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The Tilted Picnic Slant Circus, Year 2

The Tilted Picnic, Year 2. Round Six, Shaves Three and Four: iKon Shavecraft 102 Tilted Slant

Better and better. I'm truly impressed. I've decided to promote the iKon 102 into "Darn Few" class -- that is, there are darn few razors that shave this nicely. Oh, I've got razors that shave better and of course a boxful that shave worse, but this is the best shave I've had for a while.

I started thinking, "I wonder what went wrong with their other designs which often seem to fall short for me?" I realized, however, that it's just another instance of YMMV and whatever I'm really digging about it would probably be a detriment in someone else's hands.

In a somewhat backhanded way, if I don't have a lot of things to point out and discuss after every shave, that's a good thing.

O.H.
 
The Tilted Picnic, Year 2. Round Six, Shaves Five and Six: iKon Shavecraft 102 Tilted Slant

I had the last two shaves kind of in a rush, but they were good. Trying to keep things alive at 45C/111F -- including me! -- takes a little attention. I had to go down and fix a blown water line about noon yesterday. Fortunately it was a small one but it was a couple of hours before I noticed. Now I go out every hour and check the lines to see that they're good.

So, wrapping up the iKon 102. Well. I'm truly impressed. This is the first tilted slant I've ever used that actually gave me a better shave than some helical slants seem to do. As I've said, it's a really well-designed razor. Too bad they quit making it, but I understand that slants, like Gem single-edge, are pretty "niche-y" and even though they have a fair number of fans they are still a sideshow to the main event of regular DE shaving.

I found the iKon Shavecraft 102 a rather mild shaver. "Mild" is subjective, so what do I mean? Mild, to me, means the razor feels "safe" and not prone to nicks. That can be a matter of blade exposure and gap, which are both somewhat tight on the iKon. It can also be a matter of blade clamping, as even a low-exposure blade that is not tightly clamped will chatter. This is not a problem with the 102.

At the same time that the razor feels mild and safe, it also shaves quite close. I always try a two-pass shave. Some razors can do it, others can't. I will always have trouble pushing a razor that doesn't really "want" to do a two-pass shave. Jumps, chatter and touchdown nicks are the result. I'm not using this as a marker of poor construction, though. It's just one way of lumping a whole bunch of poorly-understood variables into one general observation. As I'll point out in an upcoming review of a different razor, sometimes chatter means I haven't done enough reduction yet. Two pass; three pass: really it doesn't matter. The shave seems to take about as long either way. The iKon 102, however, is easily able to do a two-pass shave and do it very well.

Should you buy one? Based on my experience I'd grab another one if I found one somewhere. It's ultimately one of those razors for me that seems to shave on autopilot and not require especial attention to technique. The shave is close and comfortable for me; almost as close and comfortable as the ATT S2 -- a totally different razor design.

I'm going to have to put this one between my all-time favourite (ATT S2) and the previous Number Two, the RazoRock Wunderbar. The iKon 102 Shavecraft and the RazoRock Stainless Stealth Slant V3 are both really well-behaved slants and both unfortunately no longer made. Personally I'd like to see some of these not-so-aggressive slants back on the market since we're seeing more guys getting interested in trying them on.

O.H.
 
The Tilted Picnic, Year 2. Round Seven, Shave One: Above the Tie X1 Single-Edge Slant

I was gonna do this one right at the end, but when I got it I had another month to wait if I was doing it that way. So..."New Toys!" and I'm going to dive straight in.

There are already some reviews out there for this innovative new razor. I encourage you to read around -- but keep in mind that some reviews are written by people who don't really "get" slants and in some cases they seem to want to pump up the perceived danger level. To me this is kind of like doing a review of a fire-engine-red convertible sports car and complaining that the trunk is too small to hold a week's groceries. I'll admit there's some value in seeing how someone's process of discovery works. I'll try to show you the discovery without getting too woo-woo about how slants are "super aggressive stubble monsters." Some of them take a little stronger technique.

So. What are we holding here?

IMG_0536[1].JPG


I bought just the head. I have lots of handles. This one is a West Coast Shaving 84S handle -- a design that maximizes control of the edge for me.

The head clocks in at 47g. Superficially it looks pretty much like an SE1 head from the outside. Like with ATT's S1 and S2 DE slant razors, the magic happens under the cap.

The razor takes Artist Club blades. My favourite in that line is the Kai Captain Titan Mild Pink, as I tend to like my razors and blades to fall in the Goldilocks Zone; not too mild, not too aggressive.

Here's a good question: is this a tilted slant or a helical slant? I assumed that it would almost by definition be a tilted slant due to the thickness of the AC blade compared to the DE blade. However, my calibrated eyeballs :) seem to notice a wee bit of torsion by looking at the relative angles of the two sides of the blade when it's installed. I will find that answer and report back.

For a first-time shave it was a good one. I'm very nice and smooth, no nicks or weepers. As I always do, I tried for a two-pass shave. I'm speculating that the extra width of the AC blade encountering more hair on the ATG pass was what made it a little uncomfy. There's a simple answer to that: a modified three-pass shave with two WTG passes first, then ATG. Perhaps I was being a little extra-gingerly on the first pass, but in any event the second WTG pass removed a bit more hair. I picked that trick up from barber straights and it works just as well with safety razors.

My initial impression was that the X1 is almost in Wunderbar territory. There's a considerable amount of bladefeel. It doesn't feel as "safe" as the S2 or the iKon 102 Shavecraft, but it's not intimidating either. Honestly, I thought it felt just slightly milder than the ATT SE1, of which I have owned a couple over the years. The SE1 is a lovely razor but just always wasn't quite right for me. The X1 seems to have covered off whatever was bothering me about the SE1.

Based on that first shave so far, I can say that I don't think this razor is a "beginner" razor, although that shouldn't scare anyone off. Everyone has to assess their own technique and decide whether they have enough confidence to tackle it. We all like to push our technical boundaries. The X1 didn't push mine, because I've used some other razors that are much more touchy. Certainly someone who has been shaving for most of their life with any kind of blade razor ought to have the skills firmly in place. Someone who's just coming to wet shaving and wanting to ease into slants could pick this thing up and use it effectively, or they might choose to build their technique in a stepwise fashion. That's a matter of personal choice.

So far I'm really liking it. As I go, I'm sure it will give up some of its secrets. Stay tuned.

O.H.
 
Now you're going to talk me into wanting to buy, guess what?

I've got this little tiny pebble...

**plink**

...I'll just toss it onto the snow here.

It may take a little time, but the rumbling will tell you when it's working.

Might wanta pick one up and avoid the rush; just puttin' that out there. No pressure.

Besides, I needed some excitement to occupy me while waiting for the FOCS to arrive.

O.H.
 
O.H.,

I have the x3, S1/S2 and SE1. I just discovered this thread and am interested in your thoughts on the FOCS as I'm looking for a razor of similar caliber to the ATT but less dear in price for traveling.

Sadly, aligning equal blade exposure with the x3 was always hit or miss and it always felt like it shaved differently on each side. Also, the aluminum head is so light, I have to apply pressure otherwise it bounces off my stubble even with a Feather or Kai. This can make for some rough shaves when you have tried to develop muscle memory for zero pressure, especially with the heavy SE1 head. I had the best shave with a slant yesterday, the S1 with a Kai blade . After using the SE1 almost exclusively for 2 months, the developed muscle memory and technique with the much heavier head has been an eye opener, learning what zero pressure really means, translating into the best shave I've ever had with the S1.
 
I have the x3, S1/S2 and SE1. I just discovered this thread and am interested in your thoughts on the FOCS as I'm looking for a razor of similar caliber to the ATT but less dear in price for traveling.

Watch this space! :) It's on the way.

Sadly, aligning equal blade exposure with the x3 was always hit or miss and it always felt like it shaved differently on each side. Also, the aluminum head is so light, I have to apply pressure otherwise it bounces off my stubble even with a Feather or Kai.

Precisely the problems I had with it. As a matter of fact it is designed to shave differently on each side (differential head). I've used enough single edge razors that not flipping the thing after every stroke isn't a new thing to me, but the aggravating thing about the X3 was that the differential is so close there's not too much to choose one side from the other. As I have said before, I found the "coarse" side too fine and the "fine" side too mild. Others may have different experience.

I had the best shave with a slant yesterday, the S1 with a Kai blade . After using the SE1 almost exclusively for 2 months, the developed muscle memory and technique with the much heavier head has been an eye opener, learning what zero pressure really means, translating into the best shave I've ever had with the S1.

ATT's S series are some fine razors, no doubt. I also get the absolute best shaves from my S2. One reason I keep the Wunderbar in my rotation -- not only is it a great razor in its own right but a week with it can really tune up my technique.

O.H.
 
So my "alignment issues" are designed to be so, as differential? Why did I not know this? I'm embarrassed. I do prefer one side to the other. So basically shave as a SE for each shave, rotating the blade 180deg in between each shave for equal blade wear?

I love my SE1 and S1/S2. I have an Atlas handle but am considering getting a Calypso handle as well. I love the ATT barber pole handle.
 
So my "alignment issues" are designed to be so, as differential?

Don't feel bad. I had to get schooled on it, too -- because I couldn't tell much difference. Not being really interested in differential razors, I assume the technique is to use the coarse side first, then use the fine side. That would mean, yes, if you want to equalize wear on the blade you could probably just flip the blade over before each shave. That's what I do, even with SE razors. If you're using both sides of the razor for your shave, then flipping will be enough.

I haven't used a differential razor that has a larger difference. I'd be interested to try one. I see some also have one side OC and the other side SB -- another way of doing it and also one I've not pursued.

O.H.
 
I never could feel the difference between the two sides of my X3. My son has it now. Last time I asked he was indifferent to one side versus the other.

I have two dual comb (SB/OC) razors, a Fendrihan MIM SS razor and a RazoRock machined SS Lupo DC. The Lupo has a truly differential vibe, the Fendrihan not so much, other than feeling the teeth.
 
Thanks O.H.!

The side with the larger (fewer) scallops looks to have the blade not aligned with the cap. The side with the smaller (more) scallops has the blade aligned perfectly with the cap, but also appears to be torqued slightly more.

I'll give the X3 another shot.
 
The Tilted Picnic, Year 2. Round Seven, Shave Two: Above the Tie X1 Single-Edge Slant

By the time I was ready to shave yesterday the Lather Pit was pushing up toward 90F. So I rescheduled for this morning and very glad I did.

Man-oh-man. When the mercury's up to 46C/113F all you can do is just try to keep everybody alive. That's been my life this week -- every day hotter than the last, and of course the house hasn't cooled off at night in that time. Mother Nature called and said it's time to get air conditioning. I'll try to get that on the go if I can get a break from fixing blown water lines. That much heat does really ugly things to pipes. Along with all that bother we also have several large fires in the area. The worst one is due west of us about 10 km/6 miles and we're supposed to get strong westerlies today. I may be off the air for a while. We're starting the process of packing go kits and gathering what we don't want to lose.

Sometimes under high stress I don't have the steady hands I'd like when I'm waving a sharp blade around. This morning however was another lovely shave; truly a bright spot in a smoky, hellish world. I am absolutely NOT meaning any criticism, just snarking off, when I report that I had the thought, "This is what the SE1 shoulda been!"

Now I'm thinking that if an "X2" ever comes along I'd really want to try it.

I find the AC blades a bit wide sometimes when I'm trying to "shave into a dip" but also if I simply change the angle of the stroke I can cross the low spot in a way that puts steel down all the way across.

I repeated my technique from last day, two WTG passes and one ATG. The razor feels like it can do a two-pass shave with aplomb, but my overheated and sunbaked skin wants me to take a gentler approach for now. I'm OK with that. I noticed that the first WTG took off a bit more than last day, and the second consequently a bit less. I'm putting that down to getting more comfortable with the razor, and to the blade beginning to smooth out a little which means less grabby-ness. I think I'll go ahead and stick to my original idea of shaving out the blade before moving on. With an Astra SP that's six shaves/two weeks. I know from other AC razors that I can get between 7 and 10 shaves, depending, which is around three weeks for me.

Now I have a lovely shiny dome so the sweat can run down unimpeded. :) It's why we have bandanas!

O.H.
 
The Tilted Picnic, Year 2. Round Seven, Shave Three: Above the Tie X1 Single-Edge Slant

I'm always a little touchy about schedules. The data nerd in my head says that keeping a schedule for shaving keeps the variables down. The realist in my head says sometimes there are more important things than shaving, so including life's little vagaries in the review process can mimic our real lives more closely. The shave nerd in my head says there are so darn many variables that one or two more or less ain't gonna make one whit of difference.

Man, it gets noisy inside my head sometimes. :) I may have to go find a separate apartment.

So Shave One was a Monday, and then my normal Wednesday shave got derailed by just trying to stay alive in 46C heat. I carved out some time in the Lather Pit on Thursday morning and got cleaned up a little, but then that pushed my usual Friday shave into Saturday, which got once again overtaken by events and deferred until this morning.

Quick update on life outside the Lather Pit here: fires in the area, historic drought, high temps, and a fair chance of severe thunderstorms with large hail tonight and much of the next week. Complete devastation has not yet visited us but one town in the area has already burned flat. Mostly just keepin' my eyes on the prize right now, trying not to give in to panic. So might as well shave!

Here we are at Shave Three. The blade has been "face-stropped" on both sides now and is settling in to a nice smoothness.

I want to revisit a comment I made earlier about blade feel and "safety." What I was trying to convey is that my perception of the "safety" of any particular razor is an indication of how far that razor pushes my technique on any outing. Some razors require so little technique they feel very safe, as in: not at all likely to nick. Other razors, you just know. It's going to demand the best game you can bring.

Of course there are a lot of variables, including the blade itself. I'm using Kai Captain Titan Mild Pinks which are, in my hands, exactly that; mild. Well, it's a relative mild. It feels a little less safe than a DE blade, but part of that is the length of the edge. It has a tendency to come at some funky angles in odd ways compared to a DE blade. That's all the blade design, not the razor however. I've tried a couple of guarded blades over the years -- Kai and Feather -- and for me they're just not good. I've also used Feather, Feather Pro, and Schick Proline and personally find the Kai Mild Pink to be less "nicky" in the first couple of uses and also decently durable out to 9 or 10 shaves.

AC blades need a little more care from me. The X1 does an excellent job of presenting the blade. I'd have to confirm with actual numbers, but the X1 feels milder to me than either of the SE1s I had. I had an SE2 briefly but decided it was a razor too far for my technique. There is just something about the X1 -- it looks superficially similar to the SE series but having used the SE series I can report that the X1 feels much, much better behaved. So much so that I have wished a couple of times that my barber straights could feel that good (which is mostly down to not having spent a lot of time with them yet, and needing to evolve technique).

That's three down and so far -- fingers, toes, eyes crossed -- no nicks. After a few more shaves I may change up the handle to an ATT Kronos just to see what effect it might have. I've been using a West Coast Shaving 84S. The Kronos and the 84S are, I think, my favourite handles though some others come close.

O.H.
 
Those West Coast handles are pretty heavy as far as I know. That may be contributing to feeling in control and mildish. Do you happen to know the weight of the X1 head?
 
Those West Coast handles are pretty heavy as far as I know. That may be contributing to feeling in control and mildish. Do you happen to know the weight of the X1 head?

It's 47 grams by my scale.

The handle has some mass because it's stainless. There's a chunk of steel at the bottom of the handle but the part I hold on to is deeply relieved, more so than "bamboo" handles I've seen. In contrast to bamboo handles the edges of the rings are knurled. It seems to be fairly well balanced in my hands.

O.H.
 
The Tilted Picnic, Year 2. Round Seven, Shave Four: Above the Tie X1 Single-Edge Slant

The sense of complete new-ness is beginning to fade, and I'm putting more attention on the end game than the front game now. I decided the blade was smoothed out enough to go for a two-pass shave. I've been using a trick I picked up from barber straights, to shave two WTG passes before going ATG. The idea is that it'll remove as much as possible on the easy passes before having to plough through what's left.

I took a bit more care with the WTG pass, then flipped 'er over and started chuggin' back uphill. There was noticeably more to get through, which was also made more noticeable by the wider blade hitting more hair. It went OK but always felt like I was on the verge of grabbing some skin. I stayed with it and it turned out fine, but I have decided that going back to a modified three-pass doesn't significantly affect the time it takes to shave, and does significantly affect the comfort of the shave. Good to know.

Somewhere I saw an early review that said the X1 is difficult to load. It's really not, especially if you've got some time in with similarly built AC razors like the SE1 or SE2. Turn the cap upside down, put the blade on the posts, add the plate and screw on the handle. EZ;PZ. Like every ATT razor I've used, the blade is always in exactly the same position and never needs fiddling. Load it and go.

I don't "chase the baby" very often, but often enough it comes along without being chased. The X1 is putting more of my attention on the end game, that part of the shave where I go around cleaning up the places that didn't get quite enough attention the first time past. I not only need to clean off with a washrag but also rinse in order to find the last few spots. Once I spot them a quick lashing of lather and a zip with the razor, perhaps with some stretching, usually takes care of it.

We are about halfway through the X1's time on this blade. As noted earlier, I'll just go 'til it's done and pick up the next razor.

"And what is that next razor, Dr. Hippie?"

Well, we have options. I have (now) three slants or slant-like razors left to work through: the Windrose Tilted Slant, the Peroni (our "slant-like" razor) and I'm told there is a chrome FOCS waiting in the mailbox for me to go collect it. I'm pretty big on stickin' to the plan most times, though I couldn't keep my fingers off the X1. It seemed like an OK decision, as being a single edge razor it is also by definition a tilted slant so it fit with the Shavecraft 102 and the Windrose Tilted.

Said it before and didn't stick to it -- but I'll try to roll through the other two tilted slants before picking up the FOCS. I have no real need to be consistent. Changing plans is half the fun sometimes. We'll see but that's what it looks like today.

O.H.
 
The Tilted Picnic, Year 2. Round Seven, Shave Five: Above the Tie X1 Single-Edge Slant

I'm definitely beginning to see where this razor is easy and where it needs a little more care. Still no nicks, which is both pleasing and amazing. Fingers, eyes, toes crossed. A minor tweak to technique and leveraging some useful knowledge gained from previous shaves made enough of a difference this morning to lift a DFS up almost to BBS with very little additional effort. I'm totally fine with that.

In my experience, AC's wide expanse of edge is best on the flatter planes of my head. Over the curvy parts, convex curves like with any edge I use only contact a very narrow spot of edge, while concave curves if gentle can be easily negotiated but deeper curves need a bit of "twiddling" to manage. Basically it's finding a direction to approach the curve that will keep the edge touched down all the way across (while still being close to whatever kind of pass I'm doing right then).

I know something must be going right when I can still feel excitement about getting into the Lather Pit with a familiar razor! I'm finding the X1 to be an amazingly competent razor. Probably a sharper blade like a Proline would really punch up the shave, but I'm feeling pretty comfortable with Kai Mild Pinks.

O.H.
 
The Tilted Picnic, Year 2. Round Seven, Shave Six: Above the Tie X1 Single-Edge Slant

I was noticing this morning that the blade is beginning to show its age. If this was an Astra SP DE blade it would be done at six, but I can usually get at least a couple more out of a Kai Mild Pink. Other events while I've been using the X1 have led me to postpone a shave a few times, which means more to plough through later. That messes up my usual shaves a bit and so I feel like I've used the blade a little harder than some times. I will be interested to see what the next shave is like. I did a bit more cleanup than usual, which is a tell that the blade may be fading.

Manda with ATT helped me nail down a couple of questions. I wanted to know whether the X1 applies any twist to the blade. It looked like there may be some, but angles are deceiving if you're just eyeballing them. The answer is: the X1 is a tilted slant as I suspected.

I was also interested to learn a bit more about the inspiration for the project. Manda told me that Matt noticed that the SE and S razor lines were their best sellers, and wondered if it were possible to somehow combine the two concepts. To paraphrase the Magic 8-Ball:
"Looks like yes." Matt's also a headshaver and uses the SE1 -- so he's also quite familiar with the challenges and opportunities of using a wide edge on a complex set of convex curves.

Anyway, no surprises in today's shave, just moving through the technique and paying attention. To me a great razor is one I'll use and not need Dr. Nursie a.k.a. Mrs. Hippie standing by in case of need. The X1 is another great razor.

O.H.
 
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