In the past two months, my hand has settled on narrower pens like the Parker 45 and 75, with the Lamy 2000 being the upper limit of what felt manageable. A local B&M had Esprits on closeout levels and unable to resist the price, I got a Fine in Metallic Green and a Medium in Matte Black, and added a Medium in Silver the day after.
None of the pens came with boxes, papers or converters. Two had cartridges in them, but these carts had dried out, requiring me to get fresh cartridges until I could find converters.
Appearance and Design (7/10)
The Esprit is very minimalist in its design. That's not a bad thing in my opinion. Just don't expect butterflies in your gut the first time you lay eyes on the pen.
Barrel and cap ends seem flat but actually have a slightly domed profile.The barrel is relatively straight, and tapers very gradually from barrel threads to barrel end. The overall profile is very similar to a Sheaffer Targa, albeit in a thinner package.
The pocket clip wears a mirror chrome finish and is stamped with the Rotring logo. Had Rotring chosen to render the pocket clip in matte chrome or even black, you'd be hard pressed to distinguish it from a Pilot Hi-Tecpoint or a Uni rollerball.
Instead of attaching to the cap via a tassie, the clip uses a split-ring design to mate with a groove machined close to the top of the cap. A red band sits above the chrome trim and below the body colored cap top. It is a tasteful arrangement.
Construction and Quality (8/10)
The pen's aluminum body creates a rather light pen that does not feel low rent in any way. It will probably tolerate drops from a desk, but if you treat this like a hammer, it will ding. Think titanium and instead of tin, and you get the idea.
The grooved section appears to be a plastic of some sort, but the color is well matched to that on cap and barrel. The caps snapped shut with confidence and nothing on the pen looked or felt flimsy.
The section threads are metal which inspires confidence in the pen's longevity.
Weight and Dimensions (9/10)
Have I mentioned that the pen is light? Fully inked (piston converter, not cartridge) it is as heavy as my empty Parker 45 Flighter (no ink, no converter or cartridge.) This is subjective as I do not have a scale and used my hands alone in making that judgement.
You can post the pen if you wish, but you end up with a rather long pen. Also, the cap sits high when posted, leading me to believe that Rotring may have designed the Esprit to be used unposted. As such, I do not post when I write with the Esprits. Unposted, the balance/weight bias is towards the nib which lends to ease of use.
The barrel is narrower than the Flighter's (measured at the 45's widest section near the cap clutch ring.) It is slightly longer than the Flighter as well.I wouldn't wear this on a shirt pocket because of its length.
Nib and Performance (8/10)
The nibs are steel and one look at their shoulders means that flex or spring is wishful thinking. If you like soft feeling nibs, you might want to look elsewhere. However, they write very smoothly with little feedback detected. Even the Fine was smooth. Not much in terms of line variation was observed but I can write fast with these pens.
Ink flow is generous. I do not know what the feed looks like, but I'm beginning to think it's a Chunnel straight from ink to nib.
I intentionally did not flush any of these pens before inking them, and I used cartridges for their first outing. All started easily and the first lines from each pen were juicy to say the least. (Herbin's Gris Nuage can look like an afterthought in some pens. In the Silver Medium I loaded it into, it mimicked a 6B pencil!)
If wet writers make your day, the Esprit does not disappoint.
Filling System & Maintenance (7/10)
The pen takes International cartridges or a proper converter. I use Inoxcrom piston converters in mine, but have also tried Herbin cartridges. No issues noted.
If you are using the short Internationals, there is room in the barrel for a spare cartridge. This is a nifty feature as it minimizes the chances of running dry at an inconvenient time.
The section is very easy to flush. Two loads of water from an ear syringe is all it takes to clear the feed and nib of ink.
Cost & Value (10/10)
The pens sold for $7.00 each but this is not why I give the Esprit a "10."
I've owned Lamy Safaris and those are good pens. Really good pens for the price. But I think the Rotring is a better pen, even though it never gained the Safari's following. If both pens sold for $30, I'd take the Rotring in a heartbeat.
I also own a pair of 45 Flighters and I love how these pens are almost bulletproof. I've relied on a 45 for hard use in a mobile working environment, and it never let me down.
However, I find myself reaching for the Esprits more than the Flighters. The Rotring does everything the 45 can, in a lighter and possibly more durable package. As such, the GT Flighters are off to a new home by week's end.
A pen that prompts me to let go of a trusty steed is something significant in my book.
The Esprit is a writer's workhorse. It isn't a prom queen but neither is it a biker chick. Think of it as that girl in glasses who hits the library all week, but teaches Krav Maga on weekends; unassuming but tough and efficient.
If you can find one of these NOS for a good price, I strongly recommend giving it a spin.
Edited by KarloT, 20 July 2011 - 08:53.