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Noodlers Ahab (Flex Nib) Fountain Pen Review

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#21 edebill

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Posted 04 August 2015 - 11:04

I find it interesting that the Ahab seems to have changed the barrel shape a little from the Kanwrite Heritage, making it post more shallowly. I like the balance of my Ahabs when posted - I wonder if it was tuning that balance, or if it was something else.



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#22 balson

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Posted 06 August 2015 - 04:55

At the risk of stating the obvious, a starter pen for learning to write with a flexible nib requires a responsive, flexible nib. Wouldn't a dip pen provide that as cheaply as an 'Ahab' doesn't?

The biggest difference is tipping.  because a dip pen has not tipping its easy to catch the point on the fibers of the paper on an upstroke.  this can cause the ink to splatter all over, which can be a lovely effect, but for most peoples needs it is a totally undesirable trait.  

 

the most obvious difference between a dip pen and a fountain pen is that with a fountain pen you don't have to dip it.  the reservoir of ink is able to keep you writing for at least a page without having to deflect any thought from what you are trying to write.  depending on the size of what you are trying to write, you may have to go back to the inkwell several times for a large word.  

 

ink control is another issue that happens for both fountain pens and dip pens.  it takes a long time to learn how much of a load a dip nib can hold, and if you charge it too much it can drip down onto the paper.  alternatively you can under charge it, and if you pause to think of how you want to phrase a sentence, you find that when you put the nib to the paper it only has enough of a charge for half a letter.  

 

both a flex pen and a dip pen can be quite messy, but if you have not invested in some vintage heavy duty ink well, you run the risk of nocking the bottle over while you write.

 

and lastly, it lacks a cap.  if you are carrying the loose nibs around in a bag you need to take great care to make sure that they are not getting to banged up, and carrying the nib in the holder is just asking for the tip to be destroyed.  there are ways to get around this problem with vintage tech, retractable holders, etc... , but there are very few good modern options out there if you want the pen to be portable.  

 

 

 

all these problems i mentioned can be solved or greatly reduced with mastery of the medium, and in fact dip pens will out preform fountain pens for some tasks like writing spencerian script which benefits greatly from an oblique holder.  

 

 

now that we have discussed the negatives, lets talk about the positives of a noodlers style pen.  these are kind of general comments and they are designed to reflect a modern flex pen that has had the nib and feed properly modified.  for many people this is a deal breaker, but some amount of finagling is needed with any flex pen.  differences in altitude or climate can have Major impacts on how they perform.  remember, you are not dealing with a situation where there is an even flow of ink, a flex pen has to quickly increase or decrease its ink supply by tenfold whenever the flex is used, and ideally work flawlessly regardless of the acrobatics you put it through.

 

its cheep!  this is a big one for most people because they are either looking for something just to play around with a bit or as a way to dip their toes in the flex community.  if you don't like the noodlers for its flex many people enjoy replacing the nib in it with a firm one.  i myself have an Ahab with the Frankin Christoph music nib and it works flawlessly which is not an easy task given how much ink that nib takes.  

 

its replaceable.  one of the big advantages of having a flexible nib fountain pen is the fact that you can take it wherever you want to go, but i see a lot of stories from people on here who buy an old waterman eyedropper and then don't feel comfortable taking it out of the house.  if your not using the connivance and portability of the media you are loosing its biggest advantage of the fountain pen.
 

the ease of replacement applies to more than just risk of loss.  lets face it, accidents happen.  someone might nock the pen off the table or it could end up nib down on the concrete through some ill twist of fate.  i am willing to carry my vintage pens around without too much fear, but many of my pens i would not let anyone else use under any circumstance.  with a cheep modern flex pen this is not an issue, if it ends up nib down its $5 for a new replacement nib.  

 

that last part touches on why i think noodlers pens are a great option for someone starting out on flex pens.  if you are starting out with a "Real" flex pen its incredibly easy for someone just starting out to spring the nib.  most people have even advise beginners to steer well clear of a wet noodle or easy full flex pen, and just stick to a semi flex pen, which is around the ease of flexibility of a modded noodlers nib.  the amount of abuse a noodlers pen can take makes me feel ok about handing it over to someone who normally uses ball points.

 

noodlers pens are not perfect pens, they have their flaws, but its easy to forget that most vintage pens have their own flaws as well.  nor do i really think that the noodlers pens are the best pen for everyone, but i think for some people they are the best option available, it really just depends on your needs.  



#23 Manalto

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Posted 06 August 2015 - 09:49

I began reading your post and you appear to be making some good points. I know pressing down the 'Shift' key is a great inconvenience, but your lengthy discussion, all in lowercase, discouraged me from reading the whole thing.


James


#24 Seele

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 01:29

Getting back to topic once again. I think Kanwrite may or may not be the actual manufacturer; Unique Pens who uses the Click trademark might be, but it would be hard to tell for sure.

 

The Noodler's version uses a grooved piston gasket which makes the piston action much smoother, as this original uses a regular O-ring which is squashed a lot, making its action a bit rougher, and the interior of the "syringe" under greater load.

 

A point not many reviewer mentioned is that the end of the cap is a screw and the tassie is a nut: this arrangement keeps the end of the cap sealed, which helps with reducing evaporation from the feed.


No, I am not going to list my pens here.

#25 mhphoto

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Posted 09 August 2015 - 18:03

Please, tell me more about the golden age of fountain pens.  :rolleyes:
 
Yeah, we know that a Noodler's flex is not a 1930s Waterman. Thanks for being so condescending regarding an age you never participated in.


Bahaha!

Seriously though, I am growing weary of getting a lecture about "true flex" every time I mention Noodler's pens.

I do wonder why the notion of breaking in nibs seems to be forgotten so easily around here. A new Ahab/Konrad/Creaper is going to have a stiff nib. All you need to do is use it. Stretch its legs. I have an Ahab from 2012 that's seen near constant use that's quite easily flexible compares to the newer ones I have. The same goes for Namiki Falcons, to a much greater extent even. I have one that barely seen use that's very stiff, and I have another that's been used for 5+ years as one of my main knock-about EDC pens. It is worlds more elastic than the newer one, and it got that way from being used. I had someone on Facebook accuse me of having a modified Falcon and trying pass it off as stock. Use it or lose it, you bunch of flexy meatheads.

All that being said, I wouldn't give up my Waterman Artist nib for any amount of new pens. *drool*

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#26 Manalto

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Posted 09 August 2015 - 20:50

I'm so sorry you're weary. Your remaining energy has been well spent however, in educating the forum community that a nib gains flexibility with use. I didn't know that; this is the first time I've seen this stated. (You would think Noodlers would mention that there's a breaking-in period.) I dismissed my Ahab as sub-standard, when all I had to do is use it for a while. How much of a while?


James


#27 Shubhranshu Das

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Posted 15 August 2015 - 17:28

The purchase of a fountain pen with a flex option is I think imho, due in a large part, to the numerous references in reviews by the more experienced, to a time when they were available and by and large the reviews do sing praises for those pens.

At least that's what happened with me... Being a newbie one climbs this ladder carefully and the vintage pens are a very serious purchase in terms of knowing enough to buy the right one and paying the price. The Noodlers Ahab etc seemed to be a good starter option not knowing whether flex was for me or not. Given that and a considered choice not to start Spencerian , dip pens were not an option... But because of the Noodlers pens I do have a better comprehension of what flex writing involves and it also kicked started a search about handwriting styles...

So I wouldn't knock the new flex options just yet... They are a one of the starting points to understanding fountain pens ., ones own preferences and the skills needed if one wants to develop along those lines...

The good thing is that after going through the various comments this I'm going to ink up my Konrad or my Ahab ... after a long gap...

#28 snehsab

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Posted 20 August 2015 - 18:18

I completely agree with Shubhranshu. A newbie will be hesitatnt to spend even spend $25 on a pen, forget $250, especially when he can get a ball point pen for 25 cents.

 

So before investing a large sum of money on a vintage flex pen, trying out a pen like Noodlers Ahab is a perfect choice to see if you really find flex pens good, or not.

 

But yes, no one could have explained it better than Shubhranshu. Well said bro :)


Edited by snehsab, 20 August 2015 - 18:18.


#29 eloquentogre

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 19:22

I have many customers looking to try flex pens because of what they've seen on Youtube. Inevitably they buy a noodlers and then come asking about flex. Flex is early Watermans, flex is pre carbon paper; when average correspondence was meant to convey a body language that could not be viewed face to face. The care and flourish conveyed in a well written correspondence added to the text and gave the recipient a sense of the intimacy that was intended by the writer.
The Noodlers flex is a cumbersome thing; one intended for technocrats intent on performing calligraphic acrobatics for those easily impressed.
I do appreciate the renewed interest fostered by the availability of this instrument; but I fear it is so poor a representation of the art as to disenchant more than it inspires.

 

As a technocrat intent on performing calligraphic acrobatics for the easily impressed, I am now very interested in this pen. 

 

Seriously though, brilliant, beautiful art is very often not about the quality of the tools used to create it.  It's about how the artist uses those tools, be they beautifully crafted, like the golden flex nibs and feeds from days of yore (alas), or modern, affordable, simple steel, with a not altogether special plastic feed.  I had an old friend whose father was a carpenter.  Using the same tools he would craft simple utilitarian constructions, he would also create absolutely astoundingly intricate, beautiful carved masterworks.  Art is something that comes from the soul, sometimes great tools can facilitate it, but they are not the wellspring from which it emerges.



#30 mhphoto

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 20:34

 

Seriously though, brilliant, beautiful art is very often not about the quality of the tools used to create it.  It's about how the artist uses those tools, be they beautifully crafted, like the golden flex nibs and feeds from days of yore (alas), or modern, affordable, simple steel, with a not altogether special plastic feed.  I had an old friend whose father was a carpenter.  Using the same tools he would craft simple utilitarian constructions, he would also create absolutely astoundingly intricate, beautiful carved masterworks.  Art is something that comes from the soul, sometimes great tools can facilitate it, but they are not the wellspring from which it emerges.

 

And that should be the paragraph that ends all our recurring debates on what constitutes a "true" flex nib. 


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#31 Manalto

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 21:03

 

And that should be the paragraph that ends all our recurring debates on what constitutes a "true" flex nib. 

 

No, it shouldn't. Missing from every one of these beat-the-dead-horse arguments for the Ahab as a starter flex pen is the functionality of the tool. 


James


#32 Zhenni

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 00:59

I'm jumping into the fray!

I bought two Noodler's "flex" pens before they had different names; mine were simply "flex piston fill pens" and I liked them so much I promptly lost them both for several years. I remember them being difficult and not enjoying using them. (They turned up today, hence my interest in this thread.)

I don't find anything offensive about people pointing out that Noodler's flex pens are not going to give you the same experience as a good vintage flex or even semi-flex.

Making the initial investment of a better tool is sometimes the best call. I understand that a newbie isn't going to want to spend $100+ to experiment and inexpensive brands are great for that in general, but a bad experience with a cheaper tool can also turn someone away from a hobby they would otherwise enjoy.

 

Edited to add: I think I remember why I wasn't fond of them. I have arthritis and the amount of pressure to get them to flex is not comfortable for me.


Edited by Zhenni, 28 August 2015 - 01:36.


#33 Pickwick

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 02:34

I'm jumping into the fray!

I bought two Noodler's "flex" pens before they had different names; mine were simply "flex piston fill pens" and I liked them so much I promptly lost them both for several years. I remember them being difficult and not enjoying using them. (They turned up today, hence my interest in this thread.)

I don't find anything offensive about people pointing out that Noodler's flex pens are not going to give you the same experience as a good vintage flex or even semi-flex.

Making the initial investment of a better tool is sometimes the best call. I understand that a newbie isn't going to want to spend $100+ to experiment and inexpensive brands are great for that in general, but a bad experience with a cheaper tool can also turn someone away from a hobby they would otherwise enjoy.

 

Edited to add: I think I remember why I wasn't fond of them. I have arthritis and the amount of pressure to get them to flex is not comfortable for me.

If the pen nib  flexes as claimed then anyone will get the same experience no matter how much a pen costs. No different from using a dip pen. The Ahab pen works on the same principal as a Pelikan or any other high end pen. It basically comes down to the nib  itself.


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#34 riverdale

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 06:33

Or a goose quill and penknife, ink made from soot and gum arabic, ..... or a Pilot 78G which costs about nothing, takes ink or carts, and has a lovely, flexible nib as good as any in the business.

Start off with that, and leave the esoteric and weird for when you're more familiar with pen and ink.



#35 Shubhranshu Das

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Posted 29 August 2015 - 12:01

Hi an update after my last comment... I did re ink my Ahab and Konrad and have been consistently using these pens at work and at home... I was intrigued by the comment that the flex nibs needed to be used and 'trained' to flex but with less pressure... I must admit that both nibs flex with less pressure and it's become more enjoyable using them... I did practice a lot using Rosemary Sassoon's book as a reference and basically practised the alphabet as per her advice ... Still continuing that as the nibs are now flexing better as my control improves over time.

So is it that they need training or that I'm just getting better at using them? Probably a bit of both.

They are definitely not a patch on dip pens out of the box but there are some very good videos with samples of Spencerian writing using the Ahab ...

But I go back to what I said earlier, as a starter option for someone not committed to Spencerian but wants to build the skills for doing flex writing ... The Ahab is probably the better option out there.

The Desiderata pens are intriguing... But I'm a long way away from trying those or dip pens... Ahab yes... Good pen for daily use and practising flex writing ...

#36 Pickwick

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Posted 29 August 2015 - 12:57

Hi an update after my last comment... I did re ink my Ahab and Konrad and have been consistently using these pens at work and at home... I was intrigued by the comment that the flex nibs needed to be used and 'trained' to flex but with less pressure... I must admit that both nibs flex with less pressure and it's become more enjoyable using them... I did practice a lot using Rosemary Sassoon's book as a reference and basically practised the alphabet as per her advice ... Still continuing that as the nibs are now flexing better as my control improves over time.

So is it that they need training or that I'm just getting better at using them? Probably a bit of both.

They are definitely not a patch on dip pens out of the box but there are some very good videos with samples of Spencerian writing using the Ahab ...

But I go back to what I said earlier, as a starter option for someone not committed to Spencerian but wants to build the skills for doing flex writing ... The Ahab is probably the better option out there.

The Desiderata pens are intriguing... But I'm a long way away from trying those or dip pens... Ahab yes... Good pen for daily use and practicing flex writing ...

One of the good things about the Ahab is the ability to change nibs. Your pen is getting better as you are building confidence.You need to bear in mind that Spencerian was designed for commercial correspondence and an art form before the invention of the typewriter in order to introduce a consistent form of writing. It wasn't the normal style of handwriting for every day use.

 

Hope you continue your practice and enjoy your experience.


They came as a boon, and a blessing to men,
The Pickwick, the Owl and the Waverley pen

Sincerely yours,

Pickwick


#37 PrestoTenebroso

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Posted 03 September 2015 - 04:06

Hi an update after my last comment... I did re ink my Ahab and Konrad and have been consistently using these pens at work and at home... I was intrigued by the comment that the flex nibs needed to be used and 'trained' to flex but with less pressure... I must admit that both nibs flex with less pressure and it's become more enjoyable using them... I did practice a lot using Rosemary Sassoon's book as a reference and basically practised the alphabet as per her advice ... Still continuing that as the nibs are now flexing better as my control improves over time.

So is it that they need training or that I'm just getting better at using them? Probably a bit of both.

They are definitely not a patch on dip pens out of the box but there are some very good videos with samples of Spencerian writing using the Ahab ...

But I go back to what I said earlier, as a starter option for someone not committed to Spencerian but wants to build the skills for doing flex writing ... The Ahab is probably the better option out there.

The Desiderata pens are intriguing... But I'm a long way away from trying those or dip pens... Ahab yes... Good pen for daily use and practising flex writing ...

"Intriguing"

I'll take it.

If you ever do take the plunge and get a pen designed for high performance flex, you'll have a hard time going back. ;-)



#38 t2mr

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 10:54

Didn't know Sneh had posted this review too :) Thank you. 

Though i must say, more than my own video, i enjoyed all the conversation that followed it :). But its good to see that, even though we have different opinions and views about things but, we all are passionate about fountain pens. And that is what matters :)

 

I hope you guys found it (the video) useful  :)


Edited by t2mr, 20 June 2016 - 10:57.






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