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PostPosted: 25 Aug 2019, 02:37 
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Re-Impact Rapier 44: First Impressions by Tommy Zai

I've owned hundreds and hundreds of blades over the years, but only a few of them were custom-made specifically for me. Until now, a high quality, handcrafted, made-to-order Re-Impact blade has eluded me. I contacted their master blade designer, Achim Rendler. After he answered a few of my concerns and questions, I zeroed-in on the model best suited for me:

*Rapier 44
*Medium size, which is close to a standard oversized blade but asymmetrical at 162 mm x 162 mm.
*Made to order - I provided my finger, hand, and forearm measurements: https://re-impact.de/rapier44.html#prod ... to_measure
*Special MCP handle system with Screw handle design . . . I figured . . . why not? It makes this blade even more unique in comparison to all others I've owned and used. It has a 45 degree twisted grip.

It cost more than the average mass production blade, but less than Butterfly’s high-end offerings.

I finally received my custom order. It took a few weeks, but in all fairness to Re-Impact, it was stuck in customs for a week.

NOTE: Creating these blades take time. They are being assembled by one master craftsman, not an assembly line. If you want a dream blade that is made specially for you . . . place your order and be patient. I'm also used to getting things right away, but that's not going to happen with a Re-Impact blade. In fact, if you get your custom blade really fast it probably isn't much of a custom blade, right? ;-)

Initial thought . . . Whoa! It's a super light, medium round-ish oversized blade with a special handle notches and a swirl handle sized to fit my arm, hand, fingers. The craftsmanship is fantastic — a big step up from a mass production blade. I won't need to detail it before gluing-up. It has super smooth beveled edges on the wings and anywhere else fingers touch. I normally seal my blades, but this one came pre-sealed with a secret formula so I best not mess with it. Rubbers fit nicely. I imagine the extra-large oversized version might be problematic for some smaller racket coverings. It appears to have a two-layer balsa type core. The top plies are unique, and I have no clue what they are.

I glued up a 2.0 mm inverted on FH and OX LP on BH.

In play, this is an active, lively blade with excellent control. FH blocks/counters swimmingly, even against devastating loop drives. BH chop blocks and side-swipes with precision and touch. Many blades have subtle gears, but this blade boasts an obvious shift like jumping from second to fourth gear in a high performance automobile. The gears are engaged via aggression/power, and there is a noticeable catapult and brake-effect on both FH and BH. With my game, it's important that I control the pace and make my opponent uncomfortable. With Rapier 44, I am able to adjust the tempo on both sides of the racket, effortlessly dropping the ball short and driving it long. Even though this is not listed as a combination blade, I notice a difference between the two sides. Yes, my rubbers are dissimilar I'm a combination player. Still, I can feel a blade induced contrast. Upon a careful inspection, I wonder if the two layers of the core are different. There's something else about this blade that took me a while to understand. When I tilt the blade, it reacts uniquely. It's almost like a variation in degree transform it into a slightly different blade.

There is plenty of control throughout with more than enough speed for all-out attack. Normally, these balsa blades are associated with close-to-the-table pips play, and that's mostly how I’ll use it. However, taking a step back to mid-distance and blasting away with or without top or chop is equally delightful. I'm not a long-distance looper, so I can't say if this blade would be good for that style of play. If that's your game, and you'd like to give Re-Impact a try, I'd suggest checking out their OFFensive line. I previously hit with a specially designed Re-Impact Smart blade. I'm not sure about the speed rating, but I can tell you that that particular bat was an aggressive beast.

Throughout play, regardless of the type of stroke, gear, or angle . . . there is a lot of communication . . . ”talk” without unwanted vibration. The racket feels like an extension of my hand, especially thumb.

The sweet spot covers most, if not all, of the head. In short, the sweet spot is SWEET!

For those who know me, know that I struggle with an upper body disability. I'm often in pain, weakened, and recovering from various surgeries. I need a setup that promotes play, not hinders it. With this blade, I am able to play longer and more comfortably. My wrist, elbow, shoulder, and neck doesn't suffer as much, and I am ready to play again the following day. I asked Achim about this and he explained, “The counter pressure on the ball during the forward movement is reduced by the asymmetrical alignment of the club surfaces.” I'm not a scientist or engineer, but I can tell you that there is a difference and I like it!

Who is this blade NOT for? I’d say a two-winged looper who uses max inverted rubbers on both sides. Yet, having said that . . . the smaller size might work nicely. I’m not a looper, so who knows? There are no absolutes in table tennis with regard to matching equipment to players. I know a high level combo player who uses a “defensive” long pip on his FH, and he ONLY hits . . . not blocking. I also know an extremely handsome player (me) who uses a chopping rubber on his FH, and never chops!

It took me a while to adjust to the screw handle design, which securely locks hand into position. I normally adjust my grip slightly with BH, FH, and various other shots. There’s a debate by many pros and coaches as to whether or not a player’s grip should move around during play or lock-in. I’ll give this handle more time and see how it goes. Worst case scenario for me . . . re-order with an straight or conical handle.

Well, that's it for now. I'm hopeful that this is THE ONE! Time will tell . . .

Regardless, I'm excited to play, and that's a good thing. I hope my initial impressions are useful or at least entertaining. Thank you, Re-Impact, for helping me keep the flame burning strong!!

For more info or ordering: https://re-impact.de/rapier44.html

HELP!! I have 5 pics, but can't figure out how to post. ;-0

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I am Tommy Zai
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