I’ve gone through the testing period now – putting in about 12 – 15 hours of playing time with it and trying it across three different types of blades.
Glue: Two layers of Revolution No.3 normal viscosity on the blade and two on the rubber
Blades used: Butterfly Balsa Carbo X5, Stiga Arctic Wood, Yinhe 970xx-K (KLC)
Weight: (Uncut) 68.5g (Cut) 50.6g
The overall surface of the Sanwei Gear Hyper looks high quality with a matt-like finish to it. It had a light tack to it but shouldn’t be regarded as a tacky rubber. I don’t have specific details of the sponge hardness yet (though Sanwei has said that the samples should be 37 degrees) but it feels medium-hard to touch in my unscientific pinch test. It’s softer than the Tibhar Hybrid K2 and slightly softer than the Donic Bluefire M2.
Two word summary: Controlled power
Right from the start, I could feel the rubber was very forgiving with shots. Across the blades used, only minor adjustments were needed to keep the ball on the table. A couple of my friends who tried it out even commented it felt a bit like Tenergy/Dignics though I’m sure they’re talking about the ease of using it!
I’ll add my thoughts on the performance on the three different blades at the end of this review
One of the things I liked best about the rubber was it had a more linear nature compared to some of the ESN rubbers I’ve used like the Donic Bluefire M2 and the Rakza 7. I’ve struggled to use them on my forehand since switching over to mainly Chinese-style tacky rubbers on it about 3 years ago.
Prior to the review, I was using a Tibhar Hybrid K2 and found I needed softer hands when blocking and to slow down my drives to keep the ball on the table. Not so with the Sanwei Gear Hyper! My offensive shots were more controlled and I felt I could better direct where my shots landed compared to the K2. I also tried it out against the Tibhar Evolution EL-S and found the Sanwei easier to use.
Speed-wise, I feel the Sanwei Gear Hyper has slightly less speed than the Donic Bluefire M2 and the Xiom Omega V Asia but has more control than both of them.
Power – 8/10
The Gear Hyper is capable of very high levels of spin, especially when brushing. The high levels of spin also kick in when serving the ball and, thanks to the linear nature of the sponge, it was also easier to keep the service low.
My regular playing partner uses the Bluefire M2 pretty much exclusively and he was able to execute the same amount of spin using the same strokes. He was impressed enough that he wanted to switch away to the Gear Hyper for his forehand.
Happily (for me!), I was able to impart similar levels of spin with the Gear Hyper compared to the K2 so, for me, this is my new favourite forehand rubber.
Spin – 9/10
This is where I feel the rubber shines. It has enough elasticity to give the rubber speed but the level of catapult is low enough to make it a very forgiving rubber.
Other friends who’ve tried the rubber all commented on how forgiving it was.
Compared to the Bluefire M2, the K2, the Omega V Asia, and the Tibhar EL-S. This has higher control than all of them
Control – 10/10
Perhaps due in part to the level of control, I felt this rubber was also good for smashing. Once the sponge kicks in, the ball gets spit out with great force but also, with good levels of accuracy. My playing partner commented that he always felt in control of his smashes with the Sanwei Gear Hyper and was able to direct his shots with greater accuracy.
I felt the same too and had a more consistent third-ball attack through this rubber.
Not quite as deadly as other speedy high catapult-effect ESN rubbers, but is still very capable at causing difficulties.
I was consistently able to handle chopping rallies and easily varied the amount of spin with this rubber. Shots that were usually harder to return with the K2 and the Hurricane 3 were much easier to get over the net.
However, this rubber is still fairly spin sensitive so some care needed to be taken when chopping.
I’m not a defender but I also tried some deep, long defensive chops from further back and found it offered a good level of safety while generating enough spin to make it harder for opponents to loop the ball back.
This rubber has a medium-low throw angle. Higher than the Sanwei Target National but lower than the Bluefire M2, the K2, Omega V Asia, and the EL-S. As such, I feel this is more suitable as a forehand rubber. Players who prefer lower throw angles on their backhands could well consider the Sanwei Gear Hyper as a controlled option.
Butterfly Balsa Carbo X5 – 3 ply blade with a balsa core and 2 carbon layers
The Sanwei Gear Hyper offered a good amount of power and control for offensive strokes despite the typically bouncy nature of this blade. Initially, I was wondering whether there’d be too much spring considering the blade but my concerns were put to rest once I started using it.
Stiga Arctic Wood – 5 ply all wood blade
This was my main blade and the Sanwei Gear Hyper was much easier to use than the Tibhar K2 I had on. At the same time, it was still capable of very high levels of speed when driving and smashing. My game is largely built on third-ball attack and blocking and the Gear Hyper suits me wonderfully.
Yinhe 970xx-K – 5+2 composition with 2 kevlar carbon layers
This is my playing partner’s blade and he found the Sanwei Gear Hyper more controlled than the Bluefire M2 he usually uses. His slow brush loops were still loaded with tremendous amounts of spin that were hard to return and his smashes were still very speedy.
Additional note: In 2021, I had transferred the Sanwei Gear Hyper to a Yinhe M201 and the effect was even better than the Stiga Arctic Wood. I’d be keen to see how it performs on the Sanwei Expert Carbon-series blade like the Froster or the Paramid – expecting good things!
I’d reiterate my two-word summary – controlled power. For me, this will immediately replace my K2 as my forehand rubber once it gets released on the market.
Topsheet is still in great condition despite being used outdoors throughout the entire review period. (Note: It’s still in great condition a year or so later so I would say the topsheet is extremely durable)
The sponge had little to no shrinkage after the first cut. This is good news to players who like to move rubbers between different blades.
Who is this rubber for?
I hesitate to say it’s an allround rubber as that doesn’t seem to do it justice. It’s not as powerful as some of the current and even older generation ESN rubbers but I feel it makes up for it with the level of spin and control it offers.