Yasaka Rakza Z Extra Hard
RAKZA Z Extra Hard is the new addition to the highly successful RAKZA series of YASAKA rubbers. For the first time in the RAKZA series, the top sheet has stickiness by employing a new production method. The result is a surface with exceptional grip, enabling phenomenal spin. The top sheet is combined with a harder ”Power Sponge”. The result enables you to make strong spin with a very high arc. Serves and short returns are both precise and sharp.
RAKZA Z rubber – yet another winning combination from Yasaka.
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Yasaka rubbers are steeped in history dating back all the way to 1926. The flagship rubber for Yasaka has been the Mark V. Mark V burst onto the table tennis world stage in the 1970 and 1971 World Championships taking home victory in both competitions. The Mark V is still going strong today and other versions of the rubber have been produced through the following decades.
More recently Yasaka has developed Rakza rubbers which have taken innovation to another level. The shape of the pimples provides a strong balance between spin and speed. Rakza rubbers use Hybrid Energy to provide synergy between top sheet and sponge providing great elasticity for power and control.
Yasaka has many more rubbers in their product line as well. Yasaka rubbers are used by top professionals as well as players of all levels. Be like 2019 World Championship Silver Medalist Matias Falck and choose Yasaka rubbers.
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Reviews of Yasaka Rakza Z Extra Hard (9)
Weight: 74 grams (approximate uncut)
52 grams cut to a size of 157x150mm
Hardness: 50 -52 degrees approx.
Rakza Z Extra Hard
Weight: 76 grams (approximate uncut)
54 grams cut to a size of 157x150mm
Hardness: 53-57degrees approx.
I was excited to test the rubbers since I heard they have a tacky topsheet. I opened the packaging and the rubbers have a plastic sheet covering sticking to the topsheet. I opened both the Rakza Z and Rakza Z Extra Hard and I could tell immediately that it is semi-tacky. I wiped the topsheets of both rubbers with wet sponge because I wanted to see how tacky it is after the initial cleaning. I can say that the tackiness or stickiness of the rubbers is not in the level of Chinese rubbers. The Yasaka Do rubber that Yasaka had before in their arsenal was way extremely tacky and was one of the tackiest rubbers I have encountered. The tackiness is lesser than that of the Hurricane 3 or Rising/Shining Dragon rubbers. I could compare the tackiness near to DHS Tin Arc rubbers or Stiga Genesis rubbers. The 2 rubbers are distinguished by their sponge colors. The regular Rakza Z has a creamy white sponge while the Rakza Z Extra Hard has an orange sponge. The pores are quite small or minute compared to the pores of Yasaka Rakza 7 rubbers. I know that Yasaka advertised both rubbers with a range of hardness but with my personal estimate and comparison with other ESN rubbers, the regular Rakza Z felt about 50 or 51 degrees while the Rakza Z Extra Hard felt it was like 55 degrees. The topsheet like other 50 degree or harder rubbers has a short pimple structure reminiscent of Chinese rubbers.
Both rubbers are very fast. The speed is evident on both rubbers the moment you do forehand to forehand drive warm up drills. I would say that the speed is evident because personally, the Yasaka Ma Lin Soft Carbon is not a super fast blade. I would rate it as an Off blade and not an Off+ blade. It is more of a controlled looping blade with a medium-soft feel and flex. When compared to the Rakza 7, the regular Rakza Z is faster with an obvious gap. I would say the speed of the regular Rakza Z is comparable to the Rakza 9 regular. The Rakza Z Extra Hard is even faster since the very hard sponge has a lot of speed potential when you know how to compress the sponge properly in your shots. If you compare it with Tenergy rubbers, the regular Rakza Z seems faster than Tenergy 05 but slower than Tenergy 64 while the Extra Hard version seems like equal or faster than Tenergy 64.
The Rakza Z rubbers are one of the spiniest ESN rubbers in the market right now. If the Rakza Z series has a very obvious characteristic, it is spin and tons of spin. I believe the rubbers in the market have evolved to having semi-tacky/full tacky from just being grippy. I have told people about this story that happened years ago. I suggested to a rubber company with ESN rubber products that maybe they can produce a rubber that has a tacky or semi-tacky topsheet over an ESN sponge. You get the spin of a Hurricane 3 rubber while having the speed of fast ESN rubbers. The idea got rejected saying that it was not good or practical, rubbers would lose speed and such. Nowadays, ESN sponges are going on the harder spectrum with some even reaching 60 degrees with sticky or tacky topsheet. I have 2 points on this situation. One is that the way to go if you wanted a higher amount of spin for rubbers, you would need to be tacky. Having a hard sponge and short pip structure sometimes affect the amount of spin produced if the topsheet is not tacky. I have tried very hard rubbers with same pip structures but are not tacky, the spin is way less and also you would need to compress the sponge harder just to produce a good amount of spin. Second, I think this is a way also to go into the path of having a faster Hurricane 3-like rubber. DHS Hurricane 3 is not easy to use even if you have the skills but did not boost it because
It takes a lot of effort to produce speed even at higher levels. So I am seeing rubbers that have Chinese rubber-like characteristics but with speed or power that an ESN rubber offers or what we call having “hybrid properties” having the best of both worlds. To compare the spin, both rubbers have more spin than Tenergy 05. Both are as spinny as Hurricane 3 with a higher arc. The regular Rakza Z has a slightly higher arc than the Extra Hard version. If I compare it to Tenergy 05, both rubbers have a lesser arc when doing loops. I looped the balls both underspin and topspin with almost a closed angle and it was not hard to lift especially underspin balls. Both rubbers are excellent in both serving and pushing strokes. The tacky topsheet emulates pushing underspin balls like using a Chinese rubber or serving using one.
I was intrigued that I saw a video seeing the Rakza Z rubber users having difficulty in controlling the rubbers. I removed the rubbers from the Ma Lin Soft Carbon and place it in a hinoki carbon-aramid blade that is on the off+ speed just to check and verify. The combination is sure very fast with the Rakza Z Extra Hard edging the regular version by a few notches. The combination was very bouncy and in my opinion, it takes a bit of skill to fully control the Z series rubbers if you are using a very fast blade like pure carbon blades that are stiff and fast. You would see the ball fly out of the table. However, I see 2 simple solutions on this issue. One, having tacky topsheets, it is better to use the Z series rubbers with a closed angle like when looping with a Chinese rubber. Two, use an off level blade that has more flex. Rubbers nowadays are already very fast so using super fast carbon blades is not that practical anymore. When blocking, you needed to have a closed angle also with the 2 rubbers. The topsheet like any other tacky rubber has some sensitivity to incoming spin that is why it takes a bit of advanced level of skill.
It is not as hard to smash balls compared to using Hurricane 3 rubbers. I find the Extra Hard version more powerful to smash with while the regular version is more user-friendly. Both rubbers are outstanding in smashes and spin drives.
Both the Rakza Z and Rakza Z Extra Hard rubbers are for advanced level players. If you really wanted to use these 2 rubbers but is still learning the basic strokes, I would choose another Rakza rubber like Rakza 7 or to some extent a thinner version of Rakza Z like 2.0mm or thinner if available. Overall, the rubber is surprisingly outstanding and was not expecting to be just another “meehhh” rubber produced by ESN.
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