Tibhar Stratus Powerwood Review

Tibhar Stratus Power Wood is one of 3 blades in Tibhar’s Stratus range, which I have to say caters for a wide variety of playing styles.

Stratus Power Wood is an all wood offensive 5 ply blade modelled after the extremely popular Butterfly Korbel blade. It has a striking design and is highly regarded online with loads of flattering reviews.

I tried the Stratus Power Wood back in 2017 when I was going through a period where I was trying a lot of the best well known wooden blades having been predominantly playing with carbon blades for the previous 10 years. Stratus Powerwood surprised me for an all wood blade, it had a lot of pace and turned into one of my favourite looping blades of all time.

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Manufacturer’s Description

Created for the offensive player demanding mastery over spin in all situations – a loopers classic.

The 5 ply, Power Wood blade, distinguishes itself by its remarkable flexibility and elasticity.

This enables superb touch for power spin players but permits crispness on pure power strokes.

Structure

The Tibhar Stratus Powerwood is made from 5 high quality wood layers.

The blade has 5 plies:

  • 2 outer layers of Limba
  • 2 more layers of Limba
  • Central layer of Ayous

Thickness: 6.2mm
Head Dimensions: 152mm x 158mm

Stratus Powerwood is pretty thick for a wooden looping blade but this gives the blade extra stability and allows you to have big power reserves when you really swing and gives it a little catapult. I thought this would take away from its looping ability as most classic looping blades are around the 5.9-6mm mark but somehow it manages to use this thickness to add to the power capability without sacrificing too much flexibility and still have enough dwell time to be a great looping blade.

Weight – 85-95g

Tibhar state on their website and catalogue that this blade is 85g… If you can find one for 85g your doing pretty well as most of the ones I have picked up are much heavier. The weight of this model of blade tends to vary quite a lot but most of them are on the heavy side. Iv had a straight version at 90g and a flared version at 94g and iv seen them go up to 98g – that’s very heavy and for a blade with a large head face. There will be more rubber on the blade as well making it even heavier. Tibhar Stratus Powerwood even if you get a light one will make a heavy setup.

Head shape

This is my biggest beef with most Tibhar blades. Tibhar blades tend to have a unique head shape where they tend to be quite wide and squarish at the bottom just above the handle. Now not only do I find the shape a bit odd and ugly but im not sure why they made it this shape because this extra bit of wood doesn’t serve a purpose. If you hit the ball at any point at the widest points at the bottom near the handle the ball is not going anywhere.

Extra finger space maybe? But my point is this extra wood in a non functional area adds weight to the blade and not only that – weight of the extra rubber that covers this extra wood on an already large blade face. When I was using Stratus Powerwood it was probably one of the heaviest setups iv ever had and iv used a lot of equipment.

Speed | OFF

I wasnt expecting it but Tibhar Stratus Powerwood is quick! Very quick. Not only that its got quite a catapult effect to it that I wasnt expecting for a wooden blade so the moment you add a bit more effort to the shot the more it will fly. Bizarrely I found the Stratus Powerwood faster than its carbon big brother Tibhar Samsonov Stratus Carbon (a carbon blade) in both terms of catapult and just about top speed. This is very odd because normally carbon is supposed to add speed but I think the Samsanov stratus carbon is a rare case where it doesn’t for some reason – I will go into it more when I review it.

Being an all wood blade I would say this blade is harder to use at top gear, once you get past a certain point no matter how much effort you put into the shot it will not get much faster and sometimes you can find yourself putting in a huge amount of effort to kill the point and thats when mistakes creep in. but this is the nature you have to accept of all wood blades and why most pro’s use carbon blades.

I think the weight of the total setup is a factor of its pace – a heavy a blade like this can carry a lot more force behind it but overall its thick heavy and quick. I would have to rate it in the lower reaches of OFF but its nearly as quick as some heavy hitting carbon blades. Only really at top speeds would you notice the difference between this and popular carbon blades so yeah very quick for a wooden blade.

Control

In the grand scheme of things I would say this blade has good control but for a wooden blade I would say the control is below average. Stratus Powerwood has quite a catapult effect for an all wood blade, I suspect due to its thickness, so this can make it tougher to tame on the finer shots but only compared to other wooden blades. This is where Stiga Blades in my opinion tend to rule as Stiga tends to put very thin harder layers on the outer veneers of their wooden blades that give a more linear response when it comes to touch play. For example I would say the Stiga Infinity VPS has better control than the Stratus powerwood as it has a slightly harder outer layer and this gives it more linearity and I feel as though I can be a bit more precise with my shots and generally incoming shots are easier to control.

Counter shots and smashes I found particularly hard to execute on the Tibhar Stratus Powerwood, I think because of the dwell time and the fact that its really sensitive to incoming spin – a downside to the incredible grip and bite you get from the blade. For these particular shots and incoming shots with a lot of spin I felt I had to take a lot of extra care to try and compensate and try and get the ball on the table. When im looping and creating the power its all good but when a shot sometimes caught me off guard and I just had to get a bat there – I struggled, I would either offer up such an easy ball to the opposition or flat out miss completely. Stratus Powerwood is not for control minded players, with this blade you need to be active and ready to play the next shot, ideally a loop.

Compared to carbon blades in general the control is still really good, it doesn’t have as much catapult and because it has quite a soft yet crisp feeling you can be very good around the net when you need to keep things controlled and short.

Feel, Flex & Hardness

Again as it was a wooden blade I was expecting it to feel soft and quite mushy and to be honest I like the crispness and the hardness that carbon blades provide so I didnt think I was going to like the feeling. But again I was surprised as the Stratus Powerwood had such a crisp pleasant feeling which I was not expecting due to the 2 layers of soft limba wood on the outside. I think the extra thickness of the blade stiffened it up a bit to compensate for the soft limba and this is what gives it the crispness.

This is by no means a stiff blade but I would say a little stiffer than Stiga Rosewood V & the Butterfly Korbel. In general It feels medium hardness (it is a pure wood blade after-all), especially in the slow touch shots but when you crank up the power it is very stable and still feels pretty crisp. It didn’t feel a million miles away in terms of hardness from some carbon blades .

Handle

Handle is good, very good, Tibhar are pretty good at providing nice chunky handles for european hands – nice work Tibhar. The straight handle is round rather than square which to be honest I prefer but thats just a preference, its still a good handle

Tibhar Stratus Powerwood v Butterfly Korbel

These blades are very similar after all they do have the same construction and I think the Powerwood was modelled after the Korbel. Iv only briefly tried the Korbel so I cant do an in depth review but I did compare them side by side and the Powerwood felt Harder, Crisper and Faster than the Korbel but with substantially less control. They did feel alike almost like the Korbel was the little brother. But in the end I did prefer the Powerwood. It was just a little bit crisper and more attacking which suited me better.

Shot Selection

Serve & touch shots – You can add lots of spin to these shots without losing much control, you can produce really spinny serves but for a wooden blade is does have a little bit of a pronounced catapult so its not as easy to keep these balls short than other popular wood blades (Stiga Infinity vps, Butterfly Korbel) but its still better than most offensive carbon blades.

Looping – Looping perfection! Slow loops, fast loops, medium loops…Stratus Powerwood excells at looping, it grips the ball so well that you have lots of confidence to loop with variation and power. This blade is meant for looping. I have never been so comfortable looping and its so easy to execute loops that are also dangerous.

Driving – Pretty good actually its very nice for killing off points. The thicker than average wood construction can generate a lot of power and stability while playing driving shots and the result is lots of winners. Its unusual to have a blade so good at looping and driving because they are different types of strokes that don’t necessarily compliment each other. Its normally one or the other but Powerwood combines the 2 which is very impressive.

Smash – Not great I prefer carbon blades in this area, you can generate a lot more power and get a more solid feeling at high power shots. For an all wood blade Powerwood is good at smashing and the extra thickness of the construction provides extra rigidity which helps keep smashes stable.

Blocks – not bad again the extra thickness helps in the redirection of blocks but they are not very easy to control, not the best blade for blockers.

Counter shots – I found counters hard to execute and keep on the table. I found I had to take pace off my shot just to loop the ball on the table. SPW is quite sensitive to incoming spin and due to the long dwell time you have to be really precise. Its was much easier to counter loop everything without power. So with this blade you need to be ready for a rally

Arc – Stratus Powerwood provides a lovely high arc, it gives a great margin of error and certainly contributes to what makes this blade a looping beast. It gives one of the highest arc iv ever played with. Balls go over the net with so much dip.

Looping

I feel this blade needed a whole looping section to do it justice! The quality of loop shots is unreal and it has so much variety, you can easily switch from a slow brush loop to a penetrating power loop with precision and ease. It feels as if you have so much more control and accuracy when you play the shot compared to say a good carbon looping blade. You can feel the blade literally bite the ball as you loop which gives you such confidence in the shot. This bite means you can generate ridiculous levels of spin and brush looping is where this blade beats something like a Timo Boll ALC (one of the best carbon looping blades) hands down. This blade generates high arcing, dangerous, spin loaded loops with a high controlled crisp feeling – perfect ingredients for a truly great looping blade.

What Kind of Player Does Stratus Powerwood Suit?

Id say this blade is best suited for intermediates-semi pro level. Tibhar Stratus Powerwood is for attack minded 2 winged loopers who want to loop everything and want as much spin as humanly possible. This blade is a spin making machine and will enhance a lot of rubbers spin capabilities. It will suit player who prefers the feeling of wooden blades but wants something pretty quick too. I found the catapulty nature of the blade to suit my backhand very very well so backhand dominating players will certainly like this blade. This blade is best at mid-distance as the blade has quite a dwelly nature and its pretty good from long range too. It will reward someone who wants to play with spin variation and likes longer rallies instead of trying to kill the point as soon as possible. Powerwood is a joy to rally with.

Another bonus that you get with this blade is it matches very very well with chinese rubbers. The woody softness and the dwelly nature really brings chinese rubbers alive and combining this soft wood feel with hard chinese tackiness somehow balances out for an extremely pleasing middle ground which does feel very special. Tibhar Stratus Powerwood with a sheet of Hurricane neo 3 on the forehand is a WEAPON! One of my favourite setups of all time was a Tibhar Stratus Powerwood with Hurricane 3 Neo forehand and Tibhar Evolution MX-S Backhand.

Quality

Very high from Tibhar. For a cheap 5 ply all wood blade Stratus Powerwood has some serious quality. The wings are slightly sanded, the top veneer is immaculate and just the build oozes quality. Yes the blade weight can vary quite a bit but for the price, to be quite honest its ridiculous.

Price/Performance

One of the best value for money blades going. Honestly for me personally I cant think of a better one. I love the design, the quality is mega and most importantly its plays spectacularly and can compete with some top end carbon blades in terms of performance. Tibhar Stratus Powerwood is a joy to play with and all for the price of your average rubber! This blade is easily worth double. Nice one Tibhar!

Other Attributes

Balance – The balance is more toward the head with this blade and with 2 rubbers on a slightly large head face the blade will be head heavy.

Overall

For me this is the best looping blade I have ever played with, one of the best Tibhar Blades ever made and one of my favourite blades of all time. The wood layers provide so much grip and bite you can play with huge amounts of spin and the arc gives this blade a huge amounts of dip which transforms your loops into dangerous high arcing spin loaded loops that you can vary easily with power and placement.

If you try to be too aggressive and kill points off early you will probably end up making mistakes and at the same time if you don’t put enough effort into your shots it will offer up easy balls to your opposition. Tibhar Stratus Powerwood is best at its golden middle ground with middle-high effort shots from mid distance. Buy this blade if you want to loop every shot, you wont regret it. There are not many better looping blades out there.

This will be and already is a classic looping blade

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