Table tennis rubbers are quite expensive for the average player, especially for those from less economically privileged countries.
This leads to many players using very old rubbers or quitting the sport altogether since they can’t afford to change their rubbers when they lose their grip.
It’s very easy to be discouraged from playing if you can’t afford proper equipment. Sadly, I see this happen all the time in my native Argentina.
It would seem that to play table tennis you need at least $80 every few months to get new rubbers. If you wanted to play with top-of-the-line Dignics rubbers, then you’d need to spend more than $180 every time you changed them.
What would table tennis be like if you could get brand new rubbers for (almost) free?
Table of Contents
The Huieson Rubber from AliExpress
This whole story started a few months back. I was surfing Aliexpress and I came across this:
The Huieson Thunder can be purchased for just $0.01 as long as you pay $3 for the shipment.
As the saying goes, curiosity killed the cat, and in this case, curiosity made me pay that $0.01 dollars plus a small shipping fee to see what this rubber is all about.
1 month and 7 days later, it arrived. Shipment can take up to 3 months so you will have to be patient if you want to buy this rubber.
If you want to try it out, this is the purchase link.
My initial impressions were, let’s say, not great.
When I saw the rubber, the first thing I noticed is that it came in a Ziploc bag. It’s not like all the other table tennis rubbers that come in a package.
“As long as the rubber is fine, it doesn’t really change anything” I thought.
The rubber was not fine. See for yourselves:
At this point, I had already decided rubber was going to be useless. But hey, after all, it was already here, I had to try it.
After working on it with a rolling pin, I managed to flatten it out and glued it to my Tibhar Stratus Power Wood.
The topsheet is as tacky as the Friendship 729 Super FX, and the sponge is of medium hardness to the touch, around 44-46 degrees ESN.
The rubber is fairly light, weighing just 41 grams in its only sponge variant, 2.2mm.
This resulted in a huge step down in weight in comparison to the Hurricane 3 NEO I had before. My racket was much easier to swing since it was now 12 grams lighter.
Looking at it, I realized something. It had the High Tension symbol. I looked more closely and, wait, what’s this?
Instead of saying “tension”, the text above the high tension symbol says “terson”. At least it’s just aesthetic!
Playing with a 1 Cent Rubber
I told my coach that I was going to be playing with a free rubber. Below I show my first shot with it:
Me: “Oh, no”. Him: “Yep, it’s terrible”.
What was I thinking? Nothing good could come out of a rubber that cost me 1 cent.
In my head, I was thinking, well, I can write a funny article about the worst rubber ever made and be done with it.
However, after I kept warming up with it, I found that if I hit the ball with a little more power, I could get it to work.
You see, the rubber I use normally is the Yasaka Rakza Z. This rubber has a very high throw and a very pronounced factory boost. You just have to touch the ball and it will fly to the other side.
With this rubber, you have to hit the ball and direct it where you want it to go. You should put the strength yourself, the rubber won’t shoot the ball by itself. There is no catapult effect.
After flat-hitting with it, I told my coach, well, I’m going to try topspins. In my head, I knew nothing good could come out of this, but I had to try anyway.
When I started playing topspins, I thought, wait, this is not so bad!
Furthermore, as I warmed up and adjusted to the difference in speed between the Rakza Z and this, I found this rubber to have very good spin and exceptional control.
5 minutes later, this was happening. Neither he nor I could believe it.
Turns out this rubber is pretty good for topspins, and not just on the forehand side!
To prove my point, I lent my racket to my coach, and he tried the rubber on his backhand side. This was the result:
I don’t know if it’s the mysterious terson technology or what, but this rubber worked great!
If you can generate speed by yourself, this rubber has more than enough spin to hit all kinds of shots.
The ball sinks into the sponge and gives a feeling of total control over all shots.
In addition, it is fantastic for making chops. It has a lot of control and is not very spin sensitive. As long as you angle your blade right, the rubber will do the rest.
What stands out the most for me is how much fun it was to play with this rubber. It’s so easy to use and has so much control that I just couldn’t put it down.
All shots can be made and the ball goes in by itself, not like with the new tensor rubbers, where you have to be aware of your racket angle and your acceleration to get the ball to go in.
What’s more, I liked this rubber better than the Friendship 729 Super FX.
This rubber has a softer sponge, so it is much more forgiving and the throw is not as flat as that with the Friendship rubber.
With this rubber, you simply hit the ball however you want and the ball goes in. Both blocking and the short game are very confidence-inspiring to play with this rubber.
Other shots in which this rubber stands out are open-ups, as it has very good spin and a high degree of control.
You can’t hit a winning shot against a backspin ball, but safe open-ups are very consistent and travel with good spin.
The same can be said for serves. When you serve with this rubber, they are very easy to place and have good spin.
This rubber is a very balanced, coherent package. It has good spin and a lot of control, so it can be used for many situations and playstyles.
A serious product review
However, not everything is positive. This rubber has some problems that can be deal-breakers for many players.
1) The rubber can arrive at your house looking like mine. I would find it unacceptable for any table tennis rubber to arrive almost folded in half.
However, this rubber was basically free, and after flattening it out, it worked like a charm.
2) This rubber is not ITTF-approved. This is a problem that can affect those who play in official tournaments.
If we think from a moral perspective, I would use it in competitions that do not check for ITTF approval.
Most of the unapproved rubbers are because they are frictionless pips or special rubbers that generate some kind of unfair disruptive effect.
This rubber is a simple inverted rubber that is not approved simply because of the cost. It costs a lot of money to get ITTF approval, and this rubber is free, so it’s completely understandable that they haven’t approved it.
To sum our ideas up, we put together a list of pros and cons of this peculiar rubber.
- It’s free.
- Exceptional control.
- Good spin.
- Not ITTF approved.
- Mediocre speed for attacking.
Should You Use This Rubber?
It depends, but I think a lot of people could use it.
I think that beginners, all-round players, and defenders would be very happy with this rubber, especially if they are looking to spend little (or in this case virtually no) money.
Most offensive players will find this rubber to lack speed, but, as we saw in the videos before, it is possible to use this rubber to attack. Granted, your attacks won’t be fast, but they will be spinny and consistent.
In the videos, I am using all my strength and the rubber isn’t producing a lot of power. The difference in speed is very noticeable.
However, if you are looking for a rubber with great control and good spin, I highly recommend it.
Considering the cost, it’s worth the risk of the rubber arriving in poor condition and very few places check for the ITTF approval mark.
This rubber can be glued onto club or school paddles and it is ideal for beginners to have good control when learning techniques.
If you are a beginner and you want to change the rubbers on your premade racket, or you want your first custom racket to have tons of control, you could use this rubber.
You can also use this rubber to build return boards. You can buy 6-10 of these rubbers and build a return board to practice when you’re alone.
In conclusion, I grew fond of this rubber. I had so much fun with it that it was hard to get it off my racket.
But I took it out to pass it on to a beginner player. And I think that’s what this is all about.
This rubber shows that you can play table tennis with few resources and that your skill as a player matters much more than the equipment you use.
You don’t need to pay hundreds of dollars to play good table tennis. What you need is the desire to play, and the rest comes by itself. You can enjoy this beautiful sport regardless of how much your racket costs.