Butterfly Innerforce ALC Review

Butterfly Innerforce ALC (also known as Innerforce Layer ALC) is an Arylate carbon blade and the next generation of butterfly blades evolving from the successful Timo Boll range. The innerforce ALC is based on the Timo Boll ALC but butterfly have played around with the structure and have made it feel very different. Butterfly have moved the arylate carbon layer closer to the center making it an inner carbon contruction. This makes the blade feel closer to a wooden blade which allows for better control whilst trying to maintain the raw carbon speed.

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I tried the Butterfly Innerforce ALC after I had butterfly’s Timo Boll ALC and unexpectedly these too blades played quite differently. I found them very similar in speed so it is fast but the most noticeable difference was the feel of the blade. I must admit after I had played with them both for a while I slightly preferred the Timo Boll ALC just because of its stronger carbon feeling and pace. I would say that in the Innerforce ALC has more control and feels closer to a wooden blade. In fact if you are coming from a wooden blade the Innerforce ALC would be a lot easier to adapt to.

Manufacturers Description

A soft touch, large sweet spot and powerful performance are the main attribute of this blade.  The Arylate Carbon layers are placed closer to the core for added control.  Suitable for dynamic play and precise placement. 

Structure

The Butterfly Innerforce ALC blade infuses lightweight Arylate Carbon onto a wooden blade with several high quality wooden layers.

The blade has 7 plies:

  • 2 outer layers of Limba
  • 2 more layers of Limba
  • 2 inner layers of Arylate Carbon
  • Central layer of Ayous

Thickness: 6.0mm

Dimensions: 157mm x 150mm

The carbon layer is close to the core of the blade which gives the Innerforce ALC more control for a carbon blade and a more wooden feel. It also allows more flex on the outer layers which generates more dwell time.

The innerforce ALC also has limba as an outer layer unlike the Timo Boll ALC which has Koto. The limba outer has a softer feeling and can increase dwell time on slower strokes like brushes and flicks, which in theory makes spinning the ball easier.

Speed | OFF-

It’s a fast blade but I would rate it OFF-. I have always felt compared to the Timo Boll Series of blades the Innerforce series is a slightly watered down version concentrating more on control than outright pace. This is because of the inner carbon structure. As the innerforce ALC has the ALC closer to the core you have to swing harder to ‘activate’ the carbon. In this respect the Innerforce ALC is a lot more linear in its power delivery but I believe can still get close to the top speed of the Timo Boll ALC. The Innerforce ALC is quite a bit slower than the Timo Boll ALC in the slower shots because of its 2 outer layers of limba. This gives the blade a softer feeling than blades that have the carbon layers closer to the surface and gives the blade a less bouncy feeling (less instant catapult). The inner carbon construction takes a small amount away from the speed of the blade but gives you a lot more control and linearity. You can be much more precise in your shots, particularly slower shots like serves and touch play) because of this linearity. Slow shots are slow, fast shots are fast, this gives it a very predictable performance.

Compared to other blades with similar construction, I would say the innerforce ALC is faster than a Tibhar Status Carbon but quite a bit slower than a Dhs Hurricane long 5.

Control

The innerforce ALC seems to have more control than most carbon blades as the carbon layers are closer to the centre giving a softer touch when playing short soft strokes yet you are still able to unleash carbon speed when you really hit the ball. It is much less bouncy than the Timo Boll ALC and more controllable because the 2 soft limba layers on the surface suppresses the hardness of the carbon and adds a more elastic feel. The Arylate carbon still does give a little bit of a bounce to this blade but it is very controllable and the Arylate carbon really does enhance the sweet spot of the blade. This blade is a precision tool that was designed to maximize control without losing power.

The linearity of this blade is a major advantage as well, when you go to play softer strokes with a slower arm the shots remain slow but at the same time when you want to increase speed with a faster arm the power is there. This blade has a multitude of gears and combined with butterfly quality is a real precision instrument.

Feel

The 2 Limba layers does make this blade feel a lot softer at slower speeds but sure enough when you let rip you can feel the carbon take over. For me it felt just a tad too soft , and it felt like the blade was hanging onto the ball for a bit longer than I wanted it to. It does not feel as crisp as the blades that have the carbon on the outer layers.

Because of the softer nature of the blade it doesn’t give you very much feedback on shots, the structure dampens the vibrations. Some people prefer this and others don’t. I personally prefer a little more vibration as I like to feel my shots.

Flex

at 6.0mm thick its a reasonably flexible blade but it is a tad thicker than a Timo Boll ALC. Combining the flex of the blade with the soft feel I think takes a bit too much away from the blades attacking performance and ultimately this blade suits players with a slower arm swing better. InnerForce ALC has a big amount of dwell time.

Handle

The handle I would say is better than most but it’s not really something to write home about. Timo Boll spirit and Timo Boll ALC are famed for their extremely chunky and comfortable handles and I thought with this being a newer series they would produce a similar handle but they didn’t. It’s still reasonably comfortable and fits in your hand very well but I was disappointed considering the other handles that butterfly make.

Touch

Innerforce ALC has a very good touch thanks to its 2 outer layers of soft limba. When you go to play touch shots the feeling is very soft and delicate which is very desirable. Innerforce ALC is not as good as a pure wooden blade for touch but it is very good for a carbon blade.

Shot Selection

Serve & touch shots – This blade is immense at these shots. The soft limba grabs the ball well adding spin and there isnt an overwhelming catapult effect so shots can stay short too. Really high quality short shots can be played from the innerforce ALC. A particular highlight

Looping – looping is good and consistent, very very easy to perform its like your in auto pilot however I dont feel shots are as deadly. Its not as fast as other carbon blades and doesn’t add as much spin and dip to the ball as the Timo Boll ALC. I would say it lacks a bit of penetration. I never felt I could loop anyone off the table, I had to work the point more to target a winning shot which was flatter.

Driving – Very nice, better than the Timo Boll ALC, because its slightly thicker drive shots are easier to execute and its easier to compress the outer wood layer to activate that carbon layer that adds to the top end speed.

Smash – not a speciality of the blade because the blade hangs onto the ball for so long but still pretty good

Blocks – Good. the linearity of the blade helps a lot with the pace of incoming balls but incoming spin can be hard to compensate for because there is so much dwell.

Counter shots – very good because the blade is very linear you have to add your own pace back which means its a bit more controllable however handling incoming spin can be a challenge, this blade can be quite sensitive to spin.

This blade does excel at the flatter shots better than outer carbon blades like Timo Boll alc and Joola fever. Drives, counters and blocks are really nice. Just watch Harimoto who used to use this blade how fast and deadly your shots can be with lightning speed!

What Kind Of Player Suits this Blade?

To me this blade I think is more aimed at people who are finding the faster carbon blades a bit too hard to control I.e Timo Boll ALC, Stiga Carbonado’s, Joola Fever’s but still wants a relatively fast blade. This blade will be excellent for someone who is advancing from a fast wooden blade to a carbon blade, this blade makes the transition much easier than going for something with an outer carbon construction. Unlike the Timo Boll ALC, Innerforce ALC suits a more all rounded player, a player that focuses more on placement and precision rather than power. I really like the control of the blade in combination with its power, this blade has a lot of gears. It also suits players that prefer softer carbon blades with a more woody feel than outer carbon blades. You can take the ball very early and aggressively if you wish.

Innerforce ALC suits an allround kind player who places as much emphasis on drives and counters as they do with loops. It is also tremendous when it comes to the short game, you can get an extra level of control around the net compared the blades with carbon next to the outer layer (Timo Boll alc & Joola Fever). Ultimately it suits suits players that place more value on control and accuracy than outright power.

Other Attributes

Balance – Pretty good for a looping blade but still head heavy.

Quality – Brilliant as always from butterfly, very high quality.

Overall

I really like this blade I think its a great addition to Butterflys line of blades (superb quality as always) and I am a huge fan of inner carbon blades (my last 2 blades have been inner carbon blades). I am caught in 2 minds about the Butterfly Innerforce ALC though. It does everything very well and the control and precision is superb for an attacking looping style blade but for me personally it just took too much away from my attacking shots. Sure I was more consistent and got more shots on but I know my shots would be more deadly with a handful of blades and ultimately I missed hitting more winners. For me also I felt it was a little bit too soft. I guess it comes down to what you value more – power and winners or control and precision.

If your a 2 winged looper or just an out and out attacking player deciding between the Innerforce ALC and Timo Boll ALC I would definitely go for the TB ALC – its faster, feels more crisp and attacking shots are just awesome. The innerforce ALC just isn’t as attacking as a many carbon blades.

For intermediate players though this is a fantastic blade and a stepping stone from wooden to carbon blades. If your coming from a wooden blade this is probably the first blade I would recommend.

The combination of control and speed of this blade is very good especially for someone struggling to transfer from wooden blades to carbon blades. This blade is an ideal starting point to go from a wooden blade to carbon, at slow speeds it feels closer to wood but when you swing hard you can gain the benefits of carbon. I would definitely recommend this to anybody seeking a gentle move to carbon blades as it is not a giant leap like some carbon blades when changing from wooden blades. If you want a carbon blade that is not too fast, offers loads of control, very consistent and has a large sweet spot then this is an excellent option.

 

Have your say and leave your review on the Butterfly Innerforce ALC Blade below!

 

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