Victas ZX-Gear OUT Review
|Ply:||5 Wood + 2 Zexion Carbon|
|Playing Level (1-5):||5 – Top Players|
Victas have been steadily growing their brand since they branched out from TSP and they are starting to establish themselves as a premium brand. In the summer of 2019 they managed to sign Liam Pitchford and they produced 3 new blades in the new Zx-Gear range – The ZX-Gear OUT, The ZX-Gear IN and the ZX-Gear Fiber.
All of these blades use Zexion fiber, basically equivalent to Butterfly’s Zylon, with the Gear OUT and IN having Zexion Carbon whereas the Gear Fiber just has Zexion fiber. The Victas ZX-Gear Out has a similar construction to the Mizutani ZLC which is a great blade. More and more blades are starting to be made with this Zylon style fiber and they are slowly becoming more and more popular so I was excited to see what the Victas ZX Gear Out had to offer. The Gear Out is described as the fastest in the range.
VICTAS ZX-GEAR OUT is the new Power Off premium blade “Made in Japan”. The innovative new Zexion® carbon fiber which is placed directly under the outer ply provides for fantastic stability and power. This highly elastic carbon fiber boosts the impact energy of the ball and increases the energy transfer upon ball contact (“Rebound Effect”). The result is a fast premium offensive blade with ultimate Sweet Spot featuring a new definition of dynamics, explosiveness and precision.
Victas ZX-Gear OUT has an outer carbon construction (carbon just under the top ply) and uses Victas’s new Zexion Fiber – which is similar to Zylon – weaved with normal carbon fiber.
The blade has 7 Plies:
– 2 outer plies of Limba
– 2 layers of Zexion Carbon
– 2 inner layers of Ayous
– Ayous Core
(Limba | ZC | Ayous | Ayous |Ayous | ZC | Limba)
Dimensions: 157mm x 150mm
The carbon layer is medium thickness and is a very cool silver and black lattice pattern. The whole blade feels quite hard and stiff and I believe this to be the Zexion Carbon. Iv used a lot of ZLC blades and generally the carbon layer always feels quite soft and flexible. The Zexion Carbon that Victas are using feels quite hard, rigid and pingy! It still has that Zylon like flex in low impact shots but high impact shots the Zexion Carbon layer definitely stiffens up and made this blade feel quite hard and stiff.
Sweetspot: The sweetspot of this blade really does confuse me. Everything about this blade structure indicates that its going to have a big sweetspot – hard inner ply’s, stiff feeling carbon layer…. But it just doesn’t. I found the sweetspot to be smaller than average compared to say a standard ALC or even carbon blade. I do generally find this for most ZLC blades but I definitely noticed that any shot I played outside the sweetspot suffered in quality big time and I had to make I wasn’t too late or stretching to get the ball.
Speed | OFF+
The Victas ZX-Gear Out is very quick when you swing fast, I would say verging on too quick, its faster than nearly all popular ALC blades (Timo Boll ALC, Hurricane long 5), its faster than a Butterfly Mizutani ZLC. Thinking about there are not many blades faster outside of the Hinoki Carbon speed daemons. The speed reminds me of a Stiga Carbonado 290, in other words its very very fast. Zylon/Zexion is a very strong and flexible material (which is why its predominantly used in aerospace projects) which means that it can be very elastic but strong when a lot of force is applied.
In slower shots its not actually that bouncy it doesnt have a big catapult but its very elastic and non-linear which means with even small increases in swing speed you get a lot more speed. This means big shots are BIG! They have a lot of power behind them and this is incredibly enjoyable to play with but you need to be able to control it and that is quite a challenge with this blade. If you are in the right position and have a big swing you can rain down an absolute barrage of bullets with the Gear out – very fast!
The speed does start to tail off when you hit really hard. In the top gears the whole blade shows its hardness and its got a stiffer feeling. If you plotted its speed delivery on a graph it would be an “S” shape but its still quick at the top end – no doubt about that.
Control is noticeably deceptively good in areas but overall I majorly struggled to control this blade and I think its due to its elastic but also hard nature. At the table shots like serves and touches – this blade is truly great, the limba gives it a nice soft but crisp touch and the elastic nature of the ZC layer is beneficial at slow speeds – its not that active – so you can be really precise and it helps in the spin generation too. ZX Gear out is also great when you have time to play your shots, its very consistent and can be stable.
The problems come when your opponent attacks you… it becomes like a bucking bronco where its just constantly spitting out the ball everywhere and your just trying to hold on for dear life and get the ball on the table. I cannot tell you how much i struggled to play shots consistently if my opponent was attacking me, so many errors crept into my game and I couldn’t adjust. The more effort the opponent puts in their shots the more you have to compensate exponentially and I just couldn’t keep the ball from shooting off the end if I was playing someone really good. The rebound from high impact shots is really high, it works in your favour when you want to generate the power but it really doesn’t when power is thrown at you. This blade is very hard to play with and handle at a high level.
Medium to high power shots have incredible rebound and are very very bouncy, once you activate that ZC layer you definitely know about it!
Feel, Hardness & Flex
Feel: The feel of Victas ZX-Gear Out is super nice, it has a lovely balance between hard and soft, in all the right places, despite its hard and fast nature I actually have nothing bad to say about the feeling. Normally I think ZLC type blades feel a little bit slingy and a bit too soft and elastic but this had a really nice balance to it. It has a very fast rebound so you don’t have the best feedback from the shot, but the main problem was I just couldn’t handle the bloody thing!
Hardness: There’s no doubt this is a hard feeling blade, probably in the top 10% of the hardest feeling blades out there. It feels harder than Mizutani ZLC for sure and is sort of reminiscent of DHS Hurricane long 5 hardness (which also has Ayous inner layers and core)… id probably say this is even harder… just. This is a combination of the harder feeling ZLC layer and the hard wood layers (Ayous) they use for the core and the inner layers.
Flex: Gear Out is not a flexy blade, although its not that thick, the layers both wood and Zexion carbon both feel quite rigid at times. Sometimes the Zexion has a little bit of flex at slow to mid speed but with high impact shots it stiffens up and feels much more rigid.
No real complaints with the handle, both the flared and straight are good sizes but maybe just maybe a tad on the small side, particularly the flared. The straight handle is a rounder handle rather than square but both are reasonable sizes.
Victas ZX-Gear OUT VS Butterfly Mizutani ZLC
The ZX Out is harder, faster and much less forgiving than the Mizutani, but they do feel like they belong to the same class of blade. Both play quite similarly but if I had to choose one I would probably pick the Mizutani just because I could actually control it and its just easier to play with but with just about the same performance. I think in the right hands ZX-Gear OUT has the potential to get the most performance but your touch would have to be godly and skill level just as much to contain it.
However there is also the price argument, the Victas ZX-Gear Out is less than half the price of a Mizutani ZLC….. less than half! And lets not even talk about the Mizutani Super ZLC – that price is an absolute joke!
a value for money Mizutani ZLC is the Victas ZX-Gear OUT.
Serve – 9.0/10: Really good for placement and also spin generation, I always find ZLC type blades can generate that little bit more spin than ALC blades and this was definitely something I found with the Gear Out
Slow looping – 9.5/10: Like I mentioned above this blade is fantastic for spin generation, its just has a great knack for potentiating spin and whilst your keeping to low impact shots it has a good amount of control as well, you can really load up the brush loops, I loved it for this and it makes me want to use it again.
Fast looping – 8.5/10: Fast power looping is great, good spin generation, you do have to be precise with your power input though, the Zexion carbon is quite elastic so you have to moderate your inputs well for accuracy.
Drive: – 8.0/10: High impact shots are really fun to play and you can generate so much speed but again accuracy will suffer, very precise inputs are needed to play consistently otherwise the blade will bite your hand off!
Blocks & Flat hits – 6.0/10: Blocking is not my speciality, but its been a while since I was this poor at blocking and the Gear Out was just super hard to play these shots. Really really struggled and made so many unforced errors and ultimately is why I stopped using it for competitive play.
Flicks – 8.5/10: Really good, can definitely generate some mean spin with precision, limba outer layer really helps play good flicks.
Smashes – 7.0/10: They have a lot of power but very little accuracy, at high speeds the blade feels quite rigid and I struggles to be consistent.
Counters – 6.5/10: Not much better that flat shots or blocks really, this blade is really good at generating spin but that means its also sensitive with incoming spin, combine this with twitch power and it makes a blade extremely hard to play counters with…
Chopping – 7.0/10: again spin generation… good, control…. really bad. I struggle to play good chops with a ZLC type blades, they are loaded with spin but the balls went everywhere!
Arc – Victas ZX-Gear Out has a medium arc but I would say lower than Mizutani ZLC
Who Does This Blade Suit / Playing Style
The Victas ZX-Gear OUT suits loopers primarily. I’m gonna say the best style to play with this particular blade is a Chinese style aggressive looper that generally focuses on brushing the ball and looks to kill the point at the third or fifth ball. This isn’t a blade suited for consistent rallying due to its low level of control, its strengths lie in killing off the point as quickly as possible with max spin and power and stopping the opponent from getting in. A fast hard blade with a good brushing ability, Chinese rubbers would also suit this blade really well. Serve and attack.
This blade is definitely not for beginners or intermediates. its for high skill top level players who can handle it. This blade is not easy to play with.
I like what Victas are doing at the moment, steadily building a reputation for high quality products that stick around, for reasonable prices. I’m not sure how I feel about what they do with their blade designs. The designs are very simple and they have one design for an entire range, only being able to tell the difference by the lens on the back… im not sure I like this, I quite like different designs. Its a minor point, priority is on the rest of the blade and how it plays – for sure but having a nice design is a nice touch sometimes.
The Victas ZX-Gear Out is a high quality blade that uses high quality fibers, woods and materials, absolutely no complains there the quality is high. Again I wish the plastic lenses had a bit more to them considering all blades in the range are over £100 but im nit picking, its still cheap considering.
Price / Performance
Victas are getting really good at producing high level blades for great prices. As I said earlier this blade is quite similar to a Butterfly Mizutani ZLC but its less than half the price, that’s amazing. Its also cheaper than most of the popular ALC blades too (Hurricane long V £149.99 , Timo Boll ALC £145.99)
Incredible value for money high end ZLC blade
In the UK it is £114.99
In Europe it is €119.99
I can see the potential of the Gear Out, I really enjoyed all the low impact shots and the brush shots in particular, everything just seems to have a little bit more spin with the same rubbers than my previous set-ups, I really like ZLC/ZC for this….But its so hard to control! When your playing players below your skill level and you have time on the ball for your attacking shots ZXGO is an absolute weapon. But the second you play someone around your level that can attack you that’s when the control problems start.
I really found similarities between this and the Stiga Carbonado 290. Both of these blades are deadly when you have time to get your attacking shots away but when you don’t – wow – do you have problems just getting the ball on. They both have such a quick rebound and stiff nature at high impact shots that it becomes so hard to control the incoming balls. The smallish sweetspot on the ZX Gear Out doesn’t help either. It got to the point with ZX-Gear Out that my sole focus in a tough game was just to get the ball on the table when my opponent attacked and this is not my style of play so sadly I probably wont be picking this blade up any time soon. For me Victas ZX-Gear Out goes in the “Too fast to be useful” category or the “too good for my level” category!
If you are more of a wham, bam, thank you maam type of player – the kind of player who is super aggressive and enjoys playing with speed monsters Victas ZX-Gear Out might be worth a shout. If you can control it, it will reward you with some mega shots and most of all despite its volatile nature you will enjoy playing with this blade.
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