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Pilot Bamboo

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11 replies to this topic

#1 bjcmatthews


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Posted 19 May 2011 - 14:33

This is my view of oobmaB toliP ehT. Oops, just realised I was holding the pen the wrong way around.

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I first saw this pen in a review comparing it (in size) to a Pilot Custom 823 and something else. Something else isn’t a curious name for a new kind of pen, but a lack of remembrance on my part.

I thought the P. Bamboo was the ugliest, most misshapen thing since I watched a television program on plastic surgery gone wrong.

I bought a Custom 823, and let the thought of a Pilot Bamboo go to seed; although bamboo doesn’t grow from seeds, but from shoots. Over time however, my revulsion evolved, dragging itself out of a sea of loathing and taking a few steps onto the sandy shore of intrigue. It looked pretty interesting. I was impressed with my Pilot Custom 823, and willing to consider another Pilot product.

First Impressions:

To minimise on shipping, I had the owner send this pen without the box to Watch_Art (I believe the owner must have stuck a stamp on the pen, and sellotaped a strip of paper with an address on it around the barrel). Watch_Art then packaged it into a home-made triangular gaffa-tape and cardboard equivalent of a Panzer tank. I had to engineer a car accident so that I could borrow a Jaws-of-Life apparatus just to get the thing open. Incidentally, I think Watch_Art holds the current patent for the strait-jacket.

When I finally disembowelled that beastly package, I was impressed by how much it actually weighed. Not the pen, but the bubble wrap and cardboard. The following is what I thought of the pen:


I don’t usually write such an extensive amount of information on the appearance of a pen, but the appearance is all that there really is to this pen. It is pretty much a Pilot Custom 74 with a funky design incorporated into it.

In saying that, the pen only looks a little like a piece of bamboo. Still, it beats the silver rectangular computer that is marketed as an “apple”. Red, Black, and Blue were the only colours offered for the Bamboo. I’m not an ecologist, but I don’t think bamboo assumes those colours naturally in the wild. Perhaps if it is grown in an area used for paint-balling, but I digress.

And I digress back again. To me it seems a little unusual to produce a fancy shaped pen, and give it such ‘business-like’ colours. It would be like buying a samurai sword decorated so it fits in next to the whiteboard and waste paper basket of a normal office workplace. Pilot should at least have offered the pen in a sombre green colour.

The pen is sleek and shiny, the body contrasting nicely to the very shiny clip, and threads.

I made the mistake of walking past the make-up section of a department store shortly after buying the pen, and was amazed to find that Pilot are not at all original in the design of this pen. They merely stole the shape of a mascara bottle, engraved some striations on the barrel, took the little brush out of the cap, and stuck a nib on the end.

Without the clip showing, I would hazard a guess that 100.1% of women who saw this pen would think they have caught you with a bottle of eye-lash enhancer. This could be awkward if you were apprehended by your better half with ‘another woman’s makeup’.

Putting the mascara-bottle-look aside (carefully, so that anyone who walks past my room will see the very obvious pen clip) this is a very feminine pen. I didn’t buy it because I wanted a feminine pen. I didn’t consciously think ‘this pen would be the ideal partner’ for my beastly M1000, which is more masculine than a thickshake of pure testosterone garnished with chest hair.

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A French woman designed this pen. Whether this is true or Pilot just made that up because they were ashamed of creating such a girly pen/needed to hide their tracks from the cosmetics industry, I can believe it.

I have read a review where the author complains that the oval impressions on either end of the pen detract from the continuity of the pen on the whole. Even if you don’t consider the pen on a hole, I disagree. I think these imprints make up 33.3% of the ‘bamboo’ symbolism of the pen. The other 66.67% is contributed by the striations around the barrel, and the asymmetrical tapering of the cap and barrel.

The Clip:

This is the worst part of the pen. The clip has absolutely no give in it, and despite being a solid piece of metal, and shaped to complement the pen, I feel that it wouldn’t take much to snap it off the plastic cap.

The Threads:

The threads of the section and the barrel are very comfortable. Like the threads of the Pilot VP, that are cushioned by some well hidden O-rings, this pen has an O-ring in the section. The threads fit together as comfortably as my feet fit into my old well-worn sneakers.

These are the best section-to-barrel threads I’ve ever handled with my hands, and other parts of my body.

They are better than the cap-to-barrel threads, which feel more like metal on metal, a very unusual sensation considering that the threads are metal-on-metal. However, they fit together snugly, and don’t catch or stick like my Visconti Van Gogh’s do.


The cap is half of the pen. No exaggeration. It reminds me of the leather boots cabaret dancers wear that run up over the leg, over the knee, and almost into the dancers groin. Except whereas the dancers’ foot cannot inhabit the majority of their footwear, the nib and section occupy 75% of the caps volume. This prevents the feeling of having lost half the size of the pen when you take the cap off.

The thickest parts of the pen are the top of the cap, and the middle of the pen (bottom of cap and region that is striated on the barrel) It’s not strictly an elliptical shape; strictly speaking it’s not really any shape, unless you want to insist that ‘bamboo’ is an adequate description of a particular set of geometrical dimensions. It fits in my hand very comfortably and I don’t notice the fairly thin end of the barrel.

The ends of the pen are angled, as though someone hacked through a piece of bamboo with a machete.


You can post it. I say “can” in the same way I say: You can eat chalk [but why would you?]. The pen posts very plastically. There is no snug fitting like the cap of a Lamy 2000, or a friction fit like with a Pelikan M…., just plastic obstructing plastic. Like a less severe version of posting a TWSBI cap on the barrel.

Posting it also makes the pen as top heavy as a drunken clown on 9ft. stilts. I wouldn’t recommend it, unless you want to write as neatly as the aforementioned inebriated circus entertainer.


I have never bought a pen with a step in it before. It may come in handy next time I’m helping an elderly lady onto a bus.

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The step in the barrel to the section is steep enough to break your ankle on, but I don’t feel it when I’m using the pen. This may not be so for people with small hands, but as my thumb alone is almost the same size as the section and the nib, I don’t feel minor discrepancies in the pen. For a useful reference, I don’t notice the little metal studs in my Lamy 2000 when I use that either.


The pen is very light. It weighs the same as a piece of bamboo of equal shape and size wood/would.


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The nib is a piece of art. Some may disagree, and say it is a piece of 18K gold, coated in rhodium and shaped to fit the pens feed. The outermost part of the nib is frosted. Pilot has somehow managed to conceal a miniature self-powering thermo regulation unit inside the cap to keep the nib at sub-zero temperatures. However, I don’t write with the frosting, although my friend who is a pastry chef writes with it all the time. At the end of the day, and at the end of the pen, the decoration on the nib has little to do with the performance. The nib writes smoothly, with a little bit of feedback. It flows well, but is definitely a dry writer, as are most Pilot nibs. It annoys me because it makes HoD shade black and grey, and I like HoD to look so intense that even the vacuum of space is intimidated by my cursive. Definitely a quality nib though.

Filling System:

In keeping with the traditional way in which the bamboo plant absorbs water upwards through miniscule fibrous pores in the wood’s tissues, this pen fills with a Con-70 converter. To fill it completely you end up holding the pen over a bottle of ink and pumping your thumb up and down on it like a frustrated demolition expert whose remote detonation device isn’t working. I usually just pull it out and fill it with a syringe, because the ink in my bottle of HoD is too low to fit anything other than a syringe into it.

I am glad I bought this pen; I can see it taking root in my collection.

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#2 Sketchy


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Posted 19 May 2011 - 15:08

Thank you, that review was quite enjoyable.

#3 redisburning



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Posted 19 May 2011 - 15:13

I lol'd

good review, nice pen.
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#4 machine


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Posted 19 May 2011 - 16:08

I don't care for the pen, but the review was just great!

#5 spinningtrees



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Posted 19 May 2011 - 17:41

Great humor in your review! Maybe you can market some of my unused pens to sell....
the pen is the window into the writer's soul

#6 Moppeh


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Posted 19 May 2011 - 20:26

Great review, it was extremely entertaining.
Currently using: pelikan 320 + sheaffer balance

#7 dcpritch


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Posted 19 May 2011 - 20:44

Great review Ben, its always a trip to have a glimpse into your thoughts on a matter; sort of makes me wonder if you've been tooling down a mountain on your unicycle sans helmet one too many times!

How small of all that human hearts endure,
That part which laws or kings can cause or cure.

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#8 Soot


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Posted 19 May 2011 - 20:59

Quite an entertaining review! Btw, you got one of those 18K-750 nibs~ Cool!
"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." -- A. Einstein

#9 watch_art


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Posted 19 May 2011 - 21:38

Glad the box made it, and glad the pen did too.
I was surprised by how little I noticed the step in the barrel when I played with this thing. I thought I was going to hate it, but in reality, I really really liked it. I liked it so much I'm considering a pen with a step at some point. The Monteverde you sent me is actually getting quite a bit of use. It's heavy, but with the step, quite comfy.

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#10 jandrese


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Posted 20 May 2011 - 14:00

Nice! Even though it is a good writer I could never buy it because it looks like a lipstick case and it drinks testosterone. It does, or did, also come in silver, which it seems still does not resemble bamboo. Thanks.

#11 M@rtin


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Posted 20 May 2011 - 16:37

great review and pens!

#12 Taurean



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Posted 22 May 2011 - 08:48

Excellent review. Plenty of detailed information and insight, coated with sublime humor.

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