Fake table tennis rubbers come very close to the real thing when you first look at them. However, once you start hitting with them, you realize that they’re nothing like the original.
If you don’t know what to look out for, you might purchase fake rubbers yourself, thinking that they’re real.
In this article, we’ll explain what you need to look out for in a rubber to make sure it’s a genuine product. Use our 6 methods for identifying fake table tennis rubbers and never fall for a scam again.
1) Check the brand
The first way to tell whether your rubber is fake or not is its brand.
Some brands are way more likely to be counterfeited than others.
If we think about counterfeiting in general, most objects that are usually copied are either very expensive or mass-produced.
Two of the most counterfeited watches are Rolex watches and Casio watches.
Rolex watches are counterfeited because they’re very expensive. Everyone wants a Rolex but not anyone can afford them.
Casio watches are actually quite affordable, but there are also lots of counterfeit ones because of their high demand.
Something similar happens in the world of table tennis rubbers.
The 2 most counterfeited brands are by far Butterfly and DHS. In our analogy, Butterfly would be Rolex and DHS would be Casio.
There are tons of fake Butterfly rubbers because of their price. Tenergy rubbers cost between 50% and 100% more than a regular ESN tensor rubber.
There are also lots of counterfeit DHS rubbers in the market because there’s just so much demand for them, especially in Asian countries.
Another thing to keep in mind regarding DHS rubbers is that many of the counterfeit rubbers are sold as “provincial” or “National” versions.
Sellers will sometimes go as far as to tell you that they got the rubbers from provincial or National players themselves. This is a pretty common scam on the internet.
DHS has commercial, provincial, and National versions for lots of their rubbers.
The provincial and National versions cost a lot more than the commercial versions. National DHS rubbers are super expensive.
As of writing this article, the National Hurricane 3 rubbers are the most expensive in the market, with prices even higher than those of Butterfly rubbers.
Lots of people will sell DHS provincial or National rubbers at a lower price, but they’re obviously counterfeit.
Apart from Butterfly and DHS, there are also counterfeit ESN rubbers (which represent most other brands), but in much lower proportions.
On the other hand, there are brands you can be confident about when buying, such as Yinhe or other low-cost Chinese brands.
For example, nobody will manufacture a fake Yinhe Mercury 2 because the real product costs just $5.
On a side note, if you’re contemplating buying a rubber that could possibly be fake due to the price, I’d recommend you take a look at the Yinhe Mercury 2. It’s impossible to beat a genuine rubber for just $5.
I have met people who purposefully bought fake Tenergy rubbers for around $15-20 to see if they come close to the real thing.
Most fake rubbers will play nothing like the original because they’re manufactured in factories that don’t do any R&D and their quality control is non-existent.
Fake rubbers usually play very slow and have no spin, so it’s a lot better to get a cheaper genuine rubber such as the Mercury.
In short, if you’re buying a Butterfly or a DHS rubber, you should take extra precautions and analyze the next points thoroughly.
If you’re buying an ESN rubber such as a Donic or a Yasaka rubber, you should also take the precautionary measures we’ll explain next, but the chances of them being fake are much slimmer.
If you’re buying a cheap rubber from Yinhe, Dawei, Kokutaku, or similar low-cost brands, rest assured that your rubber will be genuine.
2) Is the price right?
The second tip we have to identify a fake rubber is its price. If the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
If you’re being offered a Tenergy rubber for $60, or a National DHS rubber for $50, then it’s a fake product, no doubt about it.
Most online retailers sell their rubbers at around the same price. If one of them was selling genuine rubbers for 20 or 30% less, then everyone would be buying their rubbers from them.
If you’re unsure about the market price of a given rubber, look it up on a reputable seller’s website.
If I was being offered a Fastarc G-1 for $40-45, then the price would be right, because reputable sellers have it listed at that price.
This doesn’t mean that the rubber is genuine, though. It could be a fake rubber that they’re selling at the real price, but this scenario is much rarer.
If you are being offered a brand new Fastarc G-1 for $25 or less, then you can be 99.9% sure that it’s fake.
3) Can you trust the seller?
The third and most reliable way to tell if a rubber is genuine or fake is who you got it from.
If you got your rubber from a reputable seller, then there’s no chance your product is fake because reputable sellers are authorized dealers of the brands.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to buy equipment from reputable sellers.
Not only do they sell genuine equipment, but their customer service is great, they have the best prices and their shipping is usually very fast.
If you ever come across a table tennis website and you have doubts about its legitimacy, search on the internet for reviews.
Most counterfeit table tennis equipment will be sold either on smaller websites or on Aliexpress or eBay.
For the most part, buying rubbers on the internet is fairly low risk, you just have to search for reviews of the website or the seller that you’re planning to purchase from.
Here’s an example of fake rubbers being sold on Aliexpress:
We can tell that these rubbers are fake because their price isn’t correct. Yasaka Rakza 7 rubbers are around the $40 mark.
It’s impossible that they’re selling genuine Yasaka products at $12.
In addition to this, if we take a look at the reviews, we can see that the buyers are saying that these rubbers are not genuine.
This Israeli player, for example, thought he was getting a genuine product when in fact it wasn’t.
As he says, fake rubbers often don’t have any speed or spin to them.
There’s lots of genuine equipment on sale on Aliexpress, but you have to pay attention to the brand they’re selling, the price of the rubbers, and the reviews section to tell whether their products are real or not.
4) Examine the typography
A tell-tale sign of whether a rubber is genuine or not is the typography used.
Some low-quality fake rubbers will have errors in the branding on the topsheet.
Make sure to inspect the rubber closely to see whether there are any differences from the real model.
It’s also a good idea to check the serial number and the thickness stamped on the sponge of the rubber.
If we take the fake Rakza from Aliexpress, for example, we’ll notice that the serial number and the thickness are laid out differently than it is on real rubbers.
This is the backside of the fake Rakza 7:
And this is the backside of the genuine Rakza 7 we reviewed:
Make sure to check on the internet for any irregularities between the product you’re being offered and photos of genuine rubbers.
5) Check the sponge and rubber colors
Another sign of a rubber being fake is its color.
If your rubber isn’t the same shade of red or black as the real thing, chances are that it’s fake.
Some rubber models are more opaque, while others are shinier, so you need to compare like-for-like with a genuine version of the same rubber.
It’s also a good idea to take a look at the color of the sponge. It’s very hard for fake rubber manufacturers to get it perfectly right, so most fake rubbers will have slightly different sponge colors than what they should have.
6) Play with the rubber
The last way to tell if a rubber is fake is to simply play with it.
As we said before, fake rubbers behave nothing like genuine ones. You’re likely to lose spin, speed, control and often experience inconsistent behavior.
If your rubber has surprisingly little speed or spin, the chances are it’s a fake product.
Avoid buying fake rubbers
Buying genuine table tennis equipment has never been easier.
Most reputable table tennis sellers ship worldwide, so we highly recommend buying your equipment from them.
If you purchase your table tennis goods from authorized sellers, then you’ll always get genuine rubbers. You won’t run the risk of receiving a rubber that makes your game worse!
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!