(better writer than other pens in this price range)
Let me start of by saying up front that I don't have a Prera to compare to this Cavalier -- nor do I have a Metropolitan. I'm also not sure where the Cavalier fits in to the Pilot line. The nib appears to be different from that of the Prera or Metropolitan. There are a few threads relating to the Cavalier, and so I know that milage may vary, but there's not a review posted yet, so I thought I'd try my hand.
There's also a review over at The Pen Addict. One thing about that review (as the author, Brian Gushikawa, states), this is a pen he repaired so it's not new, and it's been tweeked.
Now down with tackiness:
- Fit & Finish: 6/10 Outstanding for a pen of this price. I really can't fault the construction quality of this specimen. It's just very high quality manufacturing. Some slight critisisms are that the gap between the tassie and the barrel is a little bigger than all the other gaps, and the plastic is a slightly different color than the metal. The gold part of the grip section kind of has a different diameter than the lilac-colored plastic, and as you'll see in the macros, the gold isn't perfect. Finally, I don't really enjoy the mold-mark on the threads of the grip section, when the barrel is off... I mean, granted it's hidden, but you'd never expect to find something like that on a higher end pen.
- Style: 5/10 It's neat that the Cavalier comes in so many colors, but if I had to criticize the design, I'd say that I don't like the fact that the grip section is a noticeably different color than the rest of the pen. This is because the barrel and cap are metal and the grip section is plastic. I also personally find the gold appointments to be a bit cheap looking -- there's no mistaking them for real gold! Meantime, in an effort to make the pen look 'girly' (I guess), the clip is sort of... busy for my taste.
This is also a very small diameter pen. For my hands it's WAY too small. That's one thing to keep in mind with the Cavalier -- it's NOT for big hands (though it's long enough).
On the up side, I do like the fact the pen is metal -- it gives the Cavalier an especially solid feel without being heavy. As I said, the color choices are really nice.
One nice feature is the fact that the pen posts with a solid 'click' because the tassie is shaped the same way as the nib end of the grip section. It's very satisfying. I don't personally post pens, however, and the pen is plenty long for me without the cap. Meantime, I've read a lot of criticism that some people find the cap rattles and spins when posted.... this specimen doesn't. It's possible it will in the future though.
A general note about the style: I don't like the whole 'girl pen' notion very much. I think the efforts Pilot made (other than the colors) to make this a 'girl pen' are mostly just distracting.
- C/C Design / Filling: 8/10 Normally, I'd say I prefer an integrated fill system of some kind -- piston or vacuum or some such, but in this price range, being able to get a pen that comes ready to use with ones' own ink is pretty great. The con-20 is certainly easy to use. I don't love that you can't see how much ink you have left, but as I say, I can't knock this pen since it shipped ready to bottle feed.
- Nib: 6/10 I'm not actually sure what nib sizes are available... fine and medium are all I can find. But this is where the pen was just a giant surprise to me. Yes, it is a STEEL nib... that has been gold toned. But man is it smooth. Smoother than a Platinum Plaisir or Preppy, Lamy Safari, Kaweco Sport or Monteverde Artista. Yes!
Now, let me set out some caviots, because that's a big statement I just made. It has more feedback than the Safari, Kaweco or Artista, and not as much as the Plaisir or Preppy (read 'scratchy'). What impresses me is that it has more bounce and flex than any of the above. The Kaweco and Artista come the closest (for all I know those two are more or less the same nibs anyway). This cavalier is both smooth and light. It feeds well and hasn't skipped or hard-started on me at all. This is the best nib I've found in this price range (and by price range... I mean under twenty dollars -- more on that later).
As has been stated over and over on these forums: this is NOT what I would consider a "medium". I can't imagine what the 'fine' would be like... a sewing needle I guess. Once again, Japanese Medium is more or less a german fine.
It's hard for me to evaluate this nib... I mean, for the price, it's fantastic, but of course it doesn't really touch a lot of my other pens empirically. I'd say it's got a nib that you'd expect to find in a pen that's in the 50-70 dollar range.
- Price: 9/10 Ok, so I see that JetPens only stocks the fine version of this pen, and they sell it for fifty bucks (granted, with free shipping). I bought my pen new for less than twenty dollars from one of my top three eBay sellers, engeika. Shipping was not included, but with shipping, the pen was still under 30. For that price, this pen is really beyond reproach. It's a great deal. Best sub thirty dollar pen I've ever used.
For fifty dollars, I think it's still a good pen, but the problem is that you start to get in to the range of not having to use a con-20. A TWSBI Mini is $50 and it's a piston filler. Also, a Sailor Dynamic Young Profit can be had for that price range, which is a whole 'nother class of pen.
Anyway, in summary, for the purposes of this review, I'm considering the Cavalier in the sub-thirty dollar range.
Note in this one the plastic is a slightly different shade of lilac:
Note the mold mark in the threads (booo!):
Ye olden con-20:
Comparison with other pens. Top to bottom:
The Safari is a huge freekin' pen posted... I always forget.
And, at risk of further writing criticism / flaming, here's a sample...
That's about as wide as she'll go... maybe .8mm or so...
Conclusion: Best pen I've used sub-thirty dollars hands-down. The nib is quite amazing. It's also well put together and attractive. It's got feedback without being scratchy, and a little bounce and flex. It has never skipped or hard started. I plan to give these as fountain pen introductory gifts in the future.
One note is that I intentionally didn't compare this pen to any Noodler's flex pens. I am aware that the Ahab , and the Konrad are piston filled for under $20. I personally don't think they are comparable, even though I have given a lot of Ahabs as gifts in the past. My brief statement on this would be that the Cavalier is great for everyday use and has a very amicable nib with a bit of flex.
Another note is that, as I ponder the manufacturing quality, I'd have to say that the Lamy Safari is a bit better (it's also simpler in that it doesn't use the same combination of materials). I actually think TWSBI, Kaweco, Lamy and Sailor all manufacture pens that are tighter. The Cavalier is definitely more like the Plaisir in this respect.