed and I did not seal it because the surface is very smooth and wood grain seems to be quite dense so that I felt there was no need to seal. I have changed rubbers a couple of time on both sides without any problems.
@NoFootwork: let me know if you have more questions

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PostPosted: 11 Feb 2014, 03:05 
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Matt,

Thanks for the info. How thick is the handle compared to JRE. I'm currently playing with a straight handle JRE with d.tecs OX and Tenergy05 2.1mm on my JRE. Like you I like to use the LP to set up my FH loop for winning the point.


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PostPosted: 11 Feb 2014, 05:42 
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NoFootwork wrote:
Matt,

Thanks for the info. How thick is the handle compared to JRE. I'm currently playing with a straight handle JRE with d.tecs OX and Tenergy05 2.1mm on my JRE. Like you I like to use the LP to set up my FH loop for winning the point.

I am actually using the anatomic handle on the Hercules and I had the flared on the JRE so it's difficult to make a direct comparision. I personally found the handles on both blades comfortable. I took a couple of pics of my handle; see below.
By the way, I use anti on my bh. ;)


Attachments:
Herc2.jpg
Herc2.jpg [ 97.91 KiB | Viewed 2383 times ]
Herc1.jpg
Herc1.jpg [ 91.43 KiB | Viewed 2383 times ]

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PostPosted: 12 Feb 2014, 08:15 
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Matt,
Thanks for your response and pics. It sounds like a nice blade for close to the table BH blocking (either with anti or LPs) and FH looping style. I havent seen many blades do both of these well.

The JRE is pretty good at both due to its good control and decent dwell for looping.


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PostPosted: 12 Feb 2014, 11:10 
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NoFootwork wrote:
It sounds like a nice blade for close to the table BH blocking (either with anti or LPs) and FH looping style.

Indeed, it does very well at that. To me it is better than RE due to better touch and feel and I get more spin on my fh loop with similar power when hitting hard.

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PostPosted: 20 May 2014, 06:36 
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Hi Matt Pimple,

I have ordered the Hercules with Grass DTecS ox and Donic Bluefire M2 so I hope it goes as well for me as it has for you!

Bulldog.

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