Stiga Carbonado 145 Review

Release Date:2014
Ply:5 Wood + 2 Carbon
Outer Layer:Limba
Hardness:Medium
Speed:OFF
Playing Level:Advanced

Stiga been heavy weights in the wooden blade arena for a long time now and they have been wanting to branch out to be serious contenders in the carbon blade arena, enter the Stiga Carbonado Series. The Stiga Carbonado 145 is a outer carbon construction blade that utilizes Stiga’s TeXtreme spread tow Carbon fibre. Stiga have produced 2 blades – The Carbonado 145 & the Carbonado 190, which both have exactly the same constuction, materials etc, the only difference is the carbon is aligned in a different direction to alter the direction of flexibility. The 145’s carbon is aligned diagonally whereas the 190 is aligned vertically. This in theory gives greater bend and flex to the 145 allowing more catapult and higher tractory as the blade holds on the ball for longer and flexes more.

Im a big fan of Stiga blades so I was excited to try the Carbonado series, however I was a bit sceptical as the carbon layer is just carbon fibre, no ALC, no ZLC – just carbon fibre, which historically makes a blade quite stiff and rigid. They dress it up as special a spread tow carbon weave (TeXtreme) but to me…. It just looks like ordinary carbon fibre. Still there is no point judging it before trying it. The rest of the blade is incredibly high quality and similar contruction to other very popular blades – Butterfly Freitas ALC, Tibhar VS Unlimted & Joola Fever.

Manufacturer’s Description

For the new Carbonado blades we have taken carbon blade manufacturing to a new level by using a made in Sweden carbon technology known as TeXtreme. The blades are built with five layers of wood and two layers of lightweight TeXtreme Spread Tow Carbon fibers. This unique and patented carbon is the first of its kind and has never before been experienced in Table Tennis.

The special TeXtreme Spread Tow Carbon is flexible in only one direction, either flexural or torsional, making it possible in the manufacturing process to adjust and improve the ball trajectory and speed to accommodate playing style. The two layers of carbon are applied in a 45 degree angle or a 90 degree angle.

Carbonado 145 is constructed with Carbon layers in a 45 degree angle with torsional bendability which gives the blade more flexibility and increased stiffness. The high trajectory makes it a perfect choice for the offensive player who looks for good speed and stability combined with excellent control.

The Carbonado blades offer the player a personalized Sweet Spot. The Carbonado 145 with torsional bendability gives a wider Sweet Spot.

Structure

The Stiga Carbonado 145 features an outer carbon construction (Carbon just under the outer layer of wood) with Stiga’s Textreme Carbon in the carbon layer. The ‘145’ in Carbonado 145 gives away 2 vital pieces of information about this blade, the density of the carbon layer 100g/m2 and the orientation of the carbon layer (45deg/diagonal)

The blade has 7 plies:

– 2 Outer Layers Of Limba
– 2 Layers Of TeXtreme Carbon
– 2 Inner Layers Of Ayous
– Core Of Ayous

Thickness: 5.9mm
Dimensions: 156mm x 150mm
Weight: 85-90g

All of the blades in the Carbonado Series feature a NCT coating which is like a micro layer of varnish to give the outer layer an extra hardness and crisp feel – something I personally Love! In past Stiga blades this layer has been a bit overly thick but with the Carbonado blades its much thinner and in my opinion spot on.

The Carbon Layer seems pretty thin but it still adds a lot of speed, also the Carbon layer doesn’t feel very hard, its very light and springy, the Textreme carbon certainly has a unique feeling.

Sweetspot: The sweet spot is quite large but I personally felt other ALC blades had a slightly better sweet spot. whether this is down to the different carbon Stiga is using or the 45 degree angle the carbon is at im not sure. Stiga advertise that the Carbonado 145 & 190 have different sweetspot shapes so maybe this could be it, but I felt it was quite a soft carbon feeling rather than a hard carbon feeling which probably will affect sweetspot size overall.

Speed | OFF

The Stiga Carbonado 145 is I would say slap bang in the middle of the OFF range, its about the same speed as a Viscaria maybe slightly less but its a different kind of speed or different in where the speed is apparent. It feels like there is less weight and force behind the shot. The Carbonado 145 is quite catapulty, you can feel the flex that the 145 gives and it feels like it holds the ball longer than say the viscaria, but flies out quicker. I didn’t find it all that linear in speed delivery. It is slightly slower than its brother, the 190 but quite a bit slower than the Stiga Intensity and the Carbonado’s 245 & 290. It didnt seem that fast in the top end of gears like smashing, it was still quick but I felt the Viscaria, Timo Boll ALC had more top end range.

Control

Really very good, its crispness at slow speeds is great, you can really tell that Stiga makes this blade, it has a real crisp wood feel to it and the ball bites the surface well. Ultimately though thicker contacts can be quite catapulty, I did struggle to find a good range in the middle game. It feels very springy sometimes but its woody feeling and wood blade characteristic’s really help you out in the short game.

Feel, Hardness & Flex

Feel: It feels very woody, especially for an outer carbon blade. The feel is a little bit hard to describe because its quite different from everything else, It has a very springy quality to it like the ball leaves the blade before your ready for it to leave and you never feel like you’ve got a good solid contact, but you have! I would say it feels softer than a Viscaria but nothing quite feels like the carbonado’s. Its like a Butterfly Maze blade had a baby with a Stiga Infinity VPS, not a bad combination!

A very wooden and light feeling for a carbon fiber blade.

Hardness: It really doesnt feel that hard compared to other offensive carbon blades, it has as iv mentioned a lot it possesses a medium wood feeling in that it feels quite springy, soft and light, almost balsa like qualities but its definitely not! It doesnt give you a stereotypical carbon feel which is tinny and sometimes a bit metallic but it gives you more of a carbon spring feel to it. It mixes a carbon and wooden feeling very well and perhaps this gives a more balanced fusion between carbon and wood feeling blades.

Flex: The Stiga Carbonado 145 is definitely on the stiff side overall, but the carbon flexes quite a bit. The wood layers (2 layers of Ayous & and Ayous core) are quite hard and stiff though which is where some of the stiffness comes from, overall the 145 has a medium amount of flex

Compared to the 190 the Carbonado 145 definitely flexes more and you can see this in the trajectory of the ball, I would say the 145 gives a higher throw and dare I say it adds a little bit more spin compared to the 190. This is purely down to the carbon orientation, it does make a difference.

Balance

The Carbonado’s have a very good balance as the handles are quite thick and chunky and the TeXtreme carbon is quite light and the overall blade weight is reasonably average the Carbonado 145 has a very good balance between the head and the handle, I would say slightly better than the Viscaria and very similar to the Timo Boll ALC

Handle

I love stiga handles I just love them! Heres why:

1) Theres 2 types of flared: legend or master – legend being the thicker and wider whereas the master being more of a traditional flared.

2) The shape: they fit in your hand so well both the straight and the various flared version – Ergonomics!

3) The roughness of the handle: Stiga make their handles with quite a rough feel -deliberately, different from most other manufacturers who favour a much more smooth finish. Some people do not like this as it can be a bit abrasive but I personally love this as it feels like I have a better grip on the handle and it feels less likely to come out of my hand in high speed shots.

To each their own but i think Stiga handles are great!

Does the carbon angle (45 deg) really make a difference?

Yes it does, it definitely makes a difference, the biggest 2 factors are it feels like the 145 holds onto the ball for longer compared to the 190 and you can see the difference in arc when using the 2 blades with the same rubbers. Because the 145 has more flex and holds on the ball more it also feels slightly softer and less direct than the 190.

How much of a difference between the 145 & 190? It depends on the shots but its definitely noticeable straight away, whether it would make that much of an impact in your game is another question entirely.

In my opinion the Carbonado 145 is more suited to a middle distance looper whereas the 190 suits someone who plays a more aggressive counter attacking style at the table.

Shots

Serve & touch shots – Really nice wooden but crisp feeling in the touch play, I would say in the slow shots I prefer this feeling to something like a viscaria because it just seems to not catapult as much in lower speeds and has a really nice wooden bite when trying to get spin, a real highlight of this blade, must admit I didnt like the feeback though or more accurately the lack of feedback.

Looping – This is a looping blade it was designed that way and the Carbonado 145 is very very good at it, probably one of the best wooden feeling looping blades out there, but I dont think it is quite at the level of the popular ALC butterfly blades, its very close but mid distance looping, I still prefer a Viscaria.

Driving – 145 is pretty good at driving but the 190 is better. The 145 holds on the ball for longer and I dont find that all that good for good drives, its not bad but its more designed for looping.

Smash – Again, pretty good but nothing more, I also found the more wooden feeling to hinder the smashing department, when smashing I want a thick heavy carbon contact to give me consistency and power and the wooden feeling of the Carbonado 145 was more of a disadvantage in this department

Blocks – Iv got to say I didnt like it for blocking, you can vary the pace pretty well, you can take it off, you can add it but the extra dwell that the 145 gives you decreases the margin for error and the Carbonado 190 was definitely better in this category.

Counter shots – I did struggle in counter shots, again I couldnt find my range and I felt that I wasnt getting enough feedback to adjust my shots properly. Iv always found wooden feeling blades with a dwelly nature really struggle to get any consistency in counter attacks.

Arc – The arc of the Stiga Carbonado is pretty high, its quite close to the Viscaria and this is one of the aspects that remind me most of the Viscaria. It is a bit more variable though, the higher power shots with the Carbonado 145 do seem to flatten out a bit but only compared to the Viscaria and in the grand scheme of things not that much.

Who Does This Blade Suit / Playing Style

Stiga Carbonado 145 is a blade for mid-distance loopers. It loops really well and in all types of looping: brush and Power. It has a very wooden feeling for a carbon blade so if your finding most carbon blades too hard, this is definitely worth a try.

Stiga Carbonado 145 vs 190

So to summarise the differences:

– 145 has a longer dwell time and more flexibility
– 145 is slower and very slightly softer than 190
– 145 has a higher arc and generates slightly more spin

For me im a two winged mid distance looper and having tried both the Carbonado 145 suits me more than 190, I dont think either blade is better than the other, its just a question of picking the blade that suits your style best. If your a mid distance looper I would say the 145 will suit you better whereas if you like more of a direct, aggressive, close the the table player then 190 will suit you better.

The one thing I will say is although the 145 suited me better, I did prefer the way the 190 felt, its more direct and has a much crisper carbon feel.

Quality

The quality is top notch from Stiga as you would expect for a blade of this price, the surface, handle, edges are near perfection, very high quality feel and look, they have added a glass/metalic Stiga logo too instead of plastic or just a sticker, very classy and high quality feel and design Butterfly level and beyond.

Im a big fan of the thin NCT coating, makes the outer layer slightly harder and protects it from splintering when changing rubbers. A real plus point for me as no other brands do this. Nice one Stiga.

There is one drawback and its that the wings are not sanded so it can be a little bit uncomfortable, I normally dont notice this too much but in the legend handle it really did dig into my hand a little but it is a very small criticism.

Price / Performance

The Stiga Carbonado 145 Is a high end, high quality carbon blade so its going to be pricy but even in this arena I feel its pretty expensive. Its more expensive than popular butterfly blades which is a brave move. I dont think your necessarily getting more performance for your money and its a whopping £169.00. in comparison a Butterfly Timo Boll ALC is £144.99 and a Butterfly Viscaria is £124.99. I just cant say this is value for money its too pricey.

My other major gripe is its £20 more expensive than a Carbonado 190 which is of the same construction, materials and quality. Your paying £20 to get the carbon layer rotated 45 degrees… however you look at it thats a rip off and there is no way that Stiga are paying that much PER BLADE to rotate the carbon, the price I feel is a disappointment but many manufacturers are jumping on the butterfly bandwagon and producing high end blades for high prices.

Overall

Stiga Carbonado 145 is certainly a great addition to Stiga’s Catalogue and overall I like the blade, it really does give a high performance and there are aspects – like the feel in slow touch shots I adore. Stiga really are masters of getting that wooden crispness in low impact shots, its a very special feel.

In power play though it feels a little odd to me?!?! I think my biggest issue is the light springy feel of the blade. Coming from predominantly ALC blades this blade feels different, its got a very light and catapulty feel like iv never really got hold of it or good contact on the ball but then my shots are high quality?! I miss the feedback of Arylate Carbon or its equivalent. This really isn’t a criticism, its more of a personal preference thing and what feeling I like, if I kept using it for longer I might have got used to the blade.

It certainly feels more woody than nearly all fast carbon blades iv used so iv got to take my hat off to Stiga for that. If you are looking for a fast carbon blade with a woody feel and high shot quality then the Carbonado’s are certainly some of the best. Its Stiga doing what they do best, producing fantastic wood feeling blades.

For me I prefer the way ALC feels and is ultimately what I will go back to. But if you like Stiga’s wooden blades and how they feel or you want a fast carbon blade that plays with a softer lighter springier wooden feel without losing carbon speed Stiga Carbonado 145 or 190 are a very good choices.

Stiga Carbonado 145 Ratings
Speed
87
Control
73
Hardness
65
Quality
88
Price/Performance
60
Pro's
Wood feeling carbon blade
Mid-distance Looping
Handle and balance
Con's
Not linear at high speeds
Smashing
£20 more than 190 for rotating carbon 45 deg?
88
Overall Score

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