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Levenger TrueWriter Kyoto

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11 replies to this topic

#1 pmormack



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Posted 22 August 2006 - 22:11

Levenger TrueWriter Kyoto

Levenger selected a very nice mix of colors for the Kyoto version of the TrueWriter. The plastic is highly complicated. Depending on the angle of light, it can look dark or light. The individual pockets of resin are a mix of translucent and opaque amber, gold, turquoise, burgundy, indigo and almost black. It’s like a darker and richer-colored version of Conway Stewart’s Heather. The amber and turquoise in particular shimmer. I saw several versions of this pen at the Boston Levenger store and noticed that some had more amber than mine. They all looked fantastic.

Based on the catalog photo, I originally thought that the silver trim might not work, but it seems fine in reality. I’m not sure gold-plated trim would add a lot.

There are typical TrueWriter black plastic “jewels” at each end of the pen. In the Kyoto version, they work well.

This is a medium-size pen and the cap, nib and barrel width all seem to be well-proportioned to each other.


Quality of Materials
The resin body is thick, which suggests that Levenger is using a lower-grade plastic. At the same time, the pen feels substantial and looks great. The metal furniture seems substantial too. Even the packaging is quite good. The box is a nice design using nice colors and quality materials with soft suede and sateen linings. This is a presentation box that is much better than you’d expect at this price—which is a general comment you could make about the pen in general.

Build Quality
Construction is very good. The nib is correctly joined to the section, the clip has no sideways flex, the end jewels are solidly anchored, the cap has a plastic liner that adds strength and substance, the cap posts securely and screws on tightly. The Levenger trim ring on the cap is crisply debossed. Either capped, posted or not, the pen feels solidly made.

This is a really nice stainless steel nib—almost as good as the Bexley fine on the America the Beautiful that I got from Richard Binder. Better than my three Pelikans. Better than the similarly priced Cross ATX—which also has a very nice steel nib. For a $52 pen, this is an excellent nib unless you like lots of flex. But it writes incredibly well. I haven’t noticed any skipping. It always starts right up and glides with just the slightest hint of tooth. Seems to be a true medium. The nib is a single polished silver color with minimal engraving.

Feed System
The usual—standard converter or cartridge. The supplied Levenger Cobalt cartridge lays down a nice wet line that has made me want to try a bottle of this ink. Nice dark blue, minimal spread, dries quickly, very good saturation. Not much variation in line color—which may be a combination of the ink and the nib, but for a workhorse everyday ink, it’s hard to fault. I’m starting to like this better than PR American Blue—at least out of this nib.

It almost seems as though this pen was designed to hit a lot of sweet spots. It’s medium size, medium weight. Easy to operate. Well balanced capped, posted or without posting. There is a slight taper in each direction from the middle of the body so the pen sits nicely in the hand.

It’s hard to believe that this is a $52 pen. I have Pelikans, Bexleys, and Watermans that cost much more, but this is perhaps the best value of the lot. My green lacquer Cross ATX cost less as a discontinued item, but the TrueWriter is easier to write with because it’s better balanced and it looks much nicer. This is an excellent value for the money.


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#2 Taki



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Posted 22 August 2006 - 23:42

Thanks for your nice review and the photos! I was wondering what it looks like closer. Very attractive pattern :)

#3 pvdiamon



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Posted 23 August 2006 - 00:45

When you wrote with it, and found it wrote well, what paper did you use, and what ink?
John in NC

The passion not to be fooled and not to fool anybody else..two searching questions of positivism: what do you mean? How do you know? (Bertrand Russell, Dominant Passion of The True Scientist)

#4 Bill


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Posted 23 August 2006 - 00:50

Good review. I've had a Kyoto for about two months and want to add a couple of points.

I agree that the color is wonderful and the pen is very highly polished. Mine seems to have more dark elements than the one in the photo but has shiny bits of burgundy, pink, amber, turquoise, and more. It would be difficult to show in a photo. I picked what I thought was the prettiest one in the store. I also liked the section matching the rest of the pen instead of being black or metal.

I am not as inspired with the nib. The first one I got was very scratchy so I took it back to the store in Boston which was only a covered crosswalk away from my hotel. I kept the barrel and cap because of the color and they replaced the nib/section/converter assembly. They mistakenly gave me a medium (which, by the way, wrote quite well) instead of a fine so I returned a third day for another exchange. The staff was helpful and friendly.

The nib has no usable flex and has been a slow starter if left unused for a couple of days. The line width of the fine point is similar to the smaller Pel fines or the Hero 100. Maybe I should have kept the medium, but I don't think it will take much tweaking to make it a good performer.

The barrel and section sizes are very close to the Pelikan M600 and feels about the same unposted.

One gripe: It takes two full turns to get the cap on or off.


Edited by Bill, 23 August 2006 - 00:52.

#5 pmormack



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Posted 23 August 2006 - 02:51


Sorry to hear that your fine nib hasn't been great. I purposely chose a medium because all of my recent pens have been fines and I wanted a medium for a change of pace.

There was an article by Richard Binder in Stylus last year about how great steel nibs can be and one of the nibs he tweaked for the article was a TrueWriter. I'm sure if you could send the fine nib to him you'd have a fantastic pen.

Yes, this pen is definitely similar to a Pelikan 600.

I also agree that there are too many turns for the cap. If I'm using the pen a lot in one sitting, I just twist the cap on part way, then the whole way on when I put it in my pocket.

On balance, though, it's a nice pen.


#6 pmormack



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Posted 23 August 2006 - 02:59

"When you wrote with it, and found it wrote well, what paper did you use, and what ink?"

This pen has been writing well on just about any paper I've been using, which includes Black n Red notebooks, Staples laser printer paper, Staples steno books, Staples 24 lb inkjet paper and Hammermill 28 lb paper.

Inks I've tried are Levenger Cobalt, PR Blue Suede, Herbin Bleu Pervenche, Noodler's Aircorps Blue Black and MB Racing Green. Truthfully, they've all worked well. To Bill's point, however, this is with the medium nib. The MB ink is a bit drier, but what else is new. Right now I'm very pleased with the Levenger and PR inks.

#7 Maja


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Posted 23 August 2006 - 04:41

Thanks so much for the review, pmormack!

I love my 3 Levenger "True Writers" (I have a blue, yellow and red in F, M and B nibs, respectively) and even though they were (are?) one of the Pens You Love to Hate :lol:
I am very pleased with all three. Perhaps my three were from the later "True Writer" generation; I heard horror stories about some of the earlier ones (nibs falling out, nib collars breaking, posting problems).

Anyway, this looks like a very attractive design, and hopefully will they will keep on producing the TW. It's a great pen for the money. :)


P.S. My three "True Writers" all have "springy" nibs, so I am curious if this newest TW that you reviewed has a springy nib too...
Vancouver (B.C) Pen Club (our website)

#8 sonia_simone


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Posted 23 August 2006 - 20:09

Thanks for the review--I've always assumed that the TW would not be a great pen.

Boy, the resin on the Kyoto is pretty. And a very nice price.
Isn't sanity really a one-trick pony, anyway? I mean, all you get is one trick, rational thinking! But when you're good and crazy . . . ooh hoo hoo hoo! . . . the sky's the limit!
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#9 discplayer



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Posted 21 December 2007 - 03:31

Thanks for the review. I've just noticed I've been reading pen reviews for nearly 3 hours straight. Need a life. I ordered a Kyoto today and am as excited to see the colors as I am to experience the writing ability of the pen.

"I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day." Abraham Lincoln

#10 karynv



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Posted 25 January 2009 - 01:16

Thank you for the clear, straight-forward review. Sounds like I'd like everything except the screw-cap. I use my pens to mark student work as I walk around the room and do a lot of capping, uncapping.
"I'm sorry, I don't let anyone borrow my pen."

#11 lovemy51


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Posted 27 June 2009 - 05:14

mine arrived today. i got it from the levenger ebay store for $29 (plus shipping). what a beauty this is! beautiful resin. awesome nib. i got the broad and it is smooooooooooth, boys and girls!!!!!

i'll go back to the playpen now and keep playing with my new toys (new faber castell ambition and yellow pilot VP included)... the bexley simplicity II (orange) i got from isellpens hasn't come, coz' Todd is still out of town on vacation.

#12 Ray-Vigo


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Posted 27 June 2009 - 05:21

The Golden Tortoise and the Kyoto Truewriters are among the most attractive pens made in recent years. I like mine, but admit I use vintage offerings more. If I had to use only my modern pens, it'd be the Pelikan M400 and the Truewriter Golden Tortoise. The gold trim on the Golden Tortoise does add a bit to the appearance, as does the two-tone nib on that pen. But it's a personal appearance issue, not a functional one. Whatever you like is the call to make.

The nibs on these are very smooth and run generous in size. I like the trident design on the nibs. The Golden Tortoise pen's nib slot is actually a trident slot (at least on mine it is).

Beware the section thread collar-- they seem somewhat brittle to me.

Sometimes they come with Levenger Ink samples. I tried Cobalt Blue and hate the stuff. It was still smudge-able 2 weeks after writing.

The converters work well enough.

The trim itself may not be the most durable-- I left mine in a Levenger leather pouch and found corrosion marks on the trim forming. I believe there may be acids left in the leather pouch, and the gold plating is thin. That aside, these are really nice pens.

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