Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The iKon 102: Not a universal razor, but absolutely terrific in the right situation

with 5 comments

At long last I think I’ve found the answer to why some report the iKon 102 clogs (for them). I was mystified by the complaints I read, since I have never experienced any clogging at all. I thought of several possible causes of the clogging that some have reported: dry lather, hard water, using shave oil, shaving extremely long stubble. Yesterday in an exchange with a redditor on Wicked Edge, I think I nailed it: the 102 is prone to clog for men whose beards are quite thick and dense and who do not shave every day or two. If a guy with dense, thick stubble shaves a four-day growth with the 102, the razor will clog.

UPDATE: It turns out that another part of the problem is when the lather is too thick (insufficient water). A subsequent message from the redditor mentioned above:

Eureka!! I changed the thickness of the lather and the SC102 had NO clog issues on a good 3+ days of stubble.

When I whip lather I always make it very thick and creamy (opacity level = 1). So if we were to use a opacity scale, with 1 being no transparency while 10 being transparent. I made my lather with an opacity of about 7-8 and this solved the problem.

Extremely happy now!

So it was not simply that he had a thick, dense beard, but also that his lather was too thick. /update

And another update: Even after this man got the lather right, he still had an occasional instance of clogging, and he finally figured out that it was that his beard was, in itself, oily enough that it could clog. Not every day, but he has (obviously) oily skin, and on somedays the oil on the beard made the stubble clog the razor. He has started washing his stubble with a high-glycerin soap (e.g., MR GLO) at the sink just before lathering. He washes his stubble, rinses partially with a splash, and applies a good lather (not too thick). Since doing this, he has not experienced a single instance of his 102 clogging. /update2

It’s common for tools to be suited to particular purposes: we have framing hammers and finish hammers, rip saws and crosscut saws, wide chisels and narrow chisels, fore planes and smoothing planes, luxury sedans and Formula 1 racers. The 102 is a great choice for a daily shaver, and also works well for shaving a multiday stubble on men with normal or light beards. It clogs when men with dense beards shave a multi-day stubble, so it seems logical in that situation to do a first pass with a razor that doesn’t clog. The Merkur Progress, for example, seems immune to clogging and since it’s adjustable, a higher setting can be used for longer stubble; or—at considerably less cost—an efficient and comfortable open-comb razor like the RazoRock Old Type or the Maggard V2OC could be used for the first pass, since open comb razors are not so prone to clogging (which is irrelevant for men who shave every day or two but important for those who shave only every week or two).

Bruce Everiss uses a different razor for each pass to optimize the match between razor and stubble length. He describes that method in three posts: first post, second post, and third post. It’s worth noting that each of the three razors are kept loaded with a blade and ready to go: on finishing a pass, you rinse the razor as usual and put it down, pick up the brush and apply lather for the next pass, and pick up the appropriate razor for the next pass. Thus it takes no more work or time than using the same razor for all three passes. (I mention this because some have the idea that they must transfer the blade from one razor to the next as they go. Not only is this unnecessary, it is undesirable for two reasons: first, blades should be handled as little as possible (normally, you touch the blade only twice: once when you load the razor with the blade and once when you remove the blade to discard it); and second, the brand of blade that works well in one razor may not work well in another. Three different razors may well use three different brands of blades.

Now I know to recommend the (wonderful) iKon 102 specifically to men who shave every day or two (or who have normal or light beards), and to mention that the 102 doesn’t work so well for men with dense, thick stubble who shave infrequently—at least it would not be a good choice for the first pass.

You can read the exchange on reddit. The above summary of findings covers the essential content. Obviously having to deal with clogs makes the shave inefficient and also seems to be hard on the razor. (I have used a 102 for some years and have had zero problems with the threads, though of course I do have quite a few razors in rotation so I don’t use it daily. However, some do use the 102 daily and I’ve not heard reports of problems from them.)

In recognition of finally settling this problem, I brought out the 102 for today’s shave. Prep was done with the Kent Infinity brush, a very nice little synthetic, and Meißner Tremonia’s Strong ‘n Scottish shaving soap, which Maggard Razors describes as “Masculine, strong and incredibly intense. Plenty of genuine Scotch whisky, pure sheep wool fat with the peaty-smoky fragrance of burnt oak.”

The 102 did a superb job: simply wiping away the stubble and, of course, no clogging at all: I shaved yesterday, plus my beard is of normal density. No nicks or burn—the 102 is extremely comfortable and not inclined to nick—but a BBS result without effort.

A splash of Bulgari served as an aftershave, and I’m ready for the day.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 April 2017 at 8:14 am

Posted in Shaving

5 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Agree that the 102 is an excellent everyday shaver. As a matter of fact, i got the Ikon X3 and now I’m selling it because I did not find it any better than the #102. In general I’m moving away from torqued slants as i believe they do require a bit more finesse to use with complete precision than a uniform cutting edge.

    Also I do sometimes use the same multi razor shave as Bruce: a more aggressive razor for the WTG pass and then a milder shaver for the XTG/ATG pass. The 102 can function well in either pass.

    Alex

    28 April 2017 at 2:01 pm

  2. Very interesting point about the difference it makes when the blade is twisted. I bet that accounts for the very slight feeling of difference between the two heads. I could never put my finger on it, and when I used the X3 I really liked it, but for some reason I always liked the 102 a bit better: somehow it felt smoother on my face—well, in fact more comfortable, but then when I used the X3 and tried to locate any discomfort, I couldn’t. It also felt quite comfortable. But still I somehow preferred the feel of the 102, and your comment sheds light on that.

    I think I’d use a multi-razor shave were I not a daily shaver: I would want an adze for the initial pass, a chisel for the next pass, and a plane for the final pass. (By that, I of course mean the razor equivalents—e.g., Rockwell R6 for first pass. And as you point out, the 102 works well for both the other passes.)

    LeisureGuy

    28 April 2017 at 3:27 pm

  3. I’ll add one other possibility for clogs (not just with the 102, but with other SEs and DEs in general): cold water. I’m a cold water shaver, from loading to rinsing, and occasionally some shaving soaps will clog, with this behavior more prevalent in certain razors. I surmise (but don’t have the facts) that this may also create some issues.

    optimizer64

    28 April 2017 at 4:37 pm

  4. I’ve found the iKon 101 great for such situations – open comb side for the first pass, closed comb for the second.

    theseeker

    28 April 2017 at 6:22 pm

  5. My favorite synthetic brush. Prefer it to my Plisson L’Occitane. Too soft.

    Larry

    29 April 2017 at 5:47 am


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s