Stiga’s Calibra Tour S is a European style rubber that has a number of factors about it that make it one of the most unique pieces of equipment currently in table tennis. The Calibra Tour S has a rubber topsheet that has almost no tackiness, it produces a sound unlike any other rubber I’ve ever heard, and it has an incredible amount of power for such a soft sponge.
On the forehand side, The Calibra Tour S is fearsome. Despite its lack of tackiness on the rubber topsheet, the rubber is still capable of imparting a huge amount of topspin onto the ball. This is due to the softness of the sponge. Rather than using friction to flick the ball and impart spin, like Chinese style rubbers, the soft sponge and rubber topsheet of the Calibra Tour S allow the ball to sink into the rubber, allowing for a greater amount of force and spin to be imparted over a longer dwell time. This means that topspin loops and counterloops often have more spin than opponents can handle.
Unfortunately, the rubber is not without issue on the forehand side; as a result of the amount of power the rubber provides, playing close to the table can be tedious. Players will find that they have to shorten their strokes when they are closer to the table; however, as soon as it is away from the table, the Calibra Tour S becomes a deadly weapon that can hit amazing loops and smashes that are unreturnable.
For backhands, the Calibra Tour S can be a serviceable option. It is good at producing huge amounts of power from smaller strokes, which makes it a natural fit for the backhand, but due to the amount of power that can be produced, it can be tricky to get a handle on it’s range. Once the player has gotten a feel for how to alter their strokes or technique, this rubber can turn backhands, which for many players is a weakness, into a fast, spinny counterattacking weapon.
When blocking with the Calibra Tour S, the sheer amount of power that the rubber has in it is showcased. Smashes and strong hits are instantly shot back at equal or greater speed with little or no extra effort on the part of the blocker. Furthermore, because the topsheet lacks tackiness, the Calibra Tour S is less susceptible to high amounts of topspin, which makes blocking even the most aggressive loopers a breeze.
In touch play, the Calibra Tour S has a reasonable degree of lightness about it, but the power of the rubber means that oftentimes, pushes go deeper and bounce higher than expected. This would be a more damning fact were it not for the unbelievable amount of backspin that the rubber is able to produce.
The Calibra Tour S will force errors from opponents in touch play, and if it doesn’t force errors, then it forces play deeper due to the high amount of speed the rubber produces, even on pushes. This allows the transition to topspinning and power hitting from deeper positions to occur fluidly within a point, and it can play to aggressive players’ strengths in a natural and intuitive way.
The Calibra Tour S is a wonderful rubber to serve with; it produces a ton of spin and it is slightly heavy, which makes the head of the blade swing faster, increasing the amount of spin produced. The rubber is able to place short serves with a lot of spin close to the net, as well as deep serves with a lot of spin right on the back line of the table.
While this rubber has many features that set it apart, the most distinct trait that Stiga Calibra Tour S has in comparison to its competition is the sound it makes when smashing and brushing the ball. It produces a pitch that is much higher than other rubbers, and as such, it can serve as a disruption to players at the semiprofessional and professional level, who take into account the sound produced by a stroke when considering how to return the ball. The loud sound the rubber makes can act as a type of mental warfare that can give you the extra edge you need in tight matches.
While the Calibra Tour S is a great attacking option for advanced players, it is not without its drawbacks. One hindrance is that the Calibra Tour S does not perform consistently when playing close to the table, especially against backspin. The backhand and forehand flick oftentimes have too much power behind them due to the speed that the rubber produces. Another issue is that the rubber forces players to shorten their strokes a great deal when closer to the table.
These negative points aside, the Calibra Tour S is a looper’s best friend. This is not an ideal rubber for beginning or intermediate players, as it has a bit too much power to be controlled consistently. This is a great rubber for advanced topspin-attacking players that like distance between themselves and the table. Away from the table, the Calibra Tour S performs like a dream, and because of the unique noise it makes it sounds like one too.
Review Written By: Lars Finlay