We’re always looking for new kinds of safety razors to freak out about – we’ve been around the block a few times, so it takes a bit to impress us. One company we have overlooked of late is Muehle, which makes quite a few awesome shaving products of their own, from shave kit stands to brushes and more. However, what they’re really good at is razors – Muhle safety razors are probably some of the most solid, dependable we have ever come across. They’re pretty damn reliable, to the point where I’d be hard pressed to not think about switching over in the future.
We thought it best to give the Muhle a shot – after all, some people compare them favorably to the Edwin Jagger DE89L, which is one of our favorite razors over here. With a recommendation like that, who’d be crazy enough to not check them out?
Brief History of Muhle Shaving Culture:
While researching about the razors that we are reviewing for you today, we came across the interesting history behind Muhle. It was too interesting not to share, so sharing we shall do!
The shaving company, Muhle was developed in 1945 after Otto Johannes Muller was released from captivity as a prisoner of war. He was a tough man with a steadfast conviction that no matter how hard things started out with his company, he knew he would be successful one day. The company was started with hardly any start up money and was lacking in materials to get off the ground as well. There was also the little matter of being without a place to operate Muhle as well, but none of this could dampen Otto’s resolve.
Without anywhere else to begin, Otto set up shop in a wash kitchen where he would prepare his shave brushes by hand. All of the bristles were boiled, animal hair processed and brushes assembled. Lighting was a luxury that couldn’t be afforded for the most part and was only used as absolutely needed due to unexpected power cuts. To save fuel costs, the first products sold by Muhle were delivered from their home base of Stutzengrun by way of horse drawn carts.
There was a moderate amount of success in the early days of the company that created a need for more workers in order to produce enough shaving brushes. Muhle soon gained their very first export customers and began distributing their shave brushes to Greece, Russia and Arab countries. The use of horse drawn carriages was still a part of the company’s routine as they were still tasked with taking shipments to nearby railway stations for further transports.
Unfortunately, Muhle experienced a major set back in 1949 when a massive fire literally destroyed the entire building that housed the company. All of the materials and production stock was lost when their wooden shed was destroyed. True to his character, Otto pushed through and did not let the fire discourage him. They were up and running again in no time, thanks to finding a new building that was once a textile firm.
By 1963, Muhle was really hopping and was sending their products out to well over 36 countries. Otto passed away in 1965 and left the shaving company in the hands of his capable son, Hans-Jurgen Muller. With the changing of hands from father to son, the company also saw more growth in both employee size and the move to a bigger location. Muhle products were also becoming more poplar around the world at this time, which led to it becoming a Publicly Owned Operation in 1972.
Muhle kept growing well into the 1980’s with Hans eventually left in 1987 to pursue other ventures in the shaving industry. They are still going strong after meager beginnings and major world changes after making fine shaving tools for the past 69 years. Muhle now has full lines of razors, shave brushes, skin care lines, shave soaps and creams and aftershaves. They have sure come a long way from a little wash room without many lights and horse drawn carriages.
The Muhle R89:
First up is the Muhle R89, which is a pretty solid safety razor on its own – it’s probably considered to be the best of Muhle’s safety razors. Its elegance is in its simplicity, with a nice chrome two-piece design that doesn’t look too different from most safety razors out there.
That being said, I really love the simple embellishments that make this particular razor a standout. First of all, there is the stippled texture you’ll find on most safety razors; instead of it being harsh and pointy like a power tool, it’s merely rippled in a very intricate way (you’ve got to get right up to it in order to see the elegant texturing). It feels fantastic in your hand. The little Muhle logo surrounding the base of the handle is also a nice touch; you feel like you’ve got a personalized, hand-crafted masterpiece in your hand that’s begging for use.
On top of everything else, this thing shaves like a dream. It’s a bit harsher than other Muhle safety razors, but it still gets the job done; you just have to be sure to push down just a little bit in order to get down to the skin if you really want a close shave. The R89 itself is a closed comb safety razor; what this means is that there’s a narrower gap between the blade and the razor’s leading edge. This allows you to have a much smoother, gentle shave than an open-combed razor, though there are advantages to that which we will get into with other Muhle razors.
The Muhle R41:
The brother of the R89, the main difference between that razor and this is its open-combed design; that’s identified by the little broad notches that lie directly under the blade on the head. The advantage of this is that the foam lather and extra stubble you work over as you shave will be swept away very quickly, which makes for easy cleanup at the end. As you run the razor over your face, it just scoops up and pushes out of the way all that excess, which is pretty awesome and effective for a razor. It almost looks like a little lawnmower running across your face.
One thing to keep in mind is that it’s got a feather-like touch on it, so you have to be careful when shaving. I wouldn’t recommend it to a novice; only the big boys get to play with this, since they’ll know what they’re doing and be able to avoid pushing down too hard like they may be used to on a regular razor.
As for design, apart from the open comb difference this is virtually identical to the R89; to that end, choosing between these two is merely a matter of preference on your comb size. Do you want a gentle shave or a more efficient one? The choice is yours, but either one of these razors would be an awesome buy.
The Muhle R106 and 107:
Are you tired of the stodgy old chrome look, and want something a little bit different? Something more comfortable? Well, Muhle anticipated these needs and came up with the R106 and R107, which should suit fans of the R89 who might like their razor to look and feel a bit less cold and textured. Both of these razors are closed-comb, with a safety bar to ensure smoother shaving; if you want open comb, you’ll have to stick with the R41, I’m afraid.
Still, the big difference in look is the replacement of the stippled textured metal on the handle with a black (R106) or white (R107) resin handle. There are a few advantages to this; for one, your hand won’t be quite as cold if you’re just waking up and need to hold a safety razor. Also, if you’re not worried about needing a rippled texture to make sure your safety razor doesn’t slip out of your hands like an infant, we’ve got you covered there too.
If anything, I rather like the change in look to a smooth resin handle; it fits the rest of the razor’s equally smooth aesthetic as well, if not even more so than the R89. Still, no matter which of these you get, you’ll still get an awesome shave – this shaves just as smoothly and sharply as the R89, and the rounded closed comb head is a wonder and a relief on that sore, hair-impaired cheek.
The best part about all four of these razor variants is that they’re all comparable in price, running about $50 to $60 in price. These are actually really good deals for safety razors, which cements their status as the best Muhle safety razors on the market. All of these razors have something for everyone, but they’re all the same basic piece of wonderment.