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Twsbi Mini Review - Classic, M


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22 replies to this topic

#1 tomgartin

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 03:22

I'll give you the numbers up front with minimal comments. Follow the photo tour to get my more developed thoughts.

First Impressions: 9/10
It's not a large pen, but it's a great size for a shirt pocket. The packaging is beautiful, although it was a pain to get the adhesive tape off the plastic case.

Appearance and Design: 9/10
The clip is welded on in two small spots (see pictures) to a small arm, and I'm not sure how durable this will prove to be. I could be wrong, but that's my concern. Everything else seems to be top-notch quality. The way TWSBI captures light in this pen is really admirable. Posting the pen is luxurious.

Size and Dimensions: 10/10
I needed a pen that would fit in my shirt pocket for times when I don't want to carry a case or my bag. It's longer than the Kaweco Sport and provides a more sizable grip section. Posted, it's a perfect EDC writer. It fits in my smallest shirt pocket perfectly.

Function: 9/10
The piston system works well and draws up at least 1 mL, although I haven't measured it scientifically. Everything fits together well. This pen was made to post and does so very well--truly a leap forward for TWSBI. I wish it wasn't possible to screw the cap on with the cold clip sitting against my hand. It takes a bit of practice to avoid that.

Nib and Writing: 8/10
The nib is M and write a line similar to the Lamy 2000 F, although more dry. Whereas the 2000 writes about 9/10 wetness, the Mini writes about 5/10. I haven't flushed it or anything yet--just filled and started writing--so it may improve later. So far I've written about 10 pages worth of notes and have had zero skipping and zero startup issues. The steel nib is smooth but lacks the springiness of a gold nib. That's okay because it's 1/3 the price of a Vanishing Point or 2000. Still, as far as my nib preference goes, this ranks about 8/10.

Conclusion: 45/50
That's a good score for a pen that costs $50. You definitely get lots of value for money here. I highly recommend this, especially as a student pen. Get the Classic so you know your ink level but don't have to look at the mess of the inner cap. Stick it in your shirt pocket and enjoy writing.



Now... on to the photo tour...






After I raised my pennies and found some encouragement, I pulled the trigger finally and ordered my TWSBI Mini Classic from GouletPens.com (no affiliation, just a very satisfied customer). I also ordered a bottle of Diamine Ancient Copper to keep it company during the journey south.
As you can see, the Goulets don't mess around with packaging.

Posted Image



It looks like TWSBI uses an icon style code. Classic is half transparent, half black. I'm guessing the fully transparent style would have an open circle and the fully black would have a dark circle. This has nothing to do with the quality of the pen, but I thought it was neat. I was the kid in kindergarten whose favorite subject was ABAB patterns.

Posted Image



As you can see here, TWSBI's packaging is tight and efficient. The Goulet's really didn't have to go as far as they did. This baby was well packed for the journey to my desk.

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Here it is in the case. I love the way TWSBI incorporates light into their designs. See next picture.

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As I was saying, the way TWSBI captures light in their designs is really innovative. I admit I was a TWSBI skeptic for a long time, but seeing this in person is such a different experience. You can almost see in this picture how the diamond design gives it a prismatic effect. The black ends (specific to the 'Classic' style) hold it all together and ground this pen. It's a pleasing design and not overly voyeuristic--as pens go, anyway.

Posted Image




Here it is posted. The O-rings make securing the cap very soft and luxurious. I think more pens need to appropriate this design. It really helps to reduce the sense that it's "just a plastic pen" as so many critics are quick to point out. It's like the adjustable trunk opening on a BMW--not strictly necessary, but little touches like this show that the designer is both creative and attentive to the user.

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All I had at hand was my Lamy 2000 for a size comparison.

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As you can see, posting the Mini makes it a very comfortable size. The balance seems to remain comfortable as well--something TWSBI has finally got right. For reference, this is my first TWSBI but I make this conclusion about balance based on trying the Vac 700 and Diamond 540 at a pen posse meetup. Seems like they've finally decided to pay attention to the quality of posting. That's not a criticism. It posts brilliantly and feels much more gentle than any other pen I've posted. They took their time but they got it right.

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View through a loupe: this is the M nib. It writes similar to the Lamy 2000 F nib. Sorry, I don't have a writing sample photo, but you can get the idea if you look at the Lamy 2000 F writing samples and figure that the Mini is about 5/10 to the 2000's 9/10 wetness.

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Another view of the nib. It's beautiful. For a steel nib, it really feels nice and looks great.

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Here you can see the shape of the tipping. This works pretty well, although some may prefer the stubs. For my purposes, the round tip is well done and conducive to a wide range of writing angles, which is just what you need when you're a full-time student or a busy professional.

Posted Image




Here you can see the feed fins. They seem to work very well and keep the ink flowing, although the wetness is a little dry. My Lamy 2000 writes about 9/10 wetness. That's just about bleeding through thin paper and feathering like crazy on my fibrous thank you cards. By contrast the Mini's wetness is about 5/10. It's wet enough to write, but feels a little dry. The effect with Ancient Copper is that the ink looks a little more pale orange than it does in the Lamy 2000, where it comes out as a nice and rich orange with a blush of red-brown. I may need to adjust the flow to make me happy, but the factory wetness without any flushing (am I crazy?) has at least been functional--no skips and the feed never needed to rest during four pages of notes.

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The cap button is lovely. I was expecting something a little more two-dimensional and mediocre, but this is really nice. I'm actually comfortable having such a bold cap logo sticking out of my pocket since it doesn't look cheap.

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In their wisdom, they mounted the clip far enough away from the cap to accommodate thick fabric. It's tight and works well. I should also note that the length is just perfect for even my most shallow shirt pocket. It's about 1cm shorter in the pocket than the Lamy 2000. I consider both pens ideal for shirt pockets.

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Find all these pictures in higher resolution here: http://www.flickr.co...157632505822312

Thanks for following along,
Tom



Edit:
I attended a lecture today, so I used my 2000 and Mini side-by-side. Here is a picture so you can get a sense of how similar the line widths are between the Lamy 2000 F and TWSBI Mini M
click here for higher resolution: http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream

Posted Image

Edited by tomgartin, 02 March 2013 - 22:33.

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#2 hot cocoa

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 18:27

I think you captured a lot of the little details about the twsbi mini that make it unique, like the way it DOES catch light. I find myself twirling it in my fingers just to watch how the ink sort of glows in the barrel.

The clip rivets were another thing. So far, the clip feels firmly attached, and it's nice to know that should it fail, Speedy would fly to the rescue. Can't say that about a Conklin ballpoint that had its clip rivets pop! It's still sitting dismembered on my desk somewhere.

Anyway, I like how the twsbi mini's clean lines pop out in your photos. It's really an amazing pen at a great price. Now Speedy needs to rush out some more colors on this baby!

#3 jacksterp

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 22:41

After seeing your photos, I think the Classic would be my model of choice. Very attractive.

Nice review Tom, thanks.

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#4 akustyk

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 23:05

Thanks for this really detailed review! It's interesting that we bought our Minis at about the same time, I wonder if that's a coincidence... :glare:

The classic looks really good. I wanted a fully opaque pen this time, so I bought the black, but yours looks really nice, too, almost like a pen with an ink window, rather than a demonstrator. I like that a lot.

As far as the dryness, relative to the Lamy 2000, my EF nib was initially somewhat dry, but after a couple of fills worth of writing, it's now settled at a comfortable 6/10 with Noodler's Black, which, in my experience is not the wettest ink out there. My personal favorite test of dryness is to hold the pen by its very end with the thumb and index finger and try to make a solid line with the pen writing almost under its own weight. For my writing style, this test predicts skip-free writing.

But if the wetness doesn't improve, maybe a flush, or some nib adjustment would be needed. Personally, I would work with TWSBI directly on the issue. In my experience, they were very helpful when I had a 540 that was very dry, they replaced the nib immediately, and that fixed the problem.

Thanks again for the review!

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#5 tomgartin

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 00:22

Thanks for this really detailed review! It's interesting that we bought our Minis at about the same time, I wonder if that's a coincidence... :glare:

The classic looks really good. I wanted a fully opaque pen this time, so I bought the black, but yours looks really nice, too, almost like a pen with an ink window, rather than a demonstrator. I like that a lot.

As far as the dryness, relative to the Lamy 2000, my EF nib was initially somewhat dry, but after a couple of fills worth of writing, it's now settled at a comfortable 6/10 with Noodler's Black, which, in my experience is not the wettest ink out there. My personal favorite test of dryness is to hold the pen by its very end with the thumb and index finger and try to make a solid line with the pen writing almost under its own weight. For my writing style, this test predicts skip-free writing.

But if the wetness doesn't improve, maybe a flush, or some nib adjustment would be needed. Personally, I would work with TWSBI directly on the issue. In my experience, they were very helpful when I had a 540 that was very dry, they replaced the nib immediately, and that fixed the problem.

Thanks again for the review!


Thanks for the advice. Glad you are enjoying your Mini as well. I haven't had any skips--it's just light on the delivery. I think the dryness will subside soon. If not, I may reach out to Speedy.

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#6 akustyk

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 02:07

Posted Image

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#7 steb

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 05:17

Nice review. Another to add to the wish list

#8 tomgartin

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 21:06

I should have flushed it before I inked it up for the first time. I guess I was too excited and stupid. The Mini writes beautifully, but is a bit dry on delivery. Over the last few days I noticed some gunk would accumulate on the nib while writing--different from your typical nib creep. To me, it looks like factory gunk being left on the nib as ink exits the pen. Gradually the pen will get more fussy until I wipe the goop off the tip and then it will go back to writing a medium-wet line.

Take a look at the pictures below. I have not flushed it yet since it's functional (if a bit dry) and I hate to waste a half-full barrel. I'll update again after I flush it to let you all know if the gunk problem goes away.

Posted Image


Posted Image


Original photos: http://www.flickr.co...in/photostream/

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#9 lowks

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 13:58

Uh ... "Mini Piston Fillig Fountain Pen" ?!

#10 tomgartin

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 17:20

Uh ... "Mini Piston Fillig Fountain Pen" ?!


Yes. http://twsbi.com/pro...p?id_product=44

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#11 Pterodactylus

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 21:29

mazd.jpg

(TWSBI Mini 1.5 CI ..... Diamine Grape)

Edited by Pterodactylus, 18 July 2013 - 19:03.

The Mods disabled my account, so I can't reply here.
If you want to contact (e.g. regarding the EMF Mod) me please do it on FPGeeks.

#12 vondauster

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 16:17

Posted Image


(TWSBI Mini 1.5 CI ..... Diamine Grape)




Beautiful penmanship (ahem, show off...)! :D

Seriously, like my Mini, though its broad nib is almost a fine by my standards. The 1.5 might suit me better.

Will
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#13 akustyk

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 01:40

I've become a huge fan of TWSBI. The 540s were okay but were marred by nib issues. But here's a small company that takes a very mature products (some would say a dead product) and manages to completely revitalize the low-end, but not with another plastic CC pen, but with nicely designed piston and vac fillers. They did have problems, but they openly acknowledged them, worked with the community to improve them, and made the Mini, which I think is as close to a perfect modern fountain pen as it gets.

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#14 symphony

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 23:25

Looks soooo cute! :cloud9:

#15 tomgartin

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 04:06

This pen really holds a lot of ink. I'm still working through my first fill and I've really tried to use it up! I'm not getting any more of that gunk buildup now. I wiped it off and purged a couple drops of ink onto a paper towel, so I guess that took care of it. Flow improved a bit after that but still wasn't quite the 9/10 wetness I was looking for so I gave the nib three gentle swipes of brass floss to open up the tines. Bingo! That was all it needed. It's hard to put down because I just wanted to keep writing. With the improved wetness the Diamine Ancient Copper looks much more red and has better shading. Love this little pen!

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#16 revdrjaydwright

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 04:29

Hey Tom -
Great review - loved your images and giving the little details that count like does it fit in your most shallow shirt pocket. :) That is one reason my Mini is usually a daily carry in my shirt pocket, because it fits in all of them.
I'm glad to hear about the brass floss and how a few swipes opened up the flow. Where did you get that? And, did you "floss" between the tines? (never done this)

One thing I've noticed about my Mini (purchased in January) is that the blind cap on the piston has become a little loose so it will twist a quarter turn before it actually engages the piston. Not sure if I over-tightened the blind cap or what.

Anyway, great seeing your review. Congrats on a great new pen!
Jay+

#17 tomgartin

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 11:41

Hey Tom -
Great review - loved your images and giving the little details that count like does it fit in your most shallow shirt pocket. :) That is one reason my Mini is usually a daily carry in my shirt pocket, because it fits in all of them.
I'm glad to hear about the brass floss and how a few swipes opened up the flow. Where did you get that? And, did you "floss" between the tines? (never done this)

One thing I've noticed about my Mini (purchased in January) is that the blind cap on the piston has become a little loose so it will twist a quarter turn before it actually engages the piston. Not sure if I over-tightened the blind cap or what.

Anyway, great seeing your review. Congrats on a great new pen!
Jay+


Hi Jay,
My blind cap also has just a bit of play before it engages the piston.
I got the brass floss from Richard Binder, and it's as simple as putting the corner of the brass square into the nib's breather hold and slowly pushing it forward between the tines.
Happy writing

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#18 Mike_Dowling

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Posted 22 March 2013 - 01:59

The o-ring is nice when closing but a rubber o-ring has a short shelf life, it will need to be replaced frequently which isn't a big deal but it is something to consider.

#19 tomgartin

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 00:44

Since size in the pocket is an important topic regarding the Mini, I've taken the liberty of putting some of my pens in a shirt pocket to illustrate my point that the Mini is absolutely made for shirt pockets. It's almost the exact length from clip to tail, the length of the pocket.

Posted Image


From left to right: Lamy 2000, TWSBI Mini, Ranga #3, Pilot 78g

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#20 79spitfire

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 01:45

I agree, this is a wonderful pen. I bought the B, and there has been no disappointment here! :cloud9:

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