12-04-2012, 06:20 PM
  • MikekiM
  • Senior Member
  • Long Island, NY
User Info
12/3/2012 9:08 PM Tradere Journal

It took only a few pictures of the Tradere Open Comb, to make me drool just a little and yesterday I took possession of a new-to-me Gen II purchased from one of our TSN members.

My initial impressions...

While the drool-inducing pictures were awesome, they don't do justice to the completeness of this razor. It is work of art, as are many of the current crop of machined all stainless devices on the market. If one is a collector, this razor could be an awesome display piece even if it didn't shave worth a hoot.

The Gen II doesn't come in the hard travel case that accompanied the Gen I Tradere. Instead it comes in a nicely made, vintage looking oversized hard cardboard box with an antique looking label. Nothing extra special about the box, but as far as boxes go, it is far nicer than the fold-flat boxes many razors come in. It isn't a true presentation box, but it is robust enough to make it a keeper.

There are enough threads with the technical specs of this razor, but I'll echo the sentiments that it us built like a tank. The head is sleek and slim and almost organic in its lines. I can find no issue with the machining and the finish is spot on perfect. The underside of the comb is laser etched with the Tradere logo and the serial number, in my case OC-00544, and Made in the USA. I'll add that it's domestic origin is one of the primary reasons I pursued this razor; visual appeal, open comb design, stainless construction and tales of awesome shaves contribute to the desirability for me.

The handle diameter seems to be between a Bull Dog/Bull Mastiff and a slender classic handle like those available on the Merkur 20C or Classic iKon. Grip is excellent wet or dry, though I prefer the really deep, almost raw knurling of the early iKon razors. That said, the combination delivers a confidence inspiring balance. I do prefer a long, narrow handle but this does speak 'long and narrow'. The slight bugle flare at the end fell neatly under my pinky finger. I know the Gen I handles were marginally longer. No reason to think I would seek out the longer, this one is fine. The handle screws on smoothly but there are slight scratches where the handle mates to the bottom of the comb, only visible when the handle is removed.

The head is... amazing. It's narrow profile made under-nose easy to get to. There are horizontal lines milled into the ends of the cap plate. Not sure how functional they are, but they look great. Top plate and comb mate up perfectly. To the less-educated eye, they could easily appear to be one piece. I didn't take a micrometer to the combs, but they appear to milled to perfection.

It feels like you could spend the day hammering tent pegs with this razor, and then chill out to a great shave.

Loading the blade is interesting because of the end plates on the cap. I have (and love) the iKon OSS which also has the blade tabs covered, but lacks the end plates. It seems loading is a drop-in procedure because if you miss the positioning lugs on the underside of the cap, there is nothing to grab onto to reposition the blade, except the edges. I am thinking two fingers on the flat face of the blade would work fine. I'll explore this further.

Though I had shaved yesterday morning (iKon OSS, Personna Red), I decided to short-shave and lathered up late last night for a maiden voyage. There have been a few reports of not-so-minor altercations with the Tradere and a few folks have declared defeat, having never come to terms with the razor. Tales are out there of serious irritation and weepers. Some have targeted the flat blade position as the cause..not sure. But if you look for them, and you will find horror stories for just about any razor. Still I was on-guard with my first shave.

Trumpers has always been a easy latherer for me, so I grabbed a puck of Rose and an also-new-to-me custom Bob Favour badger and whipped up a nice lather in a DB Bill Bowl.

I had just returned from the gym, so as always, my prep was a hot shower while the hardware and software soaked as needed..

From what I read, I was expected the Tradere to be quite a crooner, but the audible feedback was not to be..pretty quiet. The shave was... awesome. Smooth and balanced. The optimum angle is a bit like the OSS, a little steep, but I had no fanfare, no weepers and no irritation. I did a two pass shave, no tempting fate here, and was rewarded with a DFS. I use an alum block in post and there was no sting.. so I declare the shave an early success. But the real indicator for me is about an hour after the shave.. if there is no irritation at that point, we're good to go and considering that was my second shave of the day, I was pretty happy.

12/4/2012 9:19 AM Tradere Journal

Second shave with the Tradere OC.. same Personna Red..

This was to be another 'short-shave' since I shaved yesterday morning, then again last night.

I put the Bill Bowl & Semogue OC in the sink to warm. drizzled some water on the LaToya Manantiales and jumped in the shower. I have to admit, I gave momentary thought to not shaving.. not because of any less-than perfect results from last night, but because I didn't really need it. But to be frank, I don't shave because I need to, though my beard is pretty thick and my profession calls for clean shaven.. The double short-shave did concern me just a little.

Shave number two was equally awesome.

After each pass, I did a quick rinse and lathered, then waited to see if there were any tell-tale red dots peeking through the lather. Nothing.

Three passes plus a touch up.. alum, ice water rinse and finished with EJ Sea Buckthorn cream.

Again, one hour post shave is key. I started to facterbate right on schedule. A few spots I missed had minimal stubble. Mainly in the hollow of my cheeks (I lost about 40lbs over the past year and my cheek bones are a bit more prominent. I have to give attention to those spots with a gentle cheek puff, but I didn't want to overdo it).

Smooth shave. I'd rate it a 9 out of ten with the point lost for the cheek stubble. Under my nose was clean and the top of my lower lip above my chin, which is usually a sensitive area, just fine. I did have a few moments of less-than-exact concentration and there was no ill-effect from it. That's a good thing.

I have no independent wealth so I don't feel spending a lot for exclusivity is of much importance. So, it got me thinking.. What EXACTLY am I looking for in a razor? I can get a BBS from any number of razors. So it isn't how close it shaves. Is it the ergonomics? Maybe it's how much attention it requires to yield that BBS. I can swing the iKon OSS around pretty casually and not cause any harm.

I appreciate quality craftsmanship. The user experience is very important so a razor that feels nice, has substance and good ergonomics is important. I also like a good story behind my kit.. and usually side with the underdog rather than Big Business. Though I consider myself a collector of all things iKon, I am not a collector at heart and $100+ for a razor that doesn't touch me deeply is extravagant. I like old things made to look new again and new things that look old.. a Pils doesn't move me. (oddly, a Cobra Classic does.) I don't want my shaves to be a chore so if I need to have absolute focus it won't work. My daughter frequently comes in the bathroom while I shave, and momentary lapse of concentration with a Feather AC left two gashes on my face.. that's too much work and not enough fun.. the Feather AC is on a ship in the Mediterranean, sold to a another forum member..

The Tradere has given me two great shaves without having to micro-manage the experience. The iKon OSS does the same and it toppled the iKon Deluxe OC off the pedestal as a result. So, though it's only two shaves, the Tradere is hitting all the right buttons.. Beautifully made; unique; great ergonomics; made in the US by a start-up company; echo's of classic DE lines with a modern twist; great shave with minimal effort.

Let's see how the next few days play out.

12/5/2012 9:15 AM / Tradere Journal
Day three... 

The original Personna Red is still loaded.  Haven't messed with the loading process yet.  Cella, Bob Favour Badger and Bill Bowl accompanied the Tradere.

Prepped hardware, software and operator with a hot shower.  

Three pass plus touch-up.

Two differences in today's shave as I raise the ante..
- I gave the hollows of my cheeks a bit more of a puff & buff.  Didn't help.  I still have the faintest of stubble on both sides, just under my cheek bones.  I think it's more a matter of getting the growth direction right on the ATG & clean-up.  
- The underside of my chin and neck are always a challenge.  I've mapped my growth pattern..  In the area under my left jawline, whiskers grow completely haywire.. no rhyme or reason.  As I move towards the right, on the underside of my law and neck, things straighten out and grow in a left to right direction funnelling into the corner at the juncture of my right earlobe, and jawbone.  The lower part of neck actually grows up and into that right side corner of my jawbone.  What a PITA.  Typically, the only way I can get  BBS on the underside of my jawbone and neck is to J-hook; my hand just doesn't get the razor in a proper line otherwise.. I guess that's because there really is no 'line' to follow.  

The J-Hook can be tricky..  to much hook can end up being a slicing action.  

The Tradere did great.  no irritation and the J-Hook went fine.  

I did notice one characteristic of the Tradere I haven't found on any other razor in my arsenal.  I imagine many wet-shavers share this maneuver..  You're doing a downward stroke.. with the razor in a traditional head-up position and want to change to an upward stroke, head-down, handle-up position.  I do this during the clean-up.  It's very much a pendulum move allowing the weight of the head to drop while holding the handle somewhere towards the far end.  This was the first time I really felt the weight of the razor's head and was conscious not to drop it.  Lighter razors require less attention.  I'll be aware in future shaves whether this is an issue or just something that popped into my head randomly.  There was no insecurity with the grip.. just some variation in balance I haven't noticed with other razors.  This razor is one of the heavier, if not heaviest I have.  (note to self.. I need a scale).

Finished off with alum block, ice water rinse and Cade moisturizer.  No weepers or other inconsistencies to report.  Another victory.

Today's rating..  a solid 8.5.  I am facerbating now.  No irritation and a nice clean shave.  Any of you would welcome this level of closeness and comfort.  Lost a point for the continued cheek stubble and half a point for the potential for mishap with the inversion move.  I am have quite a different experience than those individuals who had painful, irritating shaves.  Interesting how our experiences can be so vastly different.

12/6/2012 8:40 AM / Tradere Journal

Day four...

When adversity presents itself...

About mid-day yesterday I began to feel something amiss on my lower lip.  As mentioned, this is one of my challenge-spots and with other OC's I often find irritation developing after a few days of shaving..  just a product of the more aggressive approach generally found with OC's.  By late afternoon, I recognized it was getting worse and a gentle touch in an ATG direction was a bit painful.  By the time I got home it was clear I was getting a cold sore.  My day job involves design and implementation of complex tax-qualified retirement plans and year-end is blistering.. and that's exactly what was happening to my lip, a stress-induced cold sore blister field...  

As part of the continued exploration of the Tradere, I removed the handle and replaced it with my absolute favorite handle, the iKon Deluxe Classic long handle.  The iKon is 2-3mm slimmer than the Tradere and 13-15mm longer, yet lighter. In the process Of swapping handles I noted a few things..  The tolerances on the Tradere threads are tighter and smoother than the iKon (Deluxe OC head, SN#14).  With the handles off, I placed a finger on the hole in the handle and spun the handle.  The finish on the iKon is noticeably smoother and may explain why Tradere owners find small scratches on the bottom of the comb where the handle seats itself.  Neither of these points impact shave quality either way; just observations here.

The handle exchange gave me a chance to explore the blade install again.  As I thought, once the blade goes down over the screw-post on the cap plate, I was able to place two fingers on the face of the blade and move it in place over the alignment pins.. kind of like a DJ would two-finger a record.  (I just dated myself, didn't I  ?)  The process was smooth, and efficient and there was no fear of injury and the blade aligned with no fiddling once it was over the alignment posts (as it should).  

With the iKon handle on the Tradere head, the razor really comes alive.  I just love that handle!!  Its' slightly lighter weight moved the Traderes' balance to be more head-heavy, which I think is going to be a real plus.  Not to say I dislike the Tradere handle, I don't.. but I sure would love a slender, longer version!!  Please?

Back to the shave.  And the cold sore.  I gave momentary pause to skipping today's shave.  Instead, I decided it might be a good test of maneuverability of the Tradere to proceed, but pay close attention to that top right quadrant of my lower lip.  Put the Tradere handle back on.  

Cella, Semogue 2011 LE Bristle (1) and Bill Bowl.  Same Personna Red. 

Cella has been hot and cold for me.  I've actually traded it away twice before and then bought a new tub just to see if I my technique improves with it.  Not. This was a weak lather..  Cella and I don't get along well.  

Okay..  weak lather; still new to me razor; cold sore.. I decided on a two pass.  

I didn't really concentrate on the direction of this passes and actually did them in a random fashion..not really WTG, ATG.  First of all, I had no problem navigating around the cold sore and was able to do a very light WTG pass over it just to keep stubble at a minimum.  But the real interesting part is that the rest of the random two-pass shave yield a shave VERY close to what I got with the three pass & touch-up from the previous three shaves.  Could the Tradere be a two-pass warrior??  Also, even though the lather was weak and not too plentiful, I had an awesome shave.  No irritation.  No weepers.  The slight stubble in the hollows of my cheeks is still there, but I have to say with all honesty it is no worse than what I had with an extra pass and some puff & buff on the previous shaves.   My neck and throat are as expected in the absence of the J-Hook.. just a slight bit of stubble in a few spots but overall, this shave is consistent with the best wet shaves I have had.  For me, wet shaving leaves me with a shave that is closer and smoother ten hours after the shave than ten minutes post shave with any multi-blade offering.  

Another victory.  I rate this one a ten considering the lip and lather adversity.

Anyone want to do a trade for a nearly full tub of Cella?  

12/7/2012 8:43 AM / Tradere Journal
Cliff Notes: Continued Success; Day five with the Tradere & Personna Red; Amazing lather; Zero irritation, buzz, burn, weepers or any other kind of nasty

Day Five

Five marvelous shaves logged with the Tradere.  

I forgot to swap the handle this morning.  I usually rotate razors over the weekend because I like to be more leisurely about the first few shaves; sort of a 'let's get reacquainted' experience, but I am going to stick with the Tradere through Sunday to give the other handles a try... the iKon and one or two BRW handles.  I have about five BRW's..  Glad I have them, sorry we no longer have this artisan with us..  I love his work.  I am going to try his Bull Mastiff, a Long Deluxe Bob made for me, and if I can squeeze in one more short-shave, I'd like to try the BRW Ultra-Light Bull Mastiff since I like that head-heavy balance and I think the black anodized handle with the polished Tradere head will look amazing.  Stay tuned.

or today, its Arko, the Bob Favour custom two-band TGN Finest, Face lather, alum and ice water rinse, Kiehl's moisturizer

Both the Tradere and the Favour get top scores today.  I can't find fault in today's shave.  The Favour makes for an awesome face lather.  Arko is Arko.. dependable, slick, copious lather that smells great long after the shave is done.

So, at this point there is no down-side to the Tradere.  From the perspective of closeness, I can't say it is better than any other razor I have.  I can say it is one of, if no the smoothest of my open combs (iKon OSS held that title).  But as I've shared, I don't judge whether a razor is a keeper solely on how close the shave is.  Rather is anaggregation of many components that make up each and every shave and in this respect, the Tradere tips the scales heavily to the 'keeper' side.   And I have not tried any other handles yet...

FWIW, this account was not meant to be a 'review' per se.  It is a journal and in that vein it deserves as much detail as I can muster.  It's here for the benefit of others should they feel the Tradere calling them, but also for my own use.  Searching for the right words to describe an experience clarifies it for me.  

33 917
 12-05-2012, 07:15 AM
  • EHV
  • Senior Member
  • Milford,PA
User Info
Great review! I hope to read more of you journal over the next few days.

The majority of the "horror" stories that I've read have been regarding the Gen 1 version but as you state, you can find a complaint about basically any razor, (or any product) on the net.

I have to agree with you on the design of the Tradere's. They have really seemed to design something distinctly unique and modern that still captures the vintage aura. They are beautiful!

I wish you continued, fantastic shaves!

6 905
 12-05-2012, 09:09 AM
  • mikeperry
  • Senior Member
  • St Louis via the UK
User Info

Excellent! detailed review, which I enjoyed reading Thumbsup

Personally I've had zero issue with the "original" Tradere Open Comb razor, shave is first class, and the fit and finish is top notch...

Take care, Mike

23 1,872
 12-05-2012, 01:06 PM
User Info
Love all the detail in the review, thanks for going the extra step to include all of that.

10 2,062
 12-05-2012, 06:36 PM
  • Triad
  • Senior Member
  • Texas
User Info
Nice write up glad its working out so far.

119 1,746
 12-05-2012, 09:11 PM
User Info
Excellently detailed review! Enjoy the razor.

93 21,373
 12-06-2012, 09:21 AM
  • MikekiM
  • Senior Member
  • Long Island, NY
User Info
Having fun with this razor and review...

Toby, I think I mentioned how excited I was for this one!

Glad I could take it off your hands..Biggrin

33 917
 12-06-2012, 09:33 AM
User Info
That was some review. Great but it was like reading "War & Peace"

149 14,386
 12-07-2012, 11:17 AM
  • MikekiM
  • Senior Member
  • Long Island, NY
User Info
Day five added...

Along with Cliff Notes...


33 917
Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)