Welcome to my review of the Muhle-Pinsel R89 (2009 Model) Closed-Comb
I cannot get piccys up so see here:
I have tried to be as thorough as possible and personally find one paragraph reviews useless - so will not be doing that.
Whilst looking for a proper razor and after much deliberation and R&D,
It was between the (2009) R89 closed comb, a Merkur 38c long handle barbers pole or a Edwin Jagger (EJ) with new Muhle Head.
My reasons for choosing the Muhle over the others are as follows:
I feel that Merkur have an almost monopoly share of the 'New' DE razor market but after reading many a review the quality by rights should be much better for this size of company.
The EJ was a little pricy – say if I didn't like it? A potentially expensive mistake.
I also wanted a metal handle – one that I can drop on my marble bathroom floor without shattering the imitation handle.
Lastly the Muhle R89 closed-comb has been redesigned for 2009 in conjunction with Edwin Jagger.
Muhle-Pinsel are a small family run outfit with around 25 staff. Their core products are shaving brushes with maybe 2 or 3 razors in total. Further there is very little consumer marketing evident. The razor can only be purchased direct via their website. I guess the best marketing is by recommendation / word of mouth.
IMO Its the mass produced burger or the gourmet burger. I went with the gourmet burger. Edwin Jagger also went with the gourmet burger – why they chose not to design an all new head with their previous supplier (Merkur) is not awfully clear.
The razor was presented in a recyclable cardboard box well wrapped in printed paper tissue.
The packaging is first rate and I cannot really fault it. I do like the little novelty brush and will be using this when I find the time!
I also received three sample creams: aloe-vera, sandalwood and sea-buckthorn (same as EJs line-up).
To me personally packaging is of very little consequence. I would much prefer a great shave with a great razor. Like a real Gold ring in a naff plastic box; one does not buy the ring for the sake of the box (- women excluded!).
Fit & Finish
Straight away this razor feels special and feels like a much more expensive item.
The plating quality is extremely good and I could not find any defects or signs of machining or tooling at all. There are no rough or blemished areas anywhere. In fact it feels and looks like a very well executed item and should take pride of place in my bathroom.
No faults at all. Blade gap and head geometry are all perfect and I found no need to adjust the blade gaps during or after tightening. I did not over tighten it either. Once tight the blade adjusted perfectly, not wavy or uneven, with no irregularities present at all, perfect exposure both sides. I have included a picture of the blade gap. Quite a lot of blade is in fact exposed but I found the blade angle very mild as opposed to aggressive. The head width is also not as wide as the inserted blade – as the pictures show there is some blade exposure at either end. ( - Mental note: be careful when manoeuvring under my nose!)
Weight & Balance
The razor feels light to begin with but once shaving against the face it feels very natural and agile.
The razor is head heavy – and straight away felt biased towards the head. The handle is very light in comparison, but that's not to say it is feather light either. This I think is 'by design' but also to enable the hand weaving the blade to beware.
I found the balance to be excellent once it got shaving. It is also highly manoeuvrable and agile. Also more importantly it got right under my nose literally. The shave on the lip area was also very efficient. For size and feel, the handle is not too much or too little, either in size or grip. I have big hands and found it most comfortable.
Whilst awaiting delivery from Germany I deliberately let my stubble grow, so started with 4 days worth of stubble. I would say I have thick stubble and sensitive skin.
This razor is a three piece design, with which I had absolutely no problems - as a grown adult if you are going to handle a naked blade exercise due care.
I decide to load up a Gillette swede but also had Merkur, Astra, Derby or UK Wilkinsons to choose from. Decided on the swedes as I find them very smooth and irritation free but also just sharp enough.
After loading a new Gillette swede, I thoroughly washed my face with a suitable face wash. During this time left my brush (Progress-Vulfix Burlington) to soak in my bowl of hot water. Left my face wet and started with a 2 cm strip of Proraso green and a good twist of GFT Coconut cream, then one squirt of One Planet shave oil. I am afraid this is 'the shave-den' thus far.
I Beat these components into a lovely meringue and applied to my face with circular strokes and then brush finished with up and down strokes.
The shave quality was absolutely spot on. I went WTG, XTG, ATG and finally a touch up. During each stage applying a little water and further lather. Also I did apply uneccessary pressure at times.
I did not feel the blade at all just a very smooth gliding sensation. At no point did it feel uncomfortable whether up down or sideways. When going across the grain there was very little to reduce, virtually the same story going up. The blade skipped once on the underside of my jawline - where I have some wild directional growth, but noting a little practice cannot cure. Post shave I rinsed with cold water and applied alum there was the usual stinging as my pores closed but not painfully so. So I now know that the razor is not aggressive as I suffered NO razor burn.
I believe 'burn' to occur when you over-shave (too many passes) or use too aggressive an angle and/or too much pressure, as well as using a blunt blade. I observed the right angle and applied some pressure, but due to the weight balance of the razor, I let the head do its thing.
All areas of my face are now BBS especially under the neck and behind the chin and my upper and lower lip area along with my jawline. Areas that have often and previously proved difficult. I have no cuts, nicks or weepers anywhere, so can also say that it is fairly forgiving. I am ecstatic with the BBS under my chin and neck area for the first time in my life. I put this down to the small width of the head, the blade angle and overall agility.
I have only used a plastic wilkie DE and my new R89, so cannot say for sure whether the razor is designed to be aggressive (unlike its open-comb brethren). I did not find it aggressive at all – it is however very efficient and very user friendly.
Adjustability - what adjustability? Just not applicable. But will not deduct marks as not fair.
I am a relative newbie to DE shaving ,but have been shaving for 23 years with lesser quality implements. I started DE shaving about 3 weeks ago I started with a Wilkinson plastic DE and was achieving a 6-7 pass + touch up BBS shave. With the new R89 this is now 3 passes + touch up to BBS. With practice however I think I could achieve a 2 pass + touch up.
I decided to go 'against the grain' (- pun intended) and did not buy a Merkur HD – a recommended newbie staple.
I personally wouldn't mind if the R89 were more aggressive but YMMV as with all things. This razor would make great tool for the old experienced shavers as well as those just starting out.
Overall I am delighted - I have found the '2009 - Muhle-Pinsel R89 CLOSED COMB' a very well made and well finished item that produces a shave of excellent quality. Truly the sum of its parts. Well done Muhle and thank you Christian – I know you will be reading this.
I hope more of you guys give this razor a whirl – I doubt that any of you will be disappointed.
Go and get one NOW, whether you are a newbie or not! That is my 'word of mouth.'