A player’s equipment criteria of choosing the right racket for his game is a crucial part of his game. When the ball evolved from a mere 38mm ball to the now present 40+mm polyball, the kind of materials and equipment design also changed. Some blade designs remained the same, but the rubbers changed through the years. Some blade designs evolved and the prevalence of inner composite blades right now in the market is much more compared to a decade ago. JOOLA has designed the Santoru KL-C Inner blade to produce an offensive blade that gives a feel closer to an all wood while maintaining a good amount of control. I do not see many inner composite blades which have a hinoki-koto outer layers. I mostly see limba-limba or limba-ayous combinations.
If basing on the wood hardness, the Santoru KL-C Inner gives a mixed feeling of softness and stiffness. In my opinion, it is hard to achieve a balance between speed, control and feel. Increase the speed and the feeling decreases due to the carbon material used. Increase the feel and control and you will sacrifice the speed and power of the blade. At the end of the day, you cannot have all the good qualities you are looking for a blade. You just need to choose which quality you will need to prioritize. The KL-C Inner blade offers an acceptable balance of these qualities. It is not as fast as classic carbon blades, but still can be considered an off+ blade in its own right. The Kevlar and Carbon weave ensures you have enough stiffness, but at the same time will give you more than enough speed for your power shots. I would say it is as fast as some 2nd layer composite blades and somewhat a notch slower than some known inner composite blades that have limba or koto outer plies. I would say it is almost as fast as an Innerforce ALC blade, but much faster than a Nittaku Inner Carbon blade. The speed and power suits mostly near the table and at middle distance play. I find it slower than the 3K-C blade since the 3K-C blade has much more power away from the table.
The KL-C Inner has much better looping capabilities though. You will feel that you will have a much better chance to properly brush the ball on either fast or slow loops. I have always emphasized to my students the importance of feel and contact on a ball especially when doing offensive shots because it not only gives you tons of spin, but a good amount of control as well. The KL-C Inner gives a more forgiving arc when looping at medium-high arc. I also used the JOOLA Rhyzer 48 and Pro 50 on this blade, which gave me a bit more confidence than using the 3K-C (this is because I prefer slower blades and not because 3K-C is a bad blade). With both rubbers, I can loop the ball much better due to a better brush contact. I guess the softness comes from the 2 outer layers wherein the hinoki top plies are followed by much harder koto inner plies. It’s like JOOLA has placed an alternate soft and hard layer placement and this combination produces a good balanced feel on ball impact. The balanced hardness it gives can be good enough to be used for a short pip rubber in the backhand, so I guess it is hard enough for most people. The KL-C Inner has a large sweetspot for better hitting and contact of the ball on every shot.
The control is much better on short strokes and serves. I did not need any adjustments on the drop shots or short pushes. Even with fast rubbers such as the Rhyzers 48 and Pro 50, the said strokes do not feel so bouncy. Another good thing about the KL-C Inner is that it blocks really well. It can do almost every stroke with ease except maybe defensive chopping. I am saying you can be a blocker type of player or you can be pips out player or an offensive type all out looper, this blade is good enough for almost everybody and requires lesser amount of skills to use.
Disclaimer: This blade was sent to Yogi_Bear by JOOLA. This review is not paid and all views are his own.
Known in the industry by his username, Yogi_Bear is a table tennis influencer, equipment expert, and frequent contributor on the table tennis forum Table Tennis Daily. He is an International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Level 1 Coach and ITTF Level 1 Coaching Course Conductor.
You can find this review, originally published on Table Tennis Daily, here.