The first amazingly smooth German fountain pen I had was a rotring (besides lamy). Actually, I did get quite a few freeways over a period of time and gifted them to friends and relatives. Below is a blog link to the review:
Rotring is a German company that never seems to need any introduction. Just for the sake of this post I am devoting a few lines of history. It was started in 1928 with a tubular tipped stylographic fountain pen commonly known as Tiku and was incorporated as Titenkuli Handels GmbH. Later in the 1984, the calligraphic ArtPen was introduced, which was followed by the more famous and most sought after 600 series fountain pens (the architect’s fountain pen). There were a few changes in name in between and you can find their historical timeline here. In 1998, it was taken over by Sanford US, a part of Newell Rubbermaid Inc which also owns brands like Parker and Waterman. Rotring stopped manufacturing fountain pens soon after this acquisition. And yes of course, rot ring literally translates into red ring, which can be seen in almost all its writing instruments.
The Freeway was one such pen which was released when the company had already started diversifying into writing instruments. It is equipped with a rotring standard steel nib. A corresponding rollerball, ballpoint and a mechanical pencil were also released.
DESIGN - THE BRUSHED METALLICS (5/6)
The Freeway comes in four different colours, all in matte finish - blue, ruby red, silver and black.
An aluminium body renders substantial weight to this pen. The pen has a cigar shape with a rather conspicuous red ring at the finial.
Once you pull the cap, it does come off with an audible click, and you have a beautifully brushed metallic grip section. The grip section is slightly tapered and at the end rests a stainless steel insert along with a steel nib.
The cap is substantial with a snap-on mechanism. A tension fit clip starts with the trademarked red ring at the finial. It has an engraved ellipse (no idea why!) with rOtring branding below. I had purchased a few freeways over a period of time and one of them had a slightly wiggly clip. A satin chrome trim gives the cap band some aesthetics.
The colours are really attractive but they can fade, come off over a period of time.
FILLING SYSTEM (4/6)
Nothing spectacular here as it’s an international cartridge converter system. A brass insert inside the section houses the feed system. The construction is simply solid. A Schmidt or rotring converter fits quite snugly with the freeway section vis-a-vis other standard international converters.
NIB - ALL THAT MATTERS (6/6)
The nib is made of stainless steel and comes in a standard rotring design. I came across only F & M widths for the freeway. I never found any other nib widths for this pen, though the same nib had a wider variety of widths for the 600. All the nibs have been wet and smooth.
A no-frills design of the nib sans any breather hole gives it a characteristic industrial look, besides the metallic parts of the pen.
The branding and nib specifications are imprinted on either sides of the nib.
A standard black plastic feed sans any fins and a big feeder hole define the minimalistic design.
PHYSICS OF IT (4/6) – RELATIVELY SPEAKING
The pen feels substantial by itself but posting it makes it difficult to wield. It might feel a bit short of length.
Uncapped Length ~ 12.5 cm
Posted Length ~ 15.5 cm
Nib Leverage ~ 1.6 cm
Overall Weight ~ 35-40 g
Capped, uncapped and posted comparisons with a m200 runs below for your reference.
I have no idea of its original retail price. I had bought the first pen at a cost of USD 6, and the subsequent ones at even lower prices! Since it has been discontinued, a lot of offline pen stores in Mumbai carry at least a few pieces of the Freeway and the Espirit.
This steel nib is a winner and is very smooth with a wet flow. The fine nib is stiff and does not have any line variation among the horizontal and vertical strokes. These wet lines take almost 35 secs to dry a Pilot blue black ink on MD paper.
Thank you for going through the review.
You can find some more pen and paraphernalia reviews here.