1) Sharpness: Good (not quite Great)
2) Comfort: Good
3) Value: Good to Fair
4) Availability: Good
5) Country of Origin: Germany
6) Passes “First Shave Test?: Yes
7) Longevity (# of shaves): 3
8) Notes: According to my research, the Bolzano blade was once the double edged blade of choice for professional Italian barbers. It was, from what I’ve learned, one of the “shave secrets” of the Italian market, revered for not only sharpness but longevity. I’ve heard stories of people getting eight or ten shaves on a blade with some frequency.
In the modern era, production of these blades has moved to Germany. That, for me, is a bit of a strike against the blade, simply because I typically don’t get along that well with German-production blades (except for Wilkinson Sword Classics, which are great). So, I wasn’t sure.
I picked up a pack of them nonetheless, as I’ve seen many people laud them as great blades. Trying this stuff becomes a bit of an obsession after a while. We keep looking long after we’ve found “it” in terms of gear. It can be silly at some points. That said, blades are pretty cheap, and so it’s not a lot to venture. As I’ve often mentioned before, it’s also imperative to forward the causes of GREAT SCIENCE, so I really have no choice in the matter. I must acquire gear. And test it. And write stultifying articles relating my findings.
The first razor I tested the Bolzanos with was the Gillette Slim Adjustable. I was using setting 9, and performing two pass shaves. I have a good handle on how this razor feels using this methodology, and so I feel pretty comfortable about evaluating a blade’s performance under these conditions.
How did the Bolzano blade perform? It was quite sharp, and also plenty smooth. I felt no “bite” or roughness during the shave, and it gave a nice, close performance. The second shave, if anything, may have been better (I may have had slightly better lather). Very nice closeness for a two pass shave, no irritation, no sting with the aftershave. The third shave was another success. It almost felt that the Bolzano was just hitting its stride at three shaves, seeming just as efficient and a little smoother on shave 3 than it was right at first. Good stuff. I don’t ever “grade” razors on shaves after three, but I will sometimes carry on and see how many good shaves a blade will provide, just as a data point.
The fourth shave in the Gillette Slim came off nicely. One little weeper right in my sensitive spot, but nothing to be concerned with. I decided to move on to another blade and continue the test with a different razor.
The next razor I employed for the test was the Maggard V3, which is very similar to an Edwin Jagger DE89 or a Merkur 34C. It was mounted to an MR5 stainless handle for the test, which creates a fairly heavy, moderate-to-mild razor. The first shave with the Maggard worked aces. I did a full three pass, and I found it to deliver great performance. Very close shave, with lingering closeness even twelve hours later. The V3 razor feels…businesslike with the Bolzanos, and turns out to be quite effective, without undue roughness to the face. I wouldn’t say that the Bolzanos are quite as smooth as an Astra SP or a Polsilver Super Iridium, but it isn’t harsh.
The final test was with the Merkur Futur, on setting 3. I found that it was an effective blade in this razor, but perhaps a little rougher in skin feeling than I would prefer. This tracks with the rest of the test. I would say that the Bolazano turned in a good, but not great performance. I always got a solid shave, and it didn’t irritate or abrade my face, but it was not super smooth, either. Depending on your shaving habits and preferences, it might be just the thing. For me, I find it to be one step shy of my favorites, but certainly respectable. If I needed a blade and this was for sale, I’d feel confident that it could get the job done. At the same time, the Bolzano doesn’t displace any of my favorites. In terms of the storied edge holding, I didn’t find any reason to doubt that people were having this experience with the blade. It did seem to power through three shaves without any hint of dulling out. So much of this is dependent upon the conditions, though. Razor, stubble, blade care, and of course, the subjective nature of the shaver. One shaver’s “it’s fine” is another’s “this blade is trash”. Thus, I can’t tell you. For me, using a DE blade more than three or four times seems like a false economy. Risking a bad shave over a few pennies doesn’t seem like a good gamble, to me.
The Bolzano blades are worth a try if you like a bit of “bite” in a blade, and get along well with a medium-to-sharp blade grind.
Cheers, and happy shaving.