Pentel Energel – Multiple Pen Review

Energel2

*****UPDATE: Now doing an Energel Pen giveaway. Details are at the bottom of this post*****

Welcome to the first multiple pen review done here at That One Pen. We’ll be focusing on the various forms of the widely available Pentel Energel pens. Energels most commonly come in two point sizes: 0.7 mm (M) and 0.5 mm (F). You can buy 1.0 mm (B) and 0.35 mm Euro needle-points online, but I generally only find the (M) and (F) pens in my local office supply stores. All the pens shown in this review are 0.7 mm (M) points.

Going left to right in the picture above we have: Energel Deluxe RT blue, Energel Deluxe RT purple, Energel Deluxe RT pink, Energel Alloy RT, Energel Stick blue, Energel-X RT blue, Energel-X RT purple and Energel-X RT sky blue. You’ll see samples of other colors later; I just want to show the array of options available in the Energel line right now. The Deluxe RT version (3 on the left) also come with grips colored the same as the ink and not just the white grips as shown. If you imagine the colored grips of the Energel-X’s (3 on the right) on the Deluxe versions, you pretty much have it. The Energel Alloy RT also come in different colors. What’s nice is that the Deluxe RT, Alloy, Stick and Energel-X all take the same Energel Liquid Gel refill (LR 10, LR 7 or LR 5 depending on point size). If you’re into the whole hack thing, the LR refills are plastic tubes that can be easily cut to fit other pen bodies. The particular shape of the refill tip limits the pen bodies you can get the LR refills to work with so we’ll leave it to the reader to experiment. In the US, you can find the blue and black refills at Staples and other major office supply stores if you want to experiment with the refills without getting the actual pen.

Energel5

Given that all versions use the same refill, there are obviously a lot of similarities to the writing experience. The Energel refill is smooth and, most important to us lefties, very, very fast drying. To me, the writing experience of the Energel is a touch smoother than that offered by the widely available Pilot G2 pens but there’s no doubt (none – I’ve checked several times) that the Energel dries faster than the G2. I won’t dismiss the G2 at all. It’s a fine pen with a great range of colors and might even be a bit easier to find than Energel. I find that the 0.7 mm tip of the G2 leaves a thinner line than the 0.7 mm tip of the Energel but again, the G2 is just a touch rougher of a ride.

Let’s get to some of the differences, starting with the grips. Below is a close up of the grips for the Stick, Alloy, Deluxe RT and Energel-X RT (L to R). Not surprisingly, the Alloy has the hardest feel followed by the Stick then the Energel-X then the Deluxe RT. I did not measure the grip widths with a caliper, but to my fingers the Deluxe RT feels the widest, the Stick and Alloy follow and are very similar and the Energel-X feels a touch thinner still. Don’t get me wrong – the widths of all the grips are very close. Still, I do feel a difference – certainly between the wider Deluxe RT and the thinner Energel-X.

Energel3

Let’s talk clips. With the exception of the Energel-X and its all plastic build, the pens have metal clips with some plastic tabs near the top. Including the Energel-X, all the clips feel strong and well made. The edges of the clips on the Stick and the Deluxe are a bit sharp and could possibly scratch/dig into the lip of pocket material if you’re not careful. The other noticeable difference is that the Energel-X clip has some printing on it and, unlike the other three pens, the bottom of the Energel-X clip curves away from the pen barrel a bit.

Energel4

When deployed (and capped in the case of the Stick), there are some clear differences in length as you can see below. The Stick is the longest followed by the Alloy. The Deluxe RT and Energel-X are similar with the X possibly being shorter by a hair. When posted, the Stick also feels noticeably wider than any of the other pens.

Energel17

Also when deployed, the Deluxe RT and Energel-X can rattle just a bit because the button does not stay in the pushed-in position. As you can see in the picture above, both buttons are depressed for the Deluxe RT and Energel-X, but they easily slide out to create the rattle noise. The noise is not terribly loud or distracting, but it’s definitely there. The Stick, as you might expect, is perfectly quiet and the button of the Alloy has some added spring tension that keeps it stuck out whether the refill is deployed or not so it’s nearly 100% silent as well.

*****UPDATE: Now doing an Energel Pen giveaway. Details are at the bottom of this post*****

Interestingly and/or unfortunately, you cannot swap parts of one pen with parts of another. The picture below shows all the pens disassembled. The Deluxe, Alloy and Stick separate at the body/grip divide while the Energel-X opens at the button/body divide. The thread sizes and female/male sections are all different from pen to pen so you won’t be using the grip section of the Deluxe on the Energel-X or, most disappointingly, you won’t be attaching the Energel-X grip to the Alloy body. In fact, the Energel-X grip section appears not to unscrew from the body at all. It does look like the grip sections of the Stick (far back in picture) and Deluxe (front in picture) should be interchangeable but it’s definitely a no go.

Energel7

Getting back to the writing experience. Bottom line, I really like the way these pens write. I rarely use an Energel for extended writing sessions, limiting most of my time to writing short notes or, more commonly, to grading tests and quizzes. The writing action is smooth and consistent. I have yet to find a paper surface that causes an Energel to skip. Even Post-It Notes, which can be notoriously difficult for various pen types, are no problem for the Energels. (Aside – I like Parker gel refills but Post-It Notes or slightly glossy paper wreak havoc on them so they’re out). Have I mentioned yet that they dry faster than any pen I’ve found to date. Is the ink waterproof? Honestly, I don’t know and it’s not a test I really care about.

Energel8

Being gel pens there are, of course, several color options available. Having used these pens in all their colors for several years, I’ve noticed that the regular blue and black flow more readily than the other colors. For me, the blue and black are almost too slippery on something like Rhodia but work fantastic on “toothier” copy or Field Notes paper. Because they can be purchased readily on their own in the Deluxe version, I’ve used purple and green more than any other color besides blue. But, having recently grabbed a multicolored pack of Energel-X, I see the sky blue and orange getting quite a workout soon.

Energel11

So, do I have a preference between the Deluxe RT, Energel-X, Alloy and Stick? Well, the Stick is definitely in last place for me. In my work flow, gel pens are meant to add a bit of color to lecture notes, write a quick list or grade so I prefer the efficient retractable versions. The Stick is well built and the cap attaches with a satisfying “click” when capping or posting so there’s nothing wrong with it; I just prefer the convenience of the retractable pens. I want to like the Alloy more than I do. The body colors options are cool (especially the black) and they feel built to last. But, the balance is off for me as I wish it was weighted more towards the grip section. For the longest time, I used the Deluxe RT much more than any of the other models. That said, I’ve spent time with the Energel-X recently and I’m changing my allegiance. The ever so slightly thinner feel of the Energel-X, its comfortable but not too soft grip along with its less sharp clip compared to the Deluxe RT work better for me.

*****UPDATE: Now doing an Energel Pen giveaway. Details are at the bottom of this post*****

Importantly, these great refills come in a variety of colors and body styles that most folks should be able to find something that works. Do you prefer a longer, wider pen? Go with the Stick. Do you want something sharper looker for the office or to give as a gift? Go with the Alloy. Do you like clean lines and Apple-inspired white style? Go with the Deluxe RT. Do you like a slightly thinner grip and/or prefer that the color you’re grabbing to be blatantly obvious? Go with the colorful Energel-X style.

Rating
The Energel is a “Carry It”, “Desk It” and “Give It” pen for me. I carry them everywhere. There are probably 2, 3 or more on my home and office desks right now and I’ve given them as Secret Santa gifts to make a few converts.

Analogy
The Energel is like my collection of Peter Gabriel albums. I may have too many pens and too many albums to name (and goodness knows I do on both counts). Still, no matter how many pens or albums I get I always come back to my Energel pens and Gabriel albums. The Energel just works for me each and every time just like Peter Gabriel’s albums work for me at any time, while in any mood and for any occasion. Do yourself a favor. Check out the Energel in the style that would work best for you.

Here are some other reviews of Energels, including a couple for the Tradio. The Tradio is more refined-looking version of the Stick that takes the same refill and comes in a variety of colors.
Review on Pentel’s Site
Gourmet Pens (A colorful review of the full line of Energel-X.)
Pen Addict (Tradio review)
A Penchant for Paper (Stick review. See embedded links for other Energel reviews.)
Pens! Paper! Pencils! (Energel-X review)
Clicky Post (Tradio review)

EnergelCollage

 

Energel Pen Giveaway!!! I will be giving away 1 Energel Deluxe RT blue, 1 Energel Stick blue, 1 Energel-X blue plus two(2) other Energel related surprises. The pens I’m giving away will be new or very, very close to new. To enter, simply leave a comment to this post. The giveaway will close Sunday, February 23 at 5:00 pm Eastern time US. I’ll ship the pens to any US address. The posts will be numbered in the order they are received and a random number generator will select the winner. Feel free to leave up to 3 comments if you’d like to enter multiple times. I may respond to your comments, but obviously my comments are not counted or numbered as entries.

TWSBI 580

TWSBI580

I got me a TWSBI Mini (love it), a TWSBI Vac 700 (dig it), a TWSBI Classic (solid) and, our focus here, a TWSBI 580 (meh). Other than the decent collection of Parker Jotters I have, I’m fairly sure these four pens make TWSBI the most popular pen manufacturer in my collection (excluding the various inexpensive Pilot G2s or Pentel Energels I’ve got here, there and everywhere). I’m more or less all in when it comes to TWSBI and, for the most part, the investments have paid off nicely. The one exception; however, may be the 580. It’s certainly not a bad pen but the investments I’ve put into the pen just haven’t paid off they way I had hoped. Yes, “investmentS” plural.

Like the vast majority of my fountain pen purchases, I bought the 580 with a fine nib. But that’s not all. At the time of the original order, I decided to throw in the broad nib thinking that, for the extra $20, it would be like getting two pens in one. But that’s still not all. A couple of weeks later I was enticed by the notion of a 1.1 stub nib and was unable to fight off the temptation. So, that’s one pen and three nibs. But, the spending on the 580 doesn’t stop there. I really, really, really wanted this pen to work for me and knowing that the vast majority of my writing is done with a fine nib, I took the 580 and fine nib to the recent Philadelphia Pen Show for tuning. I managed to get on Richard Binder‘s sign up sheet and he did solid work smoothing out the nib for me. Even after all this, the 580 and I are still trying to work out our differences. Thing is, I really like the look of the 580 and all my other TWSBIs are all-stars in my collection so I’m not ready to give up yet.

What’s not working out between me and the 580? (1) I can’t get the broad or stub nibs to behave consistently. Maybe it’s my lefty hook. Maybe my relatively small lettering doesn’t work with wider nibs. Maybe I haven’t found the right ink yet (tried Fuyu gaki, Noodler’s Bernake Blue, Waterman Mysterious Blue – seen here). Maybe I hold the pen too upright and the 580 nib is more sensitive to angle than the Mini, Classic (same nib as Mini) and Vac 700. Still, no matter what I do with the wider nibs I get bits of skipping. (2) The fine nib works…well, fine, especially after some tuning from Mr. Binder. But, the nib does seem to dry out quicker than my other TWSBI pens. If I don’t use it consistently it’s a bit of a struggle and a fair amount of doodling before the nib responds well again. In short, the 580 just seems to be too moody for my liking. My Lamy 2000 can be persnickety as well but once I get that bad boy going it’s all good – very good in fact. Right now, the 580 doesn’t seem worth the fuss. I’ve tried to meet you more than half way, but TWSBI 580…it’s not me; it’s you.

TWSBI580feed

Rating
If I were to be totally honest, the 580 may be a “Give It” pen for me. But, I’m not there yet. I’m going to keep working with the tuned-up fine nib. I haven’t tried many of my favorite inks yet and I’m hoping against hope that the right combination is still to be discovered. Right now, we’ll “Desk It”.

Analogy
Okay, bear with me here. The TWSBI 580 is like the Rush album Vapor Trails. I’m a decent fan of Rush (not a die-hard, but definitely a fan) to the point that I have most of their studio albums including Vapor Trails. When VT first came out in 2002 I couldn’t stand it. The music was solid but the sound quality and the overall mix made the album practically unlistenable for me. Thankfully, the band realized there were issues and recently released an improved version. Now, I consider VT among my 3 or 4 favorite Rush albums overall and so it may be with the 580. The mix isn’t working for me right now but I’m hoping I’ll find the right ink one of these days and the pen will start to rock.

The thoughts of others on the 580:
The Pen Addict
Tyler Dahl
Delectable Pens
Ink on Hand
Fountain Pen Day

TWSBI580Collage

Monteverde Engage

MonteverdeEngage1

The refillable rollerball – worthy addition to a collection or useless bastard child of a pen?  Well, I think the answer depends on your pen needs.  For me, a refillable rollerball fills a useful niche but I can see how other collectors could find the whole idea superfluous.  Before getting into my thoughts on the Monteverde Engage specifically, you may be interested to know that there are plenty of other folks making refillable rollers including Noodlers, J. Herbin and Delta (I’m sure there are others.  Sorry if I missed your favorite).  The Engage’s price tag ($80-$90) is noticeably more than the Noodler’s or J. Herbin entries but considerably less than Delta’s Non-Stop Rollerball.

A refillable roller combines the fun of picking your favorite ink with the convenience of a rollerball.  In reality, a rollerball isn’t more convenient than a fountain pen except in one limited sense (wait for it).  I don’t know about you, but every rollerball I’ve used has at least as many issues with skipping or drying as you have with a lightly used fountain pen so I’m not convinced that rollerballs are really more user friendly than fountain pens.  Factor in the qualities we all enjoy about the fountain pen writing experience and it seems to me that rollerballs don’t compare.  Having said that, there is one writing activity I frequently engage (not pun intended) in when fountain pens aren’t convenient – test grading.  When grading exams I need to be as efficient as possible.  I’ve got a stack of 80 four-page exams to process and every second counts; aligning a nib with the page will just slow me down.  If work or pleasure requires you to process several pages of documents efficiently and you still want the benefits of color choice (or you just want to use more of that damn ink you’ve got piling up), then a refillable rollerball just might be the thing.

Onto the Monteverde Engage.  The first point to make is that this thing is built like an absolute locomotive.  It has some decent heft (about 40 g) and at 6 inches long it won’t make for a comfortable pocket pen.  Between the pen’s metal materials and carbon fiber finish you’ve got an implement that feels like it could stand in for a trailer hitch pin in a pinch.  On the downside, the thin and overly flexible clip seems flimsy by comparison.  The clip isn’t really an issue; it’s just not up to the rest of the pen’s construction.  At nearly half an inch in diameter, the pen feels a bit thick but certainly manageable even for someone with relatively small hands like myself.

How does the pen write?  Well, like a rollerball.  It’s smooth, but not as smooth as a decent fountain pen.  It gives hints of line variation, but not as much a medium or broader fountain pen.  If I had to write a letter or anything else of length I’d much prefer a fountain pen.  When it comes to making short notes or, in my professional case, grading a stack of exams, it works well.  The Engage takes both a converter (the included converter has a healthy volume) and standard international cartridges.  It’s shown here paired with Organic Studio’s Neon.  It’s become a bit uncouth to grade papers in red ink these days.  Oranges like Neon work well.  There’s plenty of contrast against printed text and student writing while still being dark enough to read easily.

Rating
The Monteverde Engage is a “Desk It” pen for me.  I’m very unlikely to use it for anything other than grading but it does that job well and it gives the chance to use your choice of ink color.

Analogy
The Monteverde Engage is like a bread knife.  About the only time you use a bread knife is to, well, cut bread.  But it does that job well and you’re glad to have one when you use it.  You don’t need a bread knife to cut bread but it’s well suited for the task.  I won’t use the Engage much but I’m glad I have one for the jobs it will do.  So, if you think you have a use for a refillable rollerball then go for the Engage or one of the other rollers I mentioned above.  They’re a specialized but useful addition to any collection.

A couple of other reviews of the Engage:
Ink Nouveau
From the Pen Cup

MonteverdeEngageCollage

Pilot Vanishing Point

PilotVPFN3

If a pen could be an evil genius, then the matte black Pilot Vanishing Point would fit the bill.  The Vanishing Point may be one of the most talked about and reviewed fountain pens going today and for good reason.  It’s unique, incredibly well made and a solid writer (mostly).  The questions we have to answer are whether or not the uniqueness wanders into overly quirky territory and if the design elements required by the retractable nib make the Pilot VP a pen worth using for extended writing sessions.  For me, the answers two both questions is “no”.  The design works but the writing experience is a bit awkward for me.

Obviously, the retractable nib thingy is way cool.  Yes, the fact that the clip has to be on the end where the nib resides can make for an awkward grip, but the design and build quality of the retraction mechanism and the overall pen are excellent.  If you like to collect a variety of fountain pens, you probably should have a Pilot VP solely for its unique features.  Also, if you’re looking for a quality fountain pen to use as a pocket carry to make quick notes, you could do a lot worse.  So, even before we get to its qualities as a writer, there is much to recommend this fine fountain pen.

PilotVP3

The Pilot VP comes with an 18 k gold, rhodium-platted nib.  It’s shown here loaded with Noodler’s Dark Matter.  Given these nib materials and the overall excellent quality of the pen, the typical street price of $140 is reasonable (remember, everything is relative here).  The nib is rather small and, like typical Japanese nibs, a medium is more a medium/fine and a fine is more a fine/extra fine.  I would say my medium-nibbed Pilot VP behaves like a wet fine.  How does it write?  Well, it depends on how you hold the pen.  As a left-hander, I’m typically an overwriter with a bit of a hook.  But, like many lefties, I sometimes switch to underwriting when underlining and making other strokes or if the pen I’m using requires it.  When I underwrite, the VP works wonderfully.  It’s smooth, lays down a fairly wet fine line and never skips.  However, when I overwrite, the performance is a bit inconsistent (not bad, but inconsistent) and, believe it or not, the nib makes an occasional squeaking noise.  I suspect right-handed folks and lefty underwriters would really like the Vanishing Point and could find a spot for it in their regular rotation.  As a lefty overwriter, I have my reservations.  Clearly, a visit to the nib doctor may be called for if I want to make the Pilot VP more than an occasionally used novelty.  I do like the overall size of the pen; it fits my medium-sized hand quite well.

PilotVP5

Rating
Because of its limits when I overwrite, the Pilot VP is a “Desk It” pen for me.  If it weren’t so unique and so well built, I would probably lower this to a “Give It” rating.  But, I think I will pursue the aforementioned nib work in an effort to promote it to a “Carry It” pen.  Stay tuned…

PilotVP2

Analogy
The matte black Pilot VP is the Darth Vader of fountain pens.  As Vader is part machine and part man, the VP is part mechanical novelty and part traditional writing instrument.  Although Vader was never able to fully realize is galactic ambitions, I’m hopeful a bit of nib work will turn my Pilot VP into a fully functional death star of a pen.

PilotVPCollage

Lamy 2000

Lamy2000full2

Don’t look now, but it’s another Lamy 2000 review.  If the world needed on thing it was definitely another Lamy 2000 review especially from a Johnny-Come-Lately to the pen blogging world like me.  Before we really start, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this multipart Lamy 2000 review available at the Fountain Pen Network.  It covers the Lamy 2000 from every conceivable angle and is certainly a lot more complete than the nonsense I’ll be writing here.  In fact, just look at a couple of the pictures here and head over to that FPN review (check out the reviews listed below too).

Along with a Waterman Charleston I bought years ago, the Lamy 2000 (M nib) was my entry into the world of nicer (and pricier) fountain pens.  We all know there are more expensive pens out there, but the Charleston and the 2000 were certainly the first pens I spent more than $100 obtaining.  It’s fair to say that neither pen is a daily go-to pen for me, but they definitely have sentimental value.  If I had to choose a favorite between these two early additions to my fountain pen collection, the Lamy 2000 would win going away!

Lamy2000nib

Perhaps it’s because the Lamy 2000 has been around for nearly 50 years, because when I think classic pen shapes, the 2000, first released in 1966, comes to mind.  I wonder if Lamy is planning anything special for 2016.  Seriously, is there a simpler, more iconic shape in the pen world than a Lamy 2000?  Then there’s the Markrolon (polycarbonate) material.  L…O…V…E it!  It’s lightweight (maybe a touch too light for my taste), easy to hold and the fine striations of the material give the pen a unique texture that can show classy signs of aging (check out the aforementioned FPN review to see what I mean).  Also incorporated into the body of the pen is a subtle ink window that’s so seamlessly incorporated into the overall design of the pen it’s rather difficult to photograph effectively especially in the fading light of a cloudy winter afternoon.

Lamy2000inkwindow

And then we have the nib.  It’s a platinum-finished 14k gold semi-hooded nib that can write like a dream.  I say “can write like a dream” because you need determine if you and the 2000 nib are a good pairing.  If the nib works for you, you’ll love it.  Otherwise, despite all the other positives of the pen, you’re better off staying away.  Even though I’m a lefty and have a few quirks to my writing style, the nib works for me.  The medium nib on my Lamy 2000 is a bit on the wet side (just a bit though) and shows more line variation than any other medium nib I have.  I don’t go out of my way to induce variation but the 2000 gives just enough variability yielding a distinct look I don’t see from my other fountain pens.

Rating
Honestly, this hard for me.  While I love the design, material and generally enjoy the writing experience, I have to say that the Lamy 2000 is a “Desk It” pen for me.  I need to be sitting at a desk with fairly ideal posture to get the pen to write consistently and in a way I enjoy  This isn’t a pen that works for me when jotting notes in a Field Note memo while walking down the hall.  However, if I’m at my desk and have the time and space to write carefully, the Lamy 2000 gives a smooth ride.  It’s not an everyday carry pen so much as it’s a let’s-sit-down-and-play-with-the-Lamy-2000 sort of pen.  Before I finish, I should mention that the piston mechanism of my Lamy 2000 stopped working at some point; I probably overtightened the piston’s screw.  I sent the pen to the Lamy USA affiliate in Connecticut where it was fixed for free and returned to me in about two weeks.  So, should you get one?  Probably, but take it for a test drive before consummating the relationship.  Speaking of test drives…

Lamy2000nib4

Analogy
Do you collect classic cars?  Neither do I.  But, if I did collect classic cars I might tell you that the Lamy 2000 is like my 1966 Ford Mustang.  I know, I should be referencing a German car, but look I’m American and I know jack-squat about classic cars.  Even if you don’t know cars you do know what a mid- to late- ’60s Ford Mustang looks like because they have a characteristic and simple style much like the Lamy 2000.

The following reviews all came from just the first page of a Google search.  In other words, there are a boat load of Lamy 2000 reviews as you might expect for such a classic.
Fountain Pen Network (THE Lamy 2000 review)
Pen Addict (a long and sordid tale with a happy ending)
FP Geeks (“glowing” would describe this review)
Ed Jelley (another glowing review with Ed’s characteristic simple/clean pictures of this iconic pen)
Tyler Dahl (the glow continues)
From The Pen Cup (the word “love” is used three times in the last paragraph of this review)

Another gratuitous pen and ink collage:

Lamy2000Collage

TWSBI Classic

What does it say if I’m inking a pen that’s still cold from sitting in my mailbox for a couple of hours?  If you said that I have problems, you’re probably right.  Then again, you’re reading a pen blog so who really has the problem?  Then again, I’m writing a pen blog…I’ll stop while I’m behind.

TWSBIClassic1

Onto the TWSBI Classic.  I went for the blue color which strikes me as a fairly typical midnight blue.  The cap and body have eight flat sides so the pen won’t be rolling off the desk, even when uncapped.  The cap has a simple, dare I say classic, look with a silver nut finish at the bottom.  The bottom of the body has a stainless knob that is used to fill a relatively small-capacity piston.  The grip section is round and features a small quarter-inch (that’s a bit more than half a cm for those using SI units) ink window on one end and what appears to be the same nib used on the TWSBI Mini on the other end.

TWSBIMiniClassic2

To me, everything about this pen screams late ’50s/early ’60s design with the only nod to the modern being the bad ass TWSBI emblem at the top of the cap.  As you can see from the pictures, the uncapped TWSBI Classic is about 3/4 inch (2 cm in SI units) shorter than the posted TWSBI Mini.  While the cap does fit over the end of the Classic, it does not legitimately post.  Like the 580, this is a non-posting TWSBI.  Frankly, the lack of “postability” is a bit of a disappointment.  I guess it’s hard to have an octagonal body on a pen that can post, but I would think something named Classic would be able to do a classic pen thing like posting.  The Classic is also notably thinner at the grip section and lighter in the hand while writing when compared to the Mini.  If you like lighter pens combined with medium-to-thin grip sections, then the Classic is your TWSBI.

TWSBIMiniClassic

Given that the Classic is using the same nib as the Mini, the writing experience is familiar.  Compared to my Mini (F nib) loaded with Waterman Florida Blue, the Classic (F nib) writing with Diamine Majestic Blue put down a slightly thicker line but I suspect this was ink related.  I don’t have pictures here, but I did reload the Classic with Florida Blue and got a line thickness very much like the Mini.  If you’ve written with a Mini, just imagine a slightly thinner and lighter feel and you’ve got the Classic.  Now, this part might sound weird but if you’ve used pens enough you’ll get what I’m saying.  The Classic makes a satisfying plastic-on-plastic clicking sound as you take off or put on the cap.  You know the noise I’m talking about, right?  That noise that says, “I’m about to do some writing” or “I’m now finished writing” as you take off or put on the cap, respectively.  You’re reading this blog so of course you do.

TWSBIClassic3

Rating
It’s a TWSBI.  It’s has a simple and effective design.  It has all the hallmarks of a well-made pen.  But, it’s a bit light for my tastes.  I suspect the pen is going to fall somewhere between “Carry It” and “Desk It” for me.  It will frequently be inked and ready to go but it’s not likely to supplant my Mini in the pocket.

Analogy
The TWSBI Mini is like a favorite Miles Davis album (at least the stuff he did before 1969 – don’t you dare diss the post 1968 stuff though).  The sound of a Miles Davis album is familiar yet undeniably original.  His music is readily accessible while also being continuously revealing.  I don’t listen to Miles Davis every day or even every week, but when I do I enjoy it thoroughly.  I don’t think I’ll be using the classic-looking yet original TWSBI Classic everyday, but when I do I suspect I’ll dig it.

TWSBIClassic2

Has anyone else reviewed the TWSBI Classic yet?  Amazingly enough, yes!
FP Geeks
FP Quest

Sailor Sapporo (aka Pro Gear Slim)

Let the battle for my pocket begin!  I recently reviewed the TWSBI Mini and concluded with the “Carry It” rating.  Can the Sailor Sapporo, another highly portable fountain pen, push the Mini out of my pocket or will the Sailor be left on the desk.  Let’s find out.Sapporo1

When it comes to classic (boring) looks, it’s hard to beat Sailor.  In fact, when I bought my Sapporo just a few weeks ago at The Fountain Pen Hospital‘s Winter Expo the delightful Sailor representative mentioned that they focus on nibs and that I should pursue other brands if I wanted a unique looking pen.  There’s clearly a bit of salesmanship to such a line, but there’s also plenty of empirical truth to it and I appreciated the candor about the classic (boring) style of Sailor pens.  As you can see from the pictures, I went with the black resin and rhodium trim.  I’ve already mentioned my preference for silver-colored trims and the Sapporo fits that preference beautifully.  Also, we’re talking rhodium here and that brings back fond memories of (nerd alert!) my undergraduate laboratory work – good and formative times.

***Mental note:  All this talk of resins, which really are not resins but manufacturers don’t want to say plastic, rhodium, palladium, etc. makes me think a “material science of pens” series needs to be researched and published.  One of the reasons I dig pens so much is that they’re a handheld chemistry project.***

Sapporo2Look closely at my awful pictures and you’ll see that I didn’t use Waterman Florida Blue.  I went a bit crazy and used Waterman Blue/Black, now called Mysterious Blue, which was also purchased at the FPH expo.  (If the other color is black, is it really all that mysterious?)  Being a slightly wider and more flexible nib than my TWSBI Mini fine, the Sailor writes wetter but I haven’t had any issues with smearing on the south paw.  The 14k Sailor nib, which is gorgeous and nicer to look at than a TWSBI nib, is fairly smooth with a touch of feedback and line variation.  All in all, the Sapporo is a more interesting writer than the TWSBI but there’s a level of consistency and ruggedness I get from my Mini that generally keeps me coming back.

Rating
As you can tell, constantly likening the Sapporo to the Mini is hard for me to avoid.  While I did get the Sailor for noticeably less than sticker price, the typical Sapporo to Mini cost ratio is almost 3 to 1 and that should not be ignored.  They both have ideal sizes for easy carrying.  The Sapporo is easier to post.  The Sapporo has a beautiful nib which gives lines a bit of character.  That said, I recommend the Mini over the Sapporo because of cost and because I like the overall performance of the Mini’s nib a bit more.  When it comes to the Sapporo, “Desk It“.Sapporo3

Analogy
The Sailor Sapporo is like shopping at Whole Foods.  Sure, Whole Foods offers products you can’t easily find at a typical grocery store but the added cost isn’t worth the marginal benefits.  So, shop at Whole Foods and write with a Sapporo every now and then to change your routine, but don’t make the former your weekly grocer or the latter your daily carry.

Other reviews of the Sailor Sapporo:
Ed Jelley
Pen Addict
Ink of Me Fondly
Ink Nouveau
JustDaveyB (great closeup of nib)