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Muhle Rocca R95 Birch Bark - Durability?

After reading a bunch of reviews on the Muhle Roccas, including the teething pains of it taking 4 versions to get things right, I felt this was a razor I needed to try. Although I've got maybe 20 DEs, I don't think I own one that's got a stainless head, so that was part of the motivation. And efficiency somewhere between the R89 and the R41 sounded like it might hit my sweet spot. I wasn't sure which handle I liked best, though--they all appeal, but I decided to give the birch bark version, the R95 a try. It arrived yesterday and this morning's shave with a Nacette was truly first rate.

I expected the birch part of the handle to be hardcoated with resin (or similar) for waterproofness. I hadn't researched it, and thought it might just be plastic that looked like wood, especially since the black handle one is plastic in the same area. But upon handling it in person, it's a soft, kind of cushiony feel, and according to Muhle, I now see that it's apparently real birch bark:

For thousands of years birch-bark held a similar technical ranking to that of synthetic materials in today’s modern world. With the varied and, at the same time, discrete texture, the bark convinces at first touch with its pleasant, comfortable velvet-warm feel. The material is extremely long-lasting, easy to grip, even when wet and easy to care for.

But despite the "extremely long-lasting" gilded marketing prose, I'm wondering just how durable it will prove to be, and whether any extra care is called for. It's good to recall that canoes have been built from the same material, and that it's been used for knife handles. But it still seems relatively fragile.

Anyone have longish term experience with it? And by the way they're right about the grip, even when wet. It kinda reminds be of tennis racket or cork handlebar tape.
 
Birch bark does not have to be
coated with any protective medium.
Birch bark contains betulin .
A substance that makes birch bark water and fungus resistant.
What is lacking is mechanical stress resistance.
 
I've had my birch bark Rocca for almost 6 months. No sign of any wear. I'm a big fan of this razor and I like the handle, if only because it's so unique. Having said that, I wish Muhle sold the other handles separately (like RazoRock) as it would be nice to switch handles from time to time.
 
I've had the birch handled Rocca for about 18 months and it still looks like new. The only thing I do is to make sure I dry it off before putting it away, although I do that with all of my razors. I love both the look and the feel of the birch handle.
 
I wrote to Muhle about the Birch bark handle construction.
They replied....
"...many thanks for your message. The birch bark handle is made of single rings of birch bark layered on an aluminum tube. I can confirm that the birch bark is a long lasting material. The material itself is very light and the heat isolating capacity of birch bark is correspondingly high, even when wet. Therefore compared to other natural materials, the birch bark is extremely stable, especially when exposed to moisture: no swelling or shrinkage.

To keep the colour of the handle we recommend to oil it from time to time".

I emailed Muhle again, and asked what is the 'oil' they recommend to use on the Birch bark handle.
They replied...
"You can use cooking oil such as Olive oil or maintenance oil such as Ballistol".

So there you have it straight from Muhle.
I think that Ballistol would be better than Olive oil.
But, I used Tru-Oil on mine (it's used on gun stocks, etc) just to make sure that no soap finally penetrates into the pores of the Birch bark. Gave it 2 coats.
The handle looks great. Has a nice sheen to it, and no loss of grip.
 
I wrote to Muhle about the Birch bark handle construction.
They replied....
"...many thanks for your message. The birch bark handle is made of single rings of birch bark layered on an aluminum tube. I can confirm that the birch bark is a long lasting material. The material itself is very light and the heat isolating capacity of birch bark is correspondingly high, even when wet. Therefore compared to other natural materials, the birch bark is extremely stable, especially when exposed to moisture: no swelling or shrinkage.

To keep the colour of the handle we recommend to oil it from time to time".

I emailed Muhle again, and asked what is the 'oil' they recommend to use on the Birch bark handle.
They replied...
"You can use cooking oil such as Olive oil or maintenance oil such as Ballistol".

So there you have it straight from Muhle.
I think that Ballistol would be better than Olive oil.
But, I used Tru-Oil on mine (it's used on gun stocks, etc) just to make sure that no soap finally penetrates into the pores of the Birch bark. Gave it 2 coats.
The handle looks great. Has a nice sheen to it, and no loss of grip.
It would be great if you could post a picture of the handle after the Tru-Oil treatment. I like the look of the untreated handle, but I wouldn't mind providing added protection if it doesn't adversely affect the appearance.

I also wonder if I could use Howard Feed-N-Wax. It's beeswax and orange oil based and I have used it on my wooden shaving brush handles with excellent results.
 
OK, here it is...has a slight sheen to it. This can be altered by a light buffing once the Tru-Oil has dried. For a gun stock the buffing gives a satin finish.
I like this as it is though. The colours in the Birch bark look 'richer' to me.

Thanks! By the way, I have that same brush as well.
 
Hard to beat that Yaqi Rainbow 26mm Pony knot isn't it?
I have 5 other brushes (most are new/unused) as the Pony knot ticks all the boxes.
 
I had the birch bark handle with the gen 3 head. I sold it because I got the newest gen 4 head (the best version yet!). I did really like the birch bark - it looked fabulous. Never had a problem with durability.
 

Ad Astra

The Instigator
Ambassador
Man! Love that handle! Almost wish I hadn't seen it!

Nordic Shave has a birch soap, which is wonderful.


AA
 

Avi

Contributor
If you are
Thanks. I see there is an R96. So, is that the most recent version?

No .. there is some confusing annotation here... The R** is almost the handle description. Unfortunately there is effectively another version number underneath representing the revision number. So in this example there may be (depending on when the birch version came out) perhaps a R95 v1 R95 v2 R95 v3 R95 v4. The r94 is steel, the r95 is birch. The r96 Rocca is the black handled one. Though weirdly apparently even this rule doesn't make sense since there is a r96 jet black and a r96 handle black.

My only conclusion is a German car manufacturer employee who came up with the annotation schemes for BMWs or Audis moved over to Muhle and thought to bring the same logical sensibility to the German shaving world..

Joking aside, so you are looking for the r95 v4. If you can figure out who has that (or how to guarantee this) other than buying it directly from Muhle I am curious too. I am looking for the r96 handle black (not jet black) v4.

Avi
 
Used mine for the first time today after applying fretboard oil on it yesterday, what a grip and like someone has already mentioned it the only handle that gets grippier once wet..

you can tell the v1 and v2 easily By the base plates but v3 and V4 share the same look but the V4 is cnc machined and can tell the difference from the underside of the cap I think...

reckon I have seen comparison pics somewhere will try find them.. The V4 is my ultimate razor giving me the perfect balance of smoothness and efficiency and have ended up buying the R94, R95 and R96

here is the handle after the oil treatment

1F7F0659-D28A-4E82-BA49-B14396BCEC1F.jpeg
 
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