Review: Merkur 985CL

The Merkur 985CL is a light weight travel razor that breaks down into four pieces: the top and bottom part of the head, the upper and lower handle. All the pieces fit together in a small leather pouch about 6cm square – or about 2 2/5th inches if you’re still using those.

The first thing I noticed about the 985CL – apart from the fact that it is an open comb razor – was the weight. The 985CL is made from aluminium, so it weights next to nothing in your hand. At first this was a little disconcerting – it was so light it was tempting to increase the pressure, and we all know that too much pressure leads to nicks, cuts and lacerations. The aluminium can also appear slightly slippery, but in reality it is no worse in that regard than a regular brass razor such as the Merkur 39C.
The 985CL is as mentioned an open comb razor, and as such is more aggressive than a bar razor. It is not an aggressive as a slant however, even when used with a wicked sharp blade like the Feather Hi Stainless. Some care must be taken with the grip on it, mostly due to the shortish handle and light weight. The balance of the 985CL is pretty good, since both the handle and the head is made from the same material.
In my experience the 985CL is a bit picky about what blades it likes; too sharp and the razor bites, too dull and it tugs badly. Best results for me so far have been with Wilkinson Swords and Lord Platinum blades, but I keep trying others.
Cleaning and maintaining the 985CL is easy as pie – it all comes apart. A bit of warm water and a toothbrush easily cleans all residue away, and if it gets really funky it should do well in the ultrasonic cleaner – however since it’s aluminium care must be taken when picking a detergent to go in with it.
There are two downsides to the 985CL, both relating to the way it breaks down and the travel pouch:

  • The upper part of the handle is meant to be stored in the hollow lower part. If care is not taken when putting them together, the two parts can accidentally screw themselves together. Getting them apart again can take some time…
  • There is no good way to store a spare blade or two in the pouch itself – they will end up mangled and bent. This means you’ll have to carry a pack of blades separably, which can cause a bit of trouble when you travel by air.

Overall I can recommend the Merkur 985CL if you need a lightweight razor for travelling and don’t mind paying a bit of attention while putting it away. Merkur also produces a similar model – the 933CL – with a closed comb, if that’s your preference.

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