Butterfly’s range of Timo Boll and Zhang Jike blades are hugely popular. However, there are several signature blades available making it hard for players to be able to select the best option for their playing style. In this article, I’ll be directly comparing Timo Boll and Zhang Jike blades so you can decide which blade is best for you.
Timo Boll vs Zhang Jike Blades
Butterfly Timo Boll and Zhang Jike blades of the same type (e.g. ALC and ZLC) have the same thickness, and vibration/ reaction ratings however the weights can vary. Timo Boll blades have a slightly thinner handle on the straight-handle models compared to Zhang Jike blades, however the flared handles are the same size.
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Let’s first start by comparing the physical characteristics of each Timo Boll and Zhang Jike blade in order to understand the differences in how they feel and perform. We’ll be looking at:
- Handle size
Thicker blades tend to feel harder and stiffer which means they offer less “feeling” for the player as they do not vibrate as much. Some players prefer a blade which produces less vibrations, whilst some prefer the feedback that a thinner blade provides.
Thicker blades are generally more powerful than thinner blades. They feel more stable for blocking and the player will not need to put as much effort into the stroke in order to get the ball to move as quickly.
If you want to learn more about blade thickness and why it matter, check out my article comparing thick and thin blades.
The Timo Boll ZLF blade is the thinnest one available, whilst the Zhang Jike ALC, Timo Boll ALC ANDTimo Boll Spirit are the thickest. Timo Boll and Zhang Jike ALC and ZLC blades are the same thickness. However, the Timo Boll T5000 blade is 0.1 mm thinner than the equivalent Zhang Jike T5000 blade.
Here is a table comparing the thicknesses of each Timo Boll and Zhang Jike blades.
|Timo Boll ZLF||5.4 mm|
|Timo Boll ZLC||5.5 mm|
|Zhang Jike ZLC||5.5 mm|
|Timo Boll T5000||5.5 mm|
|Zhang Jike Super ZLC||5.6 mm|
|Zhang Jike T5000||5.6 mm|
|Timo Boll CAF||5.7 mm|
|Timo Boll ALC||5.8 mm|
|Zhang Jike ALC||5.8 mm|
|Timo Boll Spirit||5.8 mm|
The weight of a blade affects two things: power and agility.
- Heavier blades are more powerful so the ball will travel at a faster speed when hit with an identical stroke compared to if it were hit with a lighter blade.
- Lighter blades allow the player to react more quickly and are better for counter-attacking and players who are positioned closer to the table.
If you want to learn more about blade weight, check out my comparison between heavy and light blades for all the pros and cons.
The Timo Boll CAF blade is the lightest, whilst the Zhang Jike Super ZLC and Timo Boll T5000 blades are the heaviest. The Zhang Jike and Timo Boll ZLC blades both weight 86 g. However, when looking at the Zhang Jike and Timo Boll versions of the ALC and T5000 blades, the weights are different.
Here is a table comparing the weight of each Timo Boll and Zhang Jike blades.
|Timo Boll CAF||82 g|
|Timo Boll ALC||85 g|
|Timo Boll ZLC||86 g|
|Zhang Jike ZLC||86 g|
|Timo Boll ZLF||87 g|
|Timo Boll Spirit||89 g|
|Zhang Jike ALC||88 g|
|Zhang Jike T5000||88 g|
|Timo Boll T5000||90 g|
|Zhang Jike Super ZLC||90 g|
All Timo Boll and Zhang Zike blades have a carbon and wood composition, however they use slightly different materials. All blades have a 5+2 ply composition except the Timo Boll CAF blade which has a 3+2 ply structure.
- Acrylate Carbon (Spirit and ALC blades): designed to have a medium-soft touch and increased stability for versatile play
- ZL Fiber (ZLF blade): lightweight and flexible due to its low density.
- ZL Carbon (ZLC blade): has a medium-hard touch to increase spin and speed
- Super ZL Carbon (Super ZLC Blade): medium touch and very high speed
- CA Fiber (CAF Blade): has increased flexibility and control
|Timo Boll ALC/ Spirit and Zhang Jike ALC||5-ply wood + 2 Acrylate-Carbon|
|Timo Boll ZLF||5-ply wood + 2 ZL-Fiber|
|Timo Boll and Zhang Jike ZLC||5-ply wood + 2 ZL-Carbon|
|Zhang Jike Super ZLC||5-ply wood + 2 Super ZL-Carbon|
|Timo Boll CAF||3-ply wood + 2 CA-Fiber|
|Timo Boll and Zhang Jike T5000||5-ply wood + 2 TAMCA 5000 Carbon Fiber|
Timo Boll and Zhang Jike blades vary according to their handle sizes when comparing the straight and anatomic models.
- Straight handles: Timo Boll blade handles are 1 mm thinner and have an end with of 0.5 mm shorter compared to Zhang Jike blade handles
- Anatomic handle: Timo Boll blade have an end width of 2 mm more compared to Zhang Jike blade handles
|Handle Type||Timo Boll Blades||Zhang Jike Blades|
|Flared||100 x 25 x 34 mm||100 x 25 x 34 mm|
|Straight||100 x 22 x 27.5 mm||100 x 23 x 28 mm|
|Anatomic||100 x 24 x 34 mm||100 x 24 x 32 mm|
Check out my complete guide to the Timo Boll blade range to learn the differences between each version.
The “reaction” score of a table tennis blade refers to how powerful it is. A blade with a higher reaction score will produce more power, meaning the ball will travel more quickly when hit with the same stroke compared to when using a blade with a lower reaction score.
Timo Boll and Zhang Jike blades which use the same carbon material have the same reaction score according to Butterfly. The reaction scores only vary between compositions with T5000 blades having the highest score and the Timo Boll ZLF blade having the lowest score.
Here is a table showing the Butterfly-assigned reaction scores for each Timo Boll and Zhang Jike blades.
|Zhang Jike T5000||12.6|
|Timo Boll T5000||12.6|
|Zhang Jike Super ZLC||12.3|
|Timo Boll Spirit||11.8|
|Zhang Jike ALC||11.8|
|Timo Boll ALC||11.8|
|Zhang Jike ZLC||11.7|
|Timo Boll ZLC||11.7|
|Timo Boll CAF||10.6|
|Timo Boll ZLF||10.5|
The vibration score is used to measure how much “feeling” the blade offers. A blade with a high vibration score will have a harder feel whereas a blade with a low vibration score will have a softer feel.
Some players prefer a softer feeling blade as it helps to give them feedback so they can feel when a stroke has been successful or unsuccessful. This helps the player to improve more quickly. On the other hand, blades with a higher vibration score are often preferred by blockers and smashers who prefer the more stable feeling.
As with the Butterfly reaction scores, Timo Boll and Zhang Jike blades with the same composition (e.g. ALC, ZLC, T5000) have the same vibration score.
Here is a table showing vibration scores from Butterfly for each Timo Boll and Zhang Jike blades.
|Zhang Jike T5000||11.3|
|Timo Boll T5000||11.3|
|Zhang Jike Super ZLC||11.1|
|Zhang Jike ZLC||10.8|
|Timo Boll ZLC||10.8|
|Timo Boll CAF||10.4|
|Zhang Jike ALC||10.3|
|Timo Boll ALC||10.3|
|Timo Boll Spirit||10.3|
|Timo Boll ZLF||9.4|
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