The Donic BlueGrip R1 is, like Donic BlueGrip V1, a hard table tennis rubber with a sticky top sheet. What makes these rubbers special is the fact that they are normal ESN tensor rubbers. Contrary to the typical Chinese rubbers and Chinese hybrid rubbers, the usual tensor effect should simply be combined with a sticky top sheet.
Meanwhile, there are some rubbers available that have similar attributes. Tibhar Hybrid K1 Euro and JOOLA Golden Tango PS have already been tested extensively. Butterfly will release another hard, modern table tennis rubber this spring with its Dignics 9C, which will be equipped with a sticky top rubber as well.
The main question to me is whether these very hard rubbers are really a solution for the modern table tennis or simply just another attempt of the table tennis industry to offer another answer to the plastic ball.
Before rubbers with a thinner top sheet and maximum sponge were the answer. So far no solution could really convince me. Whether the rubbers are softer, stickier, faster or harder, the plastic ball still allows less spin. What would help, and here we are again in the illegal area, would be to booster the rubbers to create more speed and spin. Interestingly, harder table tennis rubbers are well suited for tuning as they become softer and more elastic.
What interests me most when testing BlueGrip R1 is how the playing characteristics of the rubber differ from Hybrid K1 Euro or Golden Tango PS. And also what the difference is between R1 and V1. Can the Donic BlueGrip R1 stand out from the competition?
Attributes of Donic BlueGrip R1
|Reviewed rubber||Red Max.|
|Sponge||Medium-sized pores 50° Shores (EUR) Hard|
After looking at some rubbers with a sticky top sheet, I have to say that the BlueGrip R1 has a slight to medium stickiness. The top sheet itself is robust.
Compared to BG V1 you’ll find more flexibility. The sponge is medium porous and quite hard. Donic has been using a blue sponge for years now. Therefore the color of the top sheet must always be kept matt.
With regard to weight we have an average heavy table tennis rubber. Cut on my Stiga blade, 47,57g remain on the racket.
Playing characteristics of Donic BlueGrip R1
When countering, the rubber appears as hard and undynamic as expected. Due to the sticky rubber surface, I had the feeling that I could lead the ball well. BlueGrip R1 reminded me of Tibhar Hybrid K1. With blind testing and turning between the two rubbers I could hardly see any difference in counter play. the overall feel is the same.
Topspin play & comparison
In the spin game I could create a lot of rotation with Donic BlueGrip R1. The opening topspins can be played safe, fast and direct. The arc is quite flat, which doesn’t differ from the other hard and sticky rubbers. Especially the direct shots are one of the great strengths of this rubber. This applies to topspins as well as to fast-loops and shots, above and behind the table.
Compared to Tibhar Hybrid K1 Euro, which is very similar to BlueGrip R1, I was able to create a little less spin. Instead the rubber seems to be slightly more flexible and forgiving. This helps a bit with variable shots and especially from half distance. Compared to BlueGrip V1 the rubber is slower and more indirect. With the V1, I had even more power in the game close to the table. But the demands on BG V1 are even higher.
From the half distance, Donic BlueGrip R1 develops good dynamics and beats its competitors. Counter topspins can be controlled well. An increase of speed is possible at any time.
The mix of enormous power, with a little less spin sensitivity, makes this rubber a controllable weapon. Slow spin attacks of the opponent can be silenced with a high quota.
Donic BlueGrip R1 has its light and shadow sides while blocking. The amount of spin that the rubber takes on should not be underestimated.
Especially with passive blocks, BG R1 reacts very sensitive to the incoming spin. Once you have the right angle and pressure figured out, the rubber delivers a constantly flat and direct block ball.
Active blocks up to direct counter strokes are preferable, as the blocks then can be played with a good, stable length.
As with Hybrid K1, BlueGrip R1 doesn’t provide the maximum spin in my serves. Although the top sheet is very grippy/tacky and precisely reflects my movements, something is slowing down the spin development on serve. Therefore “only” a very good, not a maximum spin, is generated. At least that’s how I feel.
In case of returns, the complete, active repertoire of strokes is at your disposal. Hard flips, banana flips or safe short lay ups succeed perfectly. When reacting passively, the rubber absorbs an enormous amount of spin, so an appropriate racket angle must be in place to avoid mistakes.
Hard strokes & defense play
In the shooting game, you can act with a lot of power and high precision. Depending on your used blade, this can be an absolute weapon. In the passive defense BlueGrip R1 makes a good figure. But there are rubbers which give more feedback and control. The good thing is that there is enough power and dynamics to effectively apply counter attacks.
Conclusion on Donic BlueGrip R1
Donic BlueGrip R1 is another hard rubber version with a sticky top sheet. The great strengths of this rubber are variable finishing strokes and the half distance play, when compared to similar rubbers. Unfortunately the BG R1 is slightly behind the competition in terms of rotation. But this is not necessarily a disadvantage. Actually on the contrary, because BlueGrip R1 can be controlled better in some game situations.
With an in-house comparison R1 shows more softness, more flexibility and more control than V1. Therefore, the demands increase when BlueGrip V1 is used.
I would recommend this rubber for players who want to score direct points with all kinds of finishing shots, but also want to have the possibility to play from half distance.