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Penbbs 350 Review - Fountain Pen & Rollerball Combo

rollerball j.herbin orange indien chinese pens penbbs no. 6 nib aluminum pens

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7 replies to this topic

#1 EDC

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Posted 02 September 2018 - 08:15

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For a moment there, orange was my color of choice. I think I was coming off a sepia phase, but don't rightly recall. I got myself some Diamine Autumn Oak and took a flyer on J. Herbin Orange Indian.

 

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J. Herbin Orange Indien

The Autumn Oak was a great success but I could never get the J. Herbin to work for me. None of the pens I tried would make a go of it. It was my first out-and-out ink failure.

 

So when I unboxed the PenBBS 350, I did two things. First, I swapped out the fountain pen nib for the rollerball. Then I filled the pen with Orange Indien.

 

I was being a little perverse. Like many, I write with a fountain pen unless I can't help it. You know the type. (You may be one yourself.) But I was impressed by the moxie PenBBS was showing by including a rollerball with the pen. They were thinking outside the box.

 

To reward the daring, I gave the pen the hardest ink I have. To my surprise, it worked.

 

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Truth be told, I think the J. Herbin ink has darkened over time.
Looking at some old notebooks, it looks a bit brighter.

 

 

Conceptually, the PenBBS 350 combo hits it out of the park. I love the idea of including a rollerball in the mix. It fits the style of the pen and it writes very well. The line is satisfyingly bold and the rollerball is smooth, agile and consistent.

 

Ergonomically, however, the rollerball isn't a complete success. The rollerball tip is much shorter than the the fountain pen nib - making the pen just that little bit smaller in the hand. The balance between the girth, length and writing experience is slightly awkward. After writing with the rollerball for a bit, I swapped in the fountain pen nib and felt much better.

 

In its fountain pen configuration, the PenBBS 350 rocks:

  • The size is perfect. The diameter is fat enough to be substantial and the unposted length is just right for my hand. The pen posts well enough but that's not how I use it.
  • The weight is spot on. Weighty enough to feel intentional while remaining nimble. Long writing sessions are no problem with this pen.
  • The texture of the pen is light but real: a matte finish with just little grip. Nice.
  • The threads are fine and not bothersome. They work as a midpoint reference for keeping the pen oriented in the hand by touch.
  • The cap comes off in under 1 1/4 turns making this a fast pen to cap and uncap.
  • The cap facets keep the pen from rolling about when not in use and, of course, mean the cap is less likely to wind up on the floor when using the pen.
  • The cap uses plastic interior threads so you don't have the potentially annoying metal-on-metal feeling when capping/uncapping the pen. The action is nicely smooth and precise.
  • There's no clip but that's not a bother for me. I don't need one.
  • The nib is the same PenBBS F No. 6 that comes with their other pens. It's a great nib and performed up to expectations out of the box.

 

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Given the aluminum construction and minimalist, industrial design, I put the PenBBS 350 in the workhorse camp. It's durable and functional and could easily serve as a beater pen for everyday use. It works as a full-sized pocket pen.

  • Length capped: 130mm
  • Uncapped Rollerball: 117mm
  • Uncapped Fountain Pen: 122mm
  • Weight capped (inked): 23.1g
  • Weight uncapped (inked): 15.7g

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I like the style of the pen. It feels modern. I'm becoming a bigger fan of the PenBBS brand. It could easily be the best Chinese pen brand today.

At under US$15 on Taobao, it's a heck of a value.

  • Would I recommend this as a first fountain pen? Yes. If someone is going to catch the bug, this is as good a vector as any.
  • Could this be someone's only fountain pen? Well, it could. If there are folks out there who can eat just one.
  • Would this make a cool gift for a fountain pen friend? I think so. It fits the ideal of something different that lots of people might not pick for themselves.

More pictures and comments here.



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#2 RoyalBlueNotebooks

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Posted 02 September 2018 - 08:33

Thanks for the review!

I was also impressed about the idea of fitting a rollerball pen and a fountain pen in the same body. 

And I like the peculiar mint-turquoise color of this model.


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#3 penzel_washinkton

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 13:45

Interested in the copper and black one, too bad it is priced near the 309 instead of the 308



#4 JollyCynic

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 17:05

There's a bit of a frenzy on their official Etsy and eBay.com shops for the red and blue ones which were launched today.  And a second black colour that's somehow different from the first.  (Shadow vs Obsidian)



#5 penzel_washinkton

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 15:27

I can see why, the blue and red is appealing and I feel it is "that" shade of red and blue that most people love.

The shadow with two tone nib are gorgeous also, but you know what would seal the deal for me? Obsidian / shadow with a black nib, go full stealth


Edited by penzel_washinkton, 07 September 2018 - 15:27.


#6 Mongoosey

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Posted 29 September 2018 - 08:03

Does this pen swap in a #6 Jowo?

 

I tried a PenBBS 308, but it crunched the nib when I capped the pen.



#7 EDC

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Posted 29 September 2018 - 13:20

Haven't tried, but it sure looks like there's enough room in the cap. The plastic cap liner doesn't look like it would pose any problems.

 

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#8 Chrisrap

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Posted 10 October 2018 - 12:45

Did a review on the "new" red 350 with two tone nib, to watch skip to 7:55.  Have a green & black "older" model.  Differences I found were minor.  It is a great pen, I enjoy writing with it.  But then I like metal pens. 







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: rollerball, j.herbin orange indien, chinese pens, penbbs, no. 6 nib, aluminum pens



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