The Donic Baracuda, launched in 2009, is a rubber that has without a doubt transcended its era. Unlike its contemporaries, the Baracuda continues to top the sales rankings more than 10 years after its introduction to the market.
Why do people like the Baracuda so much? According to Donic, its main attributes are its spin generation capabilities and “the highest throw angle of all rubbers that are currently available”.
This combination of characteristics is supposed to make it a lot easier to attack backspin balls and gives a greater margin of error when counter looping.
We have tested it extensively on both the forehand and backhand side, drawing our own conclusions.
Perfect for: Offensive and all-round players of all levels on either side of the racket. 0-15+ years of playing
Alvaro brings 7+ years of playing experience. He’s tested 20+ rubbers for Racket Insight and his style is The Controller.
Blade Used: Stratus Power Wood
Rubber Thickness: MAX
Hours Tested: 10+
We recommend the Donic Baracuda to players who want to attack their opponents with high-arcing, spinny shots while retaining great control and dwell time.
Design of the Donic Baracuda
The Donic Baracuda comes in a high-quality sealed package. I was surprised at how well packaged the rubber was, especially at this price point.
Although I wouldn’t say it’s cheap, the Baracuda is one of the more affordable rubbers ESN rubbers available. Similar rubbers can be very expensive.
Our Baracuda cost us around 30 Euros, which I think is a great deal for a rubber with this build quality and playing characteristics.
Inside, we find the best packaging I have seen on any of the rubbers I have owned thus far.
Although the packaging does not affect the playing qualities of the rubber, they are usually indicative of the general quality of the brand and the product.
Once we remove the protective film, we find the rubber in question.
The Baracuda is a shiny rubber with a very bright red color. If we touch the rubber we can immediately tell that it is extremely grippy and slightly tacky. Pressing on the rubber, we can describe its hardness as “medium”.
Another thing that caught my attention was when I turned the rubber upside down. See for yourselves:
The Baracuda was extremely curved, an obvious sign of chemical treatment and high tension.
The uncut sheet of the Donic Baracuda weighs 68 grams, and, when cut slightly oversized for my Tibhar Stratus Power Wood, it weighs 50 grams.
Playtesting the Donic Baracuda
Overall, I’d say the Baracuda has tons of grip, a high arc, medium hardness, and it feels surprisingly good in play.
The Donic Baracuda sits just in between. I really liked that the Baracuda feels spongey and clicky at the same time. The ball soaks into the sponge, offering great dwell time, but it also feels quite lively because of its inbuilt tension.
Driving and looping
The first warm-up drives with the Baracuda showed me that, although the rubber is not very fast, its throw is very high, and I initially overshot the table a few times.
When driving the ball, it’s a matter of closing the racket angle and hitting forward rather than upwards. This gives us a controllable shot with relatively good speed.
The rubber we are reviewing is definitely a looping rubber.
Several aspects make it a special rubber when it comes to looping, and they are its medium speed, its incredible grip, and its high throw.
The most important thing I learned with this rubber is that you have to close the racket angle and hit forward rather than upwards to get the ball on the table.
With the Hurricane 3 NEO, for example, I find that I have to hit a lot more upwards. The same stroke with the Baracuda would send the ball long every single time.
So, if you close the angle of the racket, you are forced to graze the ball, and this, added to the enormous grip that the rubber has, causes the ball to naturally travel with a lot of quality and spin.
This was very apparent when looping on the backhand side. One can simply close the angle of the racket and graze over the ball. This produces a spinny backhand loop, even with a short motion. Not many rubbers can do what the Baracuda does.
I never doubted myself when playing with this rubber, I just closed the racket angle and it went in every time. There is no ball slippage, so you can just trust the rubber and hit forwards.
Many users on the web found similarities between the Tenergy 05 and the Baracuda and I can see why.
I’d say the Baracuda is like a slightly slower, more linear Tenergy 05. It doesn’t act like the Tenergy in the sense that it isn’t as quick and bouncy, but they are similar in their spin capabilities, spin sensitivity, and high throw.
The result of this tamer Tenergy 05 is a superb looping rubber that gives the player a lot of confidence when playing.
Another peculiarity that I found with the Baracuda is that my opponent’s blocks returned higher than usual.
My loops with the Baracuda traveled with a high arc and with lots of spin, so when my opponent blocked my attacks, the ball also traveled higher.
The Baracuda is much easier to play than many other rubbers because you receive the ball at a higher height, so you can just hit the ball forward or even downwards and the rubber will do the rest.
In this clip you can see that the height of the game is much higher than with most rubbers I have tried, and this makes it much easier for attacks to land on the table.
Another attribute that I can highlight about the Baracuda is that it instills confidence when hitting forward. It was very easy for me to take shots over the bounce and also, as we said before, it is also good when picking up low balls and hitting difficult shots.
In the following point, we can see all the positive qualities we just mentioned in full effect:
First of all, the open-up is very easy to execute due to the rubber’s tremendous grip, high arc, and medium speed. You really have a lot of dwell time and control.
That spinny open-up comes back to me quite high, so the follow-up attack can be taken over the bounce due to the Baracuda’s high arc. The next shot is a smash to end the point.
In conclusion, the Baracuda is an excellent looping rubber on either the forehand or the backhand side and is very good for all levels of play due to its high grip and control.
Serve and receive
When serving, the Baracuda behaved very well. It was easy to serve with tons of spin and was also simple to keep them short.
A killer combination that works great with Baracuda is to serve heavy backspin and open up the return. The serve will be very difficult for the opponent to flick and the open-up will be loaded with spin, leading to easy points.
On the receiving end, things are a bit more complicated. The spin sensitivity is very noticeable when it comes to receiving services, but its grip is also superb. If you know what you are doing, you can override your opponent’s spin with your own shots.
The Baracuda is an exceptional rubber when backhand flicking due to the high arc of the rubber and the tremendous grip it has, but you always have to be very careful when judging incoming spin. It is very easy to make mistakes on the receive.
Where this rubber suffers is on passive serve receives. When it came to playing games, I made more errors than I usually do.
Blocking and chopping
From the beginning, we understood that this rubber is not made to block or chop, but under certain circumstances, the rubber performs well.
If the opponent does not attack with much spin, the rubber behaves perfectly, even better than other rubbers because of its medium speed. If the opponent’s attack is relatively straightforward, the ball can be blocked without problems.
However, the spin sensitivity of this rubber makes it really difficult to block spinny shots. More often than not, I popped up the ball, at least a bit, when trying to block spinny open-ups.
As for chopping, it’s a similar story. If my opponent didn’t attack me with a lot of spin, my chops had good control and carried devastating spin. Now, when my opponent attacked with heavy topspin, my chops always went either too high or too long.
Alternatives to the Donic Baracuda
The Nittaku Fastarc G-1 is as spinny and high-throwing as the Baracuda, but it plays a bit harder and it’s considerably faster.
The Xiom Vega X is similar to the Donic Baracuda in terms of their speed levels, their control and their grip. The Vega X is like a much lower throwing version of the Baracuda.
The Yasaka Rakza 7 is slightly more controllable and a lot lower throwing than the Baracuda, but they’re both very spinny rubbers designed for controlled offensive play.
Overall reflections on the Donic Baracuda.
To sum up, the Donic Baracuda is an excellent rubber, it is very balanced and I think I could use it on either side of my racket.
My attacks with the Baracuda had great quality and I felt very confident using it from the first moment I picked it up.
Granted, it doesn’t have the speed of an MX-P (for example), but it’s a lot easier to use and it has tons of control
I would recommend this rubber to players who like to spin the ball. In my opinion, it is the ideal rubber for beginner and intermediate-level loopers. This is not the rubber for players who like to flat hit the ball. Its high throw and spin sensitivity make it a mediocre hitting rubber.
Advanced loopers may find the rubber lacking in speed, but for an intermediate level of play, its speed is more than enough. The rubber has lots of inbuilt tension, and its speed levels are slightly higher than the Rakza Z.
Honestly, I feel that the rubber works similarly to the Rakza Z, in the sense that they are both high-throwing rubbers that prioritize spin over speed. However, the Baracuda is somewhat faster and has more “European” characteristics than the Rakza.
As I said before, I recommend this rubber for offensive and all-round players looking for spin, control, and sufficient speed on their shots.
Alvaro’s been playing Table Tennis since he was 15 and is now ranked within the top 100 in his native Argentina. He loves to compete in provincial tournaments and is always looking for ways to improve. Alvaro made his favourite memories with a racket in hand, and he joined the RacketInsight team to share his passion with other players!