After I liked the regular andro Hexer Powergrip well, I had to catch up with the review of the soft version, the Hexer Powergrip SFX. And while I’ m already with andro, I just reviewed the Rasanter R48 and currently I still have the R53 in the review cycle, then this rubber perfectly makes sense.
I will soon complete the andro-reviews with Rasanter R45 and Hexer Grip SFX. In the meantime, I have some other things in the pipeline.
Soft rubbers on the market
What is missing to me lately within the rubber market is the development of independent soft rubbers. There are some new releases, but always connected with the fact that there is a complete series with harder rubbers.
I see some understanding for this approach in the fact that the market around soft rubbers works somewhat differently than it does with the absolute TOP rubbers. Those who choose a softer rubber usually don’t need the best playing characteristics, but are actually looking for a moderate rubber in combination with a lot of control. Or a nice sound feeling. In addition, thinner sponge thicknesses are more likely.
If I stay just with andro, there are already good solutions in this field. The “All-Rounder” and popular andro Hexer Duro offers just that. A nice feeling, moderate speed and still enough potential for all topspins and attacking strokes.
Even softer and more controlled is an andro Hexer Powersponge. Even this rubber already offers the necessary characteristics that define a soft rubber.
Top softies & the lack of power
Especially players who are just about to make progress then choose the more spinny and somewhat dangerous TOP softies around Tibhar Evolution FX-S, Donic Bluefire M3 or Butterfly Tenergy 05 FX. The only thing is that such rubbers often serve as a intermediate step to choose even harder, faster rubbers with more performance capacity.
Where I see potential, and the issue is the same with all modern speed-glue-effect, ESN or Spring Sponge rubbers so far, is this: While a soft, speed-glued rubber could also have a lot of power and speed, from my point of view this is no longer the case with the modern soft rubbers.
The only rubber I ever had such a feeling with was a Donic Baracuda Big Slam, freshly glued (without VOC) straight out of the package. After 2-3 weeks, however, this became much softer and also slower again.
This “problem” cannot be solved if, as with the andro Hexer Powergrip SFX, it is primarily a matter of developing the harder version and then later a soft sponge is put under the same or a similar topsheet. You would have to come up with a completely separate approach.
Expectations with the HPG SFX
Even though this was a bit off-topic, questions like this concern me while I’m evaluating a rubber like the Powergrip SFX. It’s no secret that soft rubbers can never achieve the same rating from me than harder rubbers do. And this is one of those reasons.
Turning to the andro Hexer Powergrip SFX, I examine what characteristics the rubber has compared to its predecessors. Which types of players should switch to the SFX? Which rubbers can be compared with it and where does the rubber rank?
Technical attributes of andro Hexer Powergrip SFX
The andro Hexer Powergrip SFX has the same topsheet as its harder brother. The pimple structure is kept rather low, with average to wide pimples, which are relatively narrow in position. Nevertheless, the rubber mixture is comparatively flexible. The rubber surface is very grippy.
The sponge has a hardness of 42.5°. The pores are somewhat finer than on the HPG. In the squeeze test, this appears very flexible overall.
My rubber (red 2.1mm) weighs 93.61g. Without packaging, the uncut rubber comes to 64.38g. Cut to Stiga’s standard size, 43.20g remain on the racket.
Playing characteristics of andro Hexer Powergrip SFX
While countering, the andro Hexer Powergrip SFX shows itself very playable. A good sound and high catapult are present in all strokes. The catapult development can be dosed well, although a large portion is present in quite passive strokes.
In general, feeling and control dominate the action. The basic speed of the HPG SFX can be considered in the medium range. Overall, however, slightly faster than previous spin-strong medium-soft rubbers, but lower than those with thinner topsheet and MAX+ sponges.
Topspin, Speed & Half Distance
As already mentioned, the andro Hexer Powergrip SFX is very spin-friendly. The great strength are soft topspins, which serve as preparation for the open rally. Especially when I’m late and I let the balls drop far, I can skillfully apply the strokes. Overall, the trajectory of the ball on these shots is in the medium to medium-high range, but very short.
Another strength are loops, which are played more from the wrist. You can wrap the ball well. The catapult and the grippy rubber surface create a good mixture of spin and control. Especially on the backhand side the faster attacks can be prepared well. Also longer rallies can be played safely.
When speed is increased, the catapult initially has a good effect on the strokes. From a medium stroke hardness on, the sponge hits its limits. The andro Hexer Powergrip SFX is more effective in long and smooth stroke movements, while the maximum speed is in the lower to medium range.
Nevertheless, I was able to keep up surprisingly well with counter loops. The HPG SFX is safe to play with a lot of spin on long rallies. The dynamic development is also sufficient for the half-distance. So if you like to play along instead of taking the full initiative yourself, you can score by a spin-heavy and persistent play.
Compared to the spin-strong soft rubbers, the andro Hexer Powergrip SFX ranks as a variant with a high catapult-effect. In contrast to a Butterfly Tenergy 05 FX, Donic Baracuda Big Slam or Donic Bluefire M3, the topsheet is also comparatively soft. This leads to more control, but also to the fact that these mentioned rubbers have more impact at the initial ball contact and ultimately a bit more spin.
I think the Tibhar Evolution FX-S is the best alternative. This one has slightly more dynamic and less catapult, but is closer to HPG SFX in overall hardness because the topsheet is a little more flexible than T05 FX and co.
The strong catapult reminds me of that of the rubbers with thinner topsheet. In general, the Hexer Powergrip SFX has similarities with rubbers like the JOOLA Rhyzer 43, andro Rasanter R42, Donic Bluestorm Z3 or Xiom Omega VII Euro. However, the SFX is slower and has a higher spin arc.
Service & Return
I was able to generate a good amount of spin on serves. It’s very noticeable how easy it is. I always had a nice feeling, especially on sidespin serves. Placement is good, although not as accurate as with harder rubbers.
On returns, the andro Hexer Powergrip SFX forgives a lot of easy mistakes. The ball dips nicely into the rubber and can be controlled well. The sponge balances out the incoming spin, which is why I wouldn’t call it a spin-sensitive rubber. However, a good spin can be generated playing actively. Overall, the spin level is high on backspins.
For flips and openings above the table, the rate and the wrapping of the ball is in the focus. The trajectory is sufficient to set up nice banana flips or open effectively with spin strokes over the table on slightly higher balls. Direct flips are a weak point because the direct impact is missing.
Blocking, Shooting & High Defense
I personally consider the andro Hexer Powergrip SFX as ideal for blocking. I like how the rubber grips the ball and at the same time returns it safely with its high catapult. The forgiving effect of catapult, overall feeling and moderate pace makes the rubber perfect for a passive backhand side. Only the Hexer Duro is a more balanced and forgiving when I look at all andro rubbers. The Rasanter V42, or even the R37, on the other hand, I just consider as spongy.
With more active blocks, speed can be built up in a well-dosed manner, which, in combination with placement and ball security, can bring opponents into distress. However, the rubber also reaches its limits with very hard blocks.
In the shooting game, the catapult dominates over the dynamics. That’s why it’s possible to play safely, but not with much force. That doesn’t surprise me at all. Those who fall back defensively will experience a reliable, controllable rubber that needs to be played somewhat actively to get the perfect length for high defense. Counterattacks are spinny, but rather harmless.
Conclusion on andro Hexer Powergrip SFX
With the andro Hexer Powergrip SFX, a rubber has been developed that expands the rubber market with a spinny, catapult soft version. The great strengths of the rubber are in the topspin opening, in loops from the wrist and in the blocking game. Therefore, the rubber is ideal for a secure spin game or can be used on the passive backhand side.
Furthermore, the rubber joins the TOP softies around T05 FX, Evolution FX-S or Bluefire M3, but gives one a more catapult-heavy, softer and more forgiving alternative. In addition, the rubber is slower than the rubbers with thinner topsheet.
If you want to switch from an andro Hexer Duro to a spin-strong but still controlled rubber, you can also consider the HPG SFX. It is just ultimately the question of whether the slightly better attacking qualities justify a change, because the Duro is just so harmonious and well-balanced.