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Review: BBC Ultima

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    Posted: 09/29/2011 at 2:59pm
Formal introductions first:

Brand: BBC (Blades By Charlie, www.bladesbycharlie.com)
Model: Ultima (or Ultima-7; don't look for it on the website, it's a unique name, (c) Wink)
Class: OFF
Handle: FL, 100 mm
Weight: 89 g
Face dimensions: 159 x 148 mm (about 1 mm less than regular Butterfly dimensions)
Thickness: 8.1 mm
Plies: 3+2, ie, WRC 1.75 mm + carbon + WRC 4 mm + carbon + WRC 1.75 mm

This blade is my custom variant of BBC 9-10-9 (which is built the same way, from the same materials but with thicker outer plies and thinner central ply; specifically 2.25 mm - C - 2.5 mm - C - 2.25 mm).

9-10-9 is a great blade (by the way, it is the only blade from my collection which plays without any problems whatsoever with Palio Thors) but as I played with it more and more I became a bit unsatisfied with its softness in offensive strokes. It also was feeling often kinda mushy with my Palio tensors like PME and Blitz. I also wanted to improve its blocking capabilities, making the blocks crisper and a bit more stable, closer to the amazing blocks by H1P blades like my Darker Speed 90 (however DS90 can be a bit of a pain when attacking on BH, a little too thick for the proper positioning of the fingers, same with BH short game over the table).

So I thought to myself if I only could combine best qualities of DS90 with best qualities of BBC 9-10-9 - and I came up with the idea of making it a little thicker (gotta have those blocks!) and its outer layers a tad thinner (keep great control of American Hinoki but make the shots a touch crisper and less mushy in attacks and loops).

So this is the result - a hybrid born from my brain and Charlie's amazing blade-building prowess.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JimT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/29/2011 at 3:00pm
Photos:



Now File Manager tells me I have reached my 10 Mb limit... so further pics will have to wait until I resolve this conundrum Cry

In the meanwhile see the other pics at

https://picasaweb.google.com/JimT2008/BBCUltima

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JimT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/29/2011 at 3:01pm
First practice review:

I played about 80 minutes yesterday using Ultima. Here is the brief report

Speed: OFF. At least as fast as my main blade Galaxy W-1. However, slower than W-1 in gentle short game strokes, which was to be expected as outer layers of Ultima are soft whereas outer layers of W-1 are not (limba?). Took me 10-15 minutes to adjust to that, but this is familiar for anyone who ever played with H1P blades or thick Hinoki 3-plies like Donic Dotec Waldner Hinoki etc. Generally, Ultima has more gears than W-1 which is not a surprise, really...

Spin: due to softness, a tad better than W-1

Control: same reason - better than W-1 but needs some adjustment. Also in short BH game this blade pops the ball more than W-1 - probably due to its thickness my fingers were keeping the blade just 1-2 mm out of proper position. Needs practice!

Sensitivity: less than W-1

Short game: seems as good as W-1 when I do the proper pushes and slices. But it is a bit trickier than with W-1, mostly due to the extra thickness. This applies to BH, it seems quite fine on FH

Looping: mixed feeling. On one hand, this is certainly a blade which is better than W-1 in flat game. You can feel that looping is a little less comfortable. However, within 30-40 minutes I found myself adjusted and kept on looping without much problem. Ball goes a little further and flatter with Ultima so you gotta be on the lookout for that.

Chopping: certainly better on FH. Ball goes lower and shorter. However that means you have to chop a bit harder on low and mid-power chops lest the ball ends up in the net. Also it means you need more tangential motion, less playing through the ball. On the BH it's the same when you adjust the angle. Once again, due to extra 2 mm of thickness you need some time to readjust yourself there. Otherwise you are quite liable to pop up the ball since the blade hits it at the wrong angle.

Blocks and flat hits: great! I can gladly attest that in this regard my experiment panned out. Blocking and flat hitting is basically as great as with DS90, and there is almost no sign of that problem I had with Darker because it's so thick that hitting the ball from BH really requires very good angle technique and the wrist must be relaxed and rotating very precisely. You got more of a leeway with Ultima (less than with W-1 of course).

Grip: quite comfortable. I had to sand down the top of the handle just a tiny little bit to get  rid of the sharp corners but that took me no more than one minute. I also put on a foam 7 mm edge tape from Stiga and a bit of grip tape.

More on that soon...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carryboy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/29/2011 at 3:06pm
I would love to see some photo's.
Ultima 7 cool but is there a specific reason for the 7????
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JimT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/29/2011 at 3:11pm
Originally posted by Carryboy Carryboy wrote:

I would love to see some photo's.
Ultima 7 cool but is there a specific reason for the 7????


7 is there to honor the thickness of the outer layers. BBC 9-10-9 would be Ultima-9. Charlie measures the thickness in 1/100 of an inch (10 thou), so for example 9 means 9 x 0.25 mm = 2.25 mm.

Correspondingly Ultima-7 is 7-16-7 (not 7-14-7 as you might think, since I wanted to make center ply as thick as possible while keeping the weight under 90 g)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sahiggs100 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/29/2011 at 3:22pm
Just the name makes me want to give it a go! Can't wait for your review.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JimT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/29/2011 at 3:26pm
Originally posted by sahiggs100 sahiggs100 wrote:

Just the name makes me want to give it a go! Can't wait for your review.


I have just updated post #3 - please read the first impressions.

Also - added the link to my picasaweb album with the other pictures, see post #2
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JimT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/30/2011 at 10:43am
Had a second long practice with Ultima. I changed the rubbers (same but newer) and that somehow affected the whole balance. I couldn't get a comfortable grip and my short game and placement shots suffered as a result, especially with BH. So - mixed feelings. By the end of the practice I was much more comfortable, found a better grip and played OK... not great but OK.

Some additions to the review:

Throw angle: lower than W-1 on stronger shots; higher than W-1 on BH pushes, especially with tighter wrist. I am not sure why but all the thick blades (Hinoki and Balsa alike) have this extra pop-up property. It probably relates to the fact that the thicker blade is gripped a little differently and gentle push is performed with somewhat less precision.  This is however helped by the better control and softness of the Hinoki (WRC) blade so overall more or less a wash, especially if you have had some practice with thicker blades.

Blade feeling and flex: On strong hits, drives and loops this combo kicks a$$ better than W-1 and feels harder. The speed of the ball is certainly noticeably (still not by a lot) more than with W-1. Where on W-1 I had sometimes to add some wrist motion to dig the ball out of the court's corner, here I don't really need that. However, sometimes when doing that from BH, due to a tighter wrist, I was liable to pop the ball too much (see description of similar things above). That needs some adjustment. Overall, the blade is certainly less flexible than W-1 (no wonder, there are 2 mm of extra thickness and less plies) but with softer feeling on slow and placement shots. But as I said, in attacks it doesn't feel soft at all.

Certainly good warmup could have helped me. Not to mention this was only the second time I played with the blade.

I have changed the rubbers - instead of Blitz MAX put Blitz 2.0 on BH (make it a bit more controllable, a litlle less "poppy") and Air Scirocco Speed on FH (just for kicks, to see how it plays).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JimT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/02/2011 at 12:03am
Played 4 matches with new setup - now that I have gotten more used to the thickness, it played much better, I stopped popping up the ball etc. So by the match #4 I played quite OK - however it was extremely humid and stuffy in the gym (historical building where they are not allowed to install A/C) so my game was not at its best (excuses, excuses)

Anyways, despite the fact that Scirocco did a really good job I am still changing FH rubber back to PME. I want to see how it plays now after a good break-in period. Will report later.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote arg0 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/02/2011 at 7:06am
Am I right in thinking that if this blade weren't custom made you'd have rejected it already and would have reverted to your W-1?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JimT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/03/2011 at 6:54pm
Originally posted by arg0 arg0 wrote:

Am I right in thinking that if this blade weren't custom made you'd have rejected it already and would have reverted to your W-1?


You are correct in the assumption that quite often people tend to overestimate the "newness" and "coolness" of their new blades. It is psychological - they have just spend some time and money and they want to justify their efforts and expense, so they are inclined to see the good sides and refuse to see the bad. However, if a player is more or less honest with himself, after some time he can reassess the worth of the new equipment and make a proper decision.

Anyways, in my case: W-1 plays at least as good as Ultima in most areas, but when I conceived Ultima in my head, I was trying to create something that will specifically suit my style - therefore I tried to merge best sides of W-1 (control, looping, touch, speed) with the best qualities of Darker Speed 90 (blocks, short game, flat hitting).

I am not saying that the result is the ULTIMATE BLADE OF ALL TIMES - I am just claiming that so far I am very much impressed by the fact that purely theoretical assumption that I made (on how to adjust the design of 9-10-9 so that it plays better for me) kinda panned out. Blocks are better, and touch in the FH game is better. BH loops are getting better with Ultima - close to what I could achieve with W-1, so it's mostly a matter of practice now.

I have again played with it today for about 90 minutes straight with a very good sparring partner of mine (2100-2200 level player) and I certainly have gotten used even better to Ultima. I think that the return of PME 47.5 to the forehand helped to make it more comfortable for me. I played really well (4-2) and intend to play more (and even better, hopefully) in the coming weeks. I wish I could videotape my game properly (in the club there is simply not enough space to position the camera so it looks at the players at the right angle) so that you guys could take a look... although I believe I would have played almost the same game with W-1 (but sometimes those elusive 5-10% do matter a lot).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bluebucket Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/03/2011 at 7:55pm
It's always worth trying a blade, you only have to gain 1 point a game or make two less mistakes and you go up 100 points in rating. Really easy, almost brain dead easy decision to do that with a slower blade but sometimes possible with a more suitable one too
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JimT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/04/2011 at 12:33pm
Originally posted by bluebucket bluebucket wrote:

It's always worth trying a blade, you only have to gain 1 point a game or make two less mistakes and you go up 100 points in rating. Really easy, almost brain dead easy decision to do that with a slower blade but sometimes possible with a more suitable one too


I would not be as bold as to say "always"... first of all, there is a question of money (not for all of us but still); second - trying out different blades and rubbers could really mess up your game as you will be constantly readjusting your technique even if slightly. But once in a while when you feel like you are getting bored with your old trusty setup and if you do not have any important tourneys coming up, why not?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JimT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/12/2011 at 12:47pm
I have played another full week with Ultima - and that's about 10 hours of continuous play.

Here is the more or less finalized impressions:

Pros vs W-1

- better block
- slightly better flat game
- more control in the short game
- a little more power in attacking shots
- better control on FH block shots, including chop-blocks and fishing...

Cons vs W-1

- a bit less control in BH looping
- a bit more tentative in mid-power shots, needs adjustment
- extra thickness is a minus when doing BH flips, flat kill shots from BH and generally any controlled attacking from BH

Basically, overall it is a wash vs W-1 (for me) but for now I will keep playing with it till the NH tournament on Oct 30. Then I will probably get back to playing W-1 for a while... and make some more comparison as to what feels better with W-1 and what worse.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JimT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/23/2011 at 11:20pm
A small update on Ultima is that I have been playing with it non-stop for the last 4 weeks (almost) and I have gotten used to  it so much I am playing better with it now that I played with Galaxy W-1 before that.

So I am trying to get myself another Ultima... as a backup and for rubber testing. But it seems Charlie is busy, I haven't been able to get an email from him lately. Hopefully, soon.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sahiggs100 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/24/2011 at 12:36am
Originally posted by JimT JimT wrote:

A small update on Ultima is that I have been playing with it non-stop for the last 4 weeks (almost) and I have gotten used to  it so much I am playing better with it now that I played with Galaxy W-1 before that.

So I am trying to get myself another Ultima... as a backup and for rubber testing. But it seems Charlie is busy, I haven't been able to get an email from him lately. Hopefully, soon.

There can be only one Ultima!!!LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JimT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/24/2011 at 10:31am
Originally posted by sahiggs100 sahiggs100 wrote:

Originally posted by JimT JimT wrote:

A small update on Ultima is that I have been playing with it non-stop for the last 4 weeks (almost) and I have gotten used to  it so much I am playing better with it now that I played with Galaxy W-1 before that.

So I am trying to get myself another Ultima... as a backup and for rubber testing. But it seems Charlie is busy, I haven't been able to get an email from him lately. Hopefully, soon.

There can be only one Ultima!!!LOL


Oh man, you got me there... I'll think about smth though... Big smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tiehwen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/24/2011 at 3:12pm
it's name is questionable IMHO & could be borrowed from OSP Ultimate which is also a 7 plied but all wood & thinner.
This thickness of the new "BBC" (sounds familar?) blade is 8.1mm..Wow, it must be 1 hell of a composite blade, even THICKER than Btfly Schlager Carbon....quite someth'n....
In comes the BBC & out goes the Nexys eh?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JimT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/24/2011 at 3:47pm
Originally posted by tiehwen tiehwen wrote:

it's name is questionable IMHO & could be borrowed from OSP Ultimate which is also a 7 plied but all wood & thinner.


Too late Big smile - I have already put the name on it... how do you like Clipper vs Clippa, or TinArc vs FastArc etc. Not to mention, TopENERGY vs Tenergy, CCT Carbon Flex vs BBC CarboFlex etc etc etc.

Also there is Ultima as in series of fantasy role-playing video games from Origin Systems, Ultima Health Products and many many others. I feel like I am in a good company! Wink

Quote
This thickness of the new "BBC" (sounds familar?) blade is 8.1mm..Wow, it must be 1 hell of a composite blade, even THICKER than Btfly Schlager Carbon....quite someth'n....


I just needed better blocks and a bit harder attacking feeling (compared to 9-10-9) and that can be relatively easily achieved with a thicker blade. However, 9.5 mm thick Darker Speed 90 is not very comfortable in BH looping and flicks, so I wanted smth in the middle.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JimT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/24/2011 at 3:49pm
Originally posted by tiehwen tiehwen wrote:

In comes the BBC & out goes the Nexys eh?


Yeah... I just realized I have way too many blades - especially after I managed to get my hands on a 10-yr old Butterfly Moonbeam, which I will be trying out after the upcoming tourney on Oct 30.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tinykin_2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/24/2011 at 6:54pm
Originally posted by JimT JimT wrote:

Originally posted by tiehwen tiehwen wrote:

it's name is questionable IMHO & could be borrowed from OSP Ultimate which is also a 7 plied but all wood & thinner.


Too late Big smile - I have already put the name on it... how do you like Clipper vs Clippa, or TinArc vs FastArc etc. Not to mention, TopENERGY vs Tenergy, CCT Carbon Flex vs BBC CarboFlex etc etc etc.

Also there is Ultima as in series of fantasy role-playing video games from Origin Systems, Ultima Health Products and many many others. I feel like I am in a good company! Wink

Quote
This thickness of the new "BBC" (sounds familar?) blade is 8.1mm..Wow, it must be 1 hell of a composite blade, even THICKER than Btfly Schlager Carbon....quite someth'n....


I just needed better blocks and a bit harder attacking feeling (compared to 9-10-9) and that can be relatively easily achieved with a thicker blade. However, 9.5 mm thick Darker Speed 90 is not very comfortable in BH looping and flicks, so I wanted smth in the middle.

Don't forget the Ultima GTR, the world's fastest supercar, or so they claim.


Member of Single Ply Club. Shakehand, Kauri wood by American Hinoki, 1-ply 7mm. FH> Gambler Reflectoid. BH> Yasaka Mark V
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JimT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/25/2011 at 12:27pm
That's a beautiful car! So now I know why I called my blade Ultima ! Big smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tiehwen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/25/2011 at 1:19pm
Nissan ALTIMA is also a nice family car for all average Joes (or most average families, incl. mine) which I'm pretty sure alotta us don't mind to have.....Big smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JimT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/25/2011 at 2:44pm
Originally posted by tiehwen tiehwen wrote:

Nissan ALTIMA is also a nice family car for all average Joes (or most average families, incl. mine) which I'm pretty sure alotta us don't mind to have.....Big smile


One of the cars I actually considered getting for myself a few years back. But then I decided to be boring and predictable and got myself another (newer, of course) Accord instead of my old dilapidated one.

By the way, Charlie (BladesByCharlie.com) contacted me and told me he is working on a sister for my first Ultima (the main issue as always is to control the weight). Yippie!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JimT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/10/2011 at 5:52pm
My second Ultima is coming - just in time for Thanksgiving! Thanks, Charlie!

I will put some new rubbers to test on it, too. Right now the candidates are Galaxy Moon Pro 39 and Palio Macro Era 47.5 2.0 ...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JimT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/17/2011 at 11:59pm
Got the second Ultima - it looks as good as the first one. And I must say that playing with Ultima for two months now... it's getting better and better. I am saying that for my OFF style now it plays best of all of my blades. That was a very good decision on my part (patting myself lovingly on the back Wink) to get this great customized blade made to my specifications.

Once again, big props to Charlie Smith of BladesByCharlie. Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JimT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/11/2012 at 3:50pm
Some more pictures - this time of my third Ultima






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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JimT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/11/2012 at 3:56pm
Charlie is a magician - all three of my BBC Ultimas weigh 89 g, they look the same, have exactly same dimensions, same handles, same game etc.

Next try - with two Xiom Omega IV Asia rubbers ob both sides.
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the_theologian View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote the_theologian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/11/2012 at 5:09pm
oh man.... very nice indeed
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sahiggs100 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/11/2012 at 5:54pm
Originally posted by JimT JimT wrote:

Charlie is a magician - all three of my BBC Ultimas weigh 89 g, they look the same, have exactly same dimensions, same handles, same game etc.Next try - with two Xiom Omega IV Asia rubbers ob both sides.


Sounds like you have enough to start sharing!
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