01-06-2013, 04:45 PM
#1
  • Codfish
  • Product Tester
  • Connecticut Shoreline
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[Image: Atlassystem_zps29d4321e.jpg]

This is my second stainless steel razor (the other being the ATT Titan H1), and my first razor system. I was attracted to it based on my experience with the Titan, which I liked very much, and because the concept of a system appealed to me for several reasons. The idea of being able to customize razor components to suit my needs-of-the moment was attractive, and I wanted to try out the various components to see if they really did contribute to my every day shaving experience.

The Atlas system is a new product from a very young company. This Tennessee-based firm designs, engineers and manufactures its razors locally using U.S. steel. My recent experience with the Above The Tie Titan H1 demonstrated to me the company's close attention to manufacturing detail and quality control and showed me that they are capable of producing high-grade razors that are capable of competing with manufacturers worldwide.

Why a razor system? What real-life needs might a system address?

In my personal experience, I primarily use aggressive razors because I have a very wiry beard that mild razors have never been able to cut effectively. Even with my standard four-pass approach, it is rare for me to get true BBS results. In the past, my favorite razors have been those that are generally considered to be aggressive, and I've adopted longer, heavier handles to boost their head's natural aggressiveness. These razors come with a price: (1) due to the curvature of my neck, the longer handles require me to adjust my shaving technique because they are less maneuverable, and (2) very aggressive razors like the R41 Grande require a lot of concentration, and despite my best efforts, sometimes require a time-out when irritation builds. For these reasons I keep a Merkur HD in rotation as a backup.

For me, looking at the Atlas system meant I might find a single, high-quality tool to address all my shaving needs, with minimum need to adapt my shaving style. I found that the Atlas system did this very well, in fact better than expected. In my review, I will address each component individually, and also give my impressions of the system as a whole.

Review

The Atlas 5-piece stainless steel razor system includes the following components:

Top cap. The stainless top cap has a finely brushed satin-matte finish. It is the same cap provided with the Titan H1, and that comes with both the Atlas 5- and 7-piece stainless steel razor systems.

Barber Pole Handle. The Atlas barber pole handle is a beautiful piece of functional artwork. At 3" long and 56 grams it provides very nice balance to the system. It is the shortest handle I have used in several years, since I have generally used long, heavy weight handles for the extra boost they give me in terms of aggressiveness. The Atlas does not need an edge in this department, and the noticeable increase in maneuverability and balance provided a big plus in shaving ease and enjoyment.

H Base Plate. The H plate, the most aggressive/effective of the plates included with the system, provides a blade gap of .036". I am familiar with this base plate due to my experience with the ATT Titan H1, which has a slightly longer handle. I expected that like the H1, the shave experience would be very close to the Mühle R41. Unlike the R41, I find that I can use the H plate freely and without the need for close attention and concentration. The Atlas with the H base plate is like using a well-behaved R41. My shave results have been Identical—with BBS results guaranteed nearly every time, and without need for worrying about nicks, cuts or irritation.

R Base Plate. The R plate provides a lesser blade gap of .023". I had imagined that the shave experience would be similar to a Merkur HD, but found that it was closer to that of a slant with a sharp blade. The R plate is easy to get BBS shaves with, and nearly carefree in actual use. The quality of shaves were not as close as those of the H plate, but very, very close.

M Base Plate. The M plate provides the mildest shaving experience of the three. With a blade gap of .010", I anticipated that the shave experience would be similar to that of a Gillette Tech or other mild DE razor. This class of razors is generally not well-suited to my wiry beard, and I have difficulty getting a BBS shave with my standard four-pass approach. In actual use, the M plate provided an excellent BBS shave nearly every time in four passes. The shave was close to or better than the results I get from my Merkur 38C. I found that it required no modification to my shave technique as the Merkur does because of its handle length. It was more maneuverable, easier to use, and provided excellent, irritation-free shaves.

Over the past month, I tried the Atlas system with a variety of different blades, soaps/creams and brushes. The following are my detailed finding:

Price: The retail price of the 5-piece Atlas all-stainless razor system is $299. Considering the durability and craftsmanship, as well as the versatility of having multiple base plates to modify and customize aggressiveness, the investment is attractive, although at the very limit of my budget. The system is compatible with a large number of handles to further fine-tune the razor. I think the system offers good value for the money, IMO. You will never need to buy another razor.

Quality: This razor screams "quality" along every dimension. The brushed satin stainless finish is very well done. It even holds up to close inspection under magnification. It is a great marriage of form and function. Not only is it attractive, but it is also very well balanced. The heft is solid, but not over-the-top. The barber pole etching on the handle is both precisely machined and perfectly executed to provide a solid, non-slip grip. I have had the experience of barber pole handles that want to twist in my hands. Not so with the Atlas.

The razor is easy to clean, especially due to the innovative pin-and-divot blade alignment feature that does not require drilling holes through the base plate. The feature also guarantees perfect blade alignment every time. It is my understanding that this feature is a rarely-found feature in the industry, and I think it's a good example of the care and thought that goes into the design and execution of Above the Tie's razors.

User Friendliness: I prefer three-piece razors for ease of cleaning. The extra few seconds it takes to replace a blade every few days I find negligible. The pin-and divot alignment feature, while ensuring accurate blade alignment, was sometimes a little tricky for me personally because of arthritis in my hands. For most shavers, this will not be an issue, and you will only appreciate how perfect the blade alignment is every time.

Grip: The grip and its finish are two of the Atlas system's finest features. The texturing is attractive and provides a secure grip under slippery conditions. The handle is large enough to be well-suited to most users, but small enough to be very nimble. It has superb grip and balance, which contributes to great control and performance. The gleaming etching on the handle makes for an attractive and sure grip and the balance made it immediately at home in my hands. This is a fine razor—to be sure! I should note that because I have used heavy, long-handled razors for so long. I did encounter a short learning curve that took three shaves to resolve. The first few shaves were accompanied by unexpected but minor irritation. It took a few shaves for me to learn to correctly use the incredible maneuverability that the razor provides.

Ease of Blade and Base Plate Replacement: Personally, I like three-piece razors, including this one. For me, with limited dexterity in my hands, the feature could be a little tricky at times, and take a few extra seconds. I've always enjoyed the ritual of inserting a fresh blade, and with the Atlas, the time it takes provides is a visual reminder of the excellent quality and craftsmanship of this shaving tool.

Aggressiveness: This is an effective razor system capable of giving fine, close and comfortable shaves. I have discussed the aggressiveness of each base plate above, and won't repeat it here.

No matter which base plate I chose, I found it remarkably well-behaved. I was able to shave quickly, and with little concern for nicks, cuts or irritation. I tried the Atlas with a variety of blade, soaps/creams and brush setups. I especially like it with Feathers, Perma-Sharps, Personna Med Preps, although the Atlas seems to tolerate any blade well.

The Atlas does not seem to be nearly as particular as other razors with regard to blade selection. Where some razors seem to magnify differences between blades, the Atlas minimizes them. It seems to work well with most brands and does not show any characteristic of shortening blade life. Any good soap/cream/brush combination works fine with it.

Adjustability: This is a non-adjustable razor in the traditional sense, but with a range of options for modifying aggressiveness/effectiveness by replacing the razor's base plates. I found that the range of aggressiveness could be modified from near-R41 levels to what felt to me like Merkur HD or R89 levels. Base plate swapping is no more difficult than blade replacement in this three-piece razor system.

Balance: For me, this is a finely weighted and balanced DE razor system. Shaving with it is as easy and carefree as it could be, in my opinion.

Overall: This stainless steel razor is a remarkable achievement, especially since this is the first razor system offered by a very young company. It is designed, engineered and manufactured in the United States by an American company using U.S. steel. The manufacturing detail and quality control are competitive with high-grade razor manufacturer worldwide. Above the Tie's first entry into providing a stainless steel razor system deserves a close look by serious shavers everywhere.

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 01-06-2013, 04:53 PM
#2
  • Harvey
  • Senior Member
  • North Hills CA
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Excellent review...you nailed every aspect...I have the same set up except I use the slightly longer Titan handle.Smile

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 01-06-2013, 05:06 PM
#3
  • slantman
  • Expert Shaver
  • Leesburg, Florida
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Thank you for a very thorough review. I have the Titan H1 and it gives a very close BBS with ease.

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 01-06-2013, 05:12 PM
#4
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Jim,

An excellent review and an interesting system that should last a user for his or her entire lifetime and then some.

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 01-06-2013, 05:30 PM
#5
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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Nice review. Since you posted it twice, I am deleting the first one.

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 01-06-2013, 05:37 PM
#6
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Nice review. Looks like a very functional and lasting system.

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 01-06-2013, 05:38 PM
#7
  • Codfish
  • Product Tester
  • Connecticut Shoreline
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(01-06-2013, 05:30 PM)Johnny Wrote: Nice review. Since you posted it twice, I am deleting the first one.
Sorry, Johnny. I guess I was dizzy with details. I thought I posted it, but lost sight of it.

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 01-06-2013, 05:42 PM
#8
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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(01-06-2013, 05:38 PM)Codfish Wrote:
(01-06-2013, 05:30 PM)Johnny Wrote: Nice review. Since you posted it twice, I am deleting the first one.
Sorry, Johnny. I guess I was dizzy with details. I thought I posted it, but lost sight of it.

No problem at all. It is a good review worth reading twice.

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 01-06-2013, 06:08 PM
#9
  • tgutc
  • Senior Member
  • Michigan
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Thank you for the awesome review.

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 01-06-2013, 06:41 PM
#10
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(01-06-2013, 05:42 PM)Johnny Wrote:
(01-06-2013, 05:38 PM)Codfish Wrote:
(01-06-2013, 05:30 PM)Johnny Wrote: Nice review. Since you posted it twice, I am deleting the first one.
Sorry, Johnny. I guess I was dizzy with details. I thought I posted it, but lost sight of it.

No problem at all. It is a good review worth reading twice.
Johny, it's worth reading 3 times, very nice review. However, the Atlas System is not entirely all for me. I was satisfied with the R plate only. I will post my reviews later.

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 01-06-2013, 07:36 PM
#11
  • EHV
  • Senior Member
  • Milford,PA
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Absolutely fantastic review!

I agree with everything that you've covered. I have the whole system at this point as well. There is a combo for every day and every way that one is feeling.

Eric

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 01-06-2013, 07:52 PM
#12
  • CMur12
  • Semogueiro de Coração
  • Moses Lake, Washington State, USA
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Excellent, very useful review. Thank you, Codfish.

- Murray

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 01-06-2013, 08:38 PM
#13
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Great review!

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 01-08-2013, 05:36 PM
#14
  • Blue line
  • Active Member
  • East Central Alabama
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And I thought Feather and iKon was the top of the line!

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 01-09-2013, 05:39 AM
#15
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Jim,
As usual great review.

I know you are one of the R41s biggest advocates and I followed your post on the New York Shaving Company's Mariner razor and I was curious as to how the Atlas compares to each of these two razors.

I have the Mariner's twin coming my way (Sabi T2), and can't wait to pit it against my R41, if nothing more to have a great handle for my other razors.

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 01-09-2013, 01:15 PM
#16
  • Howler
  • A calamophile and vintage razor lover
  • Fort Smith AR
User Info
Great review and very through. I not even heard of this system or the razor company before this article.

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 01-10-2013, 12:36 PM
#17
  • Codfish
  • Product Tester
  • Connecticut Shoreline
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(01-09-2013, 05:39 AM)JCturboT Wrote: I know you are one of the R41s biggest advocates and I followed your post on the New York Shaving Company's Mariner razor and I was curious as to how the Atlas compares to each of these two razors.

I have the Mariner's twin coming my way (Sabi T2), and can't wait to pit it against my R41, if nothing more to have a great handle for my other razors.

You're certainly right about my love of the R41. At the time I reviewed it, I had never found another DE razor that was so well suited to my needs. It's a beautiful, high quality piece of shaving equipment, and at $45 the price was right. The Mariner, which I found a year later, shaved nearly as well, and at $30 was a bargain. It was not as well constructed and had a look only a mother could love--solidly made, not very pretty, but a great shaver. The Atlas is also beautifully made, an heirloom piece of stainless steel, and is the easiest of the three to shave with by far. I do not have to worry about my concentration when using it, and the shavs are the least prone to giving me irritation. The price, however, is steep. If cost is no object, this is the best of the three, IMO.

I looked up the Sabi T2, and it is a definite improvement over the Mariner. If it shaves as well it sounds like a great choice. It has a very attractive handle that should improve the balance and handling. And the price is a bargain.

Here is my very subjective rating of the three razors:
[Image: 1-10-20131-29-26PM_zps9caaa248.jpg]

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 01-10-2013, 01:35 PM
#18
  • slantman
  • Expert Shaver
  • Leesburg, Florida
User Info
I fitted my Griest stainless steel handle to a H1 head and its even better then the original. The knurling is slightly deeper and total weight 4.1 oz with excellent balance. I really like the H1 shaves extremely close without irritation.

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 01-10-2013, 11:40 PM
#19
  • ben74
  • Administrator
  • Perth, Australia
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Terrific review!

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 01-11-2013, 02:11 AM
#20
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Could we have this review by Codfish posted 100 times, as I really like this review and the time Codfish took to write it for us.

Thanks a lot a 100 times !!

I just contemplated buying this set, but just seconds before I saw it bought the 5 set Ikon set on the ikon website for $209 shipped to Denmark.

Nexu up is the Titan/atlas 7 piece set for $399 shipped to Denmark Cool

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